Jazz Ensemble “SULA” performs @ BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center, NYC

   As part of the Jazz in Progress: The Next Faces of Jazz Series –  The Borough of Manhattan Community College Tribeca Performing Arts Center hosted a special evening of jazz from emerging jazz ensemble SULA on March 30th. The series is a partnership between BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center and the DC Jazz Festival. DCJazzPrix – a part of DC Jazz Fest, is a global competition created to recognize and support top rising jazz band talent and designed to help launch and promote the careers of emerging jazz ensembles. This past year’s competition was held on June 15th, 2017 at the University of the District of Columbia



    SULA, a NYC-based crossover jazz group led by drummer Diego Joaquin Ramirez were finalist of the 2017 Jazz Prix Competition. Formed in 2016, they’ve been refining their sound with individual performances around New York City. The line up includes Caili O’Doherty (piano), Michael Mayo (vocals), Wayne Tucker (trumpet), Diego Joaquin Ramirez (drums), Tamir Shmerling (bass), and Asaf Yuria (sax).


29512777_10156470163394728_7277381062008056468_n


 

    SULA’s sound is a unique fusion of traditional jazz and modern jazz with an occasional journey into other musical genres. The chemistry is ever present in their music as each highly talented musician maintain their own busy schedules performing at different jazz venues across New York City. Vocalist Michael Mayo has an extraordinary voice with wide range. A native of Los Angeles, Mayo received his Masters Degree at Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance (and only the third vocalist ever to be accepted into the program). At only age 24, he has already worked with jazz greats Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Luciana Souza, John Pattitucci and many others. Mayo’s silky vocals provide the perfect overtone and harmony in each composition whether joined by the piano, trumpet, saxophone, or by himself singing solo.  Emerging pianist Caili O’Doherty brings her own unique creativity to SULA by way of both piano and keyboard. A Portland, Oregon native and graduate of Berklee College of Music, Caili has had the opportunity to perform with Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Terri Lyne Carrington and many other distinguished jazz musicians at jazz festivals in Monterrey, Toronto, Panama, Dominican Republic and a host of other locations around the world. Hearing her play, one can fully understand why she’s in demand on the NYC jazz scene and beyond. O’Doherty’s solos are both mesmerizing and powerful, lending a dynamic piano sound that pulls SULA closer together throughout each composition.


SULA
SULA performing live @ BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center, NYC  3/30/18

 

    Drummer and founding member Diego Joaquin Ramirez was born in Ireland and played his first gig on drum set with his father’s band at age 4! He has attended Berklee College of Music, the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program and The Banff International Jazz Workshop with past performances at Montreal Jazz Festival, SXSW, and the DC Jazz Fest. Ramirez displays impeccable timing on SULA’s more complex arrangements with a disciplined ear for navigating through the softer tunes that highlight both Michael Mayo’s vocals and the horns. Bass player Tamir Shmerling, born in Israel, also studied at Berklee College of Music. He has recorded and performed with artists such as Terri Lyne Carrington, Kevin Eubanks, and Nona Hendrix at festivals in Tokyo, Toronto, Montreal, and Newport. Shmerling’s play on both upright and electric bass provide an amazing backdrop to SULA’s sound, giving the music a solid foundation.



    SULA brass Wayne Tucker and Asaf Yuria complete the ensemble. Tucker – trumpet player, composer, and arranger is based in New York City and a graduate of the Jazz Studies Program at SUNY Purchase. He has performed with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Taylor Swift, and Ne-Yo with television appearances on The Today Show, America’s Got Talent, and Ellen DeGeneres. Tucker’s trumpet playing is skillfully varied to be improvisational when belting out solos and conforming when matching the saxophone of Yuria along with the silky voice of Michael Mayo. His stage presence exudes strict attention and energy into each song. Saxophone player Asaf Yuria is one of the leading young voices of the New York jazz scene. He graduated with honors from the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music under the tutelage of music masters like Reggie Workman, Billy Harper, George Cables and more. He has performed with notable musicians such as Freddie Redd, Kirk Lightsy and drummer Jimmy Cobb. Yuria’s saxophone style seperates him from many others. He plays with power and passion – something that is often void in many modern jazz ensembles. His solos were amazing and much like Tucker on the trumpet, he also demonstrates skillful discipline when matching his fellow bandmates to provide a dynamic unified sound.


SULA 2
SULA performing live @ BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center, NYC  3/30/18

    SULA’s perfomance at BMCC-TPAC capped off an amazing exhibition of jazz talent made possible by the partnership between BMCC-Tribeca Performing Arts Center and DC Jazz Festival. The partnership is critical to the development and legacy of jazz music in all forms. Having had the opportunity to hear all three finalist in last year’s DC Jazz Prix (AMP Trio, SULA, and Ernest Turner Trio) along with the 2016 DC Jazz Prix winners (New Century Jazz Quintet), it is clear to witness how vital these competitions are at promoting and supporting emerging jazz band talent. Not only do the ensemble members play at an exceptionally talented level, but they also reflect an impressionable maturity and demeanor that resembles those greats that came before them. The success of this partnership and program has the possibility to catch on in major cities across the nation and most importantly revive the rich legacy of jazz music. 

SULA is emerging onto the jazz scene with beautifully composed music and a diversely talented group of young musicians eager to share their talents with the world. Be sure to check them out!

 

– Jamaal Bailey  (Urban Heat Advisory) 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Kenny Garrett Delivers on Recent Visit to Georgetown’s Blues Alley



 

      Blues Alley – long known to be one of DC’s most cherished and memorable jazz clubs, has hosted countless jazz greats over the years. Founded in 1965 and located in a quaint Georgetown alley, this historic venue has been a favorite of early jazz legends as: Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Sarah Vaughn, and Ramsey Lewis to contemporary artists as: Grover Washington, Jr., Tony Bennett, Rachelle Ferrell and Wynton Marsalis20180422_121628

Jazz musicians who have recorded a Live at Blues Alley album include Dizzy Gillespie, Ahmad Jamal, Ramsey Lewis, Wynton Marsalis, Stanley Turrentine, Eva Cassidy and Grover Washington, Jr.

Urban Heat Advisory recently visited Blues Alley to catch one of our favorite saxophonist – Kenny Garrett perform with his quintet. Garrett was in town for a grueling four day / two shows a night stint before traveling up to NYC to do yet another at the famed Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village. A testament to the longevity and touring experience of one the greatest saxophonist of our time. Kenny Garrett was born in Detroit, Michigan and first joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1978 led by Duke’s son Mercer Ellington. He later released his first recording as a band leader in 1984 entitled “Introducing Kenny Garrett” and has since recorded an extensive catalog of groundbreaking albums. Over the last thirty years Garrett has performed and recorded with countless jazz greats such as Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, and Pharaoh Sanders – but most notably, his five year stint as sideman of the late great Miles Davis. Kenny Garrett has always brought a vigorous yet melodic, and truly distinctive, alto saxophone sound to each musical situation. The Kenny Garrett Quintet displayed that distinctive sound for a packed house in DC!


