FEATURES Robert Pinsky's PoemJazz | Members connection: Win free tickets | Editor's POV: Boston's treasure, Roy Haynes |Curtain falls on ACT III | No-cost jazz events

JazzBoston elects Emmett Price Chairman and CEO | Introducing our new Operations Director | Join the JazzBird team | Snapshots of the scene

EDITOR Grace-Mary Burega, info@kindofpinkandpurple.com

The music is written into the poem: Robert Pinsky's PoemJazz
Laurence Hobgood, left, and Robert Pinsky
Laurence Hobgood, left, and Robert Pinsky

Boston has a rich history of both jazz and poetry. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky combines these two art forms seamlessly in his PoemJazz project, which gives the speaking voice the same musical role as a horn.

Pinsky had a strong early bond with both jazz and poetry, composing songs, parodies and poems vocally as a child growing up in the resort town of Long Branch, New Jersey. The chance to play saxophone in public school provided a new outlet for his vocal improvisation instincts - equating sounds with words and vice versa. In addition to gigging locally on the saxophone, his proximity to New York City allowed him to hear the era's jazz greats playing the famous clubs.

Pinsky reflects on his first experiences with jazz, "When I was in high school and college, the hot new music included Miles' Sketches in Spain and Live at the Blackhawk. The Modern Jazz Quartet were the epitome of a word that was relatively fresh in those days: 'cool.' Stan Getz was playing the Brazilian-jazz music. Mingus, Coltrane, Brubeck - all producing new music."

Pinsky now combines jazz ideas and phrasing with the artistry and performance of poetry. Distinct from vocalese or jazz singing, PoemJazz is a direct musical conversation that allows the poet to interweave spoken word phrasing with harmony, melody and rhythm, responding to what the other musicians play. "I may repeat a phrase, or change the order of the stanzas, or create a refrain, similar to how my band-mates Laurence Hobgood and Stan Strickland try to create a feeling with the music," Pinsky explains. "And we do it together."

Commenting on the textural sound of PoemJazz, Pinsky adds, "For me, poetry is physical, like music. It is music, made from the sounds of speech, the vowels and consonants and sentence-sounds. That is quite different from songwriting. It has to do with what you can hear at the Favorite Poem Project, when ordinary people - not poets or teachers or actors - read poems by Wallace Stevens or Elizabeth Bishop or Langston Hughes or William Shakespeare. In their voices you can hear the music that was written into the poem by the poet."

When he selects poems for a CD like the new House Hour: PoemJazz II or a performance, Pinsky focuses on contrast, pacing, tone and the emotional quality of a poem to choose his set list. Along with his own work he might include a 17th or 19th century poem.

Pinsky, who currently resides in Cambridge, enjoys the similarities of Massachusetts and his native New Jersey - an East Coast sensibility, with a "spin" he contrasts with the years he spent on the West Coast, in the Bay Area. "Here, we brag about our home region by complaining; in California, they are more straight-ahead boosters."

Join Robert Pinsky, Grammy-winning jazz pianist Laurence Hobgood and master reedman Stan Strickland for PoemJazz music from "House Hour." Friday, November 13, 7:30 pm, Regattabar, 1 Bennett Street, Cambridge. Click here for more information.

Members connection: Win free tickets to World Music/CRASHarts, Scullers & Regattabar shows!
Left to right: Matt Garrison, Jack DeJohnette & Ravi Coltrane
Left to right: Matt Garrison, Jack DeJohnette & Ravi Coltrane

If you are a JazzBoston member, write to newsletter@jazzboston.org now to enter a drawing for free tickets to any of the events listed below, and please note which shows and dates you are interested in. You must be a JazzBoston member to be eligible to win.

World Music/CRASHarts is offering a pair of free tickets to the following show:

Jack DeJohnette Trio, December 4, 8 pm, Berklee Performance Center

Scullers is offering one pair of tickets to the following shows:

David Sanborn
, November 20, 10 pm
Arturo Sandoval
, November 29, 4 pm

Scullers is also offering two pairs of tickets to the following show:

The Baylor Project, December 10, 8 pm

Regattabar is offering a pair of tickets to the following shows:

Poemjazz with Robert Pinsky & Laurence Hobgood, November 13, 7:30 pm
Dorado Schmitt & the Django Festival Allstars, November 14, 10 pm
3rd Annual Klezmer Music Festival ft. Klezwoods & Bessarabian Breakdown, November 19, 7:30 pm
Luciana Souza Speaking in Tongues, November 20, 10 pm

Become a JazzBoston member now. Annual memberships begin as low as $20.

