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News and notes: Jazz sleuths, saxophonists and more

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Gershwin might have written the lyrics, but I seriously doubt the composer actually believed that come summertime the living is easy. Things have certainly been hectic in my world the past few days as we count down to the official start of summer and – far more important – my summer vacation. A variety of items have washed up in my e-mail in recent days, so let’s get to them.

If you’ve yet to do so, click on over to JazzWest.com to read an excerpt from “And All That Madness,” Joan Merrill’s jazz-themed whodunit featuring her sleuth Casey McKie. Merrill knows of what she writes, having worked in music for more than 20 years as an artist manager and documentary producer. Her previous McKie novels include “And All That Murder" (2009), "And All That Sea" (2010), "And All That Stalking" (2011) and “And All That Motive" (2014).

I had the opportunity a few years back to catch a then-teen Grace Kelly at the Brubeck Institute’s Summer Jazz Colony. The saxophonist has since matured into one of the genre’s top young talents and has a Kickstarter campaign underway to fund her next recording project. This represents a fine opportunity to invest in jazz’s future at whatever level suits you best.

Bay Area trumpeter-composer Ian Carey has been a favorite of mine since I first heard his “Contextualizin’” CD. His notoriety, it turns out, has spread to the East Coast. Carey reports being “very flattered that composer, saxophonist, author and historian extraordinaire Bill Kirchner has decided to devote an episode of his great radio show, ‘Jazz from the Archives,’ to my music. The show is broadcast on WBGO on the East Coast, but you can tune in online at WBGO.org.” The program airs 8 p.m. this Sunday.

Bay Area smooth jazz fans have the rare opportunity to catch two of the genre’s stars in action this weekend, as saxophonists Marion Meadows and Paul Taylor share the bill Saturday at Yoshi’s in Oakland. The pair has dubbed their summer shows the Sax and the City tour, which is unfortunately hackneyed but should make for a fine evening of smooth jazz nonetheless.

Finally, in response to my posting regarding Jimi Hendrix archival producer Alan Douglas’ jazz credits, I received an e-mail from Jim Eigo of Jazz Promo Services in Warwick, N.Y. “Don’t forget the Wildflowers Loft Jazz Series. I produced the reissues for the Knitting Factory and did the deal with Alan Douglas to secure the masters.” Here is some additional information.

The Loft Jazz scene was a cultural phenomenon that occurred in New York City during the mid-1970s at venues such as Environ, Ali's Alley and Studio Rivbea, all in former industrial loft spaces in NYC's SOHO district. The scene was documented by Gary Giddins, the late Robert Palmer (author/producer) and Stanley Crouch.
Many of the musicians featured were from Chicago and particularly the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and St. Louis' Black Artists Group (BAG). These included notables such as The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Dave Holland, Sam Rivers, Rashied Ali, Charles Tyler, Perry Robinson, John Fischer, Jeanne Lee, Oliver Lake, Joseph Bowie, Keshavan Maslak, Hamiett Bluiett, Arthur Blythe, Chico Freeman, David Murray, Olu Dara, George Lewis, Air, the Revolutionary Ensemble and Anthony Davis. Loft jazz was a continuation of the free jazz and avant-garde jazz traditions inaugurated by John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders and Sun Ra.
A series of five LPs was released on Casablanca Records in 1976, documenting different sessions of Sam Rivers-hosted loft sessions. Portions of the sessions have been reissued variously on Alan Douglas Music and Knitting Factory Records.

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