504 MAGAZINE APRIL / MAY 2012
Welcome to the New NEW ORLEANS
W W W. 5 0 4 M A G . C O M
2012 Heritage Jazz Festival Nayo Jones Debut Performance May 4th 2012 ALSOfeaturing: Mario Abney Shamarr Allen Travis“Trumpet” Black ReBirth Brass Band William Gill Learical Jonez AfterFestivalEvents @LeRouxSupperClub
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504 Mag presents The taste of New Orleans 2013 Jazz & Blues Festival 504MAG.COM
Photo courtesy of Doc Jones
THE NEW NEW ORLEANS “This magazine is dedicated “toward building” the New NEW ORLEANS” - Doc Jones -
An Interview with Shamarr Allen
MARIO ABNEY TALKs WITH 504
TRUMPET BLACK 504 mag Welcome s Black to New Orleans Travis Black
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NAYO JONES HERITAGE FEST Debut
504 Mag Interviews Grammy Winners Rebirth brass band Voted new orleans # 1 Brass band
A cHIicago DANCE PHENOMENON
504mag Interviews Terence Blanchard up close and personal
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40 Terence Blanchard 504 MAGAZINE 4
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Shamarr allen on the rise By: Cynthia G Mitchell Shamarr Allen grew up in NOLA’s Lower Ninth Ward. So, after the destruction of this popular area of New Orleans, and obviously the home front for so many of his childhood musicians, including Trombone Shorty, and Glen David Andrews, Allen likes to recall his memories of Lower Nine, “like all the kids outside playing in the street and I’m sitting on my porch, practicing my trumpet. It was more like a family neighborhood. Everybody was so close and everybody slept at everybody’s house. It was just like one big family.”Shamarr made up his mind to play the trumpet at age 7, after his father played him a Louis Armstrong record. His dad, Keith Allen, only played the sax for fun. Obviously Shamarr never took the sax seriously, either, and only played because his dad played. But then when Mr. Allen one day played one of Armstrong’s records, Shamarr was shocked, uttering, “dad,
Cynthia Mitchell Spent some time with Shamarr Allen New Orleans Jazz Trumpet Player
whatever he’s (Armstrong) playing, Probably from the beginning, this versatile performer’s destination was crystal clear, and his father was his first [music] teacher. He played all through school, and as a teenager, attended the Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp. He also played in the concert and marching bands, always serving as his section leader. At 13 he was invited to play with the Pittsburgh University Orchestra and appeared at Carnegie Hall at the tender age of sixteen with the Mahogany Brass Band. With the spirit and demeanor of Louis Armstrong, Shamarr has put his own unique spin on the interpretation of the music. Like Armstrong, his concern for people and pleasing an audience always comes first. He has also mastered the art of fusing traditional with contemporary jazz and funk. Shamarr Allen played his first French Quarter Festival with Tuba Fats when he was 14. “We didn’t have cell phones, so I got on the pay phone and called like my momma, my dad, my grandparents and they all came to the show. At the show he called a whole bunch of songs that I knew.”
Continued on page 10
504 MAGAZINE 5
HERITAGE JAZZ FEST 2012
Photo courtesy of Doc Jones
hief Doucette was born Oct. 27, 1940, has been a lifelong resident of New Orleans and is considered a living legend. He is a man of many talents as his previous careers clearly indicate. Big Chief Doucette is a New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian who has been inducted into the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame twice—once as Big Chief of the Flaming Arrow Warriors. He is also a master carpenter; master race car builder and driver; owner of the legendary Nite Cap Lounge; he is a thoroughbred horseman trainer and racer; an artist who designs and creates Mardi Gras Indian suits; a Creole chef; and a renowned musician, songwriter and entertainer. Wow, that was a mouth full. In 1970, Big Chief Doucette, along with his brothers Roland and Sterling, opened the premier New Orleans nightclub of the day, The Nite Cap 1
Written By: Shirley Jones
Lounge. The Nite Cap 1 Lounge was where many famous local acts who were often sought after worldwide then and even today. To list just a few of the outstanding, long lived, great entertainers the Nite Cap presented to the public at large included: The Meters, the Neville Brothers, Cool Enterprise, Stop Incorporated, Flashback and Chocolate Milk,
as well as international artists The Manhattans, The Chi-Lites, Bobby Womack, The O’Jays, Betty Wright, Johnny Guitar Watson and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown; and the list goes on. In 1977, the Nite Cap 2 replaced the Nite Cap 1 on a more grand scale. The Lounge shut its doors finally in 1980 when the
Doucette brothers pursued other endeavors. In 1980, Big Chief Doucette bought a 25-acre thoroughbred horse ranch in the town of Lumberton, Miss. During this time of his expansive career, The Chief pursued successful career training and racing horses. He owned 11 horses, two of which brought him winning results at the New Orleans Fairgrounds Race Track. In 1989, Big Chief Doucette was bestowed the title of Big Chief of the Flaming Arrows Tribe. He actually inherited the title from his oldest brother Merc; while big brother Merc inherited the title from longtime family friend, Big Chief Jabby, who started The Flaming Arrows Tribe in New Orleans’ 7th Ward. Big Chief Doucette had already been working with his brother sewing the traditional elaborate Mardi Gras Indian suits since the 1950s. In 1989 he began designing and making his own creations, a skill he acquired from his mother, , a commercial seamstress who ran a factory in New Orleans. 8
ig Chief Doucette remembers Jabby creating Indian suits using fish scales, broken pieces of mirror and iridescent stone instead of the sequins and beads that are readily available to creators of the suits today. Back in the day, the suit designers and creators, dyed feathers with Kool-Aid and food coloring, while Coca-Cola bottle caps were used for tambourines and shakers. Big Chief Doucette has been featured in numerous films, television specials, music videos, magazines and newspapers. For more information visit 504Mag.com - Keyword: Big Chief Doucette.
BIG CHIEF DOUCETTE
Shamarr allen: he’s at the top of his game A lot of us learned a lot about traditional music from Tuba Fats,” Shamarr says. “He would call a song, and I’d say, ‘Tuba I don’t know that one.’ He’d say, ‘Sink or swim, we’re playing it.” Eventually Rebirth member, trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, took Allen under his wing and would often show up on Jourdan Avenue to teach the kids about the jazz tradition they were a part of. Allen would later play with Rebirth himself, but not before he learned his craft on the streets of the French Quarter alongside Trombone Shorty and Glen David Andrews. They all eventually found themselves playing in Jackson Square with Tuba Fats. After 6 years with ReBirth, Allen had already begun branching out as a songwriter. He wrote an anthem for the popular Marigny music strip, “Meet Me on Frenchmen Street,” that became the title of his 2007 debut album. This year’s 2012 Congo Square Poster features Shamarr Allen. And without a doubt, he and his band, the Underdawgs, like so many others attending the 43rd Annual New Orleans Heritage Jazz Fest will perform throughout this 10-day extravaganza. The only difference, according to Shamarr, is that “people expect us to play with the “who’s who” of New Orleans.” “Instead, we choose to bring up on stage, kids that 10 stylus magazine
we’ve been teaching….we want them to get the experience - so they are our special guests.” Shamarr, is that “people expect us to play with the “who’s who” of New Orleans.” “Instead, we choose to bring up on stage, kids that we’ve been teaching….we want them to get the experience - so they are our special guests.” I asked Shamarr how it was meeting and speaking with President Obama in 2009 at a Town Hall held in New Orleans. “It was only for about 5 minutes then,” But at the Governor’s Ball in 2010, and after a 15-minute conversation, Shamarr described him, “as a person he is one of the coolest people I have ever met – not big-headed, down to earth, and very charismatic,” plus he remembered me from New Orleans,” Shamarr quipped. What a whirlwind. In 2010, Shamarr Allen & the Underdawgs were selected as Cultural Ambassadors by U.S. State Department. They represented New Orleans and the United States as cultural ambassadors on an international tour sponsored by U.S. Embassies in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan from April 12-22, 2010. And behind that prestigious honor: “When the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan first contacted me, I wasn’t sure what to think,” said Allen. “I had met the Director of the International Jazz Festival at Jazz Fest a few years ago. She had said she wanted to bring the band to Kazakhstan, but I was surprised to hear directly from the Embassy.”
