Jazz

MUSIC INDUSTRY: Missing Iconic Photo of Carmen McRae Found and Restored

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The photo sat in an antique frame in the subject's guest room in Beverly Hills, California. Canadian author Robert Joseph Greene recalls how mesmerized he was by it. "The technique, the pose, and her whole persona. It really encompassed how I visualized my cousin singing," said Greene. Greene had just graduated from the University of San Francisco and was staying with his cousin while interning for Warner Bros. His cousin was not just any singer, but the iconic American jazz vocalist and pianist, m: Carmen McRae. McRae, a winner of the National Endowment for Arts and Jazz Fellowship Award for Lifetime Achievement, was considered one of the greats along with m: Ella Fitzgerald, m: Sarah Vaughan and m: Billie Holiday. The daughter of Jamaican immigrants, McRae studied classical piano as a child, worked with bandleaders Benny Carter and Count Basie in the '40s, and made her recording debut under her married name, Carmen Clarke, with Mercer Ellington's orchestra in 1946 and 1947. Signing with Decca Records, Carmen rose to stardom in the '50s and '60s, touring and gaining worldwide success -- especially in Japan, where the music scene was heavily influenced by the US military presence during that time. Jazz music was lyrical, unique and did well in dance halls, which were growing in popularity as McRae arrived on the scene. It was during one of these tours that McRae's manager at that time befriended a popular photographer among the jazz circuit named Katsuji Abe. Abe was in his thirties and gaining notoriety among jazz performers for his amazing photographs of touring artists, both performing and at play. Abe became so successful in photography that he was soon able to parlay his passion into a full time career. His work was sought after by musicians and he produced photography for many album covers across several genres. He was most well-known for his love of capturing an artist in "their moment" of performance. His work was highly celebrated and his iconic photo of jazz legend m: Duke Ellington was even used as the basis for a commemorative stamp from the United States Postal Service in the 1980s. Abe often showed his gratitude towards his subjects by gifting them their photos as a token of appreciation for allowing him to work with them. However, Greene was unaware of any of this when he inquired about the photo several decades later while having lunch with McRae. "She didn't remember the photo. I had to go down to the guest room and get it for her," Greene recalled. "Oh that photo," McRae retorted. "No, I don't remember that concert, but I do remember that dress and that wig," she mused. She gave her young cousin the photo as a goodbye gift when he moved out and into his own place. The last time Greene saw the photo was when he dug it out from a storage closet for a family reunion. Afterwards, back into storage it went, until he received an email in 2017 from a friend who was at an art gallery honoring Katsuji Abe in Tokyo, Japan. The curator, who had photos of McRae taken by Abe on display, knew of an iconic photo taken but missing. Greene instinctively knew that the photo he possessed could very well be the missing photo. "It was way in the back of my storage closet and it took me forever to find it," said Greene. "When I was able to inspect it better, I found the imprinted name on the back: PHOTO/ KATSUJI ABE, Higashi-oizumi Cho Nerima-ku, Tokyo." The photo was more than fifty-five years old and, although in good condition, needed retouch work. "When I slid the photo from the sleeve, I found a badly damaged Kodak Tri-X negative that had broken into pieces," recalled Greene. He contacted the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) for help in the restoration of the photo and was put in touch with photo restoration expert Renee Grantham. Because the photo had become brittle with age, Grantham knew that it could be damaged during the scanning process. Given the delicate state of the image, she engaged a Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600 overhead scanner for the task. Specializing in digitizing valuable and fragile documents without touching them, the SV600 produced a flawless re-creation that allowed Grantham to perform the touch-ups needed to restore the photo to its original luster. Greene will be working with the US Embassy in Japan to hand over the restored photo to the curator. McRae died in 1994, followed by Abe in 2008. Greene hopes that the next exhibition of Abe's work comes to North America, so that the photo he so loved is debuted for all to witness the two great artists at their finest...

BIRTHDAY: Jazz Musician of the Day: Bessie Smith

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All About Jazz is celebrating Bessie Smith's birthday today! 'Empress of the Blues' She embodied the meaning of the blues, living the life she sang about. Bessie Smith set the standard for blues singers on how it should be done. Bessie Smith, born on Apr. 15, 1894, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was one of ten children. Her parents died by her eighth birthday, and she was raised by her older sister Viola. She was taught to sing and dance by her older brother Clarence... Read more...

