March 29, 2008


Max Roach, the dazzling drummer who helped create the rhythmic language of modern jazz while expanding the expressive possibilities of the drums, died Aug. 16, 2007 in New York. He was 83 and had been ill for several years.

Mr. Roach was a founding architect of bebop, the high-speed, harmonically advanced music of the 1940s that helped elevate jazz from dance-hall entertainment to concert-stage art. In dozens of landmark recordings with such musical giants as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk -- including a 1953 performance that has entered legend as "the greatest jazz concert ever" -- he pioneered a new approach to jazz drumming that remains the standard to this day.

Jazz musician Max Roach attends Ossie Davis' funeral at Riverside Church in New York on Feb. 12, 2005. The master percussionist whose rhythmic innovations and improvisations provided the dislocated beats that defined bebop jazz, died Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007, at an undisclosed hospital in Manhattan after a long illness. He was 83.

An influential force in music for 60 years, Mr. Roach expanded the borders of improvised music by incorporating elements of other artistic traditions, including African and Asian music, dance, poetry and hip-hop. He led performances with as many as 100 percussion instruments on stage, but he also played minimalist solos using only the high-hat, a pair of cymbals mounted on a metal stand and worked with a pedal.

"Nobody else ever had the nerve to come out on stage with a cymbal under his arm and say, 'This is art,' " jazz critic Gary Giddins told the Los Angeles Times in 1991. "Max Roach's whole bearing says he is a musician to be treated like any great virtuoso. No drummer before him had ever achieved that."

He later became a strong voice for racial equality through his compositions and his recordings with singer Abbey Lincoln, to whom he was married for several years.In 1988, he was among the first jazz musicians to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, or so-called "genius grant."

Mr. Roach's most significant innovations came in the 1940s, when he and another jazz drummer, Kenny Clarke, devised a new concept of musical time. By playing the beat-by-beat pulse of standard 4/4 time on the "ride" cymbal instead of on the thudding bass drum, Roach and Clarke developed a flexible, flowing rhythmic pattern that allowed soloists to play freely. The new approach also left space for the drummer to insert dramatic accents on the snare drum, "crash" cymbal and other components of the trap set.

By matching his rhythmic attack with a tune's melody, Mr. Roach brought a newfound subtlety of expression to his instrument. He often shifted the dynamic emphasis from one part of his drum kit to another within a single phrase, creating a sense of tonal color and rhythmic surprise.

Virtually every jazz drummer plays in that manner today, but when Clarke and Mr. Roach introduced the new style in the 1940s, it was a revolutionary musical advance.

"When Max Roach's first records with Charlie Parker were released by Savoy in 1945," jazz historian Burt Korall wrote in the "Oxford Companion to Jazz," "drummers experienced awe and puzzlement and even fear."

One of those awed drummers, Stan Levey, summed up Mr. Roach's importance: "I came to realize that, because of him, drumming no longer was just time, it was music."

Maxwell Lemuel Roach was born Jan. 10, 1924, in Newland, N.C., and moved with his family to Brooklyn, N.Y., when he was 4. He sang in a children's church choir, played in a drum-and-bugle corps and had his first drum set at 12.

He played briefly with Duke Ellington's orchestra when he was 16 and studied at the Manhattan School of Music, but his real education came in the all-night clubs of Harlem.

"When I was young in New York, we worked seven days a week, around the clock," he said in a 1977 interview. "We'd play downtown from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Then we'd pack our gear and go uptown to an after-hours club from 4 a.m. until 9 a.m. During the day there were house-rent parties where you could see [pianist] Art Tatum and [drummer] Sid Catlett. That was our teaching. It was the most marvelous way to learn."

In 1944, Mr. Roach played drums with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins on Gillespie's "Woody 'n' You," widely acknowledged to be the first true bebop record. Working with alto saxophonist Parker a year later, Mr. Roach performed on such benchmark bebop tunes as "Billie's Bounce," "Koko" and "Now's the Time."

He worked off and on with Parker until 1953 and for a time acquired Parker's taste for narcotics. Mr. Roach overcame his addiction and in the 1950s helped trumpeter Miles Davis kick his own heroin habit.

