National Jazz Museum in Harlem December Schedule

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem invites you to join us in this final month of programming in 2009! The month begins and ends with the co-director of the museum, Christian McBride, who comes off the road for five free Jazz for Curious Listeners sessions focusing on the role of the bass in jazz history, the jazz ensemble, and in his illustrious career.

Drummer Ben Riley, first famous for his 1960’s tenure with Thelonious Monk, is the first guest of the flagship Harlem Speaks series. He remains one of the most important drummers on the scene today, so don't miss this rare discussion about his long and distinguished career. The second guest of Harlem Speaks is the saxophonist, composer and arranger Ray Santos, a true icon for over sixty years in the Latin jazz world.

Join for several panel discussions, one peering deeply into the past with a new look at ways jazz informed the work of writer Jack Kerouac, the other projecting a view to the future of jazz in the 21st century.

And so we can take out the old and bring in the new swingin’, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem All Star Big Band, under the direction of Loren Schoenberg, will perform live at the Rubin Museum of Art for the Harlem in the Himalayas series.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
A Month with Christian McBride: The Bass
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

The finest musicians to spring from the world of jazz have clearly had an advantage when it comes to branching into other genres of music. Their mastery of composition, arranging and sight reading coupled with their flair for improvisation and spontaneous creation make them possibly the most seasoned and adaptable musicians in the art. Grammy Award winner Christian McBride, chameleonic virtuoso of the acoustic and electric bass, stands tall at the top of this clique. Beginning in 1989 – the beginning of an amazing career in which he still has wider-reaching goals to attain - the Philadelphian has thus far been first-call-requested to accompany literally hundreds of fine artists, ranging in an impressive array from McCoy Tyner and Sting to Kathleen Battle and Diana Krall.

His clear mastery of the bass, undisputed respect and admiration of his peers, and acclaim in the media offers a unique opportunity for those in attendance at tonight’s session. Hear one of the greatest artists on his instrument discuss the role of the bass in the jazz ensemble throughout jazz history and also demonstrate on his own bass.

McBride often uses the analogy of the offensive linemen in football as being comparable to the role of the bassist in jazz. “Although most of the focus is on the quarterback, the leader of the team, he’s only as good as his offensive line. The bass player’s role isn’t glamorous or glorious, but it’s essential.”

Yet in McBride’s able hands the bass takes on a shine of glamour, and his insights will surely illuminate the glory of the bass in the heartbeat of jazz.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Harlem Speaks
Ben Riley, Drummer
6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Ben Riley was born on July 17, 1933 in Savannah, Georgia, and his family moved to New York four years later.  He began studying with noted Harlem band leader Cecil Scott while in junior high school, and in high school began playing in a school band.

In 1952 Ben Riley joined the army and began to perform with the army band, ramping up his learning curve several notches. Following his discharge from the army in the late 1950's, he began working in and around New York and developed long-lasting relationships with Randy Weston, Mary Lou Williams, Sonny Rollins, Woody Herman, Stan Getz, Billy Taylor, and many others. Yet the association that secured Ben's place in jazz history was his four year stint with the legendary Thelonious Monk. He toured extensively with Monk and recorded several now classic albums with the pianist, such as It’s Monk’s Time, Underground, and Straight, No Chaser. A marvelous example of Riley’s playing with Monk is also found in the black-and-white DVD released by Jazz Icons.

During his tenure with Monk, Riley also showcased his ability to play with a wide variety of musicians, including Earl "Fatha" Hines, Andrew Hill, Hank Jones, Barry Harris and Clark Terry. After leaving Monk in the late 1960's, Ben chose to take time off from the road and took a position with the Wyandanch, New York school district, where he remained for five years.

Then, during the mid-1970's, the call of music became too strong to resist and Riley began performing and recording once again, this time with Alice Coltrane and as a member of the New York Jazz Quartet. From the late 70's through the 80's he performed and recorded extensively with the Ron Carter Quartet, which included bassist Buster Williams and pianist Kenny Barron, whom Ben recommended for the band.

When Carter disbanded his quartet, the rhythm section of Riley, Williams and Barron remained intact, working as a trio and rhythm section for various touring artists visiting New York. Ben Riley suggested adding a permanent horn player to their trio; Charlie Rouse, Monk’s favorite tenor man in his band, joined and the cooperative band Sphere was the result. Upon Rouse’s death, Sphere disbanded but Riley continued to perform extensively with Barron. He also continued to develop musical relationships with Abdullah Ibrahim, Barney Kessel, Chet Baker, and Johnny Griffin, among several others.

