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Keisha St. Joan was the featured singer at St. Peter's with 2013 EA Jazz Master LOU DOALDSO & HIS QUARTET. Lou Donaldson, alto saxophone, Akiko Tsuruga,organ, Fukushi Tanaika, drums, Randy Johnson, guitar

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The Lou Donaldson Quartet by L. Hamanaka

Caught The Lou Donaldson Quartet at the Justice for Jazz Artists concert at St. Peter’s Church on Friday, February 1, 2013. Mr. Donaldson, on alto saxophone, on organ, AkikoTsuruga, on guitar, Randy Johnson, on drums, Fukushi Tanaika. Mr. Donaldson just received the Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts and looking dapper, his humor warmed the audience on the frosty night. The Quintet began with their theme song “Blues Walk.” Lou Donaldson combines pure soul with musical poetry of jazz and a rhythmical adeptness that is very rare. He never plays anything he does not mean; no extra notes, and like a great writer, choosing words, Mr. Donaldson has his own way of saying it. This is above virtuosity and he possesses it. The Group played “The Moon Belongs to Everyone” at about 250=quarter note, and Mr. Donaldson careened up and down the changes like an expert skier, with aplomb and swing. Randy Johnson managed to maneuver through the changes, land on his feet and Akiko started out delightfully and playfully inventive and managed the bass and right hand without losing any of her attack. Fuku Tanaika has become very assertive, using mainly sticks on toms, a fiery swinging drummer.


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Reviews 1‐5 How To Do A Jazz Festival 6‐7 Justice for Jazz Panel 7‐12,


Book Review

V. Ponomarev 1 3 Jazz Heritage

Then Poppa Lou said, “the next tune is devoted to the best musician,” whereupon they played “What a Wonderful World.” Cont. p. 4

Lou Donaldson 1 4

Part II Ron McClure 14 © 2012

The Jazz Culture Newsletter Salutes African American Heritage Month


At ZEB’s

223 West 28 Street, 2nd flr. (Bet. 7 &8 Aves.)

Above Greenwich Village Plumbing Produced by Megan Haungs & Toes Tiranoff February 10, 2013 at 7:00 P.M./Donation $18 Reservations: 516‐922‐2010

The Sugar Hill Quartet: Patience Higgins, Marcus Persiani, Alex

Hernandez, Dave Gibson, Singers Carol Randazzo, Maki Matotsu, Kumiko Yamakado,Spoken Word, Angeline Butler, Tap Dancers

Megan Haungs, Toes Tiranoff, Michaela Lerman, Kazu Kumaga

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Mr. Donaldson leaving the solos to the guitar, which capped off his lines nicely with a high note, playing mostly ascending lines. Akiko used an overlapping surge of sweeps up the keyboard in an 8 bar interlude. “Louis was a great musician, responsible for everything you see now,” Lou Donaldson said. He said he used to take exception to Pop’s grimaces but after he become a leader he realized you had to have something. “I’ve been a union member since 1952,” he said. Then Keisha St. Joan, wearing a beautiful black flowered cape, started to sing with a union ditty, “Justice for Jazz,” that she made up, at a bright tempo. She then sang a blues she wrote, “I’m Gonna Love you Baby.” She was going to do it a cappella, but the band eventually joined her. She phrased like a horn, scatted a chorus, and announced “It was a [song] about a 13 year relationship.” Ms. St. Joan, who sings around town and has been active with the Justice for Jazz group, then sang, “My Foolish Heart,” at about 68=quarter note, with a nice vibrato; some of the time speech singing the words, showing off a lovely lower register with a dramatic style and range of tonal colors in her palette. She followed with “This is the End of a Beautiful Friendship,” starting as a ballad, taking it up to medium swing at about 138=quarter note, later with most accents on the downbeat and a nice cadenza to end the song. Akiko soloed quoting “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” After the interlude with Ms. St. Joan, Lou Donaldson played “Blackbird,” referencing “Miles Davis when he was playing jazz,” stating he did not believe in “Fusion-no confusion.” Which got a giggle from the crowd of several hundred. With a crash of drums and flurry of guitar, Mr. Donaldson blew “Blackbird” to heights unknown showing how jazz can expand a standard unleashing the imagination painting a new picture with a song. At one point Lou Donaldson stopped playing, as if he had no more notes, held his saxophone horizontally; and after the audience paused in surprise, started playing again. Mr. Donaldson sometimes plays like a 4