BIRTHDAY: Jazz Musician of the Day: Gene Ammons

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All About Jazz is celebrating Gene Ammons' birthday today! Eugene "Jug" Ammons was a jazz tenor saxophonist, and the son of boogie-woogie pianist Albert Ammons. Ammons began to gain recognition when he went on the road with trumpeter King Kolax band in 1943, at the age of 18. He became a member of the Billy Eckstine and Woody Herman bands in 1944 and 1949 respectively, and then in 1950 formed a duet with Sonny Stitt... Read more...

CAREER: Record Labels Know What Artists Want, and It's the Reason They'LL Never Change

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There is much debate in the music industry over whether or not signing to a label is the best way to succeed. Here George Howard explains what it is about record labels that allures artists, and why labels want to keep it that way. Guest post by George Howard of GHStrategic One of the key tenets of my advising firm is the concept of 'The Mirror of Desire.' We walk all of our clients through this exercise to help them differentiate between 'Product' and 'Purpose.' In short, great, durable companies reflect back at their customer an idealized version of themselves for having utilized the firm's offering...

MUSIC INDUSTRY: Amazon Music Gains Millions of Subscribers Under Radar

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Although not always recognized as one of the frontrunners in the streaming world, Amazon Music is truly gaining in popularity; reportedly having as many as hundred million active users, double it's count from just six months ago. Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0 Amazon has always been the sleeping giant in music streaming. It's Prime Music comes as a part of Amazon Prime, and although there are no official numbers as to the number of subscribers, the company hints that it's at least hundred million. Amazon also has a stand-alone service as well called Amazon Music Unlimited, which company execs have said has more than doubled its subscriber rate in the last six months alone...

WEBSITE: Connect with Your Friends at All About Jazz / Jazz Near You at Jazzahead! 2018

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Dear JazzAhead! 2018 conference goers! All About Jazz and Jazz Near You's c: Michael Ricci and c: Maxim Micheliov will be on hand for this year's conference, connecting with old friends and making new ones. As always, we're looking to collaborate with presenting organizations, event aggregators, catalyst and advocacy groups, societies, and various businesses to further jazz awareness around the world and at the local level through All About Jazz and Jazz Near You...

RADIO: JazzWeek Radio Chart: April 16, 2018

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All About Jazz publishes the weekly JazzWeek radio chart. Discover new releases, track chart movement, and learn what is being played on jazz radio stations around the United States. Enjoy! TW LW 2W Artist TW LW Move Add Rpts Peak Wks 1 4 1 Kurt Elling The Questions (OKeh) 258 204 +54 6 53 1 3 2...

BIRTHDAY: Jazz Musician of the Day: John Ellis

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All About Jazz is celebrating John Ellis' birthday today! The gifted, versatile saxophonist/clarinetist/composer John Ellis occupies an imaginary (and extremely imaginative) space directly between the celebratory, welcoming spirit of New Orleans and the edgy, frantic streets of New York City. Both as the leader of his own eclectic projects and as an in-demand sideman for a mind-boggling number and variety of artists... Read more...

VIDEO / DVD: Harry James in 10 Clips

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Harry James is one of the most underappreciated bandleaders of the late 1940s, '50s and early '60s. While plenty has been written about bands led by Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Les Brown and Maynard Ferguson during this same period, James has received little or no praise or recognition. Maybe it's because his band sounded so much like Basie, thanks to his passion for Ernie Wilkins's arrangements. Or perhaps it's because he clung to his stodgy 1940s hits far longer than most bands. Hard to tell. What we do know is that he was an extraordinary trumpeter and he had a knack for consistently assembling superstar bands and commissioning hair-raising arrangements...