20180422_121404


 

    It was the final show of the Blues Alley gig on a rainy chilly Sunday night. A line quickly began to form outside the club and down the alley. The early show could be heard from outside and Garrett’s saxophone was in full blast with the crowd erupting in applause. The Kenny Garrett Quintet consist of Kenny Garrett on saxophone; McClenty Hunter (Drums); Vernell Brown (Piano); Corcoran Holt (Bass) and Rudy Bird (Percussion). An eclectic mix of younger musicians form this amazing quintet that support Garrett’s sound remarkably well. Both Corcoran Holt and McClenty Hunter are DC natives, making this tour stop even more special. Holt’s aggressive play is highlighted with funky riffs and basslines that set the foundation for Garrett’s compositions. Hunter’s drumming is strong yet defined and reminiscent of the great Elvin Jones with an added youthfulness and familiarity of other musical genres including DC’s own go-go music. Pianist Vernell Brown provided an interesting melodic approach on some of his more complex solos, aligning with Garrett’s soul-tinged saxophone sound. Veteran percussionist Rudy Bird has also performed and recorded with Miles Davis – among others as The Duke Ellington Orchestra, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, and NAS. Bird’s rhythmic timing and patterns add the extra dynamic to each composition. Garrett’s quintet is sharp and precise – a testament to his ability to recognize talent and to also fuse newer creative influences to his timeless arrangements. 


20180422_112036


 

The quintet performed multiple arrangements from Kenny Garrett’s latest release “Do Your Dance“.  On the mesmerizing tune “Philly“, Garrett delivered a riveting solo. The title track captured the audience with Garrett passing the microphone around the audience having everyone sing out “Do Your Dance!” The response was amazing transforming the tiny jazz club into a funky backyard party with jazz-goers on their feet dancing at their tables. Garrett also delivered his tribute to Wayne Shorter entitled “Wayne’s Thang” which offers an interesting mix of swing and soul backed by the dynamic rhythmic drumming from McClenty Hunter and blues infused bass line from Corcoran Holt. For an encore, Garrett let the band highlight their talents over a solid go-go beat bringing the DC audience to their feet! Garrett improvised along with the musicians for a rousing close to a stellar performance! 

A remarkably humble musician with an incredulous resume – Kenny Garrett gave the crowd another excellent performance here at Blues Alley in DC. Similar to his amazing performance last summer here at DC’s Jazz Festival, Garrett gives his all in each and every show. His ability to bridge musical talent from past to present to future is evident on his sound and allows for the preservation of a cherished music. You know the concert was stellar when you find yourself looking up his next tour dates shortly after leaving the venue.

 

For info / tour dates: www.kennygarrett.com

 

 –  Jamaal Bailey


20180422_121754


 

 

Transblucency: Duke Ellington, The Washingtonians, and the realm of the visual – A Lecture by Robert O’Meally @ Library of Congress

“Music is how I live, why I live, and how I will be remembered.”                                                                                                                                       – Duke Ellington 1974

20180514_232613


    Duke Ellington – world renowned composer, pianist, and jazz orchestra band leader is widely regarded as a pivotal figure in the history of jazz.  Ellington embraced the phrase “beyond category” as a liberating principle, referring to his music as part of the more general category of American Music, rather than to a musical genre such as jazz. This proud defiance of being categorized and restricted to a certain musical genre allowed Ellington to elevate his music to new heights. The Duke has recorded for most American record companies of his era, performed in films while also composing scores for several, and composed stage musicals over an illustrious fifty year career. A master at writing miniatures for the three-minute 78 rpm recording format, Ellington wrote more than one thousand compositions; his extensive body of work is the largest recorded personal jazz legacy, with many of his works having become standards. 


20180513_150942[1]
Original Manuscript of Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the A Train” composition (1939) on display @ Library of Congress as part of the Jazz Lecture Series

    As part of the Jazz Scholar Lecture Series presented by the Library of Congress, Columbia University Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English, Robert O’Meally, PhD lectured on the life and music of Duke Ellington. O’Meally is currently the director of Columbia’s Center for Jazz Studies and an internationally recognized scholar of African American music and art in American culture. His books include Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday, The Craft of Ralph Ellison, and Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey. Like Duke Ellington, O’Meally was also born in Washington, DC and noted the geographical significance of lecturing on The Duke at the historic Library of Congress in his own hometown. The Library’s Music Division also offered a curated display of rare Duke Ellington photographs, memorabilia and other items from its collections as part of this event.


20180514_232749
Robert O’Meally PhD lecturing on the life of Duke Ellington as part of The Jazz Lecture Series @ Library of Congress, Washington, DC  5/10/18

 

    O’Meally’s lecture explored the true sophistication and grandeur of Edward Kennedy Ellington – the man we all know as “Duke“. The name given to him by his childhood friends often noting his dapper style and noble etiquette. Born in Northwest  Washington, DC in 1899, Ellington grew up around music. His parents (both accomplished pianist themselves) had young Duke taking piano lessons at the age of seven –  however he was more interested in playing baseball. In his early teens, Ellington would sneak into local clubs and halls where his exposure to ragtime musicians truly ignited his passion for the piano. While Ellington learned fundamentals of music theory and composition, he also steeped himself in the techniques of non-schooled jazz and blues musicians, whose rawness and passion he admired and sought to duplicate. Soon after forming his own group, Duke began playing local cafes and clubs which quickly flourished to performances at high society balls and embassy parties in Virginia. 


20180515_162409
Original Manuscript of Billy Strayhorn & Duke Ellington’s Total Jazz composition and original concert programs on display @ Library of Congress as part of the Jazz Lecture Series

 


 

     The performances thrived, as Duke Ellington’s band The Washingtonians played to black and white audiences (a rare feat during that time of segregation). In 1923, Ellington moved to Harlem, New York ultimately becoming a part of the Harlem Renaissance movement. While in New York, he secured a lucrative and lengthy stay leading his own orchestra as the house band at the famed Cotton Club. Ellington’s orchestra included some of jazz music’s most prominent musicians: Charlie Mingus (bass), Louie Bellson (drums), Billy Strayhorn (pianist / composer) just to name a few. The Duke Ellington Orchestra was on it’s way to becoming a household name for decades playing gigs throughout New York City, then around the country, and ultimately across the globe. Ellington’s signature compositions as Mood Indigo, In A Sentimental Mood, and It Don’t Mean A Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing) became early jazz standards for music lovers all over the world!


 


    Robert O’Meally reminded the audience of a very different period in time back when racial inequalities plagued the music and film industry. However, the Duke remained unwavering in his decision to appear on film only as himself—as composer, bandleader, and pianist but never in any of the roles typically reserved for African Americans on the silver screen of his era.  Black, Brown and Beige (1943), was Ellington’s first extended composition and was introduced during his first ever appearance at Carnegie Hall. The composition was “a parallel to the history of the Negro in America, dedicated to telling the story of African-Americans, the place of slavery and the church in their history.” Many regard it as Ellington’s longest and most ambitious composition. He later worked with award-winning actor James Stewart in Anatomy of A Murder (1959) and also with Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier in Paris Blues (1961). Ellington had pioneered his way in both music and film while maintaining his dignity and charm all the while. O’Meally shared that it was widely known in New York City’s African American community of The Duke’s live broadcasts from the segregated Cotton Club on Manhattan’s WHN radio station, allowing Duke’s orchestra to be heard in homes across the city as well as in front of a live audience. This gave Ellington the unique opportunity to play a wide range of music from ragtime to swing while connecting with both his audience in the Cotton Club and all through the city streets of New York City.


