Sunday, January 25, 2009

'I'M NOT JUDGING YOU'

I promised to stop the exchange of dissenting opinions with drummer Leonard King, but a few days ago, I received a lengthy comment from Annette Wecker LeDuff about a blog I posted titled “Hitting After The Bell”. The post was my final response to King, who accepted the truce I proposed, but thought it necessary to call me a coward. In the comment, LeDuff, who sounds as if she an intelligent person defended Leonard and sort of tacitly criticized me for posting an unflattering review of the Lyman Woodard album release party. I’ve posted LeDuff’s comments chastising me, and my response.

Charles L. Latimer


Hello Charles,

I want to comment on the continuing blogs between you and Leonard King.
Since I’ve read your brief bio, it’s fair that I share a short summation of mine with you. I am a self-employed artist, gemologist, and jewelry designer and sales rep in telecommunications and IT. I have a Bachelor of Studio Arts from Oakland University and a Master of Fine Arts from Cranbrook Academy of Art. I like diversity, enjoy learning and sharing. I really do like people and culture.I happened across your blog while doing an image search of Detroit musicians.

You’ve posted some terrific photos. I didn’t notice any photographic credits, however. Did I miss a citation reference on your site? If so, please tell me. Certainly as a professional, you understand the need to cite sources. Photographs aside, I have a different motivation for writing today.

I am writing in reference to your blog entitled “Lyman’s Huge Organ” (11-23-2008) and subsequent postings between you and Leonard King on the subjects of music and music criticism. Note plurality and the separation of the words by “and”: they are not the same thing, not even close.

Critiques were an integral part of my formal education in the arts, so I enjoy participation in a critique. Many people may not understand this because the meaning of the word "critique" has become misunderstood. Let me explain: A critique (from the original French and Greek, prior) is a skilled critical analysis of a work, performance, craft etc. Here the use of “crit” emphasizes the level of skill deployed in understanding, discussing and possibly providing a review of the work.

This terminology never demands a narrow or selective valuation of the work, and does not imply that the reviewer or participants in a critique must find fault in the work. The burden of quality lies on the shoulders of the critic, not the presenter. Thus, the role of the critic should demand a great (possibly greater) knowledge of what is needed for a successful presentation.

Understanding this, Leonard King was not out of place when he suggested that you study and play music. He was telling you that you should consider the original intent of the production (CD release party) which was conceived, developed and produced by Leonard King. You never conceded that you overlooked the original intent of the production. By doing this, you invalidated your critique.You argued that you did not need to be a musician because you are a critic. The

Online Etymology Dictionary has a wonderful quotation supporting their definition of the word critic:"A perfect judge will read each work of witWith the same spirit that its author writ;"[Pope, "An Essay on Criticism," 1709]Summation: A critic employs his/her skills of observation and understanding of a craft, work or art, always keeping in mind the ORIGINAL INTENT of creation in order to provide a valuable analysis of that which was presented.

A valuable critique should provide the one whose work was criticized with options or suggestions for improving the presented work without significantly changing his/her original intent. If there is no consideration for the original intent, it is not a critique, but merely a suggestion of an alternative choice. There is quite a difference.

I think it was unnecessary for you to discuss Leonard’s spelling or grammar mistakes in his email to you. You did comprehend what was intended in his email, didn’t you? He does not claim to be a writer or critic. Fair Warning! My husband jokes that I must be a reincarnated English teacher. I did happen to notice that there were significantly more spelling and grammar mistakes in your blogs than Leonard’s, but I wasn’t counting.

They were simply more apparent and significant since writing is your profession. Example: ban NOT band; banned NOT banded. Just as you believe that open criticism is fair when applied to professional musicians, grammatical criticism is fair when applied to professional writers.You do have a right to call yourself a critic and I support your right.

There are no legal or educational requirements in our society to prevent this. One may state critic as a vocation or avocation without the need for proof. Is “critic” ever listed in a checklist of hobbies? A lot of people could check that box and some really enjoy it. That should qualify. After all, music is listed as a hobby in checklists.I know that you write that you “love jazz”, but that is not necessary for you to establish yourself as a critic of jazz. After all, there are many people employed in occupations that they simply don’t like. Who would question it? My point is that a good writer should be able to write about anything, even if he/she doesn’t like it.

Quality is only limited by the writer’s skill level, not his emotional involvement. You don't have to "love" to clean to do a good job scrubbing the floor.All We Need is LoveI am not a critic, and I am not judging you. You've convinced me that you ARE really interested in jazz. I think that you are sincere.

I have a little trouble with the “I Love Jazz” statement though. Many people state their "Love" for a person, an activity or a thing. “Love” is meant to be a positive emotion, but “Love” is often misunderstood and “Love” can be very damaging. Too much “Love” could smother or kill that thing that you “Love.” Couples fall in “Love” but a few years later, divorce. I just don’t think that “Loving” something justifies anything including criticism of that object of affection. These are not semantics, just truths. Now pull up a chair and get comfortable.Let’s discuss your blog “Lyman’s Huge Organ” which takes the form of a letter written to Lyman Woodard, whose CD release party did not meet your expectations.

