A weekful of events kicks of with a great honor: a program presented in conjunction with the legendary Apollo Theater. Jazz for Curious Listeners celebrates the Apollo Theater’s 75th Anniversary with a session including film and an interview with Tajah Murdock, who danced there in the 1940’s.
The legendary jazz advocate Phoebe Jacobs graces Harlem Speaks on Thursday evening, recounting her close associations with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and others.
Downtown, at the Rubin Museum of Art, Harlem in the Himalayas continues with bassist Henry Grimes in duo with guitarist Marc Ribot.
And the week ends with our third Saturday Panel, dedicated to a pair of true jazz iconoclasts, clarinetist Pee Wee Russell and trumpeter Frankie Newton. Our guests that day will include Dan Morgenstern, George Avakian, George Wein, Nat Hentoff, and a film show hosted by Hank O’Neal.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Jazz for Curious Listeners
Jazz at the Apollo
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: The Apollo Theater
(253 West 125th St.)
FREE | Seating is limited. Please call to reserve a seat.
The world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem is a testament to the great African-American musical performers of the 20th century, regardless of genre. Yet the connection between this landmark venue and jazz is special. Rare if ever does a month go by during the various public programs at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem when senior music lovers and musicians don’t recall witnessing, for instance, the great Ellington and Basie big bands swinging with down-home majesty and emotive grace. The Apollo Theater is essential to the living history of jazz, and to the careers of legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Gloria Lynne, each of whom won the Amateur Night competition, launching their illustrious careers. Tonight’s Jazz on Film will take place at the Apollo Theater, for free! See you there. (Seating is limited. Please call to reserve a seat.)
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Phoebe Jacobs, Jazz Advocate
6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | Reservations: 212-348-8300
Phoebe Jacobs, born in 1918 in the Bronx, began her career in jazz as the hat check girl at her uncle’s club, where she met and worked with jazz greats such as Sarah Vaughan, Eubie Blake, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Ella Fitzgerald. “Sarah would say to me, ‘Gee, do you know where I can get my dress shortened’ or where can I have my nails done?’ They use to ask me things and I would do them for them. Then over the years they began to count on me.”
That’s an understatement, considering her work with and on behalf of the father of jazz. See, Jacobs worked in public relations for various jazz record labels and clubs, and became Louis Armstrong’s publicist, and, eventually, the Executive Vice President of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, Inc.
In her role with the Armstrong Foundation, Jacobs was instrumental in efforts to honor his legacy, including the drive for the 1995 Louis Armstrong postal stamp. She is also a founding member of the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA), an organization devoted to aiding older jazz and blues musicians in financial difficulty or those experiencing health problems. (JFA’s Executive Director, Wendy Oxenhorn, was the guest of Harlem Speaks on February 26, 2009.)
In 2003, Jacobs was honored with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Award for Leadership which she received at the concert “Here’s to the Ladies: A Celebration of Great Women in Jazz.” In 2007, her 89th birthday was celebrated at a JVC Jazz Festival concert at the Danny Kaye Playhouse.
What better way to honor Women’s History Month than to be present tonight, as the National Jazz Museum in Harlem presents an interview with Phoebe Jacobs?
Friday, March 27, 2009
Harlem in the Himalayas
Henry Grimes and Marc Ribot
Location: Rubin Museum of Art
(150 West 17th Street)
$18 in advance | $20 at door |
Box Office: 212.620.5000 ext. 344
Master jazz musician (acoustic bass, violin) Henry Grimes has played more than 300 concerts in 23 countries since May of 2003, when he made his astonishing return to the music world after 35 years away.
He was born and raised in Philadelphia and attended the Mastbaum School and Juilliard. In the '5O's and '6O's, he came up in the music playing and touring with Willis "Gator Tail" Jackson, "Bullmoose" Jackson, "Little" Willie John, and a number of other great R&B / soul musicians; but, drawn to jazz, he went on to play, tour, and record with many great jazz musicians of that era, including Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Haynes, Lee Konitz, Steve Lacy, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Sunny Murray, Sonny Rollins, Roswell Rudd, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner, and Rev. Frank Wright.
Sadly, a trip to the West Coast to work with Al Jarreau and Jon Hendricks went awry, leaving Henry in Los Angeles at the end of the '60's with a broken bass he couldn't pay to repair, so he sold it for a small sum and faded away from the music world. Many years passed with nothing heard from him, as he lived in his tiny rented room in an S.R.O. hotel in downtown Los Angeles, working as a manual laborer, custodian, and maintenance man, and writing many volumes of handwritten poetry.
He was discovered there by a Georgia social worker and fan in 2002 and was given a bass by William Parker, and after only a few weeks of ferocious woodshedding, Henry emerged from his room to begin playing concerts around Los Angeles and shortly afterwards made a triumphant return to New York City in May 2003 to play in the Vision Festival.
Since then, often working as a leader, he has played, toured, and/or recorded with musicians such as Rashied Ali, Marshall Allen, Fred Anderson, Marilyn Crispell, Ted Curson, Andrew Cyrille, Bill Dixon, Dave Douglas, Andrew Lamb, David Murray, William Parker, Marc Ribot, and Cecil Taylor. Henry has also given a number of workshops and master classes on major campuses, released several new recordings, made his professional debut on a second instrument (the violin) at the age of 7O, has now published the first volume of his poetry, "Signs Along the Road." He has also been creating illustrations to accompany his new recordings and publications. He has received many honors in recent years, including four Meet the Composer grants and a grant from the Acadia Foundation. He can be heard on more than 8O recordings on various labels. Henry Grimes now lives and teaches in New York City.
