events

Rex Grants, Musical Caravan Events and The World As It Could Be

August began with our 2nd 3-day Institute on The World As It Could Be curriculum, presented in collaboration with the University of San Francisco. A filled class of 25 avidly took in the presented material to lea rn about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and experience applying music, visual arts,  spoken word, performance arts and movement to express their personal connection to human rights issues.  The photo here shows the class members rehearsing for their culminating presentation.  The video of the culminating presentation helps demonstrate the intensely moving experience of working with the curriculum.  We are excited to know that the work done August 2-3 is now being applied in classrooms and communities in the Bay Area, as well as Milwaukee, WI!

On August 10th, we were privileged to experience a very special night of story telling by Bob Weir, Carolyn Garcia, John Perry Barlow, and Mickey Hart about Rex and other reflections, led by Bill Walton, and held at Bob's new TRI Studios. We'll soon have the video of the evening available.

As to Rex Musical Caravan events, the SF Giants made August 9th another great tribute to Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, and once again generously included the Rex Foundation as a recipient of charitable proceeds.   Adding to this already positive energy is the enthusiastic support reflected in the following upcoming Caravan events:

  • Be part of the special project by Fan Mosaics, LLC, where 2,500 Jerry Garcia fans have the opportunity to include their photos in an officially licensed mosaic print of the Grateful Dead legend based on the noted photo taken by world-famous photographer Herb Greene. Here are the participation details.
  • Blair Babcock and the Blurry Pickers are donating half the proceeds of the download sales of their song "Fairlee Well" to Rex. Click here to read Blair Babcock's story about the song and hear "Fairlee Well."
  • On Saturday, September 10th, the Kind Buds once again perform in support of Rex at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northhampton, MA, as described in more detail here.
  • The Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Mattson of Dark Star Orchestra, along with Particle, headline the Third Annual Pink Moon Music and Arts Festival September 15-18, 2011 in Rock Camp WV.  We were very pleased to learn that the impetus to support local area schools came from the Rex Jam at the All Good Festival. Check out the details of the festival and how Rex is generously supported.
  • Ann Arbor's own Macpodz are heading East and hopping on board the Rex Musical Caravan with a concert at the Brooklyn Bowl September 27. Here are the details.

Thanks to contributors like you who donate $5 or more, initiate Caravan events, support our program work, and take part in Rex benefits, we are able to carry out The World As It Could Be initiative, keep making our grants and generate positive community connections along the way.  Check out the list of outstanding 2011 beneficiaries so far, and see, as you explore our website, everything else that your support makes possible

Umphrey's McGee Announces this Fall's First S2 Event in Memphis

Umphrey’s McGee’s Stew Art Series (aka, “S2”) has received national media attention and high praise from fans for its innovations in band/fan collaboration and use of interactive technology. Today Umphrey’s McGee announces the first of four Fall 2010 installments at Minglewood Hall in Memphis on Friday, September 24th.

Doors will open at 4:00 pm, with the S2 to start at 4:30 pm. Following the S2, there will be a meet and greet with the band, as well as snacks and drinks available. Tickets are $99 and go on sale this Friday the 17th at Noon ET at www.umphreys.com. Patrons will need a separate ticket to attend that evening’s regularly scheduled show.

Presented as individual events before that evening’s already schedule show, Umphrey’s Stew Art Series is a crowd-sourced improvisation experiment, in which all the music performed by the group on stage is entirely directed by S2 audience members. Check out this S2 video from the inaugural S2 event in Milwaukee.

S2 events have been received with overwhelming enthusiasm and to rave reviews. For S2, sold-out crowds of 50 fans submit their ideas by texting descriptive words, phrases, and pop culture references (pretty much whatever comes to mind), to the Umphrey's Mozes mobile interface. The suggestions are then filtered by the band’s long time Sound Caresser Kevin Browning and projected on a screen for the band to digest and turn into the next phase of the jam. The band’s music varies stylistically with suggestions ranging from “an afternoon bus ride in Jamaica” to “drinking pina coladas…in a hurricane”. As one elated fan commented after a show, “S2 was the coolest thing I have ever been a part of. It’s always been a dream of mine to meet the band, and the opportunity to participate in leading the Jam for the band was a dream come true as well.” Stay tuned to www.umphreys.com for confirmation on S2 fall events.

