By Dee Dee McNeil

July 23, 2020


This vocalist has a sweet, smooth, alto sound as she delivers a ballad tribute to those of us who have been self-quarantined for the past several months, while trying not to catch the CoronaVirus and/or not to spread it.  She has invited a host of players from all over the world to contribute their violin talents to her orchestration.  You see contributing musicians, as in a Zoom meeting, along with several black and white videos of people (worldwide) who are sending love out into the world from their various international locations.  This is a sweet video and a lovely tune about love and support of one another. The musicians were recorded in isolation to become a part of this international orchestra.  If you want to see Ms. Gardot perform ‘live,’ watch her sing “Caravan.”  This video has already received nearly 400,000 views.

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This Live-stream concert will stream on  Saturday, July 25th @ 7:00p PST.  Following the live streaming, the concert will be available for a 24-hour VOD rental on The Baked Potato’s website.  

Since 1970, The Baked Potato Jazz Club has been the home venue for many of the world’s greatest musicians, (not always jazz musicians) and has showcased many of the bands and artists that have helped sew the rich fabric of this Los Angeles area musical institution. Over its tenure, the club has welcomed some of the biggest names in music as both guests and performers, not limited to: Slash, Chad Smith, Stevie Wonder, Jackson Brown, and Prince even had his own seat at the club.  

The Covid-19 pandemic has put a huge pause on LIVE music, but Baked Potato club owner Justin Randi will not sit by and watch this happen.  He has installed a multi-cam operation inside the club, complete with 4k cameras, utilizing the best live streaming technology available.  The live-stream performance with The Steve Gadd Band will help support one of the oldest clubs in LA to keep the music alive. #savethepotato

The Steve Gadd Band will play a live-stream concert to benefit this Los Angeles institution this Saturday, July 25th.  The live performance and subsequent video-on-demand access is only available on

STEVE GADD is one of the most sought-after American drummers, percussionists, and session musicians in the industry. Gadd’s performances on Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”, Late in the Evening”, and Steely Dan’s “Aja” are some of the most well-known examples of his style.  His work has crossed genres and he has worked with popular musicians such as: Simon & Garfunkel, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Kate Bush, Joe Cocker, Chet Baker, Kenny Loggins, and more. 

THE STEVE GADD BAND members include Michael Landau (guitarist who has played on albums with Boz Scaggs, Steve Perry, Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, Stevie Nicks, Miles Davis and more), Jimmy Johnson (bassist best known for recording and touring with James Taylor), Larry Goldings (on the keys who has recorded with De La Soul, India Arie, Tracy Chapman, Michael McDonald, Beck, John Mayer, Norah Jones, and more), and Bruce Fowler (on the trumpet, a composer and conductor best known for his work on the trombone on Frank Zappa’s albums).


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This Is a video captured during the Appalachian Summer Festival, Appalachian State University’s first digital festival.  Shana Tucker, composer, cellist and vocalist headlines her quartet.  She paints jazz with R&B pastels and singer/songwriter polish.  A duo string introduction features Tucker on cello and Will Ledbetter (on upright bass).  They set the mood and the tone for this emotional song that Shana Tucker has penned making it perfectly clear that there is no getting back together with her.   Christian Tamburr is masterful on piano and Alfred Serfel IV holds the Latin tinged rhythm solidly in place on his trap drums.  Shana Tucker is an emotional singer, who shares her sincerity in her vocal presentation while accompanying herself on cello. She labels her music as ‘Chamber Soul’ stirring it up with a pinch of pop and inspired by the folksiness of being her own, free-flowing songwriter.  Based in North Carolina, she is currently the featured vocalist with jazz saxophonist, Bennie Maupin.  She is also part of Women’s Work, a female-led collective of jazz, soul & pop artists from both the East and the West Coast.  Her debut CD, “Shine” landed her a gig in Las Vegas with the popular Cirque de Soliel organization as singer/cellist. This is a concert ‘cut’ to spice up four minutes and thirty-nine seconds of your day!

If you enjoyed that, you may want to also view her solo, activism post titled, “Requiem for Elijah McClain.”

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This Saturday, July 25, 2020 at 6pm PST, Sam Hirsh will play a live-stream solo piano concert from his living room in Los Angeles.  There is no charge for the concert, however donations are welcome to help support the future of the Jazz Bakery and their concert series.  Your tax deductible donation can be made at:

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Sara Serpa, composer/vocals; Zeena Parkins, harp/tuning forks; Mark Turner, tenor saxophone; David Virelles, piano.

After I listened to the CD and before I realized it was a film score, I felt I had to see the film to be totally fair when reviewing Sara Serpa’s music.  Her music is part of a unique interdisciplinary, experimental documentary and watching the film, I gained a new perspective on her music.  The film traces the historical legacy of Portuguese colonialism in Africa, using images, printed quotes and sound.  In collaboration with director, Bruno Soares, Sara Serpa, (an artist, composer and vocalist) has edited never-before-seen footage from Portugal and Angola shot in the 1960s (on Super 8 film) when the colony was then ruled by Salazar’s notorious fascist regime.  The film is highlighted with texts by the revolutionary, Amilcar Cabral.  The material was discovered in Serpa’s family archives.  Sara Serpa has composed this score and it becomes her tenth album titled, “Recognition.”

You probably have noticed, a lot of the popular 21st Century music of today is produced with repetitious loops.  You hear this production style in Hip Hop music and some pop & R&B. When I first listened to Serpa’s CD, this concept appeared to have filtered its way into her jazzy, Avant-garde production.  In spite of the beautiful vocals and challenging harmonics, I became perplexed by piano lines that were constantly repetitive.  On track 3, David Virelles finally stretches out on piano and plays more than chords; chords that previously had repeated themselves rhythmically, over and over.  Sara uses her voice more like an instrument than a lyrical singer, producing hypnotic vocals that harmonize without words with the Zeena Parkins’ harp and tuning forks or with Mark Turner’s tenor saxophone.  However, after track three, track four goes right back to repetition by the pianist.  At that point, I knew, to be fair in my evaluation of this Avant-garde composer, I would have to view her film.

