Today is Jan. 1.
Bass player Al McKibbon was born this day in 1919 in Chicago. This wide-ranging player replaced Ray Brown in Dizzy Gillespie's first jazz orchestra. He also worked with Miles Davis, including the important "Birth of the Cool" recording sessions.
Vibes player Milt Jackson, a founding member of the Modern Jazz Quartet, was born this day in 1923 in Detroit. He died in 1999 from cancer.
Electric guitarist Sonny Greenwich was born this day in 1936 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He played rhythm and blues in Toronto before joining forces with a number of jazz players, including John Handy, Hank Mobley and Miles Davis.
Saxophonist Chris Potter was born this day in 1971 in Chicago. He grew up in South Carolina, where trumpeter Red Rodney discovered him and took him on the road for four years starting at age 18. These days, he leads his own band and tours frequently as a member of the Dave Holland Quintet.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
Move over, Jazz at Lincoln Center. New York no longer has a lock on hosting a parent institution for jazz comparable to classical music's organizational largesse. The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra will have a concert season, a salaried roster of 21 musicians and a board to manage the orchestra and raise funds from the corporate community. Artistic director and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield told the New Orleans Times-Picayune the orchestra will provide the structure that jazz has lacked in New Orleans. In his words, "The culture is here, and it's not going to die. But we can have an outside institution that can support that culture and enhance it."
The orchestra is based at Dillard University, where it will function as an artist-in-residence program. The jazz orchestra's first performance is scheduled at Tipitina's in February. Like Jazz at Lincoln Center, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra will have school outreach programs with performances and discussions about jazz music and culture. A commissioned work by Mayfield, based on the history of lynching in America, is scheduled to premiere in April. The orchestra plans to perform at the opening of the New Orleans Museum of Art's sculpture garden. Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center artistic director, New Orleans native and friend and mentor to Mayfield, is an orchestra board member. Mayfield, 25, is co-founder of Los Hombres Calientes and is also executive director of Dillard's Institute of Jazz Culture, which was launched this fall to bolster the study of jazz.
Friends of percussionist Alberto "Tito" Cepeda are collecting funds for his medical expenses. Cepeda specializes in Afro-Puerto Rican and Afro-Cuban music. Puerto Rican born, New York-raised Cepeda has been a member of the renowned Pleneros de la 21 for nearly 20 years. He has played on recordings by, among others, Lexington Avenue Express, Pepe Castillo, Papo Vazquez and the Pleneros de la 21. He is both a relative of the Familia Cepeda and member of "La Fundacion de Don Rafael Cepeda" in Puerto Rico.
Tito has performed with Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Victor Montanez, La Familia Cepeda, Grupo Afro Cuba de Matanzas, Orlando Rios "Puntilla", Carlos "Patato" Valdez y Totico, Los Papines, Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez, Grupo Folclorico Nacional, Conjunto Libre, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and others. He has served as mentor and teacher to numerous local youths through his participation in the Pleneros de la 21 Children's Bomba and Plena Workshops and has for many years taken part in El Museo del Barrio's Three Kings Parade.
Cepeda is suffering from renal failure and other complications from diabetes that have severely affected the blood circulation, specifically to his hands, resulting in amputation of two fingers. His health insurance does not cover his medical expenses so his family and friends have set up a fund for him. For more information contact Miriam Felix at (917) 453-8282 or Raquel Z. Rivera at (212) 876-4190.
On the New York jazz scene... the Chick Corea New Trio with Avishai Cohen and Jeff Ballard plus special guest Gary Burton are at the Blue Note this week. The McCoy Tyner is at Iridium with special guest Michael Brecker. The Bill Charlap trio and special guest Phil Woods are at the Jazz Standard. The Duke Ellington Orchestra directed by Paul Mercer Ellington and Jack Jeffers is at Birdland tonight.
In New Orleans... Brian Prunka is at the Blue Nile. Earl Brown is at Cafe Sbisa. Leigh "Little Queenie" Harris is at Dos Jefes tonight. The Soul Rebels Brass Band is at El Matador. The Funk 'n' Horns are at the Funky Butt. Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers are at Le Bon Temps Roule. The Johnny Vidacovich trio is at the Maple Leaf. John Brunious leads tonight's band at Preservation Hall. Pianist Peter Martin is at Snug Harbor.
Bob Baldwin is at the Blue Note in Las Vegas through Saturday.
In California... the Ian Rapien quintet is at Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton. Soul Sauce is at Jazz at Pearl's in San Francisco. The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars featuring James Moody, Slide Hampton and Jon Faddis are at Yoshi's in Oakland through Sunday.