Umphrey’s McGee’s current list of fall tour dates is as follows:

Thursday, September 23 Valarium Knoxville TN
Friday, September 24 Minglewood Hall Memphis TN featuring an S2 event
Saturday, September 25 The Diamond Ballroom Oklahoma City OK
Sunday, September 26 George's Majestic Lounge Fayetteville AR
Tuesday, September 28 El Rey Theatre Albuquerque NM
Wednesday, September 29 Orpheum Theatre Flagstaff AZ
Friday, October 1 The Depot Salt Lake City UT
Saturday, October 2 Knitting Factory Spokane WA
Sunday, October 3 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Speedway Meadows San Francisco CA
Wednesday, October 6 Arcata Theatre Arcata CA
Thursday, October 7 McDonald Theatre Eugene OR
Friday, October 8 The Showbox Seattle WA
Saturday, October 9 The Wilma Theatre Missoula MT
Thursday, October 21 Mr. Smalls Theatre Millvale PA
Friday, October 22 Kalamazoo State Theatre Kalamazoo MI
Saturday, October 23 House of Blues - Cleveland Cleveland OH
Sunday, October 24 Bluebird Nightclub Bloomington IN
Wednesday, October 27 People's Court Des Moines IA
Thursday, October 28 - Friday, October 29 Canopy Club Urbana IL
Saturday, October 30 - Sunday, October 31 The Pageant St. Louis MO
Wednesday, November 3 - Thursday, November 4 Higher Ground Ballroom South Burlington VT
Friday, November 5 - Saturday, November 6 9:30 Club Washington D.C.
Tuesday, November 9 Jefferson Theater Charlottesville VA
Wednesday, November 10 Legends at Appalachian State University Boone NC
Thursday, November 11 - Friday, November 12 Bear Creek Music & Art Fest Live Oak, FL
Wednesday, December 29, Thursday, December 30, and Friday, December 31 Riviera Theatre Chicago IL
Thursday, January 20 - Monday, January 24 Mayan Holidaze Puerto Morelos MEX

Umphrey's McGee Announces Fall 2010 Tourdates

After a summer of much-praised high-profile festival performances, pop prog rockers Umphrey’s McGee heads indoors this fall to play in many of the country’s most beloved theatres. As always, along the way Umphrey’s continues to raise the bar for fan experiences, with their innovative and interactive Stew Art events planned in at least a few markets, and an incredibly creative first-time offer of “Enhanced Experience” fan packages for their always-epic Halloween Monster Mash-Up in St. Louis on October 30 and 31.

Media and fan reviews from Bonnaroo, Summerfest, Gathering of the Vibes, and All Good all confirmed, there is good reason that Umphrey's McGee has become a standout festival favorite, garnering coveted performance slots playing in front of the country’s largest audiences. Now, Umphrey’s takes their much-hailed live show indoors to venues in the southeast, Midwest and western States. The band’s complete fall tour schedule is listed below.

For this year’s Halloween Monster Mash-Up at St. Louis’ Pageant on October 30 and 31, Umphrey’s McGee unveils another unparalleled fan-centric experience - their “Partyin' Peeps Enhanced Experience” fan packages. Package amenities include express entry into the venue each night, a limited edition Halloween Jeff Wood 3D hologram poster, VIP area access with private cocktail service, an exclusive piece of Umphrey's McGee Halloween merchandise, a private post-show party, and more. At the Platinum Partyin' Peeps level, fans get a chance for them and twenty of their friends to have their own private dressing room backstage, a private meet and greet photo session with the band in costume, a tour of the Umphrey's McGee bus, and more. Visit umphreys.com more all the details.

Umphry’s McGee’s will host their Stew Art Series (aka, “S2”) – an interactive fan experience where audience members “conduct” the band’s live improvisations - in at least of few markets along the fall tour. Presented as individual events before that evening’s already schedule show, Umphrey’s Stew Art Series is a crowd-sourced improvisation experiment, in which all the music performed by the group on stage is entirely directed by S2 audience members. Check out this S2 video from the inaugural S2 event in Milwaukee.

S2 events have been received with overwhelming enthusiasm and to rave reviews. For S2, sold-out crowds of 50 fans submit their ideas by texting descriptive words, phrases, and pop culture references (pretty much whatever comes to mind), to the Umphrey's Mozes mobile interface. The suggestions are then filtered by the band’s long time Sound Caresser Kevin Browning and projected on a screen for the band to digest and turn into the next phase of the jam. The band’s music varies stylistically with suggestions ranging from “an afternoon bus ride in Jamaica” to “drinking pina coladas…in a hurricane”. As one elated fan commented after a show, “S2 was the coolest thing I have ever been a part of. It’s always been a dream of mine to meet the band, and the opportunity to participate in leading the Jam for the band was a dream come true as well.” Stay tuned to umphreys.com for confirmation on S2 fall events.