I did not appreciate the title you selected for your blog: “Lyman’s Huge Organ”. (Yes, I know you wrote "Gibbs' Big Organ" prior to this.) Just as I am not a critic, I am not a psychiatrist, so I won’t presume your intent in selecting the title. A good writer selects a title with a specific intent. Please tell us, what did you intend when you selected these titles?The letter format seems inappropriate (I know it's your theme throughout your blog), as I didn’t see any evidence that you actually emailed Lyman Woodard, providing him an opportunity to reply.

It’s presumptuous to think that a person will read your blog about him/herself just because it is posted online.As to your displeasure of the CD Release Party, herein lies the problem: you came to Cliff Bell’s that night with a preconceived vision of jazz “a la Lyman Woodard” in the perfect, studious, purist jazz lover’s club paradise where all the audience quietly listens and the band features Lyman. You unfortunately gave yourself a handicap that affected the outcome. Your critique failed because you assigned your own values to the performance and the production. You were so displeased that you left after the first set, which was one-third, not one-half of the venue as you stated in your blog.

You elected to employ your critical experience and skill on a skewed, obscured and limited view of Leonard King’s production. On the positive side, I think it’s terrific that you have mellowed. I recall that you said you didn’t punch somebody out that night.(Do the math: one set of music = ?? OR three sets of music = full experience)I think that your decision to write your critique on one set is irresponsible. Even great “A List” musicians are known to “warm up” on the first set and really kick it after that. You should know this. In A Different WorldIf we knew each other, you could have called me the following day (after 11 a.m. because it was a late night for me!) I could then share my observations and impressions of the remaining two-thirds of the evening that you missed.

I am not a critic, but just imagine. Go with me on this, Charles. I was at Cliff Bell’s that night one hour earlier than the first set started, and I left one hour later than the last set ended. That call could have changed it all. You would have been appropriately equipped to skillfully employ your critic’s craft and finesse your analysis of the Lyman Woodard CD Release Party at Cliff Bell’s. Your blog would be the text version of my photos.

Cool!If you called, I would have emailed you some of the photos that I took that evening. I just looked at my folder entitled “Lyman Woodard Organization 11-22-2008”. After editing, the folder is pared down to 387 photos. I trashed the rest in editing. I’m an amateur photographer but I do have a Master in Fine Arts so I think some of my photos are pretty good. Fond memories do alter our perception and I have some good musical memories of the evening.

I will admit that perhaps not all 387 photos are good. I can accept that.I’ve decided to upload more of these photos onto my husband’s music myspace so that you, your readers and music lovers on the internet may enjoy them. (Link: Jerry LeDuff Music http://www.myspace.com/jerryleduffmusic)

I'll do this tonight, so look for them tomorrow.Perhaps my online pictorial documentation will outweigh the negativity of your blog. The photos provide truthful insight into the exciting, creative, wonderful and HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT evening at Cliff Bell’s. The place was packed, people were standing close together and the crowd was really pleasant. Sorry you couldn’t stay. You missed a great party and really great music.
“A picture’s worth a thousand words…”Sincerely, Annette Wecker LeDuff

Mrs. LeDuff,

Would I be wrong to assume you and Leonard King are friends, or you’re one of his admirers? I ask because you’ve taken his side. I’m glad Leonard has a fan willing to defend him. He can’t do so without name-calling. Yes, I love jazz music, and that’s partly why I'm qualified to write about jazz music and jazz musicians. During my career as a jazz journalist, I’ve interviewed and written articles about such jazz greats as Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Kenny Garrett, Branford Marsalis and Regina Carter. Those accomplished musicians wouldn’t have given me the time of day if they suspected I didn’t love music just as much as they do.

Mrs. LeDuff, whenever I criticize a jazz musician their initial reaction is to question my credentials. Then they ask if I can play music. No I can't play an instrument, and it shouldn't be mandatory a jazz journalist or critic should know how. My stellar track record writing about the jazz greats I mentioned qualifies me to tell the reads of I Dig Jazz, and the people who read my articles in the Metrotimes why I like or dislike the music I’m invited to hear, or that I pay for. If I love a performance or an album, I explain why. If I hate a performance or an album, I'll say why. It’s that simple, and my readers trust I’ll give them an honest assessment of what I hear.

There’re a few things about my blog I should explain. The photos I used I normally upload from Google, Ask, and Yahoo. Most of the time, the photos I select don’t name the photographers. When I use a photo and I know the photographers’ name, I credit him or her. Lately, most of the blogs I write in the form of a letter because doing so is easier for me to express myself. I know some of my reader’s get it, and others don’t. Most of my blogs are positive. I’ve praised more albums and concerts than I’ve trashed. My blogs are honest, and I know I’ll hurt some musician's feelings although that’s never my intent. Also, Mrs. LeDuff, I try hard to make sure my blogs have no misspelled words, misspelled names, and any grammatical mistakes. Occasionally, a few mistakes slip by. Fortunately, I have grammar savvy readers who’re won’t hesitate to point out mistakes. I appreciate those readers.

You should know, I pointed out Leonard’s misspellings and grammatical errors because he lambasted me when I misidentified a jazz musician. Leonard tried to use the mistake as proof I’m ill equipped to write about jazz. I thought Leonard’s statement was ridiculous. That’s like me concluding Leonard is unqualified to be a jazz drummer because he played a wrong note.

Mrs. LeDuff, I standby my every blog I write, and I’ll fix any grammatical, spelling or factual mistakes. By the way, I fixed a handful of grammatical mistakes you made.( I’ve discovered It’s easier to catch other mistakes. Would you agree?). I’m sure you’ll welcome my help given how quickly you pointed out my typos.