20180514_232219


    Today, Ellington’s influence can be heard in nearly every genre of music that exist. Countless musicians such as Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, and Stevie Wonder have composed tributes for him, preserving his significant legacy in the African American community as well as in the music community. Miles Davis once said, “At least one day out of the year all musicians should just put their instruments down, and give thanks to Duke Ellington.” With an extraordinary career spanning over fifty years, The Duke earned fourteen Grammy awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966) on twenty-four nominations.  A recipient of The Presidential Medal of Freedom, The Legion of Honor in France, an honorary PhD from Berklee College of Music, and a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his lifetime contributions to music and culture. Duke Ellington remains one of the most accomplished and significant musicians the world has known. His legacy remains strong and cherished back home on the streets of the Nation’s Capital. 

For more information on Duke Ellington: www.dukeellington.com

 

 

-Jamaal Bailey (Urban Heat Advisory)

*Special Thanks to Anne McLean @ The Library of Congress

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging Young Jazz Ensemble “AMP Trio featuring Tahira Clayton” Delivers a Stellar Set @ BMCC Tribeca

The jazz world has gained a new and dynamic sound with the young ensemble AMP Trio featuring Tahira Clayton. This trending new jazz group delivers powerful and inspiring compositions that take the listener on a journey into the creativity and chemistry of an astoundingly talented vocalist and an amazing trio of musicians.  

 


 

  Jazz In Progress: The Next Faces of Jazz is a partnership between BMCC (Borough of Manhattan Community College) Tribeca Performing Arts Center and the DC Jazz Festival. DC JazzPrix (which is part of DC Jazz Fest) is a global competition created to recognize and support top rising jazz band talent and designed to help launch and promote the careers of emerging jazz ensembles. Last year’s competition was held at the University of the District of Columbia on June 15, 2017. Among the finalist competing were the Ernest Turner Trio, SULA, and DC JazzPrix winners AMP Trio featuring Tahira Clayton.  

 Urban Heat Advisory was in attendance last June to see the talented competition in which all three bands performed exceptionally well. But it was the final performance from AMP Trio featuring Tahira Clayton that captured the audience and grand prize at DC JazzPrix. Almost instantly, their sound and deliverance captured the audience. It was during this extraordinary set that we were almost instantly reassured in the future of excellent jazz music. Musically, the ensemble compliments each other exceptionally well exuding a powerful stage presence. The music is well composed and conscious, providing plenty of substance that every listener can relate to. They have a special chemistry when performing together and with the young ensemble beginning to create a buzz in the jazz community, expect AMP Trio featuring Tahira Clayton to reach new heights!  


DT60OPaX4AEyeMG

AMP Trio featuring Tahira Clayton receiving the grand prize after winning the 2017 DC JazzPrix Competition @ University of District of Columbia, Washington DC (6/15/17).

    Comprised of vocalist Tahira Clayton, pianist Addison Frei, drummer Matt Young, and bassist Perrin Grace, AMP Trio was formed in 2011 while students at the prestigious University of North Texas Jazz Program. Their first release “Flow” (Armored Records) was followed by performances at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival and the Velvet Note in Atlanta. In 2015, they introduced vocalist Tahira Clayton with their release “m(y)our world” which received international airplay and reached #24 on the JazzWeek Charts. During this time AMP Trio performed nationwide at such venues as: the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival (Rockville, MD), Kerrytown Concert House (Ann Arbor, MI), The Kitchen Cafe (Dallas, TX) and the Cell Theatre, Rockwood Music Hall, and Shapeshifter Lab (New York). Their most recent release “Three” was highlighted by a Japanese tour which included a cultural exchange workshop sponsored by the US Consulate of Sapporo. With winning the 2017 DC JazzPrix, AMP Trio featuring Tahira Clayton will be performing as part of the line-up for the 2018 DC Jazz Festival alongside jazz greats and receiving the exposure deserved for this young up and coming jazz ensemble. 


Perrin Grace

AMP Trio featuring Tahira Clayton:  (from left to right – Perrin Grace (Bass), Tahira Clayton (vocals), Addison Frei (Piano), Matt Young (Drums)


 

On a chilly rainy night in Manhattan, AMP Trio took to the stage unleashing their unique sound to a diverse audience of jazz lovers both young and old. Their opening set began with just the trio, each performing a selection from their own compositions as the crowd watched in excitement and the energy began to build. Soon after, vocalist Tahira Clayton joined the trio onstage perfectly adding her silky smooth vocals to the more recent songs such as “Dallas” and “Stand by You” – two of their more popular selections. The trio of musicians often locked into their own instruments pitch adding both substance and depth into each selection. Tahira Clayton’s vocals pour over the melodies perfectly, lending to a remarkable chemistry that makes their own sound very distinct and enriching. The audience could only watch in amazement as Clayton belted out beautiful improvisational scats that bring to mind the great vocalist such as Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald. The group’s ability to cover traditional jazz standards as well as incorporate modern musical techniques is what makes them so uniquely gifted. 


IMG_4916


   Addison Frei – a piano genius in his own right, binds the group into each melody. His diversity is ever present while incorporating many different forms of music into one tune. A remarkable talent able to combine classical, jazz, blues, and many other musical genres all into one composition. Bassist Perrin Grace has a unique style of perfectly adding just the right bass sound to each song. The ever present and important eye contact is always there when he dives into his solos, he has definitely mastered the upright bass and at a remarkably young age. Drummer Matt Young redefines the art of drumming on each tune, adding sounds from every part of the drumset along with using crafty instrumentation to deliver sounds that we never knew existed. His rudiments are sharp and precise which make it even more enjoyable to watch him perform. Vocalist Tahira Clayton brings the trio together each time she adds in her beautifully melodic voice to a piece. Her vocal range is exceptional, and she sings with a boldness and passion that project her promising future in music. These musicians are well versed professionals regularly performing solo and various projects in New York City and Texas and occasionally internationally making it extra rewarding to hear them together as that tight knit unit that they are and will always be. 


Amp Trio Live @ BMCC, Tribeca, NYC


  The more you hear of AMP Trio featuring Tahira Clayton, the more captivated you become to their uplifting sound. Be sure to check them out this summer as they perform in June @ the 2018 DC Jazz Festival with Maceo Parker, Robert Glasper, Leslie Odom, Jr. and many more. 