Umphrey’s McGee’s current list of fall tour dates is as follows:

Saturday, September 4 North Coast Music Festival Chicago IL
Thursday, September 23 Valarium Knoxville TN
Friday, September 24 Minglewood Hall Memphis TN
Saturday, September 25 The Diamond Ballroom Oklahoma City OK
Sunday, September 26 George's Majestic Lounge Fayetteville AR
Tuesday, September 28 El Rey Theatre Albuquerque NM
Wednesday, September 29 Orpheum Theatre Flagstaff AZ
Friday, October 1 The Depot Salt Lake City UT
Saturday, October 2 Knitting Factory Reno NV
Sunday, October 3 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Speedway Meadows San Francisco CA
Wednesday, October 6 Arcata Theatre Arcata CA
Thursday, October 7 McDonald Theatre Eugene OR
Friday, October 8 The Showbox Seattle WA
Saturday, October 9 The Wilma Theatre Missoula MT
Thursday, October 21 Mr. Smalls Theatre Millvale PA
Saturday, October 23 House of Blues - Cleveland Cleveland OH
Wednesday, October 27 People's Court Des Moines IA
Saturday, October 30 - Sunday, October 31 The Pageant St. Louis MO
Thursday, November 11 - Friday, November 12 Bear Creek Music & Art Fest, Live Oak, Fla
Thursday, January 20 - Monday, January 24 Mayan Holidaze Puerto Morelos MEX

Rex Foundation Grant for San Francisco's Jerry Day

The Rex Foundation is pleased to announce a special grant to support Jerry Day in San Francisco. Jerry Day is a civic and cultural event that celebrates San Francisco native son - Jerry Garcia. The free event captures the true spirit of Jerry Garcia and celebrates his legacy at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, recognizing his childhood Excelsior District roots.


Jerry Day is held annually near Jerry's birthday, August 1. The 2010 event is Sunday, August 1. Jerry Garcia Amphitheater is in the Excelsior District at McLaren Park in the City and County of San Francisco. The outdoor amphitheater was renamed Jerry Garcia Amphitheater after the musician's death in 1995. Jerry Garcia was a force within the Grateful Dead for thirty years. He was a unique musician spawned from the bluegrass jug band era following San Francisco's Beat Generation. He and Grateful Dead band mates and a plethora of fellow musicians explored musical themes and genres well beyond the psychedelic splendor of the Summer of Love.

Rex Foundation acknowledges the wonderful work of the Jerry Day committee and its association with the San Francisco Parks Trust. The Jerry Day Celebration commemorates and invigorates the community that continues to grow because the music Jerry created remains vital. Many people only see each other at these types of events where the music is the glue that binds and creates the common shared experience. Jerry's following was enormous and included other bands and collaborations in addition to the Grateful Dead. Jerry may be gone, but we're not. His spirit is alive and replays through events like Jerry Day. The Rex Foundation board of directors is delighted to assist this worthy endeavor.

"Jerry Day" is one of those special sweet neighborhood events that San Francisco is famous for.  The amphitheater at McLaren Park has been renovated and improved greatly since it's renaming ceremony.  Come on out and hear some good music, walk through a beautiful park, and enjoy the grass lawn and Bay view in Jerry's old neighborhood.  Let the music flow free!" ~Carolyn Garcia

Furthering what the Grateful Dead started 26 years ago, the Rex Foundation endeavors to fund grassroots programs that are often under the radar of larger funding entities, yet work in bold, innovative ways to carry out essential work toward a healthy environment, promotion of the arts, protection of indigenous cultures, assisting others less fortunate, building strong communities and educating children and adults everywhere.  The Rex Foundation has distributed $8.6 million in grants to over 1,000 programs across the U.S. and internationally, while also carrying out initiatives that foster creativity and positive community connections.

1STBANK Center Grand Opening with Furthur March 5 and 6

1STBANK Center, Colorado’s new state-of-the-art entertainment facility will celebrate its Grand Opening on March 5 and 6 with a two-night stand by Furthur featuring Phil Lesh and Bob Weir.