In 1949, Mr. Roach appeared on pianist Bud Powell's groundbreaking "Tempus Fugit" and "Un Poco Loco," then turned up on the influential 1949-50 sessions led by Davis and Gerry Mulligan called "Birth of the Cool." In 1951, he was the drummer on "Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 2," an important work by pianist and composer Thelonious Monk.

Taken together, these recordings defined the vibrant language of bebop, which remains the predominant form of modern jazz. In the view of many fans, bebop reached its zenith on May 15, 1953, when Mr. Roach joined Parker, Gillespie, Powell and bassist Charles Mingus in Toronto for "the greatest jazz concert ever." It was captured on the album "Live at Massey Hall," released on the Debut record label, founded by Mingus and Mr. Roach. (The two later feuded over money after the company folded.)

In California in 1954, Mr. Roach and trumpeter Clifford Brown formed a widely admired quintet that came to include saxophonist Sonny Rollins. They created a sensation with their earthy but elegant music, which became the foundation of the jazz style known as hard bop.

When Brown was killed in a car accident in 1956 at the age of 25, a distraught Mr. Roach fell into an alcoholic depression. He recovered through hard work, exploring new projects with Rollins, Monk and trumpeter Kenny Dorham. He also formed a musical and personal alliance with Lincoln, a singer and actress who abandoned her early sex-kitten image for a stance of black pride.

Their 1960 recording, "We Insist! Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite," with music by Mr. Roach and lyrics by Oscar Brown Jr., featured Lincoln's sometimes anguished vocals and became an important musical milepost in the civil rights movement. Lincoln and Mr. Roach, who were married from 1962 to 1970, recorded two other albums and continued to live in the same Manhattan apartment building for years.

Beginning in 1972, Mr. Roach taught at the University of Massachusetts and lectured on music throughout the country. He worked with avant-garde musicians Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton and Archie Shepp; formed a 10-member drum ensemble, M'Boom Re: Percussion'; and appeared with gospel choirs, symphony orchestras, brass quintets and Japanese drummers. He also composed music for dance pieces by Alvin Ailey and for plays by Sam Shepard.

In the 1980s and '90s, Mr. Roach often performed with a string quartet that included his daughter Maxine Roach on viola. He played drums in spoken-word concerts with writers Toni Morrison and Amiri Baraka and sometimes accompanied hip-hop artists.

When asked why he would perform with rappers, Mr. Roach replied, "The world of organized sound is a boundless palette." (He drew the line at jazz fusion, however, because of his disdain for electronic music.)

The trim, dapper Mr. Roach, typically attired in a suit and tie, was a man of dignity who demanded respect for his art. Late in his career, he rejected the term "jazz," saying it relegated his music to second-rate venues and low pay.

"For some time now," critic Giddins wrote in 1985, "it has been insufficient to say of Max Roach that he is the most widely admired drummer since the advent of modern jazz. He's become something more -- a tough-minded monitor of the music's best instincts."

He made his final recording, with trumpeter Clark Terry, in 2002.

He was married and divorced three times -- Lincoln was his second wife -- and had relationships with several other women.

Mr. Roach's survivors include his daughter Maxine and a son, actor Daryl Roach, from his first marriage, to Mildred Roach; a son, Raoul Roach, from another relationship; and twin daughters, Ayodele Roach and Dara Roach, from his third marriage, to Janus Adams Roach.

March 26, 2008


Aziza grew up in the 1960's. Born in Harlem where we lived for a while, then The Bronx then queens. Family consisted of 4 members, mom, dad, me and my brother. It was a good environment Dad played some piano and mom loved the arts. We attended church and always ate Sunday breakfast and dinners together and week nights also. Mom raised my brother and me and dad worked. We were a close family. Mom was a great cook and raised us well and Dad was an easy going loving father.

