Whether you're new to jazz and want some insight into its history and major (and minor) players, or a seasoned fan looking for a nostalgic stroll down the music's memory lane, you'll find the September issue of down beat, which celebrates that magazine's 55th year of continual publication, of more than passing interest.
The 104-page issue, on the newsstands now, is a mini-encyclopedia, replete with reprinted stories (some in the original typeface, some reset), pictures (of artists and the magazine's original covers) and reviews. It also includes chronological compendiums of hundreds of facts for each decade from the '30s through the '80s. "We wanted to bring things up to date, let people know where we've been, where we're going," said editor John Ephland. "We felt the end of the '80s was a good time to take a pause and reflect."
Since down beat began pretty much as a pop music fanzine, the early years find issues with corny covers and blaring headlines like " 'W.C. Handy Is a Liar!' says Jelly Roll (Morton)" or "Clothes Torn Off Girl Vocalist." But by the mid-'50s, the publication's subject matter had taken a much more serious, scholarly tone, represented by, say, a mid-'50s profile on Miles Davis written by Hentoff or a mid-'80s Q&A piece with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, written by Times contributor A. James Liska.
The issue is not without its drawbacks. Articles are truncated and stop seemingly in mid-sentence, some of the most biting criticism is offered without bylines, and the page layouts often make it hard to separate editorial copy from advertising. Still, for a brief yet broad look into jazz's past and present, the issue is excellent.
Reliving the glory years of the Central Avenue musical scene will be one of the themes of "Jazz & Pizazz," a jazz brunch and fashion show benefiting the nonprofit BEEM foundation. The event, which will begin at noon Sunday at the Doubletree Hotel in Marina del Rey, features reedman Buddy Collette's quintet, singer O.C. Smith, violinist Ginger Smock and fashions by Leslie Thames.
BEEM--Black Experience as Expressed Through Music--was founded in 1982 "to promote appreciation of the contributions made by black composers and performers to the world of music," said Bette Y. Cox, the organization's president.
Information: (213) 285-3366.
Red Holloway doesn't spend much time at home these days.
The bluesy saxman--who resided in the Los Angeles area for two decades before moving to Cambria, Calif., in 1987--has the kind of work schedule that many musicians only dream of. Since May, Holloway--who plays with Ray Brown and Friends at the Loa in Santa Monica Friday and Saturday--has been to Europe three times and is set to go to Australia in a week, \o7 after\f7 he takes part in a jazz cruise from Vancouver, Canada, to Los Angeles.
"Long as they keep paying, I'm ready to go," said Holloway, whose latest LP is "Locksmith Blues" (Concord). "It helps take care of some of my bills and lets me live in the manner to which I'm not accustomed."
While in Los Angeles a few weeks ago for a two-night engagement with Jack Sheldon at the Biltmore Hotel's Grand Avenue Bar, Holloway got a call to do part of the sound track for David Lynch's latest film, "Wild at Heart," which is filming in locations around town.
"Mark Roswell, the music supervisor, had heard me play at the (now-defunct) Parisian Room (a Los Angles club where Holloway was musical director from 1967-82) and wanted to use me," Holloway said. "So pianist Dave MacKay, bassist Kenny Wild and drummer Joe Porcaro played a tune of Kenny's, a blues with a bridge, that's used behind a striptease dancer at a restaurant."
The tune, "Blues Cake Jazz Icing," was changed slightly by the saxman. "(Music coordinator) Cheryl Churchill asked me if I could come up with a different beginning, I said, 'Yeah,' and when I played it, she said, 'That was exactly what I wanted,' " Holloway said. Wild will still receive full writer's credit, he added.
If there's anything left unfulfilled for Holloway, who has toured with greats like George Benson, Sonny Stitt and Clark Terry, it's a trip to Japan. "That would really put the icing on the cake," he said, pun intended.