Tuesday, April 29, 2008


IAJE DEMISE: Everyone is talking about the end of the IAJE with a lot of finger pointing, recriminations, etc. My first meeting was in 1977 in Philadelphia, dedicated to Trane. I played with Hilton Ruiz in the lobby of a hotel for 200 people and that was it-no booths, no lectures, etc. I have been to almost every meeting since and performed or lectured at many. The one immediate problem of the bankruptcy is of course the payment of dues for members like my wife (Caris Music Services) resulting in being left out to dry. It “appears” that there was prior knowledge about the financial problems. Soliciting contributions to offset financial problems is one things but taking dues under the premise of benefits with knowledge that the chances of getting those advantages is small does seem a bit fraudulent. Everyone loses because no matter what people may say about the way it was run, the people who ran it, and the “bigger is better” philosophy that drove the conventions, the truth is that it is a great loss. I will miss the hang and the chance to see everyone in one place and for young students or older music lovers, it was like Mecca to see all those names in one place. No matter how one feels, this is a bad happening for the jazz community. My organization, the IASJ, still going in its 20th year remains healthy because it is based on select student to student interaction and no outside commercial dealings.

LIEB GROUP IN ARGENTINA: We had a wonderful few days in Uruguay and Argentina with the group. (Best meat I ever had by the way!!) By chance I got to meet the tango-bandoneon master, Dino Saluzzi and actually played with him and his band (all immediate family). A very compelling and lyrical music that goes a beyond the ordinary featuring 11-V harmony but with a twist and most of all a fantastic feel.

With Dino Saluzzi

OF INTEREST!!- (I always thought jazz folks have something wired differently!!)
Scanning the brains of jazz musicians
Posted by David Pescovitz, March 7, 2008
According to new research, jazz musicians unconsciously switch off regions of the brain involved in self-censorship and firing up the area linked to self-expression. The scientists from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders used fMRI to scan the brains of jazz musicians as they played a specially-designed piano keyboard. From a press release:
The scientists found that a region of the brain known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a broad portion of the front of the brain that extends to the sides, showed a slowdown in activity during improvisation. This area has been linked to planned actions and self-censoring, such as carefully deciding what words you might say at a job interview. Shutting down this area could lead to lowered inhibitions, Limb suggests. The researchers also saw increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which sits in the center of the brain’s frontal lobe. This area has been linked with self-expression and activities that convey individuality, such as telling a story about yourself. “Jazz is often described as being an extremely individualistic art form. You can figure out which jazz musician is playing because one person’s improvisation sounds only like him or her,” says (professor Charles) Limb. “What we think is happening is when you’re telling your own musical story, you’re shutting down impulses that might impede the flow of novel ideas.”

ON ELVIN: A friend is putting together a book of remembrances based on a chosen photo of a great musician. This is mine on Elvin:
Like most people and certainly performing artists, Elvin had several sides to his personality. There was of course the Elvin on the well photographed Elvin playing the drums, a study in relaxed intensity conveying looseness beyond description- cigarette dangling, an almost scowlish expression and sweat rolling down his entire being. Then there is the Elvin we see here-face as dark as the night with teeth like the sun in contrast, eyes bright and alive and most of all, that smile. This is the Elvin that was my second father who inspired me to not only excel in music but to do whatever is necessary to contribute to the world this special energy that we are privileged to know about through jazz music. Elvin had been around the block so to say, had seen everything more than once and done it all. He brought that experience to everyone together with an incredible understanding of the human condition and what it meant to be alive. His generosity of spirit is renown to those who were around him, be it a fellow performer or a listener in the audience. Elvin used to say that Coltrane was a living "saint." Well, Elvin was right there with him.

This is a burning version of “Footprints” with the Canadian guys I play with on occasion-saxophonist Mike Murley, bassist Jim Vivian and a great drummer, Ian Froman. This is at a club called the Rex during the last IAJE Convention in Toronto.

THE BEATLES REHEARSING: This is great watching the four lads put together one of their classics (Get Back)-very natural, very slow and charming-talk about step by step!!

