Jazz Appreciation Month 2017

31 Mar

Founded by the National Museum of American History in 2002, April is Jazz Appreciation Month.

JAM Collage

On Monday, April 3, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts will celebrate the 2017 NEA Jazz Masters at an all-star concert featuring music from their careers to tell the story of their lives.

NEA Jazz Masters

The event will be moderated by Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran, who said in a statement:

This will be another special celebration for people who have been integral to the ever evolving stage of jazz. From the journalist, to the innovator, each of the honorees has demonstrated a timeless devotion to jazz ethics. Each honoree arrives at the music from a different avenue and helps focus the audience’s vision of as the music continues to evolve. Kudos to the NEA for continuing to honor artists who have devoted their livelihoods to contributing to the cultural fabric of America.

The tribute concert will feature conversations with the 2017 NEA Jazz Masters alongside musicians whose lives they have influenced. The performers will include NEA Jazz Masters Paquito D’Rivera and Lee Konitz; National Medal of Arts recipient and Kennedy Center Honoree Jessye Norman; vocalist Dianne Reeves; multi-instrumentalist Booker T. Jones; Sherrie Maricle and the Diva Jazz Orchestra; and Hammond B-3 artist Matthew Whitaker, a 15-year-old protégé of Dr. Lonnie Smith.

The free concert is “sold out.” You can view a live-stream of the event beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET at arts.gov, Kennedy-Center.org and NPR.org/Music. The concert will be broadcast live on SiriusXM Channel 67, Real Jazz.

Rise of the Machines: Meet Bina48

27 Mar

Over the weekend, I attended a symposium that featured panel after panel of dynamic black women.

Amplify! Black Women of the Movement - Feature

All of the speakers were inspiring and motivating. Stephanie Dinkins shared her conversation with a “black woman” who wasn’t in the room, Bina48.

Stephanie Dinkins - Bina48

This was my first introduction to Bina48, a social robot modeled in the image of the creator’s wife.

I celebrate fierce black women, but I thought Bina48 was a bit creepy. But after I got home, I remembered my own experience with laser scanning.

FMA - Laser Scan - April 2015

Hmmm. When time permits, I might create a mindfile account, where “death is optional.” Who knows? Perhaps the second time around will be better than the first time.

Ella Fitzgerald@100

20 Mar

March is “Women in Jazz Month.” It’s also “Women’s History Month.” As the National Museum of American History notes, Ella Fitzgerald was about intersectionality before the term was coined:

Fitzgerald succeeded in the male-dominated field of jazz. By overcoming the odds, breaking barriers, and setting precedents, she paved the way for other women to follow her inspiring example.

The centennial of the “First Lady of Song” is being celebrated from the Apollo Theater to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

First Lady of Song - Ella Fitzgerald at 100.jpg

On March 23, the Apollo Theater, where Ella made her debut on an Amateur Night in 1934, is hosting “Ella! A Centennial Celebration.” The community event features a panel discussion and musical reflection by the author and star of “Me & Ella,” Andrea Frierson, and her trio.

Ella - Apollo Theater

From March 24-25, the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University will present CELLABRATION, a two-day symposium to celebrate the most influential vocalist in jazz history.

Ella Fitzgerald - Institute of Jazz Studies

A phenomenal woman, Ella Fitzgerald will be celebrated for generations to come.

Black Voters to Democrats: We Are Not Your Negroes

13 Mar

Last month, Tom Perez was elected the first Latino chair of the Democratic National Committee. In remarks to the International Association of Fire Fighters, Perez acknowledged the party has work to do:

I understand that one of the basic pillars and adages of politics and of life is often, “What have you done for me lately? What do you stand for today?”

Democrats stand for illegal immigration. In a statement following his election, Perez said fighting President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration is a high priority:

The Democratic National Committee will fight back by (shining) a spotlight on the real faces of those impacted by Donald Trump’s cruel mass deportations. We will not allow this administration keep their stories in the dark.

The DNC’s program, “Faces of Trump’s Mass Deportation Plan,” Latino Victory Fund whose tagline is: We are the future. Latinos may be the Democrats’ future but African Americans are asking: What have you done for me lately?

In a post-election survey for the Congressional Black Caucus, pollster Cornell Belcher found that African Americans feel they are being taken for granted.

cornell-belcher-blacks-feel-theyre-taken-for-granted

Rep. Cedric Richmond, chairman of the CBC, told the Grio:

African Americans are the Democratic Party’s most loyal voters and they should be treated as such. The results of this survey are clear marching orders for the Congressional Black Caucus — African Americans want Democrats to stop using the same old playbook and to make substantive progress on the issues that affect their communities.

African Americans muted their opposition to illegal immigration while President Obama was in office. But the Age of Obama is over.

The fear of criticism keeps most people from speaking out. African Americans’ absence from “A Day Without Immigrants” protests speaks volumes about how they feel. A recent Pew Research Center poll found a 14 percent approval rating for President Trump. With ± 2.9 percent margin of error and 7 percent refusing to say, Trump’s approval rating among African Americans’ could be as high as 20 percent.

pew-poll-2-16-17-black-approval-14-percent-7-percent-refused-to-say

The Democratic Party must face the reality that African Americans are not their Negroes.

%d bloggers like this: