What Does New Orleans Sound Like?

I’ve been thinking for a very long time about what New Orleans sounds like.

The city sounds like many things, sometimes all at once.

The city sounds like no other.

After it was mostly submerged in 2005, for a short time, the city sounded like nearly nothing.

In the Summer issue of Chamber Music Magazine, you can find one small slice of my research and my thinking about that topic.

Click on the link below, or scroll down for the text. Continue reading “What Does New Orleans Sound Like?”

Terence Blanchard’s Caravan Rolls On

When I heard that Terence Blanchard named his latest tour “Caravan,” I figured it had to do with the Juan Tizol-Duke Ellington tune that Blanchard must have played again and again as a young trumpeter in drummer Art Blakey’s band.

Nope. It was meant more to suggest “a group of like-minded people moving around the country with a message,” Blanchard told me.

As I worked on a long piece for The Daily Beast about Blanchard—on connections between his band’s current tour and the aftermath of senseless violence, and on his ambitions as both musician and concerned citizen—I kept having to update the story to reflect breaking news: Blanchard gets nominated for a Best-Score Oscar; another black man gets shot by another white cop; Trump tweeted what?; the Met Opera announces Blanchard’s opera as its first presentation composed by an African American…

Here’s what I came up with, thankfully not behind any pay wall, under the headline “Can A Trumpet Silence a Gun?” Continue reading “Terence Blanchard’s Caravan Rolls On”

Steve Dalachinsky’s Dance of Words

Steve Dalachinsky at The Stone, March 6, 2007/ photo by Peter Gannushkin/DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

Just last week I was wrestling with writing a poem, and I sought out Steve Dalachinsky’s advice. Maybe I just wanted his blessing.

My poem was about September 11 and though it was sincere and maybe even a bit elegant, it was also rather obvious. I’m not a poet.

Steve was. He shot back some smart and encouraging comments by email. Then he sent a poem of his, a tribute to trumpeter Booker Little. It spoke of “a trumpet forged from bullets,” and had passages like this:

Continue reading “Steve Dalachinsky’s Dance of Words”

Time, Grooves & That Maine Thing

photo by Larry Blumenfeld

On Deer Isle, in Down East Maine, the rhythms of life are dictated mostly by tidal coves that fill and empty twice each day, within which the water traces particular grooves that deepen over time.

That’s one of many reasons why the idea of a jazz festival made sense to me 19 years ago, and still does. (For more on that history, go here.)

Continue reading “Time, Grooves & That Maine Thing”