Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pictures of the Day: January 20, 2009

Despite watching and talking about it, this unprecedented event still hasn't sunk in. So here are some of my favorite images thusfar, since I'm rather speechless on the subject.

Then President-Elect Obama approaching the podium (Damon Winters/New York Times)

The millions of attendees stretching a full 2 miles from the podium witness the swearing in. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Taking the Oath of the Office of the President of the United States of America (Damon Winters/The New York Times)

The younger of the First Daughters, Sasha Obama, giving her father, President Barack Hussein Obama, a thumbs up after his swearing in. First Lady Michelle Obama holding Abraham Lincoln's bible. Eldest First Daughter Malia Obama smiling and facing the podium crowd. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

Surviving Tuskegee Airmen bear witness to history. (Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times)

The Anniston Star, which proudly declares itself "A home-owned newspaper" on its masthead. Published in Anniston, Alabama. Click on the image to get the full effect, and read the eloquent text.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

James Moody's "Moody's Mood for Love"

A great video of saxophonist/flautist/composer/bandleader James Moody giving a playful and animated performance of his composition "Moody's Mood for Love" with Dizzy Gillespie and a rather sober United Nations Orchestra. I can only imagine that given the presence of Gillespie and Moody, the musicians were too terrified of messing up to even crack a smile during the song.

And from an instructive August 15, 2008 interview with then 82-year-old James Moody. (Sometimes you really need a musician to interview another musician, still the young interviewer admirably keeps recouping, staying open, and going forward with the interview). Informative and humbling. Note Moody's comments about why he doesn't like gospel:


Countdown... 3 Days...

OK, clearly I'm being playfully reductive.

After all, the Bipartisan President may crank up the George Clinton after all the staff has gone home for the night, but it's not going to be a 24-7 "One Nation Under A Groove" kind of a party.

But let's hope there'll be at least a dose-a-day of "Free You Mind (And Your Ass Will Follow)" to keep the audacious hope and openness to innovative approaches flowing.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Secretary of the Arts: Ask Obama for What You Want

Yes Viginia, folks still do listen to Public Radio, at least the programs that haven't yet been canceled. How do I know? Because Quincy Jones was interviewed on November 14, 2008 in conjunction with the publication of his new book, The Complete Quincy Jones: My Journey & Passions (Insight Editions, 2008) by John Schaefer on WNYC's Soundcheck. During the interview Jones apparently said, " conversation I have with President Obama is to beg for a Secretary of Arts."

Bassist Jaime Austria took Jones seriously and created a petition asking soon-to-be President Obama for just that. Austria plays bass with the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra and the New York City Opera, the latter which recently suffered through some major personnel changes and like other companies, great and small, is struggling with a sharply declining annual budget resulting from the current international economic crisis.

Austria's effort seems to have the blessing of Quincy Jones. Jones' homepage indicates as of January 15, 2008, the petition's signatures have surpassed the 100,000 mark, and gone global with coverage from Ireland and Norway.

To sign the petition, go here

Listen to the Jones interview here:

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the local and the global...

I was going to write that I don't usually write about politics, but that's not really true. I just think others do it better than I do. Often I prefer to read what they've written and learn something.

But this week I realized there were three issues that people had sent me info about, and I wanted to put them down here, so I can think about them. Or at least give them a moment of silence.


• Proposition 8 Backlash in Northern California
Richmond, California: On December 13th of last year, a twenty-eight year-old Black lesbian was gang-rapped by four Black and Latino young males. She was originally sexually assaulted after getting out of her car. After someone was heard approaching, the 4 males forced the woman back into the car and drove her to a second location and continued to take turns raping her. Finally, they left her beaten, robbed, and naked outside an apartment building, and drove off in her car. The car was later recovered. The woman is an out lesbian and her license plate had a Rainbow Pride sticker.

This story has been circulating via email, online forums, blogs, websites such as GLAAD, and AfterEllen, as well as Facebook. The young males ages 31, 21, 16 and 15 have all been arrested by Richmond police. The 21-year old male, Josue Gonzalez, turned himself in to police after his mother "saw TV coverage of the police announcement, which included the arrests Wednesday of three other suspects in the case, and his family brought him to the police station." The police are considering this a hate crime as a result of the comments the males made during the assault.

This woman's identity is being protected for the time being. It seems that details she remembered from the assault, like the nicknames of the some of her assailants, their physical descriptions, and their use of negative comments about her sexual orientation aided in apprehension of the assailants. The Richmond Police Department's offer of a $10,000 reward for information leading to arrest, probably helped as well. On December 27, there was a candlelight vigil held in support of the woman near the scene of the crime. You can see video of the vigil here. Various sites (Queers United and notably public scholar Melissa Harris-Lacewell on The Kitchen Table) and a Facebook page have listed efforts organized to address the survivor's need for support, both of words and of funds:

The woman will need months to recover physically and years and years to recover psychologically. She needs our emotional and financial support.