BEN WEBSTER:This is a very special performance of “Old Folks,” first of all seeing Ben with Teddy Wilson-what an incredible history. It seems that Ben had just learned of the passing of his Ellington comrade, Johnny Hodges. When Ben begins his solo, there is a moment when tears roll down the face of one of the legendary toughest characters in jazz. The camaraderie in this music is for me one of its most meaningful characteristics. The warmth and respect between musicians is for real.

Conor Guilfoyle is a drummer whom I have played with on many occasions in Ireland and around Europe as well as Australia in a group with his brother, bassist Ronan Guilfoyle. Along with guitarist Mike Nielsen, these gentlemen have done an incredible amount of research into rhythm –metric modulation, odd meters, etc. Ronan’s book on the subject is a classic. Conor has delved into odd meter playing in Latin based music and also written an exhaustive book on the subject. Check out the site and the mini lessons there:

BOOK-THE HUMAN RACE-Robert Antelm:There have been countless books written on the Holocaust, but this one translated from the French is a blow by blow description of what was happening on the absolute human level. It is a heavy read, but the feeling I got was positive because it shows the will to survive is stronger than the depravity man is capable of.
Page 175-“We are no longer hounded by the cold. We no longer tremble, we are able to talk outside without out teeth chattering, we are able to form our words, even take the time to pause between sentences, our speech is no longer hurried, we can bear to be outside and just stay there. We can straighten up, square our shoulders, take deep breaths, we cease to huddle in our arms, and we look at the sky and relax when we walk, We no longer have to hold it for a day or two before going outside to the latrine, We can go out, pull down our pants without shaking and linger in the warm breeze that wafts over our skin.”

BOOK-THE REST IS NOISE by Alex Ross:I am only half way through this highly recommended book about the 20th century classical scene-something very related to what we do. Ross describes blow by blow the absolute revolution that Schoenberg and others created. After all, they were turning the tide on centuries of understandings. Brave is an understatement!!
Here is a wonderful story from the book:
“Jazz musicians sat up in their seat when Stravinsky’s music started playing: he was speaking something close to their language. When Bird came to Paris in 1949 he marked the occasion by incorporating the first notes of Rite of Spring into his solo on “Salt Peanuts.” Two years later, playing Birdland in New York, the bebop master spotted Stravinsky at one of the tables and immediately quoted a motif from “Firebird” into “Koko” causing the composer to spill his scotch in ecstasy.”(pg 92)

DENNIS IRWIN: A brother beyond brother, Dennis was the consummate side man for several generations of NY musicians. A great player who understood his role in the band, an incredible all around musicians and one of the most soulful cats you could know. Thankfully, he went down relatively quickly and did not suffer for long. He will be sorely missed by the community.

JIMMY GIUFFRE: What a great musician, a true innovator and artist who contributed so much to jazz. He made me actually like the clarinet in this music!!

Concerts in Rome and Milan with pianist Enrico Intra ; Bologna concert with drummerTony Arco, pianist Roberto Tarenzi and bassist Paolo Benedettini; duo concerts with Jean Marie Machado in Diersbach and Berlin, Germany ; Duc du Lombard in Paris and Vierson-France; LeMans Festival with World View Trio of Wolfgang Reisinger on drums andJean Paul Celea on bass with special guest John Abercrombie; Concerts with Nordbatten Big Band conducted by Tim Hagans in Lulea, Haparanda and Stockholm-Sweden; with Kevin Mahogany and Markowitz(piano) doing a Tribute to Coltrane and Hartmann at the Central Friends of Jazz Festival-Harrisburg, PA.

JUNE:Dave Liebman Group at the Telluride Festival, Colorado; Rochester Festival, NY ; Edmonton Festival, Canada; Saxophone Summit (Ravi Coltrane, Joe Lovano, Phil Markowitz, Cecil McBee, Billy Hart) performances at Birdland-New York City; Regatta Bar-Boston; Montreal and Saratoga Festivals.


With the Zagreb(Croatia) Big Band

With the Dave Liebman Group in Ottawa, Canada-Cafe Paridiso
With Dominique Muzeau and band in Paris (notice the head "count")