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preacher-testifying. The guitar played groovy lines, sometimes popping out with a surprise note at the apex of a line. Mr. Donaldson recorded with Miles Davis and also was a member of Art Blakey’s Messengers in the 50’s with Clifford Brown and Horace Silver. Lou Donaldson stated the he usually doesn’t go overtime, but wanted to do the next number which he does often, testing himself, and stating the day he can’t play it, he will go on to the George Washington Bridge, and throw his saxophone over the side, and he will not follow it down. All this as a prelude to “Cherokee” at a burning 300=quarter note, he played most of it a cappella, exuberantly with a beautiful tone and perfect phrasing. Lou Donaldson also did a slow blues, the “First of the month blues” when you don’t have the rent, which he is a master of, singing “It was a Dream, Baby” drawing sympathetic laughs from the crowd, after losing at love, lotto and even the Presidential hopes. Akiko’s chorus started with circular movements like an ice skater, then she became more forceful in her signatures sweep up the keyboard ending on an upbeat attack. For the jazz community, one of the luckiest things about living in New York is the presence of great jazz musicians and jazz masters like Lou Donaldson in close proximity, setting the bar. Like Angels watching over their flock, the jazz masters in the music community brighten the scene.



Kim Clarke, a well known New York bassist, was gigging at a club in Brooklyn, The Jazz Spot, owned by an African American mother and daughter, Lillithe Meyers and Tiecha Merritt in 2003. She said to them, “Hey, why not do something for The Jazz Culture, VI:42


Women’s Month?” “Rachel Z was my first artist,” said Kim recently. “Anyone can apply by going to the website. A few years ago we got lucky and met a woman who was booking Zinc. So Zinc gives us three to five gigs during March. Then there’s a woman in Peekskill, New York.” Ms. Clarke has worked in the Kit McClure Big Band, so she knew a lot of female musicians. Since Kim Clarke, Bassist/Producer the beginning at The Jazz Making a Difference Spot, there have been 43 different venues (including museums, wine tasting venues, concert halls and libraries) that promoted Lady Got Chops, focusing primarily on female instrumentalists. As recognition for Kim Clarke’s contribution, she received the Golden Shakere Award. Ms. Clarke comes from a musical and jazz loving familyher grandfather was a bassist. Ms. Clarke studied with Barry Harris; and Ron Carter, Buster Williams and Lisle Atkinson, is a product of the Jazzmobile program and all the great musicianteachers there, and was house bassist at the Jazz Cultural Theatre. It was thus that the “Lady Got Chops” Festival came into the world, by hook, crook or enthusiasm. “Lady Got Chops” is an artist produced celebration of women’s creativity in the world of Jazz and other performing and visual arts. Ms. Clarke does this as 6

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a contribution to the scene, not taking any fee for doing the organizing work. Although Ms. Clarke has applied for a 501 c(3), it has not come through yet, so presently she works through Women In Jazz. Jazz will have a future as long as inspired devoted musicians like Kim Clarke care enough to go the extra mile. One manifestation of this caring spirit was in 2010 when Lady Got Chops contributed to Doctors Without Borders for Haitian Relief. The Lady Got Chops Festival honors great female musicians of the past as well as honoring the great men and women who influenced them. Lady Got Chops is a grass roots venture that for over ten years has existed within the budget of the host venues, and has involved hundreds of women artists of all ethnicities. To contribute, just go to To see the artists involved, go to:, or,

JUSTICE FOR JAZZ PANEL at St. Peter's Church

Panelists: John Mosca, John O'Connor, Dr. Lewis Porter, Arun Luthra, Ron Scott, Bob Cranshaw, Bertha Hope

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Above, organizers for Justice for Jazz collects signatures at St. Peter's; left, Rahima Payne Young, singer and educator, listens with Kim Clarke in background, below Jimmy Owens makes a point.


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Justice for Jazz Artists Panel Discussion and Concert

“Coming Together as One: Fighting for Your Rights on the NYC Club Scene.” By Doodlebug, edited by T. Weeks

A discussion and jazz concert, hosted by the group Justice for Jazz Artists (J4JA) and AFM, Local 802 took place at St. Peter’s Church on Friday night, February 1, with about 130 people in attendance. The panelists were: musicians Bob Cranshaw, Bertha Hope, Arun Luthra, John Mosca, 802 Recording VP John O’Connor, musician educator/author Dr. Lewis Porter, and NY Amsterdam News Columnist Ron Scott. Dr. Porter moderated the discussion.

