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The Fierceness of Fred Ho.

15 Apr

The Fierceness of Fred Ho

Out of the corner of my eye in my busy past couple of days I noticed a tweet informing me that the baritone sax master Fred Ho had died.  I felt a pang of sadness as I fleetingly computed what I knew about the man; that I’d once heard magnificent, rapturous music emanating from a neighboring rehearsal studio at Complete Music Services in Brooklyn and had gone to peek and discovered that it was Fred Ho rehearsing his orchestra.  My friend Joseph Yoon was in the studio; he was working with Mr. Ho in a managerial capacity and introduced us.  Fred Ho was beautiful, smiling with a warm handshake and clad in a fantastic, flamboyant outfit fit for an emperor.  I was immediately enamored and told Joseph I’d love to get some lessons from him, but Joseph told me Mr. Ho was fighting cancer and wasn’t currently teaching. The gig I was rehearsing for was the same night as his, but I resolved to check out his music, which I proceeded to not get around to doing for the next couple of years during which time I picked up piecemeal snippets of information about his activism and eschewal of social media.  Upon learning of his death I’m left with a mental sketch of a noble master who was living under my nose and a hope that, having been deeply moved by the video attached to his New York Times obituary, that I will finally get around to learning more about the music and life of this baritone saxophone master.  I’m reminded that while as musicians we almost universally, as far as I can tell, look to our forebears, there are masters living and working among us whose work needn’t be enjoyed posthumously.  I’m really sorry I never got to see Fred Ho play his saxophone.  I’m glad his suffering is over and I hope his spirit will perpetually enjoy generations of celebration and acclaim.

 

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Endangered Blood on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert

15 Dec

Endangered Blood on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert

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Charles Gayle aka Streets Busking in NYC

30 Aug
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Heute Abend – Satchmo

4 Aug

I haven’t posted much here in a while, but I just found this televised concert performance by Louis Armstrong, the first horn player of my consciousness, from Berlin in 1965. It’s exactly the kind of thing I might have watched on TV as a toddler in Australia. Always, loved him, still love him and went to his house in Corona, Queens a few months back. I wrote a piece about it for an Australian magazine, but don’t know if they ever used it; if not I’ll post it here.

An Electrifying, Psychedelic Debut by Anderson Henderson White

22 Jul

Thanks to Lucid Culture for discovering my new trio Anderson Henderson White at our very first show! Here’s a video of our free country version of Ring of Fire from our second: 

Lucid Culture

It wouldn’t be fair to let the month go by without mentioning the debut performance of Anderson Henderson White at Zirzamin a few weeks ago, following the Sunday Salon put on by Lucid Culture’s sister blog New York Music Daily. Baritone saxophonist Paula Henderson seems to be the sparkplug for this exciting new trio, who blended groove and funk with mysterious free improvisation. Her fellow Australian, the Dirty Three’s Jim White on drums was his usual counterintuitive self: it’s hard to think of a drummer who’s so consistently interesting to watch as this guy, alternating between cymbal bell-tones and atmospherics of all kinds, shamanistic rattles of the hardware and rock-solid groove, all the while adding off-kilter accents on the rims and whirring brushes on the snare. He’s a one-man drum orchestra.

Rev. Vince Anderson has made a name for himself in both the roots of jazz (you should hear…

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Out Now: A Killer Live Show at the Stone by Tzar Featuring Paula Henderson

20 May

Here’s a review of TZAR featuring Moist Paula Live at The Stone … Thanks to Lucid Culture!

Lucid Culture

Moist Paula Henderson (whose nickname stems from her longtime leadership of legendary instrumental trio Moisturizer) has been the standout baritone saxophonist in the New York downtown scene for several years. Her own work has an irrepressible joie de vivre and wry humor; her new album with her latest project, Tzar, recorded live at the Stone this past February takes a turn in a considerably different, much darker direction. Here she’s joined by Ithaca, New York musicians Brian “Willie B” Wilson on drums, electronics and bass pedals (who really gets a workout, playing everything  simultaneously, it seems) and Michael Stark on keyboards. Their intriguing multi-segmented pieces blend elements of trip-hop, downtempo, noise and the edgy jazz that Henderson has pursued more deeply in recent years. It’s a deliciously mysterious, eclectic ride. The whole thing is streaming at their Bandcamp page.

