Friday, September 30, 2005

Jazz Fest Fotos

Adelson trades "licks" with Chielli Minucci

Mike Barnett opens the show on Saturday

The dynamic Perrita Kitson

The Kerry Kearney Band

Mike Barnett on guitar

Kerry Kearney -psycha"delta" blues

Debbie Knapper Band - gives us funk and soul

Steve Adelson jams with the Bryan Carrott group

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Musical Gumbo in the Big Apple

From the minute I stepped into the lobby at Madison Square Garden last night, it was apparent that I was not about to see a struggling NY Knicks team. The Garden took on a mardi gras atmosphere with costumed characters and performers on stilts mingling among the crowds entering the arena. The lobby was festively decorated with baloons, and streamers in traditional New Orleans colors. A band played a mix of zydeco, blues, and jazz. Abitha Amber Beer, normally found on Bourbon Street was flowing through the MSG taps. Crawfish, Gumbo, and other Cajun delicacies were available at refreshment stands. I was at an event!- New Orleans in New York City.

And what an event it was!! At 7:00 pm, the Rebirth Brass Band wandered through the audience and up on the stage playing a funeral dirge. In typical N'awlins fashion the lamenting soon gave way to celebration. Ed Bradley (CBS 60 Minutes) introduced Allen Toussaint who served as the bandleader for the first segment. Joining and paying tribute to Toussaint were such musical heroes as Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, The Dixie Cups, and the 1st lady of N'awlins blues - Irma Thomas. Two highlights of this first segment were Cindy Lauper doing a Touissant tune and the amazing Bette Midler singing I Think its Gonna Rain Today, a beautiful song written by Louisiana native Randy Newman.

Elton John, one of the major organizers of this event, opened the next part of the show. The opening refrain of Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding) was enough to give goosebumps to many in the full garden audience. A rocking version of Levon had people dancing in the aisles. John promised that there will be more concerts to further the rebuilding cause and echoed the evenings sentiment that a newer New Orleans will be part of our future.

Using a rotating stage to minimize the time needed for equipment changes, it was only a few minutes before Jimmy Buffet was wowing the large number of "parrotheads" in the audience. Buffett shared the stage with Paul Simon for a version of Sea Cruise, and with Dave Matthews on a great rendition of Neil Young's Heart of Gold. Buffet's infectious joy reached this audience and he had everyone on their feet.

John Fogarty was next up, and after a rousing introduction from none other than President Bill Clinton, launched into Born on the Bayou. Clinton's suprise appearance brought the evenings loudest and longest reception. He pledged that all monies raised would reach those that needed it most. This was certainly not an easy act to follow, but Fogarty was up to the task. He kept the house rockin' for 4 or 5 tunes, before ending with Proud Mary.

Well over three hours into the evening the unlikely grouping of Buckwheat Zydeco, Lenny Kravitz, and Ry Cooder demonstrated an interesting blend of sounds. They were joined by Irma Thomas in a remarkable cover of Bessie Smith's Blackwater Blues which contains the following prophetic lines:
“When it thunders and lightnin’ and the wind begins to blow/There’s thousands of people ain’t got no place to go.”

Paul Newman introduced the next act - no strangers to the New York crowd - Simon and Garfunkel. After an emotional opening of Homeward Bound, and a rousing Mrs. Robinson they were joined by Aaron Neville who traded verses with Garfunkel on Bridge Over Troubled Water, an incredibly perfect song for this event. Garfunkel took the mike to say: "As many times as I've sung that song, I don't think it's ever meant as much to me as it does tonight."

Aaron Neville touched a few more hearts a bit later on with an exquisite version of Amazing Grace. He performed with his brothers and another Crescent City legendary band, The Meters. Rounding out the finale were the Dirty Dozen Brass Band paying tribute to the traditional jazz sound that is so much a part of the Big Easy's musical heritage.