Bob Cranshaw

Bassist Bob Cranshaw led off for the panelists. He said “I used to hate the union with a passion. At that time, back in the 1970s, they had a rule you could only work five nights a week. When they brought me up on charges for working on my off night, I jumped on the table and said, ‘Do you mean to say I can’t go out and support my family….I’ll kick the teeth out of any ______ who tells me that.” He got no takers, and the union’s charges against him were dropped. “I guess I’ve now become that person….I’ve been working with the union because you guys (meaning the audience) are my family.” Since that incident, Cranshaw has been steadfastly advocating for jazz musicians at Local 802 (for over 20 years) and that he is now a member of the Local 802 Executive Board. He is also a founding member of the Justice for Jazz Artists campaign and 802’s Jazz Advisory Committee. The Jazz Culture, VI:42


Local 802 is demanding that NYC’s six major jazz clubs: the Village Vanguard, the Blue Note, Jazz Standard, the Iridium, Birdland and Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, donate $20 per night per player towards the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund. Every year jazz artists retire …with no pension, little …Social Security, and no financial safety net. Justice for Jazz Artists is demanding that that the clubs also make provisions for recording rights for musicians when they Bertha Hope record them in their venues. The J4JA campaign has been an active part of the union’s efforts to help jazz musicians for many years, but the current phase of the campaign, which seeks to mobilize musicians and fans and educate the public, has been under way since January 2010. “Unfortunately, the campaign doesn’t affect me at all,” stated 76 year old pianist Bertha Hope, explaining that she is most likely too old to receive a pension. “You have to become vested. I’m just in this fight to see to it that the situation can change for others. I don’t have a pension…I’ve been involved with two [union] locals, and I’ve been working since I was 15, but I have no pension.”

John Mosca, left


John Mosca, co-leader of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra said, “We in the band after Mel Lewis and Thad Jones passed…we incorporated as a non-profit. We signed an agreement with the union. We had a guarantee based on admissions as well. This was The Jazz Culture, VI:42

okay until the financial crisis of 2008. We’re going to start making contributions again, but, as a result of the band’s efforts to contribute to their own pension collectively, most of the guys got vested, but without the support of the club.” Mr. Mosca said he felt that over the years the Gordon family had supported the band through hard times, and that they were “on the same side,” but he underscored that Ms. Gordon, like the other club owners, is resistant to the union’s efforts to organize the musicians because she doesn’t want to “cede power to the union.” Mr. Luthra, a saxophonist and composer/arranger, said, “I have health insurance and a pension because of 802. Musicians of my generation don’t understand the need for health insurance—they need to Arun Luthra be educated. The people who run the traditional business models, especially in the recording industry, are really scared, because things are changing so fast.” However Mr. Luthra is not adverse to follow his own counsel, unlike other young musicians. “I have participated in one march in front of the clubs, and I’ll keep doing it because I believe in this cause.” Writer Ron Scott said, “You folks need to let the public know what’s going on” and bemoaned the fact that “there’s not one representative of a club here.” Scott pointed out that the club owners should be there discussing the campaign, debating the issues and opening up with their point of view. “Jazz musicians are musical warriors…music should be a commodity…in the market place…” Scott advocated for more direct action on the part of musicians and fans, and cited Malcolm X’s famous call to arms, “By any means necessary.” The Jazz Culture, VI:42


Local 802 Vice President John O’Connor stated: “There’s never been a union club in this town, at least not for any significant chunk of time. We want to create union clubs to make a difference for musicians We have found other pathways to pension, but this is a limited practice. Jimmy Owens has his own a corporation, where if he gets a job, the musicians get something for the pension. He files the contracts himself. Historically, and in this current struggle, the clubs have used the negative stereotype of the union against us. The union of 1960 is not the same as it is in 2013. Musicians need to know that.” Similar to steps taking by Screen Actors Guild, Local 802 has developed a flexible approach to guarantee that persistent members can receive benefits from the union such as pension. Given the difficulties and insecurities of employment as jazz artists, where two week gigs or longer are almost unheard of, the union has to be flexible, and has created single engagement contracts called LS-1’s where musicians can partner with employers to contribute to union pension and health funds. Todd Bryant Weeks, 802’s Senior Business Rep in the Jazz Department, who organized the event, recounted a law passed in 2006 in New York State when club owners came to Albany to lobby for forgiveness of sales tax on admission to their venues. “The mindset at that time, since we didn’t have the union density in the jazz field, “said Weeks, “was to seek a top down approach and alter the structure of the tax code to make it easier for club owners to pay into the pension fund.” Mr. Weeks explained the union’s efforts to redirect the state sales tax on New York venues that featured actors and live music, and how that tax was eventually was forgiven under the Pataki administration in 2007. At the time, jazz artists and union advocates Hank Jones, Slide Hampton, Jamil Nasser, Bob Cranshaw, and Jimmy Owens performed for legislators in Albany Cont. p. 28