There were titles superimposed on the film screen in English and Portuguese.  One read:

“After the slave trade the destruction of the economic and social structure of African Society.”

I understood immediately, on that first tune (“Lei do Indigenato, 1914”), her repetitive music fit the scenes perfectly.  Turner’s tenor saxophone haunts the historic film clips.  Her vocals accompany a plane taking off and someone’s view from a plane window, filming over the wing.  The camera lens film clouds and mountain tops.  The Parkins’ harp is now the backdrop.  People exit the plane and board a huge passenger ship.  A lifeboat is lowered into the murky waters from the side of the ‘Infante Dom Henrique” vessel, its name painted on the ship’s bow. A speed boat races up.  There is a great deal of impressionism in this documentary.  Even the way the film is edited, blurring some scenes until they become dripping colors that float into each other, creating an abstract painting before our eyes.

“Portuguese multi racialism is a myth, it means compliance, except for contact through work” appears across the screen.

Flash to mines, women and their children carrying heavy baskets on their heads; a blur of blues and whites make the scene another moving painting.  Is that salt they shovel into heavy baskets and struggle to carry to large mobile container on railway tracks?  We watch these women of color pouring their white offering into the larger container.  Black men rake the white mounds into tall piles and others push the large containers down the railroad tracks. 

Musically, Sara Serpa harmonizes with herself.  She makes sounds that recall a grandfather clock, or a historic coo-coo clock.  Her repetitive musical composition calls out the time.  The piano too sounds like a pendulum moving/striking.  More impressionism?  I’m not sure.  But the music makes more artistic sense when you see it played as a soundtrack.  Sara Serpa’s soprano notes are crystal clear and her intervals are challenging.  She also recites poetry during this soundtrack.  But for the most part, there is a lot of repetition, played mostly by the pianist and often sung by the vocalist.  The notes hang, like the parachutes that appear on screen with soldiers dangling, sad ornaments of war, while planes bomb the earth. 

This film talks about people of color treated as chattel and existing at the mercy of white settlers.  It’s a time when these people’s native, African languages were forbidden.  The white man was celebrated as a superior being.  The Africans thought of as inferior.  The Colonial conquistadors were represented as saints.  In another scene Serpa chants, “Kwanyama”.  “Lingala” she speaks.  Images of black bodies blurred on the screen, fading to tall buildings.  Ancient kings and queens are referenced.  Queen Nzinga, ruler of the Ndongo kingdom is remembered.  She came to power through her African military tenacity.  She was successful politically, loved by her people and vilified by her European contemporaries.  Still, she ruled for 3-decades and defied 13 Portuguese governors.  This is the story of 400 years of Portuguese occupation, with a resistance that never stopped.  The film uses lots of kaleidoscope techniques and blurred frames that makes the motion picture look like a contemporary museum painting much of the time.  The music works well in the film, for the most part.  Still, Sara Serpa’s music is a little too repetitious for my taste.

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A friend of mine sent me this on-line video and it was so uplifting I wanted to share it.  It’s not jazz, it’s gospel, featuring a singer I think is extraordinary, Ms. Lauryn Hill and a new vocalist I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t heard before, Tanya Blount.  She’s actually no new comer.  Tanya made herself known as an actress, appearing in a number of plays and film.  Born in Washington, D.C., she had a major recording deal with Polydor Records (that became Island/Def Jam) at age nineteen.  She became a film star of note in “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” and performed this unforgettable duet with Lauryn Hill at that time.  She did have an album released in 1994 titled, “Natural Thing.”  Her career has consistently included musical theater and in 2012, she produced another recording.  She’s also written a book titled, “Through the Rain: 40 Principles for Surviving Life’s Challenges.”  So, settle back and enjoy these two talented women singing one of our familiar Christian standards.

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JAZZ NIGHT IN AMERICA is a brand, new, archival Newport Jazz Festival Radio Special.   Starting Friday, July 24,2020 at 6pm and running for the three weekends, join Jazz Night in America, with host Christian McBride, for a special radio edition of the Newport Jazz Festival.  You will enjoy historic archival sets from Newport’s rich 65-year history.  McBride, who also serves as the Artistic Director of the festival, has hand-picked a dream festival line-up for the three-part program.

“There’s a goldmine here – a plethora of riches,” says McBride. 

So, tune up from 6PM – 10PM ET on Friday, July 24th, Saturday August 8 and 12PM – 4PM ET on Sunday August 9 to listen to a great mix of old and new Live From Newport Jazz.  To find additional information visit

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In closing, a new podcast has been launched by the California Jazz Foundation called “Sonic Tonic” produced and hosted by guitarist, composer and bandleader, Greg Porée.   Porée will be interviewing a host of blues and jazz veterans.  Upcoming interviews will feature Paul Jackson, Jr., Billy Mitchell, Nick Mancini and more.  For additional information visit

The California Jazz Foundation is a nonprofit organization, founded in 2006, and created to aid and assist California jazz musicians in financial or medical crisis.  I’m sure the foundation is inundated with requests during these pandemic days.  CJF is committed to providing access to quality social and economic services for al eligible applicants through a team of caring, knowledgeable professionals in collaboration with their community partners.

In summary, this article is being written to promote and support jazz music.  During these challenging times, I’m counting on you to keep jazz alive. Take a listen to some of these “on-line” choices.

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