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Nichelle Nichols hospitalized after mild stroke

Last night while at her home in Los Angeles, actress Nichelle Nichols suffered from a mild stroke and was taken to a hospital. She is currently undergoing testing to determine how severe the stroke was. Her publicist provided a statement to EW: “Nichelle Nichols is resting comfortably and undergoing tests. We do not have a prognosis yet but everyone’s prayers and well wishes are appreciated.”

Nichols, 82, is best known to fans as Lt. Nyota Uhura on Star Trek in a diverse career spanning over fifty years including appearances on stage and screen, from singing with the Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton bands to voice-overs on Futurama and The Simpsons, with possibly her biggest impact coming from her volunteer work with Nasa to help recruit minority and female candidates for the agency.

We hope she gets better quickly, and look forward to seeing her at conventions soon. This lady is
See full article at Comicmix »

Wes Montgomery’s Take on ‘A Night in Tunisia’ Unearthed for New Collection (Exclusive Song)

After guitar great Wes Montgomery left Lionel Hampton’s orchestra in 1950, he often played in clubs around his native Indianapolis until his recording career as a bandleader began to take off in the late 1950s. Some of the songs he played in those Indianapolis gigs were recorded, including a version of “A Night in Tunisia” that premieres today on Speakeasy. It’s a guitar-centric take on the Dizzy Gillespie classic as Montgomery peels off fast, fluid single-note runs in between
See full article at Speakeasy/Wall Street Journal »

Jazz Review Roundup

I didn't have enough free time in 2014 to review nearly as many of last year's prolific output of fine jazz albums as I wanted to. Here's a small step toward catching up, plus two 2015 releases (Ligeti/McDonas, The Side Project Saxophone 4tet).

Tom Varner: Nine Surprises (Tom Varner Music)

Composer and French horn player Tom Varner is indeed full of surprises, and they are not confined to the suite of that name (which, surprisingly, has 15 movements). I was most surprised by the outburst of New Orleans jazz in the last piece on the CD, "Mele," which Varner calls "a Gil Evans-influenced variation on the harmonic structure of a pop Hawaiian Christmas song." In general the music here seems highly composed -- these are not heads with strings of solos -- but still allowing for improvisation. The soloists who make the biggest impression are trombonist David Marriott and, no surprise here,
See full article at CultureCatch »

Jazz Review Roundup

The Cookers: Time and Time Again (Motema)

There's a personnel change for this jazz supergroup's fourth album: Donald Harrison replaces Craig Handy in the alto sax chair. Nothing against Handy, whose work I have always enjoyed, but that's an upgrade. I look forward to Harrison -- an excellent composer -- having a hand in the writing for the next Cookers album (though, who knows, he may not -- for some reason, this group has never featured even one of trumpet fixture Eddie Henderson's tunes). For the first time, here there are no tunes from non-members; the emphasis on modal post-bop is stronger than ever. 

As usual, the most heavily featured composer is tenor saxophonist Billy Harper; hearing his expanded-for-septet arrangements of his tunes is a welcome treat. For that matter, he is the most distinctive soloist in the band as well, though absolutely everybody here is an ace improviser --
See full article at CultureCatch »

Jimmy Scott, Jazz Singer Featured on ‘Twin Peaks,’ Dead at 88

Jimmy Scott, a gifted jazz singer who spent most of his career in relative obscurity but was known to devoted fans and other musicians as one of the most singular and striking vocalists in history, has died at the age of 88. Scott died in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas, according to his wife Jeanie Scott. With a fragile, ethereal voice and an idiosyncratic sense of timing that found him consistently signing well behind the beat, Scott was a wholly distinctive talent whose admirers included Quincy Jones, who he roomed with while singing with the Lionel Hampton Band.
See full article at The Wrap »

Get a bloomin' move on – the music of Michael Caine films

Michael Caine's early films defined the look of an era, but with scores by John Barry, Quincy Jones and Sonny Rollins they also defined its soundrack

There is a kind of music in Michael Caine's voice: deceptively flat, barely inflected, emitting just the tiniest glints of detached insolence and laconic menace as it maps the area between the pre-war docklands community of Rotherhithe, his birthplace, and Elephant and Castle, where his family was rehoused in a prefab built on bomb-damaged land not far from the location of Shakespeare's theatres. Few people alive know more about the actor's craft than Caine, none is more gifted in the art of underplaying, and that voice is integral to his virtuosity.

But there is music of a more conventional kind in the films that made him famous – when the former Maurice Micklewhite rather unexpectedly became the model of a new kind of English leading man,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Yusef Lateef R.I.P. (February 11, 1920 - December 23, 2013)

Yusef Lateef, who died on Monday after a bout with prostate cancer, was a devout Muslim who did not like his music to be called jazz because of the supposed indecent origins and connotations of the word (although those origins are still debated). He preferred the self-coined phrase "autophysiopsychic music." Furthermore, his music encompassed an impressively broad range of styles, and the only Grammy he won was in the New Age category -- for a recording of a symphony. Think about those things amid the flood of Lateef obituaries with "jazz" in the headline.

