Archive for February, 2009

Set the Atmosphere

Friday, February 27th, 2009
Kurt Carr

Kurt Carr







Kurt Carr is a great minister of music.  He worked the stage last week, to the delight of a capacity crowd at the Second Olivet Missionary Baptist Church for the 4th Annual Cora Thomas Gospel Extravaganza. The former Huskie (Carr is a UConn grad) received nothing but love from the audience during a spirit-filled set of music that was powerful, even though he only brought two of his singers along.

I previously saw Carr at the Landmark Theater for the One Church Tour.

Kurt Carr

Kurt Carr

There were many other wonderful performances on the night and I’d like to thank Sis. Cora Thomas for inviting me to cover this event.

What If…

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Yolande Daniels, a founding partner at Studio Sumo in NYC, was in Syracuse yesterday and she said designers, artists and architects often ponder what was not previously considered.

This may be a stretch, but I wondered what if Coltrane and Monk were alive today, in their prime. What would they sound like? I have an album they did together from the 1950s that’s wonderful, but classic jazz doesn’t speak to everyone these days.

This was as close as I could come to an answer.

In Excess, Inspiration

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Musician Jason Moran, possibly the coolest pianist of his generation, illness was recently interviewed on the  Speakeasy and talked about his attraction to the work of  T. Monk. He also cited the loft tapes of photographer W. Eugene Smith. Smith, one of my favorite photographers, had a great appreciation for jazz and Monk appeared on those tapes.

A true documentarian, Smith delved deeply into all subject matter. He was a heavy shooter in the days when photojournalists used film not memory cards.  In my opinion, his volume (as well as his skills as  printer) pushed him to greatness–That and his constant pursuit of truth.

Moran said it best when he said:  [Smith] was into excess before excess was the in thing.

Dancing with Music: People as Dancers

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Garth Fagan Dance

I previewed a performance by the Garth Fagan Dance Company that was held at Syracuse University last night.  Garth Fagan is an award winning choreographer and is known by most for his work with the Lion King on Broadway.

The company is on a tour of New York and did a teaching performance featuring veteran dancers Norwood Pennewell and (founding member) Steve Humphrey, here both Bessie Award-winners, as well as some of the newer company members.

GFD gave an excerpt from the following: “Prelude–Discipline is Freedom,” “Talking Drums,” featuring Guy Thorne, “Mix 25: Shackles,” as well as the colorful number “Touring Jubilee,” (complete with costumes from the Roaring 20s) featuring Annique S. Roberts.

I’ve seen GFD in New York and Washington, DC.  They have traveled the world, bringing sophisticated yet athletically funky movement to the masses.

What has always amazed me about the company is that the ladies are as strong as the men, and the men are as graceful as the women when on stage. There’s an equality of talent for sure.

SIF Board member Odetta Norton once trained with this group and B. Efejuku’s wife Valentina retired after a wonderful career as a featured dancer.

In a recent interview I found out that Bill T. Jones was once a student of Garth Fagan.

I look forward to seeing Fagan’s homage to visual artist Romare Bearden.  

GFD will perform a complete show tonight at Syracuse University.

Diversify: Beats, Flicks & Beyond

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

These days it’s wise to have a myriad of skills.

When I told a friend that D-nice, the (former) DJ and rapper, was a photographer they didn’t believe me. That’s when I showed them this.

Another example of a DJ who now takes photographs (and also writes) is Bobbito Garcia. Garcia also runs a magazine, has a television show and designs shoes.

World studio

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Photographer Chester Higgins recently sent me a link to some new photos he took of Southern Omo Tribes in Ethiopia.

I’m a big fan of his environmental portraiture and his work on portals (windows, doors and openings).

Here’s a link.

Washington Wizards

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

I went to school in Washington, D.C. and never got the full story on this family. I’ve seen images, but didn’t have the details. Many people know the work of Van der Zee or Polk or even Teenie Harris, but not many know the Scurlocks.