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Thelonious Monk Society For the American Arts Celebrates Monk's 95th

Launches Major Art Exhibition in NYC
Angelika Beener
Staff Writer
angelikabeener[at]gmail.com / @alternate_takes

The Thelonious Monk Society For American Arts presents Reflections of Monk: Inspired Images of Music and Moods; an extensive multi-media exhibition, which features the work of forty-five nationally and internationally renowned artists including Romare Bearden, James Denmark, Paul Goodnight, Betty Blayton, Ann Tanksley, Verna Hart, and Chuck Stewart. The exhibit, which honors modern jazz giant Thelonious Monk, opens at the Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba in New York City’s East Village.

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Jazz Gallery Director Rio Sakairi Produces Benefit Album For Disaster Close to 'Home'

Angelika Beener
Staff Writer
angelikabeener[at]gmail.com / @alternate_takes

It is with great honor that I wrote the biography for this project. Please take a moment to read about it and support. We can make a difference.

-- Angelika

***
"Call me romantic, but I believe in the power of music and its ability to heal and uplift," proclaims Rio Sakairi, Director of Programming at The Jazz Gallery, an internationally recognized breeding ground for young musical talent in New York City. It is this sentiment that inspired her into action, when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan on March 11, 2011. Marking one of the worst natural disasters on record, the earthquake spawned devastating tsunamis and a subsequent nuclear crisis. The insurmountable destruction claimed tens of thousands of lives, and the world watched in horror. For Sakairi, it was more than an unfathomable tragedy; it literally hit home.

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Marcus Miller: Suspending the Rules

Angelika Beener
Staff Writer
angelikabeener[at]gmail.com / @alternate_takes

As Marcus Miller catches me up on a major project he’d been working on over the last couple years, he stops mid-sentence to give me some background, humbly explaining, “I had produced an album called Tutu for Miles Davis.”

No big whoop, right?

When you talk to the bassist, composer, producer, arranger, and film scorer, his down-to-earth and disarming demeanor is center stage, while his illustrious career speaks volumes for itself. In the twenty-six years since that landmark album with Davis, Miller has carved out his own distinguished path, setting himself miles apart from the pack. His collaborative efforts include an esteemed list of trailblazers across musical styles and genres like Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Mariah Carey and Herbie Hancock. He has also positioned himself as one of the most highly sought after black film scorers in Hollywood while simultaneously enjoying a successful solo career. On Renaissance (Concord Jazz), his eighth studio album as a leader, Miller’s message away from his instrument is just as profound as the music performed by he and his fresh band of dynamic, young players. “I think that music is really just a mirror to whatever’s going on in the world, and we’re just in a time where people are kind of playing it safe,” Miller proclaims. “People are nervous; people are thinking about money all the time, so they’re not taking the chances they used to take. It’s difficult -- even if you’re doing something interesting -- it’s difficult to get people to hear it. Record companies are just trying to stay in business so they’re not really concerned with presenting new, challenging music. So it’s more like the business people are calling the shots more than they used to. Back in the day, it was the music lovers who called the shots, and then they’d have to explain it to the business people. Not a lot of guys around like that anymore. Everybody’s just trying to keep the doors open. Music and business has always been an uncomfortable relationship, but right now the music is really suffering.”

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Orrin Evans Releases 'Flip the Script'

Angelika Beener
Staff Writer
angelikabeener[at]gmail.com / @alternate_takes

At an impressive nineteen albums in, pianist Orrin Evans sets out to do exactly as the title of his latest suggests. Flip The Script (Posi-Tone), out this month, refers not only to a last-minute repertoire overhaul just before the recording date, but the turning of a new leaf in his career and personal life.

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The Modern Standard: What Is It?

Angelika Beener
Staff Writer
angelikabeener[at]gmail.com / @alternate_takes

Inspired by spring’s indecisiveness a couple weeks ago, I decided not to brave the wind and rain this particular day, but to do some season-inspired cleaning instead. Thumbing through my music library, I settled on some classic Blue Note repertoire to help me through my chores: Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers’ Three Blind Mice, to be specific. As the gorgeous and fittingly titled Freddie Hubbard waltz “Up Jumped Spring” played, it got me to thinking about the layers of musical camaraderie jazz music has always had. Not just the cooperative nature of performing the music, but also in terms of what music was performed. The vast landscape of jazz repertoire which includes blues, Tin Pan Alley songs, show tunes, and pop songs, is most enriched by original compositions from jazz musicians themselves which, through the social contexts of the music, became standards in their own right. Songs from Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, and Wayne Shorter had become modern jazz standards of their times because of their popularity and exposure within the jazz community. I then started focusing on today, and my experiences at jazz performances. Yes, the headliner is playing his or her original work, and yes the band, on some occasions, may feature a tune or two from a bandmate, but what were the odds that they would play a tune by a musical peer beyond their own band? Slim to none, as far as I could tell. Which got me to thinking: What is the modern jazz standard?