And then, neutralizing gravity with love and pure will, they remained suspended in air inches below the ceiling and they kissed each other for a long, long timeK.V.
Three jazz musicians with local ties headline a panel discussion for the Palo Alto Historical Association (PAHA) monthly meeting Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 at Lucie Stern ballroom on Middlefield, 2 to 4 p.m: Akira Tana, drummer, composer and producer; Rebecca Coupe Franks, trumpet, composer; and Seward McCain, bassist, composer. I am the producer of the event and will moderate the discussion (Mark Weiss, Earthwise Productions).
I promised myself I would do less blogging this week and more prep time and wood-shedding for the event. The event is fruition from a stint 18 months ago as “junior historian” or a type of residency when in fall, 2013 I spent every Tuesday and Thursday for a month combing thru the Guy Miller Archives “Music–Jazz” file at Cubberley and taking notes, then composing in a somewhat methodical albeit bombastic manner my thoughts on these topics, as one might find here, below, “Jazz time travels or jazz scribe contrafacts: From Fregulia to Full Faith and Credit or Back: The Geography of Hep” or something (“The Palo Alto Jazz Quintessence”). I am also, as a caveat, recalling David Shapiro telling us, Freshman Seminar on Christopher Marlowe, 1983 spring, that if you get to the point of titling your paper and you do not come up with a good title, maybe you have not said anything. Anyone?
Clearly it is interesting, for me at least, and jazz fans, to hear Akira Tana, Rebecca Coupe Franks and Seward McCain talk about their work, and maybe to try, as a moderator to draw them out in reference to each other — riffing on each other. But that is not necessarily the same thing as whether they are helpful or not in answering these questions: Is there a Palo Alto jazz sound? Or, is there a significant role in Palo Alto history for jazz? Or, even, is there a significant story about the role of Palo Alto in jazz history? Is it merely a set of unrelated data points or anecdotes? I mean, I hope there is, I have spent uncountable hours on this. I have written 20,000 words, or have cut and paste that many.
And yes I would rather be producing a concert per se, from 2 to 4 Sunday. I would rather listen to Akira Tana, Rebecca Coupe Franks and Seward McCain play together, not talk about playing. I’m sure they would, too. (In partial remedy, Rebecca is bringing her tool, her axe, her instrument, a trumpet, and will demonstrate it, if not a performance per se, a sounding or clarion call).
And you can see Akira Tana’s band Saturday, the night before, in San Jose, at Cafe Stritch (the former Eulipia, the former B-Hive), and Rebecca Coupe Franks apparently will sit in. And you can hear, in a not entirely unrelated matter, a concert Sunday night in Menlo Park, at M-A, a Woody Herman tribute band, including Seward McCain, produced by PAJA (sic, not PAHA), a tribute to Herb Wong, who did as much as anyone for Jazz in Palo Alto.
I am hoping that their respective and overlapping stories augment and not refute my work so far and suppositions about Palo Alto / Jazz history. I hope that people will contribute their recollections and insights and I can expand, before cutting back, like at Jazz For Hair, my shaggy-dog-story of a history. I can picture a chap book, like their publications on Parks, Street names, and libraries, by the history association about jazz here. I am generating, even if merely as an exercise or type of brain storming, a list of 500 Palo Alto “jazz memes” or tropes, or units of meaning: artists, visiting artists, educators, functionaries, journalists, venues and concepts. I have about 270 and counting. (My list doesn’t include yet Seward McCain — which says something about the role of a sideman, or just the arbitrary or preliminary nature of this; my bad; that I admit this here rather than sneaking him into the list says something: I consider the project less than half done, and want additions, corrections and expansion. No disrespect to Seward. I met him briefly at the Guaraldi event at CSMA Mountain View, Akira introduced us quickly).
Thanks in advance to the panelists and PAHA honchos Steve Staiger, Brian George (the technical producer of event, and its filmographer) Patty McKee and Beth Bunnenberg. And we are trying to synergize not cannibalize the Herb Wong event that evening.
I am saying, subjectively, — esoterically, even — that jazz history started in Palo Alto in 1968 when 16-year-old Danny Scher brought Thelonious Monk to play the Paly Theatre, weeks after MLK was slain, and ended the night that Nancy Shepherd, City Council, said from the dias how do we get people to stop asking us to intervene, to bring jazz back to the Varsity?. By that reckoning, what happened or heppened between 1769 and winter, 1968, was Palo Alto’s “prehistory of jazz” and what we are currently in –clearly this is true, that there is no real jazz scene here, no venues, no normal and ongoing experience and opportunity here for jazz music and jazz musickers , not that we cannot change and renew and Rebirth — is a “post-history of Palo alto jazz”. It’s a short summer, Charlie Blues. Hepdo?
Maybe that’s my title: “The Post-History of Palo Alto Jazz”. Or “Je Suis Charlie Blues”.
History is prologue, peoples.
edit to add: and not that they actually need my take, in an hour each, on their three considerable stories, but I will try to update here a brief cheat sheet on Akira Tana, Rebecca Coupe Franks and Seward McCain, geared toward the PAHA regular who perhaps does not recall having heard them before. For now I just have links to their sites and photos. On Seward’s home page he has a gallery of 30 photos of he and roughly 30 people he plays with that serves as a type of visual history of jazz.