MORE ABOUT Shamarr Allen
“The band and I are pretty excited to represent United States and to show the people of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan the new direction of New Orleans music. We are blessed and this is truly an honor.” One of the group’s first stops was the International Jazz Festival in Almaty, Kazakhstan. There, Shamarr Allen & the Underdawgs were sole representatives of the United States, and joined by performers from Kazakhstan, Turkey, Germany, France, and Austria. “This is a great opportunity for me and the band,” says Allen. “They are calling our music ‘contemporary jazz’ and everyone knows how much I don’t being boxed in to a specific genre: to me it’s just music and I love all music.” Shamarr Allen holds steadfast in his decision and carries that belief everywhere he goes – even to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. “I grew up playing jazz,” says the trumpeter, “But I listened to rock, rap, pop, and everything else, so all that gets wrapped up in what we do. I want our music to resonate with my generation…” and I hope that the people of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan enjoy it.” And I’m sure by now, audiences and especially those among the music mainstream recognizes that as well. Shamarr Allen and his band, the Underdawgs, performed in 2011 at the Palace of Peace and Concord in Astana – sponsored by the U.S. Embassy Behind a 6-year stint as the former front man of the Rebirth Brass Band, and member of the Wolfpack, Mahogany, Hot 8, and having shared the stage with some of NOLA’s finest, Shamarr feels that now he’s in a comfortable place in his role as band leader, trumpeter and vocalist of the funk band, the Underdawgs. Shamarr Allen sticks to his laurels throughout this “comfortable place,” and definitely not, as he describes it, being “pigeon-holed.” They maintain their stance with their elements of hip-hop, overtones of reggae and Latin – while their dominant sound is funky rock. He also prides himself and the band on their ability to improv, while giving everyone their just due as exceptionally good soloists. Shamarr and the Underdawgs were pretty busy between 2009 and 2010. Aside from his personal and music encounters with the President, he also did a multi-city, month-long tour with country music icon, Willie Nelson, on top of a studio session with Nelson and Friends; Ray Price, Leon Russell and R.E.M. On Nelson, I asked Allen how that all came about. “We were an unlikely pair to a lot of folks – but it was cool….Ray Benson who collaborated with Willie Nelson turned me on to Willie. “Willie Nelson, in turn called me personally to do a gig with him, Leon Russell and Ray Price. “It was more like a dream than a gig to me,” he said. “If Willie called and said he wanted me to play for free, I’d go. That’s how much respect I have for what he does.” “That dude writes great music,” Allen said. “You can tell he has a lot of fun and puts his heart, and stuff he goes through, into his music. I try to take that same approach.” Also during this period, Shamarr released the Red Hot Saints Anthem, “Bring em to the Dome” – and received over 500,000 hits on YouTube. After the infamous oil spill in NOLA, he released “Sorry Ain’t Continue on page 14
Publisher / CEO & Chief Editor William “Doc” Jones Associate Editor / Director of Sales Patrick Gilder Senior Writer/ Editor Shirley Jones Associate Writer /Editor Cynthia Gill Mitchell Media Consultant Jim Hutson Senior Photographer 504mag is looking for one if you want to join this start up magazine and you do good work email mail us. Chief Photo Editor Dr. William Jones ©504 MULTIMEDIA, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Meet The Publisher
Welcome to 504 Mag, as Publisher / CEO & Chief Editor,“I am especially proud of my work on this issue I did the layout, Also a special thanks to our great writers/editors, Shirley Jones, Cynthia Gill Mitchell and Patrick Gilder Chef designer.
“Congratulations 504mag readers your magazine is quickly Doc /Spike Lee becoming the talk of the town” William “Doc” Jones / CEO firstname.lastname@example.org
Once you meet him, you’ll remember him. Dr. William Jones referred to as Doc) is Founder/CEO and publisher of the pulse of NOLA’s, 504Mag.com. Doc Jones brings a high level of energy, excitement and hands- on technique to anything he believes in. Doc’s motto, and love of people, alongside his many talents continue to be, “if you believe in it, you should be a contributing factor to it.”
Doc is excited about the restoration of and is spearheading an all out effort to bring an influx of new ready-to-run contributors to the area armed with current information in 504Mag.com. He recently stated, “It’s not the remaining rubble, even though the devastation of Katrina remains vividly in my mind, but the beauty of the people, the succulence of the food and the warmth of the City.” He once performed himself on Bourbon Street and recalls the happy throngs of tourists he entertained.
504Mag comes to give and not take from the history of the culture within that makes NOLA so unique. He offers whatever experience and expertise he has garnered over several decades towards the complete restoration of New Orleans; a City that feels like home.
Doc Jones is the sum total of all that he has experienced; a music educator, professional musician, restaurant owner, writer, producer and owner of a recording studio - all within the realm of music for more than 35 years. Everywhere he has lived from Chicago to Arizona and now New Orleans, he brings unforgetable happy and fond memories. Though there will always be a special place in his heart for Chicago, Doc Jones is quoted to have said, New Orleans is “His Kind of Town.”
Enough No More.” One of the performances whereby Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs proved their versatility was in 2010, when they performed Coldplay’s Viva la Vida at the ball drop in New Orleans – bringing in the New Year. Shamaarr has also performed with Lenny Kravitz who he sees as “down to earth.” Lenny Called Shamarr a week before the Mardis World benefit for Gulf Aid, after the oil spill. Shamarr says that “there has been no international trumpet playing pop star since Louis Armstrong.” He confirmed that as one of his ultimate “goals.” I guess by sticking to his mantra of “Box Who In?” certainly leaves the door wide-open for this unique group of young superstars. 504mag will certainly keep it’s feelers out for Shamarr Allen and his amazing UnderDawgs.
