Sonny Blues: A Mothers Ideas

Thursday, February 10, 2022 3:40:01 AM

Sonny Blues: A Mothers Ideas



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Sonny's Blues, by James Baldwin (SHORT STORY SATURDAY)

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Don Imus, Jerry Herman, and other notable people who died in Happy Birthday George Clooney! For while it was 'Bird Lives,' but now it seems to be 'Coltrane Lives. But they'll get to Bird in a couple of years. What Lincoln Center is doing is very important. And the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band is beginning to make its mark. And of course our festivals continue. We still are the biggest producers of festivals in the world. We do JVC in Paris. We produce festivals in Japan. Our festivals still reach more people than any other jazz promoter or jazz impresario or any other organization that produces jazz festivals. Saratoga is still going strong and still successful.

We still draw our 10, people every night, year in and year out, and it's a wonderful festival. AAJ: How about highlights over the years of the festival in general. In you were at he Whitehouse. Does anything stand out in your mind? GW: A lot of things stand out in my mind, but to recall them. I'm in the process of writing my own book right now, It keeps me pretty busy. AAJ: Yeah. I understand the autobiography is in progress. GW: I've got to think of a title for it. AAJ: Is that something you had in the back of your mind for awhile? GW: You know, it's an ego trip to write your autobiography. For years I rejected it, but after several hundred people said to me 'you should write a book,' finally you realize maybe you should write a book.

I don't know whether those several hundred people will buy it or I'll give them presents of it, I don't know. AAJ: How about low points? The riots maybe in [the last year of the original Newport festival]? GW: I always felt that the low point in my life as a producer would have been a high point for other people: in when I put all the rock groups on in Newport. The underground press was talking about how jazz was dead and Newport, from up to the mids, had been the news in the music world, you know, in the non-pop music world. All of a sudden we were buried in that avalanche of pop music and rock music. So I said 'maybe I have to get up to date' and I put all these groups together, did a lot of business, and I realized at that point that I had no control of my festivals.

They weren't what I wanted. Some people would have thought it was the greatest thing. Jimi Hendrix called me up and said 'Can I be on your festival? Well, I did use rock again. It killed me in ' I just didn't realize I was doing it when I had the Allman Brothers in '71 where there was a last-second riot at Newport. I thought I was booking a young blues group that was unknown. I asked [producer] Ahmet Ertegun to recommend a young white blues group for a blues program I was doing. And they jumped out to be the No. So they were the ones that brought all the kids that caused the problem up there.

AAJ: You still mix in rock, and some pop. GW: Well more and more we do that now as long as we don't let it override the festival, particularly in New Orleans. So we'll have one rock group. Over a period of 10 days we'll have two or three rock groups. But we'll have thousands of musicians, so it's not a rock festival. But we had Lenny Kravitz this year, who was sensational down there, and Sting. AAJ: Is that a necessary thing now, for the booking and the ticket sales?

GW: If we didn't have world music or Brazilian music or soul music ' like, we have Patti Labelle, we have Aretha, Joao Gilberto ' they're the ones selling out the most tickets at my festivals. The jazz program: there are no big names in jazz that have instant sales. Diana Krall came along, and she is box office. But she's the only one that's come along in what, more or less, is the pure jazz vein in the traditional sense. And she's a vocalist. But there are no Miles out there, there's nobody that really has it Keith Jarrett's still there, but he won't play festivals. Sonny Rollins once in a while is a good attraction, but you have to be careful with Sonny as far as where you play him and how you play him.

But it's very, very difficult. We have a great festival. I'm doing these theme concerts this year. You know, this recreation of the spirituals, the swing. I'm doing a program with Michel Camillo and Chuchao Valdez and Tomatito, a wonderful flamenco guitarist. If these programs do business, that's a help. They're not selling as fast as I wanted them to sell.

I need to be able to sell tickets to programs like that in order to overcome the fact of getting on crossover artists or World Music or big names that'll sell tickets. The fastest selling artist in my festival this year is Joao Gilberto. It'll be like a church there in Carnegie Hall. Now if you know Cesaria Evora, she is a beautiful singer. She's from Cape Verdi islands. No, she's not a jazz singer, but she has a sweet feeling to the music and jazz people would like her.

AAJ: Would you say that the future of festivals like yours is strong? Is it sort of a question every year? GW: No, people like to go to festivals. The festival in New York [city] is a difficult one because it's really a series of concerts. People like to go to them and they get a lot for their money. They make a day's outing of it. They sit out there in the sun or whatever. They bring their picnic, bring their food. Those things will last. AAJ: That's the way the original Newport was, outdoors. GW: It was. It was that way. Except the people had more knowledge of what they were coming to see. They knew the performers. A lot of the people come to Newport, they don't really know. They might have one or two groups they like, but they don't know the other three groups.

The people that came to [early] Newport knew every group. There was not that much conflict in music. There only was jazz and pop. The pop was Patti Page and Frank Sinatra and the jazz was jazz. It was swing or bebop. Now, there's so many different kinds of music. World music represents 50 different kinds of music in itself. AAJ: Looking back, it's probably a long list, but anybody jump to your mind you loved working with. Duke, or Louis or GW: Well, historically, I go back so far. Mingus I worked with. I go back to little musicians like Pee Wee Russell. Vic Dickenson was very important in my life. Buck Clayton. Then there was another younger school, Ruby Braff.

There was Slam Stewart who was very important in my life. All these people were important to me. Whether they were the big ones or the little ones. They had a tremendous impact on my life. Basie was very important. And Sarah Vaughan, I was her international impresario for four years. Billie Holiday worked for me on several occasions. Art Tatum I used to hang out with in New York. These people, they're irreplaceable human beings. Nobody's come along to take their place. AAJ: Anybody who was tough to deal with? They say Miles could be touchy or Mingus? GW: Well, they were all tough to deal with until you gained their confidence and their trust.

And once you gained their trust they were not difficult to deal with. Sometimes it took years to gain their trust. But once you gained they're trust then that was the thing that I'm proudest of most. I gained the trust of these people. I have been an online writer for over six years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry. Read on for some of the best songs with moon in the title! The word moon has been used in songs to convey a plethora of emotions. While in certain songs the word is used in a literal sense, in most songs the term is used as a metaphor to explain a broader concept or meaning. Regardless, of the message conveyed, we have got to admit moon songs are a whole lot of fun.

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