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BOOK REVIEW: "The Flip Side of Sound" by Valery Ponomarev

Valery Ponomarev’s book, “The Flip Side of Sound,” is a must read for any jazz lover who wants to understand how deeply the thousands of international jazz musicians are committed to the music, and how much they have gone through to become part of the jazz world. Jazz is a world music that provides a great deal of income, joy and status to jazz musicians. This includes Art Blakey’s legendary Jazz Messengers, that Mr. Ponomarev was a member of. The communities that have sprung up around the world because of the music, keep the music alive. It is an intricate, honest and passionate description of Mr. Ponomarev’s encounter with jazz primarily through records and some visiting musicians, his growing involvement with jazz that led him to leave his mother, his country and all security behind him to escape as a “musical” refugee in a circuitous route to the United States. The book “The Flip Side of Sound” captures the charm and character of the Russian people, and the attraction that the most individual and “free” music in the world has for people from other cultures. As the work of a first generation immigrant, “On the Flip Side of Sound” gives new insight to theme of memoires about the American dream. Published by: The Jazz Culture, VI:42




Billy Kaye, drummer, talking to Lou Donaldson, alto saxophone, before concert. Fukushi Tanaika, drummer, listens. By Lou Donaldson to L. Hamanaka

Lou Donaldson, a superb artist who also took responsibility for setting up tours, recorded a number of jazz hits, helped scores of musicians succeed, and brought joy to millions of people here and abroad, is a great role model for all emerging artists. He recently shared some words of wisdom. Lou Donaldson was born in Badin, North Carolina into a middle class family, his father a minister and his mother Lucy Wallace a concert pianist and music director at her school. Mr. Donaldson never wanted to take piano lessons from his mother because, “She used to hit people with the switch [who made mistakes]. She told me I had more talent than my other sisters and 14

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brothers. So she got me a clarinet and that started me on clarinet.” “I went to North Carolina A&T and I got into the band. I was not taking a music degree. When I got into the service I got into the Navy Band and I used to go to Chicago…and after I heard Charlie Parker that changed my whole direction.” “Actually what happened to me is that I became a travelling musician. You have to get out of NY to actually know what Joe Public is thinking about music. As long as you stay in NY you have an elitest approach to music, but when you go cross country… I had to play in a lot of ghetto clubs and they want to hear what they like. Like … [out there on the road] you don’t have to worry about jazz critics. I formulated a style to be compatible in the places I played. By doing so, I created a style. It’s a style that’s a cross between bebop and swing. What it does, it satisfies say, people that like to be entertained more than people in New York. “I worked at hard bop and bebop for years, so I had a good background, and I just added a little more compatible stuff for the general public. So I still am employed as much as I want, and I have a following in towns where most jazz musicians can’t play.” JC: A lot of musicians complain about not working, but you took responsibility for finding work. It must have been hard. LD: “It was tough, but we were lucky, we lived when all those clubs were available. On the road if we had two weeks off, we would call the clubs and towns, and we could fill up the opening. “You don’t have anything like that today. No ghetto clubs at all. All the clubs are gone, or they play hip hop… JC: Mr. Donaldson set up tours throughout regions in the US. Today he works locally at the Village Vanguard and Birdland, and performs at festivals, and special occasions, pacing himself and The Jazz Culture, VI:42


Mona and Jimmy Heath in audience

choosing his dates like the other great musicians of the world. JC: But the public schools stopped music in the 70’s. So all the public school kids have nowhere to learn to play or learn about jazz. LD: “Something is not right in the US because when you go overseas, the younger people (there) are much more informed about the music than in the US. The young people seem much more informed about jazz and jazz musicians than in the US.” JC: You were married to the same lady, Maker, for 56 years, and you had two daughters, one doctor in African American Success Foundation in Ft. Lauderdale. LD: “My whole family there is supportive there. My granddaughter is supportive, they put on their website what I do and stuff…and it helps me a lot.” “She [Maker] was … in my home town, I knew her before we got married, so it was a pretty good relationship, and she didn’t 16