Check out the AMP Trio Website:    www.amptrio.com

@amptriomusic on Facebook

@AMPTrio on Twitter


Urban Heat Advisory w/ AMP Trio featuring Tahira Clayton

Urban Heat Advisory w/ AMP Trio featuring Tahira Clayton after their performance at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center 2/10/18


 

-Jamaal Bailey (Urban Heat Advisory)

-Eric Bailey (Urban Heat Advisory)

-William Bailey (Urban Heat Advisory)

Photo courtesy of: Will Meyerhofer 

In Memoriam: Peggy Cooper Cafritz (1947 – 2018) Educator, Activist, Philanthropist; Founder of Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC


peggy-cooper-cafritz


 

Urban Heat Advisory sends our sincere condolences and prayers to the family and friends of DC’s beloved Peggy Cooper Cafritz (1947 – 2018).  A true visionary and icon in the capital city – she was an activist, educator, philanthropist, and African American art collector. It was in 1974 that Cooper Cafritz founded the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC which became a model for magnet schools across the United States producing a wealth of renowned artists and performers. Her tireless efforts to champion education and arts in the community made her a prominent and well-respected DC icon. 

Born in 1947 in Mobile, Alabama –  Peggy Cooper Cafritz entered George Washington University in 1964 and formed a Black student union to challenge racial segregation on campus. In the summer of 1968 (soon after the riots) she created a pilot workshop in creative arts which would later form into the famed Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Ms. Cooper Cafritz would go on to serve as President of the DC School Board; as chairman emeritus of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities; and as a member of the board at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

   A devoted collector of African American art, Cafritz had amassed one of the largest collections of both African American and African art. Her hilltop mansion estate was a popular meeting place to link policymakers, cultural leaders and real estate developers. Unfortunately, after an accidental fire destroyed her estate in 2009, most of her extensive art collection was lost. For over five decades, Ms. Cooper Cafritz became a fixture of Washington’s educational, cultural and charitable firmament, as much a socialite as a social activist.  A long-time champion of arts and education, who tirelessly tried to mend many of the city’s social and racial wounds; created one of the nation’s leading arts-intensive high schools; and capped her civic involvement with a six-year tenure as D.C. school board president. May your legacy live on through your works. 


 

 

Peggy Cooper Cafritz, African American Art Collector


 

From Art to Activism and Awareness: An Interview with Graphic Designer Maria Papaefstathiou

 ART –  /ärt/  – the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

ACTIVISM – /ac·tiv·ism/ – the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.

AWARENESS – /a·ware·ness/ – concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development. knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.

       The use of art as a means to bring about awareness and activism to the many moral and social issues affecting us as a society is not uncommon when considering the performing arts (such as music and film). The artist is able to capture the attention of the audience and instill a passion to take a stand and become an activist for change. However, with art in the visual form (painting, graphic design, sculptured), there must be a strong connection between the artist and the viewer. A connection through visual understanding and recognition that forms and drives our consciousness. Images that draw us closer to the art and ultimately to the message being portrayed in the piece. For example, it could be the eyes of the subject in the artwork or the color scheme used that gives us a special connection to the art and ultimately a need to become more involved in bringing an issue to the forefront. The famous quote “Art Imitates Life” could not be more true right now more than ever, where our global society is in dire need of upliftment and a collective desire to bring about change. 

    The amazingly talented graphic design artist and activist Maria Papaefstathiou is a shining example of how some of today’s most acclaimed artist are using their artistic excellence to bring about awareness and activism to some of today’s most serious and challenging issues. Her work has been featured across the world – from exhibitions in Johannesburg, South Africa to South Korea to Mexico and Taiwan. Maria’s art can be described as boldly-radiant and detailed, but more importantly her works are thought-provoking, informative and educational.  She has joined countless crusades against injustice and inhumanity all over the world and raised awareness to some of the many social issues that plague those whom may not have a voice to be heard. 


 

Freedom of Expression

“Freedom of Expression with Responsibility” by Maria Papaefstathiou (2015)


   Maria is a native of Athens, Greece – which could only contribute to her vast knowledge and understanding of great art. Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world and a mecca of architectural history, archaeological study, and ancient art. At age 15, she began designing her own simple advertisements just for fun – which soon turned her attention to graphic design helping to fuel her passion for various forms of art. It was in 2011 when Maria designed her very first social design piece after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. From that moment forward, she has lent her artistic talents to produce artwork designed at raising awareness on many issues such as: poverty, rape, education, autism, lymphoma and breast cancer. Her artwork relies on her own formula for success – by creating strong and powerful images that bring attention to social issues. Images so powerful that they engage the viewer and make them actually read the message, which are often strong one-word messages that intrigue the viewer to research and grow interest about the issue being brought to light. 


maria_01

Maria Papaefstathiou pictured with her Portrait of Emperor Haile Selassie I poster (2016)


    While browsing the internet looking for inspiring works, Maria stumbled upon a gallery of amazing posters on the Flickr account of Michael Thompson aka “Freestylee”. A native of Jamaica, Thompson was quite talented with graphic design and lived in the U.S. in Philadelphia. As an avid fan of reggae music, he began to grow concern and disappointment at how the culturally-rich and poignant music of his homeland was being exploited for huge profits in other countries such as England, France and America while the people of his country (where the true origins of reggae began) continued to live in poverty. This frustration sparked his vision to establish the International Reggae Poster Contest aimed at redefining the visual language of reggae and shining a creative spotlight on the music’s positive global impact. The poster contest is held annually across the globe raising money to help fund the Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston, Jamaica – a non-profit vocational and educational school for at-risk boys and young men from Kingston’s impoverished inner-city communities. Michael Thompson’s poster became the new school logo. 

 


06-alpha-medium-res

“Alpha Ska” by Michael Thompson (2013) is now the official logo of the Alpha Boys’ School in Kinsgton, Jamaica


 
   Through a mutual love of graphic art design, reggae music and raising awareness, a strong and productive creative partnership was formed between Maria Papaefstathiou and Michael Thompson. The realization of Thompson’s vision began to come to fruition, with the two producing a large collection of powerful artwork honoring icons in the reggae industry as Thompson also wanted to create a reggae hall of fame to give thanks to the many artists that helped make reggae music a global music.  Unfortunately, Michael Thompson passed away suddenly in 2016, leaving behind a large collective of mourning family, friends, fans and supporters of his work. However, his vision and passion still remain strong with Maria continuing to drive his legacy and carry out the International Reggae Poster Contest. Just recently, the IRPC hosted it’s 20th Art of Reggae Exhibition at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica and a beautiful tribute to Michael Thompson titled “Freestylee Roots Art Exhibition” in Kingston, Jamaica.

 irc2015_0030

Maria Papaefstathiou and the late Michael “Freestylee” Thompson, co-founders of the International Reggae Poster Contest


   We at Urban Heat Advisory are forever grateful to have had the opportunity to know Michael Thompson aka “Freestylee”. Thompson shared his own wisdom and guidance with UHA during our initial launch which helped us on our own concept and vision. His mentorship and support was strong and assuring, as he was always willing to share his knowledge and wisdom with those around him. We cherish the time spent with him at both his “World A Reggae” Exhibitions held at the Jamaican Embassy and OAS Headquarters in Washington, DC.  Urban Heat Advisory first met Michael Thompson in 2013 through mutual friend Tania Dwyer.  Dwyer, a longtime supporter of the International Reggae Poster Contest and The Alpha Boys School, refers to Maria Papaefsthiou as her best friend.