The venue is managed by Colorado entertainment leaders AEG Live Rocky Mountains and Kroenke Sports Enterprises in a joint venture called Peak Entertainment.

Scalable for audience capacities from 3500 to 6500, the Center fills a niche as the state’s premier mid-sized venue, and will change the way patrons currently think about a venue of this size.

Says Peak Entertainment’s Chuck Morris (who is also President and CEO / AEG LIVE Rocky Mountains), “We’ve taken great efforts in designing the 1STBANK Center to combine the very best parts of arena production capabilities with the décor and soul of the world’s great theatres. This is a completely unique design approach for a venue of this size – fans and talent alike are going to want to come here.”



1STBANK Center will host a variety of world-class concerts, as well as family programming, sports events and more. Acts already booked for 2010 include Muse, Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Sesame Street Live, Jason Aldean, The Denver Roller Dolls, Ultimate Fighting Championship, and more. Visit 1STBANKCenter.com for the most up-to-date calendar of events.

No matter the occasion for visiting, 1STBANK Center’s first priority is the patron experience. Morris explains, “1STBANK Center promises to offer all of what we love most about music and entertainment: quality, creativity, community and fun.”

Toward that effort, Peak Entertainment has made numerous improvements to the facility – improvements that promise to mark 1STBANK Center as the newest addition to an already impressive list of landmark Colorado music venues, such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre, The Paramount Theatre, and the Fox Theatre.

Gone are the white walls, bright lights, and soul-less signage of the typical modern arena. Patrons of the 1STBANK Center will enjoy rich colors, creative textures, and artful touches throughout the venue. At the center of the entertainment experience is a state-of-the-art video screen that hangs over the stage. Measuring 130 feet across, this versatile feature offers limitless ways to transform the venue’s main space.

Spaces throughout the concourse have also been transformed. The upper lounge, open to all guests, is now a premier viewing area with direct sight lines to the stage. Additionally, several previously enclosed bars have been remodeled to be inviting and welcoming gathering spots.

In 2011, 1STBANK Center is scheduled to become home to the highly anticipated Colorado Music Hall of Fame, a non-profit whose mission is to educate and to raise money for the Music School of the University of Colorado. Longtime Colorado rock critic G. Brown will curate the interactive multi-media museum. This permanent institution will honor artists who have created music in and about Colorado. Artists such as John Denver, Joe Walsh, Big Head Todd & The Monsters, Firefall, Dan Fogelberg, Poco, The Subdudes, The String Cheese Incident and The Fray are some acts to be honored. Plans are also in the works for historical locations such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Caribou Ranch to receive recognition. Celebrations of musical institutions such as Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Etown and KBCO Studio C - highlighting Colorado’s rich and vibrant musical story – will all receive space in the Hall.

Grand Opening weekend show details are as follows:

1STBANK Center Grand Opening
Furthur featuring Phil Lesh and Bob Weir
Friday, March 5 (8pm)
Limited number of tickets still available
Saturday, March 6 (8pm) SOLD OUT
(doors open at 6:30pm both nights)

11450 Broomfield Lane (Broomfield, CO)
Advanced Tickets $49.75 - $55.00 / All Ages Welcome

Noise Pop 2010 Announces Full Event Schedule / Festival Starts THIS WEEK!

Just announced additions to the already stellar Noise Pop 2010 lineup include Har Mar Superstar making a special appearance at the Diesel/ Live 105 Happy Hour at Benders on February 23rd, Thao Nguyen will join Mirah on stage at the Swedish American Hall for a first ever collaborative performance, Citay joins Scout Niblett at Cafe du Nord and a second screening of Blood into Wine has been added by popular demand.

 

Prez Fest 2010 Celebrating Art Blakey

During his life time, the legendary drummer Art Blakey performed at Saint Peter’s Church, ‘The Jazz Church,” many times. He was well known for his Jazz Messengers “school of jazz” which produced many legendary jazz musicians of today, including Wayne Shorter, Cedar Walton, Lou Donaldson, Terrence Blanchard, Billy Harper, Brian Lynch, Donald Harrison, Reggie Workman, Bobby Watson and others.

