April 27, 2013 |
In a cramped UCLA classroom, trumpeter Nicholas Payton is leading a young septet of college students through his piece "The Backwards Step. " He's here as part of a weeklong teaching residency, and the song he plays to the group at the Thelonious Monk Institute is led by his gliding trumpet. Framed by keyboard and vibraphone, it sounds like a simmering post-bop standard. But to Payton, this isn't just jazz - it's the sound of Black American Music. BAM, an acronym Payton coined to break with the word "jazz," is a term that's become linked with the 39-year-old trumpeter.
March 5, 2008 |
NASHVILLE -- When people say John Work III had "big ears," they are not being unkind. Work, who died in 1967 at age 65, had a gift for finding and collecting black folk music. He traveled the South recording blues singers, work songs, ballads, church choirs, dance tunes, whatever struck him as showing the evolution of black music. And yet what might be his greatest achievement went largely unnoticed for 60 years, stashed in a file cabinet at Hunter College in New York. Now, with the opening of a new exhibit on Work's life at Fisk University and a companion CD, some say Work is finally getting his due. "He was seeking out music that many African American academics at the time had no use for," said Evan Hatch, a professional folklorist who helped compile the Fisk exhibit, "The Beautiful Music That Surrounds You," which runs through May 11. A classically trained musician and composer, Work taught at Fisk University, directed the school's famed Jubilee Singers and ran its music department.
April 3, 2007 |
As "Dreamgirls" loosely reminds us, Motown Records was the vision of an ambitious young man who knew exactly where he wanted to go musically and wasn't about to let anything get in his way. In the same spirit, there's probably also a movie in the story of the man behind another great black-music record label of the '60s: Stax, the home of Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers and Booker T. & the MG's.
March 31, 2007 |
Amid all the talk about racial hatred and gang violence between Latinos and blacks, two men are stepping forward to spotlight the common ground that has long linked the two communities, especially in Los Angeles. Chicano DJ Frankie Firme and R&B singer Marvin "Rip" Spencer were so dismayed by the recent spate of interracial violence in this city that they came together to stage a concert called "Peace in the Street," scheduled for Sunday at the Montebello Inn.
July 3, 2005 |
WHATEVER happened to the black Broadway musical? In the 1970s and 1980s, there were a slew of shows that featured African Americans singing and dancing: "Bubblin' Brown Sugar," "Further Mo'," "Mama, I Want to Sing (I and II)," "The Wiz," "Dreamgirls," "Eubie," "Ain't Misbehavin' " and more. Sometimes there were as many as five or six shows a season, and it wasn't unusual for a black musical to run profitably for years.
April 6, 2003 |
Herb Jeffries sits in the corner booth of the Red Kettle restaurant in Idyllwild, sipping lentil soup and regaling friends with stories from his colorful past. The nasty scar on his cheek? Plane crash. His marriage to burlesque legend Tempest Storm? An expensive mistake. Performing with Duke Ellington? A career-altering collaboration. A man seated nearby overhears the tales and comes over to say hello before heading out the door.