“Maria has such a kind-hearted humanitarian soul – always striving to enlighten and awaken the world to the issues affecting society through her incredible artwork. She is the driving force behind the IRPC after the sudden passing of our good friend Michael, and has taken it upon herself to represent and fulfill the vision of the International Reggae Poster Contest.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             – Tania Dwyer


We recently spoke to Maria Papaefstathiou to give an in-depth Q&A on her artwork, career and future. 
 ===========================================================================
      

UHA: Were you born in Athens, Greece? Have you always lived there? 

Maria: I was born in Germany to Greek parents and came to Greece to live at 4 years old. 

UHA: Does being from such a historic country with so many ancient landmarks inspire your passion to create works of art? 

Maria: Being here and encountering the many different art influences from ancient times to the present have definitely inspired me. Even if I don’t consciously realize it, the images are engraved in my mind. 

UHA: When did you realize your passion and gift for art? What was your first significant piece? 

Maria: I’ve been drawing since early in my childhood, but what made me choose Graphic Design was my inclination around the age of 15 to design my own simple advertisements just for fun. Knowing myself and how easily I get bored with any kind of job, I was looking for a career in the future that could constantly inspire me. And I thought I would keep being enthusiastic about Graphic Design. The more I was getting into it though, the more passionate I became about all kinds of other art. One of my dreams is to one day have a big room full of works of art where I would spend all day. 

UHA: What directed you towards graphic design? Was there any one specific issue that inspired you to concentrate on designing artwork that included a message towards social issues? 

Maria: My very first pieces of social design were done in 2011 after the big earthquake in Japan. Since then, I’ve designed posters on poverty, rape, lymphoma awareness, breast cancer awareness, autism and education. 


 

8838ba11054115.560f127a463f9

“Stop Poachers” art design (inspired by the Kenya: Save Our Heritage Initiative) by Maria Papaefstathiou (2013)


 

UHA: Your art is extremely powerful and captures the soul . On many of your pieces, the portraits are exceptionally detailed and so much is revealed in the eyes of the great people that you illustrate. Any specific reason for that? 

Maria: Thank you for your wonderful words! I’m glad that you noticed the eyes in my portraits. Truth is, I spend more time on them the rest of the design because eyes reveal who we are. Many people tell me that I manage to capture their soul through my art. And it is said that the eyes are the window to our souls. 

UHA: Can you explain the process of being able to bring attention to the many social issues that affect us all by expression and communication of graphically designed illustrations? 

Maria: To bring attention to the social issues what you actually need is a strong image. Something that will capture the viewers attention and make them read your message. Then you need a strong message – even it’s just one word, anything you believe would intrigue the viewer to either search and read more about the issue you are speaking about or to motivate them to start thinking about it. 


 

Print

Tribute to the late Greek film actress Zoe Laskari by Maria Papaefstathiou (2017)


 

UHA: The late pioneering graphic artist and activist Michael Thompson was, and will always be a tremendous source of inspiration and wisdom for us here at Urban Heat Advisory. We thought of him as a mentor and dear friend and were proud to have known him. How did you first meet Michael? 

Maria: I met Michael Thompson through my blog – graphicart-news.com. I was looking for inspiring works on the internet and stumbled upon Michael’s Flickr account and his amazing posters. One, two articles at the start. An interview later and a linkup on Facebook were the first steps to an amazing collaboration and friendship. 

Michael shared with me the idea to create the International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC) as a platform to kick-start a catalyst idea and a global campaign to create a museum to narrate the experience of global reggae. A museum that will celebrate the richness of the music’s history and attract reggae-lovers from all over the world. Michael’s vision was to see the erection of a Reggae Hall of Fame Museum and Performance Center on the beautiful Kingston Harbor in the capital of Jamaica. 


12289569_450757611775623_2034563257857875213_n

CD cover art for reggae artist Puma Ptah’s release of “In One Accord” by Maria Papaefstathiou (2015)


 

     Thompson, who grew up in Jamica in the sixties, was disappointed that countries such as America, France and England were making huge profits from the island’s music. And the people of his country (where reggae music started) continued to live in poverty. At the same time, new great talents were rising… and that was the spark of his dream! 

    The International Reggae Poster Contest was established to help redefine the visual language of reggae and to shine a creative spotlight on the music’s positive global impact. The term “Reggae” to us represents all the popular Jamaican musical genres: Ska, Rocksteady, Roots Reggae, Dub, Dancehall and the unique Jamaican Sound System. As the world-famous reggae band Third World rightly sings – “How can a BIG music come from a little island?”

   It is our recognition of what reggae has achieved globally that led us to launch the International Reggae Poster Contest. Reggae is no longer Jamaican music, but now belonging to the whole world. It’s a music that brings people together. The theme of the contest – “Toward a Reggae Hall of Fame: Celebrating Great Jamaican Music” is the mantra that drives our work and the embedded message in the contest and exhibition. 

 Another grand vision of the contest is to celebrate the amazing Jamaican institution, Alpha Boys’ School, which nurtured this music. Alpha Institute is a non-profit vocational and general educational school for at-risk boys and young men from Kingston’s impoverished inner-city communities. Since 1884, the Religous Sisters of Mercy, a Catholic order of nuns, have been running the school as part of their mission to serve the poor, the sick and the uneducated. The primary objective of Alpha is empowerment and transformation of young men through education and skills training , particularly those who have little or no opportunity for education. 

  Since the early 1890’s, the Alpha music program has been the most prolific with graduates becoming respected internationally for their accomplishments in jazz, ska, reggae and pop music. From Blue Note jazz musicians like Dizzy Reece to ska music pioneers the Skatalites and reggae icons such as Johnny Osbourne and Winston Foster aka “Yellowman” (a 1997 Grammy nominee), Alpha’s past ‘boys’ are synonymous worldwide with the development of Jamaican pop music. Alpha is a “dream factory”, according to National Public Radio (NPR), for “legendary musicians” (Jamaica Gleaner) who “helped release the spirit of one of the most musical islands in the world” (The Telegraph / UK).


Reggae artist showing support for The Alpha Boys School; (from left to right), Chronixx, Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace and Jesse Royal. 


 

  On my first trip to Jamaica, I had the pleasure of getting to know the teachers, the students and the buildings of the Alpha Boys School, where music is high on the curriculum. One of Michael Thompson’s posters became the new school logo. The poster was silk printed by the well-known printer “Tind” in Greece. This poster was the inspiration for talking to students and teachers about this method of printing. They immediately loved the technique and soon included it in the program when they began printing their first t-shirts with the new school logo to be sold online. 

UHA: Outside of art, what are your interests? 

Maria:  My first interest outside the world of art is the art of raising children. I mean my children. And then the art of giving. I believe this world can change if we all give to each other. And I’m not referring to money – but to love, help, anything each of us can share. Not everybody has money, but we all have a heart. Ad this art of giving is what made me accept Michael’s invitation to start the IRPC. From the very beginning he said, “there is no money in it.”

UHA: What are your future goals? 

