Just wishing everyone observing the American Thanksgiving a very good, peaceful, restful and enjoyable holiday.
I’m still burrowed in the work of launching a sports site I’ve mentioned here before, and hope to finish that in the coming days.
My posting here has been more sporadic than I intended as I work on that project, but I want to return to more active blogging as soon as possible. There’s been a lot going on in the journalism and media realms, as usual, and there’s so much I want to explore when I get the time.
So my thanks to you for your patience.
In the meantime, help yourself to some links on journalism, media and work, plus some miscellany, that have caught my eye on the fly . . .
• Walt Disney vs. the news industry: How bad management is killing newspapers and their websites (Online Journalism Review)
• Journalism, Technology Starting to Add Up (MediaShift Idea Lab)
• How Demand Media’s Business Model Can be Applied to Niche Sites (Poynter)
• Reinvention: Now the job requirement for Boomer women (Vibrant Woman)
• It’s Not the Recession, You Just Suck (Outspoken Media via Mike Wells)
• Local Bookstores, Social Hubs, and Mutualization (Clay Shirky)
• Coffeehouses: Bringing the buzz back (Wall Street Journal via Evgeny Morozov)
The saxophonist Dexter Gordon, born 86 years ago on Friday, was one of the first big booming voices of the bebop age and a pretty big fella himself at 6 feet, 6 inches tall. Gordon played in Duke Ellington’s band in the early 1940s and then for Billy Eckstine before falling in with bop crowd that included Charlie Parker and Lester Young. He also was an influence on John Coltrane.
An expatriate in Paris and Cophenhagen for 15 years, Gordon also led his own quartet and returned to the U.S. for the last 15 years of his life. He died at the age of 67 in 1990.
Here he leads a live version of Loose Walk, a Sonny Stitt number. While the visual quality is a bit soft, the sound is the distinct, clear hard bop that exemplified Gordon’s long career:
Nancy Wilson turned 71 on Friday. Here she is at a December 1997 tribute to Ella Fitzgerald:
There are so many wonderful versions of this jazz classic, but I think Chet Baker’s recording is my favorite. Unlike other videos featured here, I wasn’t able to find a link to a live recording. But there’s a haunting photo of a young Baker, before his heroin and cocaine addictions took their terrible toll.
What a voice!
I’m usually not one to indulge in celebrity crap/gossip/innuendo/pi**ing matches, but when I saw “etta james” near the top of the Google Trends list one day this week I had to click. Please, no, please don’t tell me she’s RIP. Not one of the great modern songstresses, a feisty and hearty woman with a booming, passionate voice and an attitude to match.
She’s still here, and is she ever! What I found when I did click were the words “whoop” and “a**” in regards to a cover of her classic, “At Last,” by Beyoncé, who plays the soul star in the new movie “Cadillac Records” and who performed the number as the Obamas’ first inaugural dance.
So Miss Etta has let both the pop diva and the new president absolutely have it. But wait: Maybe it was all a joke. It didn’t sound that way to me. It makes me wonder if she missed this really cheesy use of her song — in a beer commercial! And if she’s just a wee bit jealous of her young impersonator. (Sorry, I ain’t linking to no Beyoncé, no way!)
In any case, I’m going to give the woman back her song, which remains one of my favorites and a permanent member of my jazz/R & B iPod rotation:
Fifty years after it was recorded, “Kind of Blue” remains the biggest-selling jazz record of all time — we’re talkin’ ’bout vinyl here! — and the subject of endless fascination. This week NPR delved into the subject of the Miles Davis-led project, which featured solos from John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and Bill Evans, among others. Be sure to listen to the audio clips on that link with some of the participants, most of whom have passed on.
Below is a video montage from the “Kind of Blue” sessions with footage, interviews and other goodies. The tracks were laid down at a time during which many jazz critics believe was the start the decline of the great American improvisational art form. It came at the end of the Bebop era and before the free jazz epidemic that claimed Davis. Yet jazz lives on, and not just in the past. This young Russian-born pianist, for example, is a fantastic new addition to the genre.
As so many of us try to improvise second careers — in journalism or beyond — I find the topic quite timely. The death of journalism is being predicted with the decline of print, erroneously so. There’s a lot of life left for what we do, but we journalists, our potential benefactors and our best entrepreneurial and creative energies have to reinvigorate it. Not the media industries that are cutting us loose.
In other words, we can no longer think and act like Freddie Freeloaders. Not an easy task, but nothing to feel blue about at all.
One of the masters of Bossa Nova was Antonio Carlos Jobim, who popularized the Brazilian sound throughout the world with such classics as “The Girl from Ipanema,” “Corcovado” and “Desafinado.” Jobim, who would have turned 82 on Sunday (he died in 1994) also sealed his legend by appearing with some of the superstars of American popular music, including Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams and others. Here he gives jazz clarinet great Gerry Mulligan a lesson in the “One Note Samba:”