Happy birthday to John Coltrane & Ray Charles, two musicians who changed the world.
Rebirth of the cool.
Freelance photographer Robert Campbell captured jazz in bloom. As a young man in New York City in the ’50s and ’60s, Campbell photographed legends in the making, including iconic images of John Coltrane, Chuck Berry, Art Blakey, and the Modern Jazz Quartet.
Saddled with debt and suffering from mental illness, Campbell retreated from public view with his entire life’s work in tow. He spent the rest of his life in Burlington, Vermont living in obscurity — his images largely forgotten — until his death in 2001.
Photographer Jessica Ferber is trying to write a new ending to this sad tale. Having come across Campbell’s astonishing archive nearly a decade ago, Ferber has spent years working to bring his images into the public eye. She recently launched a Kickstarter project to fund the publication of a complete retrospective — marking the first public presentation of Campbell’s work since it was created half a century ago.
The Ghost Train Orchestra is a smokin’ hot 10-piece band that brings to life long-lost classics from the Jazz Age and beyond.
Devoted to under-appreciated composers of the prewar era, the Ghost Train Orchestra combines historical research with an all-star crew of seasoned jazz players to kick out the jams in all their sepia-toned glory. Bandleader Brian Carpenter has transformed 16 months of deep digging into a new arrangements of very old tunes, and he’s looking for support on Kickstarter to make an album from his discoveries.
So mosey down to the gin joint and get ready to jitterbug — this swell phonograph record is our Project of the Day.
The Case of the Three-Sided Dream.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk was a legendary jazz innovator who challenged the cultural status quo while blowing audiences away.
With a reputation for ecstatic live performances that showcased his surreal ability to play multiple instruments simultaneously, Kirk combined humor, activism and thunderous grooves to shape the sound of jazz to come.
Having become blind at an early age, Kirk expressed an unusually close relationship to his sense of hearing. When asked to describe his occupation, Kirk frequently replied: “Sound.”
After suffering a debilitating stroke at the height of his career, Kirk continued to play and record. He died of a second stroke in 1977 at age 42.
Filmmaker Adam Kahan has been working on this documentary about Kirk for more than a year and most of the film is in the can. He recently launched a Kickstarter project to help him fund a critical stage production so he can clear the rights required to use a wealth of archival footage in the final cut.
Legendary jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd just became our first ever creator to fax in his Q&A. It actually ended up working out pretty well.
At the ripe old age of 75 Roswell Rudd was named Downbeat’s “Trombonist of the Year.” Now he’s teaming up with a dynamic, young rhythm section to produce a new album, which will feature original arrangements of tunes made famous by Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Sam Cooke, and more. If that doesn’t convince you, just listen to the man speak for himself in his compelling project video:
I’ve spent my life developing a way of expressing my personality through a trombone. When I’m performing a standard, inevitably, it will come out with some of my fingerprints on it and some of my signature, because I love — emotionally, musically, and every other way — some of these songs so much, that I end up composing something that’s parallel to what I began with.You’ll want to be his new best friend, trust us. In the meantime, we’re doing the next best thing and making him our Project of the Day.
"One of the most influential woodwind players to come out of Chicago’s AACM movement of the mid-’60s, Roscoe Mitchell is a brilliant and adventurous improviser, and founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. He’s also an acclaimed composer of new music and is currently the “Distinguished Darius Milhaud Professor of Composition” at Mills College in Oakland, CA.
…Roscoe’s trio with percussionist William Winant and woodwind player James Fei will perform a new piece that Roscoe has written for the occasion. In addition, percussionist Alex Cline will lead an all-star ensemble in a special performance of Roscoe’s landmark composition People in Sorrow, featuring eleven distinguished musicians including saxophonist Oliver Lake, vocalist Dwight Trible, pianist Myra Melford, harpist Zeena Parkins, and bassist Mark Dresser.”
Today’s Project of the Day is a tribute to jazz great Roscoe Mitchell.
When I was in college I took a class called Jazz. It was, more or less, an introductory course for the genre, ranging from Sidney Bechet’s dixieland to post-Bitches Brew Miles and the outer-limits of Ornette Coleman’s experiments in Free Jazz. Yet, what I’ll always remember about that class was my introduction to the Art Ensemble of Chicago, a group of experimental musicians from the Windy City who not only blended a myriad of sub-genres (bop, african polyrhythms, free jazz) into their work, but also utilized “non-instruments” like bicycle horns and noisemakers to create a cacophonous blend of music so far out an earthling could hardly relate, rather simply sit back and ingest in awe. The power behind those motifs changed a lot of people, including Nels Cline (Wilco) and his brother, percussionist Alex Cline, who is currently working on a tribute to Roscoe Mitchell, one of the founding fathers of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. If you are in LA, this is one not to miss.
…He’s chosen passion over cynicism, and he’s done it with the assistance of Kickstarter…This is not charity. Nobody’s asking for your altruistic magnanimity on Kickstarter. They’re only asking that your self-interest manifest itself in art’s actualization. They’re offering you the opportunity to become complicit in its creation.
Two days left for Keith H. Brown’s jazz graphic novel project, Eric Dolphy: His Life and Art. Brown’s "interpretive biography" of the jazz multi-instrumentalist/composer, is drawn in the style of the great album covers of the 1940s and 50’s. As a former Marvel Comics cartoonist, Creative Art Director launching Jazz at Lincoln Center, radio jockey, jazz journalist, painter, and album artist, Brooklyn-based Brown is his own multi-instrumentalist, and we’re totally delighted and inspired by his beautiful project!