Thursday, November 22, 2007

Jazz great Sonny Rollins wowing audiences in Europe

BRUSSELS, Belgium - He did jail time on Rikers Island, played the requisite dances with record labels and pioneered the bass-drum saxophone accompaniment known as strolling.

The images of him blowing his tenor saxophone on the lower level of New York's Williamsburg bridge are an indispensable part of jazz culture. Sonny Rollins has been rocking the tenor sax since 1946 and he has no intention of giving it up now.

"I'm raring to go because I'm a very serious musician," he said in a telephone interview with Canadian News. "I still practise everyday. I'm still studying and learning. You never learn all of music." Rollins is in the midst of a two-week tour of Western Europe and Wednesday night at the BOZAR concert hall in Brussels, the 77-year-old proved he's still got it.

Not that there was any doubt.

Wednesday's audience varied in age, with many parents bringing their teenage children. In Europe, jazz is passed from generation to generation.

Canadian News (Google)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Jazz & Blues Fest draws top performers

The slate of artist continue to be filled and artists slotted in the lead up to next year’s Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival: The Art of Music, set for the Aqueduct in the friendly city of Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The OFFBEAT can say with a measure of sureness that legendary R&B/Jazz diva Diana Ross will headline Saturday night, January 26th, 2008, R&B/Actress Jill Scott on Friday, January 25th and R&B/Jazz performer Anita Baker will head up an All-Jazz Thursday 24th. Well, that’s according to the festival website

Other acts indicated for the big event including American Blues musician Taj Mahal, R&B singer Billy Ocean, South African trumpeter singer Hugh Masekela, Jamaican pianist extraordinaire Marjorie Whyle, soul musician Ryan Shaw, NYC based Latin band Yerba Buena, Montreal teenaged singing sensation Nikki Yanofsky, and the rejuvenated Jamaican reggae band Chalice.

The festival takes place in Montego Bay, Jamaica from Thursday, January 24th to Saturday, January 26th 2008.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This Music called Jazz

Jazz is a music form characterized by improvisation and spontaneous creations of melody. Created by obscure black musicians in the late 19th century, jazz at first synthesized western harmonic language and forms with the rhythms and melody of Africa. The black marching bands of New Orleans that often accompanied funeral processions played traditional hymns on the way to the cemetery however, for the processions back to town they would break into jazzed-up versions of the same hymns.

Jazz is rooted in the mingled musical traditions of African Americans and include traits surviving from West African music; black folk music forms developed in the Americas; European popular and light classical music of the 18th and 19th centuries; and later popular music forms influenced by black music or produced by black composers. Among the surviving African traits are vocal styles that include great freedom of vocal colour; a tradition of improvisation; call-and-response patterns and rhythmic complexity.

The earliest recordings identified as Jazz made in 1917 in New York by the original Dixieland Jazz Band under the leadership of Nick La Rocca. The players were white musicians from New Orleans, playing the style that they learned from blacks in that city.

They first important recordings released by black musicians were made in 1923 by king Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, a group that included Louis Armstrong, Johnny & Warren “Baby” Dodds and Honore Dutrey.

A musician named Buddy Bolden appears to have led some bands that influenced early jazz musicians, but this music and its sound have been lost to posterity. Although some jazz influences can be heard on a few early phonograph records, not until 1917 did a jazz band record.

This band, a group of white New Orleans musicians called The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, created a sensation overseas and in the United States. Among the band’s many successors, two groups emerged in the early 1920s that were particularly celebrated: the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and the Creole Jazz Band,