The first track, There’s a Prayer for That…

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Inaugural CIMMFest Baadasss Award Given To Melvin Van Peebles

23 Apr

I just got back from Chicago where I played with Melvin Van Peebles wid Laxative at CIMMFest – we had a great time and Melvin was thrilled to be honored in his home town when the Inaugural Baadasssss Award was presented to him by the Festival.

Movies.Defined.

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Last night one of Chicago’s favorite sons came home to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival. To celebrate we were treated to a short film about his work, followed by a Q&A with NPR’s Richard Steele. Topping it off was a performance by the legend’s band, Melvin Van Peebles widlaxative.

If you aren’t familiar with Van Peebles’ work, you need to get yourself acquainted. Not only is he a talented playwright and musician, but he pretty much set the course for black filmmakers being able to make the movies they want. His picture Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song was the first movie by a black crew and a black cast. Needless to say there was some trouble finding distribution in the all-white movie industry. Van Peebles took a chance and distributed the movie himself. Only two theaters would play it initially, but it went…

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The wonderful Arthur Blythe at Montreux 1981

11 Apr

Alto & Tuba action on a delicious bed of cello, guitar and drums

Curtis Amy — soloist on “Touch Me Baby” by The Doors

17 Jan

This is my first time re-blogging, but I couldn’t have stated Curtis Amy’s case more thoroughly than the writer at Curt’s Jazz Cafe so I was delighted to notice a “reblog” button on the post. I stumbled on this blog upon deciding to try and find out a little more about the saxman behind the iconic tenor solo on “Touch Me Baby” by The Doors. The thing that struck me about this comprehensive blogpost about the life and career of Curtis Amy, whose name is probably unknown by millions of fans of The Doors were there words “toiled in virtual obscurity”. Once again I’m reminded of the legions of fantastically adept, talented musicians who have done and are doing just that. I find this to be a touchy subject and I think about it often.

Curt's Jazz Cafe

Curtis Amy (1927 – 2002)

Even if you don’t know his name, you’ve probably heard Curtis Amy. If you listened to pop music and pop radio from the mid-’60’s through the late ’70’s, then you heard Amy’s tenor, soprano or flute backing artists from Carole King, to Ray Charles to the Doors. But as a solo artist, Curtis Amy toiled in virtual obscurity.

Born in Houston, TX, in 1927, Amy’s first instrument was the clarinet at the young age of four.  He was drafted and during his stint in the Army, he started to play the tenor sax. When his time in the Army was up, Amy decided to pursue formal musical training at Kentucky State College (now University), from which he graduated in the early ’50’s.  He then taught school in Tennessee and knocked around playing gigs throughout the midwest for a couple of years, before landing in Los Angeles around 1955. …

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Did anyone else see Junior Walker and the All Stars at The Beacon Theater in 1989?

5 Jan Screen shot 2013-01-05 at 4.35.35 PM

I was lucky enough to see Junior Walker and the All Stars live in concert the second night I was ever in New York City in July of 1989.  My friend and I arrived on a Friday night, I picked up a copy of The Village Voice and saw that there was a soul music concert the next night at The Beacon Theater, $25 a ticket to see Percy Sledge, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Picket and Junior Walker.  Coming from Australia, this was unbelievable to me, but it was real and that specific concert is undoubtedly one of the experiences that compelled me to find a way to live in this magical musical city.  To see Percy sing When A Man Loves A Woman, Eddie knock knock knock knock knocking on wood for around 15 minutes and Wilson Pickett resentfully churning out performances of a dozen of his hits thrilled me half to death, but when Junior Walker came out swinging with his own band, The All Stars, and literally jumped right into Shotgun I broke down and wept.  Junior Walker has been one of my favorite sax players as long as I’ve had favorite sax players and his concert was one of the best I’ve seen in my life.  I couldn’t find any lengthier snippet of live footage than this clip of him and the band playing at the Ram Jam Club in London in 1967, but you get the idea of what I experienced and why he’s one of my faves in the first 10 seconds.

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