504 MAGAZINE 14
Written By: Cynthia G Mitchell
Mario abney the next young lion
ario Abney, a Chicago-born Trumpet player, currently making his home in New Orleans, is known for jumping from instrument-to-instrument on anybody’s stage. He easily displays his three-fold instrumental talent on what also includes the drums and the piano. And I guess these moves have no doubt preceded and confirmed the “buzz” on the streets, that “Mario Abney is one of the most softspoken musicians in New Orleans off the bandstand. On the gig, however, he’s a fiery force on his horn, often shouting encouragement to his band mates whether performing at Jazz Fest or in the Balcony Music Club.” If you allow yourself just a quick little glance, prepare to be unintentionally duped by the boyish stature of this youthful looking jazz trumpeter, and imagine Mario on any high school campus ground, where he could best be
mistaken for a 14 or 15-year-old student. But 504mag takes another look, and so does the music world. They see him as a pretty “tall order,” and definitely a musical force to be reckoned with. Mario Abney embraced this ongoing passion at the early age of 7. He was influenced by his uncle’s Arthurʼs piano playing as well as the musical interests brought on by his church. By
the age of 11, Mario also took to the drums [which he played in church]. And during his term in high school, at his beginning band program, he played the mellophone and French horn. According to Abney, “I’ve always loved playing instruments. It was just some-
thing that seemed to come naturally for me and allowed me to express myself.” His first taste at really appreciating jazz came when he began listening to Wynton Marsalis. He heard a song by Marsalis from the “Tune in Tomorrow” soundtrack and realized “he was hooked.” He knew then that “the trumpet was his instrument.” Mario soon began to pay attention to and embrace the genius of Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, among other great trumpeters. While completing his sophomore year, Mario catapulted to make the trumpet his main instrument of choice, all while under the direction of John McFadden, Mike McGrath, and Phil Crews of Thornton Township High School. Soon after and on weekends, Marioʼs mother’s Ms. Ora Abney, would often drive Mario, his best friend and several other young musicians to the historical Chicago Jazz Landmark, Fred Andersonʼ’s “The Velvet Lounge.” 504 MAGAZINE 18
he Velvet Lounge has been penned as one of the most inspiring and creative jazz jam session spots in the nation, and where Mario received his first experiences on the stage in an authentic jazz performance. The sessions at the Velvet Lounge were a major contributor to Mario and many other Chicago musicians’ careers and musical development. Clutching his band scholarship, Mario eagerly made his way to Central State University, Ohio, to major in Music Education, with a minor in Jazz Studies. He digested the knowledge he sought there, and while in his freshman year, was introduced to Cincinnati Jazz trumpeter and Music Educator Mike Wade. Mike Wade played an early role in recommending Mario for professional gigs. And to this day, he remains one of Mario’s mentors. “During my college years I became involved in the jazz scene in Dayton playing trumpet in several professional ensembles such as the Afro-Cuban Jazz ensemble, Babalu, the Chicago based House of Twang, The Afro-Ri-
can Ensemble, SYM, and several other ensembles.” In 2004, Mario was invited to become a member of the prestigious HBCU All Star Band. Finally graduating from Central State University in 2005 with a B.A. in Educational Studies, with an emphasis on Music Education and Jazz Studies, Mario held a weekly show with his quintet at the Dayton Jazz Club Jazz Central. He also held down another gig at the 88 Club. While at Jazz Central, Mario composed and recorded his first album, “Spiritual Perception.” During a performance at the Dayton Riverwalk Festival in 2007, Mario contemplated a move to NOLA after hearing the Hot 8 Brass Band. Come Spring of that same year, Abney and two members from his quintet moved to New Orleans to absorb the culture, eventually becoming a part of the music scene. Within one year in the Crescent City, Mario was invited to perform with
Charmaine Neville, Ellis Marsalis, Irving Mayfield, Delfeayo Marsalis, Irving Mayfield, Bill Summers, George Porter Jr. and many other outstanding New Orleans musicians. From 2001 through 2008 Mario performed at many different venues in the Midwest including the Velvet Lounge, Chicago, IL, the Jazz Kitchen, Indianapolis, IN, the Jazz Factory, Kentucky, Jazz At The Hyatt, Cincinnati, OH, Jazz Central, Dayton, OH, the Greenwich, Cincinnati, OH, and many other club venues and festivals in the tri-state area. Mario Abney is also a member of the Soul Apostles featured on the critically acclaimed HBO series “Treme.” As a musician, and artist, Mario believes “music is freedom.” “It’s a channel from a Higher Source, and there is so much freedom in the beauty of that.” No wonder this amazing artist continues to “let the music speak.” 504 MAGAZINE 19
BLACK IS BACK AND GOT A LOT TO SAY. IT’S ON
By Cynthia Gill Mitchell
504MAG Proudly Introduces Travis “Trumpet Black” Hill At the age of 9, Trumpet Black was already “out there” in the music arena, and was mentored by and played alongside some of the best. It is no surprise that his musical roots were ingrained early, especially since according to him, among most of his mentors were his late Grandfather, New Orleans R&B Legend, Jessie Hill [better known as “Ooh Poo Pah Doo”], his equally famous first cousins; James Andrews and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, and second cousins, Terence Andrews and Glen David Andrews – all jazz greats. Black was honored with the Louis Armstrong Trumpet Award at 12-years-old. Also at age 12, he traveled to Europe with the Trombone Shorty Brass Band. Unfortunately, society no doubt reared its ugly head when news of Travis “Trumpet Black” Hill’s incarceration was revealed. However, the NOLA [jazz] music industry kept an open-mind to this young man and his music, and refused to turn their backs on one of their own. Trumpet Black was humbled, and has shown no missteps since returning to his roots in late 2011. And he probably sensed the support he had waiting for him, considering that
while in prison, Black got involved in educational programs; studied African and European history, learned 4 languages, and proclaimed a role as Toastmaster for 3 years. He also joined the Jaycees while incarcerated. Throughout this tumultuous
period, and especially since his release, Trumpet Black blames no one but himself for his mistakes. He told this writer that “he became bored” during a period before his arrest, but discovered early on that “you can’t juggle nor mix your life’s passion with drugs and the streets.” But one of his biggest regrets during incarceration was not being there to help family during the horrific destruction brought on by Hurricane Katrina. To him, “that was worse than being in prison.” Now 26, Trumpet Black has wasted no time making his way back to the streets of NOLA. Hence, this time he is managing his [still] young life with a different attitude and most definitely with a positive mindset. Since his release, Trumpet Black has exuded that initial passion of long ago
by way of the stage he shared with his cousin, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews at the famed House of Blues in New Orleans on Christmas Eve in 2011. He gives many thanks to his cousin Glen David Andrews and Rebirth’s own, Derrick Shesby (who threw out his shoulder) and who allowed Black to replace him on stage at the Maple Leaf on Oak Street. He also appreciates the awesome support from good friend Corey Henry, and a host of other family, friends and fans who continue to believe in him. Black also recently traveled to Hollywood, Florida to perform with Glen David Andrews. “That was quite an experience,” said Black, and he admits that even before this trip, he was and still remains pretty busy. Yes, Trumpet Black has somehow managed to remove from his psyche an ex-con’s sometimes “oh, woe is me” attitude. He continues to move forward, continues to play and already has gained somewhat of a “grown man’s” music history while he travels from club-to-club with his trumpet. He has graced the stage of Tipitina’s, Congo Square, The French Quarter, The DBA on Frenchman Street, and other popular musical milestones. Regardless of his “past,” Black refuses to look ahead to nothing but good things. 504 MAGAZINE
Trumpet Black “Yes sir he can play” The next group of young lions are here!
New Orleans Jazz
AT IT’S BEST
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2012 Heritage Jazz Festival | 504Mag Edition The best of New Orleans, LA
NEW ORLEANS NEWEST STAR MS. NAYO JONES
NAYO JONES AT HER BEST 504Mag: Nayo Jones, that’s an unusual name to be coupled with “Jones,” a popular American surname. Where did your parents get the name Nayo; is it African? Also, is there any significant meaning to your name? A: Yes, my parents put a great deal of thought into naming me and my sisters. My first sister was named Niambi, meaning “Melody”, my name means “We have Great Joy,” and is from Nigeria. My younger sister’s name is Nailah which means “destined to succeed.” As a child I thought my play and school mates might find Nayo hard to pronounce, thinking I might get teased about it. Even as an adult I still get the occasional pronunciation, “Na ay yoh.” Needless to say, I survived grammar and by high school. School mates embraced my name expressing they wished their parents had named them something other than their more common names. 504Mag: Were you born in New Orleans? A: My parents relocated to Phoenix, Arizona leaving Chicago, Illinois where I was born and began school. I attended grammar school primarily in Phoenix and all of my high school years. When I graduated high school I was ready for a change; I opted to attend the illustrious Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, graduating with a degree in Economics. During my four years at Spelman I acquired lifelong friendships and I love my alma mater. About a year ago I relocate to New Orleans. 504Mag: As many other singers have said they started 28 stylus magazine
out; did you get your singing start in church? A: You could say that to some extent. I sang in the children’s choir for several years and served as the youth choir director sporadically. During college I sang in a Gospel Choir for about a year. I never had a solo, but learned a lot about breathing exercises, vocal techniques, parts, posture and more while participation in that Choir. 504Mag: Did you ever receive formal vocal training and do you play an instrument? A: No I’ve never received any formal vocal training though I have had the pleasure of sitting with very talented vocal coaches on 0ccasion. I do play an instrument, the flute, which was first introduced to me by my father, when I was about six years old. I studied it and played in bands through high school and on into college; I am a classically trained flutist and have played the flute for many years. I enjoy the resonating and vibrating sounds the instrument is capable of producing in the right hands. I started competing in high school and marched with the Morehouse Marching Band playing the flute for a while until traveling with the band began to weigh on my studies at Spelman. 504Mag: Ms. Jones you look so young to have captured the essence of Jazz music. When did you know you wanted to sing Jazz and why that genre, or do you only sing Jazz? A: Jazz is infectious and having my Dad a constant in my life as a Jazz musician and music educator, it wasn’t far fetched for me to fall in love with it. I grew up hearing Jazz performed by my father with his various bands most of my childhood. Admittedly, I didn’t like it that much at first, however, I know now that was because I didn’t understand it. Jazz is an acquired taste, like eating sushi, smoking fine cigars or drinking specialty wines.
