If you enjoy reading about jazz music, the book “Ain’t But a Few of Us: Black Music Writers Tell Their Story” by editor Willard Jenkins should be on your radar. Released by Duke University Press Books, it’s a worthy read at 328 pages.
I’m a contributor and couldn’t be prouder. Presented are two dozen candid dialogues with Black jazz critics and journalists including Robin D.G. Kelley, Farah Jasmine Griffin and John Murph, as well as Angelika Beener, Eugene Holley Jr., Rahsaan Clark Morris, Stanley Crouch and Greg Tate, among others.
We write about access and obstacles in the world of jazz writing, which is still very much dominated by White men. The book also includes not only an anthology section, but also essays and articles by A.B. Spellman, Herbie Nichols, LeRoi Jones and Archie Shepp.
In one book review, Shana L. Redmond (Columbia University) said, “Who should we read when we need to know how to listen to jazz? These writers are the answer. The variety of their paths to writing and insights revealed by it demonstrate why Black writers’ voices and interventions are needed now as much as ever.”
Jazz masters honored
Just in time for Jazz Appreciation Month in April is the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters ceremony and celebration for recipients on April 1, 2023, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.
The 2023 NEA recipients are musicians Louis Hayes, Kenny Garrett and Regina Carter, plus Sue Mingus, NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy.
Along with the prestigious title, the fellowships include an award of 25,000. “From its origins in the Black American experience to what is now a global treasure, jazz continues to be a source of inspiration and creativity, due in large part to the stewards of this tradition, four of whom we are excited to honor this year,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, Ph.D.
It’s interesting to note that this year’s master jazz musicians were all raised in Detroit, Michigan.
SFJazz recently shared on Twitter that they will be joining the NEA and the Kennedy Center to kick off Jazz Appreciation Month with a special live stream of the 2023 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert on Sat., April 1 at 7:30 ET on the SFJazz YouTube Channel. The 2023 NEA marks the 40th anniversary of the NEA Jazz Masters program.
More reasons to celebrate
Speaking of reasons for celebration, last month on February 27 there was a celebration—the 100th birthday of the late great saxophonist Dexter Gordon.
The centennial celebration was underway for the leading bebop tenor saxophonist on February 25, at the Nash in Phoenix, Arizona. The special event was two shows put together featuring Craig Handy, Rickey Woodard, George Cables, Nat Reeves, and Lewis Nash.
The event was organized and approved by the estate of Dexter Gordon and the Dexter Gordon Society. My favorite Gordon album is “Doin’ Allright” recorded in 1961 and released on the Blue Note label. Check out the stellar song, “It’s You or No One.”
The saxophonist, woodwind doubler, educator, and composer Alexa Tarantino appears at the Dakota with her quartet on March 7. When she’s not leading her own band, she enjoys being the newest member of the all-female group, ARTEMIS.
Also appearing at the Dakota on March 21-22 is bassist Christian McBride’s New Jawn. McBride’s New Jawn is his new band that just released the album “Prime” featuring saxophonist Marcus Strickland, trumpeter Josh Evans, and drummer Nasheet Waits.
The new album was released by the Mack Avenue label. The group’s second album features original compositions from each band member as well as fresh renditions of songs from the late great Ornette Coleman and living legend Sonny Rollins.