Maria:  Well, I wouldn’t say that I am a person with future goals. My only goal is to keep learning and to keep trying. I wish to have the strength to continue the International Reggae Poster Contest and to showcase the work of Michael Thompson. I have started a series of portraits on Greek cultural personalities. I want this to grow. Parallel to that, I want to continue working on Jamaican cultural themes. 

UHA: With the current ever-changing issues that we are currently plagued with, what role can the arts community play in shaping the future? 

Maria:   Designers around the world are using posters as a global platform to carry messages on several issues that are globally troubling. Successful posters, whether cultural or social, can communicate their messages to anyone in any country in almost any language. The poster itself and the art community will not change the world. But we have the most beautiful weapon to provoke discussion and challenge individuals to answer the call to action.

===========================================================================

maria_10
 ===========================================================================
Exhibitions
– (2012)  Posters for Japan exhibition curated by Green+You in South Korea
– (2012 – 2017)  World A Reggae” and “The Art of Reggae exhibitions by the International Reggae Poster Contest in Jamaica, Athens and Thessaloniki Greece, Mexico, Washington, Spain and Cuba
–  (2013)   Innovation for Education exhibition in Turkey
–  (2014)   Nelson Poster Project in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa and  other international cities
–  Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital a Permanent Exhibition in Johannesburg, South Africa
–  (2014)  Jazz wRuinach in Poland at the 10th International Jazz Festival
–  (2015)   ε/Design your Expression in Greece curated by Toolkit Startup
–  (2015)  W|Design for life Breast Cancer Awareness in Greece curated by Toolkit Startup
–  (2015) 1st International Poster Festival of Shenzhen Exhibition in China by Li Xu
–  (2015)  Right to Decide exhibition at AEIVA Gallery, by Posters Without borders, 2015
–  (2016)  BikeArt in Athens, Greece
–  (2016 – 2017)  Women’s Rights Are Human Rights exhibition, curated by Elizabeth Resnick and exhibited in USA, Taiwan, Mexico, and Poland

–  (2017)  BoobsArtcurated by FactorySeeds in Belgium


 

Check out Maria Papaefstathiou’s Portfolio @:     www.itsjustme.net

Maria Papaefstathiou’s blog:   www.graphicart-news.com

The International Reggae Poster Contest website:  www.reggaepostercontest.com

 


 

*** Urban Heat Advisory would like to thank Maria Papaefstathiou for her time and energy and for allowing us to share her talents with the world. Be sure to check out her beautiful collection of art. 
 
*** We will be releasing a tribute feature in honor of our good friend Michael Thompson aka “Freestylee” very soon! 

-By: Jamaal Bailey (Urban Heat Advisory) 

Photos by: Fanis Logothetis

 

 

 

UHA Artist Spotlight presents: Bernadette Thompson – Celebrity Nail Art Manicurist


(Urban Heat presents: “Artist Spotlight” – A monthly in-depth feature highlighting artists locally and around the globe who excel in the Arts.)



 

When it comes to nail art, Bernadette Thompson has it NAILED! The world-renowned nail art manicurist has been a driving force and trendsetter in the fashion and beauty scene for over 25 years. Her nail art has been worn by many of today’s most high-profile celebrities such as: Beyonce, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Rihanna – and that’s just to name a few.



Bernadette has become one of the most sought-after nail artist in the industry with her work gracing the covers of almost every major fashion magazine in circulation: Vogue, Elle, Allure and Essence to name a few, while also working closely with iconic fashion designers Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton amongst many others.

logo

     The Bernadette Thompson Nail Collection – her trending colorful line of nail polish with catchy names as: “Effortless Beauty”“Say My Name”, “Leap of Faith” and “Orange You Lucky” all have their own unique and significant meaning behind each radiant color. Recently being honored by the Museum of Modern Art as part of their current exhibit “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” (on exhibit through January 28, 2018) are Thompson’s “Money Nails” (created in the mid 1990’s) which debuted in a Vogue magazine photo shoot and later worn by Bad Boy artist Lil Kim and inspired from her Junior Mafia single “Get Money”.  As a very close friend of the Urban Heat Advisory family for many years, we affectionately know her as “Bern” – a truly creative artist with a beautiful spirit and personality and we’re honored to have her take time out of her busy schedule to give us the opportunity to present her as our featured artist in the spotlight.


 

   While working in her Yonkers, NY nail salon back in 1992, Bernadette had just finished up a nail manicure and polish on her childhood friend LaTonya. LaTonya’s sister whom happened to be recording her first album at the time excitedly asked LaTonya ” Who did your nails?” and when she responded “Bernadette”, the artist excitedly asked “Bernadette from Yonkers? Get Bernadette over here!” That up and coming artist working on her first album (LaTanya’s little sister) happens to be current nine time Grammy winner Mary J. Blige! A limo was sent to pick Bernadette up from her salon and she recalls spending three days at her home talking, laughing and doing nails. From that moment on, Bernadette was regularly manicuring and polishing Mary J Blige’s nails weekly and after introducing her to Sean “Diddy” Combs she became a regular manicurist for Diddy’s label artists. Combs would soon refer her to internationally acclaimed photographer Guzman opening the door for Bernadette Thompson to receive her first major photo shoot assignment for a Louis Vuitton ad campaign which would last another six years. 



 

     Soon after the ad campaign with Louis Vuitton, Bernadette Thompson quickly became a highly sought after nail art manicurist for some of the top names in both the fashion and entertainment industry. Her skillful artistry was soon showcased on centerfold covers in Allure, Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Essence and so many other fashion circulations. Her nail expertise and skill quickly became a must have for fashion designers like Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, and Hugo Boss. Whether on the set of a movie, on tour with a major recording artist, part of the make-up team for a celebrity wedding, or providing nail services on the set of a major fashion show photo shoot – Bernadette’s beautifully crafted nail art was now in high-demand and brought forth a new respect for the nail artist profession while justifying how having perfectly manicured and polished nails can be just as important as the make-up applied or even the outfit worn. Now, more than ever, nail art is a big business that is rapidly trending in the fashion and entertainment industry, a skill that requires commitment and passion which Bernadette exemplifies in her exclusive works of true artistry. 


 

“As a result of my runway and editorial work, I have the privilege of being actively involved in the creation and interpretation of fashion trends before they hit the streets,”                                                      – Bernadette Thompson


     

     Back in the mid 1990’s while working on a Vogue magazine shoot, Bern created a unique nail design replicating actual dollar bills printed onto the nails as part of the design. Soon after, while working with hip-hop artist Lil Kim aka “Queen Bee”, Bernadette used Lil Kim’s newly released single w/ Junior Mafia titled “Get Money” as her inspirational theme and re-created the “Money Nails” nail art. The end result creating a buzz and fashion trend for years to come.