I didn’t criticize the album release party because I dislike Leonard. He promoted the event as the Lyman Woodard album release party. I felt mislead because Woodard only played once, and Leonard hogged the spotlight. Yes the place was full, but I wondered how many people came to hear the music, and how many were there just hanging out. I stood near the bandstand. I was next to the woman selling Lyman’s albums. The crowd behind me, at the bar and in the adjoining room was loud and disinterested. I wasn’t the only person to split after the first set.

Charles

Friday, January 23, 2009

ROMANTIC AT HEART

Dear Raphael-

I vowed to only blog about jazz. I reneged last month. I praised Seal’s latest album “Seal Soul”. Today, I want to discuss "The Way I See It," your new album. Raphael, I've watched you grow over the years. You've mastered the art of self-reinvention. With your new album, you have the spirit, the skills, and the appearance of a Motown Records singer and songwriter during the company's heyday.

“Love That Girl” was the first single I heard on “The Way I See It”. I have Sirius satellite radio. Station 51 played the single ofen. I liked it immediately because the song reminded me of the Motown sound, which is obviously inspired you.

This album arrived, it seemed, on the cusp of Motown’s 5oth anniversary. Coincidentally, I purchased “The Way I See It’ at the same time I was listening to the Definitive Collection of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. Robinson is my favorite singer and songwriter, and Raphael you’re in the same league, which I’m certain most of your fans will concur, and most of your critic’s will conclude I’m nuts.

You celebrated the Motown sound by not remaking classics by the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, and the Four Tops. for example. You used some of the same instrumentation, but you wrote and co-wrote new material, which I believe is much harder than being a copycat. Raphael on your album you stuck to the I-never-wants-to-let-you-go, and I-need-your-loving formula that makes a great soul album.

Songs such as “Sure Hope You Mean It,” Just One Kiss,” “Oh Girl,” and “Never Give You Up” are heartfelt. I bet the woman who was your muse you genuinely loved, and you let her know every waking moment. On this album, you show you’re a hopeless romantic at heart. The material you wrote for “The Way I See It” are not puppy love sentiments. It's seems as if you experienced each lyric firsthand. Each song is a love letter. It’s obvious you labored over each track. There isn’t one line that disparaged women, or one lyric that reduced women to booty and tits. There’s no belittling pet names like “dime piece,” shorty,” or bitch, the ultimate insult which too many of your peers use liberally.

Raphael, “The Way I See it” should be the way men should feel about women, and not be reluctant to express those feelings. Of course, their some women who’re hard to love, but that’s the exception not the norm. For the men who find it difficult to tell his ladylove how much he appreciate her, he could cuddle with her one evening and play the “Way I See It”.

Raphael you’re a topnotch songwriter. I don’t feel like a hypocrite because I deviated from my jazz only format. Occasionally, my readers deserve a change of pace.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

HITTING AFTER THE BELL

Drummer Leonard KingLeonard King accepted the truce I proposed, which will end what turned into a frivolous exchange of dissenting opinions. I never bulked and neither did King. Before, he consented, however, King took one last potshot. He called me a coward because I never introduced myself to him before I wrote a thumbs down review of the Lyman Woodard album release party, which King organized and hogged the spotlight. My review touch a nerve, and and King lashed out. He banned me from any of his concerts. He implied I'm a charlatan, and I'm unqualified to critique his work. I decided not to post or response to his last comment. But, after mulling over my decision for two days, I changed my mind. I posted his sarcastic comment, and I wrote a response. I promise my reader's this will be our last exchange.

HELLO CHARLES,

YOU MISSED MY SUGGESTIONS OF YOUR BEING A WRESTLER OR A POLICE OFFICER IN ONE OF MY EARLIER POSTS. YOU KNOW...A PERSON WHO LOVES TO MESS WITH PEOPLE. AS FOR JUMPING OFF THE STAGE AFTER YOU? VISIONS OF GRANDEUR, CHARLES. TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND RELAX--IF YOU CAN. I'LL ACCEPT THE TRUCE. SINCE YOU WERE TOO COWARDLY TO IDENTIFY YOURSELF TO ME YEARS AGO BEFORE POSTING ANY 'BLOGNIFICANT' MEANDERINGS, WE CAN KEEP IT THAT WAY. YOU'LL PROBABLY HAVE TO HAVE THE LAST RESPONSE AFTER READING THIS--SO BE IT. AND REMEMBER--DON'T YOU EVER MENTION MY NAME IN ANYTHING AGAIN!

Leonard-

This is my final reply. Yes, I feel it’s necessary I have the last word. My readers are fed up with our juvenile bickering. They want me to move on, and deal with more pressing matters. I have trombonist Clifford Anderson's new album "Decade," saxophonist Benny Golson's album "New Time New' tet," and the "Blue Note 7" new release. My readers are anxious for my commentary. Soon I will have to explain why I engaged in a frivolous argument. Before I replied to your first email, I asked my editor if I do so. He said to ignore you, but I replied anyway, and I squandered a lot of time. Time I could've used reviewing the stack of new albums I received last week.

When I read your latest comment, calling me a coward, I decided to ignore it. You love hitting me after the bell. If our exchange continued you’d keep hitting below the belt. There several things you should discontinue immediately.

