James on Jazz

Recent Articles

A feast for the ears: Don’t miss Rene´ Marie and Hugh Masekela  

René Marie. I Wanna Be Evil: With Love to Earth Kitt

Having your own unique sound is the prize possession in music. Smart artists know to work with what they’ve got and keep it moving — imperfections, conflicts, grittiness and all. Faithful supporters of this music get it. You never give up, and you continue to negotiate change with style. One such artist who has mastered this approach in an artful way is Virginia born and based singer-songwriter René Marie. Continue Reading →

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Rebirth Brass Band gets Dakota crowd on their feet

Do we have an agreement?,” asked lead trumpeter and Rebirth Brass Band (RBB) member Chadrick Honre at the beginning of the band’s second marathon set at the Dakota last Thursday night. He asked the audience if they were ready for some New Orleans music, if they were ready to have a good time and dance, and then encouraged them to get up and do it. The packed house, consisting of just about every age and ethnic demographic, honored that agreement.  

For almost a full 90 minutes, eight songs, and one encore later, the eight piece Grammy-winning ensemble that’s been entertaining music supporters around the globe since 1983 stepped off the stage as if they had just left a boxing match and won by TKO. From start to finish people were dancing and singing in the aisles. Continue Reading →

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Musicians bringing New Orleans flavor to the Dakota

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Are you ready to party New Orleans style? Then there’s nothing like the real thing, baby. And since we’re in the midst of some steamy New Orleans like weather here in the Twin Cities, why not mix it up with some equally hot New Orleans music, right? New Orleans musicians will represent the Crescent City in fine form this week as the Rebirth Brass Band returns to the Dakota on Thursday, July 24 for two lively sets at 7 and 9 pm.  

Move Your Body, the outfit’s latest recording from Basin Street Records, is currently receiving some excellent airplay on jazz radio. Continue Reading →

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Highlights of the Minnesota Orchestra 2014-15 season

 

 

 

 

The Minnesota Orchestra has announced plans for the 2014-15 season of three series: Live at Orchestra Hall, Holiday and Family Concerts.  

Here are some season highlights:

Live at Orchestra Hall, offers a varied series of popular music, jazz, Broadway classics, movie scores, comedy and other genres, led by Sarah Hicks, Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall. The Live at Orchestra Hall and Holiday series will include Grammy-winning trumpeters Chris Botti, Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director of Jazz Irvin Mayfield, Pops Conductor Laureate Doc Severinsen, and Orchestra musician Charles Lazarus. Featured vocalists include Ann Hampton Callaway (April 2015) in a first time program saluting singer-actress Barbra Streisand. Jazz will be well-represented in concerts by two world-renowned bands—the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Music Director and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and guest vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, (December) and Preservation Hall Jazz Band with special guest and soloist Irvin Mayfield (March 2015) on trumpet. Continue Reading →

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Rain couldn’t stop the 2014 Twin Cities Jazz Festival

“I’m glad we didn’t go to the park. We’re stuck in here together,” Dianne Reeves said at the end of her scorching hot set inside the Amsterdam Bar and Hall on Saturday night, June 28, to close the 16th annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival in St. Paul. It’s estimated that 20,000 attended the free festivities that took place at various outdoor and indoor locations. With the rain on Saturday came a change of venue for the Reeves concert, from outdoor to indoor, but despite all that, it turned out to be a good thing. Continue Reading →

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Maya Angelou memorial service will be streamed online

According to Wake Forest University, the memorial service for Maya Angelou will take place at the Wait Chapel of Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, N.C., this coming Saturday morning. 
Angelou died on May 28. She was the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at the university since 1982. At this private memorial, Angelou’s family, invited guests, and credentialed media only will be in attendance, however the university is offering a live video stream to the public, starting at 10 a.m. (EDT) on Saturday, at go.wfu.edu/angeloumemorial
Check out this video clip from 2007 featuring Angelou and Wynton Marsalis, as they discuss their glorious collaboration, “Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul. 
Robin James welcomes reader responses at jamesonjazz@spokesman-recorder.com
  Continue Reading →

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Remembering an influential legend

Yesterday, May 28th,my day started out like many others before it. I tuned into WBGO and heard the voice of the host of Mid-Day Jazz, Rhonda Hamilton. Instantly I could sense sadness in her tone, and then she said it: “Dr. Maya Angelou has passed at the age of 86.”