Growing up as Linda( not Aziza) there were many many musical styles influencing in my life. Such as; Jazz, soul, blues, r&b, calypso, salsa, afro-cuban, classical, negro spirituals( Tuskegee Institute Choir, Mahalia Jackson), anthems, gospel, rap, hip hop. While attending The High School Of Music and Art, those of us who loved jazz would meet in the practice rooms after school and jam, playing songs by Herbie Hancock, MongoSantamaria, Horace Silver, Oliver Nelson, John Coltrane, to name a few.

Legendary pianist Kenny Barron was my mentor and teacher at The Jazzmobile Workshop in Harlem in the early 1970's. He would recommend me for gigs and that is how I became Cecil Payne's pianist before I was hired by Natalie Cole. Bassist Paul West was the Director of Jazzmobile at the time and some of the other teachers back then were Jimmy Heath, Curtis Fuller and Lee Morgan. When Mr. Morgan died we all attended the funeral services, if memory serves me correctly, I think it was in Philadelphia.
In the 1960's & 70's we were able to call in to a radio station and actually speak to the artist being interviewed 'live' on the air. This is how Horace Silver and I became good friends. He was a guest on WLIB, I phoned in because he was and still is one of my fav. composers.

We met, talked about music and maintained a friendship to this day! I can remember always wanting to know who the composer was as much as knowing the song itself!
Coming from the projects, I was surrounded by a lot of black music and latin music too.

When I attended Music & Art H.S. and The Manhattan School Of Music, I was immersed into the European Classical music. I really liked the impressionistic period the best. In College is where I met Yusef Lateef. He and I were in the same ear-training and sight singing class. I started studying Alto Sax and blues with this master musician for almost 2 years....The piano won out, but the influences of the horn is still in my head, in my heart and in my arrangements. My particular vocal instrument to me is definitely a saxophone.

I am a single mom. I raised my son, Brandon in Brooklyn. He is a Naval Pilot, musician and composer and the joy of my life!! He is starting to write some beautiful music. He is a real Jazz head and a great human being. He and his lovely wife are very happy.

In terms of obstacles, when I really really think about it, the biggest obstacle in my life was me. There was a time when I compared myself with others because I allowed myself to be persuaded by an industry that does just that. They want you to sound like what is 'hot ' at the moment or the particular 'flava' of the month, year, week , day or minute... ya feel me? So when I was invited to perform at The Jazz Cafe in London in 2006 and these people were groovin to my music, my style, my voice, my essence, that is when I knew that if they could dig me and songs that I had written almost 30 years ago, then it was time for me to wake up and embrace and accept the gifts that The Creator had blessed me with. So I freed myself and got out of my way and I LOVE what I do now and my message is not going to be for everyone, but it is going to be for the ones that it's supposed to be for and for that I say thank you God!

And I continue to give God the praise every single time He gives me a song or a word or a message or a lyric I look up and say THANK YOU!! And to my parents who are both gone from this earthly plane now, I say I will continue to represent and make you proud so you will know that all your faith, effort and sacrifices were well worh it!!!

Musical influences

Horace Silver, Earth Wind & Fire, Jazz Messengers, Stevie Wonder, Isley Brothers, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Tania Maria, Nikki Giovanni, Herbie Hancock, Maya Angelou, Joe Cuba, MongoSantamaria, Kenny Barron, Yusef Lateef, John Coltrane, Eddie Palmieri, Cal tjader, McCoy Tyner, Ray Charles, James Brown, Sly Stone, Graham Central Station, Johnny Mathis, Nat king Cole, Ahmad Jamal, Art Blakey...and on and on........

March 09, 2008


Joe Zawinul belongs in a category unto himself — a European from the heartland of the classical music tradition (Vienna) who learned to swing as freely as any American jazzer, and whose appetite for growth and change remains insatiable. Zawinul's curiosity and openness to all kinds of sounds made him one of the driving forces behind the electronic jazz-rock revolution of the late '60s and '70s — and later, he would be almost alone in exploring fusions between jazz-rock and ethnic music from all over the globe. He is one of a bare handful of synthesizer players who actually learned how to play the instrument, to make it an expressive, swinging part of his arsenal. Prior to the invention of the portable synthesizer, Zawinul's example helped bring the Wurlitzer and Fender-Rhodes electric pianos into the jazz mainstream. Zawinul also has become a significant composer, ranging (like his idol Duke Ellington) from soulful hit tunes to large-scale symphonic-jazz canvases. Yet despite his classical background, he now prefers to improvise compositions spontaneously onto tape, not writing them out on paper.