In 1992, because of his vast contribution to jazz music, Riley was inducted into his hometown-based Coastal Jazz Hall of Fame in Savannah, Georgia.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Jazz for Curious Readers
Greg Tate
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Greg Tate was a staff writer at The Vil­lage Voice from 1987–2003. His writ­ings on cul­ture and pol­i­tics have also been pub­lished in The New York Times, The Wash­ing­ton Post, Art­fo­rum, Rolling Stone, VIBE, Pre­miere, Essence, Suede, The Wire, One World, Down­beat, and Jaz­zTimes. He was recently acknowl­edged by The Source mag­a­zine as one of the ‘God­fa­thers of Hiphop Jour­nal­ism’ for his ground­break­ing work on the genre’s social, polit­i­cal, eco­nomic and cul­tural impli­ca­tions in the period when most pun­dits con­sid­ered it a fad.

His pub­lished inter­views include dia­logues with Miles Davis, George Clin­ton, Richard Pryor, Car­los San­tana, Lenny Kravitz, Sade, Erykah Badu, Wayne Shorter, Joni Mitchell, Lisa Bonet, Samuel R Delany, Ice Cube, Dex­ter Gor­don, Betty Carter, King Sunny Ade, Chuck D of Pub­lic Enemy, Cas­san­dra Wil­son, Jill Scott, Wyn­ton Marsalis, Bran­ford Marsalis, Ornette Cole­man, Henry Thread­g­ill and Ver­non Reid of Liv­ing Colour.

Tate has also writ­ten for the Museum of Mod­ern Art, The Whit­ney Museum, ICA Boston, ICA Lon­don, Museum of Con­tem­po­rary Art Hous­ton, The Stu­dio Museum In Harlem, The Gagosian Gallery, Deitch Projects and the Tate Muse­ums Lon­don and Liv­er­pool. His writ­ing about visual art includes mono­graphs and essays about Chris Ofili, Wengechi Mutu, Jean Michel Basquiat, Ellen Gal­lagher, Kehinde Wiley and Ramm El Zee.

His books include Every­thing But The Bur­den, What White Peo­ple Are Tak­ing From Black Cul­ture (Harlem Moon/Random House, 2003), Mid­night Light­ning: Jimi Hen­drix and The Black Expe­ri­ence (Acapella/Lawrence Hill, 2003), and Fly­boy In The But­ter­milk, Essays on Amer­i­can Cul­ture (Simon and Shus­ter, 1993). Next year Duke Uni­ver­sity Press will pub­lish Fly­boy 2: The Greg Tate Reader. He recently com­pleted ‘The 100 Best Hiphop Lyrics’ for Pen­guin and is now work­ing on a book about the God­fa­ther of Soul, James Brown, for River­head Press.

His play My Dar­ling Grem­lin (with live music score by Lawrence Butch Mor­ris) was pro­duced at Aaron Davis Hall in 1993 and at The Kitchen in 1995. His short fea­ture film Black Body Radi­a­tion was com­pleted in 2006. He also col­lab­o­rated on the libret­toes for Juluis Hemphill’s opera Long Tongues (Apollo Pro­duc­tion) and for Leroy Jenk­ins’ Fresh Faust, (Boston ICA Production). Tate, who performs on guitar in his group Burnt Sugar, is currently teaching a course  as the Visiting Louis Armstrong Professor at Columbia University’s Center for Jazz Studies.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
A Month with Christian McBride: On Film
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Come witness Christian McBride, co-director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, on film, with his own bands, as well as with legends such as Sonny Rollins and Herbie Hanock.

If you do you’ll see for yourself that the most awe-inspiring thing about Christian McBride is that his prowess as a player is only half of what makes him such a respected, in-demand and mind-bogglingly busy individual, taking time out to share with the audience of the museum.

The portrait is completed by a mere mid-thirty-something man who carved out time to speak at former President Clinton’s town hall meeting on “Racism in the Performing Arts.” He holds Artistic Director posts at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass summer program and the Dave Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. McBride participated in a Stanford University panel on “Black Performing Arts in Mainstream America.” He’s hosted insightful one-on-one “jazz chats” in Cyberspace on Sonicnet.com. He also scribed the foreword for pianist Jonny King’s book, What Jazz Is (Walker & Co., New York).

2005 witnessed his adding two more prestigious appointments to his resume. In January, he was named co-director of The Jazz Museum in Harlem. Christian has been focusing on a longtime concern: exposing jazz to young people.

“To a degree, jazz is non-existent in most major urban communities, which deeply saddens me,” McBride states. “Kids don't understand who our jazz greats were. My contribution towards rectifying this will be getting them to check out free events at the museum by inviting jazz and non-jazz musicians, athletes and speakers that they can relate to.”
While working for the museum in Harlem, McBride racked up frequent flyer miles as Creative Chair for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which gave him a degree of influence over commercial and educational programs at the Hollywood Bowl and Disney Hall. The position was passed on to him by singer Dianne Reeves who held it for three years; McBride handed off the chair to none other than Herbie Hancock.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jazz Is: Now!
All about jazz in the 21st century – Part One with Jonathan Batiste
7:00pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Over the course of one century, jazz transitioned from folk to pop to fine art status. In the U.S., where pop music commands the attention of millions, jazz seems to be off the radar of the mainstream media. Yet changes in the landscape of the music industry, driven largely by the Internet and technological innovation, bodes opportunity for jazz musicians, promoters, producers and presenters.

This evening pianist Jonathan Batiste brings together a panel to discuss the future of jazz in the 21st century.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
A Month with Christian McBride: My Bands
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

As one of the most in-demand bassists in music, Christian McBride could make a good living as a sideman. However, not only does he refuse to rest on his laurels or sideman status, over the course of his 20 year career he has asserted his own prerogative as a leader. Come hear him discuss his own bands, both electric and acoustic, including his latest ensemble, Inside Straight, which headlined at the Village Vanguard in November.

Christian McBride was born on May 31, 1972 in Philadelphia. Electric bass was Christian's first instrument, which he began playing at age 9, followed by acoustic bass two years later. His first mentors on the instrument were his father, Lee Smith (a renowned bassist in Philly) and his great uncle, Howard Cooper (a disciple of the jazz avant-garde). While intensely studying classical music, Christian's love for jazz also blossomed. Upon his 1989 graduation from Philadelphia's fertile High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (C.A.P.A.), Christian was awarded a partial scholarship to attend the world-renowned Juilliard School in New York City to study with the legendary bassist, Homer Mensch. That summer, before making the move to the Big Apple, the already in-demand bassist got his first taste of touring going to Europe with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, and traveling the U.S. with the classical jazz fusion group, Free Flight.

McBride never had a chance to settle into his Juilliard studies. Within the first two weeks of the semester, he joined saxophonist Bobby Watson's band, Horizon. He also started working around New York at clubs such as Bradley's and the Village Gate with John Hicks, Kenny Barron, Larry Willis and Gary Bartz. After one year at Juilliard, McBride made a critical decision to leave school to tour with trumpeter Roy Hargrove's first band, electing "experience with as many musicians as possible" as the best teacher. In August of 1990, he landed a coveted position in trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's band until January of 1993.
In 1991, legendary bassist Ray Brown invited the young wunderkind to join him and John Clayton in the trio SuperBass. After being hailed “Hot Jazz Artist” of 1992 by Rolling Stone, Christian continued to prove it as a member of guitarist Pat Metheny's "Special Quartet," which included drum master Billy Higgins and saxophonist Joshua Redman. While recording and touring with Redman the following year, McBride signed to Verve Records in the summer of 1994, recording his first CD as a leader, Gettin' to It. He also graced the big screen playing bass in director Robert Altman's 1940's period piece, Kansas City (1996).

Christian recorded three more career-shaping albums at Verve: Number Two Express (1996), the soul-jazz fusion project A Family Affair (1998 – featuring Christian’s first two songs as a lyricist), and the critically acclaimed SCI-FI (2000), marking the inaugural execution of Christian’s concept of music being boundless by genre. The following year, he continued to expand his audience with two endeavors. He dipped into hip hop with a side project dubbed The Philadelphia Experiment, a “jam band”-inspired CD that reunited Christian with his high school friend, drummer Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson (leader of The Roots) and featured keyboardist Uri Caine and guitarist Pat Martino.

Later that year, pop star Sting invited Christian to become a key figure in his 2001 All This Time CD, DVD and tour. Then in 2002, Christian supported George Duke by becoming a member of his band and recording on his landmark album Face the Music: the legendary keyboardist’s first album on his own recording label, BPM. “Christian is a monster on that bass,” Duke states with pride. “It isn’t often these days to find a young musician so dedicated to his craft. Christian is my kind of musician, one that is open to new ideas, good at playing different styles, reads music prolifically and is dedicated to furthering the growth of music not only as a musician, but as a young representative of his profession. There isn’t anyone better. And besides that, he’s a great cat!”