Nothing could have prepared me for that moment. She was a phenomenal woman, prolific writer, poet, and civil rights activist, among many other things. What I will remember most is hearing her talk in Minneapolis at the State Theatre on October 23, 2012, as part of a series of talks presented by the Star Tribune, called Unique Lives, and Experiences. Continue Reading →

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Bill Cosby May 31 performances at Orchestra Hall to be rescheduled

 

 

Not unlike, some of the jazz artists that Bill Cosby admires, who have mastered their own personal sound and genius approach to improvisation, he, too has mastered those same skills associated with the art of making people laugh with him, and at the same time made that art form look deceptively simple. His prowess as an all-around entertainer is undeniable, so when he comes to town, it’s usually considered a must-see occasion. The 76-year-old veteran comedian, actor, author, and avid jazz supporter was scheduled to bring his signature style of stand-up comedy to Orchestra Hall for two solo shows on Saturday, May 31, but according to a May 14 press release from Orchestra Hall, the shows were cancelled by the performer due to lower than anticipated ticket sales. The intention is to reschedule in the future. Since his 1963 appearance on The Tonight Show, he has entertained audiences with his roles in I Spy, The Electric Company, and the iconic Cosby Show. Continue Reading →

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Shades of Blue, Madlib Invades Blue Note available on vinyl May 27th

Shades of Blue – Madlib Invades Blue Note (originally released June, 2003) will be re-released on newly remastered vinyl on May 27th as part of Blue Note’s 75th Anniversary Vinyl Initiative. “Two years ago, we decided to begin remastering the jewels of the Blue Note catalog in hi-def resolutions of 96k and 192k. In order to develop a guiding artistic philosophy for this delicate endeavor, we donned our lab coats, ran dozens of sonic experiments and carefully referenced every generation of our reissues. Ultimately, we decided that our goal would be to protect the original intentions of the artists, producers and engineers who made these records and that, in the case of pre-digital-era albums, these intentions were best represented by the sound and feel of their first-edition vinyl releases. Working with a team of dedicated and groovy engineers, we found a sound that both captured the feel of the original records while maintaining the depth and transparency of the master tapes… Continue Reading →

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Minneapolis musician selected for Doris Duke Artist Award

 
Minneapolis native, New York-based pianist and composer Craig Taborn among 13 jazz artists to receive 2014 Doris Duke Foundation awards
 

 

Earlier this week, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) announced the first-ever recipients of the Doris Duke Impact Awards and the third group of individuals to receive Doris Duke Artist Awards. According to the press release, “both awards are part of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards, a special ten-year initiative of the foundation to empower, invest in and celebrate artists by offering flexible, multi-year funding in response to financial challenges that are specific to the performing arts. Doris Duke Artist Award recipients receive $275,000, and Doris Duke Impact Award recipients receive $80,000. Since commencing in April 2012, the program has awarded a total of $18.1 million to artists in the fields of jazz, dance and theater.” The 2014 jazz related award recipients are:
2014 Doris Duke Artist Awards

Oliver Lake
Steve Lehman
Roscoe Mitchell
Zeena Parkins
Craig Taborn
Randy Weston

2014 Doris Duke Impact Awards

Muhal Richard Abrams
Ambrose Akinmusire
Steve Coleman
Ben Monder
Aruán Ortiz
Matana Roberts
Jen Shyu

 

Pianist and composer Craig Taborn is multi-talented in the realms of straight-ahead and free jazz. Continue Reading →

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