You learn to enjoy it, then to love it. As I’ve matured the depth and pureness of Jazz has become more and more intoxicating for me. I have to let you know, I didn’t set out to become a Jazz singer, I learned a few songs and before I knew it I was being labeled a “Jazz singer.” Label or not, it’s an honor because the true Jazz singers have a talent that only music can explain. Although I don’t mind being known as a Jazz singer, I’m a fan of music in general and I love singing anything infused with soul, not just Jazz. 504Mag: If one felt the need to label your style of music, how would you categorize your style of singing? A: Like I said earlier, I don’t mind being known as a Jazz singer but I think I would more accurately describe myself as a Soul singer, although anything I sing will have “nuances” of Jazz in it. Singers such as a Nancy Wilson, Whitney Houston, Natalie Cole, Betty Carter and Etta James have all influenced me. 504Mag: It takes a special person to persevere in the business of music. What advice would you give other female vocalists seeking to break into the business? A: Once I knew I wanted to sing, I focused on music and was encouraged to do so by my parents. My advice would apply to anyone in any endeavor in life, “stay focused.” It is easy to get caught up in the hype of this business in particular because it carries a certain measure of excitement and glamour with it. Although in the music realm, you’ll find everything from one-hit wonders to lasting staples in a family’s choice of music crossing generations. If being a musician/singer is truly what you want never; I say never give up on yourself no matter how many times you hear “no” or “not now.”
and grace she expressed in her live or recorded performances as well as on the big screen. Her passing was personal for me, so much, I was sincerely hurt, as if I’d lost a friend; may she rest in peace. There are other great vocalists I admire as well; one that comes to mind is Dinah Washington. The more I sang, the more I learned about Jazz and its roots, the more I fell in love with singers from a different era, like Ms. Washington; who always blows me away. 504Mag: As a breakout entertainer, I’m impressed that you’re performing with other great musicians at the 2012 Heritage Jazz Fest. How did that come about? A: When I first arrived in New Orleans, I didn’t have a plan nor did I really know how long I’d be here. I took a chance about two days into my stay in New Orleans and applied for Jazz Fest. Three months later I got the call that I was selected as one of the artist to perform. During several previous visits to New Orleans, I never experienced Jazz Fest, so it’s pretty awesome that my first experience with the Festival will be performing in it! Needless to say, I am beyond excited and I am so looking forward to hitting the stage. 504Mag: Residents and visitors alike express they love you and speak highly of your talent and professionalism. Coming from Phoenix, Arizona, what do you think of New Orleans and its very different culture than you grew up in? A: New Orleans truly has its own energy. I’ve traveled extensively in the US; the energy in NOLA cannot be matched. The more I learn about the City’s history and culture, the more attractive and inviting it becomes. I’m in love with New Orleans, though I have to admit at first I was a little taken back because of all the bad press we hear and read about New Orleans, some of which may be true. Even with the reality of the “problems” associated with living and working in a metropolis such as New Orleans, there is another more loving and laid back side to her. I wish everyone could experience what I do on a daily basis. Now I know why they sing “Drop me off in New Orleans” there’s no other place like it! By: Inez S. McDay
Going back to my favorite female vocalist, growing up my most favorite female vocalist was Whitney Houston. I play her music until I feel asleep intoxicated by her voice and its many changes. No one could send a chill up my spine the way she could. I also adore Diana Ross, for me she encompasses femininity. She either has the greatest stylist ever or her own sense of fashion and style are/were way ahead of its time; she is awesome! Her gowns, ostentatious, as some may think, were and still are very attractive to a young girl mimicking her style while playing dressup in her mom’s heels and hats. 504Mag: Most great vocalists have favorites; you’ve already named a few. Is there one in particular? A: Yes, that would be Whitney, not just because she recently passed. I’ve loved her since I was a teen. I never had the opportunity to meet her personally, but I admire the talent and
Visit Nayo at www.nayojones.com
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PONCHO SANCHEZ 504Mag’s Next Issue Cover Artist... “The God Father of Latin Jazz” New Orleans is one of the world’s most fascinating cities. Steeped in a history of influences from Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and beyond, along with . it’s brilliant mosaic of culture, food and music. You’ll find brimming bowls of gumbo, late nights in jazz clubs, strolls through historic neighborhoods and tantalizing festivals throughout the year.. Come to New Orleans to experience one of America’s richest destinations culturally and historically.
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With Great live music doing fest
Each weekend pass is only $50.
JazzFest 2012 @ Rock'n'Bowl WEEKEND PASS APRIL 26-29 32 stylus magazine
WEEKEND PASS MAY 3-6
REBIRTH BRASS BAND
GRAMMY AWARD, WINNERS 2012 / REBIRTH BRASS BAND Extraordinaire
FIRST, 504mag would like to join in congratulating the Rebirth Brass Band and Basin Street Records for that exceptional win of their first Grammy in the “Best Regional Roots Music Album Category,” for the release of “Rebirth of New Orleans,” and released in 2011 during Mardi Gras. Having lived a dream, Phil Frazier was quoted as saying “he’d rather win a Grammy than be rich.” To him, “it was like winning the Super Bowl all over again.” 504mag is so glad he didn’t miss this award-winning opportunity, because he obviously felt no shame in mentioning that he “feared he would faint” on this magnificent night.
This amazing group was formed in 1983 by the Frazier brothers, Phil (band leader) and Keith (bass drum), and famed music man, Kermit Ruffins. Rebirth began their musical trek on the streets of the French Quarter and quickly moved up to festival performances and stages worldwide. As long as they have been on the scene, this phenomenal band continues to thrill audiences with their traditional brass band sound, but strays brilliantly with their phenomenal sounds of modern-day music, coupled with their unique brand of funk. Since their formation in the early 80’s, and as close school buddies, they quickly moved forward in the late 1980’s, eventually cutting their own brand of album releases to include multiple trombone, trumpet and tuba-compiled instrumentation.
