Saturday, July 28, 2012


Mose Allison
NEA announced 2013 Jazz Masters
Mose Allison, Lou Donaldson, Lorraine Gordon, and Eddie Palmieri were awarded the 2013 NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship, given yearly by the National Endowment for the Arts to jazz musicians who have dedicated their musical gifts to jazz. The honor is the highest a jazz musician can receive, and it comes with $25,000 to be used at the winner’s discretion. The NEA started awarding the fellowship in 1982, and 2013 will be the first year a non-jazz musician will receive it. Lorraine Gordon owns the famed jazz club the Village Vanguard and she continues to book top national and international jazz acts. Supposedly, the Vanguard is the oldest jazz club around. Some jazz historians say Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in Detroit, Michigan is, but chances are the jazz world will never know. For years, jazz historians across the globe have been trying to sort it out.

Songs for my father
The late great jazz piano player Harold McKinney died in 2001. He was nationally known, and in his hometown, Detroit, he was a jazz apostle. For years, McKinney ran The Detroit Artist and Jazz Performance Lab at the Serengeti Ballroom on Woodward Ave. Every Thursday, budding jazz musicians flocked to the session to study with McKinney, and he only charged a small $10.00 cover fee. Oddly, most of the participants were aspiring jazz singers and very few piano players. The piano players who attended regularly McKinney taught how to accompany singers.

McKinney' s eldest daughter, jazz drummer Gayelynn McKinney, has been on a crusade to continue her dad’s good work. As a jazz drummer, Gayelynn has built an awesome résumé. She is best known as the ace drummer of the all-female jazz outfit Straight Ahead. Regionally, she is the go-to drummer for any bandleader wanting a swing conscious drummer. Back to her crusade. Gayelynn is not restarting her dad’s Thursday night workshop.

Her goals for his legacy are grander. Her dad left 30 boxes of unrecorded music, and for a year or so she has been raising money via the internet to record some of that music. Recently, Gayelynn informed I Dig Jazz that she has raised enough money—over $5,000—to start the project. Detroit jazz musicians Dwight Adams, Wendell Harrison, Marion Hayden, Ian Finkelstein, and Marcus Miller have signed on. 

Will any nationally known jazz musicians be on board? Yes, Gayelynn said, but she won’t reveal who they are right now. Asked if her dad wanted her to put out his music after his passing, Gayelynn said no. A series of dreams motivated her. “I had three dreams about my dad. On the third one, we had a conversation and he said ‘I want you to do something with my music’. Then my cell-phone rang, and I woke up,” Gayelynn recalled. She plans to start recording in September.

Rumor of a new Tia Fuller album
DL Media's publicist Jordy Freed emailed I Dig Jazz the other day, confirming a rumor that saxophone player Tia Fuller has a new album going on sale the 25th of September. It’s titled Angelic Warrior and it’s her follow up to the 2010 gem Decisive Steps. Freed said more information about Angelic Warrior will be available early next week. Fuller is an uber dynamic sax player who has put out a string of wonderful jazz albums. She grabbed I Dig Jazz’s ear when she was a member of trumpeter Sean Jones’ band. On the pop music front, Fuller has played in Beyoncé Knowles' band for many years. The pop world offers better pay, but Fuller is a jazz musician foremost.

What I've been listening to
Last Saturday, I hung out in Ann Arbor, Michigan with a friend. I visited one of my favorite shops Encore Records, and I picked up two dates by jazz bass player Charles Mingus The Clown and Mingus One. I also bought The Blues Book by Booker Ervin and the bebop classic the Quintet Jazz at Massey Hall, featuring Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach. Those albums tide me over until hump day.

Thursday and Friday, I listened to sax player JD Allen’s Shine!, Victory and I Am I Am. That’s a lot of music to consume in one week, but I didn’t stop there. My friend loaned me Don Pullen Plays Monk. Pullen played the best interpretation of Monks’ Well You Needn’t, ’Round Midnight, Trinkle Tinkle, and In Walked Bud I’ve heard. The solo album, which Pullen cut for Candid Records in 1984. For me, the album was a paranormal  listening experience. Pullen did all kinds of novel things to those Monk favorites, stretching them as far as they could go, and somehow he clung to their melodies like a trophy wife.
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