If you would like to send a card, please mail it to:

Richmond Police Department
Attn: Sgt. Brian Dickerson
1701 Regatta Blvd.
Richmond, CA 94804

If you can send a financial contribution (even a few dollars) to help her pay her medical bills and other costs associated with her recovery, please mail a check payable to Community Violence Solutions to:

Community Violence Solutions
2101 Van Ness Ave.,
San Pablo, CA 94806
Attn: Mrs. Joanne Douglas

In the memo section of the check please write: Richmond Jane Doe.
For details and to show support join the Facebook group.

In the midst of conflicting reports of this New Years Day tragedy in Oakland, California: 'the suspect was harassing passengers' 'the officer in question mistook his gun for his taser,' one thing does seem clear, the 22-year-old Black male suspect, Oscar Grant III, was "prone, unarmed, and detained" when the White police officer, Johannes Mehserle, discharged a fatal bullet into his body. J's Theater has written about it briefly and thoughtfully here, and supplied a link to what he calls "an engaging, aggregating post" by Tobin Harshaw in last Saturday's New York Times. J's Theater links to video of the murder, as does Harshaw, but please note that by watching it, you will be signing on to watch the extinguishing of the life of another human being--those images can't always just be blinked away.

Or at least they shouldn't be.

• Update January 16, 2009:

Color of is circulating an online petition demanding justice in this case. Oakland has a long history of police brutality and abuses against African American men, history that made it one of the places where the phrase "Driving While Black," or "DWB" for short, came into common usage to describe the police practice of pulling over drivers, particularly males, just for being African American.

On January 14, the initial pressure from local Oakland activists and community members, as well as the national outcry led to the District Attorney to arrest officer Mehserle and charge him with murder. Reportedly District Attorney Tom Orloff admitted that the external pressure led him to take these steps. Mehserle was off-duty at the time of the shooting, apparently, this is the first time in the DAs 14 year tenure that he's charged an off-duty officer in a shooting case.

Color of has gotten more than 20,ooo signatures and is asking that people continue to apply pressure to secure justice in this case. If you want to read and sign the petition go here.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Upcoming January: Live Music...JACKPOT!!

Wow, OK, the New Year is bringing some promising musical tidings. Some of this is the result of the annual Association of Professional Arts Presenters (APAP) conference which results in a deluge of arts bookers from around the US, and sometimes other countries as well, descending on NYC to check out various musicians playing their hearts out (and butts off) in specially arranged showcases at various venues across the city. If between January 9-13, you notice your favorite hot spot having a greater number of different shows in an evening, then you know they're probably hosting a showcase. The show may be shorter, but it'll be one hot show as artists work to seduce audiences and bookers alike--hopefully securing a number of advance engagements and allowing for a less tenuous economic picture for the upcoming year.

So get out there and support artists you admire and love! Show that love to the bookers so those artists can keep working.

A few showcases of interest are happening the same night (JazzFest & Mondo Music Fest--what happened there??), but not everyone is playing at the same time:

• Friday, January 9, 2008 •
Export NOLA @ Sullivan Hall
8pm Paul Sanchez, John Boutte & Leroy Jones
9:20pm Jonathan Batiste Trio
10:40pm Christian Scott Quintet 11:40pm Big Sam's Funky Nation* (bandleader Big Sam Williams pictured right, courtesy
Followed By A Late Night NOLA Jam!
Sullivan Hall
214 Sullivan Street (between Bleeker & W. 3rd St.)
Evening starts @ 8pm
Tix $18

*Noted music writer/musician Ned Sublette just gave BSFN's new release Peace, Love & Understanding a rave (but don't expect any Elvis Costello covers on the CD).

