Sunday, May 17, 2009

Notes from the Net: An 8-bit tribute to Miles Davis, David Sanborn interviewed, plus news, reviews, and more

Here's this week's compilation of assorted news briefs and links related to jazz, improvisation, and creative music in St. Louis, including news of musicians originally from the Gateway City, recent visitors, and coming attractions, plus assorted other items of interest:

* As is customary, we begin with the Miles Davis beat, where the news is that an exhibition of Davis' drawings and oil paintings will be showcased during the first week of June at The Exchange Court Gallery in London. On another non-musical note, via Miles Davis Online, here's an article from the Web site of clothing designer Ralph Lauren about Davis' "Ivy League" sartorial style of the 1950s and early 1960s.

As for news of Davis' music, check out the review/essay "The Arab Roots of Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain" written for by John Murnane, which connects Davis' interpretation of "Concierto de Aranjuez" to traditional Spanish music, which in turn was influenced by Arab musical ideas.

And in a year full of remembrances of the late, great trumpeter, one of the most unusual homages to Davis has to be "Kind of Bloop," a planned reworking of Kind of Blue in the electronic music style known as "8-bit," or "chiptune," which utilizes sound chips from vintage video game consoles and early home computers as primary sound sources.

* In other news of former St. Louisans, saxophonist David Sanborn (pictured) was interviewed recently about his latest CD for by Jason Crane (who also does the Jazz Session podcast series).

* Opening the "coming attractions" file, guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli, a frequent visitor to St. Louis who likely will be returning next year, will be honored next month at the Montreal Jazz Festival with the Fest's 2009 Ella Fitzgerald Award, which is given in recognition of "the versatility, improvisational originality and quality of repertoire of a jazz singer." It's one of several prizes awarded annually by the Festival to artists "who have made extraordinary contributions to the evolution of music."

* Speaking of frequent visitors to St. Louis, those habitués of our town's Jazz at the Bistro The Bad Plus just performed at NYC's Merkin Concert Hall on a bill with the Benevento-Mathis-Barr Trio, and the show was reviewed here for the New York Times by Nate Chinen.

* If you missed the Blue Note 7 at the Sheldon Concert Hall in February, or just want to hear more of the all-star ensemble, you can catch highlights of their recent performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC streaming online here, courtesy of NPR's "Jazz Set" program.

* Keyboardist John Medeski, who was in town last month with Medeski, Martin and Wood to play the inaugural Loyal Earth Festival, has a new CD for which he teams up with the band Sex Mob. Sex Mob Meets Medeski is reviewed here for by Lyn Horton, who calls it "a great ride with a hard-driving nearly rock sensibility that does nothing but cause sweat and a fabulous feel-good vibe."

* Next up, a couple of items with at least a tangential local connection, starting with the news that Broadway producer and impresario Rocco Landesman - the nephew of Fran and Jay Landesman, who operated the famous Crystal Palace nightclub in St. Louis' Gaslight Square - has been nominated to chair the National Endowment for the Arts. The consensus in various news reports seems to be that Landesman is a no-nonsense guy who will be a strong advocate for the arts in Weshington; here's hoping that turns out to be the case.

* Have you ever wondered about the man who wrote the song "St. Louis Blues"? If so, you may be interested in the new biography W. C. Handy: The Life and Times of the Man Who Made the Blues by David Robertson. A review in the New York Times by David Hajdu says the book "casts overdue light on Handy's essential role in establishing the blues as a popular art "

* Last but not least, of interest to all is an item from veteran jazz journalist and critic Howard Mandel over at his blog Jazz Beyond Jazz, in which he muses about women jazz listeners, sexism, and related topics: "The problem is that no one in the jazz world, with the exception of jazz educators, has pleasantly invited women to partake of the music. Rather than being marketed to, women have been neglectfully, perhaps unconsciously, shut out."

I found this to be an interesting notion, and I'm particularly curious as to how any female StLJN readers might react to Mandel's thoughts. Do you ever feel "shut out" with regard to listening to, playing, discussing or enjoying jazz? Is the jazz world more sexist than society in general; less sexist; or about the same? If you like, please feel free share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.


Lisette Dennis said...

In the late '80s I used to frequent The Knitting Factory in NYC. First the musicians, male of course, would ask me why I was attending their performance. Secondly, they almost always inquired whether I understood their music. A bit condescending n'est-ce pas?

Dean Minderman said...

Thanks for commenting, Lisette.

And oui, that does sound condescending, and kind of rude to boot. Did any male listeners ever get the same treatment?

I ask because the behavior you describe also sounds like it could have been a result of it being a "cliquey" sort of scene. Then again, you did use the word "frequent," which implies that you were there often enough to be known...

Either way, clique-ishness doesn't excuse rudeness, but I'm thinking that the kind of person who wonders out loud if someone can understand his music might also be the sort of person who'd generally be ill-mannered, confrontational, or otherwise unpleasant to be around.

Guess I just don't get the whole notion of giving "attitude," especially when you're not exactly a big shot to begin with.

Wouldn't it be smart for a musician trying to make a career for himself (or herself) to be personable with paying customers, in hopes of turning them into potential fans/regulars/CD buyers? Last time I checked, a dollar earned from a female CD or ticket buyer spends just like one you got from a man....