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Birdland – The Jazz Corner of the World

A few years way back, I overheard the sounds of the singing quartet, Manhattan Transfer, coming from the stereo in my son’s room. The group had added lyrics to Joe Zawinul’s extraordinary instrumental “Birdland,” conjuring some warm memories of the jazz club that had once been called “The Jazz Corner of the World.”

Broadway and 52nd Street in the 1950s and early sixties was a jazz oasis. On Saturday evenings, crowds could steal glances through open doors at the Metropole Cafe, across from the Colony Record Shop of greats such as Roy Eldridge or Gene Krupa playing on top of the bar.

Wednesday night was Mambomania night at the Palladium Ballroom up the street with Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaria ticking and booming their impulsive and complex rhythms on well-tuned skins, what was to become the pulse of today’s Latin Jazz, to the bustling street below.

Birdland Recording Studio

Birdland Recording Studio is located in TownCreek, Alabama. Just a short drive from Muscle Shoals, Decatur, or Huntsville. Birdland was started by Owen Brown, James Murphree and Jeffrey Simpson in 1983. Birdland studio was relocated from Decatur to TownCreek in 1987.

The following recording of “Birdland” (Freddie Hubbard with the Allyn Ferguson Band) was not recorded in Birdland Recording Studio but a video absolutely unique:

The studio is a 3,000 square foot antebellum home which had its beginnings as a two-room log cabin in 1828. There are 8 acres of land to “roam if you want to”.

Birdland is equipped with a 16 track, I” Tascam analog recorder, 24 channel Tascam mixing console, a choice array of microphones (AKG, Shure) to choose from, dynamics processing and effects gear, Yamaha NS10s, and ESS large monitors for, of course, monitoring.

Interview with Malena Pérez

This is a very interesting interview with Malena Pérez conducted earlier this year.

Q: Please tell me something about yourself. We are you coming from musically? Who has influenced you?

Malena Pérez: Wow. I guess I would have to say that I’ve been inspired by Life itself! My mother and father both surrounded me with music growing up. And on a personal level, I’ve been through some really difficult experiences that have found peace and a welcome place in my songs. There is nothing like the different facets of the human experience to inspire poetry or lyrics!

Over the past several years I’ve been listening to Amel Larrieux’s solo albums, Fertile Ground (fronted by Navasha Daya, who I have so much respect for!), Jill Scott, Minnie Riperton, Eva Cassidy, Everything But the Girl, Flora Purim (who I actually got to meet at Temple Bar in Sta. Monica last fall – such a surreal experience!), and deep house music like the Naked Music albums (i.e., Blue Six/Beautiful Tomorrow).

I also love the Kyoto Jazz Massive. I’ve always been inspired by Latin women who have set the standard for quality vocals and really know how to express emotion through their art – Gloria Estefan’s Mi Tierra album is amazing!… Celia Cruz, Omara Portuondo, Cesaria Evora, Astrud Gilberto, Susana Baca…these women have been and will continue to inspire me musically.

The Life of B.B. King: What we can learn

B.B. King has enjoyed one of the most distinguished and influential musical legacies in the history of recording. He is known for prolifically touring the world and has played at least 200 shows annually for over half a century so read on and learn all about this true Grand Master of the Blues.

His career is an inspiration to many musicians and people who look for second chances and B.B. King’s story is even included in the GED test, says Chris from Best GED Classes. This is the best way to honor his legacy with respect to the great things he’s done for music and his country.

His expansive catalog includes close to sixty albums and dozens of live releases. You may be able to view some of his world performances by ordering a TV package from www.cabletelevision.net and check out also this video where he plays with John Mayer (2012):

A man of humble origins, the renowned blues musician was born on September 16, 1925, within the confines of a desolate cotton plantation in the outskirts of Berclair, Mississippi.

Miriam Jarquín Biography

Miriam Jarquín initiated her career as a singer in 1977 with the National Symphony Orchestra Choir of Costa Rica. She started singing jazz, pop, and rock in 1981, becoming one of the most important singers in San José, up ‘til today. In 1983, she started vocal lessons, participating in many lyrical concerts as a soloist and also in choirs.

Miriam graduated from the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California, in 1990 and in 1991, she established the Modern Music Academy in Costa Rica (Academia de Música Moderna).

She is the winner of numerous musical festivals in her country, and participant in a variety of relevant international musical festivals throughout Latin America, representing Costa Rica: Festival de Paisajes Urbanos in Cuba on 1999, the Curaçao Jazz Festival on 2001 and the Latin Autor International Festival in Punta del Este, Uruguay, on 2003.