That said, certainly Lateef's own musical origins indisputably revolved around jazz. Growing up in Detroit, a highly fertile musical environment in the 1930s and beyond, Lateef got his first instrument, an $80 Martin alto sax, at age 18. Within a year he was on the road with the 13 Spirits of Swing (arrangements by Milt Buckner).

A Detroit friend,
See full article at CultureCatch »

Chico Hamilton obituary

Highly individual American drummer, bandleader and jazz visionary who toured with Lena Horne in the 1950s

A hundred years into its evolution, jazz incorporates ethnic and European classical instruments, drum machines and DJs spinning decks. A half-century or so ago, hardware habits were more cut and dried. A jazz big band had trumpets, trombones, saxes and a rhythm section. A small band had a rhythm section, a sax and trumpet, with maybe a guitar or a vibraphone. One that featured a (very quiet) guitarist, a flute or clarinet, a cellist, and a drummer who preferred mallets to sticks seemed like a strange beast in the jazz forest.

But the groups of the American drummer Chico Hamilton, who has died aged 92, did feature such instrumentation and, contrary to the jazz orthodoxies of the 1950s, they were for a time runaway successes. Hamilton led West Coast bands in that decade that came
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

"Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection" - November 19, 2013

  • SneakPeek
Produced and distributed by Mvd Entertainment Group, in association with Ediad Productions,"Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection", available November 19, 2013, is a new four DVD box set, featuring 12 Hours of the early 1960's TV series "Here's Edie" and "The Edie Adams Show".

Performances include classic Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Getz, Andre Previn, Sammy Davis, Jr., Bobby Darin, Johnny Mathis, Nancy Wilson, Buddy Hackett, Bob Hope, Dick Shawn, Rowan & Martin, Peter Falk, Sir Michael Redgrave, Zsa Zsa Gabor and a whole lot more :

"...more than 50 years after it premiered on the ABC network, the variety shows 'Here's Edie' and 'The Edie Adams Show' are set for release on DVD and digital formats, the first time either series has been seen in any format since its original broadcast more than a half century ago.

"The 'wow' factor of this box set resides in the eclectic guest stars Edie Adams
See full article at SneakPeek »

Exclusive: Wood Harris Confirmed for 'Sweetwater' Biopic; 2014 Playoffs Target Release Date

Written and directed by Martin Guigui, award-winning filmmaker who has helmed several shorts and films, along with music themed documentaries about Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton and Sun Ra's, the long-in-gestation screen biopic titled Sweetwater seems to be moving full speed ahead. A Sunset Pictures and Main Street Films production partnership, Sweetwater is set in the fall of 1950, during the time "the game of basketball changed forever when Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton entered the NBA. The first African American to play in the NBA." According to Guigui, who confirmed Wood Harris' starring turn as basketball icon Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton...
See full article at ShadowAndAct »

Kennedy Center Honors Recipients: From Marian Anderson to Meryl Streep

The Kennedy Center Honors have been handed out since 1978. Recipients hail from various branches of the American performance art world — including film, stage, music, and dance — even though performers more closely associated with British show business have managed to sneak in every now and then, e.g., Paul McCartney, Roger Daltrey, Elton John, Pete Townshend. Since recipients are supposed to attend the Washington, D.C., ceremony in order to take home their Kennedy awards, Doris Day has remained unhonored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Katharine Hepburn kept putting it off until she finally relented in 1990. (Irene Dunne, see above photo, was one who managed to be honored though absent due to ill health.) Ginger Rogers, for her part, was present at the ceremony, but her films with Fred Astaire weren't — because Astaire's widow, Robyn Astaire, demanded payment for the televised clips. At the time, Kennedy Center Honors
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Nice Jazz Festival Pays Homage to Miles Davis

Nice Jazz Festival Pays Homage to Miles Davis
Getty Miles Davis in Paris in 1991.

Nice, France — Among the staggering number of famous musicians who have played with the legendary trumpet player, Miles Davis, many will be on tour in Europe this summer, paying homage to their mentor and friend. With nearly 200 summer music festivals to choose from, the Côte d’Azur offers two of the most legendary open-air jazz fests, with top-notch international artists performing under a balmy, starlit sky at the water’s edge.

Festivities kick off
See full article at Speakeasy/Wall Street Journal »

Abbey Lincoln obituary

Jazz singer, actor and civil rights activist strongly influenced by Billie Holiday

If Abbey Lincoln was overwhelmed by the responsibility of being proclaimed "the last of the jazz singers", she never let it show. As her great contemporaries and principal influences among the classic female jazz vocalists fell away – with Billie Holiday the first to go, in 1959, and Betty Carter the last, in 1998 – Lincoln steadfastly maintained her dignified, almost solemn, focus; her tart, deftly timed Holiday-like inflections, and her commitment to songs that dug deeper into life's meanings than the usual lost-love exhalations.

And, like Ella Fitzgerald, who all her life took to a stage as if she were surprised to find anyone had come to see her, Lincoln became the opposite of a celebrated jazz diva. In some of her London performances during the 1990s, she would sit quietly beside the piano, tugging at her clothes, like someone who
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

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