Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bill Evans Turn Out the Stars reissued

Amazing to think that Bill Evans was just 51 when he died in 1980. Though best known for his work with Miles Davis on the monumental jazz recording Kind of Blue Evans was a king of the piano trio, carving out a unique musical personality. His piano playing was sheer poetry, languid and hypnotic, filled with dark melodies creeping down endless hallways. His influence ranged extensively, reaching even into the pop world, where Traffic's Steve Winwood evidenced exposure to Evans. Turn Out the Stars, The Final Village Vanguard Recordings, June 1980 is some of the last music he made, a 6-CD box recorded by the trio that also included bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe LaBarbera on June 4, 5, 6, and 8, 1980 three months before his death on September 15. When this music was finally released in 1996 historians revised the final commentary on Evans' work, acknowledging that he was in the throes of fresh inspiration with this trio.

The set has been out of print since the demise of Warner Jazz. Nonesuch Records has just reissued it with a detailed booklet including notes by critic Bob Blumenthal and pianist Harold Danko. The list price of the reissue is $49.98, roughly half of the price of the original 1996 release.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ensemble Fatien tonight!

Marc Stone sent word of a show called “The Beat of West Africa Alive in New Orleans” tonight (Friday June 19th) and tomorrow (Saturday June 20th) at Ashe Cultural Arts Center.

Featuring Seguenon Kone and Ensemble Fatien (with Dr. Michael White, Margie Perez, Matt Perrine, Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, Rex Gregory, Boubacar Cissoko, and Marc Stone) and the drummers and dancers of Ivoire Spectacle.

Ensemble Fatien and Ivoire Spectacle wish to thank everyone who helped us have such a wonderful festival season here in New Orleans. We would like to thank the city of New Orleans for embracing our efforts by joining these two groups together for a very special event.

In appreciation for your support, we would like to invite you to the Ashe Cultural Center where we will present shows on Friday June 19th and Saturday June 20th called “The Beat of West Africa Alive In New Orleans featuring Seguenon Kone, Ensemble Fatien and Ivoire Spectacle”. These will be the first joint performances by all 10 musicians from Ensemble Fatien and the great dancers and drummers of Ivoire Spectacle. The shows will be held at Ashe Cultural Center (1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd at Euterpe St) from 7:00-8:30pm on both evenings. Tickets are $20 and available at the door or by calling Ashe Cultural Center at 504-723-6693.

We would also like to let everyone know that we have been invited to join the roster of Threadhead Records, a fan-funded label that is now home to many of New Orleans’ finest artists. If you would like more information about our recording project, and the efforts of a great non-profit organization dedicated to helping the New Orleans music scene please visit Threadhead Records at

Taller Children

Here's a link to Elizabeth & the Catapult's video for the title track "Taller Children"... summer fun

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Supa Chikan at NYC's Central Park

Supa Chikan is playing a free concert this afternoon, Saturday, June 13, 2009, 3:00 – 4:45 p.m. at Central Park’s East Meadow, 5th avenue at 97th street, NYC. Cheers to Rainbow Ralph.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Marva Wright suffers stroke

New Orleans blues diva Marva Wright is recovering from a severe stroke she suffered last Saturday. Wright, 61, had just finished her regular gig at the
CoCo Club on Bourbon Street when paramedics were called because
the singer wasn't feeling well and had slurred speech.

Wright's daughter, Gerry McKey, said Tuesday her mother remains in a local
hospital with limited movement on her right side. McKey said her mother has
diabetes and high blood pressure and suffered a less severe stroke about three
weeks ago.

Manager Adam Shipley said Wright's June 19 show at Tipitina's has been canceled
and other cancellations may follow. Wright's band, the BMWs, performed as
scheduled at a benefit concert Sunday with a substitute singer.

This is particularly distressing news coming on the heels of Koko Taylor's death.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

David Byrne at Prospect Park

It appears that every 25 to 40-something newbie Brooklynite involved in the last 15 years of gentrification showed up for the David Byrne concert at Prospect Park Monday night to open the Celebrate Brooklyn festival at the band shell. I've been going to these events since they started and this was the largest crowd I've ever see at the bandshell, even bigger than the turnout for Dylan last year. Being that it was a weekday night and there were more people out in the park than inside the enclosure I attribute the enormous turnout to the economic conditions ie: everyone in Brooklyn is out of a job. The show was outstanding. Byrne can be infuriatingly fey but he rose to the occasion at this event and performed with serious passion. The most interesting aspect of the whole thing from my perspective was how the young crowd related to songs from three decades ago as if they were contemporary observations. "Once In a Lifetime" and "Life During Wartime" were written as social barbs taking on American mores during the Reagan administration, but both songs could have been written yesterday and the crowd took them to heart as contemporary works, not nostalgia:
"You may ask yourself
Where is my beautiful house?"
Well, for a lot of these folks, it's underwater, which is where Byrne was when he made the video of the song back in the early days of MTV. Prophecy, thy name is Byrne.

Vision Festival starts tonight

With the JVC Jazz Festival having bit the dust the Vision Festival has become the real New York Jazz Festival. This year's event honors Marshall Allen and starts tonight at the Abrons Art Center, 466 Grand St.