The program starts at 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 14, 2010 in the Living Room of Saint Peter’s Church, “The Jazz Church” at 619 Lexington Avenue (54th Street) – Midtown – with several free events:   “The Legend Wall” - an Exhibit of Information about Art Blakey and a Panel Discussion about Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers' enduring influence on jazz.  It will be moderated by a prominent jazz scholar and panelists will include several Jazz Messengers and an expert on Art Blakey and/or the “hard bop” era of Jazz.  A presentation about Art Blakey and his drumming techniques by a well-known drummer may also be included. At 5:00 PM, Jazz Vespers - also free- takes place in the Sanctuary with music led by one of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.

The Concert begins at 7:00 PM. with live performance of the music of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.  Jazz Messengers’ bands preceded by a student band will perform the legendary compositions created by Art Blakey and the Messengers over the more than 30 years that various versions of the Messengers held forth.   Suggested ticket donation: $20 ($10 for students with ID).

Several other events are a part of Prez Fest 2010.  We will partner with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem that will highlight Art Blakey during the month of March 2010 including interviews of Jazz Messengers and an all-day seminar on Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers.  In addition, a special event is being planned for the 68 Jazz Messengers who are still performing.

PREZ FEST 2010
CELEBRATING
ART BLAKEY & THE JAZZ MESSENGERS
Saint Peter’s Church
619 Lexington Avenue (at 54th Street), New York City

Umphrey's McGee Unveils Interactive S2 Events

Umphrey's McGee has never played by the rules. Now, with the unvieling of their all-new Stew Art Series (aka, "S2") - an interactive fan experience where audience members "conduct" the band's live improvisations  - Umphrey's McGee continue to offer their fiercely loyal fanbase the most innovative musical experiences available.

Umphrey’s McGee’s S2 debuted on October 3rd in Milwaukee – with another S2 event recently announced for October 24th in Portland and additional date(s) this fall and beyond still to be determined.  Hosted as individual events before that evening’s already schedule show, Umphrey’s Stew Art Series is a crowd-sourced improvisation experiment, in which all the music performed by the group on stage will be entirely directed by S2 audience members. Check out this S2 video from the first event.

The inaugural S2 at Milwaukee's Eagles Ballroom was received with overwhelming enthusiasm and to rave reviews. The sold-out crowd of 50 fans submitted their ideas by texting descriptive words, phrases, and pop culture references (pretty much whatever came to mind), to the Umphrey's Mozes mobile interface.  The suggestions were then filtered by the band's long time Sound Caresser Kevin Browning and projected on a screen for the band to digest and turn into the next phase of the jam.  The band's music varied stylistically with suggestions ranging from "an afternoon bus ride in Jamaica" to "drinking pina coladas...in a hurricane". As one elated fan commented after the show, "S2 was the coolest thing I have ever been a part of. It's always been a dream of mine to meet the band, and the opportunity to participate in leading the Jam for the band was a dream come true as well."

As highly skilled improvisational musicians known for using a complex set of signals on stage to prompt spontaneous musical changes, S2 is proving to keep the band on their toes as they navigate through the audience’s prompts. S2 events also include a Q&A session providing an opportunity for fans to ask about what they’re witnessing (or ask anything else for that matter). As part of the ticket (which will actually be a custom laminate that will be different for each S2 event), every attendee will receive an autographed CD of the Stew Art Series they attend - minutes after the event has concluded. To be clear, each S2 show is a TOTALLY separate event than the scheduled concert date and will be sold as a separate ticket - getting a ticket to S2 does not get you into the show later that night (and vice versa). The S2 experiment is just that, an experiment. Keyboardist Joel Cummins explains, “The improvisational elements of our show have always been one of our favorite parts about playing together - and we think the audience feels that way, too. That’s our inspiration for the S2 series. It’s also a great way to stay on top of our chops.” S2 events take place in the early evening before the respective show start times. Prices and ages vary from show to show - which should last one hour (with Q&A).

This is not the first time that Umphrey's McGee has taken new approaches to delivering their music to the fans. Before their latest studio recording, Mantis, was released in January of this year, the group made the album available for pre-order in an interesting way. Fans were offered more free bonus content the more Mantis pre-orders were received; as the fans "unlocked" levels of content by getting more of their friends to pre-order the album. The idea was to give the fans incentive to help spread the word about the album, and to offer a totally unique music experience.

But it's always been about experiencing Umphrey's McGee on the concert stage, and the group recently announced a string of fall dates, including some final festival stops of 2009 - Jazz Aspen Snowmass Festival, moe.Down, and Telluride Blues and Brews, plus a special Halloween performance in Yosemite, California. And to get yourself in the right frame of mind for the upcoming tour, you can check out the recently-released live DVD, Umphrey's McGee - Live. Recorded during their 2007 performance for PBS's Soundstage, Umphrey's McGee - Live is offers an incredible 13-song set on DVD, including six favorites not shown during the PBS broadcast, which premiered last February.