• Saturday, January 10 •

Melvin Gibbs' Elevated Entity (w/ John Medeski, Vernon Reid and Amayo of Antibalas)
The amazing bassist/composer Melvin Gibbs (Harriet Tubman, Rollins Band, Sonny Sharrock, etc.; pictured right playing with Cindy Blackman and Jean-Paul Bourelly ©Dargan Tasic) plays with his group as part of the Mondo/Mundo Music Festival presented by Highline Presents (a project of the Highline Ballroom) at the Hiro Ballroom. The festival line-up includes:

Groupo Fantasma
Melvin Gibbs' Elevated Entity
Nation Beat

Hiro Ballroom at the Maritime Hotel
371 W 16 St.
New York, NY 10011
A, C, E, and L lines
Doors open @ 7pm Bands go on @ 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, 11pm (order TBD)
Tix $17 in advance, $20 day of the show

For complete info go to the JazzFest site.
$25 Winter JazzFest pass
$45 THE WATTS PROJECT + Winter JazzFest pass (pictured right, Jeff "Tain" Watts, photo ©R.Cifarelli©phocus)

Here's the schedule in brief:

(Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street (btwn Sullivan & Thompson)
6p: Claudia Acuña
7p: Gary Bartz-Ommas Keith Project (Jill Newman Productions)
8p: Jason Moran's Bandwagon

9p: Dafnis Prieto Sextet

10p: Don Byron Ivey-Divey Trio

12:00am The Watts Project
feat. Jeff 'Tain' Watts, Terence
Blachard, Christian McBride, Prometheus Jenkins

Sullivan Hall, 214 Sullivan (between Bleecker & W. 3rd St.)
7:20pmTheo Bleckmann 'Berlin-Las Vegas'
w/ Todd Reynolds String Quartet

Jonathan Batiste Trio
Toshi Reagon & BIGLovely (pictured right)
Marco Benevento Trio
11:20pm Will Calhoun Native Land ExperienceGroup
Robert Glasper Trio
Sarah Morrow 'Elektric Air'
Aaron Parks

Kenny's Castaways, 157 Bleecker Street (between Sullivan & Thompson): 6:30pm-3am
6:40pm Ayelet Rose Gottlieb
7:40pm By Any Means
8:40pm Sex Mob plays Sexotica
9:40pm Lafayette Gilchrist
10:40pm Tar Baby
11:40pm Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
12:40pm Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber**
1:40am Taylor Ho Bynum Positive Catastrophe

**This should be a great show. The line-up includes: Jared Michael Nickerson: electric bass, Karma Mayet Johnson: vocals, Moist Paula Henderson: baritone sax, Will Martina: cello, Ben Tyree: guitar, Greg Tate: conduction, among a host of stellar performers. (pictured right, Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber)

• Sunday, January 11th, 2009 •
Export NOLA @ Sullivan Hall
8pm Kirk Joseph's Backyard Groove feat. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux
9pm DJ Soul Sister
Christian Scott Quintet
11pm Big Sam's Funky Nation @
with New Orleans Treats
(Gumbo, Hubig's Pies, Pralines, and more!)
w/ DJ Soul Sister Spinning - 7pm

Sullivan Hall
214 Sullivan Street (between Bleeker & W. 3rd St.)
Evening starts @ 7pm
Tix $15

• Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 •
Yes, INAUGURATION DAY, and for those not traveling to Washington, D.C. (Le) Poisson Rouge is hosting:
The Inauguration Concert
Apollo Heights
24-7 Spyz
HR (of Bad Brains)
(perhaps this booking is an acknowledgement of Rob Field's February 2007 assertion: "Barack Obama is Black Rock"?

(Le) Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker (btwn Sullivan & Thomson)
Doors open @ 7:30pm, show @ 8pm
Tix $15

And if all that black rock retro-to-the-future nostalgia isn't enough for you, here's some more, also at (Le) Poisson Rouge:

• Saturday, January 24, 2009 •
ESG (aka "the legenday South Bronx Scroggin Sisters no wave, post-punk, hip-hop beat goldmine band" pictured right, photo courtesy Soul Jazz Records)
(Le) Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker (btwn Sullivan & Thomson)
Show @ 10pm
Tix $20

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Audio Geek: Happy New Year + Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters

¡Prospero Año Nuevo! Happy New Year!

With thanks to music writer/musician Ned Sublette, I got informed about the fact that Herbie Hancock's Headhunters (Columbia, 1973) was selected for the 2007 National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. They select twenty-five recordings every year, and announced the 2007 selections in 14 May 2008. NPR has been doing a series on the 2007 selections; the final installment was about Headhunters. Although it's only a 7.5 minute segment, the information presented is truly fascinating touching on the innovative instrumentation, the engineering of the album, and Hancock's artistic influences in creating the album's sound with the participation of the musicians, the newly formed The Headhunters, particularly percussionist Bill Summers (check his recreation of the Ba-Benzélé (Central African Republic) ethnic group's Hindewhu flute sounds on the opening of "Watermelon Man"), and the legendary engineer David Rubinson, who all contribute to this profile. Check it out here.

Steven F. Pond, Head Hunters : the making of jazz’s first platinum album (Ann Arbor : The University of Michigan Press, 2005). Pond also contributes to the NPR profile.

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