Editor's POV: Boston's treasure, Roy Haynes
Roy Haynes at Scullers Jazz Club this past March
Roy Haynes at Scullers Jazz Club this past March

With numerous jazz legends coming from right here in Boston, it is safe to say that this is one of the world's great jazz cities.

One of the true legends of Boston is drummer Roy Haynes. Born in Roxbury, Haynes made his professional debut in 1944 at the age of 17, and by the the age of 20 he received a telegram that changed his life - the chance to work with Lester Young. Since then, Haynes has gone on to work with a who's who of jazz icons, including Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughan, and John Coltrane, in addition to leading his well-known Fountain of Youth band and mentoring the next generation of greats.

The first time I saw Roy Haynes perform was one of the first jazz concerts I ever went to. I was around 14 years old and I had just started listening to jazz when I saw an event in the Boston Globe for a concert at Harvard. The lineup included Roy Haynes, Eddie Palmieri and Benny Golson, among others. I excitedly told my dad that we had to go. Although I was nervous being at my first big jazz concert, I was so taken by the energy and complete joy of the musicians that I knew this music was for me. One particular moment I remember was when Roy was drumming and his stick just flew out of his hands. He didn't even look concerned - he just picked up another stick from behind him and kept on going!

Since then I have seen Haynes at the 2013 Newport Jazz Festival and at Scullers Jazz Club this past March. What struck me about this pillar of jazz history was his energy at 90 years old - he gets up and tap dances, sings and jokes with the audience. Seeing Roy perform is a visual and aural spectacle: his idiosyncratic crisp drum and cymbal patterns form a melodic fiery sound that crackles as a lightning bolt.

Throughout his success, Haynes has maintained his connection to Boston. His brothers Steven and the Reverend Michael Haynes live here, and he returns for the annual Haynes family reunion in addition to visiting the city a couple times a year.

One of the most recorded drummers in jazz, Haynes proves that a little humor and a lot of heart go a long way - from Boston to beyond.

Throughout the next few months JazzBoston will be highlighting famous jazz musicians from the Greater Boston area. Stay tuned for more history and personal accounts of Boston's best.

Curtain falls on Act III

ACT III Restaurant in Littleton, formerly known as the Acton Jazz Cafe, closed its doors October 30th after operating for nearly 20 years. Originally located in Acton, the cafe was a cornerstone of the local jazz community, popular for hosting a rotating schedule of weekly artists and special guests as well as a weekend jam open to all levels.

Trumpeter Phil Grenadier has played at ACT III/ Acton Jazz Cafe since its inception: "Lots of beautiful memories playing many shows over the past 20 years. I am grateful and will greatly miss the people there, but we will play on."

Owner Gwen Vivian says, "It's been an honor to have been able to host such a huge extended family of musicians and listeners over the years. The Acton Jazz Cafe/ACT III now moves gratefully into the rich history of live music venues that once were. Thanks for all the wonderful memories!"

JazzBoston hopes Gwenn Vivian's dedication to the music and our local jazz community will inspire other jazz lovers to pick up the torch in Metro West.

No-cost jazz events
Clockwise from top left: Ran Blake, Anthony Coleman, Mark Harvey & Angelique Kidjo
Clockwise from top left: Ran Blake, Anthony Coleman, Mark Harvey & Angelique Kidjo

A Tribute to Ran Blake on his 80th Birthday

The NEC Contemporary Improvisation Department pays tribute to one of its most definitive individuals on the occasion of his 80th Birthday. With influences of Jazz and Film Noir, this concert will attempt to evoke, and be informed and inspired by, the individual conception of pianist Ran Blake. Friday, November 13, 7:30 pm, NEC's Jordan Hall.