Host: Lewis Barnes

Opening Invocation
Hamid Drake / Patricia Nicholson / William Parker

7:30 in the Downstairs Theater
INSTALLATION: DVD video projected on Assemblage
©2009 Lili White
DVD video; color, sound; TRT: 16.10 minutes, looped

Brass Bang
Billy Bang - violin
Ted Daniel - trumpet
James Zollar - trumpet
Ahmed Abdullah - trumpet
Dick Griffin - trombone
Russell Carter - drums

Douglas R. Ewart and Inventions
Shaku Joseph Jarman - flute, sax, poetry
Douglas R. Ewart - winds, percussion, voice
J.D. Parran - flute, clarinets and bass sax
Donald Smith - piano
Thurman Barker - drums and vibes
Amiri Baraka - words

"Vision of New York"
video by Luciano Rossetti

Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris Conducts A Chorus Of Poets and String Ensemble
"Conduction® No. 187, Erotic Eulogy"

Chorus of Poets:
Yasha Bilan, Mark Gerring, Chavisa Woods, Nora McCarthy,
Justin Carter, Alex Bilu, Helga Davis, David Devoe
String of Ensemble:
Nicole Federici, Jason kao Hwang - viola
Shawn McGloin, Jane Wang - bass
Skye Steele, Charlie Burnham - violin
Greg Heffernan, Alisa Horn - cello
Text by Allan Graubard

Sunday, June 7, 2009

New Orleans Fairmont hotel to re-open

The great Fairmont hotel, closed since Katrina, is reopening.

Hotel officially opens June 26th!

Ribbon cutting ceremony July 1st

See also Fans of Tim Laughlin page:

Tim Laughlin and his band opens at the Sazerac Bar - from July 10th
and debuts in the Blue Room - July 31st

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sam Butera dies

Sam Butera, the great New Orleans saxophonist who played for many years with Louis Prima, passed away. Here's the New York Times obit by Peter Keepnews:

Thursday, June 4, 2009



Grammy Award-winning blues legend Koko Taylor, 80, died on June 3, 2009 in her
hometown of Chicago, IL, as a result of complications following her May 19
surgery to correct a gastrointestinal bleed. On May 7, 2009, the critically
acclaimed Taylor, known worldwide as the “Queen of the Blues,” won her 29th
Blues Music Award (for Traditional Female Blues Artist Of The Year), making her
the recipient of more Blues Music Awards than any other artist. In 2004 she
received the NEA National Heritage Fellowship Award, which is among the highest
honors given to an American artist. Her most recent CD, 2007’s Old School, was
nominated for a Grammy (eight of her nine Alligator albums were
Grammy-nominated). She won a Grammy in 1984 for her guest appearance on the
compilation album Blues Explosion on Atlantic.

Born Cora Walton on a sharecropper’s farm just outside Memphis, TN, on September
28, 1928, Koko, nicknamed for her love of chocolate, fell in love with music at
an early age. Inspired by gospel music and WDIA blues disc jockeys B.B. King and
Rufus Thomas, Taylor began belting the blues with her five brothers and sisters,
accompanying themselves on their homemade instruments. In 1952, Taylor and her
soon-to-be-husband, the late Robert “Pops” Taylor, traveled to Chicago with
nothing but, in Koko’s words, “thirty-five cents and a box of Ritz Crackers.”

In Chicago, “Pops” worked for a packing company, and Koko cleaned houses.
Together they frequented the city’s blues clubs nightly. Encouraged by her
husband, Koko began to sit in with the city’s top blues bands, and soon she was
in demand as a guest artist. One evening in 1962 Koko was approached by
arranger/composer Willie Dixon. Overwhelmed by Koko’s performance, Dixon landed
Koko a Chess Records recording contract, where he produced her several singles,
two albums and penned her million-selling 1965 hit “Wang Dang Doodle,” which
would become Taylor’s signature song.

After Chess Records was sold, Taylor found a home with the Chicago’s Alligator
Records in 1975 and released the Grammy-nominated I Got What It Takes. She
recorded eight more albums for Alligator between 1978 and 2007, received seven
more Grammy nominations and made numerous guest appearances on various albums
and tribute recordings. Koko appeared in the films Wild At Heart, Mercury Rising
and Blues Brothers 2000. She performed on Late Night With David Letterman, Late
Night With Conan O’Brien, CBS-TV’s This Morning, National Public Radio’s All
Things Considered, CBS-TV’s Early Edition, and numerous regional television

Over the course of her 40-plus-year career, Taylor received every award the
blues world has to offer. On March 3, 1993, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley
honored Taylor with a “Legend Of The Year” Award and declared “Koko Taylor Day”
throughout Chicago. In 1997, she was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall
of Fame. A year later, Chicago Magazine named her “Chicagoan Of The Year” and,
in 1999, Taylor received the Blues Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In
2009 Taylor performed in Washington, D.C. at The Kennedy Center Honors honoring
Morgan Freeman.

Koko Taylor was one of very few women who found success in the male-dominated
blues world. She took her music from the tiny clubs of Chicago’s South Side to
concert halls and major festivals all over the world. She shared stages with
every major blues star, including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Junior
Wells and Buddy Guy as well as rock icons Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.

Taylor’s final performance was on May 7, 2009 in Memphis at the Blues Music
Awards, where she sang “Wang Dang Doodle” after receiving her award for
Traditional Blues Female Artist Of The Year.

Survivors include Taylor’s husband Hays Harris, daughter Joyce Threatt,
son-in-law Lee Threatt, grandchildren Lee, Jr. and Wendy, and three