Posts Tagged ‘music’

The Olympics and Music

Monday, March 1st, 2010

The display of athleticism at the Olympics is always impressive and inspiring, but I’m not going to lie — one of my favorite aspects of watching the Olympics is hearing the music. Whether it’s the artists featured at the opening and closing ceremonies, the theme music or what figure skaters skate to, I’m mesmerized and intrigued by it all.

Here are some blog posts I’ve found about music at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics:

Do you have any thoughts about the music used at these past Winter Olympics? Share them and post a comment!

Willard Jenkins

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival is this weekend! Here are some thoughts from the Festival’s Artistic Director, Willard Jenkins.

Sometimes we find that unfortunately a great idea that may have appeared robust and healthy in its time was in reality the product of one driven individual.  Such was the case with the former East Coast Jazz Festival.  When the beloved vocalist and educator Ronnie Wells passed on to ancestry the splendid idea known as the East Coast Jazz Festival expired as well.  Many of us were always struck at the great party atmosphere of the ECJF, and of particular interest to me was the healthy audience that always attended, an audience which tended to be a more mature, larger African American audience than one experiences at the usual jazz festival; to be sure that audience was quite comfortably diverse.  Obviously that had a lot to do with the talent philosophy that Ronnie always maintained — deep in the blues, drenched in soul, with a great many of her vocalist peers on hand to give the Great American Songbook a thorough workout. It was with those very salient factors in mind that a committee of good folks came together at the urging of the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County.  Our deliberations yielded the brand new Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival.

Our goals have always been to rekindle the spirit of the ECJF,  pay homage to Ronnie Wells and her efforts, engage as many of our finest Washington, DC metro region artists as we could, leaven that with some of outstanding traveling jazz soloists and guests, capture the joi de vivre of the ECJF in terms of audience, and do our best to cure the mid-winter blues around these parts.  Given the snows and frigid winds we’ve been experiencing around these here this winter, the weekend of February 19-21 at the Hilton Hotel on Rockville Pike can’t come soon enough. The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival is guaranteed to throw another log on the fire and deliver some of the swingingest and down to the bone soulful jazz the local arts & culture scene will experience this year.  For our complete lineup, constant updates and other festival information please visit

- Willard Jenkins, Artistic Director of the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival

The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival will take place this weekend, February 19-21, at the Hilton Rockville. Visit for more information. You can also visit Willard’s blog, The Independent Ear, at

Mulgrew Miller

Friday, February 12th, 2010

The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival is a week away! Here are some thoughts from one of the weekend’s featured artists and jazz pianist extraordinaire, Mulgrew Miller.

What initially attracted you to Jazz music?
The ability and opportunity to creatively express one’s self at a high level of musical integrity was what I found most enticing about Jazz

When was the moment you realized you had a passion and desire to learn and perform Jazz?
My passion happened in an instant when I saw pianist Oscar Peterson on a late talk show in 1970.

Who are two people who were influential in your early education as a Jazz musician?
Two people who were influential in my early studies of jazz were pianist, James Williams and LA saxophonist Rudolph Johnson, both deceased.

As an artist performing nationally and internationally, what are a few reasons you find it’s important to perform at the MAJF?
The MAJF offers a vast number of artist who will play together are not usually heard in that combination or context.

Tell us a bit about the impact that Jazz festivals had on your growth as musician during your early years as a performer.
Playing in Jazz Festivals gives one the experience of playing for large audiences. It also affords one the opportunity to hang out and hear other musicians.

Visit Mulgrew Miller’s website at The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival will be held at the Hilton Rockville from Friday, February 19 to Sunday, February 21. More information is available at

Bret Primack: The Jazz Video Guy

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Roy Haynes, Bret Primack and Sonny Rollins

An NYU Film School graduate, Bret Primack began producing video for the web in 1999. His documentaries and video podcasts include Orrin Keepnews, Producer for the Concord Music Group and The Sonny Rollins Podcast for Rollins’ own Doxy Records, an ongoing documentary about the Saxophone Colossus. Read what makes the “Jazz Video Guy” tick.

What initially attracted you to Jazz music?
My Dad was a pianist who listened to big band music so I heard Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton and Maynard Fergsuon quite a bit, when I was very young. But the real catalyst for my interest in Jazz was Louis Armstrong. I saw him on TV and in a movie called The Five Pennies, with Danny Kaye. Pops was so dynamic that I wanted to jump into the screen and join the parade. Eventually, I did.

When was the moment you realized you had a passion for Jazz?
My involvement with this music has been as a writer and filmmaker. I went to NYU Film School in the late 60s, where I spent my days studying with Martin Scorsese and my nights hanging with musicians in the kitchen of the Village Vanguard. After I graduated, I worked in documentaries and industrials for a few years but eventually became a Jazz Journalist for Down Beat and  JazzTimes. I wrote hundreds of articles and liner notes and happily got online in the mid-90s, helping to found the first major Jazz site, Jazz Central Station. As the Pariah, I was also the first Jazz blogger, in 1997 on my site Bird Lives. While creating websites for Sonny Rollins, Billy Taylor and Joe Lovano, I returned to filmmaking in 2005 and now, I work as the Jazz Video Guy.

I’ve never been a critic, my approach is to let musicians tell their stories. That’s what made me want to write about musicians, and create documentary films, their stories.


The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival

Monday, February 8th, 2010

We’re all about celebrating regional artists and the talent we have in Montgomery County, and that’s why we’re particularly excited about this year’s rebirth of the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival. Over the next week, we’ll be posting a few interviews with musicians and artists who will be performing at the Festival. Here’s our first interview with Paul Carr, Music Director of the Jazz Academy of Music, who is also producing the MAJF.

Paul Carr

What initially attracted you to Jazz music?
I think what initially attached me to jazz was the sound of the instruments playing together. And even at that young age, I could hear the skill and artistry it took play to play jazz.

When was the moment you realized you had a passion and desire to learn and perform Jazz?
Probably, believe it or not before I ever started to play. J My mother  listened to jazz all the time around the house, Stanley Turrentine, Jimmy Smith, Eddie Harris, David “Fathead” Newman, were all regulars at the Carr house. She bought me one of those plastic saxophones when I was real young, so I knew going to play the saxophone when I got older.

Who are two people who were influential in your early education as a Jazz musician?
My first band director was a jazz saxophone player, Warren E. Turner, he still plays. Mr. Turner went to school with another “Texas Tenor” Billy Harper, and he would tell me stories about how much Billy would practice. Mr. Turner was a great teacher and got me started in jazz.  In high school, it was the legendary jazz educator Conrad Johnson, who also was a saxophone player and director of the Kashmere Stage. The Kashmere Stage Band was famous, the band won jazz festivals throughout Texas and also traveled abroad. There is a movie that’s  being shopped around in Hollywood right now about Conrad Johnson’s life and the Kashmere Stage Band. So being a part of that legacy is very special to me.