What We Do

Essays

Ken Burns’ One-Note ‘Jazz’ Goes Flat Without A Latin Beat (The Washington Post)

Popular music offers a window into the society that creates it. But in "Jazz," the 10-part, 19-hour documentary that winds up its PBS run next week, filmmaker Ken Burns peered at life in the United States through a narrow window.
He has construed jazz -- and the society that created it -- almost completely in terms of black and white. In the United States of "Jazz," the Latin music and musicians who were so important to the development of this art form -- and Latinos and their culture in general -- barely merit a footnote.

Hear the World. The Globalization of Jazz    (JAZZIZ Magazine)

"Jazz is known all over the world as an American musical art form and that's it. No America, no jazz,” said drummer and bandleader Art Blakey. “I've seen people try to connect it to other countries, for instance to Africa, but it doesn't have a damn thing to do with Africa."
Blakey knew a thing or two about the music and educated several generations of musicians in his rolling graduate school the Jazz Messengers. He was, of course, right.
In the beginning, there was America.

Remembering Chico O'Farrill, The Man Who Put Latin Jazz in Black Tie (The Washington Post)

It was a brutally cold windy night last February in Manhattan, and as he bundled up to go out and conduct his big band at a local club, the great Cuban arranger, composer, and bandleader Arturo "Chico" O'Farrill looked alarmingly frail. A titan of Latin music for over five decades, he had been ill for some time and the illness had taken its toll. An elf of a man with a mischievous glint in his eyes that gave him a timeless quality, he now looked just small, suddenly old.

It was a short taxi ride to the supper club followed by a quiet, quick meal with some friends and visitors as the band members trickled in and took their places. Then at the appointed time, he quietly left the table, stood before his orchestra, and after a quick introduction he counted off, the music exploded and there he was, at work.

It was electrifying.