Most NOLA folk probably recognizes this amazing band best known for any form of spirituals, rag-time, marching tunes, and all of their original sounds of brass. They are as equally as well known for their skills, and which work superbly in a vintage marching-band style. Since their claim to fame, Rebirth credits their albums to various local and national labels, but has since signed to Basin Street Records. “Rebirth of New Orleans” was produced by Tracey Freeman, who also worked his best with Harry Connick Jr. and former Rebirth trumpeter Kermit Ruffins. This award-winning album consists of original music, not to mention covers of Dave Bartholomew’s “Shrimp and Gumbo…and Jermaine Jackson’s “Feelin’ Free.” The Rebirth Band’s upcoming schedule includes gigs beginning in April, [from San Diego, to Boston, L.A., DC, etc.] all the way up through July….and, no doubt will continue non-stop
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from there. Of course, you can catch this New Orleans favorite on May 6, when they perform on stage at the famous New Orleans Heritage Jazz Festival. What next lies ahead for this remarkable ensemble? It’s anyone’s guess, but 504mag is honored to introduce this world-renowned group in its present state. A new standing among some of New Orleans’ finest. Rebirth was nominated along with several other Louisiana artists in the “Best Regional Roots Music Album” category. The other local nominees were Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, for their album “Grand Isle,” and Zydeco artist C.J. Chenier, for his “Can’t Sit Down.”
By Cynthia Gill Mitchell
William Gill A DANCE PHENOMENON by Cynthia Gill - Mitchell
I think one of his biggest honors to date was performing as a dancer in Lyric Opera’ of Chicago recent run of SHOWBOAT. But then, I’m talking about William Gill; renowned dancer, teacher, and choreographer. Aside from that, he’s just a regular guy and probably more humble than most in his field. Observing and talking to him, one is rewarded with a wide, handsome smile; his non-stop, yet funny conversation and a “cool” walk, leaving one to believe that he is just an ordinary guy from the streets of Chi-Town; he’s more than that. “Will,” as most of his friends, peers and students call him, is a “sheer genius” when it comes to his life-long passion as a dancer. When he revealed to me his past accomplishments, and accolades, I was a bit surprised - not doubting his worth, but amazed at how far he has come since growing up in Chicago. His career began with Chicago’s own Joel Hall, through whom he served as principle dancer with The Bryant Ballet. His “swift” climb up that ladder didn’t take very long. William Gill eventually ended up in Dallas, where he performed under the direction of Ann Williams, with The Dallas Black Dance Theater. He never missed a beat nor a performance while in Dallas. He continued to perform with the likes of Donald Bryd, Alonzo King, Donald McKayle, Milton Myers and Chuck Davis. With the matched expertise of those who are more famously hailed in this art, William has also shared his dance technique across the waters. In Vienna, Austria in 2006, he is most famously known for his unforgettable solo performance of “Ostrich,” [choreographed by Asadata DaFora] at The Austrian Dance Festival, and where he was also given the honor to connect with and teach other aspiring dancers. Word-of-mouth travels fast in William’s favor as well. In 2009, he was recommended by a student member of Terpsichore Dance Collective, a program out of Knoxville College in Galesburg, Illinois, to teach daily classes at Knox during a one-week dance residency, and here is their feedback: “A few students, myself included, met William Gill last year, during the Chicago Dance Project. He was teaching at Joel Hall Dance Center, well, what can I say…we loved his classes. At the time, he was in the middle of call-backs for a fancy stage production of Dirty Dancing,” she recalled. “He’s so encouraging, the type of teacher who will really help you, but push you at the same time. He’s amazing,” said Rudd. “Eubanks stated, “His classes are challenging, but he keeps things upbeat.” William was invited back to Europe in 2010 to join his mentor, Joel Hall and his dancers, in Liverpool, England. There, William performed as “guest artist” at the Leap International Dance Festival. Without a doubt, William leaves a mark wherever he performs….but is probably most aptly known for the mark he left on Africa [Johannesburg & Zimbabwe] – he’s performed in Africa twice. Since his amazing performances in The Lyric Opera Theatre’s Showboat production, William has returned to his full-time job at the Chicago Multi-cultural Dance Center and the Joel Hall Dance Center. He continues his work with another of his mentors, Homer Bryant. The demand for his dance skills and teachings is over the top. He is known of course, throughout Chicago, but the buzz remains high in other countries for his modern dance; “Horton-style,” penned “high energy and “super intense.” I don’t doubt it, this writer observed one of Will’s high-energy, super intense performances when The Dallas Black Dance Theater performed in neighboring Atlanta, Georgia in 2004. William casts his spell wherever he performs, and obviously Hollywood caught it. He had the opportunity to work with Hollywood choreographers Otis Sallid and Niesha Folks on the Movie “Hoodlums,” with Lawrence Fishburne, Queen Latifah and Cicely Tyson in 1999. If you look close enough at a dance scene, William can be seen doing a “slow drag” in this popular film. He can also be seen in the television show “The Untouchables”.
William Gill has an impeccable background, and has obviously worked extremely hard to bring all of his dreams into fruition. He tells this writer that “he’s not done, his energy level has not waned,” and recently learned that the Showboat tour begins in December in Houston, Texas. 504mag is willing to bet that Showboat’s Houston stop won’t be the last one for William Gill. He foresees many more opportunities in his future, beginning with an audition for Porgy & Bess. William is home now, but it’s anyone’s guess, for how long. .
Up Close with
TERENCE BLANCHARD 504MAG is honored to present to our readers the world renowned Jazz Trumpeter, bandleader, arranger, major film score composer, and 5 time Grammy winner (he was nominated 12 times), New Orleans’ own Terence Oliver Blanchard. Before we share our exclusive interview with Terence 504mag would like to first give our readers more insight into the background on this extraordinary musician. We chose to include this informarion, because our research leads us to believe we would need to write a book to cover some of Blanchard’s performing history, then and now. Terence Blanchard is a musician’s musician. Not only does he play jazz extremely well, he writes, arranges and composes. Believe me that’s no small accomplishment and not something all good musicians can do.
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with terence blanchard
504MAG: Sits down with trumpet player Terence Blanchard. We discussed a number of subjects relevant to his music. If given the opportunity, and at this stage of his career, I wonder if 504mag could even come up with another award to bestow upon Terence Blanchard, 5-time Grammy-award winner. The most recent award received for his astounding music score of “Red Tails” a George Lucas film about the Tuskegee Airmen, which Lucas worked on for several years. (The album of the film’s score was recently released on Sony.) The film starred Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard and Bryan Lee Cranston. It was directed by Anthony Hemingway of Treme, The Wire and Battleship Galactica fame.
interview with Terence was revealing and this article will share with you what we discovered about this amazing New Orleans music-man. After all, 504Mag does proudly feature Mr. Terence Oliver Blanchard on this month’s cover. Well, I am no stranger to Doc’s (504mag Publisher/CEO) never-ending drive, determination and tenacity. So, low and behold it was meant to be that Terence happened to be playing at a gig in Tucson, Arizona where Doc Jones was there to support yet another great artist, Latin jazz great Poncho Sanchez. It was through Poncho that Doc Jones was finally introduced to Blanchard. Now whether it was by happenstance, or just plain luck, that’s not important, Doc had gotten more than he bargained for.