So, nearly 5 1/2 emotion-filled hours after the Rebirth Jazz Band opened the festivities, they were back doing When the Saints Go Marchin In and once again winding their way through the audience. This time, however, they continued through the halls of Madison Square Garden with throngs of concert-goers following them to the exits. It had a real New Orleans feel to it and a real sense of optimism about it. One could not help but feel good about the rebuilding of this cultural landmark. The future may give New Orleans a new and different look, but its musical heritage will remain intact.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

From the Big Apple to the Big Easy

I am pumped!! In just a few hours I'll be sitting in Madison Square Garden watching such musical superstars as Elton John, Elvis Costello, Simon and Garfunkel, Stevie Nicks, Bette Midler, Lenny Kravitz, Buckwheat Zydeco, The Neville Brothers, and many others perform in a concert to benefit the Gulf Coast rebuilding effort. This show and a second concert from Radio City Music Hall will also be available as a pay-per-view special. Madison Square Garden, in addition to donating 1 million dollars, is underwriting all of the concert's production costs.
It is comforting to know that all monies raised from sponsorship and ticket sales will go directly to the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund, Habitat for Humanity, Music Hurricane Relief Fund, and other organizations directly involved in the rebuilding effort. Show sponsors, Bear Stearns and KeySpan expect to donate well over 10 million dollars as a result of their efforts.

I was fortunate to spend a few days in New Orleans last year. It was a unique and quite unforgettable experience. Not only was the food wonderfully rich and the party atmosphere constant, but the music....Wow!! The sounds of Zydeco coming from the bars and shops on Bourbon Street; the diverse street musicians along Canal Street; an impromtu concert along the banks of the Mississippi; and a stationary marching band playing Preservation Hall favorites at an outdoor flea market, form my collective musical memory of the Crescent City.

In New York City, many waiters and waitresses that you encounter are actors and actresses that are biding their time til the right audition comes. So too, in New Orleans, waitstaff and shopkeepers double as musicians waiting for the right showcase.
The musical heritage of this city is not lost on visitors or on long time residents. It was always there, as much a part of New Orleans, as above-ground cemetaries, or drive through daiquiri bars. Then along came Katrina! We all know the rest. The deadly force of nature, poor planning, and the inability of local, state, and federal government to act quickly and efficiently left New Orleans underwater.

I think it is fitting that music will play a part in the rebuilding effort. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I'm not a big fan of soaring ticket prices, but in this case, if you can afford them and if tickets are still available, it is very worthwhile. Tuning in on the pay-per-view special is another way to see these shows and contribute to this cause.

I am also proud of the superstars that are donating their time and talents to this and other similar efforts. I'll give you some thoughts about the show in a few days.

Monday, September 12, 2005

LB Jazz Festival - Sat - Day 3

Wow! What a day it was! First of all the weather was absolutely spectacular and this probably accounted for the less than capacity crowds for the opening set. Those that chose to bask in the September sun missed the Mike Barnett group doing an hour of traditional jazz. Mike, on guitar, led his group through a spirited opening.

The Kerry Kearney Band took to the stage shortly after 1:00, with his unique brand of "psycha-deltic" blues. Kearney, a Breezy Point native, is no stranger to Long Island audiences - as a matter of fact he is no stranger to national audiences, having opened for the Allman Brothers, Dicky Betts Band and many other distinguished bluesmen. It is a real treat to see him return to this venue year after year.
Kearney seemed very loose, talking with his audience, and seemingly having a lot of fun. The audience ,in turn, loved it - especially when Kearney singled out an audience member whose shirt matched his own, and extended an invitation to join him on stage. Fortunately, I think, the audience member declined.
For more information about this band, including the names of all the bandmembers, see:

Steve Adelson, the next performer, was joined by the washboard player from the Stephane Wrembal Trio, John Favicchia on drums, and very special guest Chielli Minucci (from Special EFX)for a very spirited hour of jazz.
Adelson, an extremely versatile performer, is also the main force behind organizing these great shows. In the improvisational spirit of Jazz, he seems to really enjoy playing with some of the other groups and have other groups' members sit in with his band. This always makes for some interesting music. Mr. Adelson deserves a hearty round of applause for bringing to Long Beach such a wide range of extremely talented musicians.

Back to the festival. Two guitars, a stand-up bass, and a washboard is what the Stephane Wrembel group used to captivate the audience with an hour of gypsy swing jazz. Playing standards such as All of Me as well as the music of Django Reinhardt, this group really connected to the now near-capacity crowd. This group plays in Park Slope with an added violin. If you missed them in LB, try to find them - they are well worth the trip.

Closing the show, was the Dharma All-Stars , led by drummer John Favicchia. This is truly an all star band featuring world class players from other groups that sit in with Favicchia when they can. This version included Chieli Minucci (Special EFX), Bill Heller (Rippingtons), Mike Pope (Chick Corea Band) and Carl Fischer (Maynard Ferguson). These guys were cookin. What more can I say!

From top to bottom Saturday's lineup was fantastic.

