Duke Ellington

Dr. Carmen Fields, pt.2 (Ep. 42, 2023)

On this week’s In Black America, producer and host John L. Hanson, Jr. concludes his conversation with Dr. Carmen Fields, war-winning broadcast news journalist and author of Going Back to T-Town: The Ernie Fields Territory Big Band, the story of her father, Tulsa-based musician and bandleader Ernie Fields.

V&B – Jazz & The Atomic Age

In this episode of Views & Brews, KUT’s Rebecca McInroy joins Rabbi/Jazz Historian Neil Blumofe and a live jazz ensemble (Sam Penke – bass, Ephraim Owens – trumpet, Andre Hayward – trombone, Scott Laningham – drums, Mike Malone – saxophone) in a discussion about jazz, post-war paranoia, and the Atomic Age, with a focus on the music of mid-century America, highlighting the work of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington. Beyond the old duck and cover drills of the Cold War, how do we cope with the constant threat of existential disaster? How does our music reflect our hopes and our anxieties? How do we distinguish between the treacle of intoxicating propaganda and the ineffable wonder that transforms our soul? What truly, conquers our fears?

Jazz and Apocalypse

In this edition of Liner Notes, Rabbi and jazz historian Neil Blumofe discusses how jazz can help us to prevail against notions of an appending apocalypse in our time.

Billy Strayhorn (11.29.15)

In this edition of Liner Notes, Rabbi and jazz historian Neil Blumofe, talks about the life and legacy of jazz legend Billy Strayhorn.

Jazz: Freedom and Liberty (7.5.15)

In this edition of Liner Notes, Rabbi and jazz historian Neil Blumofe, talks about the relationship between jazz and the idea of freedom in America.

He quotes how Duke Ellington describes jazz as,  “a good barometer of freedom.” Ellington said, “In its beginnings, the United States of America spawned certain ideals of freedom and independence through which, eventually, jazz was evolved, and the music is so free that many people say it is the only unhampered, unhindered expression of complete freedom yet produced in this country.”

As we celebrate this nation and the freedom and liberty we enjoy, may we also contemplate the ways in which we still carry around chains, and operate within the prisons of past oppression. Knowing that true emancipation can only be obtained, through the most difficult of all forms of liberation, freeing ourselves from ourselves.

 

Joe Sample (2.7.15)

Joe Sample was an American composer, pianist and keyboard player, and one of the founding members of The Jazz Crusaders. A native Texan, Sample who began his career in the style of Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, and went on to collaborate with, not only Miles Davis, but also Steely Dan, and Eric Clapton.

In this edition of Liner Notes, Rabbi  and jazz historian Neil Blumofe, talks about what it means to find truth in spirit and soul rather than in genre, and how Sample’s legacy can teach us to allow for unfamiliar narratives to inform our sense of  exploration within tradition.

Benny Golson (1.25.15)

Benny Golson is an American jazz saxophonist, composer and arranger who made his name with greats like John Coltrane, Art Blakey, and Lionel Hampton. Yet, perhaps his best known and recognized composition was for his friend, jazz trumpeter and legend Clifford Brown, who was taken at the age of 25 in a car accident. Golson wrote, “I Remember Clifford”, in the wake of his passing, and you can hear much of Brown’s rich and smooth texture throughout Golson’s piece.

In this edition of Liner Notes, Rabbi and jazz historian Neil Blumofe, talks about the life and work of Benny Golson. He explores what it means to memorialize loved ones who have passed before us, as their lives and souls remain vivid within us, even though their bodies are no longer here.

Clark Terry (12.14.14)

Clark Terry is an American born bebop trumpeter and pioneer of the flugelhorn. Born in the Midwest in 1920 he began his career under  the guidance of legends like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, and went on to educate generations of musicians including Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis and even Austin’s own Ephraim Owens.

In this edition of Liner Notes, Rabbi and jazz historian Neil Blumofe talks about how precious the life and work of Clark Terry is, as he plays the role, not only of a great musician, but as a hinge that links us to the past, present and future of jazz and America.

Mary Lou Williams (5.11.14)

Mary Lou Williams was a a giant in the jazz world in the beginning of the 20th century. As an arranger, composer and pianist she worked with Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman and went on to mentor jazz legends like Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.

In this installment of Liner Notes Rabbi, jazz historian and musician Neil Blumofe explores how the idea of a “Mother” can be extended beyond our biological lines to include those who love and nurture us, and help to bring us up in this world so we can in turn help and love others.

Happy Mother’s Day!

V&B: Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn and The Art of Invisibility

Billy Strayhorn, a long time muse and collaborator for the great bandleader Duke Ellington, brought depth and a languid power to the already sophisticated sound of Ellington’s orchestra.  Aching for love and significance, Strayhorn was openly gay in a time of repression and bias, composing ballads filled with longing and disarming vulnerability, which demanded the full attention of both the listener and the performer.

How do we strive when circumstances are stacked against us?  How do we make the best of our situation as we continue to dream?  How do we continue to hold out hope for consequential love, as we smolder?  Sometimes what we need most, is hidden, right in front of us, in plain sight.

During this evening, we engaged in both a spirited discussion about Strayhorn and his relationships to Ellington — discussing his music, and his legacy — and we enjoyed superlative live music with Ephraim Owens (trumpet), Brannen Temple (drums), Red Young (piano), Chris Maresh (bass), Andre Hayward (trombone) and Sam Lipman (Saxaphone).

Ellington and Strayhorn (10.27.13)

The collaboration of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn led to a collection of music that has spanned generations. Their music and compositions are seemingly effortlessly entwined.