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The 12th Annual Vision Festival took place from Tuesday, June 19 thru Sunday June 24th, 2007 and featured a smörgåsbord of the world’s greatest improvisers. As inspiring as it is unique, the festival showcases artists who have built their reputations courageously on their own terms. To celebrate all of these visionaries under one roof is a testament to the spirit and strength of the festival and its organizers. The venue, the beautiful Angel Orensanz Foundation on the Lo
On a Friday in mid-February, for about three hours, instead of the insufferable wind chills of, usually, 10 above zero, it was 90 degrees in Chicago. The heat was emanating from a performance at Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom. The performance was labeled an evening of Mardi Gras music from New Orleans with Dr. John headlining and guest artist Donald Harrison and his Electric Band. It’s true, Dr. John, the Gris-Gris pianist from N’awlins, was headlining and his quartet played som
At ninety-two years of age, Les Paul continues to play to a packed house every Monday night at the Iridium in New York City. Locals and tourists line up on Broadway to a get a glimpse of the Wizard from Waukesha. A Wisconsin native myself, I am particularly proud of his many accomplishments. His impact on the history and future of music is well-documented. A member of the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the N
For the twelfth consecutive year, Arts for Art has presented Vision Festival in New York City. The event, which, according to the organizers, celebrated, "A Dozen Years Of Visionary Music, Dance, Spoken Word, Film And Visual Arts," was held from June 19th to June 24th, once again at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on Manhattan's Lower East Side. This year's festival, perhaps the world's premier avantJazz event, was the most ambitious Vision Fest yet, featuring a global cast of avantJ

Fusion Night

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Allan Holdsworth has long been respected as one of the fusion guitar greats. His performance on this date did nothing to tarnish that well-earned reputation. The set started out with several mellow tunes, focusing heavily on the synthesizer-infused guitar sound Holdsworth is known for. The intricate chords found in many of his compositions did not go unnoticed. One fan yelled out, "it takes me years to play one of your chords." To which Holdsworth rep
Despite being one of the 20th century’s premier pianists, "Thelonious Sphere Monk" remains unknown to most Americans. An outlandish but sadly apocryphal story brings this point home. Tabitha Soren interviewing Bill Clinton on MTV supposedly asked the presidential candidate who he had dreamed of playing saxophone with. "Thelonious Monk" Clinton replied. "Who is the ‘Loneliest Monk’?" a bewildered Tabitha responded. Thoroughly eccentric yet extremely introverted, Monk was a brilliant pianist and c
Now in its twelfth year, the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival continues to showcase some fine women musicians. The evening I caught this year--there were only tickets available for Thursday's performance--also brought into focus some issues that still plague jazz, however. One, ironically, is the continuing gender gap within the music. For the first of the three shows the headline artists presented were certainly women, but they were the only women seen on the stage. The other ten musici
Three of the greatest entertainers on the live music scene today, are not necessarily household names, but their talent as artists is long-standing and much-appreciated by ‘those in the know’ in the music biz. Johnny Pennino is known as the Sax King of New Orleans, and rightly so! He is deservedly in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, and is one of the freshest and most vibrant tenor sax players around. Pennino has been a long-time friend and musica
It’s always a great pleasure to see blues harp (harmonica) great David Rotundo in concert. Rotundo’s type of blues is the real deal -- the healing blues that makes the real blues go away. Such was a recent warm June night at the beginning of the summer for this writer, and a cheering packed house at Southside Johnny’s .. a blues hangout in Toronto’s west end Etobicoke area. The energy in the room was contagious, and the good vibes comi
The Big Easy was in full swing for its’ 37th Annual Jazz & Heritage Festival. The city of New Orleans once again came together after the aftermath two years ago of both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita to showcase one of the largest tourist attraction in the United States. New Orleans is the original birth place of jazz with the greatest jazz sound in the world and home to some of the greatest jazz musicians that ever lived past and present. <P> Jazzfest got under
