Wynton Marsalis Discussion Forum

   

Discuss the New York City Jazz Scene

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Joined 2008-02-29

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Just out of curiousity I wonder if anyone has attended a jazz gig at the Brooklyn Lyceum?  When I first moved to New York City I lived in Park Slope (1982) and that part of the Slope hadn’t yet gentrified.  If the BL is the building I think it is, the building was abandoned for a long time.  I think the building had been a public bath.

And I’m wondering about another Brooklyn venue, Barge Music.  It has started a jazz policy and looks like it would be a great place to listen to music.  I think it is on the water, under the Brooklyn Bridge. 

 

Finally, another place I haven’t been to is Cachea I think it is how it is spelled.  It is a place on 8th Street in the Village I haven’t gone to.  They had a big-time or at least relatively big-time booking policy, but seem in recent months to have gone much lower profile.  I saw an ad in one of the jazz rags a month or so ago where they were looking to sell shares in the place to anyone for $300 a pop.  I couldn’t find an ad or listings for the place so I don’t even know if it is still open.

     
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Total Posts: 75

Joined 2008-02-29

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That club I was referring to was “Cachaca” and it is still in business because I saw its ad in this week’s “Voice.”  The club has changed its booking policy, though.

Meanwhile Jazz is going to be busting out all over the Museum of Modern Art this spring as that venerable institution is running a jazz series that includes films, exhibits, concerts et al

 

From MoMA’s website:

 

Jazz Score

April 17–September 15, 2008

 

Comprising a film retrospective, a gallery installation, live concerts, and a panel discussion, Jazz Score celebrates some of the best original jazz composed for the cinema from the 1950s to the present. The film retrospective opens on April 17 with a weeklong theatrical run of Arthur Penn’s Mickey One, and continues with fiction features, experimental and animated shorts, and documentaries from countries as far ranging as France, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, and the U.S.

 

In 1951, Alex North’s music for Elia Kazan’s A Streetcar Named Desire opened up jazz scoring to a new generation of composers, including Elmer Bernstein, Duke Ellington, Bernard Herrmann, Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, and Lalo Schifrin. Significantly, this jazz renaissance coincided with the breakup of the Hollywood studio system and the emergence of independent film directors, including John Cassavetes, Shirley Clarke, and Herbert Danska. These directors experimented not only with diverse film styles and techniques, but also with more improvisational forms of jazz like hard bop, modal jazz, and Afro-Cuban jazz. This was equally true of European and Japanese New Wave filmmakers in the 1950s and 1960s—Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, Roman Polanski, and the American expatriate Joseph Losey among them—who enlisted such legendary artists as Gato Barbieri, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Lewis and the Modern Jazz Quartet, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, and Tôru Takemitsu. Jazz continues to be used in diverse ways in contemporary cinema, whether to evoke a writer’s paranoid fantasies in David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch (1991; music by Howard Shore and Ornette Coleman) or the tragic devastation of the city that gave birth to jazz itself in Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006; music by Terence Blanchard).

     
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Joined 2008-02-29

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The sclerotic JVC Jazz Fest announced in ‘08 line-up in the “Times” today.  It is the first fest since George Wein sold the company.  He’s still hanging around and has his fingers in the pie, but thankfully there is some new blood involved in the programming, a guy that used to book Yoshi’s.  I still didn’t see much that really floated my boat and there are still way too many non-jazz acts booked in what is putativeoly a jazz fest so I’ll be taking a pass once again, something I’ve done in recent years.

     
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Joined 2006-08-28

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Rochester Jazz Fest announced it’s program of jazz acts today.  It’s all jazz in 6 to 8 venues concentrated in few blocks.  You should plan a vacation.

     
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Check out the development plan for our theater! 

http://www.esm.rochester.edu/news/renovation_news.php

 

Congo Square was performed here last June.  It was the JALC/Odadaa tour opener and the performance was polished.  Mr. Marsalis took the lead with his solo themes 4 or 5 times that evening.  It was his public debut as he was off last tour due to time needed for healing.  Wynton dances while he conducts the Congo Square.  My friend from Ghana gave him his due respect! 

 

But I must say, Marsalis had fervor in Cleveland.  Wynton drove it home when he took his duet on with Yacub Addy during It Never Goes Away.  The rhythm had taken hold and he had plenty to say.

 

Montreal was the finale and we all can see that one on the Congo Square DVD.  That night it’s Sanctified Blues, the 2nd Line theme, the catches the tailfeather.  Yes, the same one shown on Iconoclasts, check this out!!