First, stop sending nasty emails to jazz critics before you’ve proofread the emails. Emails fraught with typos and misspelled words make you like look a dummy. Secondly, stop calling jazz critics who dislike some of your music cowards, and bastards. Name calling is childish. I'm curious, do you actually have a PhD; are you really a professor; or are you a self-anointed PhD? Do you know where I can go to verify your credentials?

Lastly, stop picking on jazz historians Ira Gitler and Joe Goldberg. I have old issues of Down Beat and Metronome. The issues I have were published in the early 50's and the late the 60's. Neither historian wrote one negative sentence or paragraph about the jazz musicians they covered. If you believe I misread Gitler and Goldberg work, when you have some spare time stop by my house. I'll spread the magazines and their books out so you can show me in what issues they disparaged jazz musicians.

Charles

Monday, January 19, 2009

TOGETHER AGAIN

Saxophonist Charlie Gabriel Charlie, what a grand album release party you and trumpeter Marcus Belgrave threw at the jazz club Bert’s Marketplace Sunday evening. The master of ceremony W. Kim Heron, the editor of the Metrotimes, a weekly newspaper based in Detroit, Mi, was right when he compared your partnership with Marcus to saxophonist Benny Golson' relationship with trumpeter Art Farmer.

When I got home, Charlie, I had to soak my feet to reduce the swelling. I stomped my feet all evening. My feet was still dancing during the intermission. It obvious you and Marcus have been making music together for decades. While you guys play selections from your new album “Marcus, Charlie & Joan… Once Again,” I wondered if you and Marcus were conjoined twin separated at birth. You and Marcus have camaraderie.

Marcus did most of the talking. The trumpeter can really work a crowd. If being a jazz musicianship hadn’t panned out, Marcus could’ve been a successful comic. I could listen to him talk about his association with Ray Charles for hours. Several years ago, I had a conversation with Belgrave about Ray Charles. He told me Charles used to pay the band with one-dollar bills. I asked why. Marcus laughed. Then said Charles wanted his band to they’re making a lot of money. Marcus has a thousand stories like that. I bet you have heard plenty of them, and you also have stories to share.

Charlie my favorite moment occurred when Marcus introduced his wife, vocalist Joan Belgrave. The trumpeter joked about has four unsuccessful marriages. Then Marcus said his marriage to Joan has been the best. Joan slipped off her fur coat, (it was little chilly inside Bert’s) her husband took her hand, and she stepped onto the bandstand.

Joan, a self-professed romantic, sang “He Called My Name,” a song she wrote that has become a crowd pleaser. Her voice was hot. If I set closer to the bandstand, her voice would’ve melted me. The only thing that bothered was Joan only sang twice. I could’ve listened to the elegant chanteuse the entire evening without coming up for air. She’s that good. Although she a significant part of the new album, Joan didn’t demand the spotlight. She understood it was Marcus’ gig, and she attended mainly to support him. Joan will have her well deserved moment in the sun in late February. She will release first solo album.

Charlie when you finished soloing on the ballad Violets for Your Furs, the audience eyes were watery. The audience was mostly faithful fans. I wished some of Marcus’ students had attended the party, and witnessed firsthand how accomplished old-time swingers performed captures and audience. Both of you played as if given the secret formula to the fountain of youth.

Charlie, I seen Marcus in various setting with established jazz musicians and students the he helped become topnotch musicians, but yesterday evening Marcus operated and blew on a different frequency. Your running buddy sounded as if pieces of the late trumpeters Louis Armstrong, Fat Navarro, and Clifford Brown spirit’s blessed Marcus’ horn.

The album release was successful. It was neat the way Marcia Walden sit-up the party. The $25.00 cover charge was steep, but I got my money’s worth, including an autographed copy of “Marcus, Charlie, & Joan…Once Again” and all the food I could eat. Actually, the event felt like a big house party. Everybody behaved as if they had a grand time. It was appropriate you and Marcus closed the evening a tribute ditty titled “There’ll Be Some Changes Made,” which you guys dedicated to our new President Barack Obama.

Charlie I bet I wasn’t the only one there who wanted the party to continue. I wanted an encore. You know, jazz fans are greedy. I hope I have as how fun listening to “Marcus, Charlie & Joan…Once Again” as I had hearing you guys live.

TRUCE

Hello Charles,

I'm very proud to have rankled your aura--and you still don't get it. You love Marcus and Charlie. Great! Support that you dig. Under your present circumstance, you will never know enough about music to understand what it really is, let alone write about it. However, there are some professions in which your cynicism is perfect. Leave the music to those who nurture it for the universe at large. You're an outsider Charles but you won't admit it. Perhaps if you did then the cynicism would disappear, but why, of course, would you ever consider changing that???

Leonard-

I'm and outsider now, huh. I'll have to give that observation some serious consideration. Leonard, you sound like a misinformed mystic. I asked you politely to stop trying to psycho-analyze me. Don't you have a hard enough time keeping your chops strong? Leave all that analytical and cosmic foolishness to the professionals.

I will continue to write about jazz despite what you've construe as my insurmountable limitations. Listen man, we've been dogging each other for awhile. I'll never fully understand you. You'll never stop playing the victim long enough to understand my intentions. So let call a truce, and move forward.