2009 has been one of Umphrey's McGee's busiest years yet, and as evidenced by their upcoming tour and one of a kind S2 shows, they refuse to slow down. The band's complete list of confirmed appearances is as follows:

October 21 Knitting Factory Spokane WA
October 22 Showbox Seattle WA
October 23 McDonald Theatre Eugene OR
October 24 Crystal Ballroom Portland OR*** [S2 show that day]
October 25 Eureka Theatre Eureka CA
October 27 Crystal Bay Club Crystal Bay NV
October 28 McNears Mystic Theatre Petaluma CA
October 29 House of Blues West Hollywood CA
October 30-31 Las Tortugas - Dance of the Dead IV Groveland (Yosemite) CA
November 11 The Opera House Toronto, Canada
November 12-14 Higher Ground Ballroom South Burlington VT
November 15 Port City Music Hall Portland ME
November 17 Northern Lights Clifton Park NY
November 18 Water Street Music Hall Rochester NY
November 19 Mr. Small's Theatre Millvale PA
November 20-21 9:30 Club Washington D.C.
December 10-14 Caribbean Holidaze Runaway Bay
December 29 Vic Theatre Chicago IL
December 30-31 Aragon Ballroom Chicago IL
March 21-23 Jam in the 'Dam, The Melkweg Amsterdam

Rex Foundation: May's Rex Musical Caravan Events & More

Thanks to all of you who have purchased The Dead Tour tickets in support of the Rex Foundation and other charities through CharityFolks.com.  Here is the full announcement as well as contact information for any questions you might have to purchase tickets for the remaining shows.

The Rex Musical Caravan recently added a new May event with Melvin Seals & The JGB Band.  Bring your friends to to hear great music while also supporting the Rex Foundation, as $1 per ticket sold at each of the following is contributed to the Rex Foundation:

 

Check out all the different events that have been part of the Rex Musical Caravan since the beginning of 2008. We thank all the musicians, festivals and their fans for getting on board to further what the Grateful Dead started 25 years ago and demonstrate the power of the musical community to support grass roots philanthropy.  Let us know if you want to be part of the Caravan.

 

 

This is a particularly important time to celebrate how we as a philanthropic community can support the vital work of grassroots non-profits.  As we depict with the Rex Community Caravan, $5 or more in contributions can add up quickly to make a positive difference.  Check out all the great programs the Rex Foundation has supported thanks to your generous contributions.

 

As you will see in clicking through the various links in this message, the Rex Foundation has a new website.  We hope you enjoy the updated look and enhanced navigation.  We look forward to continuing to add information and features that demonstrate the vitality of our community of grantees and artists, as well as our on-going programs.

National Jazz Museum in Harlem April 21-25 Events

We are bubbling over this week as we salute Quincy Jones and his great early 60’s big band Tuesday evening at Jazz For Curious Listeners, followed two days later by a contemporary big band leader/composer/trumpeter, Charles Tolliver, who will be our subject for an extended interview at Harlem Speaks. Friday night’s Harlem In The Himalayas will be an acoustic treat as the legendary guitarist Gene Bertoncini plays duets with his younger counterpart, Roni Ben-Hur. Our Saturday Panel will feature the provocative cultural critic Stanley Crouch and Stony Brook Professor of Ethnomusicology Frederick Moehn as we take an in-depth look at The Unfinished Emancipation: Jazz and Freedom.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
The Jazz World of Quincy Jones: The Big Band Years
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

In 1956, Quincy Jones toured again as a trumpeter and musical director of the Dizzy Gillespie Band on a tour of the Middle East and South America sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Upon his return to the states, Jones  got a contract from ABC-Paramount Records and commenced his recording career as the leader of his own band.

He organized a tour of North America and Europe, and though the tour was a critical success, poor budget planning made it an economic disaster and the fallout left Jones in a financial crisis.

Though it didn't make sense economically, didn't make sense logistically, didn't provide ego satisfaction for star players, because of their love for Quincy, an exceptional group of musicians signed on for the tour, some of them literally traipsing all over Europe to find venues that could house them and bandstands that could squeeze them all in. There was never any problem finding audiences eager to hear what Quincy was thinking, or what musicians like Art Farmer, Zoot Sims, Curtis Fuller, Phil Woods, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Art Blakey, and Hank Jones were blowing. And those who attend tonight’s Jazz for Curious Listeners session will discover just the same joy.