1) Danilo Perez in The New York Times, for his festival and ed efforts, reminds of his concert here, at Cub and amazing clinic for middle school kids Music For Minors, RWC. Archived at Cubberley here and here, by future fitness guru Renee Canada. A good example of the distinction between a Palo Alto artist, like Akira, RCF or Seward and “visiting artist”, Monk 1968 or Perez 2000 which contributes to jazz here, I believe.
2) postcard in mail from YBCA, Ben Goldberg Orphic Machine, only live play, he tells me, coming up in two weeks, curated by Myra Melford in residence;
3) Cafe Stritch has Marcus Shelby tonight, Akira Tana and New Friend RCF tomorrow, duly noted;
4) may sneak out to “Whiplash” to riff on that, but also boning up on Snoopy, Schroeder, “Franklin” et al, and my cords where are my cords? let alone chords. Richard Brody of the The New Yorker brutalizes it, but has info on comparables, and it does show at nice early 12:50 in Santa Clara and I should mention that I like the jazz score of “Birdman” if either of these are relevant to Akira Tana, or Dan Adams or Mike Clark, who knows? I gave a flyer to Tom McGannon, not a jazzbo but another Titan legend, and put one up at Cafe Zoe — that should be my trip today, putting flyers.
5) meanwhile in New York, The Times recommends these 18 shows: Charles Altura, Marc Cary, Mario Castro, Jimmy Cobb, Dan Weiss no relation, Dena Derose teaches at Stanford Jazz Workshop, Harris Eisenstadt, Connie Crothers born in Palo Alto and part of Evolving Music Series in Loisida; Vijay Iyer residency at Stone, but maligned in The Jazz Buff, Nettwork with Cyrus Chestnut, Northern Spy label at Sugarcube lower Manhattan Marc Ribot; Chris Potter including Mark Feldman I drove from Lytton Garden Hotel to Mem Aud, at Jazz Standard; vibraphonist Mark Sherman and in truth I only know about half these people; Wallace Roney, Pharaoh I mean Pharoah Sanders at dizzys; Christian Scott somebody’s nephew I actually called their to get the price $35 but $20 if you stand at the bar, Blue Note club, where I spent my 40th birthday with INT listening to Patti Barber; Vinnie Sperrazza, Colin Stranahan young buck drummer with Mark Turner fly met at Stanford; Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and I quote “Typically this big band — I could be pasting this in but I am not — holds court only on Monday nights, but next week it will celebrate its 49th anniversary — i.e. it’s as old as I am circa 1964 — drawing from a repertory fortified by some of the smartest composer-arrangers ever to ply the form. Case in point it’s current album ‘OverTime: The Music of Bob Brookmeyer — I met briefly at IAJE 2003 at suggestion of Ingrid Jensen — which is nominated –going against Akira Tana / Rufus Reid / Elizabeth Catlett / Jana Herzenberg in bigs cat — for a Grammy Award. The long run is welcome, because it presents the musicians with a chance to
6) I did a Memphis stop above because something disrupted me here at Peet’s but then left it because I really have prepped all I can at this point, 2 hours before my hit and I likes me some verismiitue but there was also supposed to be a weird pomo section where I quote from peoples greetings regrets and advice like Paul DeBarros saying he played with Seward and MG thusly:
1/it is ME who is traveling, starting tomorrow noon
2/I alerted Stuart Brewster, PAJA’s Chair, to your event, and yes, he knows Rebecca Franks and will attempt to be at the Sunday gig
3/you can mention me by name as long as you say that “Michael Griffin is a founding board member of the Palo Alto Jazz Alliance.”
4/PAJA is looking for a Talent Booker to find bands to perform at our twice-yearly concerts. Caveat: as a 501[c]3 non-profit, we are needing someone to do this job on a pro-bono basis. Sorry… Michael G excuse the sophist iced form of counting
7) that photo, me in reportage, that somehow got bounced for the photo of me holding a Mateo Romero painting:
edit to addle:
My cheat sheet for Sunday:
3/14/52, Pisces, 62
(San Carlos, CA)
2004: Moon Over The World
150 recordings has played on, his website says
Harvard, New England Conservatory
adjunct professor at two colleges
producer, “Quiet Pride: The Elizabeth Catlett — 1915-2012 — Project” Rufus Reid f/ Tanya Darby, on Jana Herzen(berg)’s Motema Records
AMG lists 5 cds as leader and 223 total credits
also: Ontonowa Sound Circle co-led 2013 benefit cd for victims of 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Northern Japan with Art Hirahara and Masura Koga; he traveled there twice since then
Rebecca (& Her Groovemobile, RCF)
(Stone Ridge, New York — Hudson Valley)
3 cds as a leader “Two Oceans” 2013 plus is recording now
daughter Ella Sky Coupe Franks
All Music Guide lists short bio and 6 cds as a leader
“All of A Sudden” (1992) w/ Scott Colley (b), Javon Jackson (guest, ts), Donny McCaslin; Justice Records. This was Donny McCaslin’s first credit, or one of 3 that year, and he now has 291, 12 as a leader. They met in Santa Cruz. I think she also said she and Steven Bernstein competed for same seat in Monterrey Jazz Festival student all star band, or were both honored. Also: Jeff Ballard, drums. Knows from coast the 831.
PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA
“Seward’s Folly” (2010)
AMG lists 38 credits
plays with Mose Allison, Maria Muldaur, Full Faith and Credit Big Band, Vince Guaraldi
married to vocalist Wendy McCain
AT drums on his cd.
#2 Vic’s Tricks – – who is Vic?
#5 Sacrophagus — about Stanfords? I posted this somewhere that it was.
Peanuts Portraits, at Children’s Library