Billie Holiday in Los Angeles: the blues were brewing 2

Music
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Billie Holiday and her dog Mister, New York, c. June 1946, William P. Gottleib One of the greatest jazz singers who ever lived had a small voice, never more than 15 notes at her disposal, and recorded many throwaway tunes. But Billie Holiday (1915-1959) was great by virtue of her sure-footed musical gifts: behind-the-beat phrasing, ...

Thelonious Monk, dancer

Dance · Music
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Just as James P. Johnson, George Gershwin, Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington took musical inspiration from New York City, it’s impossible to divorce pianist/composer Thelonious Monk’s music from Gotham. In Monk, the erotic and the athletic intertwine at the Savoy Ballroom, subways vibrate with propulsive rhythms, congregational choirs shake church foundations, young girls skip rope ...

Bill Clinton, jazz guy

Music
First, an incredible “pick-up band” comprising Jimmy Heath, Joshua Redman and Wayne Shorter (saxophones), Stefon Harris (vibes), Jon Faddis (trumpet), Herbie Hancock (piano), James Genus (bass), TS Monk (drum) performed “Flying Home” in his honor. [It was played at his first inaugural ball.] Then Kevin Spacey imitated him, razor sharp. [“I love jazz,” drawled Spacey ...

The essence of tap is a rhapsody

Dance · Music
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Among the more quixotic ventures one might try, maintaining a tap dance company ranks somewhere between reviving the celluloid collar and loading mercury with a pitchfork. The degree of difficulty—in attracting and keeping good dancers, choreographing for their collective and individual talents, finding sympathetic musicians, securing a worthy facility, mounting shows, and obtaining funding—keeps growing. ...

The jazz strata of Ave Pildas 1

Music · Visual arts
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If you receive photographer Ave Pildas’s weekly e-blasts, you know the prolific nature of his work. His street snaps can be quirky, straightforward, unpredictable, ironic, reverent, whimsical, iconic, or just plain fun. He has an eye for the beautiful and the surreal but the transmissions often time to current events or seasonal observances. They show ...

Frank Morgan tribute concert @ Los Angeles Film Festival

Film · Music
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Film festivals (let’s put “film” in quotes, since virtually nothing on film is actually screened anymore) should be about more than moviegoing. I know regulars at the Berlin film festival who swear that their personal highlight is the annual sidebar, Kulinarisches Kino (Culinary Cinema), which thematically links a movie with a meal. Filmmakers who attend ...

Pianist Dick Hyman, a many-colored chameleon

Music
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It takes an exceptional chameleon to be able to master every piano style of consequence in jazz history.  There have been some good comprehensive players; the late Dr. Billy Taylor comes to mind.  But it takes an extraordinary artist to be able to accurately interpret the work of great pianists in their own respective vernaculars, ...

Brando’s bead on jazz in “The Wild One” @ L.A. Jazz Institute festival

Film · Music
We so enjoyed the opening-night  concert of “Jazz Themes from Hollywood: West Coast Jazz at the Movies,” a four-day festival sponsored by the LA Jazz Institute now going on in a big subterranean ballroom at the LAX Marriott hotel. The concert paid tribute to the film music of Shorty Rogers and Leith Stevens, alternately composers ...

Cool Hollywood jazz feted in festival

Music
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Jazz has been such an integral component to American motion picture soundtracks for so long, we sometimes forget it wasn’t always so. Try to think of modern motion picture soundtracks without jazz and it’s, well, unthinkable.  Don Ellis’s vibrant, taut music to “The French Connection,” Johnny Mandel’s poignant songs like ”The Shadow of Your Smile” ...

Life achievement award for jazzman Hubert Laws

Music
In the photo, famed jazz and classical music flutist and saxophonist Hubert Laws, who will be presented with the Los Angeles Jazz Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the Society’s 30th Anniversary Jazz Tribute Awards Dinner and Concert on October 27. Laws, a graduate of the Julliard School and a forty-year jazz professional, an NEA jazz ...