In 2003, Christian released one album on Warner Bros. Records titled Vertical Vision, a blazing recording that introduced the current incarnation of the Christian McBride Band. Over the years, McBride has been featured on hundreds of albums, touring and/or recording with artists such as David Sanborn, Chick Corea, Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole, George Benson, and the late greats Joe Henderson, Betty Carter and Milt Jackson. He also undertook his first pop Musical Directorship at the helm of a Christmas show featuring gospel royalty BeBe Winans and pop star Carly Simon. The event marked stage-shy Simon’ first New York concert appearance in a decade and she expressly insisted that only McBride could be her MD.

Finally, as a composer, Christian has achieved several high watermarks. Among them is a commission from Jazz at Lincoln Center to compose "Bluesin' in Alphabet City," performed by Wynton Marsalis with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. And in 1998, the Portland (ME) Arts Society and the National Endowment for the Arts awarded McBride with a commission to write "The Movement, Revisited," Christian's dramatic musical portrait of the civil rights struggle of the 1960's written and arranged for quartet and a 30-piece gospel choir.

There have been very few artists who truly embody the genuine, heart-felt passion for music in all areas as has Christian McBride. By boldly continuing to leave his mark in areas of musical performance, composition, education and advocacy, he is destined to be a force in music for decades to come. Tonight’s focus on his own groups will unequivocally show why.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jazz Is: Now!
All about jazz in the 21st century – Part Two with Jonathan Batiste
7:00pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Harlem Speaks
Ray Santos, Saxophonist/composer
6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

For years, Ray Santos has been one Latin Music’s best kept secrets. Not anymore. His arrangement of “Beautiful Maria of My Soul” for the Hollywood movie, The Mambo Kings, was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Song for a Movie Category (1992). He penned the arrangements for tunes such as “Perfidia” and “Quiereme Mucho,” sung on the movie soundtrack by Linda Ronstadt. Excited by the power of the Ray Santos arrangements, she quickly contracted him to arrange and conduct the material for an album of Latin standards.

The result of the Ronstadt/Santos collaboration was the release entitled Frenesi, a tour-de force production that earned the Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album of the Year (1992). On Tito Puente’s 100th Album and Afro-Cuban Jazz progenitor Mario Bauza’s last three productions, Ray Santos’ musicality poured forth through his big band arrangements.

The Juilliard graduate has played, recorded, composed and arranged for the frontline orchestras in the Latin Music Industry over the past 50 years. Mr. Santos, born and raised in New York City, reveled in the atmosphere of the Big Band Era. During this period he absorbed the popular music of his folk from the Caribbean and the Swing Music of the ‘30s and ‘40s. One night, around 1948, while listening to Symphony Sid on the radio, he heard him announce in that familiar deep voice: “Now, here’s ‘Bird,’ Charlie Parker soloing with Machito and His Afro-Cubans.” The thrill of that moment still in his voice, Ray excitedly describes his reaction as “WOW, This is it! This is the real meeting between Jazz and Afro-Cuban Music.”

Creative determination compelled the young saxophonist of the ‘50s to arrange and compose music that captured the incessant rhythmic drive of the Afro-Cuban Sound fused with the power and sonority of Big Band Jazz. The ace arranger penned an extensive output of charts, recorded by two generations of the most influential musical figures in contemporary American and Caribbean music, such as Machito, Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez. His career from the ‘60s into the early ‘80s matured in Puerto Rico where he wrote and directed music for television, produced recordings for established and emerging Salsa Bands, and played for many top stars in the business. Upon returning to New York, Santos contributed several arrangements to Eddie Palmieri’s 1986 Grammy-winning album in the Latin Music category. His career as a music educator at City College of New York has established him as an authority on Caribbean music, teaching a new generation of musicians. Media and film producers have contracted him as an arranger and music consultant and he remains an artistic innovator in the field.

In September of 1998, Mr. Santos was invited by Wynton Marsalis to conduct the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in a series of three concerts presenting “Con Alma/Jazz With A Latin Tinge.” These concerts were received with great enthusiasm by the audience and drew favorable reviews in the press. In 1999 Ray collaborated with Paquito D’Rivera in the production of Maestro D’Rivera’s album, Tropicana Nights, that was awarded a Tropical Latin Grammy. In December of 1999 he co/produced, with David Chesky, the CD titled The Conga Kings featuring Candido Camero, Carlos “Patato” Valdes and Giovanni Hidalgo, three world-class exponents of conga drumming. In 2000, Ray arranged for the Masterpiece production with Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri; this CD was awarded a Grammy. A second CD Conga Kings Jazz Descargas, with alto saxophonist Phil Woods was released in 2001 on Chesky Records.

