Monday, November 13, 2006

A Quick Story

I'm in Sweden,where the people seem to embrace both the cold and the semi-permanent state of darkness like a badge of honor.Luckily,I've been here enough times to come prepared-I've packed extra sweaters for the cold and my coal-miner's helmet for reading......OK,a brief,and strangely endearing,story about Benny Goodman....
I was eating lunch with Benny Goodman at the Carnegie Deli while he suffered through a reporter's questions.Finally,the reporter asked,"Benny,did you ever have any nick-names when you were a kid?"Benny pondered on this for a moment,started giggling (he was a great giggler),and said,"Well,some people called me the king of swing!"I don't know why I find that so charming,but it hopefully captures a different side of Benny than one finds in the books....
Enough for now-take care-Ken

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Jazz Cruise

OK,so last week I embarked on the annual Jazz Cruise,only to come out on the other side as the new artistic director/MC ;there will be an interim year when Cherrie Scheets,the current AD, very ablely (my own spelling) shows me the ropes-I'm very grateful to her for that,as she's done an exemplary job booking everyone and putting the sets together....So,for this year,I'd be very grateful if you send all suggestions,complaints,queries,etc.,to Cherrie (why do I have the feeling she's doing the same thing to me right now?).
The cruise was great-there's so much music,the only complaint I heard was that it was an over-abundance of riches,and people couldn't get to hear everything...Anyway,some highlights for me were The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (probably the best real big band going),Don Friedman's magic touch on the piano,Houston Person (he always does some dance sets to remind us where this music came from,without compromising his great artistry in the least),the classy and sensitive performances from Freddie Cole,and Russell Malone and his great band-he's a wonderful guitarist and a fantastic showman!
There's always a series of 'questions with the stars' on the ship-before my session,I'd joked about whether we would get the same two questions-"where is jazz going/what will happen when we're all dead" and The Ken Burns Question.Happily,I think the Burns questions have finally-well-Burned themselves out,but the former raised its ugly spectre once more.The answer is-Jazz ain't going nowhere-the fact that this question has been asked for probably the last 30-40 years should tell you something about the state of jazz!We're all still here,and making livings off this music-it may be a slightly older audience,but I was only half-joking in my ship-board reply when I pointed out that 'the good news is there will always be a new crop of old people when these have gone'!Jazz may never again be the popular music it was,but no form of popular entertainment stays at number one forever!And it may always skew to an older,more 'cultured' audience (see:Lincoln Center),but as people get older and wiser,I don't see them attending either hip-hop or speed-metal concerts;they'll all find us,eventually!
Bye for now,and to paraphrase our grate presidennt,'don't forget to put food on your family!'Ken