Happy New Year—and all that. A bright new year looms ahead for those of us who love listening to jazz, tracking down digital releases of great old recordings and learning details about the artists we love and those we knew less about. For jazz fans of the '40s, '50s and early '60s, jazz is much more than music. It's a grand story about the people who made the music and how that music changed over the years in reaction to its own artistic struggles and from external pressures as the world around the musicians changed. Best of all, the jazz story never ends. New details about the lives of jazz musicians constantly emerge, and out-of-print recordings are constantly surfacing. It's all so exciting. [Pictured at top: Dichotomic Organization, 1959, by Lorser Feitelson]
Share JazzWax. Want to share a JazzWax post at your Facebook page? Want to Tweet about JazzWax with a link? Starting today, at the bottom of each post, you'll finds a "Share This" link. Simply run your cursor over the link and you'll find a box. Just click on the services to which you subscribe and the post will be shared instantly. This is a convenient way to let jazz-inclined friends know what they're missing.
JazzWax in person. I'll be venturing out of my office next Saturday, January 8, to appear in a panel discussion for aspiring jazz journalists on "The New Feature: Long Form Music Journalism Now." It's part of the Jazz Journalists Association's "New Media for New Jazz" conference. If you make it over, stop by.
Joining me will be David Hajdu of The New Republic and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism; and Larry Blumenfeld, who writes for the Wall Street Journal and Village Voice. The event will be held at the Sheraton New York at 811 7th Ave. at 53rd St. For more information, go here.
Billy Taylor radio. Today, WKCR is hosting a 31-hour marathon memorial tribute to Billy Taylor starting at 2 p.m. (EDT) and running until Monday at 9 p.m. You can access the show from anywhere in the world by going here.
Billy Taylor memorial. On Monday, January 10, a memorial for pianist Billy Taylor will be held in New York at the Riverside Church on 124th St. and Riverside Drive. Seating will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Teena Marie (1956-2010). Like many singers who were weaned on the disco era, Teena Marie was greatly influenced by the soul and funk scene emerging in the wake of James Brown and Sly Stone. Largely dominated by male and female groups, disco and funk didn't start producing individual female hit-makers until later in the '70s. Acid-disco and funk divas included Vicki Sue Robinson, Gloria Gaynor, Patti LaBelle, Donna Summer, Grace Jones, Karen Young, Alicia Bridges and Loleatta Holloway—feline belters who sang as though they had only one shot to attract attention.
By the early '80s, Madonna, Tina Turner, Grace Jones and Whitney Houston were changing the soul-sister sound with pop hooks. Teena Marie, who died in her sleep last week at age 54, straddled both decades, singing and playing with abandon and aggression but holding close to the naughty funk style of Rick James. Teena Marie's voice was so strong in the gospel tradition that many thought she was black. So her picture was left off albums initially to make sure that image was perpetuated.
In the singer's New York Times' obit last week, Teena Marie was quoted on the topic:
"Overall, my face hasn't been a problem. I'm a black artist with white skin. At the end of the day, you have to sing what's in your own soul."
Here's Teena Marie's big hit Lovergirl from 1984...
Beatles and web cams. Jim Eigo of the Jazz Promo Service sent along a link last week to a site that's chock-filled with fun stuff. Among the links at the site include this one here, which shows live streaming video (and sound!) from the famed Abbey Road crosswalk in London. See tourists endlessly recreate the Beatles' album cover. Or a link to a Beatles accordion site here.
Dig the whole voyeuristic live webcam thing? Go here to see streaming live video from cities around the world, ranging from Paris, to Bora Bora to Rio de Janeiro. All corners of the globe, live and in color, right on your computer.
Big band radio. Jim Wardrop hosts Swing Sunday today from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (EDT) on WDIY. You can access Jim's big band show from anywhere in the world here.
CD discovery of the week: Dig baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber? He goes back to the Newport Youth Band of 1959 and the bands of Slide Hampton, Maynard Ferguson, Dr. Lonnie Smith and George Benson in the early and mid-'60s. He's prominently featured on trumpeter and trombonist Mac Gollehon's new album Mac Straight Ahead (American Showplace). Here, Gollehon is backed by a sextet. Ronnie has fabulous solos on Fish Market, the title track, Strange Behavior, After You've Gone and Goodbye Porkpie Hat. And check Gollehon on Jack Reardon's The Good Life. You'll find this album at iTunes and here.
Oddball album cover of the week: Marjorie Meinert was a Wurlitzer and Allen organist of some renown back in the '50s who specialized in straight renditions of pop songs. Our creative director obviously needed something to illustrate "mighty" and this is what he or she came up with. Good thing for Meinert that the word wasn't "flighty." Posing on a window ledge is dangerous work. For more on Marge Meinert, go here (and be sure to click on the link to watch a video of her play Flight of the Bumble Bee).