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play music but she knew all about it. She was there all the time because she took care of my business and was very supportive of what I was doing, so I was lucky to have her around all the time.” JC: Alfred Lion of the Blue Note Records asked you when he was playing at Minton’s to make a record with Milt Hinton. How did you feel about that? LD: “Of course I was very excited because he came up to Minton’s to listen to me play and he asked me did I want to make a record, so I said, “Of course.” Then he asked me would you like to play like Charlie Parker. I said, ‘I’ll do the best I can.’” JC: A leader in the true sense of the word Lou Donaldson “made” more musicians than almost any other musician through his generosity. LD: “At the time I was doing it, I didn’t really, really know what I was doing, but I recommended over 50 musicians. Some of them for my dates, and I recommended for other dates. “A lot of them had to fit into the scheme [of what] I was trying to play and make records. I was very lucky. What happened in the mid 60’s Blue Note Records was sold to Transamerica Corp. and had a lot of money--it was a big corporation. They had 10 or 12 record companies and they had A&R men, and they would come around wanting you to cover “songs” to get in a competitive market with commercial records. They wanted jazz to be competitive with commercial vein. Like “Who’s Makin’ Love,” “Billie Joe,” “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” so we were lucky. They were jazz hits. Jazz at that time didn’t sell that many records. We made a lot of records that sold [tens of thousands]. I was the most recorded person at Blue Note Records. JC: When asked about his records: LD: “Blues Walk” was mentioned as a favorite…”Alligator Boogaloo”…that was a big record for me financially. And I had George Benson and Lonnie Smith and Idris Muhammed and they The Jazz Culture, VI:42


Reverend Lind listens to Lou Donaldson; ditto, tenor saxophonist Eugene Ghee

were great musicians.” JC: “The Masquerade Is Over,” was another hit, and “Whiskey Drinking Woman.” Some of the musicians Lou Donaldson played and recorded with were: Clifford Brown, Horace Silver, Grant Green, John Patton, Donald Byrd, Blue Mitchell, Horace Parlan, Al Harewood, George Tucker, Herman Foster, Tommy Turrentine, Jamil Nasser, Curtis Fuller. One group he had for a long time was: Herman Foster on piano, Peck Morrison bass, Ray Barretto, Dave Bailey on drums. Some of the clubs on Lou Donaldson’s touring circuit were: In Rochester, Birdie’s & Crawford Grill; the Sacred Mushroom in Ohio, Jilly’s in Dayton, Babe Baker & Modern Jazz Room, The Idle Hour in Kentucky, The Riviera, The Gaslight Club, Georgie’s, the Blue Note, the Blue Room in Kansas City, Bill Reeves Steakhouse, Twilight Club, the Lark Club in Texas, Magruders, the Flamingo, the It Club and the Zebra Lounge in LA, Mister Major’s, The KC Lounge in Denver, the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, Vernon’s in New Orleans; Judge’s Chambers in E. St. Louis, Bakers’ Lounge in Detroit, the Blue note on Ridge Avenue in Pennsylvania, Club Harlem and a few other places. 18

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JC: What about working with the Jazz Messengers? LD: “Playing with Clifford Brown was an experience I’ll never forget. I would have done it for free. It was just happy playing beside him to hear him play. Art Blakey was like…I didn’t hang with Art. He was great when he was playing, he was a great drummer and he was always upbeat. His sound was upbeat and he always had energy. Horace and I used to practice together at a little studio on 116th Street and we knew each other real well. It was a company date on Blue Note, but they made Art the leader, probably because he owed them more money than anyone else. It was a great date because all the musicians liked each other and they were compatible, which makes for a great record.” LD: “Of course being a veteran, I was in the Navy, a young guy just 18--it taught you discipline, how to organize your thoughts and actions, to make everything progressive. So you didn’t have any dead weight. Most of the musicians [I met when I came to NY] were my heroes, [but] they had problems with drugs and stuff. I did 100% opposite of what they did, because that’s a no win situation. You learn discipline [in the service] the way [things] are supposed to be done, and it’s a good pattern for your life afterwards if you really put yourself into it. Darrow was a pretty good school, and right next to it was Heart Net Studios, it was also a GI school. I [had already] learned theory and harmony in the service and at A&T. JC: How do you feel about the fact that jazz is an art form primarily created by African American musicians, and its meaning in the world. LD: “This is the only art form that comes from the US, the only art form the US has produced. I knew all about it because my father was a minister, and as a kid I used to hear the old Negro spirituals, so I had a great background.” The Jazz Culture, VI:42