You continue to make music and twiddle with the universe, and I will continue my pursuits as a cynical jazz journalist. Maybe one day soon you'll lift the ban you imposed, and we'll share a hearty laugh at what has morphed into a futile exchange of opinions. Stay positive, Leonard.Charles

PS

When you have some spare time, please email me a list of professions you believe will suit my cynical nature. I'm curious?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

THE WAR RAGES ON

Drummer Leonard King will not stop throwing around accusations. Here's enough earful.

Hey Charles,

Who is this Dave "Groove" Holmes you keep referring to? He never existed. However, Richard "Groove" Holmes did. That says EVERYTHING that needs to be said about you. I wish you great success on your book of interviews with the "A-Team" cats. Gibbs, Woodard, I, and many more are on the "A-Plus Team". Betcha didn't know that!
Leonard

Leonard-Thank for pointing out my careless mistake. That's what I appreciate about my readers. They don't hesitate to point out factual errors .You're right the organist's name is Richard not Dave. By the way, I posted your comments about my blog "Stay Away". It is titled "Critic Hating". You should read it.

Leonard I wasn't going to say anything, but after your remarks about me misidentifying the organist as Dave not Richard, I feel it's necessary to let you know I would have posted "Critic Hating” sooner, but I spent an hour last night correcting your grammatical errors and misspelled words. You misspelled seven words.

If misidentifying Richard tells you everything you need to know about me as a jazz journalist what does misspelling words you should have learned to spell in elementary school say about you. You do call yourself Professor Leonard King Jr., right.

Sure, I plan to include the article about Gerard Gibbs in my book. Maybe one day when we have put this bad blood behind us we will be able to set down and talk about your career.

Your pal

Charles

Hello Charles,

Yes, I had a few typos. BIG DEAL! Man--you really don't like who YOU are, Charles. I wonder if you've ever TRIED to be a musician at any time in your life in order to understand what it really takes at ALL levels in a person's daily life. You're a musician-wanna-be who obviously cannot be a musician at all. You can't speak the language of music at all--we REAL musicians can DO THAT. So what is your real purpose, Charles? To maim, not support the music or musicians. Your words and your blog do not serve the musicians' communities at all. Instead, you have a lot inner frustration to spew forth. Perhaps you should take up wrestling or be a police officer since you like messin' with people. Leonard King Jr.

Hey Leonard-

You're wrong again, man. I've never aspired to be a musician. I know you have to be disciplined to master any instrument. It also takes dedication and discipline to be a writer. Writing is my trade, and I'm good at it. Stop trying to psycho-analyze me. If you really want to know what motivates me just ask. I enjoy talking about myself.

I'm elated; however, your latest correspondence wasn't fraught with misspelled words and typos. Kudos! Editors call such sloppiness "dirty copy". Seven mistakes in a single article would definitely sully your credibility among the rank and file, and would get you canned. If I had your mailing address, I would've sent you a dictionary (I have several) and the "Idiot's Guide to Proper Grammar" (that's actually the name of the book) both are helpful.

Keep in mind, Leonard, I would've never pointed out your misspellings and typos in your last correspondence had you not implied I'm a numbskull for misidentifying organist Richard "Groove Holmes". The more we correspond the more I like you. Not only are you super-sensitive you're also feisty. Hey, man I have to go. I just got in from the Marcus Belgrave and Charlie Gabriel's album release party at Bert's Marketplace. Those old timers sure know how to through a party. You should've come. You could've picked up a few pointers.

Stay in touch,

Charles

CRITIC HATING

Drummer Leonard King is still upset. Yesterday, I received his comments to a blog I wrote headlined “Stay Away”. I told the drummer I’ve only criticized him twice, and overall I think he’s a sold musician. King dismissed those remarks. In his latest tirade, which I posted and responded to, Leonard accused me of not supporting local jazz musicians. That accusation is untrue, and proves Leonard neglected to research my career and contribution to Detroit jazz before he relied to my post.

If the drummer had done his homework before calling me a hack, he would’ve discovered I’ve given exposure to established Detroit jazz musicians as well as up coming musicians. Leonard also suggested I learn how to project love, which he implied would be the antidote for my cynicism. Maybe someday soon I’ll give that a shot.

For now, I will stick the formula that’s worked for me over the years, which is simply telling the truth, and refusing to mince my words. Since Leonard when out his way to give me advice, I feel obligated to return the favor. Before you accuse jazz journalists of being narrow-minded and unsupportive of the musicians they’ve taken an oaf to cover, I recommend you do your homework first.

Charles L. Latimer


Charles-

You still don't get it. It isn't YOUR job to determine what ANY artist’s projects to their audiences regardless of the so-called genre. Musicians don't need so-called critics/journalists to explain a damn thing to anyone. Folks, such as you, decide arbitrarily to define the value or lack of value in musical performances. I want you to know that realistically I AM NOT JAZZ MUSICIAN.


In Detroit, variety has always been the spice of life as far as being a well-rounded musician, which is what I've become. Of course, you were not in attendance to all of the jobs I worked from 1960 to the present day. The reputation that I've achieved in all of these years is attributed to my eclectic nature in performing as much music as possible (the labels attached to music are ALWAYS arbitrarily done by people who are NOT musicians).

I'm the boss of my musical decisions regardless of whether I'm the bandleader or not.As for your cynicism: it doesn't do YOU any good. There have been others before you: Harvey Siders, Joe Goldberg, Ira Gitler, etc who have attacked musicians performances and assaulted their credibility. Society is not better off because of journalistic cynicism.