At six, Josef Erich Zawinul started to play the accordion in his native Austria, and studies in classical piano and composition at the Vienna Conservatory soon followed. His interest in jazz piano, initially influenced by George Shearing and Erroll Garner, led to jobs with Austrian saxophonist Hans Koller in 1952 and gigs with his own trio in France and Germany. He emigrated to the United States in late 1958 after winning a scholarship to Berklee, yet after just one week in class, he left to join Maynard Ferguson's band for eight months, where Miles Davis first took notice of him. Following a brief stay with Slide Hampton, Zawinul became Dinah Washington's pianist from 1959 to 1961, and then spent a month with Harry "Sweets" Edison before Cannonball Adderley picked him to fill the piano chair in his Quintet. There Zawinul stayed and blossomed for nine years, contributing several compositions to the Adderley bandbook — among them the major pop hit "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," "Walk Tall" and "Country Preacher" — and ultimately helping to steer the Adderley group into the electronic era. While with Adderley, Zawinul evolved from a hard bop pianist to a soul/jazz performer heavily steeped in the blues, and ultimately a jazz/rock explorer on the electric piano. Toward the end of his Adderley gig (1969-1970), he was right in the thick of the new jazz-rock scene, recording several pioneering records with Miles Davis, contributing the title tune of Davis' In a Silent Way album.

After recording a self-titled solo album, Zawinul left Adderley to form Weather Report with Wayne Shorter and Czech bassist Miroslav Vitous in November 1970. Weather Report gave the increasingly self-confident Zawinul a platform to evolve even further as his interest in propulsive grooves and music from Africa and the Middle East ignited and developed. He gradually dropped the electric piano in favor of a series of ever-more-sophisticated synthesizers which he mastered to levels never thought possible by those who derided the instruments as sterile, unfeeling machines. Weather Report eventually became a popular group that appealed to audiences beyond jazz and progressive rock, thanks in no small part to Zawinul's hit song "Birdland."

When Zawinul and Shorter finally came to a parting of the ways in 1985, Zawinul started to tour all by himself, surrounded by keyboards and rhythm machines, but resurfaced the following year with a short-lived extension of Weather Report called Weather Update (which did not leave any recordings). Weather Update quickly evolved into another group, the Zawinul Syndicate, which over the span of a decade has been tilting increasingly toward groove-oriented world music influences. Zawinul has also shown renewed interest in his European roots, collaborating with fellow Viennese classical pianist Friedrich Gulda from 1987 to 1994, producing a full-blown classical-based symphony Stories of the Danube in 1993 and following the near-disastrous Malibu fires of 1994, moving from California to New York City in order to be closer to Europe. In 2002 he released Faces & Places, his first studio album in several years and one that boasted an international roster of supporting musicians.

JOE ZAWINUL crossed over on September 11, 2007. This jazz legend will surely be missed.

March 08, 2008



The NxT LvL aka Mario Coleman hails from Chicago Ill. where he grew up to until age 15. From there he moved to Erie PA. This is where his journey into music began.

Nxt got his first exposure to Jazz, by hanging out with his uncles and listening to cats like Wes Montgomery, and the Jazz Crusaders. But it wasn’t until Grover Washington’s Mr. Magic dropped, that his interest peaked. From there, It was George Benson’s Breezing, by the time Ronnie Laws came out with the Friends and Strangers album, it was pretty much a wrap as far me moving between Jazz, and R&B for inspiration. I remember at one point Reading the back of albums covers like magazines just to see who was playing on them.

Poetry came from the ability to listen deeply to love songs and get lost in the flow and imagery they created. Not to mention how much the ladies love to hear a brother say something sweet to them. As a matter of fact the first poetry piece that was posted was to his X Girlfriend entitled In Silence. My Girl was so moved by the piece she posted in a poetry website, the response was overwhelming and from there it all began.