Rhythm Explosion Explained

Rhythm Explosion is a cooperation of an international group of performers, musicians, choreographers, students, and educators that form a creative community for studying, performing, and creating new work of performing art in Bozeman, Montana.

Check out also this 2010 video of music and tap dance by Katherine Kramer to get a good idea of what it’s all about:

Rhythm Explosion offers a highly supportive atmosphere targeted at fostering the highest possible creative exchange of culture and ideas, focused on the art of dancing to jazz music and related forms.

Students, artists, performers, and audiences are sharing their inspiration and knowledge through classes, discussions, performance workshops, informal showings, video viewings, and performances.

Keb-mo – a legend

The Texas Bedford Blues Festival took place over the Labor Day weekend a few years ago. The music portion is part of the overall Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival. One of the leading acts was Keb Mo and take a look at his 2017 video where he plays together with Taj Mahal:

On Saturday, acts included Gibson Road Band, Jimmy Lee Reeves Band, website, Cole Dillow, and Alan Fry on the second stage; with Rastus, Southside Blues Kings, Kayla Reeves & Wes Jeans, Ana Popovic, and headliner Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band on the main stage.

Sunday’s acts included Jimmy James Arnold, White Hot Soul, Sweet Jones, and Texas Cotton Kings on the second stage; with Rusty Burns & Big Wampum, Guitar Shorty, Buddy Whittingham, CJ Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, and headliner Keb Mo on the main stage.

The Music of Brazil

Brazil, the largest country in South America and the fifth largest in the world, is a land rich in history, mystique, and exceptions to the rule. Founded as a Portuguese colony in 1500 that was later known as the Empire of Brazil, it became a republic in 1889 and is now known as the Federative Republic of Brazil.

Its official language is Portuguese, which is spoken by nearly the entire population – and the only Portuguese-speaking nation in Latin America – making its natural and cultural identity very distinct from its Spanish-speaking neighbors. Brazilian Portuguese is also different from that spoken in Portugal. It is fitting that the Museum of the Portuguese Language in Brazil ‘s capital São Paulo is the first language museum in the world.

One of the founding members of the United Nations, Brazil is the world’s tenth largest economy and boasts a natural environment of unparalleled diversity and breathtaking geographic beauty, making it a great draw for international tourists seeking sun and beach and adventure forays into the Amazon Rainforest.

Interview with Kellylee Evans

Canadian soul and jazz music singer Kellylee Evans received a Juno in 2011 for her impressive album Nina in the category “Vocal Jazz Album of the Year.” To get a great impression of her unique qualities, check out this video of one of her 2013 concerts:

Due to a concussion, Kellylee had not performed for almost two years, but in 2017, she returned to the stage in several Canadian cities like Ottawa (at the city’s National Arts Centre), Montreal (the Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill), Toronto (Hugh’s Room Live), and Burlington, Ontario (Burlington Performing Arts Centre). Kellylee’s latest album, Come On, came out in 2017 on October 27. Let’s take a look at an interview that I had recently with her.

Q – I have turned on a number of people to your CD “Come On”, and everyone wants to know when the next one is coming out. So, can we expect a new album from you anytime soon?

I want to say “yes”, so I’m just going to say it – “yes” :). I’m super obsessed about getting a new CD out. A lot of the material that we perform on the road is unrecorded and fans keep asking for those songs, so I have a lot of incentive to get it done.

John Cocuzzi Band – Remember when they nearly blew the roof off the Glendora Ballroom?

Tony Ventura stepped up to the microphone and faced the crowd. “Today, we’re going to hear John Cocuzzi play vibes. We haven’t heard him before, but he’s supposed to be good,” he said. The stocky Ventura stepped down from the small stage and weaved through the tables to stand in the back of the room as the lights dimmed.

Cocuzzi looked to be somewhere in his forties. With his long gray hair pulled back in a ponytail, he looked more like a modern jazz musician than a guy who would play in front of the Illiana Club of Traditional Jazz.

It was the club’s monthly Sunday afternoon concert at the Glendora Ballroom in Chicago Ridge. It amazes me that hundreds of people drive past this ballroom’s uninspiring façade at 102nd and Harlem, across the street from a Wal-Mart, without a clue that hot jazz is happening inside. The building looks structurally sound, but inside it feels like some old cartoon where there’s a party and the walls of the house sway in time with the music.