     
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It looks like the Knitting Factory is going to close its doors, in Manhattan anyway.  This was the scene of much avant-garde jazz throughout the 1990s, but they ran into some financial trouble and the original owner Michael Dorf lost control of the venue and the new owners switched from a jazz policy to “new” music. 

They would occasionally book straight-ahead jazz or at least jazz that was close to straight ahead so that it wasn’t unlistenable like much of the stuff they programmed and I spent many memorable evenings there. 

 

When the place was on shaky financial ground I remember seeing Wynton and I believe his “legendary” septet.  It was one night only and there were two sets.  I don’t think I could even get a ticket to the first set, but went to the second set and despite the fact it was a weeknight and a late start, the placed was standing room only.  Wynton, as he is wont to do, brought down the house.

 

The Knitting Factory is relocating from Manhattan to that hipster haven, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

 

Here is the piece on the Knit’s demise from the “Times”:

 

Jared Hoffman has a vision for the Knitting Factory: smaller, leaner and outside of Manhattan. Far outside.

 

Skip to next paragraph

Michael Nagle for The New York Times

The Knitting Factory’s Jared Hoffman says the club’s future is no longer in Manhattan.

For 21 years the nightclub has been a symbol of downtown New York music, gaining an international reputation for an eclectic, finger-on-the-pulse aesthetic. At the Knitting Factory’s original location on East Houston Street on the Lower East Side, and at 74 Leonard Street in TriBeCa, where it moved 14 years ago, jazz has mingled with punk, avant-garde rock, hip-hop and underground sounds of all types.

 

But Mr. Hoffman, who took over five years ago, is betting on a plan for the future that will involve a lower local profile in Brooklyn and a big role in two cities distant from downtown New York in every way: Boise, Idaho, and Spokane, Wash.

 

This week the New York club, the headquarters of a company that also includes a club in Los Angeles, won community board approval to begin moving into 361 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the former site of the Luna Lounge. In TriBeCa the Knitting Factory has three performances spaces, the largest holding 400 people, but in Brooklyn it will have only one room, for 300 or fewer. Two weeks ago “Knitting Factory Concert House” signs went up outside larger halls in Boise (capacity 1,000) and Spokane (1,500) that the company recently acquired.

 

“We don’t have to be the biggest kids in New York City to be the Knitting Factory,” Mr. Hoffman, 45, said in the Leonard Street front room one recent afternoon as a parade of tattooed young men lugged in the night’s cargo of amplifiers. “What we do have to have is a pipeline that brings us the most exciting new music from the cities where the newest, most exciting new music is being created.”

 

The survival of the Knitting Factory may depend on a big change. The Leonard Street building was recently sold, and while the club’s lease runs through next July, Mr. Hoffman said it has no future in increasingly upscale TriBeCa. And though its once-renowned bookings have remained strong in niches like hardcore punk, noise-rock and independent hip-hop, the club has slipped down the status ladder as newer, sleeker rooms like the Bowery Ballroom have become popular. Blank spots have begun to dot the Kniting Factory’s calendars, along with once unthinkably unhip events like battles of the bands.

 

“The Knitting Factory has struggled to define itself ever since it lost its emphasis as a center for avant-garde jazz,” said Tom Windish, a booking agent whose roster includes indie stars like Animal Collective, Hot Chip and Justice. “The quality of the lineups went down as the distance from their roots increased.”

 

In New York competition for bookings has grown fierce with the rise of a turf war among the dominant concert promoters, Live Nation and The Bowery Presents, leaving less powerful clubs squeezed out.

 

The Los Angeles branch of the Knitting Factory, which opened in 2000, is also struggling. Next week it faces a public zoning hearing over a building-use permit that could result in its closing, though Mr. Hoffman said he was confident that the issue could be resolved.

 

“The Knitting Factory is very much a labor of love,” he said. “Not a lot of people are getting paid in full.”

 

To secure a steady source of revenue Knitting Factory Entertainment, the parent company, bought a majority stake in a Boise concert promoter, Bravo Entertainment, in 2006, and acquired the rest last year. The deal included the clubs in Boise and Spokane as well as a touring business that has taken the company into head-scratchingly new territory. In the last year it presented Elton John, Lyle Lovett, James Taylor and LeAnn Rimes at amphitheaters and arenas in Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and other states.