A 1956 date for an ABC-Paramount release was a masterpiece of arranging and band leading. You will hear Quincy creating his new sound in the 1959-60 studio recording that comprised Quincy's "The Birth of a Band" release and later sessions. In writing for the big band, Quincy concealed a great deal of harmonic and rhythmic complexity in his charts. He really was reinventing big band music for a new decade and a new generation of listeners. His pieces sounded youthful and vibrant, and could be technically demanding almost beyond belief; more the writing you'd expect a five-piece band to conquer, not one comprising 17 or 18 or 20 musicians. But his bands rose to the challenge, showing there is great swing in precision, and a way of creating excitement by playing both loose and tight at the same time.

Quoted in Musician magazine, Jones said about his ordeal, "We had the best jazz band in the planet, and yet we were literally starving. That's when I discovered that there was music, and there was the music business. If I were to survive, I would have to learn the difference between the two." Irving Green, head of Mercury Records, got Jones back on his feet with a loan and a new job as the musical director of the company's New York division. In 1964, Jones was promoted to vice-president of the company, thus becoming the first African American to hold such a position.

One of his popular songs, "Soul Bossa Nova", was released in 1962 as a track on the album Big Band Bossa Nova, which was also released that year.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

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

Self-taught as an instrumentalist, composer and arranger, Charles Tolliver seems constitutionally averse to doing things the easy way. “I like to rumble,” he told Down Beat. “I take the most difficult routes for improvisation. It's easy to play a number of choruses effortlessly and never make a mistake, never break down. That's no fun. You need to get in hot water by trying something out right from the jump, get yourself out of that, and move on to the next chorus”.

Alto saxophonist Jackie McLean launched Tolliver's career in 1964 by hiring him as a sideman on his Blue Note album It's Time, used him on the subsequent albums Action and Jacknife, and made his composition “Right Now” the title track of a 1965 quartet date. As the '60s progressed Tolliver also appeared with Blue Note heavyweights Horace Silver (Serenade to A Soul Sister) and Andrew Hill (One For One, Dance With Death), as well as sessions for other labels with Max Roach, Booker Ervin, Gerald Wilson, and Gary Bartz. In 1969 he formed the innovative quartet Music Inc., which he documented on four albums for Strata-East.

Born in 1942 in Jacksonville, Florida, Tolliver moved to Harlem with his family at ten and to Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood, then a musical hotbed, in 1958. He matriculated at Howard University as a pharmacy major, but the pull of music was too strong.

“If I could have brought my classroom from Howard University to New York with me while I was trying to get into the scene, I probably would have done both at the same time,” Tolliver says. “But I felt I was ready to try this thing, and there was no way to stay in Washington, D.C. and finish my studies. I was lucky to get in with Jackie McLean almost instantaneously when I got back to New York, so there was no need to go back to school”.

Adamant that “small group is my first love,” Tolliver cites Gillespie-Basie arranger Ernie Wilkins' arrangements for Sonny Rollins” 1958 album The Big Brass [Verve] as a formative big band influence. “I got hold of an arrangement from that record, and analyzed how Ernie Wilkins placed the horns and left the space to get a small group sound,” he relates. As the '60s progressed, Tolliver studied Thad Jones closely at his Monday night Village Vanguard sessions; during a sojourn to California around 1966, he played and recorded with harmony masters Gerald Wilson and Oliver Nelson.

After Tolliver and Stanley Cowell presented their early charts on the 1970 recording Music Inc. And Big Band, Max Roach commissioned Tolliver to write a long suite to be performed at the 1972 Montreux Festival. “That's when I started to really get into writing,” Tolliver recalls. “For both Stanley and I, the idea was to write for big band and keep the small group energy inside it somehow”.

Tolliver continued to evolve his concept through the '80s and '90s on various engagements as a soloist with European radio orchestras; after the 2003 rebirth of the big band, he resumed writing and arranging full force.

“Big band jazz is not about over-writing to the point where all these different sections are playing in different time signatures and all that nonsense,” Tolliver says. “It doesn't have to sound like you're writing for a symphony. After all, we are playing this so-called thing named jazz. Jazz is about theme, melody, call-and-response, counterpoint if you want, but not overly done--and always improvising. If you take away improvising and swing, then it seems to me that you are removing two of the prime elements that allow us to call ourselves jazz musicians. You know what jazz is because of the way the drummer plays. I take careful consideration in selecting the drummer, and anything I write will be drumcentric.”

