Today is the final day of Jazz Appreciation Month…and it’s also International Jazz Day.
A bit of history:
“In November 2011, during the UNESCO General Conference, the international community proclaimed 30 April as “International Jazz Day”. This International Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about the art of Jazz, its roots, its future and its impact. The goal is to celebrate Jazz for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity, eradicating discrimination, promoting freedom of expression, fostering gender equality, and reinforcing the role of youth for social change.”
The first International Jazz Day intends to:
-Celebrate the unique musical style that jazz represents!
-Raise international awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding;
-Mobilize the intellectual community, decision-makers, cultural entrepreneurs, cultural and educational institutions and the media to promote jazz-related values as a vector of UNESCO’s mandate, pioneering role and intellectual mission;
-Reinforce international cooperation and communication in the field of jazz music.
The all-day event culminates with a Sunset Concert:
The worldwide programs and events will conclude in New York City at the United Nations General Assembly Hall with an historic sunset concert certain to be one of the most heralded jazz celebrations of all time, with confirmed artists including Herbie Hancock, Tony Bennett, Terence Blanchard, Richard Bona, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Candido, Ron Carter, Vinnie Colaiuta, Robert Cray, Eli Degibri, Jack DeJohnette, Sheila E., Jimmy Heath, Hiromi , Zakir Hussain, Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo, Lang Lang, Joe Lovano, Romero Lubambo, Shankar Mahadevan, Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela, Christian McBride, Danilo Pérez, Tineke Postma, Dianne Reeves, Troy Roberts, Bobby Sanabria, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and Tarek Yamani. George Duke will serve as Musical Director. Confirmed Co-Hosts include Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones.
We hope you’ll spend a bit of time today appreciating Jazz. Whether it’s attending a show this evening, or reading about the music, or just listening to it at home. Happy International Jazz Day!
For the past three years, the Soul’d Out Music Festival has been bringing some of the best Jazz, Soul, Funk and R&B music in the world to Portland. Soul’d Out is held in venues throughout the city, encouraging attendees to branch out to new venues and neighborhoods. This year’s festival boasts a fantastic assortment of music for your listening pleasure…here are our picks:
Tuesday, April 17th – Jon Cleary’s Philthy Phew @ Dante’s – 8 PM
The accomplished singer-songwriter makes a rare Portland appearance with his new band. Cleary was born in England, but has spent the past 20+ years in New Orleans. He’s played with Bonnie Rait, Dr. John, BB King and more. His appearance at the Soul’d Out Festival is a must for any fan of New Orleans music.
Saturday, April 21 – Will Bernard Trio @ the Goodfoot Lounge – 9:00 PM
Guitarist Will Bernard knows how to lay down a groove. His aesthetic could be compared to that of Medeski, Martin and Wood, but Bernard is more than just another purveyor of the jam-groove-band sound. He’s got serious Jazz chops…and with Wil Blades joining him on the Hammond B-3 organ, his performance in Portland should be a really fun experience.
Sunday, April 22 – Snarky Puppy @ The Wonder Ballroom – 8:30 PM
Snarky Puppy are on the rise. Coming from the deep south, the core of the group formed at the famed Jazz program at University of North Texas. The famed collective, featuring some 30+ members on their recordings, is now based in Brooklyn. Led by award-winning bassist/composer Michael League, Snarky Puppy delivers raw funk and sensitive dynamics, relentless pocket and lyrical melodicism, lush harmony and soulful simplicity, and most importantly, a delicate mixture of composition and improvisation.
Monday, April 23 – Dr. Lonnie Smith @ Mississippi Studios 7:30 PM
Working with celebrated Jazz luminaries like Lou Donaldson and Rahsaan Roland Kirk in the early 1960′s – Dr. Lonnie Smith’s piano playing and Hammond B-3 organ stylings provided the foundation for the sub-genre that would become known as Soul Jazz. He makes his third appearance during the festival this year, making him a sort of “resident artist” for Soul’d Out.
Wednesday, April 25 – Esperanza Spalding @ The Crystal Ballroom, 8:00 PM
The grand finale of the festival this year features Portland’s favorite home-grown talent. Esperanza Spalding is much more than a bassist and vocalist – she’s a musical force of nature. Her new record, Radio Music Society is a new sort of Jazz Fusion and debuted at the top of both the Jazz and Pop music charts. She makes her Portland debut with this new recording on the 25th. A perfect way to round out the festival!
From the opening track, “Sagg Shootin’ His Arrow”, with its Arthur Adams wah-wah-laden guitar, you just know Jimmy Smith’s Root Down is going to be as funky as it gets. Some have said that Jimmy Smith did for the Hammond B-3 what Charlie Christian did for the guitar. While this may be true for Smith’s role in bringing the instrument to a wider audience, after listening to Root Down a number of times, you might find yourself thinking that Eddie Hazel would be just as accurate a parallel.
Recorded live in Los Angeles at the Bombay Bicycle Club in February, 1972, Root Down is a distinct departure from the big band dates Smith had previously done for Verve. It’s an album that’s less restrained and more enthusiastic than some of his laid-back projects recorded as a Blue Note artist.
Reissued and remastered in 2000 as part of Verve’s By Request series — quite possibly due to the attention garnered from the sample the Beastie Boys used on their 1994 release Ill Communication — Root Down contains a number of note worthy gems, There’s a 12-minute-plus, unedited version of the title track, a gritty, bluesy rendition of the Erskine Hawkins-penned classic “After Hours,’ and a memorable go at Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”
In addition to Smiths’ masterful touch on the B-3, Root features Wilton Felder on bass and Paul Humphrey on drums (both would go on to work with Steely Dan), as well as Arthur Adams on guitar, Buck Clarke on percussion and Steve Williams on harmonica.
Jimmy Smith has a number of four- and five-star recordings in his catalog, but Root Down is the one, in my opinion, that cemented him as the father of the Funk/Soul Jazz Sound.
- Mark Rini, Host of Soul Station, Tuesdays, 9-11 PM