Do we dare attempt to enhance or expound upon the magnitude of accomplishments already written about this music Icon. It is certainly not our intention to compete (or maybe it is), but metaphorically speaking, honestly, we wanted to use our publishing rights to jump on the Terence Blanchard bandwagon. My one-on-one
It is clear that Terence is no different from many of his iconic counterparts, especially since he too began his music career at a young age. However, there is one truism that sets him apart from some of the rest - Terence is an only child. But that didn’t keep him from early exposure to others who are widely respected in the business, including one of his
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earliest counter-parts, trumpet genius, Wynton Marsalis. Born in New Orleans on March 13, 1962, his parents, Joseph Oliver [a part-time opera singer and insurance manager] and Wilhelmina Blanchard obviously shared his vision, and saw nothing wrong with their son beginning his music career at the piano by age 5. He later took to the trumpet, and by age 8, he was already embracing child-prodigy status. But those are just the “usual” beginner’s stats, and could probably be attached to any musician who hails from New Orleans – the city of Jazz and home to so many other jazz greats past, present and future. The true [musical] grit with this man blossomed while he was in high school, when he played next to famed Jazz Great, and another child-prodigy, Wynton Marsalis at summer music camps. He went on to study at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) under the tutelage of Roger Dickerson and Ellis Marsalis, Jr. He then went on to complete his “scholarship” studies at Rutgers University from 1980 to 1982, under jazz saxophonist Paul Jeffrey and famed trumpeter Bill Fielder; he even toured with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra during this period. In 1982, Wynton Marsalis felt secure enough to recommend Blanchard as his replacement in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. He remained the band’s trumpeter and musical director until 1986. During this stint with Blakey while serving as co-leader of a quintet with saxophonist Donald Harrison, and pianist Mulgrew Miller, Blanchard continued his rise to become a respected member of the 1980’s jazz era. The Harrison Blanchard collaboration eventually recorded five albums from 1984 through 1988. After that period, it was no surprise when Blanchard pursued his solo career beginning in 1990.Terence Blanchard finally recorded his self-titled debut album for Columbia Records which hit third on the Billboard Jazz Charts. He moved on to perform on an array of soundtracks for Spike Lee movies, which includes, Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever , Malcolm X, Clockers, Summer of Sam, 25th Hour (for which Blanchard received a Golden Globe nomination), and Inside Man. And, in 2006, he composed the score for Spike Lee’s 4-hour HBO Hurricane Katrina documentary; When the Levees Broke: a Requiem in Four Acts. Blanchard and his mother, Wilhelmina Blanchard, also made an appearance in this documentary and shared their emotional experiences, after finding their home completely destroyed during this historical devastation. Adding to his film credits, Blanchard also composed for directors, Leon Ichaso, Ron Shelton and Kasi Lemmons. His scored work in 2008’s Miracle at St. Anna was well-received. Blanchard also worked on the soundtrack for Cadillac Records (2008). Continue 48
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Congratulation Rebirth Brass Band on winning your 1st Grammy, PLEASE JOIN 504MAG BY PAYING HOMAGE TO NEW ORLEANS’ OWN BY BUYING THE CD!
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LEARICAL JONEZ 504Mag Introduces Atlanta‘s Poet, Playwrite, Director & Producer
After 2 years on the poetry scene beginning in 2003, she was hooked, and Learical Jonez didn’t waste much time moving from her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana to Atlanta, Georgia in 2005. She immediately discovered the major poetry/spoken-word hubs in Atlanta, and began performing at popular open mic sessions. Eventually, she moved on to begin a long-standing relationship with “Joyce Littel,” popular Atlanta radio personality and the host of Poetic Moments Live, and Passion & Poetry, a popular production widely anticipated by Atlanta fans each year. Hence, “Joyce gave me my avenue,” states Jonez. Moving forward, Learical eventually realized that “she wanted more,” and 7 years later the creation of three back-to-back hit plays came to fruition One of Learical Jonez’s signature opening acts immediately sets you up for what’s to follow. With her unique perception, she probably predicted well in advance that “Cover Story,” about “4 women,” and a tribute to 44 stylus magazine
Nina Simone, would go over well. Hence, beginning with her first play, “Aunt Sara’s Girls’,” “Cover Story” set the stage, and that signature opening became a mainstay for all future plays. This play, filled with some of the “hush-hush” drama that a lot of families somehow manage to keep secret, Learical explicitly exposes it all. She is outrageously passionate, and creates her own brand of powerful depictions about dysfunctional life, and apologizes to no one for her honest theatrical choices. After sitting through one of Learical’s plays, some of the audience members, including yours truly, probably silently wished we had left all emotions at the door. In “It’s A Thin Line,” for instance, [an extension of “Aunt Sara’s Girls”] whereby the perpetrators “tell their side of the story” to its emotionally damaged victims it’s almost impossible not to shed a few tears, or be reminded of familiar emotional life experiences. Expounding on relationships with significant others, and/or family mem-
bers, Jonez literally brings “taboo” subjects bravely to the forefront. While on stage, this cast carries on with a unique perception of Learical’s intentions, and skillfully hone in to the passion she so candidly conveys. Adding to that, and somehow in between the emotional scenes, you can’t help but laugh – and I mean gut-wrenching laughter with Learical’s interjected comedy scenes. It’s skillfully done - and if the audience experiences a few yo-yo emotions – well, that is what Learical planned at the outset. In one year Learical Jonez, writer, Producer, Director, and CEO of LJEG (Learical Jonez Entertainment Group - www.ljegroup.com) has managed her craft with a concept few newcomers in this business would dare to attempt, let alone complete with such drive and unstoppable tenacity. Her plays display a life of their own, and are managed with a skilled conviction that comfortably matches peers, and some of whom Learical admires as some of the industry’s best. She
especially admires “Tyler,” but in no way does she attempt to emulate his work. Learical is just Learical, and it works - this is “real world stuff ” - and no doubt hits home for everyone at some point throughout any, if not all three of these controversial masterpieces. After Thin Line’s first run, and followed closely by an encore performance, she hit us with yet another blockbuster, “Social Networking.” A play that expertly reveals the emotional and sometimes devastating affect social network abuse can have on its users. But then, Learical manages to carefully inject another aspect as well, and pleases the audience with the positive side to the World Wide Web phenomena and all of its components.
Word has quickly spread about Learical’s works, and “It’s A Thin Line” has once again re-surfaced. Behind the repeated requests of a newer fan base, Learical complied and has returned with yet another enhanced version of “It’s A Thin Line.” Oh, the serious drama is still there, but this rebirth is easily meshed with an array of
powerful vocals, and uproarious comedy scenes designed to wow the audiences. Undoubtedly the most powerful to date, this second of the trio just keeps getting better and better. So, it’s little wonder that this “gem of a production” will be “Going Back to Indiana” on June 23, 2012. From this writer’s perspective, I expect that some, if not all of this amazing cast will join her on this exciting trek to Learical’s welcoming hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
And speaking of this magical crew - and certainly no slackers - share in their individual crafts, that includes a radio producer, radio personality, some amazing poets, up-and-coming recording artists, exceptional writers and even a couple of Atlanta businessmen. Hence, they all come with high levels of experiences in their own right, and blends a mix of character traits which complements Learical’s never-ending thought processes to just create each new play to be even better than its predecessor.
Lastly, 504mag is definitely looking forward to Learical Jonez’s soon to be released, “Sunday,”[a production revealing her rendition of just what might take place on any given Sunday in anybody’s household], “What happens in your family on the Lord’s Day?” According to Learical, “Sunday is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.” It debuts on May 13th in Atlanta, Georgia. And given the “lasting impression” this young lady continues to leave us with, I know that Atlanta is waiting with bated breath – what about you NOLA?
By: Cynthia G. Mitchell Joe StallworthPhotography
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ALTO SAX JAMES MODDY & TERENCE BLANCHARD
Terence blanchard editor’s choice He is known as a straight-ahead artist in the tradition but has recently utilized an African-fusion style of playing that makes him unique from other trumpeters on the performance circuit.