Mambo’s resurgence heavily depends on those in the know. Ray Santos is riding, once again, on the crest of the new wave, experimenting with new ideas and musical approaches that will continue to enrich the popular art form, whether it is labeled salsa, Latin music or Afro-Cuban Jazz. “Mambo,” explains Ray, “is the interplay between a cooking rhythm section accompanying the saxes that lay down a melodic groove, over which the brass comes in blaring high powered riffs. The rhythm players, hearing this, step up the intensity of the beat while the dancers on the floor move with frenzy to this tremendous output. The musicians feed off the dancers’ reaction to the music, so it’s like a cycle of energy that goes back and forth between the music and the dancers.”

Proficient musicianship, the gift to express and write musical inspiration and a well-rounded persona has placed Ray Santos among the developers of the music. In turn, he is also preparing a new generation of musicians who will keep the traditions alive and contribute their own innovations. This unassuming gentleman will be, for days to come, a topic of conversation among musicologists, industry people and music lovers alike. And the recognition that Ray has and will continue to receive proves that even in the midst of a highly competitive music industry, nice guys need not finish last.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Harlem in the Himalayas National Jazz Museum in Harlem All Star Big Band
Location: Rubin Museum of Art
(150 West 17th Street)
$18 in advance | $20 at door | 7PM
Box Office: 212-620-5000 ext. 344
Band includes: Seneca Black, John Eckert, Dominick Farinacci, Dion Tucker, Pete and Will Anderson, Jason Marshall, Keith Loftis, Ben Williams and Marion Felder.

Swing with executive director Loren Schoenberg and the National Jazz Museum in Harlem AllStar Big Band at our very last performance at the Rubin Museum of Art in 2009!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saturday Panels
Jack Kerouac: What's New?
11:00am – 4:00pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Join scholar Sara Villa, poet Rueben Jackson and others on recent discoveries and jazz-related items in the Kerouac oeuvre.

When thinking of the relationship between Kerouac’s writings, the first things that generally come to mind are his major novels – most evidently On the Road and The Subterraneans – his poems, like the “Charlie Parker Choruses” of Mexico City Blues, or his poetical statements, such as his “Essential of Spontaneous Prose”.  If, however, we unite this specifically literary perspective to the analysis of his apparently most scattered writings on jazz, a new image of Kerouac is revealed. These texts, dating from 1939 to the late Fifties, include the articles Kerouac wrote for the Horace Mann Record dedicated to Count Basie, Glenn Miller and George Avakian’s Chicago Jazz album, essays on the hybridizing influences of contemporary classical compositions and on the evolution of bebop and cool jazz, poems and journal entries disclosing the poignant insight of a refined cultural critic, one who is extremely knowledgeable and refined in his embrace of jazz music and culture. These texts will be the beginning of a more expanded dialogue and discussion on Kerouac and jazz, with a special contribution of jazz, classical musician and composer David Amram on his jazz poetry performances with Jack Kerouac and on the creation of Pull My Daisy, directed by Robert Frank and Albert Leslie, ad-libbed by Jack Kerouac with original music composed by David Amram.

Sara Villa is a postdoctoral fellow in a joint program between Columbia University’s Center for Jazz Studies and the State University of Milan, where she received her PhD in 2008. Her research project is dedicated to Jack Kerouac’s manuscripts on jazz, from his youthful articles on Glenn Miller and Count Basie to the more mature production of essays on bebop and cool jazz. Dr. Villa is the translator into Italian of Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954, and the editor of a forthcoming collection of Kerouac’s music writings. She is the author of articles on Jack Kerouac, Virginia Woolf, and Anglo-American Contemporary Cinema. Her monographic volume on Woolf’s Orlando (I due Orlando: dal romanzo di Virginia Woolf all’adattamento cinematografico di Sally Potter/Two Orlandos: From Virginia Woolf’s Novel to Sally Potter’s Film Adaptation) has recently been published by CUEM, Milan.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
A Month with Christian McBride: All-Star Projects
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

This evening Christian McBride shall share audio and video clips from his tenure with truly all-star bands, such as Sting, trios led by Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny, groups fronted by Willie Nelson and Queen Latifah, as well as the Philadelphia Experiment and, very recently, the Chick Corea-John McLauglin Five Piece Band.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
A Month with Christian McBride: Favorite Recordings
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

As the premier jazz bassist of his generation, Christian McBride is naturally associated with the jazz idiom. But his tastes in music are quite eclectic, as you will discover tonight at the very last public program of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem in 2009.

The staff and board of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem wish you happy holidays and a prosperous New Year!

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