I have a suggested for you: perhaps you would project passionate love, for that which you claim to love, if you invested your time and money on those artists that YOU feel is worthy of being frequently supported throughout the communities. Of course, that isn't the job of the critic, is it? You called my email to you "nasty". If you read that blog you posted about me them maybe, you'll understand what "nasty" really is!


Leonard King Jr. DrProf2148@hotmail.com


Leonard-

I get it. You're a sensitive dude. You hate critics. I get the impression you'll want to harm any musician journalist who dislikes your product. That makes you sort of a thug. Accusing me of don't supporting local jazz musicians is wrong. I've written full-page stories about Detroit jazz musicians such as trumpeter Dwight Adams, trombonist Vincent Chandler, pianist Tad Weed saxophonist Larry Smith. I’ve also profiled jazz bands as well ogranissimo, Urban Transport, Bop Culture and the Hot Club Detroit.


The Associate of Alternative Newspaper picked up my article about the new generation of jazz musicians in Detroit, which included vocalist Jesse Palter, saxophonist De’Sean Jones, and drummer Thaddeus Dixon. I've written about jazz musicians for the Metrotimes12 years. Roughly, a half-million people read the Metrotimes weekly. That's a lot of exposure for local jazz musicians. Despite your claim that I’m unsupportive, I'm doing my part.


You should know, I was the first jazz journalist in Michigan (perhaps even in the United States) to write a feature story headlined "Gibbs' Big Organ" about your colleague organist Gerard Gibbs. I own both Gibbs’ albums To Be or not To Hammond B3 and Livin’ and Learnin’. I have all James Carter albums and most of the albums the saxophonist has played on. I own every album Rodney Whitaker made, and I've paid my hard-earned cash to purchase your albums and to attend your shows. I guess you not considered being supportive.

In your last email, you asked me not to show up at anymore of your gigs. I believe that was unjust, but I’ll grant your request because the tone of your letters suggest you’re the kind of overly sensitive man who would single me out to the audience or jump off the bandstand to start a fist fight with me. The musicians and bands I mentioned I respect. I’ve gone to bat for them. I had to convince my editor their music and lives were worth covering. Understand I respect those musicians, but if they peddle a sub-par product or give a crappy performance, they'll hear from me. If that makes me a cynical jerk, than so be it.

Obviously, Leonard, we have different understandings of what a cynic is. To you, a cynic is an innately negative dude who fines it pleasurable writing spiteful articles, concert and album reviews about musicians. That disqualifies me. I write what's on my mind, and I accept the reality some musicians will hate my guts, which I’m certain you do. I standby what I write, and if necessary, I’ll heed the consequences.

Leonard, I didn’t know Lyman Woodard had busted ribs, and couldn’t fully participate in his album release party. This may seem insensitive, but I've seen jazz musicians in worst shape play their ass’s off. At the benefit concert for the late drummer Roy Brooks, for instance, pianist Teddy Harris, who was battling cancer back then, was hoisted onto the bandstand. Harris played like a man given twenty years more years to live.

I want to address your remarks about iconic jazz writers Joe Goldberg and Ira Gilter. To paraphrase you they were attackers. I’m certain Gitler and Goldberg encountered some disgruntled jazz musicians who hated them. Leonard, will you provide me with a list of articles and books written by Goldberg and Gilter and highlight the sentences and paragraphs where the writers slandered jazz musicians? I want to make sure you didn’t accidentally misconstrued what they wrote. The books, articles, and liner notes I read by the authors were candid and comprehensive not nasty.

I read Gitler'z book Jazz Masters of the 40’s. I didn’t read any disparaging passages about Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, JJ Johnson, Oscar Pettiford, Kenny Clark, Max Roach, Dexter Gordon, Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz, and Tadd Dameron, the bebop icons Gitler profiled. Gilter and Goldberg are good writers who’ve used their talent to help not malign jazz musicians.

In the last paragraph of you comments, you suggested I should learn to project love. I’d rather project the truth. -Charles

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

HOUSE PARTY

Andy-

Thanks for inviting me to the Bill Mays solo concert at your home Friday night, and insisting I stick around to meet the pianist, and hangout with your close friends. That was the first time I attended a jazz concert in the comforts of a friend’s living room. I’m still reeling. I almost convinced myself to stay home because the weatherman forecasted a blizzard. A few hours before May’s solo set began I decide to go. Driving through a snowstorm would be worth it.

I’m glad we talked Thursday night at Orchestra Hall before vocalist Sophie Milman and saxophonist Phil Woods’ performed. We discussed a blog I posted about vocalist Bill Henderson’s new album Beautiful Memory. You enjoyed reading what I wrote, and you recommended I hunt down the albums Henderson made with the Oscar Peterson Trio, and Henderson's version of the Horace Silver classic Senor Blues. Then you invited me to the concert. You also gave me your opinion, which I value and trust, of vocalist Sophie Milman.

I agree with your take on Milman. Her voice could charm a hungry bear, but she lacks stagecraft. The audience looked bored. The tree women who I sat behind dozed off. I felt bad for Milman. Her special guest alto saxophonist Wessell "Warm Daddy" Anderson couldn't shake things up. The audience behaved as if they were forced to attend. They treated Milman like she crashed an invitation only affair.