Catch more of Tolliver’s strong views on music and jazz as well as discussion of his recent Town Hall concert in honor of Thelonious Monk’s famous performance there 50 years ago.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Harlem in the Himalayas
Gene Bertoncini and Roni Ben-Hur
7:00pm
Location: Rubin Museum of Art
(150 West 17th Street)
$18 in advance | $20 at door |
Box Office: 212.620.5000 ext. 344

Master guitarists Gene Bertoncini and Roni Ben-Hur's new CD Smile is the first in the Motéma Music’s new ‘Jazz Therapy’ series of charitable fund raising CDs produced in association with the Jazz Foundation of America. Jazz Therapy, Volume 1: Smile, will benefit the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center which, under the leadership of Dr. Frank Forte, has been responsible for providing millions of dollars of free care to jazz musicians.

Gene Bertoncini is one of the pre-eminent jazz guitarists active today. His fluid technique and lyricism have won him international praise and accolades as the "Segovia of jazz." An eloquent and versatile improviser, Mr. Bertoncini has been heard with an extraordinary range of jazz greats, including performances and recordings with Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, Wayne Shorter, Hubert Laws, Paul Desmond among others, as well as such distinguished singers as Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Nancy Wilson, Vic Damone, and Eydie Gorme. Bertoncini honed his professional chops as a member of the Tonight Show band during Johnny Carson's tenure, and he has worked with composers and arrangers such as Lalo Schifrin and Michael Legrand as well with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. In addition to an active performing and recording schedule, Gene teaches at the Eastman School of Music and William Paterson University. A New York City native, he graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in architecture. According to the New Yorker magazine, "Bertoncini is an affecting, highly original guitarist how moves easily back and forth between classical and jazz guitar."

Respected internationally as one of the elite players jazz, Roni Ben-Hur has recorded six albums as a leader and has a key band member for such jazz luminaries as Barry Harris, Chris Anderson, Rufus Reid, Walter Booker, Jimmy Heath, Clark Terry, Slide Hampton and Etta Jones. His Mel-Bay instructional book, Talk Jazz Guitar, has established him as a top jazz guitar guru. Ben-Hur fell in love with jazz in his native land of Israel. Upon moving to New York City, his career quickly took root as he landed the cherry position of first-call guitarist for the legendary Barry Harris. His 1998 release Sofia's Butterfly earned him the title "Best New Artist" in the Jazziz Annual Reader's poll, and 2001’s bop-oriented Anna's Dance was selected by award-winning critic Gary Giddins as "One of The Best Jazz CD's of 2001." Ben-Hur's 2004 outing, Signature was a critical sensation that firmly established his singular voice as a composer and band leader and led to his new recording home, Motema Music, where he released Keepin’ it Open in 2007, to unanimous critical acclaim, initiated this new Jazz Therapy series and is working on plans for a variety of innovative releases in the coming years.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Panels
The Unfinished Emancipation: Jazz and Freedom
10:00am – 4:00pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

In many ways, jazz and freedom are synonymous. Jazz improvisation relies on the structure of melodies and chord changes for the purpose of individual and group expression. “Freedom,” within the context of the United States, is an idea based on individual and group expression within the political and social framework of democratic ideals. Freedom without structure, however, is chaos that can descend into anarchy and anomie.

The history of the United States is a bittersweet tale where the founding of the country was based on emancipation from the bonds of mother-country England, yet with the tragic irony of enslavement of African-Americans and Jim Crow laws, the promise of emancipation from the fetters of birthright based on aristocracy and royal bloodlines became muddied by hypocrisy and greed.

Today’s panel discussion will confront the intersection of ideals and history, aspiration and disappointment, art and politics, and the role of jazz as a cultural response and reflection of the human desire for freedom in the 20th century and beyond.

Our panelists this month will be author and critic Stanley Crouch, along with Professor of Ethnomusicology at Stony Brook University Frederick Moehn. Observing and writing about American culture for the past three decades, Mr. Crouch has authored numerous volumes, and is currently a weekly columnist for the New York Daily News, as well as a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast websites. Professor Moehn teaches courses such as "Jazz Historiography and Discourse" and "Music and Race" at Stony Brook, and is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University.