Sunday, May 10, 2009

Notes from the Net: More on Kind of Blue's 50th anniversary; Quincy Jones speaks out on music education; 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:

* Starting, as we usually do, with news of the St. Louis area's most famous jazz musician, it seems that the Montreal Jazz Festival will honor Miles Davis with a series of concerts, including "Sketches of MD," featuring new compositions from saxophonist and former Davis sideman Kenny Garrett; a show by the "Miles From India" ensemble, performing selections from the recent CD project fusing Indian culture with Davis' music; and a 50th anniversary celebration of Davis's landmark album Kind of Blue with drummer Jimmy Cobb (the last surviving musician to play on the album) and his So What Band.

Speaking of Kind of Blue, this weekend's Los Angeles Times has a retrospective piece called "Miles Davis' 'Kind of Blue' at 50" by Scott Timberg that makes for an interesting read. And in related news, the Kind of Blue: 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition released by Columbia Legacy has been nominated for a Jazz Journalists Association Award as "Historical Box Set Recording of the Year."

* Also up for a JJA Award this year is the St. Louis area's own Hamiet Bluiett, who's nominated as "Baritone Saxophonist of the Year." The JJA Awards will be handed out June 16 at the Jazz Standard in NYC. For more on the awards and ceremony, see this post from JJA president Howard Mandel's blog Jazz Beyond Jazz.

* Trumpeter and St. Louis native Clark Terry is performing in a six-show run of The Cat Who Went to Heaven, a children’s jazz puppet show at The Harlem School of the Arts Theater. The show also features pianist Kenny Barron, saxophonist/flutist Frank Wess and the voice of Grady Tate in a story about "the intertwined fates of a struggling Japanese artist, his housekeeper, a Buddhist priest from the local temple and an inspirational cat named Good Fortune."

* Another former St. Louisan, the late, great pianist John Hicks, is the common element uniting three CDs - bassist Mickey Bass' Live at the Jazz Corner of the World, drummer Alvin Queen's Jammin' Uptown, and the tribute CD Mind Wine: The Music of John Hicks - reviewed here by Graham L. Flanagan for

* Turning to coming attractions, singer Kurt Elling, who Pollstar says will be coming to St. Louis in December to play Jazz at the Bistro, is releasing a new CD called Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman on Concord Jazz. Recorded in January 2009 in Manhattan as part of Lincoln Center's American Songbook series, the CD offers Elling's reinterpretation of the music performed by saxophonist John Coltrane and singer Johnny Hartman on their eponymous duet album, long considered a jazz classic.

* Last but not least, from the "general interest" file, producer/arranger/composer and all-around cool cat Quincy Jones (pictured) had a noteworthy essay in the Huffington Post about the decline of music education and America's neglect of its indigenous musical culture: "I consider it a tragedy on the part of our educational institutions that our children are virtually devoid of their home-grown culture while that same culture is accepted and celebrated all over the world...Our country has a long history of discarding and devaluing our cultural resources particularly where music is concerned. And although we have thankfully evolved in this pursuit, we still have much further to go before we can claim that we are diligent protectors of our cultural heritage." Preach it, Q!

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