I was unable to make any of the shows on Sunday - man cannot live on jazz alone- he must have a little golf too - but I heard that they were pretty amazing too.

We are so fortunate to have this festival in Long Beach. Judging by the attendance, many of you feel the same. Keep up your support for the arts. To Steve Adelson and the other festival organizers - congratulations on a terrific four day event and Thank you for making it happen in our community.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

LB Jazz Fest - Day 2

I was unable to make it to opening night of the LB Jazz Festival. I heard that Los Playeros de Long Beach put on a great show. Aerial Acoustics was kind enough to donate a copy of their CD to our collection - so we will all have the chance to check out their music in a week or two. The drums and pipa duo of Matt Wilson and Min Xiao-Fen closed the show.
I would love to hear from people that were there.

New to this year's shows is the creative sillouettes that serve as a backdrop for the performers. Liz Goldstein from the library's Youth Services Dept. and Michael Simon, Long Beach audiovisual librarian deserve a round of applause for their efforts.

I was able to attend most of the Day 2 offerings. Sorry I missed Jim Lampi's opening set. The Bryan Carrott group, featuring Matt Wilson on drums, Dean Brown on guitar, and with Steve Adelson on the Chapman Stick sitting in, covered a lot of musical ground including tunes by Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, and John Coltrane.

The Debbie Knapper Band closed out the evening in grand style. A blend of funk and soul had almost everyone in the near capacity crowd clapping hands, tapping toes, and shaking their walkers. What a talented group - keyboardist, Danny Keane did a great job covering an Al Green tune. Ms. Knapper sang a few tunes as well. The incredible stage presence, of lead singer, Perrita Kitson made this a memorable set. She demonstrated a powerful voice with incredible range as well as the ability to get the audience totally involved in the set. This group, rounded out by Ainsley Taylor on drums and Shawn Whitley on bass does play in the area - so make sure you get out to see them - you won't be disappointed.

And there is still two more days to go!!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

3rd Annual LB Jazz Festival

Recordings by many of the performers in this year's Long Beach Jazz Festival can be found in our CD collection:

Steve Adelson - Sailing Down the River,Sane - MJ ADEL SDR A00
                                   New Sticktet - MJ ADEL NS A52

AfroDysia -Ami Terra MJ AFRO AMT R12

Mike Barnett - Main Sqeeze MJ BARN MS B

Mark Elf - Trickonometry MJ ELF TRI E04
Elf is also featured on - As we were saying MJ HEAT AWW H72

John Favicchia - Dharma MJ FAVI DHA F73

Kerry Kearney Kerry Kearney MR KEAR KK P60

Chiell1 Minnucci - Got it Goin On MJ MINU GIG

Matt Wilson - As Wave Follows Wave MJ WILS AWF W24
Wilson also appears with Ted Nash on Sidewalk Meeting MJ NASH SM N56

Bryan Carrot appears on Ralph Peterson Presents MJ PETE RPP P75

Most of the performances from last year's festival are available on DVD. These can be found on a display rack in the media center.

Your thoughts and impressions of this year's shows are welcome in this blog. If you don't want to post them yourself - jot them down with or without your name and leave them at the Reference Desk - attention Michael. I will put them together and post them for you. It would be great if we could have all the shows reviewed.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Orleans 2005

Under normal circumstances, I would use this space to talk about the upcoming Long Beach Jazz Festival. These, however, are far from normal circumstances. As I write this our country is in a state of shock as one its great historical landmark cities, the birthplace of Jazz, is underwater - ravaged by one of the worst natural disasters in our history. Thousands have died. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Countless numbers still remain trapped in weakened structures with no electricity, running water, and with little or no food and water.

Nearly a full week since the first request to evacuate was made by the mayor of New Orleans, people are still waiting in squalid conditions at the Superdome or the Convention Center, for busses to bring them to another temporary holding area. As we watched on CNN, looting and lawlessness bred from neglect and frustration, spread throughout the "Crescent City."

As the politicians point fingers at each other and "spin" themselves silly trying to explain how this could happen in our country, the ravaged area will begin to rebuild. It will take an incredible effort, an enormous amount of money, and a very, very long time. Hopefully, the historical legacy that was so much a part of New Orleans' charm will not be lost forever.

A cautionary note - If you chose to donate to a relief fund, please try to verify that you are donating to a legitamate organization. You can find a list of charities and relief agencies as well as lots of other information about Katrina at the Middletown Thrall Library website:

Let us all hope and pray for a quick and smooth recovery effort.