DM1BYx1XcAAqEip


    It was also during her work with Louis Vuitton that she created a nail art design matching the Louis Vuitton monogram commonly seen on their handbags. Bernadette’s creativity and innovation in fashion combined with the demand for her nail art and manicuring led to her successfully launching her own signature nail polish line in 2001 – The Bernadette Thompson Nail Collection. Offering a wide variety of beautifully radiant colors in her collection in which each individual color has it’s own unique meaning and explanation of the mood it sets when applied. With colors themed “Bern Baby Bern”, “Dare Me”, “Slowly But Shirlee”, and “Tainted Love” you’re able to customize your nails to match the occasion and mood. Her “Justice” themed color is a beautiful dark red and Thompson explains her inspiration for this particular theme as a result of her own desire to help produce substantial change in the community and more importantly demonstrate compassion. Proceeds from the sales of the “Justice” polish are used to help members of our society to rebuild their lives after being affected by tragedy and social decline. She stresses that the root of many of the social problems we face today stem from a lack of compassion and unification.

15107343_10207364264212625_1570276860654666179_n


“I’m not the first to create nail art. But I introduced it to fashion.”                                                                                                                         -Bernadette Thompson


328902_2482082939217_929712622_o

CjB6MHNWkAElfTu


“There were alot of people on photo shoots who knew about fashion and beauty, but they didn’t really know that much about nails. So they left it up to me.”                                                                                            – Bernadette Thompson


10987634_10203628062729923_1180111158989919052_n12301673_1059227367421723_5431134175879503427_n-823x420

The Bernadette Thompson Nail Collection

The Bernadette Thompson Nail Collection


 

After 25 years on top of the nail art industry and continuing to remain a pioneer of her craft, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) recently honored Bernadette Thompson as part of it’s exhibit “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” on display through January 28, 2018. The exhibit showcases 111 items of clothing and accessories that have had a strong impact on the world in the 20th and 21st centuries – and how fashion significantly affects our politics, culture and identity . Bernadette’s “Money Nails” are displayed on exhibit with fashion pieces such as the Levi’s 501s, the Breton shirt, the always popular authentic fitted New York Yankees baseball cap, stilettos, and Ray-Ban avaiator sunglasses. An honor that is truly fitting and deserving of Thompson’s reign in nail art in the fashion industry.  The “Money Nails” wardrobe application can be purchased at The MoMA Design Store. 

http_bae.hypebeast.comfiles201711museum-of-modern-art-money-nail-decals-lil-kim-1


 

    Urban Heat Advisory travelled to the MoMA Design Store in New York’s SoHo district of Manhattan to attend an open panel discussion featuring Bernadette Thompson, nail artist Sarah Nguyen, and Vogue magazine Senior Beauty Editor Laura Regensdorf. The panel host, Kristina Parsons, is a Project Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Well attended by fashion and beauty experts, the discussion proved very informative as both Thompson and Nguyen detailed how they both began their careers in nail art and how much of an impact nail art has developed in the fashion industry. Sarah Nguyen, who moved from Southern California to NYC four years ago, is a trending conceptual nail artist who incorporates jewelry into her sculptural nail art and has worked with Katy Perry amongst many others becoming another well sought after industry nail artist. Nguyen recalled her early humble beginnings as a nail technician in Southern California and explained how she incorporated jewelry into her sculptural nail art. Both Thompson and Nguyen also discussed a recent NY Times article “The Price of Nails” – that details the unfair working conditions of nail shop workers in New York City nail shops. A disturbingly growing trend as the market for nail services skyrocket across the country. Thompson also spoke on her ongoing push to see that nail art gradually receives its deserved recognition in fashion. It was Bernadette Thompson who opened the door to nail art and led the push to see that manicurist are routinely credited in fashion shoots. Her beautifully created nail art has graced the runway at top fashion shows from Paris to New York while continuing to be a mainstay in many urban nail salons in most inner-cities.  Her career relies on taking risks and being a trendsetter in a constantly changing fashion world. And her professional and personal uplifting spirit is just as bold and radiant as the colors that are part of her nail collection. That explains her motto, “I live in Color!” We salute you Bernadette Thompson, Urban Heat Advisory’s Artist in the Spotlight! 

-Jamaal Bailey (Urban Heat Advisory)



 

The Bernadette Thompson Nail Collection is available online @:   http://www.bernadettethompson.com/products-page-2/bernadette-thompson-nail-collection/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BernadetteThompsonNailCareCollection/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BernadetteNails

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/bernadettethompsonnailcollection/

 

 

 

Jazz Icon McCoy Tyner Brings His Trio w/ Joe Lovano to the Concerts from the Library of Congress Series for a Special Musical Evening

    When exploring the history of jazz, we are often reminded of the legendary greats – John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald among so many others. A collective of determined and dynamically gifted musicians that shaped and created a movement through music. A movement deeply rooted in blues and culture, a movement that has  transformed over time and influenced so many musicians generations later. It is very rare that we are able to experience the music live again today that was composed during that cherished time when jazz was even larger than music, but a way of life. There are but a few remaining icons still with us to share their story through music – pianist McCoy Tyner is one of few remaining icons of jazz and on a freezing cold fall night at the Library of Congress, he performed an amazing set of selections in front of a sold-out Coolidge Auditorium (ironically the exact location of Jelly Roll Morton‘s classic jazz recordings that have often been regarded as some of the first recordings of jazz). 


” The piano is like an orchestra. I’m very fortunate that I chose it as my instrument.”   

-McCoy Tyner 


 

     McCoy Tyner was born in Philadelphia in 1938. At an early age, his parents encouraged him to explore his musical interests through formal training. It was at the age of 17 that Tyner first met John Coltrane (then a sideman saxophonist with Miles Davis).  Coltrane, widely regarded as one of the most significant saxophonist in music history, had developed a strong bond with Tyner and felt that even as a teenager McCoy was ready to join him in recording and performing globally.  In 1960, they recorded the classic album “My Favorite Things” and soon formed the John Coltrane Quartet – which would remain one of the most seminal groups in jazz history. The quartet included Coltrane and Tyner along with drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Jimmy Garrison. From 1960 through 1965, the quartet went on to achieve international renown with recordings such as “Live at the Village Vanguard”“Impressions” and Coltrane’s signature piece “A Love Supreme”. McCoy Tyner’s unique piano stylings gave the quartet an extraordinary chemistry, transcending the conventional style of piano playing with sophisticated chords and an explosively percussive left hand creating one of the most identifiable sounds in improvised music. Tyner has formed the vocabulary of a majority of jazz pianists through his harmonic contributions and dramatic rhythmic devices.  



  After over five years with the John Coltrane Quartet, Tyner left the group to explore his own destiny as a composer and bandleader. In 1967, his album “The Real McCoy” paired his piano talents with saxophonist Joe Henderson, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Elvin Jones. Later in 1972, he released his Grammy award nominated album “Sahara” – breaking new ground by incorporating sounds and rhythms of Africa into his uniquely textured harmonies on piano. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, McCoy Tyner arranged and performed countless beautiful jazz recordings with his own big band and jazz trio which included Avery Sharpe on bass and Aaron Scott on drums. In 2005, Tyner became the first client of Blue Note Management after joining forces with the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York and later forming his own record label “McCoy Tyner Music”. To date, McCoy Tyner has released nearly 80 albums under his name, earned four Grammy Awards, and awarded the title Jazz Master from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has played with jazz greats as: Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Cobham, George Benson, and Stanley Clarke just to name a few. He continues to leave his mark on generations of improvisers while remaining a modest and humbled spiritually directed man who has always expanded his vision of the musical landscape and incorporated new elements, whether from distant continents or diverse musical influences.