"I believe that any feeling of xenophobia and fear comes from ignorance. Often people think that when you are not like them, you are different and therefore you are a threat. It is not true. I think that the problem of xenophobia today is coming from the world economic crisis. Some people, for example, think that as foreigners we are going to take their work, we will take the bread from the mouth. It is not true. It is not like that. This fear has become a political tool to create divisions so t
The Big Easy was in full swing for its’ 37th Annual Jazz & Heritage Festival, the city of New Orleans once again came together after the aftermath two years ago of both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita to showcase one of the largest tourist attraction in the united states. New Orleans is the original birth place of jazz with the greatest jazz sound in the world and home to some of the greatest jazz musicians that ever lived past and present. Jazz fest got under way
It has been an odd few weeks at the Smithsonian Jazz Café. In spite of a succession of fine performances and packed houses, the management has suddenly decided that the venue is not profitable and announced that it may have to close, possibly as soon as September. It is a puzzling development. The Café opened six years ago, somewhat incongruously perhaps, in the American Museum of Natural History. With the Café already situated in the building next to the Imax Theater whi
Legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy, made his annual musical pilgrimage to Toronto’s Massey Hall, Saturday, April 21, 2007. He again was supported by his fabulous blues band, featuring Ric ‘Jaz Guitar’ Hall on rhythm/lead guitar; the great Marty Sammon on keyboards; Tim Austin on drums; and Orlando Wright on electric bass. All these musicians are virtu
Roberta Gambarini, New York based, Italian born and raised, has firmly established herself as one of the best jazz vocalists of our time. Just my opinion, no, this is the voice of many, including jazz legend, renowned drummer Jake Hanna. When I asked Mr. Hanna his feelings on playing with Roberta Gambarini, he replied without hesitation, "She is one of the best, and I have played with all the greats." This is no understatement, having played with vocalists from Billy Holiday to Tony Bennett, and
Youman Wilder Puts It All Together In The Vancouver Concert for Darfur This Was a Benefit Waiting to Happen Concert Review by: Herman RawlingsVenue: The Vogue Theater (Vancouver British Columbia) April 22nd,2007 Individuals who adopt worthy causes in support of the disadvantaged and disenfranchised people in society have a very difficult endeavor, especially when attempting to rise above other organ
Salif Keita, 58, a 40-year veteran of the music scene, numbers among Africa’s top musical stars. A man in motion, Salif might be anywhere from Canada to Christchurch within the space of just a few weeks. Born into a royal family, Salif found himself barred by social custom from becoming a musician. As an albino, Salif was an outcast; he found his way in music. He fled a Malian dictatorship to the Ivory Coast and later moved to Paris. He has since returned to Mali where he has built a recording s
It was certainly a truly historic musical celebration of the blues, jazz, folk and some Middle Eastern musical influences at Toronto's Massey Hall, Friday, April 13, 2007. It was just the opposite of a 'bad luck' evening of music for this ‘13th’ -- courtesy of three of the most renowned and respected guitarists around: Randy Bachman (Guess Who/BTO), Jeff Healey, and Duke Robillard (Roomful of Blues). It was also his
Last year, in a concert review on this site, I wrote "Jazz lovers would do well to check out Imani Winds." Their recent concert performances continue to reinforce this idea. I caught them again recently at the University of Baltimore's Student Center. Again, I should emphasize that this is not a jazz ensemble. It is a classic woodwind quintet performing written music. But their approach, their choice of material, their overall mode of presentation, is going a long way to build bridges bet
It was a full night around town guitarist John Abercrombie at Birdland, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane at the Blue Note, guitarist Pat Metheny with pianist Brad Mehldau at Carnegie Hall, guitarist Bill Frisell at the Village Vanguard and jazz performances were of the pickin’. Waiting at the front doors of the Iridium Jazz Club was a couple who hadn’t seen pianist Misha Piatigorsky for a few years. "He used to give my husband piano lessons," said the woman of the couple. Gregory Piatigorsky, Misha’s f