Archive for April, 2015

NCCU Hosts Its 25th Annual Jazz Festival April 13-18

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

NCCU’s 25th Annual Jazz Festival offers a week of exciting music beginning Monday, April 13, with a lineup of stellar musicians and vocalists, including a master class taught by Visiting Vocal Scholar Trineice Robinson-Martin, Ph.D.

The Student Jazz Combos will open this special week of music with a concert at 7 p.m. Monday in B.N. Duke Auditorium.

On Tuesday, April 14, a Vocal Jazz Summit takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., featuring workshops for middle and high school choral directors. Robinson-Martin will teach her master class at 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, in the Old Band Room of B.N. Duke Auditorium, followed by a 7 p.m. evening concert bringing together vocal-led combos, middle and high school groups and a performance by Robinson-Martin.

NCCU Jazz Faculty will take the spotlight Wednesday, April 15, at 7 p.m. for a special concert, while Friday’s festival highlights include a performance by the university’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Lenora Helm Hammonds, and a Trumpet Summit with Marcus Belgrave and Russell Gunn.

On Saturday, April 18, music will be provided by the Steve Wilson/Clarence Penn quartet, with the NCCU Jazz Ensemble directed by Dr. Ira Wiggins, opening the show.

All events are free with the exception of Friday and Saturday night concerts. Tickets can be purchase at the NCCU Box Office

Smithsonian receives $2.5M to expand jazz programs at museum

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — An artist’s foundation is donating $2.5 million as an endowment to expand jazz programming at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

The museum will announce Tuesday that artist LeRoy Neiman’s foundation is donating the funds, as well as Neiman’s painting “Big Band.” The colorful, large-scale painting features 18 famous jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

The painting has been installed near the museum’s new Jazz Cafe. The cafe will be redesigned this year to include jazz visuals from the museum’s collection. Nearby, the museum is also displaying Duke Ellington’s traveling piano and Gene Krupa’s bass drum.

The donation comes just before Jazz Appreciation Month in April. The museum launched the month of events in 2001 to pay tribute to jazz as an original American art form.

Jazz Appreciation Month

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Jazz Appreciation Month was created right here at the museum in 2002 to herald and celebrate the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz.Through local and national jazz fans everywhere, JAM is intended to stimulate the current jazz scene and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz – to study the music, attend concerts, listen to jazz on radio and recordings, read books about jazz, and support institutional jazz programs.

Join us in celebrating JAM this April – feel free to browse around to find your best way of celebration and participating in Jazz:

Check out this year’s Smithsonian JAM calendar to find events around Washington, DC.

Take a peek at the 2015 JAM Poster featuring Billy Strayhorn – did you know that this year is his centennial?

Not in DC and looking for ideas and other ways to “JAM”? Read 112 Ways to Celebrate Jazz.

Submit your request by April 30, 2015 to receive your free copy of the 2015 JAM Poster – limited quantities available.

Don’t miss another note: Sign up for the Smithsonian Jazz email list to receive news about upcoming events, concerts, and more!

Carmen McRae

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Carmen McRae always had a nice voice (if not on the impossible level of an Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan) but it was her behind-the-beat phrasing and ironic interpretations of lyrics that made her most memorable. She studied piano early on and had her first important job singing with Benny Carter’s big band (1944), but it would be another decade before her career had really gained much momentum. McRae married and divorced Kenny Clarke in the ’40s, worked with Count Basie (briefly) and Mercer Ellington (1946-1947), and became the intermission singer and pianist at several New York clubs. In 1954 she began to record as a leader’ and by then she had absorbed the influences of Billie Holiday and bebop into her own style. McRae would record pretty steadily up to 1989 and, although her voice was higher in the ’50s and her phrasing would be even more laid-back in later years, her general style and approach did not change much through the decades. Championed in the ’50s by Ralph Gleason, McRae was fairly popular throughout her career. Among her most interesting recording projects were participating in Dave Brubeck’s the Real Ambassadors with Louis Armstrong, cutting an album of live duets with Betty Carter, being accompanied by Dave Brubeck and George Shearing, and closing her career with brilliant tributes to Thelonious Monk and Sarah Vaughan. Carmen McRae, who refused to quit smoking, was forced to retire in 1991 due to emphysema. She recorded for many labels including Bethlehem, Decca (1954-1958), Kapp, Columbia, Mainstream, Focus, Atlantic (1967-1970), Black Lion, Groove Merchant, Catalyst, Blue Note, Buddah, Concord, and Novus.

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