Philly Celebrates Jazz 2018

April is Jazz Appreciation Month. There is a lot of appreciation for jazz in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection so Philly is getting the party started early. On March 29, Mayor James Kenney will join the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy to kick off Philly Celebrates Jazz by honoring the 2018 Benny Golson Award recipient, fashion-forward bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma.

Jamaaladeen Tacuma

From the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy:

Jamaaladeen Tacuma is celebrated internationally for his creatively free and funky approach to the electric bass. His innovative style caught Ornette Coleman’s ear, and he became the first bassist in Coleman’s electric band, Prime Time, touring and recording with the group throughout the 1970’s and 80’s. Viewed as one of the most distinctive bassists of his generation, Tacuma is credited for redefining the potential of the instrument. Tacuma debuted as a bandleader, composer, and arranger in 1983 with the album Showstopper, going on to develop compositions that blend Prime Time’s elaborate harmonies with engaging melodies. His 1988 album Jukebox was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1989; in 2011 his ongoing achievements were recognized by the award of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts; he is the 2017 recipient of Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz Best Bassist Award. Tacuma’s artistic and experimental approach to jazz music has been and continues to be a source of great pride for the Philadelphia jazz scene.

The March 29 event is free and open to the public

Philly Loves Jazz Kickoff Event - March 29

To RSVP go here.

Help Get Muddy Waters a Google Doodle

We all have seen Google Doodles. The drawings “celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists.”

Google Doodle - Ella Fitzgerald

Google Doodle - Dizzy Gillespie

Google accepts suggestions from the public. You can help one of the most celebrated bluesmen, Muddy Waters, get a Google Doodle.

Muddy Waters Google Doodle

American Blues Scene, a popular website, is petitioning Google to create a Muddy Waters doodle:

No figure has inspired an international music explosion quite like blues musician McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield, who left a log cabin in a Mississippi cotton field to break much greater ground with his inimitable guitar and vocal style. After more than 100 years, Muddy Waters’ continuing impact has proven the blues singer to be one of the most significant figures in the history of American Music, inspiring generations of artists and cultural movements like Folk, Chicago Blues, and Rock n Roll.

You can sign the petition here. You can also email Google at proposals@google.com and tell them about the “Hoochie Coochie Man.”

The blues master is memorialized on a Chicago high-rise.

Muddy Waters Mural

With your help, Muddy Waters will be immortalized for all Google users.

Women in Jazz Month 2018

March is Women in Jazz Month, a time to celebrate the contributions of women to jazz. Few – male or female – have contributed more to the jazz canon than Billie Holiday. In the decades since her death, Lady Day has been celebrated in film, song, books, fashion and art.

billie-holiday-life-beautiful

ClickitTicket, a resale marketplace, has created a timeline of Billie Holiday’s life, beginning with her birth in Philadelphia in 1915 and ending with her death in a New York City hospital in 1959.

billie-holiday-timeline

An excerpt:

Billie Holiday’s voice was a little thin and somewhat limited. She had no technical training; she couldn’t even read sheet music.

Yet, Holiday is one of the greatest vocalists of all-time.

What she lacked in power and tone, she made up for it with the ability to tell a story and emote. Every song she sang she made her own.

Holiday was a true artist who had a profound impact on both jazz and pop music.

She made a huge impact on countless artists including Frank Sinatra.

“Lady Day is unquestionably the most important influence on American popular singing in the last twenty years,” explained Ol’ Blue Eyes to Ebony magazine in 1958.

Despite personal demons, abusive romantic relationships, and the specter of racism, Holiday achieved commercial and artistic success during her lifetime.

Since her death in the late 1950s, generations of musicians have turned to her recordings for inspiration and enlightenment.

READ MORE

The Lost Tapes: Malcolm X

February 21 was the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

Malcolm X

Two years ago, I nominated a former residence of Malcolm X for listing on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. In the statement of significance, I wrote:

Malcolm X, aka El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, is a world-renowned human rights activist and American icon whose charismatic leadership laid the foundation for the growth of orthodox Islam among African Americans in the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the nation. His life story is an American story. It is a “Horatio Alger” tale of a misspent youth, personal redemption and triumph in the struggle for racial equality.

During his “misspent youth,” Malcolm was known as “Detroit Red.” He was a fixture on the jazz scene in Harlem. His former residence, 2503 W. Oxford Street, was located a short walk from Philadelphia’s storied “Golden Strip.”

I also noted:

In the years since his assassination, Malcolm has become an American icon. He is the subject of countless books and academic studies, and documentaries, including PBS’ “Malcolm X: Make It Plain.” Spike Lee’s movie adaptation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X was released in 1992. “Malcolm X” featured an Oscar-nominated performance by Denzel Washington.

While the nomination was not successful, all was not lost. We raised awareness of Malcolm’s presence in Philadelphia. “The Lost Tapes: Malcolm X” will introduce a new generation to the human rights activist. The documentary premieres on the Smithsonian Channel on February 26 at 8pm EST.

The Lost Tapes

The documentary traces Malcolm’s life through rare archival footage from his speeches and media interviews. In comments following a recent screening Malcolm’s daughter, Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, said:

We finally have the opportunity to hear directly from our father’s mouth. … I was overwhelmed with emotion when I first saw it and I thought that it was a great piece of work.

For more information, visit the Smithsonian Channel.

Presidents’ Day 2018

I am a museum lover. Before the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Portrait Gallery was my favorite Smithsonian museum. It’s now my second museum. When Barack Obama won the 2008 election, I thought that he will be included in the pantheon of American Presidents.

President Obama’s portrait was unveiled last week.

Barack Obama - NPG

In an email, Obama wrote:

Today, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald became the first black artists to create official, Smithsonian-commissioned portraits of a former President and First Lady.

And Michelle and I joined our distinguished predecessors and thousands of our fellow Americans on the walls of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

To call this experience humbling would be an understatement.

That’s because, as a former president, when you choose an artist to describe your likeness, you have the opportunity to shape, quite literally, how someone sees the office of the American presidency. And how they might see themselves in that presidency.

[…]

The arts have always been central to the American experience. They provoke thought, challenge our assumptions, and shape how we define our narrative as a country.

Thanks to Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, generations of Americans — and young people from all around the world — will visit the National Portrait Gallery and see this country through a new lens. These works upend the notion that there are worlds where African Americans belong and worlds where we don’t. And that’s something Michelle and I hope we contributed to over the eight years we were so privileged to serve you from the White House.

Michelle Obama’s portrait will join the collection of First Ladies.

Michelle Obama - NPG

In case you missed it, check out “Obama Portrait Unveiling at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.”

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