PANDEMIC INSPIRES VIRTUAL MUSIC, ZOOM CELEBRATIONS & JAZZ THEMES IN TELEVISION

By Dee Dee McNeil / Jazz Journalist
May 22, 2020

NETFLIX DRAMA SERIES FEATURES JAZZ AS THEIR MUSIC OF CHOICE
“THE EDDY”

I’m a Netflix subscriber and find this network’s roster of shows to be quite entertaining. Their original shows are diverse and they have a little somethin’- somethin’ for everyone. When I ran across this series, I was both excited and surprised. This original Netflix show, “The Eddy” reminds me of my days enjoying foreign films. It’s a drama, shot in Paris, France, and the language moves from English to French, with subtitles. But the exciting thing about this show (“The Eddy”) is that it takes place in a jazz club with the music front and center. The plot is about the two owners of the club, an Arab and an African American man, and their struggle to stay relative, artistic and in business. The Arab man plays trumpet and handles the business of the club. The black man is a jazz pianist, composer and oversees the house-band. This multi-ethnic cast includes a jazz band that performs a plethora of original music. All of us, in the business of jazz, can appreciate the constant struggle it is to keep our music relevant and alive. Created by six-time GRAMMY winning songwriter, Glen Ballard, this is a story that features the music upfront and in your face, blended with a murder mystery, a struggling relationship between father and daughter, romances and some incredible jazz, performed live. It stars Andre Holland as club owner and jazz pianist (character name, Elliot), Amandla Stenberg as his 16-year-old daughter, (Julie) and sultry singer, Maja, played by Joanna Kulig. Tahir Rahim plays Farid, the co-owner of their jazz club and Leila Bekhti (a popular French film actress) plays his wife. Check out “The Eddy” on Netflix. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. This is the first television series I have seen since “Peter Gunn” that features jazz music.

By the way, you can also find some great music documentaries on this independent network including one on Quincy Jones, “Quincy”; a special on Nina Simone, “What Happened Miss Simone?,” the story of the top background singers in the United States, including L.A’s own, Merry Clayton, called “20 Feet from Stardom”; an amazing documentary on Clive Davis titled, “The Soundtrack of Our Lives”; The Miles Davis Story, “Birth of the Cool”; a look at Bob Marley’s life called, “Who Shot the Sheriff?”; the life of Lee Morgan, “I Called Him Morgan,” and so much more. With all this time on our hands, being locked down during a worldwide pandemic becomes the perfect time to sit back and enjoy our music in documentaries and movies.
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8-BIT BIG BAND VIRTUAL COMMUNITY ORCHESTRA

https://www.the8bitbigband.com/lifelight

The Full album of this unusual music project is available on Apple Music Spotify and Bandcamp. The concept was for musicians and video game music fans to collaborate and create a piece of music to celebrate the great video game songbook. Unique, right? During this production, they employed hundreds of musicians worldwide who created a virtual orchestra. It was recorded remotely from several different countries.

This project is an expansion. The original 8-Bit Big Band is a smaller ensemble of 30-65 members. As I mentioned, their unusual goal is to perform the best themes from video game music. The themes are arranged for their ensemble of musicians, mostly based in New York City. You will hear themes from the ‘Super Mario Brother’s’ game, Final Fantasy, F-Zero, the Zelda Series and more. Charlie Rosen is the twenty-nine-year old bandleader and television composer behind this “Lifelight” project from Super Smash Brothers. His concept grew into 664 contributing virtual participants for one of the largest virtual bands ever created. In the two years since the ensembles original inception, it’s become a virtual, viral phenomenon. Their YouTube channel boasts nearly 100,000 viewers. Check it out.

https://syncopatedtimes.com/the-8-bit-big-band-press-start/

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On May 23, 2020, the 501 (c) (3) Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) will honor iconic pianist and composer, Ran Blake with the Boston Jazz Hero Award. I fell in love with Ran Blake’s playing when I first heard him performing duos with Jeanne Lee. Blake is one of twenty-seven jazz heroes across the country chosen by their peers for being activists, advocates, altruists, educators, musicians, aiders and abettors of jazz. You are invited to join this ceremony as a Zoom attendee at 7 p.m. Eastern time and 4 p.m. West Coast time, on this Saturday, May 23rd. The popular event becomes a virtual, On-line experience born out of the COVID19 pandemic and the need for humanity to distance themselves.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/jazz-journal-association-local-hero-award-boston-2020-ran-blake-tickets-103847422436 Registration is required.

More and more organizations have turned their in-person meetings and even concerts into Zoom computer events. The Jazz Heroes are named in conjunction with the JJA’s annual Jazz Awards given for excellence in music and music journalism. The complete 2020 honoree list can be viewed at: https://www.jjajazzawards.org

Our own L.A. based pianist, composer, producer, recording artist and educator, Mr. Billy Mitchell, will be honored on May 28th for this same award of excellence. The jazz Journalists Association, in concert with the California Jazz Foundation, had each planned a huge gala to present their awards to celebrated jazz artists. When COVID19 raised its ugly head, everything had to be cancelled. Consequently, On-line gatherings began to pop up like bright, yellow dandelions on a pristine lawn. Edythe Bronston, the president of the California Jazz Foundation and Howard Mandel, president of JJA, invite you to please join us at 5:30 p.m. (West Coast time) on May 28th, (a Thursday evening) to tribute Billy Mitchell.

JJA Jazz Heroes go Zoom

Mitchell was scheduled to be presented the “Nica” Award by the California Jazz Foundation back in April along with Johnny Mandel, who was to receive the “Terry” lifetime achievement award. This upcoming, On-line presentation reflects the entertainment legacy statement of, “the show must go on.” Zoom participation is limited. We invite you to register for Billy Mitchell’s award presentation at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/los-angeles-jazz-hero-billy-mitchell-presentation-tickets-106133600456 no later than midnight, May 27th.
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Pianist, educator, composer, producer and arranger, Tamir Hendelman, is hosting a piano live stream every Saturday evening at 6 p.m. pacific time. He will be tributing various iconic jazz artists and the Great American Songbook. On May 23rd, he’ll be featuring the music of Harold Arlen. On Saturday, May 30th, he’ll tribute Miles Davis. For more information check out:

https://gem.godaddy.com/p/a3deb01/
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