February 11 2013
By WILLIAM YARDLEY
February 11, 2013
Donald Byrd, one of the leading jazz trumpeters of the 1950s and early 1960s, who became both successful and controversial in the 1970s by blending jazz, funk and rhythm and blues into a pop hybrid that defied categorization, died on Feb. 4 in Dover, Del. He was 80.
His death was confirmed by Haley Funeral Directors of Southfield, Mich. Word of Mr. Byrd’s death had circulated online for several days, but was not announced by his family.
Almost from the day he arrived in New York City in 1955 from his native Detroit, Mr. Byrd was at the center of the movement known as hard bop, a variation on bebop that put greater emphasis on jazz’s blues and gospel roots. Known for his pure tone and impeccable technique, he performed or recorded with some of the most prominent jazz musicians of that era, including John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins and the drummer Art Blakey, considered one of jazz’s great talent scouts.
As a bandleader, Mr. Byrd was something of a talent scout himself: he was one of the first to hire a promising young pianist named Herbie Hancock — who, like Mr. Byrd, would later become known for a renegade approach that won a wide audience but displeased many critics.
Mr. Byrd, a strong advocate of music education, spent much of the 1960s teaching. Then, in 1973, he made a surprising transition to pop stardom with the release of the album “Black Byrd,” produced by the brothers Larry and Fonce Mizell, who had been his students at Howard University in Washington. With Mr. Byrd’s restrained trumpet licks layered over an irresistible funk groove seasoned with wah-wah guitar and simple, repeated lyrics (“Get in the groove, just can’t lose”), “Black Byrd” reached the Billboard Top 100, where it peaked at No. 88.
Mr. Byrd was hardly the first jazz musician to try such a crossover: Miles Davis had achieved a similar musical synthesis with “Bitches Brew” three years earlier. But “Black Byrd” was more overtly pop-oriented, and its success was extremely rare for a jazz musician. It became, and for a long time remained, the best-selling album in the history of Blue Note Records, the venerable jazz label for which Mr. Byrd had been recording since the 1950s.
February 11 2013
By Gerrick Kennedy
February 10, 2013
When pianist Robert Glasper scored two nominations for his critically lauded “Black Radio,” it was in R&B, not jazz -- a surprise given his pedigree.
Backstage at the 55th Grammy Awards on Sunday, the Houston-born pianist was quizzed about what he felt bridged the gap between the genres.
“We’re all jazz musicians together and at the same time we all embody all of black music. We embody R&B, hip-hop, jazz, rock, funk, gospel music and we all come up in that,” Glasper said. “We’ve never ignored that side of our thing as far as music goes, so we have no problem infusing all of those things because we are comfortable with all of them. That’s the difference.”
“A lot of people have mixed hip-hop and jazz, but it's like a band with a DJ,” he continued, “but we’re one band that plays everything authentically and really great.”
Glasper’s genre-blending "Black Radio” tapped into his R&B, funk and hip-hop influences and featured cameos from Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, Meshell Ndegeocello, Bilal, Lalah Hathaway, Ledisi, Yasmin Bey (a.k.a. Mos Def) and Lupe Fiasco.
“We just kind of let it happen as it happened. We didn’t overthink it and we let the music take over. The music is smarter than us,” he said of his host of collaborations. “I feel like if we keep the same formula going and let everything do what it's gonna do … we’ll keep being surprised. A lot of stuff happened right there on the spot, but that’s kind of how I wanted it to be, kind of loose.”
While he’s cast a wider net with “Black Radio,” Glasper said he hopes his fan bases continue to appreciate his music, regardless of what genre inspires him.
“A lot of our shows you see the 75-year-old person that comes there because he knows our jazz band, and at the same time you see an 18-year-old person sitting right next to each other,” he said. “We’re giving them something they probably aren’t aware of and at the same time we’re giving them something they are aware of.”
January 31 2013
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Major Jazz Eminence, Little Grise
By NATE CHINEN
Published: January 31, 2013
THE STANDARD LINE on Wayne Shorter is that he’s the greatest living composer in jazz, and one of its greatest saxophonists. He would like you to forget all of that. Not the music, or his relationship to it, but rather the whole notion of pre-eminence, with its granite countenance and fixed coordinates. “We have to beware the trapdoors of the self,” he said recently.
“You think you’re the only one that has a mission,” he went on, “and your mission is so unique, and you expound this missionary process over and over again with something you call a vocabulary, which in itself becomes old and decrepit.” He laughed sharply.
Mr. Shorter will turn 80 this year. Decrepitude hasn’t had a chance to catch up to him. Last week he appeared at Carnegie Hall as a featured guest with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, which played several of his compositions. On Tuesday “Without a Net,” easily the year’s most anticipated jazz album, will become his first release on Blue Note in more than four decades. And next Saturday he’ll be at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the premiere of “Gaia,” which he wrote as a showcase for the bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding.
January 29 2013
With 'My True Story,' a New Orleans legend pays tribute to classics from his youth
By Melinda Newman
Growing up in the Calliope housing project in New Orleans, Aaron Neville surrounded himself with music. The voices of Clyde McPhatter, Pookie Hudson & the Spaniels, and Sonny Til & the Orioles accompanied him in his head as he started his own musical journey cutting his first record in 1960.
Though he turns 72 this week, Neville admits he felt "like a kid in the candy store" as he recorded "My True Story," a collection of doo-wop-era songs co-produced by Don Was and the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards on Blue Note Records. On the 11-track set, the multiple Grammy winner revisits "Be My Baby," "This Magic Moment" and "Tears on My Pillow," among others, bringing his own inimitable vibrato to such classics.
In March, PBS will air "Aaron Neville: Doo Wop: My True Story," a concert special also featuring Paul Simon, Joan Osborne, Jive Five's Eugene Pitt, (who co-wrote the album's title track) and the Del-Vikings' Dickie Harmon. Neville's tour starts April 13 and includes a closing-night slot at the New Orleans Jazz Festival as a solo act, since he left his sibling act, the Neville Brothers, last year.
Neville, who now lives in New York with his second wife, Sarah, talked to MSN about the wild licks of Richards, whom he listens to when times are tough, and his furry friend, Turks.