Daily Archives: September 18, 2013

SIGN UP FOR PROFESSOR CUNNINGHAM’S SWING SEMINAR

I first encountered the nimble, gracious Adrian Cunningham a few years ago. The young reedman had quickly won the Jon-Erik Kellso Seal of Approval and was playing beautifully.  Then I heard him at other gigs, weaving cleverly through an ensemble on clarinet, playing a ballad soulfully on saxophone, accompanying a singer in the most adept, sensitive way, singing exuberantly himself.

Adrian’s created a little band, called PROFESSOR CUNNINGHAM AND HIS OLD SCHOOL — without any enforced rigor of academia — and they will be celebrating the launch of the band’s premiere CD with a gig at The Cutting Room this Tuesday, September 24, 2013. Here is the event page on the ubiquitous Facebook.

For those who want a more explicit syllabus with assignments and a reading list, open your notebooks, please.  The gig will be at The Cutting Room (44 East 32nd Street) in New York City, from 10 PM to 12:30 AM, and Adrian will have a few surprise guests to sit in and play a song or two.  If you book your admission through the club’s website, it’s a paltry $10, or $15 at the door. The band will include Charlie Caranicas, trumpet; John Merrill, guitar; Rob Garcia on drums, a Mystery Trombonist, Oscar Perez on piano, and Adrian.

And here’s what one version of the OLD SCHOOL sounded like earlier this year at Radegast — creating swinging business with Vinny Raniolo, guitar; Charlie Caranicas, trumpet; George Rush, string bass, and Rob Garcia, drums:

I think this evening will be a truly educational experience.  And Adrian has assured me that anyone smiling, rocking, or dancing at the gig has already passed the final.  Extra credit to CD purchasers!

May your happiness increase!

“BUT IS IT JAZZ?” “DOES IT MATTER?” or THE JUDGE PASSES SENTENCE

I had an email conversation a day ago with a musician — expert on his instrument and with a deep immersion in a wide range of music — about a performance I had recorded of his . . . a powerful exposition of a piece of late Sixties “popular music,” which he played splendidly.  He wrote me with some concern, wondering if his performance was, in fact “jazz.”

I wrote back to assure him that it was both beautiful and memorable, and that was what mattered.

Definitions and categories can be useful: if you have a celiac disorder, it is necessary to learn the ingredients on the package so you know no wheat is hiding to attack your body . . . but in art?

I know many listeners who set up boundaries.  This “style” is “too modern,” so they avoid it; this is “old-fashioned,” so others close a door on it.  Others see the racial profile of the musicians or the audience and make up their minds that way.  Too many old folks in the crowd?  Can’t do that.  And so on.  Not enough players of the approved color?  Oh, no.

Perhaps the questions should be, “Does this musical performance make me feel glad to be alive?  Does it stir something in me?  Does it have its own logic and beauty?  Am I happier as a result of it?”  “Will I remember it in ten minutes?”

Here are two examples of beautiful music.  According to some classifiers and dividers, one is jazz, the other isn’t.  Do such rules really matter?

and

Now, this comparison isn’t to say one musician is “as good as” the other; it isn’t to exalt Bing at the expense of Hawkins.  It is simply to say that there are a million varieties of beauty in the world . . . too bad for people who deprive themselves of any of them.

And the Judge.  He was born Milton John Hinton, and later in his life he acquired the nickname of “The Judge,” part a comic homage to Pigmeat Markham’s routine, part a tribute to his being there early at record dates and gigs . . . but he had note paper that I saw for myself, with the heading . . .

THE JUDGE (and a a drawing of a string bass)

You are hereby sentenced to thirty days of listening to good music!

I’m prepared to serve my sentence, Your Honor.  And thank you for the reminder!

May your happiness increase!