JC: So what you’re doing is a continuation, of that background. LD: “That’s what it is. [And in my records] We have smooth rhythm, you never see no erratic rhythm. You got to have swing rhythm. “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” …You got a groove, you get into and that’s it, which is wonderful for me.” JC: You have such a recognizable sound. One note, and you know it’s you. Did you Bassist Kim Clarke, out work at that or did it just come naturally? for inspiration, listens to Lou Donaldson LD: “Whenever you play music you want to have an ID, an identity, so that when people hear you play. I worked it hard to get my individual sound and that’s what I use. JC: Lou Donaldson had four organ bands, including: Dr. Lonnie Smith, Mel Lasky, trumpet, Idris Muhammad, drums; Earl Spencer, Charles Earland, Baby Gardner and Billie Willette, one with Jimmy Ponder. [to LD] I notice you use the organ instead of the piano. LD: “Now I use the organ because I had several records that were popular with the organ sound. I initially started using the organ because when I started travel cross country, a lot of clubs didn’t have a piano and you couldn’t rent a piano. If you rented a piano you couldn’t make any money. [It was like $1,000 a week]. The jobs we played wasn’t paying that much. So we got us an organ. So we’d set the organ up, take the organ behind a car and put it in a trailer…[Then] After Jimmy Smith showed up everybody started to love the organ sound.” JC: I notice when you are playing, it seems like everyone could dance to it. 20

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LD: “No, years ago all of the big bands played jazz for dancing. That’s where I got the idea from, and that’s how I play. We try to get the people to planting their feet swinging and that does it.” JC: Are there any young players who inspire you? LD: “I see a few around but not as many as I would like to. Most of the young players today seem to be over educated. They’re a little too technical and mechanical and not enough soulful to maintain the standards that you have to do to be a jazz musician. “We try to be soulful and melodic. That’s the problem….they forget that if you play “Bye Bye Blackbird” as long as you play it it’s supposed to sound like [it] but if you get too involved with chord changes, technique, sounds like they’re practicing, I don’t hear the song anymore. And you’ve got to avoid that when you try to be a jazz player. That’s the way I try to play…The way the great jazz musicians played. Which is very hard to do, unless you understand the song, and I memorize the words and when I’m playing [I think about the words], I try to make the saxophone talk to the audience, say: “This is ‘Body and Soul’ and this is what I’m playing.” “Most of the people sound like they are playing concert, a concerto or something and they forget about swing and rhythm which they’ve got to have to retain the jazz beat and jazz music.. Overblowing a song, playing too much, is just as bad as not playing enough. [There’s a] Happy medium they have to find and I found it for myself and that’s it. JC: Receiving the NEA Award, did that mean anything special? LD: “Well it’s a recognition that you have contributed something…If I had received 15-20 years it might have meant much more to me, when my wife was alive and stuff like that. You got to put in the time and effort to [become a great musician] and she knew that, but now, it doesn’t excite me that much. The only thing that keeps me going is playing. Music is good for all sorts of The Jazz Culture, VI:42


stuff. You got some ailment, it will ease the pain.” Mr. Donaldson got an Honorary Doctorate from North Carolina A+T University, and an NEA Jazz Masters Award in 2013. Mr. Donaldson said, “I appreciate the response I have seen over the years from people that have listened to and bought my records. I still do, and that makes me very happy, it didn’t make me rich, but I’m comfortable.” See: Lou John Watson Solo at the Palm Court, the Langham, for Valentine's Day Special Afternoon Tea also, at The Haven with American singerZoe Francis 55 lbs.inclusive. See: See: Barry Harris Workshops Every Tuesday at 6, Pianists, 8, Vocalists, 10:30, Improvisation at 250 West 65 Street, between Amsterdam and 11th Avenues all welcome. See Barry

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Ron McClure at a gig

....arrangement of “No Show” down to to 5:11 for the recording. I was accustomed playing jazz where a tune can go on for much longer.“ Ron McClure has 28 cds under his own name of mainly original music. 15 of them for Steeplechase Records in Kalmbenborg, Denmark, produced by Nils Winther, who he met In 1988 on recording session with guitarist, David Stryker. He had been turned down by Fantasy Records, but Nils said: “Give me a call” when I told him I wanted to record my own music. My first Cd was “McJolt.” Nils has enabled me to do document my music and the people I’ve played with for the past 22 years. In 1997, I did “Pink Cloud” on Naxos Jazz, which is no longer in existence. I also recorded CDs “Descendants” and “Inspiration” for Ken Music, a Japanese label, and “Yesterday’s Tomorrow” for EPC, a The Jazz Culture, VI:42


