Check out my review of Kathy Ingraham’s jazz album For Your Consideration on the Grammy® 60 Ballot. It’s a clever way to deliver music!
THIS MONTH, WE FEATURE JOHN MCLAUGHLIN AND DAVID LIEBMAN,
BOTH PIONEERS OF FUSION AND ALUMNI OF THE MILES DAVIS
SCHOOL OF JAZZ, LOOKING FORWARD WHILE
KEEPING THE TRADITION ALIVE
CHECK THEM OUT IN THE INTERVIEW SECTION
Match the artists below with their scheduled
shows on the left!
A TIME TO BE THANKFUL
One of the great things about time is that certain seasons keep coming back, reminding you of various aspects of life. That is why I love November; it includes Thanksgiving, which forces us to take a step back from all of life’s difficulties, get together with family and friends, and, like the Pilgrims in 1620, thank God for all that He has provided for us unworthy people.
If you’re like I am, you probably think it’s been a tough year. EVERYONE seems angry about something. The news is filled with venom, Facebook is essentially a site for ranting against everything from both Left and Right sides, people arguing about football players dissing the National Anthem, and every issue politicized or racialized. As Solomon once wrote, “The fool has no desire in gaining knowledge, but only in expressing his opinion” (Proverbs 18:2). Shouldn’t that verse be plastered across the news channels and Facebook?!?
That’s why it’s essential for us to, as the song says, “Acc-entuate the Positive” and reflect on what’s good about life. I pray every day, but one day a week, Saturday, I just run through all of the things that occurred during the week and give a “Thanks” for a lesson I may have learned, a person I may have helped, or just a blessing received. Try it some time; you’ll be surprised at how “good” that week actually was! Remember that fun lunch, or that encouraging conversation, or simply a serene moment of peace while waiting at a stoplight? Give thanks!
It’s not always easy to be thankful and appreciative, with all of the bad news and vibes flying around. But, one thing that’s great about studying history, or reading the Bible, is that you soon realize that things have ALWAYS been bad, and it’s just a matter of how you handle it.
Think things were easy when our country first started, and we were fighting for our freedom, not to mention for survival? Then a Civil War which killed hundreds of thousands, or days of pioneers for the settlers, let alone all the dealings with slavery, the Indians, a couple of World Wars, depressions and social upheaval. Then, go read the Bible and read about slavery for 400 years, being kicked out of your own country for 70 more, people rebelling against God, repenting and returning, only to do the same stupid things over and over again.
No, things may be bad now, but it’s only nostalgia that makes you think that there was once a Golden Age. As Solomon wrote, “ Do not say, ‘Why is it that former days were better than these? For it is not wise to ask such questions.” Or as Tolstoy so richly put it,
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
Not only that, but one great thing that always keeps things in perspective, literally, is that this is not all there is. There is a final judgment, and a heaven and hell. As the philosopher Francis Schaeffer said, “If this is all there is with no heaven and hell, life is a cruel joke.” The fact that one day the rights will be wronged keep a hope and thankfulness in our hearts. As Solomon said, “God put eternity into our hearts.”
We have interviews with two of the pioneers of fusion, David Liebman and John McLaughlin. Both are on some essential Desert Island Discs as leaders of their own groups such as Lookout Farm and Mahavishnu Orchestra. They also share the fact that they were sidemen for Miles Davis. Liebman is heard on On the Corner, and McLaughlin is front and center on the Jack Johnson sessions as well as the stellar Cellar Door concerts.
Do you think Miles Davis was sitting around and moping during the years of the Johnson and Nixon Administrations, in the middle of the Vietnam war, with leaders being killed left and right, and just said, “There’s nothing more to say”? No, he saw opportunities, which all thankful people do, and put out some of the most exciting music of his career during that time.
Since he was a member of Elvin Jones’ band, Liebman has dedicated himself to the later period of John Coltrane’s music as well. He talks about those days in the interview. McLaughlin reflects on his past as well as his current band which is on tour, reportedly for the last time in the states. You won’t want to miss him on this “Farewell” tour.
This month, we have in my “No One Asked My Opinion” editorial a list of reasons to give thanks this 4th Thursday of the month. Look it over, and add some of your own when you sit with your kindred at dinner that day. Be thankful for all of the great music that’s around and available, both past and present. No matter what the “nattering nabobs of negativity” say, it’s a great time for music, a great time for jazz, and a great time, above all, to be alive.