The audience clapped the loudest when her set concluded. I wondered if they did so because they were happy her set was over. The audience treatment of the vocalist bothered me. Milan is a competent vocalist. She deserved a better reception. I'm a season ticket holder. Thursday night was the first time I seen the place nearly empty and the audience disinterested.

The audience treated Woods crappy as well. Some walked out midway through his set, which I did not understand because Woods was playing some slick be bop licks. Maybe they were out way past their bedtime. But how could they skip out on a be bop legend. I wanted to interrupt the concert and demand an answer, but I set quietly and enjoyed Woods’ quintet especially pianist Bill Mays, and trumpeter Brian Lynch.

Lynch trumpeting was so strong he could've blown the audience out their sets onto Woodward Ave. Mays tickled the keys like the late pianist Sonny Clark's spirit was in Mays left hand and Bill Evan' s in Mays right hand. I purchased Mays’ album Going Home and Woods’ American Songbook vol.1. I wondered how Mays sounds unaccompanied.

I listened to Going Home on the way to your house, but I got lost. I couldn't give the album my undivided attention. I apologize for showing up late. Allow me to explain why. At 6:15pm, I left my house. I figured that was plenty time to be at your house by 8:00pm, which the concert was scheduled to start. I show up at 9:00pm. I got lost twice. I drive south on Drake approximately eight miles in the wrong direction. When I got back on course, I made a series of wrong turns. I was so frustrated I wanted to return home, but I stuck it out.

I finally located your sub-division, but I couldn’t find your house. I drove around the sub-division at least ten times. I found your house an hour later. I got lucky. I saw all these cars parked near a home, and the sound of a piano seeped out.

I was relieved I finally found your house. I was in such a rush to catch what was left of Mays performance I didn’t think to knock on the door or turn the doorknob to check if the door was unlocked. I rang the doorbell when Mays was rounding third base on a Thelonious Monk composition. You ushered me to my set. I really appreciate you not getting upset.

I missed Mays first set. I caught every minute of the second. Mays played compositions by Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin. He handled the compositions with complete aplomb, but he refused to play an Art Tatum number someone requested. Mays jokingly commented Tatum’s material was too tough. I believe Mays was being modest. He could’ve easily tackled any Tatum composition I’m sure. Mays was amazing, indeed. He had the audience reeling, and surprised everybody by ending the set with a bluesy version of Amazing Grace and A Child Is Born.

Andy, I’m glad you insisted I stay after the concert to eat dinner with Mays, your mom, and your wife Diane, and three of your close friends who acknowledged they’re jazz addicts, indeed. Those guys know everything about jazz musicians right down to the color socks Charlie Parker worn the evening the owners of Birdland banded Parker.

While we ate sandwiches, cookies, potato salad, and corn chips and salsa one of your friend’s teenage son played Chopin on the piano. That was a nice to listen to while munching away. When the teenage pianist finished, Mays praised him, and encouraged the teen to listen every album pianist Sonny Clark he could track down. Producing home concert must be a nice hobby to have. It must be nice to have a hobby that make people happy. At the next concert, I promise to be punctual or at least wait to the musician stop soloing before I ring the doorbell.

-Charles

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

STAY AWAY

Drummer Leonard KingW. Kim Heron my editor at the Metrotimes, a weekly newspaper in Detroit, MI, forwarded me a nasty email drummer Leonard King wrote me. The drummer was upset about a blog I posted, criticizing organist Lyman Woodard's album release party, which King organized and hosted.

The blog hurt the drummers feelings. In retaliation, King has banned me from his future concerts. His reaction shocked me. Most Detroit jazz musicians have thick skin, but apparently, the drummer is sensitive.

Normally, I ignore unconstructive remarks about my blogs. I Dig Jazz reader's are entitled to their opinions, and I standby what I post. In 2007, when I began I Dig Jazz blog page, I vowed to be forthright. If a musician makes a great album or gives an amazing concert I'll praise him; if a musician plays terribly I'll report that.

I replied to King's remarks. I tried to convince him because I gave the Lyman Woodard album release together thumbs down, and thrashed a date he did with saxophonist James Carter, two years ago, at the Detroit Institute of the Arts weren't personal attacks. I hope someday King will understand that, and lift the band he imposed. Those readers who're interested in Kings remarks and my reply, I've posted the exchange for your consumption.

Dear Charles,

Please do not attend more live performance's of mine, especially when I am the bandleader. The recent CD release party Cliff Bell's (November 22) was MY production--not YOURS. All of the musicians were in harmony with each other that evening and we weren't there to satisfy the type of evening YOU felt it should have been. It was exactly the kind of evening I wanted it to be, you dig? Don't proclaim yourself to be a lover of music--jazz or otherwise, because you're too damn cynical to understand what it means to be a musician. As I enter my 49th year as a professional musician--starting at age 12--and less than 45 days shy of my 61st birthday, my suggestion to you is to learn how to play an instrument--WELL--then get on the bandstand with me so I can MUSICALLY kick your sorry ass.

Dear Leonard,

You are a jazz musician. I am a jazz journalist. It's your job to make music, and it's my obligation to tell my readers why I love or dislike what you create. Being a critic is an ugly occupation. I'm not trying to solicit sympathy. It's the path a chose. I expected flak from the musicians I've criticized.

You're right, Leonard. I'm cynical. You're not the first to recognized that. Cynicism is a characteristic, unfortunately, I can't change. Believe me. I've tried.