3MTJohnAbbott2008-86601


“To me, living and music are all the same thing. And I keep finding out more about music as I learn more about myself, my environment, about all kinds of different things in life. I play what I live. Therefore, just as I can’t predict what kinds of experiences I’m going to have, I can’t predict the directions in which my music will go. I just want to write and play my instrument as I feel.

-McCoy Tyner


     

        Along with veteran jazz saxophonist Joe Lovano, drummer Francisco Mela, and bassist Gerald Cannon, the McCoy Tyner Trio gave an awe-inspiring jazz performance for the sold-out audience in attendance at the Library of Congress. Lovano – a distinguished jazz saxophonist in his own right, has recorded with jazz greats as: Peter Erskine, John Scofield, Ornette Coleman and Herbie Hancock among others. He led the trio into a medley of Tyner’s earlier works before introducing him on to the stage where Tyner was welcomed by thunderous applause and multiple standing ovations from the emotionally charged audience of jazz fans both young and old. After welcoming the crowd and humbly thanking those in attendance for coming out to see him, Tyner immediately dove right into his Steinway grand piano and belted out some of his most cherished compositions. The audience watched in amazement as Tyner displayed his signature chops and speed along with that powerful left hand explosiveness that has been his signature style for decades. Drummer Francisco Mela added an array of rhythmic patterns and percussive sounds while demonstrating his inspiring method of drumming. A true drummers’ drummer in all regards, you can clearly see how he is able to dance along with his drumming and add extra accents into the music at any given moment. His drumming kept McCoy Tyner beaming with excitement as he played. Bassist Gerald Cannon provided an excellent solo and gave Tyner’s music that classic and vital authentic jazz sound. In between songs McCoy Tyner spoke in a frail soft tone describing his upbringing in Philadelphia and setting up the scene for his classic “Blues on the Corner”. With every sharp chop that Tyner belted out on piano, drummer Francisco Mela was there to perfectly match him while yelling out “Yeah!” It was truly a magical performance from a jazz legend that is still going at age 80! McCoy Tyner is scheduled to perform a few select dates next year in DC at Blues Alley and in New York at the Blue Note. 


24852448_574631539551549_4464521760515240005_n

IMG_89

IMG_89691

IMG_89501

IMG_89741

” I really love the piano and I feel very fortunate that I am able to play and travel all over the world as my career.”

                                                                                   – McCoy Tyner


 

     It should also be noted that the Library of Congress deserves a very special thanks for preserving the legacy of those important figures in our past whether it be music, film, art, etc. This program honored a true jazz icon while he is still here to receive his just due and appreciation. It really felt like the spirit of Jelly Roll Morton was there in that same Coolidge Auditorium in which he recorded his first jazz compositions on piano applauding McCoy Tyner from the room. The Library of Congress provided this performance free to the public giving fans that gathered in the historic Coolidge Auditorium on that cold winter night in December an experience to be remembered for a lifetime!

 

-Jamaal Bailey

(Urban Heat Advisory)


 

Visit McCoy Tyner’s website:  www.mccoytyner.com

 

Jelly Roll Morton in Washington: A Library of Congress Jazz Scholars Lecture w/ John Szwed


    Jelly Roll Morton (1890 – 1941) is regarded as the first true jazz composer. His composition “Jelly Roll Blues” (published in 1915) was the first published jazz composition. An important transitional figure between ragtime and jazz piano stylings, Morton’s impact and legacy on music is often overlooked and underappreciated. Born Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe in 1890 and raised in the Storyville red-light district of New Orleans, Louisiana, he began playing piano at the early age of fourteen in a brothel. Morton later worked as a gambler, loan-shark, pimp and vaudeville comedian before perfecting his craft as a pianist, bandleader and composer. With brief touring stints in Chicago, Vancouver, California and New York City, Jelly Roll produced numerous compositions that became increasingly popular such as: “Kansas City Stomp”, “Grandpa’s Spells”, “Red Hot Pepper” and “Jelly Roll Blues” to name a few. However, it was during his brief three-year stay in the nations capital that brought about one of the most complete and unique recordings of his entire catalog of music. Jelly Roll Morton had walked into the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress and gave the world a glimpse into his amazing catalog of ragtime and jazz compositions along with a detailed and intimate narrative of his life’s experiences. These recordings would be posthumously released a full decade after his death and win two Grammy awards in 2006 for Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes. 


jelly-roll-morton-16426

 


       The Library of Congress recently held its Jazz Scholars Lecture Series featuring a conversation with noted jazz historian and scholar, John Szwed, PhD, in the Montpelier Room of the Library’s James Madison Memorial Building. Szwed is Adjunct Senior Research Scholar and former Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University. Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, African American Studies, and Film Studies at Yale University and longtime writer for the Village Voice publication. He was awarded a Grammy  for ‘Doctor Jazz’ (a book on Jelly Roll Morton) and has also wrote ‘Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth’ along with biographies of Miles Davis, Sun Ra and Alan Lomax. The lecture was hosted by Stephen Winick, writer and editor at the Library of Congress American Folklife Center since 2005.  


BOSSA CISSA PAZ_089


    Szwed’s tireless research into the mysterious life of Jelly Roll Morton uncovers rare factual accounts that further detail his stay in Washington, DC until shortly before his death. He discussed Morton’s hosting of “The History of Jazz” program which aired on WOL-AM radio station; his attempts to form an interracial film company; promote local boxing matches in DC; and his attempts to partner with heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson to develop auto racing ventures. Szwed also revealed the exact location of The Jungle Inn (where Jelly Roll Morton played) as 1211 U Street, NW – which is the current location of a DC landmark, Ben’s Chili Bowl and Ben’s Next Door. Tragically, while working at the Jungle Inn in 1938, Morton was stabbed following a dispute with a friend of the club’s owner. His injuries were critical but he managed to survive the incident and left Washington, DC soon after.

    It was when Jelly Roll Morton met Alan Lomax in DC that his musical catalog began to finally recieve due recognition. Alan Lomax was a folk-music archivist and newly appointed assistant archive director at The Library of Congress. His concept was to focus on the history of the music (which included blues, ragtime, and stomps) and allow Morton to give his own explanation of his claims to be the true inventor of jazz. Morton also spoke about his public argument with “Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy. These recordings of music and dialogue occurred between May through December of 1938 and resulted in nine hours of edited tapes. The end result – “Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings”. Mostly biographical and historical in context, it remains one of the first and best oral histories of the ragtime era and the days of early jazz.


MI0002451608

 


    John Szwed’s research and knowledge of the history of ragtime, blues, and early jazz gives the musical history of Jelly Roll Morton new meaning. We find out so much more about the myth and legend and even a more detailed insight into his time here in Washington, DC (although brief). On display at the lecture were historical artifacts from Jelly Roll Morton’s personal collection including handwritten musical compositions and a collectors wooden box-set of his original Library of Congress Recordings. 


BOSSA CISSA PAZ_055 (1)


 

–  Jamaal Bailey 

– Photos: William Bailey

BOSSA CISSA PAZ_080