MUSIC INDUSTRY: HD Vinyl to Hit Stores in 2019 After $4.8m Investment

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Austrian-based startup Rebeat Innovation has received a $4.8 million investment into its patented 'high definition vinyl' technology. Founder and CEO Gunter Loibl told Pitchfork that the 'first 'HD vinyl' albums could hit stores as early as 2019.' The company claims that their records will have higher audio fidelity, louder volume, and longer playing times than conventional LPs, and that their techniques will also avoid the chemicals that are typically used in traditional vinyl manufacturing. Plus--and this is the most important part--these new HD vinyl LPs will still play on both your dad's beat up Technics or that Crosley you bought at Urban Outfitters...

PERFORMANCE / TOUR: Celebrating the Gypsy Jazz Legacy

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Violinist Keven Aland's Hot Club of SRQ brought its fascinating update of the gypsy jazz tradition to the Venice Art Center on Thursday, April 12, in a concert co-produced by the South County Jazz Club. The program built on the Hot Club of France tradition, drawing much material from gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and his disciples. Reinhardt co-led the Hot Club of France Quintet with French violinist Stephane Grappelli, starting in 1934...

PERFORMANCE / TOUR: 2018 Grammy Winner Pablo Ziegler Trio Appearing at the Blue Note Jazz Festival on June 26

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Pablo Ziegler: 2018 Grammy Winner, "Best Latin Jazz Album" New Release on Steinway and Sons label: Solo Pablo Ziegler The Pablo Ziegler Trio won the 2018 Grammy Award for "Best Latin Jazz Album with their exciting release Jazz Tango (ZOHO). Ziegler, who honed his piano and composing skills working with legendary fellow Argentinian m: Astor Piazzolla, continues developing the style of Nuevo Tango. As a celebration of their Grammy-award-winning album, Ziegler's Jazz Tango Trio will be playing a shared program with the m: Chano Dominguez Trio at the Highline Ballroom, as part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival on June 26 in New York City...

BIRTHDAY: Jazz Musician of the Day: Herbie Hancock

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All About Jazz is celebrating Herbie Hancock's birthday today! Herbie Hancock is a true icon of modern music. Throughout his explorations, he has transcended limitations and genres while still maintaining his unique, unmistakable voice. Herbie\'s success at expanding the possibilities of musical thought has placed him in the annals of this century\'s visionaries. With an illustrious career spanning five decades... Read more...

MUSIC INDUSTRY: Expanded Music Modernization Act Introduced with Radical Changes to How Musicians Are Paid

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An expanded Music Modernization Act was introduced in the U.S. Congress yesterday by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and 28 bipartisan cosponsors. While not without critics, the bill has received widespread industry support as an overdue overhaul of the nation's antiquated music licensing laws...

VIDEO / DVD: Jackie Deshannon: Capitol Album

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You probably know Jackie DeShannon best for her song, Put a Little Love in Your Heart, a #4 Billboard hit in 1969. Or her hit rendition of Hal David and Burt Bacharach's What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love. What you may not be aware of is that Jackie is one of the first female singer-songwriters in the pop-rock era and among the most prolific composers. She was born and raised in Kentucky, and she left her Illinois high school in her sophomore year to sing and record. Initially considered a country singer, her regional records caught the ear of Eddie Cochran, who brought her out to Los Angeles to meet singer-songwriter Sharon Sheeley, who was his girlfriend at the time and would co-create the jukebox TV show Shindig! The two women formed a writing partnership in 1960 and wrote a bunch of hits...

CAREER: The Best Way to Get Your Music on a Spotify Playlist

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While physical music sales continue to trundle downwards streaming can, for many artists, seem like the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to revenue- particularly if you can land your music on a playlist. Here we examine some of the best ways to do just that. Guest post by Emily O'Connell from BandBasher...

CAREER: A Musician's Simple Guide to Taxes

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With tax season now fully upon us, artists may be feeling overwhelmed with paperwork surrounding the arduous task of filing. Here we look at a basic explanation of the most common tax forms for musicians, as well as when they'll be needed. Guest post by Jamie Davis-Ponce of Soundfly's Flypaper Well, it's tax season. Hopefully by now, you'll have received a number of forms you'll be expected to use when filing your taxes before the April 15 deadline [note: In 2018, the deadline is April 17th]. But in case you think that the titles of the forms piling up on your desk sound more like a phone book than a way to get a refund, here are some basic explanations of the most common tax forms for musicians and when you'll need them...

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