Marc Ribot (pronounced REE-bow) was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1954. As a teen, he played guitar in various garage bands while studying with his mentor, Haitian classical guitarist and composer Frantz Casseus. After moving to New York City in 1978, Ribot was a member of the soul/punk Realtones, and from 1984 - 1989, of John Lurie's Lounge Lizards. Between 1979 and 1985, Ribot also worked as a side musician with Brother Jack McDuff, Wilson Pickett, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Chuck Berry, and many others.
Ribot's recording credits include Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Marianne Faithful, Caetano Veloso, Laurie Anderson, McCoy Tyner, T-Bone Burnett, The Jazz Passengers, The Lounge Lizards, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Medeski Martin & Wood, James Carter, Alan Toussaint, Allen Ginsburg, Madeline Peyroux, and many others, many of whom hail from other countries and continents. Ribot frequently collaborates with producer T Bone Burnett, most recently on Alison Krauss and Robert Plant's Grammy award winning Raising Sand and regularly works with composer John Zorn.
Marc's talents have also been showcased with a full symphony orchestra. Composer Stewart Wallace wrote a guitar concerto with orchestra specifically for Marc. The piece was premiered by the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC in July of 2004 and also appeared at The Cabrillo Festival in Santa Cruz, CA in August of 2005.
Marc is currently touring with two bands, the Albert Ayler tribute project "Spiritual Unity" (Pi Recordings), featuring original Ayler bassist Henry Grimes, and Ceramic Dog featuring bassist Shahzad Ismaily an drummer Ches Smith. Ceramic Dog will release their debut album "Party Intellectuals" this May on Pi Recordings in the North America, and Enja in Europe and Japan.
Saturday, March 28, 2008
We Remember Frankie Newton and Pee Wee Russell: A day with George Wein, Dan Morgenstern, George Avakian and Nat Hentoff
10:00am – 4:00pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | Reservations: 212-348-8300
Join us for our Saturday panel, where George Wein, Dan Morgenstern, George Avakian and Nat Hentoff will share their memories of trumpeter Frankie Newton and clarinetist Pee Wee Russell.
PEE WEE RUSSELL
Clarinetist Pee Wee Russell was born Charles Ellsworth Russell in St. Louis and began playing clarinet in Muskogee Oklahoma, famous for giving the jazz world pianist Jay McShann. Pee Wee's career in jazz began in the early 1920's in Chicago with Bix Beiderbecke and Frank Trumbauer, and he cut his first sides with Red Nichols and his Five Pennies in 1929. The band also featured Glenn Miller and Jack Teagarden on trombones, Bud Freeman on tenor sax and Eddie Condon on guitar.
By the early 1930's, Pee Wee moved to New York where he found a steady home in the bands of Eddie Condon and jamming with a roster of hot jazz players including Bobby Hackett, Red Allen, Edmond Hall, Hot Lips Page, Jack Bland, Buster Bailey and Vic Dickenson. Pee Wee played in the all-star band put together by Eddie Condon for Fats Waller's Carnegie Hall debut in 1942, which also included Bud Freeman and Gene Krupa. Throughout most of the 1940's Pee Wee could be found playing at Nick's, the popular Greenwich Village restaurant/club that was a mainstay for hot musicians as the swing era evolved into bop. During this period Pee Wee was recording sides for Milt Gabler's Commodore label under his own name and as a sideman.
In 1951 after years of heavy drinking and not taking care of himself, Russell fell ill and so near death that a benefit concert was held in his honor. After weeks in the hospital, including several blood transfusions, Pee Wee returned to New York and played a well received set at the Newport Jazz Festival with Thelonious Monk thus proving his talent for all music whether traditional or bop.
Pee Wee was a consummate small group player. Although he was offered jobs with many of the top-name big bands of the day, Pee Wee preferred the small group swing that he had been playing all his life, and with the exception of a short stint with Bobby Hackett's Big Band played exclusively in small groups. Russell was a mainstay in traditional jazz bands along the east coast until his death in 1969.
Admired by both Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie, trumpeter Frankie Newton had a relatively brief but artistically rewarding career. He had stints with Lloyd Scott (1927-1929), Cecil Scott (1929-1930), Chick Webb, Elmer Snowden, Charlie Johnson, and Sam Wooding, and appeared on Bessie Smith's final recording session in 1933. Newton worked with Charlie Barnet's short-lived integrated band in 1936 and with Teddy Hill, before briefly becoming closely associated with bassist John Kirby and his associates. The eventual John Kirby Sextet would have been the logical place for the trumpeter, but a falling out in 1937 ended up with the younger Charlie Shavers getting the spot in the commercially successful group. Newton instead played for Mezz Mezzrow and Lucky Millinder, led a few record dates (including participating in a set for Hugues Panassie), and worked at Cafe Society, accompanying Billie Holiday on several of her records (most notably "Strange Fruit"). As the 1940s progressed, Newton became less interested in music and gradually faded from the scene, painting more than playing.
Nat Hentoff has written that Newton was “matched only by Miles Davis for intimately evocative and lyrical storytelling.” Morgenstern has declared that “he was no ordinary man, and the music he made was no ordinary music. He was a poet; his recorded solos have a poignant lyricism of their own.” Come hear and witness the proof, as Loren Schoenberg and his venerable guests delve into the archives of their memory and record collections.