Terence Blachard Grammy Winner Terence Blanchard has over forty film scores to his credit, and as proclaimed by Entertainment Weekly, he is “central to a general resurgence of jazz composition for film.” However, in a 1994 interview, Blanchard was quoted as saying, “Writing for film is fun, but nothing can beat being a jazz musician, playing a club, playing a concert.” So he continues to do both, adding credence to his already amazing career, and barely slowing down throughout the process. Most know of this Jazz Trumpeter’s background as a band leader, a composer, and arranger. And and some even peg him a “film-score master.” Hence, he has continued to carry on with his genius status; attaching his musical prowess not only to Hollywood, but now, to Broadway. We’ve already mentioned Terence Blanchard’s 5-time Grammy Award win, and that the 5th award was for his astounding filmscore in George Lucas’s 2012 Tuskegee Airmen block buster, Red Tails. So, add to that, his score for Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Motherf**ker With a Hat starring Chris Rock, [Directed by Anna D. Shapiro, premiered at Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York on April 11, 2011 and closed on July 17, 2011, and earned them six Tony Award nominations] . Shapiro will also
direct a new production of the play in Chicago at Steppenwolf Theatre and has requested permission to use the same music Blanchard composed for the original run. Blanchard scored in the Emily Mann-directed revival of Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play A Streetcar Named Desire). He also delivered a role by performing as the musical voice of “Louis The Alligator” in The Princess and the Frog’s animated feature film; and becoming the Artistic Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Jazz Series. Serving since 2000 as the Artistic Director of Thelonious Monk Institute of jazz, he moved on to be honored in 2011 as the Artistic Director of the Henri Mancini Institute – a pro-
gram at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. Additionally, Blanchard will serve as the artist in residence at this year’s Detroit Jazz Festival over the Labor Day weekend. Blanchard concedes that he’s very busy these days, but adds, “I’m blessed.” Indeed he is, when media like Vanity Fair writes, “He plays the most coolly expressive trumpet in jazz, transmuting
the instrument’s repertoire of smears, growls, peeps and blasts into an astonishingly fluid language both luxurious and controlled.” Blanchard delivered two albums for Concord and three more for Columbia before launching his solo career with his eponymous 1991 album, also for Columbia. He delivered nine albums for Columbia and Sony Classical. In 2003 Blanchard signed with Blue Note Records where his career soared to a new level of excellence, beginning with Bounce and two years later, along with Herbie Hancock, produced Flow (nominated for a Grammy). In 2007 Blanchard won the large jazz ensemble Grammy for the haunting song-cycle album A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina, and in 2008 won the best instrumental solo Grammy for Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival (he won the same Grammy in 2009 for Jeff Tain Watts’ album Watts for the track “Dancin’ for Chicken”).The list goes on with the seemingly tireless Blanchard. In a recording for Concord, Blanchard delivered 2009’s Choices, a compelling sextet date, that featured the spoken-word input by social activist Dr. Cornel West and guest vocals by R&B soul singer Bilal. Recorded at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in his hometown of New Orleans, Choices proved to be a profound album. The response to Choices was “very positive and very emotional,” says Blanchard. “Having the words along with the music was a unique marriage to talk about the choices you have to make.”
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“After our live shows, the audience came up to us and told us that they reflected on their own mortality, their own judgment, especially after what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. They said the music really helped them to re-examine themselves.” Choices was Blanchard’s 18th album as a leader/co-leader and his 39th album overall. He will be returning to Blue Note Records to record his next album. As for A Streetcar Named Desire, set in the gritty French Quarter of 1940s New Orleans, he says, “I’ve been inspired by Tennessee Williams’s play and the original screenplay. One of the things about the movie—which is great and even historic in terms of our culture—is how much reference there is to music, such as the line ‘and the brass band plays.’ New Orleans had a profound effect on Tennessee Williams, which is why he wrote this play.” Streetcar previously played Broadway in 2005 with Natasha Richardson and John C. Reilly. The current production stars Blair Underwood and is produced by Front Row Productions, which enlisted Blanchard to develop thematic ideas and arrangements with a New Orleans sensibility. Streetcar will run for 16 weeks at the Broadhurst Theatre Beginning April 22nd. Presently, of special interest to Blanchard is the commission from Opera St. Louis for his first-time opera that will premiere in 2013 (Pulitzer Prize winner for drama and Tony Award winner Michael Cristofer is writing the libretto). Blanchard says about this opera: “I love the challenge,” “My father loved opera. He was a baritone who studied, so it was an emotional connection to him.” At first there was talk about doing something related to Hurricane Katrina, but Blanchard says “that’s one of those stories that will need to be revisited 10 to 20 years from now.” Instead, Blanchard, a big boxing fan, decided to focus on the story of former welterweight and middleweight champion Emile Griffith, a tremendous fighter from the U.S. Virgin Islands who also had to deal with the repercussions of being a closeted gay in the early ‘60s. “Opponents outted him and called him a faggot,” says Blanchard. “Emile is famous for tragically punching his welterweight opponent Benny Paret in 1962 so badly that he fell into a coma and died. His life went into a tailspin after that and years later he met up with Benny’s son in a New York City park. The son told Emile that he didn’t harbor any hard feelings. The opera is not only about Emile’s story, but to carry the thought further, it’s about how many pro athletes are gay and don’t feel free to share that. I’m hoping this opera will stir up the debate.”
Terence Blanchard Blanchard is also recognized for his leadership role in music education. “I’m very proud of the work I did as artistic director of the Monk Institute for 10 years,” he says. “It was hard leaving, but I had to move on. Becoming the artistic director of the Mancini Institute is really exciting for me. They are committed to cutting-edge education in the program, which is run by Shelly Berg. It’s a program with a vision. I’ve been in my first year, and he’s constantly talking about reshaping the program, re-evaluating what we’ve done and how to find out what students really need.” Blanchard attends the institute for one week every month and works with music students on improvisation, composition and performance. Blanchard will continue to tour with his quintet and start working on his next recording in addition to all his other projects—all of which furthers this New Orleans native son’s emergence as one of the most extraordinarily fascinating artists who is creatively attuned to a variety of art forms. In the words of one writer: “Blanchard is a restless soul. His career is like a jazz chart, filled with unseen turns, twists and handoffs.” What a record, y’all, what a background…and 504mag is sure we still have so much more to look forward to from this phenomenal man of many talents, who carries with him a selfmade characterization of displayed genius that is matched by few. 504mag applauds you Mr. Terence Oliver Blanchard.
By: William “Doc” Jones, Shirley Jones and Cynthia Gill Mitchell
Another special interest to Blanchard is the commission from Opera St. Louis for his firsttime opera that will premiere in 2013 (Pulitzer Prize winner for drama and Tony Award win ner Michael Cristofer is writing the libretto). his musical joy and mentor in a way others so By: Muse Media PR willingly mentored him. Real artists are originals who have a calling. The majority of people in the music world are often mere marketing confections or showcase acts, but not real artists. Acts can have hits, but usually their time in the spotlight is short-lived. Real artists have a vision and follow it for the long term, creatively expressing themselves in abundance. Witness Terence Blanchard who early on made a name for himself as a top-tier jazz trumpeter from New Orleans and who has gone on to enjoy a multifaceted career both in the jazz camp and beyond. He’s not only a five-time Grammy Award winner, but he’s also a renowned film-score and soundtrack composer (most recently for George Lucas’s 2012 Red Tails film about the Tuskegee AirmenBlanchard is renowned in jazz circles as a remarkable trumpeter, composer, arranger and bandleader. Vanity Fair writes, “He plays the most coolly expressive trumpet in jazz, transmuting the instrument’s repertoire of smears, growls, peeps and blasts into an astonishingly fluid language both luxurious and controlled.” A veteran of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (recommended by Wynton Marsalis as his replacement in 1983), Blanchard began his own recording career in a band co- led with saxophonist Donald Harrison, delivering two albums for Concord and three more for Columbia before launching his solo career with his eponymous 1991 album, also for Columbia. He delivered nine albums for Columbia and Sony Classical.