 

Those may be incongruous bookings for an organization that made its name with noisy fare by the likes of John Zorn and Sonic Youth. But Mr. Hoffman, the company’s president, said the business in the Northwest brings in about 60 percent of its annual revenues of $19 million, effectively subsidizing the New York and Los Angeles rooms. And in the Internet age the company says it is also developing an audience in a quickly growing region that most of the touring industry pays little attention to.

 

“If it happened last night in London, New York or Chapel Hill, these kids know about it the next day, thanks to MySpace, Pitchfork, you name it,” Mr. Hoffman said. “The music is getting there, but no one is bringing the live music there.”

 

Thin and clean-cut, with a nebbishy earnestness more common in tech support than among sharp-elbowed nightclub owners, Mr. Hoffman cuts an unusual figure as a rock ’n’ roll entrepreneur. He studied art at Harvard and has a graduate business degree from Columbia. But he is no novice in music. In 1988 he started Instinct Records, which released much of Moby’s earliest material. “He recorded three albums in my living room,” Mr. Hoffman recalled.

 

Instinct was bought by the Knitting Factory in 2002, and in 2003 Mr. Hoffman took over the company from its founder, Michael Dorf.

 

The programming in Boise and Spokane is more conservative than in New York and Los Angeles, mixing alternative acts like Otep and the Faint with decidedly mainstream offerings like Ted Nugent and Puddle of Mudd. Mr. Hoffman said his goal was to “continue to expand into the heartland” with more concerts and more clubs, and to use the Knitting Factory’s reputation to draw acts through its clubs in the Northwest.

 

Michael Deeds, an entertainment writer for The Idaho Statesman, said that while the clubs have been successful, the company’s imprimatur is not necessarily the reason.

 

“It just isn’t a household name outside of L.A. and New York,” Mr. Deeds said. “Obviously it’s known among huge music fans for its cutting-edge acts, but if you’re in the other 48 states, people don’t know much about the Knitting Factory.”

 

The business in the Northwest may be keeping the company afloat financially, but Mr. Hoffman said that the programming in New York and Los Angeles remained important in maintaining the integrity of the Knitting Factory brand.

 

Before it made a bid for the Luna Lounge space, the Knitting Factory tried to stay in Manhattan. Mr. Hoffman looked at a space on 14th Street between Avenues A and B, but there was a zoning problem, he said.

 

The Williamsburg location, which Mr. Hoffman said he hoped to open in “four to nine months,” will bring the club closer to a young audience long ago priced out of Lower Manhattan.

 

And to develop new acts it is deliberately getting smaller. As part of the renovations of the Luna Lounge, Mr. Hoffman said, capacity will be reduced, to lessen the pressure to draw big audiences every night, and bring the Knitting Factory back to its roots as a club that could take risks.

 

“In very exciting ways it would be a return to the old Knitting Factory,” he said. “We want to do something smaller and more radical and more revolutionary again.”

     
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Total Posts: 75

Joined 2008-02-29

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Jazz was bustin’ out all over the Jazz @ Lincoln Center complex on Columbus Circle this weekend.  I attended the show in Rose Hall where Wynton played with his quintet for the first half the show and then the LCJO came out for the second half.  They played tunes written by Wynton.  It was a nice show.  I had forgotten or didn’t realize that Wynton was such a good writer.  He plays so well I guess we overlook the fact that he can write so well.  I don’t often hear other musicians play his tunes, but I think they should.

I didn’t attend—I couldn’t have even if I wanted to—but Diane Reeves sold out the Allen Room both nights she performed this weekend.  And I didn’t go in, but it sounded like things were really swinging in Dizzy’s Club where an all-star band was playing the book of one Illinois Jacquet.

     
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Joined 2008-02-29

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A strong week in NYC.  Four potential gigs I mulling—Gal Costa at the Blue Note, Christian McBride at the Vanguard, Spike Wilner at Hotel Kitano & Claudia Acuna at the Jazz Standard.  If I go to a gig at all it will probably be Ms. Acuna’s at the JS.  Too many gigs, too little time.

     
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It doesn’t look like I’m going to get to a gig this week after all.  I strong considered heading down the the Jazz Standard last night to check out singer Claudia Acuna, but decided to head home.  And it kills me to miss Christian McBride’s killer quintet gigging at the granddaddy of NYC jazz clubs, the Vanguard. 

Next week I may try to catch sax player Steve Grossman, who is making a rare NYC appearance as a leader.  He’s gigging at the Jazz Standard.  I’ve seen the ex-pat Grossman gig only once, way back in ‘01 at the Paris version of the JVC jazz festival.