The name The Nxt LeveL was an epiphany that came to him one day. He felt that he needed a name that represented his continual desire to continue to strive on a daily basis to grow and as individual and an artist. He felt that no matter where he was or what he had accomplished, all they had to do was say his name, and it would set into motion a whole set of methodologies to keep him striving to reach The Nxt LeveL.

March 07, 2008


Bill Evans was born in Plainfield, New Jersey on August 16, 1929 and began his music studies at age 6. Classically trained on piano; he also studied flute and violin as a child. He graduated with a degree in piano performance and teaching from Southeastern Louisiana College (now University) in 1950, and studied composition at Mannes College of Music in New York. After a stint in the Army, he worked in local dance bands, and with clarinetist Tony Scott, Chicago-area singer Lucy Reed and guitarist Mundell Lowe, who brought the young pianist to the attention of producer Orrin Keepnews at Riverside Records.
Evans' first album was New Jazz Conceptions in 1956, which featured the first recording of his most loved composition, "Waltz for Debby". Its follow-up, Everybody Digs Bill Evans was not recorded for another two years; the always shy and self- deprecating pianist claiming he "had nothing new to say." He gradually got noticed in the NYC jazz scene, for his original piano sound and fluid ideas, when in 1958, Miles Davis asked him to join his group (which also featured John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley) He stayed for nearly a year, touring and recording, and subsequently playing on the all-time classic “Kind Of Blue” album -- as well as composing "Blue in Green", now a jazz standard. His work with Miles helped solidify Bill's reputation, and in 1959, Evans founded his most innovative trio with the now-legendary bassist Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian on drums. The trio concept of equal interplay among the musicians was virtually pioneered by Evans, and these albums remain the most popular in his extensive catalog. They did two studio albums together in addition to the famous 'live" sessions at NYC's Village Vanguard in 1961. LaFaro's tragic death in a car accident a few weeks after the Vanguard engagement -- an event which personally devastated Bill -- sent the pianist into seclusion for a time, after which he returned to the trio format later in 1962, with Motian again, and Chuck Israels on bass.
His 1963 Conversations With Myself album , in which he double and triple-tracked his piano, won him the first of many Grammy® awards and the following year he first toured overseas, playing to packed houses from Paris to Tokyo, now solidifying a worldwide reputation. The great bassist Eddie Gomez began a fruitful, eleven year tenure with Bill in 1966, in various trios with drummers Marty Morell, Philly Joe Jones, Jack DeJohnette and others -- contributing to some of the most acclaimed club appearances and albums in Evans's career. His recorded output was considerable (for Riverside, Verve, Columbia, Fantasy and Warner Bros) over the years, and he also did sessions (especially early on) with some of the top names in jazz. Musicians like Charles Mingus, Art Farmer, Stan Getz, Oliver Nelson, Jim Hall, George Russell, Shelley Manne, Toots Theielmans, Kai Winding /J.J. Johnson, Hal McKusick and others all featured Evans. In the seventies, he recorded extensively-- primarily trio and solo piano now and then, but also including several quintet albums under his own name as well two memorable dates with singer Tony Bennett.

His last trio was formed in 1978, featuring the incomparably sensitive Marc Johnson on bass and drummer Joe LaBarbera, which rejuvenated the often-ailing pianist, who was elated with his new line-up, calling it "the most closely related" to his first trio (with LaFaro and Motian). He suffered yet more family problems and upheavals in his personal life, (often due to bouts with narcotics addiction) and yet brought a new dynamic musical vitality, a surer confidence, fresh energy and even more aggressive interplay to the trio's repertoire. Evans' health was deteriorating, however, though he insisted on working until he finally had to cancel midweek during an engagement at Fat Tuesday's in New York. He finally had to be taken to Mount Sinai Hospital on September 15, 1980, where he died from a bleeding ulcer, cirrhosis of the liver and bronchial pneumonia. He is buried next to his beloved brother Harry, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.