Archive for Commentary

We Want Beer: 80th Anniversary Of The Repeal Of Prohibition

// December 5th, 2013 // Comments Off on We Want Beer: 80th Anniversary Of The Repeal Of Prohibition // Commentary, History, News

A Ford Model-T displays a sign demanding the repeal of Prohibition.

A Ford Model-T sits with a sign demanding the repeal of Prohibition. Photo taken at the August 18, 2013 Jazz-Age Lawn Party on Governors Island.

This day in 1933 brought with it an end to one of the most disastrous social experiments in American history, as the 21st Amendment to the Constitution took effect, repealing the 18th Amendment and effectively ending the period known as Prohibition.

Although today officially marks the 80th anniversary of this historic turning point, the country had been drinking legally for almost 8 months prior, courtesy of President Roosevelt’s signing of the Cullen-Harrison Act into law, which allowed the sale of certain beers and wines before full repeal of the Act took effect.

But what does this have to do with music?

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A Story Of Hope: Landfill Harmonic

// April 19th, 2013 // Comments Off on A Story Of Hope: Landfill Harmonic // Commentary, News

Violin made of trash, closeup on the bridge made from a fork.

A closeup of the improvised bridge on this violin made of recycled trash reveals that it’s a cleverly repurposed fork.

It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention and by the looks of the Recycled Orchestra, they are right. In an impoverished area of the Cateura slum of Paraguay, South America, the fact that a violin costs more than a house hasn’t stopped the children from making music, culminating in the formation of a traveling musical group they call The Recycled Orchestra.

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Celebrating Dizzy Gillespie’s Birthday With A Google Doodle

// October 21st, 2010 // Comments Off on Celebrating Dizzy Gillespie’s Birthday With A Google Doodle // Commentary, History, Jazz Events, News

Google displayed a stylized version of its logo on Thursday, October 21, 2001 in honor of jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie's birthday.

Google displayed a stylized version of its logo on Thursday, October 21, 2001, in honor of jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie's birthday.

Having been sick for the last few days, I came home from work early today to fight off the last remnants of a nasty cold. At 5pm I downed a dose of NyQuil in an attempt to get some sleep, and boy did it help! I slept almost until midnight, or “Round Midnight” as may be apropos to say at this moment. Upon waking up, I logged on to the computer and was super excited to find that Google decided to honor what would have been Dizzy Gillespie’s 93rd birthday with a stylized Google Doodle.

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Trenton International Jazz & Blues Festival Controversy

// October 15th, 2010 // Comments Off on Trenton International Jazz & Blues Festival Controversy // Annette Njie, Commentary, Jazz Events, News

Screenshot of the 2010 Trenton International Jazz & Blues Festival Website

The website for the 2010 Trenton International Jazz & Blues Festival lists various sponsors, but problems paying the performers have left a negative mark on the event in the eyes of many.

I once heard a wise saying that went something like this: “Smart people learn from their mistakes; smarter people learn from the mistakes of others.”

Sadly, in the NJ jazz world we have an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of Annette Njie, the Trenton promoter who created the Trenton International Jazz & Blues Festival that ran earlier this year from September 17-19 at various venues around Trenton. The festival itself went off without a hitch, but when it came time to pay the two dozen acts, most were left high and dry, receiving partial payment or none at all.

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Pat Metheny’s Orchestrion: A Layman’s Explanation

// October 10th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Commentary, Jazz Events, Recaps & Reviews

So I finally get it! Funny how you can read all the technical explanations you want, but it’s only when you experience things for yourself does it all click.

This past Friday I attended the Pat Metheny show at Bergen PAC in Englewood. What an incredible set! And what a tremendous guitarist Pat is! I’d read about his Orchestrion tour and thought I understood how the mechanized instruments worked- and I did, to a degree. But the real “Aha!” moment came while I watched Pat perform several improvised pieces. “How could they be improvised if the mechanized instruments are pre-programmed to play a given tune?” I thought to myself. Then it happened – I became fully aware of what was going on.

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Vince Giordano & His Nighthawks To Grace Small Screen

// September 13th, 2010 // 3 Comments » // Commentary, Jazz Events, News

Vince Giordano of "Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks" Fame

Band leader Vince Giordano of "Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks" always looks like he just stepped right out of the Roaring 20's.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, folks. Things have been a little hectic with the work situation. You know – the gig that brings in the cash. Anyway, I was doing my daily sniffing around the interwebs for NJ jazz-related topics, and my eyes just about popped out of my head when I started reading what I thought would be a review of this past Saturday’s performance by Vince Giordano & His Nighthawks at the New Jersey Jazz Society’s annual Princeton JazzFeast. But before any mention of the show was made, the author springs quite a surprise on us.

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Newport Jazz Fest 2010 – A Survival Guide For Those Left Behind

// August 1st, 2010 // Comments Off on Newport Jazz Fest 2010 – A Survival Guide For Those Left Behind // Commentary, History, Jazz Events, News

The Ben Allison Quartet performs during my fateful 2007 Newport Jazz Festival trip.

The Ben Allison Quartet performing during my fateful 2007 Newport Jazz Festival trip.

In August of 2007, I took a week-long road trip through New England with a friend of mine. The first night’s itinerary called for a stop in my favorite New England town – Newport, Rhode Island.

Since the trip was a spur-of-the-moment event, I was blissfully unaware that we were about to drive into town on one of the most popular summer weekends – that of the Newport Jazz Festival. After driving around to a few bed & breakfasts, we realized finding a room was not going to be easy. But it was only after speaking with the folks at the majestic Hotel Viking and being quoted a rate of $700/night that we found out why we were having such trouble.

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Like Father, Like Son: Cecil Brooks II and Cecil Brooks III Perform Together

// July 15th, 2010 // Comments Off on Like Father, Like Son: Cecil Brooks II and Cecil Brooks III Perform Together // Cecil Brooks III, Cecil's Jazz Club, West Orange, NJ, Commentary, Jazz Events, News, Recaps & Reviews

Father and son, Cecil Brooks II and Cecil Brooks III performed together at Cecil's Jazz Club in West Orange, NJ on July 9 and 10, 2010

Father and son jazz drummers, Cecil Brooks III (left, background) and Cecil Brooks II (right, foreground), performed together at Cecil's Jazz Club in West Orange, NJ, on July 9 & 10, 2010 PHOTO CREDIT: Joshua Wilwohl for Patch.com

Last week it came to my attention that father and son jazz drummers, Cecil Brooks II and Cecil Brooks III, would be performing a set together. Although they played on back-to-back nights, circumstances did not allow me to attend either evening.

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New Jersey’s Mad Scientist Of Jazz

// June 10th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Commentary, News

Scott Robinson live at Space Farm Bell Tower -- PHOTO CREDIT: Lori Space Day

Call me crazy, but I didn’t know The Wall Street Journal wrote about topics other than those that are finance-related. Turns out they do! In fact, they have an interesting story on Scott Robinson, a New Jersey jazz musician, if you can pigeonhole him as such.

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“A Great Day In Harlem” Revisited In Montclair

// June 7th, 2010 // Comments Off on “A Great Day In Harlem” Revisited In Montclair // Commentary, History, News

“A Great Day In Harlem” by Art Kane, 1958

In the 2004 Tom Hanks film, The Terminal, Hanks’ character comes to the US in the hopes of acquiring saxophonist Benny Golson’s autograph, thereby completing a quest started by his late father. Golson’s signature would be the final one in a collection comprising the 57 jazz musicians who appeared in the iconic photograph “A Great Day In Harlem” taken by photographer Art Kane in the summer of 1958.

Fast forward 52 years: present-day Montclair, NJ.

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