Occasionally, Leonard, I must write unflattering blogs about jazz musicians I genuinely respect. You're one of them. If a musician had an off night, I'll report that. If he had a great set, I'll praise him.

I've hit you and organist Gerard Gibbs belong the belt. Gibbs is a competent organist a la Dr. Lonnie Smith and Richard "Groove" Holmes. I dislike Gibbs when he plays the piano because he squanders a lot of energy trying to emulate pianists Craig Taborn and DD Jackson. You may wonder what qualifies me to conclude that. After all, you and Gibbs are accomplished.

I love jazz unconditionally, Leonard. Over the years, I've interviewed plenty A-list swingers such as Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Branford Marsalis, Kenny Garrett, Regina Carter, Rene' Marie, Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman and James Carter. I'm not just name dropping. I've actually learned the trade interviewing and writing about those jazz musicians. I'm comfortable informing the people who read my blogs.

Leonard, I've only criticized you twice. Once when you performed with saxophonist James Carter at the Detroit Institute of the Arts in 2007. In December, I wrote a harsh blog about organist Lyman Woodard album release party organized, and hosted. During the first set, Woodard only played once.

You never explained why. I had high expectations. You hogged the spotlight and wasted too much time reminiscing. The gig seemed like a benefit.

Yes, my reviews were harsh. I wasn't picking on you. Honestly, I think you're a topnotch jazz drummer, and I like your albums. I understand if you find that hard to believe.

Your OOPAPDA albums are divine, and "Extending the Language" is a sweet and listenable free-jazz date. I enjoyed your solos. At the 2005 Detroit International Jazz Festival, I chatted with Gibbs. I praised each player on James Carter's live offering Out of Nowhere. The albums is impeccable.

Leonard, I'll never grant immunity to a jazz musician because he's from Detroit, and has an impressive resume'. I know the obstacles you face trying to make ends meet playing the drums. As a music journalist I face similar challenges.

I hate you've banned. Critics often alienate, and are unjustly punished. Fashion designer Giorgio Armani, for instance, banned Cathy Horyn, the New York Times' fashion critic, from his runway shows because Horyn once wrote Armani showed a sub-par collection. Critics aren't obligated to turn the other cheek.

Leonard, I've never derived any pleasure criticizing. I've a job to perform, and my reader's expect me to be candid and honest. Maybe one day soon we'll put the bad blood behind us, and make amends.

Charles

Monday, January 5, 2009

BILL SWINGS, BILL SINGS

Mr. Henderson, last week publicist Terri Hinte sent me a promotional copy of your soon to be released album Beautiful Memory Bill Henderson Live at the Vic. I planned to review it after the release date, but I liked the live album so much I couldn’t wait. I wanted to share my feelings about it with my friends right away like a juicy piece of gossip.

So far, Beautiful Memory is my favorite albums of 2009. I know that’s premature, but I’ve heard enough jazz music to spot a great album, and this one qualifies as such. You and the late jazz vocalist Joe Williams sound alike.

After I listened to Beautiful Memory the first time, I rummaged through my record collection for a Joe Williams album because I wanted to examine his voice to make certain my comparison was correct. I dug out a date the vocalist made with the Count Basie Orchestra titled Count Basie Swings Joe Williams Sings. That’s a catchy title. I played that album twice, and decided my comparison was on the money.

Mr. Henderson I should level with you. Beautiful Memory is the first time I heard you sing, and I’m thankful Hinte introduced me to your work. Now I have another jazz musician to obsess over. I googled you after I listened to your album. I wanted to know more about your career.

I learned Beautiful Memory is your 11th album. 81 years ago, you were born in the Chicago, Illinois. You worked with such greats as pianists Ramsey Lewis, trumpeter Booker Little, and saxophonist Yusef Lateef. I discovered you are an established actor as well. Your acting credits are too numerous to list.

I remember your role as a bartender in my favorite episode of Good Times. It's the episode where James and Florida Evans had a big altercation because Florida wanted to enroll in night school classes. James was against it. They argued, and James stormed out their rented apartment. He went to your bar, drank a few beers, ate a few boiled eggs, and played pinball with a friend who was also there to blow off some steam. Do you remember that scene? James reconsidered. He apologized to Florida. Then he decided enroll too.

Let me stop reminiscing about a role you played on Good Times 30 years ago, and give you the reasons I feel compelled to blog about Beautiful Memory weeks before its official release date. No pun intended, Mr. Henderson, Beautiful Memory is a beautiful album, indeed. You got the crowd’s undivided attention. Then you wrapped your deep and soft voice around them Iike a warm housecoat.

I’ve listened to many live jazz recordings such as the albums saxophonist Sonny Rollins made at the Village Vanguard and pianist Thelonious Monk made at the Black Hawk, a jazz club in San Francisco. At both venues, the patrons were noisy, and they treated the icons like old furniture. You, on the other hand, had the crowd at Vic’s panting and begging for more. The album feels like a big house party, and you’re the gracious host.

On the standards All the Things You Are, Sleepin’ Bee and Old Black Magic your voice was so relaxed I wanted to take a nap. You turned Never Make Your Move into a blues, belting out the lyrics with the gusto of a performer half you age.

Mr. Henderson, January 20th, the date Ahuh Production will release Beautiful Memory Bill Henderson Live at the Vic, I will encourage friends to purchase two copies so they will have a spare if they wear out the first.