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THANK YOU BRO. OKORO AND PHIL COHRAN
FOR YOUR LIFE’S WORK Written By: Doc & Shirley Jones
The news brought tears to my eyes. Not so much because this mentor of young men and women; this unheralded icon from the grass roots movement passed last night. I personally benefitted from Okoro Harold Johnson direction as a very young man. Thank you Bro Okoro (pictured here, second from the right) for seeking me out, encouraging me and allowing me to dance my first professional job ever. That role as Detroit Red (Malcom X’s given name pre Muslim Leader) in the play Malcolm X, in 1972; then later that same year giving me an opportunity to play my tenor sax on Chicago’s Lakefront, changed my life. For those who knew of Okoro’s illustrious background, some did not know he was a musician before becoming an actor/director. Last, but certainly not lease, thank you Okoro for sending me to (Bro. Phil Cohran, pictured here to your far right). Bro Cohran invested in me during my college days and onward, building upon the foundation you helped 50 stylus magazine
lay in my life. Bro. Cohran is still with us and I pay tribute and speak highly of him and his relationship with many young men and women back in the 70’s. I still call upon the knowledge, strength, and understanding of music shared with me by both these great men. May God be with you. Most people who know me today think I’ve been a musician all my life. Well, it feels like it sometimes, but that’s not the truth. In the 70’s I was better known as an outstanding dancer. That style of dance is referred to as Stepping. Yes, that’s right I was the best in my day. I often paid my bills from the winnings gained from dance area contests. That’s not me saying it, but my peers convincing me that I was. Don Cornelius personally sought me out to help launch the television show Soul Train. It was around that same time a cousin of mine strongly suggested I try out for a part in the play titled Malcolm X. My immediate response, “Man I don’t do organized dancing. My boys will laugh me out
of the clubs.” He told me I would get paid for my role in the play and that made my decision. You guessed it! At the audition, I blew them away. Okoro was the Producer/ Director of the play and realized I was from the streets of Chicago and just might need a little extra attention to keep me focused. His mentoring, patience and street smarts worked from the very beginning. Still, to this day his guidance works in my life as a musician, music educator, writer, entrepreneur, parent and so on. You were right Brothers Okoro and Cohran, because of you great influences in my life; I have been able to pay it forward. Thank you so much for investing in me more than 30 years ago. Who is Brother Okoro?
Okoro Harold Johnson, actor, director and playwright, was born May 25, 1925, in Chicago. He attended Forestville Elementary and DuSable High School, but graduated
from Eureka High School in Meridian, Mississippi. He briefly attended Tougaloo College but ended up working as a waiter on the Grand Trunk Railroad. Later, at Roosevelt University, Johnson became involved at the beginning of the Chicago Black Arts Movement. Johnson earned a B.A. in theater from Roosevelt University and an M.A. in theater from Governors State University. Johnson is known for his down-to-earth approach with both acting and directing. He has exposed people from all walks of life to the magic of the theatre through his productions. His plays include S.C.L.C: Second Coming, Last Chance; The Regal Theater; Kintu and the Law of Love; and Strange Fruit. Johnson also directed A Candle in the Wind (featuring William Marshall); A Change is Gon’ Come by Joe Turner; Purlie Victorious by Ossie Davis; Fats Waller: His Life and Times by Runako Jahi; and Jazz Set by Ron Milner. Johnson produced a legendary black soap opera, written by Richard Durham for public television called Bird Of An Iron Feather. His acting
skills were featured on Broadway in a role he created in Checkmates. His film credits include Sam Greenlee’s The Spook Who Sat by the Door, The Wedding and A Raisin In The Sun. Johnson served as artistic director at ETA Creative Arts Foundation for seventeen years and was director of South Shore Cultural Center. Johnson has taught theater at the college and community level. He is the recipient of the Paul Robeson Award from the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago. WHO is Bro. Phil Cohran Cohran grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and played trumpet in bands led by Jay McShann in the early 1950s, and then in a U.S. Navy band. He was introduced to the Sun Ra Arkestra by John Gilmore in 1959. His tenure in the Arkestra is documented on records such as Fate In A Pleasant Mood and Angels and Demons at Play.. He also appears on the important rediscovered documentation of Chicago Arkestra performances on Music for Tomorrow’s World. While most of Cohran’s contributions were on trumpet, some also show his interest
in stringed instruments such as zithers. Early in his career he invented an instrument he calls the Frankiphone, aka the Space Harp heard on some of Sun Ra’s early albums. The instrument is actually an electrified mbira or kalimba. This instrument inspired Maurice White to use an electrified Kalimba in performance with Earth, Wind and Fire. Cohran states he taught Maurice and his brothers music in their youth, much like The Wailers were tutored by Joe Higgs. On the Beach documents their work during those early years and features the Frankiphone on the title track, as well as a piece called “New Frankiphone Blues.
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The Man and His Music Perfiorms Live At Scottsdale Center For The Performing Arts
IRVIN MAYFIELD’s i club editor’s choice Situated inside the luxurious JW Marriott® Hotel and located on the world-famous Canal Street, the I Club features a diverse musical format that goes beyond traditional jazz performances by highlighting such musical genres as: New Orleans R&B, Zydeco, Cajun, Afro-Cuban, Funk and other New Orleans and Louisiana inspired music. By: Shirley A. Jones
Irvin Mayfield In Scottsdale AZ.
Upon the completion of a rousing 90 minute concert held at the Scottsdale Center for The Performing Arts, Blaise Lantana interviewed the very personable Irvin Mayfield. About 100 attendees remained in the 850 seat theater after the concert ended to listen to the one-on-one interview of Mayfield as Lantana and he sat at the stage edge, lending to an up close and personal conversation/interview. The audience was encouraged to move in closer to better hear Lantana’s questions or comments as Mayfield enthusiastically responded to her questions and remarks, often adding other desired information. Blaise Lantana is the Music Director at KJZZ in Arizona, a favorite station for Jazz lovers in Phoenix, and the surrounding areas. Aside from being the Director of KJZZ, she performs hands-on duties in that she chooses the music she plays as she hosts her regular on air program. Ms. Lantana loves music and is a well known musician in her own rights in Arizona. The fact that Ms. Lantana, known for her love of Jazz, who has an excellent ear for the genre of music Mayfield slants towards, made for an excellent interview.
The question and answer period lasted about a half-hour and felt more like a comfortable living room conversation than an interview. Topics ranged from Mayfield’s music education, styles of music he performs, labeling of his style of music to Louisiana food preparation. During the interview, we found out Mayfield regularly performs at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse on Bourbon Street
in The French Quarter which is known for great live music and excellent local cuisine. Grammy and Billboard Award-winning Jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and the Royal Sonesta Hotel proudly present Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse. The collaboration of Mayfield and the Sonesta Hotel showcases many of New Orleans’ greatest Jazz talent and serves your favorita cocktails and appetizers in this luxurious venue on its lobby level. Showsime is 8:00 p.m. For your information, should you be in New Orleans in the next
few months, check out the performance schedules for Mayfield’s PlayHour and Mayfield’s I Club. Irvin’s statement about, “Jazz being in the heart and soul, of its listeners,” rings true to all Jazz lovers who have ever visited New Orleans, the home of Jazz. There is a wealth of talented musicians already in New Orleans,, while others are seeking to relocate to the birthplace of Jazz.. Many newcomer musicians are leaving their homes with an eye toward either sharing their own greatness in New Orleans or learnng from New Orleans’ greatest musicians, Irvin Mayfield is one such talent. Even with his heavy performance schedule, Mayfield finds time to serve as the Executive Director and Founder of Dillard’s University’s Institute of Jazz Culture. He is the leader of his famed quintet, founder and leader of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, all of that and this powerhouse is also the owner of Mayfield’s I Club and Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse.
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Published on Apr 9, 2012