Category Archives: Jazz

The Last Poets Understand What Black Is (Interview)

Fifty years ago The Last Poets formed as a group in Marcus Garvey Park on what would have been Malcolm X’s 43rd birthday. The outspoken minister and activist was killed three years earlier in 1965 amidst civil rights turmoil in the country and a serious disagreement with Nation Of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. The group emerged with their self-titled album in 1970 and took America to task for its racism as a trio of two poets and a percussionist. Their Pro-Black poetry was in the same class as the work of Gil Scott-Heron who also admonished America’s racist practices with the eloquence of jazz.

It has been 20 years since The Last Poets released Time Has Come. Black Lives Matter, Trump, and the overall feeling that America has not changed since they started making music five decades ago brought them out of retirement to record Understand What Black Is. The new music is just as fiery as some of their favored jewels like “Niggas Is Scared Of Revolution” and has a distinct jazzy dub sound. The album is also a celebration of their 50th anniversary as a group. Hip-hop and rap music gets so much of its passion, rhythm, and candidness from The Last Poets. Members Abiodun Oyewole, Umar Bin Hassan and Baba Donn Babatunde recently answered some emailed questions about Understand What Black Is and their view of America today. 

 

“Malcolm X was about human rights”-Abiodun 

 

 

 

It’s been a while since your last album, what is it about this time that made you want to create new music?

Umar:  The fact that we are alive and able to do this after 50 years and the changes we have been through as men in the black community, we look at things differently and more wisely as we are older and wiser.

Baba: And we are in Trump time.

Abiodun: To let it be known that The Last Poets are alive and well, and we are still thinking and we are still very vibrant when it comes to our thoughts and the world we live in.

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Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World 50th Anniversary Celebrated In New York City

The 50th anniversary of Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” is being celebrated in New York City with a series of free events. Queens Library, the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College have joined forces to commemorate the anniversary at all 62 branches of the library until June 30th. The late jazz innovator who made the trumpet his instrument lived in Queens most of his life. It was three generations of families that he saw in his neighborhood that inspired “What A Wonderful World.” 

The celebration features performances from live bands including David Ostwald’s Grammy-nominated Louis Armstrong Eternity Band and a bilingual lecture series with English and Spanish-speaking lecturers. 

                              Louis Armstrong #WonderfulWorld50 Events 

May 14: Blue Pipa: From Harlem to Shanghai and Back (Fresh Meadows Library)
May 18: A Lecture on the Life and Times of Louis Armstrong (in English; at Glen Oaks Library)
May 24: David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band (Langston Hughes Library)
May 26: Radio Jarocho (Langston Hughes Library)
June 2: A Lecture on the Life and Times of Louis Armstrong (in Spanish; at Jackson Heights Library)
June 4: A Lecture on the Life and Times of Louis Armstrong (in Spanish; at Astoria Library)
June 9: Akoko Nante Ensemble (Jackson Heights Library)
June 14: David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band (Flushing Library)
June 16: Akoko Nante Ensemble (Glen Oaks Library)
June 19: Blue Pipa: From Harlem to Shanghai and Back (Windsor Park Library)
June 25: A Lecture on the Life and Times of Louis Armstrong (in English; at Forest Hills Library)
June 29: David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band (Peninsula Library)
June 30: Prasanna (Flushing Library)
June 30: Radio Jarocho (Forest Hills Library)
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Adrian Younge Uncovers Video For Stranger By The Sea

 Adrian Younge’s singers Brooke DeRosa and Rebecca Englehart are the focal point of the “Strangers By The Sea” video. The two women stare up into the sky while lying down and imagining a kiss from an unknown person. Younge’s Voices Of Gemma is out now. If you are in the Los Angeles area you can see Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s DJ set for a party honoring the late Luther Vandross April 19th at Lodge Room. 

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Vocalist Sandra Booker Tributes Sarah Vaughan At Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Jazz Grill

 

Los Angeles – When jazz vocalist Sandra Booker first burst onto the Los Angeles music scene in the 90’s, the comparisons to the legendary Sarah Vaughan came fast and furious. Her stirring, soulful renditions didn’t just mimic the melodious icon, they seemed to channel her. On Sunday, April 22, Booker will pay a unique homage to her muse with “Forever Sassy: The Divine Music of Sarah Vaughan” at the popular performance venue, the Vibrato Jazz Grill.  Described as a love letter to one of the great ladies of swing, scat, and song, Booker now sadly shares more in common with Vaughan than she had initially dreamed.
 
Vaughan passed away from lung cancer in April of 1990. Booker is currently in her own battle with the deadly disease. Her loving tribute is slated to benefit Jazz Musicians Against Cancer. A premier jazz and dining space, Vibrato Jazz Grill, owned by music industry icon Herb Alpert, is located at 2930 Beverly Glen Circle, Los Angeles. The show will run from 7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Tickets to the show are available at  www.vibratogrilljazz.com or by calling (310) 474-9400.
 
Booker will pay reverence to Vaughan, known as the “Queen of Bebop,” with royal treatment. The high-octane musical celebration will honor the magnificent voice, style and career of Vaughan with feature selections spanning the diva’s 40 plus year career, covering the familiar to more obscure numbers. Joining Booker is her “5tet” featuring Andy Langham on piano, Edwin Livingston on electric and acoustic bass, Tony Pulizzi playing guitar, and Thomas White on drums. 
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Third Man Records To Release Jazz Dispensary’s First Private Stock Installment For 4/20

Cannabis industry partner SPARC and the Jazz Dispensary label will celebrate 4/20 with the first installment in their Private Stock series. The record will be available exclusively at SPARC’s four dispensary outlets in California. Third Man Records will press 500 limited copies of the disc that has “Mary Jane” by Bobby Rush on side A and “Fire Eater” by Rusty Bryant on side B. 

The record will retail for $15 on April 20th and those who spend $125 on cannabis goods will get a $5 discount and customers spending $200 or more will get it for free. 

For more information about SPARC check out their site and go to Jazz Dispensary.com to learn more about the label. 

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