French label. JC: Do you like being record producer? RM: “I love the process of putting music together. I’ve record most of my Cds in New York City. I have two sextet records, but the others are smaller groups, from quartets, quintets, trios and two duo recordings. I’m told that the average jazz record sells 2,0002,500 over a period of ten years. Unfortunately, Cd’s don’t sell so well anymore. iTunes and YouTube have taken over the market. “I met Paul Chambers when he at the end of his illustrious career. He was so depressed and sick. He was 34 years old when he died. He was one of my greatest influences. I played opposite him for six weeks at the Consulate Hotel in the mid 1960s with the Mike Longo trio. Paul played with the Ross Tompkins trio, who was the bandleader on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. There were gigs like that then. There’s nothing like it now.” JC: Do you want to talk about your own past habits? RM: I quit everything on September 28, 1993. It was time, and I finally came to my senses, and got some help. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I drank from the age of 18. Did a lot of beer and pot. It starts small, but it escalates. Part of it was peer pressure. Two guys I’d played with in Maynard’s band, for instance, later in died from overdoses. You’re working in bars and you want to be accepted by your peers. It was fun for a while, but I’m lucky I stopped when I did. I talk about it openly because I couldn’t care less about being “Anonymous”. I like help other people through my personal experiences. In 1964, before I really did a lot of drinking or drugging, my friend, Maynard Ferguson, warned me: “You better be careful, because you like to get high”. Most everybody in and around the music world was doing something. I was lucky. My daughter said, ‘I always knew I had a father but didn’t really know him, but now I do”... That was very moving to me personally. My therapist insisted I go to AA, which taught me how to live my life on day at a time. They should teach 24

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the principles of AA to kids in High School.” JC: When did you start to solo? RM: “I started to solo right away, because I had been improvising melodies on the accordion. Paul Chambers and Mingus were my first influences on the bass. Paul Chambers was the number one bass player. … That was when you listened, transcribed solos and lines We talked about music and compared notes. It helps your improve your ear. Ron McClure in coffee shop on west People buy solos in books side now, but that isn’t like doing your own transcriptions. Your musical personality comes from your personal work and experience, mostly from discovering things on your own and trying to figure out what you were hearing. It’s a lifelong process. Some jazz students expect a teacher to give it to them because they’ve paid for it, but it doesn’t work like that. “ About amplification: “Some people turn a sound system on and as long as there’s no feedback, think it’s okay. When I subbed for Dennis Erwin with Mel Lewis, he taught me: “The louder you play the louder everyone else has to play.” About recording: The jazz scene is much smaller [now]. The record companies want to know how many units you will sell. If you don’t sell product, you’re gone.” On Luck: It’s all about timing. There I was, only playing bass for ten years, and listening to Paul Chambers, and I got lucky The Jazz Culture, VI:42


enough to be taking his place at the age of 24.” JC: Do you feel jazz is America’s greatest contribution to world culture? RM: “Yes. Jazz is probably our only cultural contribution to the world. It is only a four letter word, but people it’s influence can be felt all around the world. Today, young musicians have access to everything and anything. Being able to swing used to be an American thing, but now people anywhere can swing, because they’ve grown up hearing it. It’s not about what race you are, it’s what you’ve heard that gets you the right feel.” JC: What do you do to keep fit? RM: “I go to the gym at the YMCA where I have a personal fitness trainer, as well as doing the Jenny Craig diet. Together, it helped me lose 30 pounds. I’ve always played sports, and for the past 35 years I’ve played tennis. In the winter I try to play once a week, but in the summer I play a lot in the NYC parks.” JC: What do you think of the future of jazz? Do you think swing is important? RM: (nods) “It’s the hardest thing. “Rhythm is the most important thing in life.” JC Why? RM: “It’s the hardest thing for people to do. The time feel—that’s why. It’s more syncopated, accents on the offbeat. Rhythm, the feel, the placement. It’s like learning a French Accent. You have to live it.” JC: Do you feel you’ve made a contribution? RM: “To some people. My student at NYU just quoted an article by Tom Kennedy, a fine younger bass player, who said he was influenced by my playing. I’ve tried to make a contribution to music through my work, but the effect it’s had remains to be seen. I think I’m a good player and writer but acceptance is a bitch on 26

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Ron McClure Trio in garden concert on the upper west side

wheels. I’ve been teaching for 40 years. I try to teach them how to figure out stuff on their own. I think American education in general doesn’t focus enough on teaching kids how to learn.” Ron McClure played with Charles Lloyd till 1969 along with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette. He worked with Wynton Kelly taking Paul Chambers’ place with Jimmy Cobb and Wes Montgomery; with Carla Bley, George Russell, Julian Priester and Herbie Mann. He also worked with George Coleman and Miles Davis, where he met Joe Henderson, whom he subsequently toured with. An outspoken person and leading musician who has carved out his own voice as a bassist, composer, arranger and teacher, Ron McClure currently lives in NYC with his two cats, Ulala and Nana, teaches at NYU, and records for Steeplechase Records. Mr. McClure is a good role model for students on how to use hard work, discipline and devotion to evolve in this most individual of The Jazz Culture, VI:42