KEEP WRITING US. HERE ARE SOME RECENT COMMUNICATIONS…Hi George,
I’m a bit of a music nerd so I check in with jazz weekly to check out whats goin on!
Thanks so much!
Ted and I want to thank you very much for wonderful review you gave Live at Trumpets. You did your homework and you wrote about our music with knowledge and insight!
We dig good writing as well as good playing: thank you!
Once again thank you very much.
Hello Jazz Weekly,
Thank you for your review of “The Passion Of Charlie Parker”. However, I must tell you that in specifying the use of tenor sax instead of alto sax as the major problem, you are just about completely missing the point of the project. This is not a tribute album. There have been more than enough tributes to Bird. There have also been more than enough albums of his songs with people trying to emulate him stylistically. This is an examination of him as a amazing and tragic archetypal figure, thus the use of the term “passion” to describe impressionistic “play” of his life. Whether we are discussing Bird, Van Gogh, Jimi Hendrix, or Hank Williams, there is a common thread among innovators who are candles burning too brightly. The artist ahead of his time has a heavy load to bear, whether he is painting with words, oil paints or music. The use of tenor sax was purposeful, so as not to play the game of emulating Bird, which is a rather trivial pursuit, and which he would laugh at were he still alive. The one thing that he would not be doing if he was still with us would be to play like he used to play. He was a far too restless force, and already tiring of what bebop had become by the time of his death.
Again, thank you for taking the time to review the album, but I think that if you go back and listen again, and specifically to the words that David Baerwald and I put to this music, you will find that there is much more there than you initially saw.
Just wanted to thank you so much for the wonderful interview/article. And it was so great chatting with you, as well…. thanks for an all around enjoyable experience!
Hope you are well. I just read your telephone interview with Nicolas Meier – very interesting! Nicolas and I have been good friends since he moved to the UK about 20 years ago – we also live very close to each other so we see each other frequently.
I think his latest album is his best to date – having Jimmy and Vinnie on it is awesome!
Also, I wanted to take the opportunity to see if you received my album ‘The Time Thief’ Redtenbacher’s Funkestra. I know you are very busy – just wanted to check that it actually has arrived for whenever you might have some time for it.
Thank you very much.
I’ve been enjoying your articles – as well as your support – and am wondering where you are based?
Thank you very very much for your review. I’m very happy that you enjoyed the music and the review is really nice and original. once more you showed a great attention to the music and I’m so grateful for that.
Let’s keep in touch and ALL THE BEST from Italy.
Mr. Gadd, you are a he’ll of a drummer. I listen to you when you where playing with, Grover Washington Jr. It’s so good to see that you are still playing!
I guess my Label sent you the CD. I would like to thank you for taking the time to listen to my music.The word you used really resonate with the way I perceive my music.
Thank you very much.Take Care
Funny enough after I was summarily fired from Verve Records back in ’97 I cooled my heels to get away from it all and moved to Sherman, CT. The real estate broker told me, ‘do you know Tommy Lipuma?” He’s your next door neighbor!” It was the house + barn where he recorded “Unforgettable.” Tommy had not taken over at Verve for another couple years and we somehow lived in peace, as he heard me in the distance banging my drums and driving my Ferrari at top speed (very loudly) on our rural roads in horse country. Super nice man. Love him. We even had Llamas next door too.
Thanks for the article,
I tuned in here to your writing to read a review of my latest disc, but instead I found an article on giving thanks, faith, and perspective. I been struggling in near every area of my life for nearly a decade. In my tight little family I faced cancer, drugs, lost faith, Alzheimer’s, and the prospect of supporting us on a musicians wages. I have been overwhelmed with my loss and how complete it seemed. Someone can say right thing to you at the right time and suddenly your life can seem so much better. Thank you for the article.
You inspired me to write the Thanksgiving Song !
Very good article, thanks
Dear Jazz Weekly,
I ran into your 2014 interview with Larry Carlton. I’ve been a Steely Dan fan for 35 years but never knew anything about Larry. I loved hearing that Larry is a man of faith, even after the gun shot incident. Thanks!
Really great work, George. That was one heck of a conversation with Kirk Whalum!
Peace, Love and Joy,
thanks again for this great review!
Great article. Thanks. I’Il share with the boys!
Philippe Saisse (Al Di Meola Band)