art forms. According to him, it was mostly being at the right place at the right time, but you also have to deliver, even if you are at the right place at the right time. He has performed all over the world, and even plays solo piano at a McDonald’s in Manhattan a couple afternoons a week. Ron Ron McClure at Concert displays arco technique McClure did a tour in October 2012 with Quest, led byDave Liebman, with Richie Beirach & Billy Hart. Overv Thanksgiving he went to Toronto, Canada to perform at The Rex Jazz Club, The Jazz Room in Waterloo, and taught 3 jazz workshops at Humber University, Mohawk University and The University of Toronto with Toronto drummer/educator: Ted Warren, who teaches at Humber. The other players were Brian Dickinson (piano) & Ted Quinlan (guitar). When asked about the future, Ron McClure says, “I’m always looking for what hasn’t been done. What it is and where it might 28

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go. I like to play quality music with quality players.” See Ron; also, Justice for Jazz cont. from p. 7

Vice President John O'Connor makes point at Justice for Jazz event

to make their case during the lobbying effort, which also had the support of several major club owners. But, while they lobbied for a tax break for their own venues, the owners stopped short of donating the savings into the musicians’ pension fund or working with the union to redirect the money, and an agreement was never reached. Extra revenue was supposed to be used to pay for pension and health benefits, but due to the fact that this was an informal agreement, the club owners complained of low profit margins, and then cited an “accounting nightmare” relative to the redistribution of the tax dollars. The 2007 agreement fell flat. Club owners argued that the bandleaders should pay into the pension fund, even though, in most cases, the clubs themselves had reaped a benefit from the forgiven tax. The 2007 law never The Jazz Culture, VI:42


compelled club owners to pay into the fun, for as Jimmy Owens pointed out, the Republican Governor Pataki signed it only with the provision that it would “not legally mandate that money from public coffers go towards a private pension fund.” A musician must earn $3,000 for 5 years from covered employers to achieve a year’s vesting credit in the AFM-EPF, which is a defined benefit plan, but it is possible, under the union’s plan, to build up significant vesting credits from as little as fifteen one night gigs over the course of a year. The plan would affect some 3,000 musicians annually. At this writing, the clubs, with the exception of one or two owners who have met with the union, have refused to return the union’s phone calls or open registered letters from Local 802/J4JA. Jazz Writer Ron Scott speaks out

After the panel discussion there were several comments by members of the audience. Jimmy Owens: “It’s wonderful that this many people turned out to learn about this situation. You can go and ask your friends to become agitators. When you go to the Blue Note, you can ask, ‘Are you paying into the union fund?’ We have to bring this to the owners. With your help we can win this.” Later, Mr. Owens added that over 70 musicians who teach at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music since 1997 have received health benefits and pension contributions via an 802 30

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contract, as an example one of the many things Local 802 has done for the jazz community. Bassist Kim Clarke suggested investigating how they deal with the issue in Norway. She suggested asking the government to implement a painless tax for artists and musicians who tour. They could levy taxes on clubs and the tax could come from the government down. Another gentleman in the audience, a producer from Brooklyn, Todd Weeks from Local 802 suggested getting politicians like President Clinton, who loves jazz, to advocate for the jazz artists and back the J4JA campaign. The preeminent saxophonist and bandleader Jimmy Heath said, “A lot of musicians are not in the union. How many are there?” To which, Mr. O’Connor replied,”802 has a little over 8,000 Singer Janet Lawson attended and members today. It used supports Justice for Jazz to be as high as 30,000. That is a statement of what has happened to the music business. The union has to show the community what it is doing to remain relevant and to rebuild.” O’Connor then gave an example of how some younger The Jazz Culture, VI:42


members have benefitted. A few of them asked for help with the “Undead Music Festival, a downtown festival that happens every June.” Since then, the minimum wage scale for the Undead Festival has been raised to $160 per musician, whatever their billing. The union achieved a similar victory with the Winter Jazz Festival, raising wages and securing a contract with producers After the discussion, the great Singer Keisha St. Joan at the concert that saxophonist and followed the Justice for Jazz Event recent NEA Jazz Master Lou Donaldson held forth with his quartet, spellbinding the audience for over an hour. He was joined by the Brooklyn-based vocalist Keisha St. Joan, who came up with the original idea for the evening. St. Joan spoke from the bandstand, “It’s time for this to happen. It needs to happen this century. We have waited too long!” To date, the Justice for Jazz Artists campaign has collected 4,500 petition signatures, and they are close to 50,000 likes on Facebook. Justice for Jazz Artists has also sponsored demonstrations and other outreach campaigns. To help, call 212245-4802 ext. 143 and inquire. 32

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