Aardvark Jazz Orchestra: Eclectic Explorations

The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, one of the longest running large jazz ensembles in North America, will perform an array of leader Mark Harvey's originals from the lively blues Merry Go Round to the multi-stylistic No Walls to the premiere of Tritonology. Saturday, November 14, 8:00 pm, Killian Hall, MIT, 160 Memorial Drive, Cambridge.

Spirit Rising: An afternoon with Angelique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo is a Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter and world activist from Benin, noted for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos. Her memoir, Spirit Rising, was published last year with a preface by Desmond Tutu. She has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002. Tuesday, November 17 at 5:15 pm, John Knowles Paine Concert Hall, Harvard.

Billy Strayhorn Centennial

Berklee Piano Department faculty member Jason Yeager leads a concert celebrating a great man and striking composer, Billy Strayhorn, who integrated the musical styles of various contemporary composers such as Igor Stravinsky and Duke Ellington to create his most memorable themes. Thursday, November 19, 7:30 pm, David Friend Recital Hall, 921 Boylston Street, Boston.

Gunther Schuller: A Musical Celebration

Originally planned as a celebration of composer Gunther Schuller's 90th birthday, Schuller's death on June 21 has turned this and other fall performances of his music into a first look at his legacy. This concert will span the entire 70 years of Schuller's work as a composer, as well as feature the tremendous range of genres and ideas addressed by his work. Thursday, November 19, 7:30 pm, NEC's Jordan Hall.

Modern American Music Series

The concert presents "Prehistoric Jazz." The Eric Hofbauer Quintet reimagines Three Places in New England by Charles Ives. This performance is the world premiere of Hofbauer's jazz arrangement of the Ives masterpiece. Friday, November 20, 8 pm, Edward M. Pickman Concert Hall, Longy School of Music, Cambridge.

The Makanda Project

The music of the Makanda Project takes on a new texture as it features a guitarist for the first time: Michael Gregory Jackson is an innovator with a rich and varied career over the past 40 years. Saturday, November 21, Dudley Library Auditorium, 65 Warren Street, Roxbury.

Tufts Small Jazz Ensemble Concert

Watch Tufts small jazz student ensembles. This concert will feature the Paul Ahlstrand and Tufts student Erik Broess ensembles. Sunday, November 22, Fisher Performance Room, Tufts, 419 Boston Ave, Medford.

Anthony Coleman 60th Birthday Celebration

Pianist/composer/improviser/bandleader Anthony Coleman celebrates his 60th birthday with solo performance and works for small and large ensemble. With trumpeter Alexandria Smith, Coleman will perform a new work for trumpet and piano, "Essential Bleakness." Monday, November 30, 7:30 pm, NEC's Jordan Hall.

JazzBoston expands its leadership, elects Emmett Price Chairman and CEO
Emmett Price, at right, with Pauline Bilsky and Eric Jackson at the 2015 Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival. (Jean Hangarter photo)
Emmett Price, at right, with Pauline Bilsky and Eric Jackson at the 2015 Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival. (Jean Hangarter photo)

JazzBoston is proud to announce the election of Emmett G. Price III, Northeastern University music professor, minister, musician, co-producer of the John Coltrane Memorial Concert and one of the nation's leading experts on African American music and culture, to the position of Chief Executive Officer and the new role of Chairman of the Board. This expansion of JazzBoston's leadership comes as the umbrella and advocacy organization for Greater Boston's jazz community approaches its 10th anniversary in January.

Emmett, 40, has been a JazzBoston board member since 2007. He takes over the CEO role from Pauline Bilsky, the organization's founding President/CEO and Executive Director. Pauline remains JazzBoston's President and is shifting her role to focus on public advocacy and neighborhood and community initiatives.

Named by the Boston Business Journal in 2013 as one of 40 influential business and civic leaders under 40, Emmett is a widely recognized author, consultant and speaker on music of the African Diaspora, black popular culture and hip hop. His course on jazz has been one of the most popular at Northeastern for over a decade. Emmett also appears frequently in print and on television and radio. You can hear him Mondays on WGBH-FM's Boston Public Radio with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. Read more ...

Introducing Jon Taubman, JazzBoston's New Operations Director

Jon Taubman, who joined JazzBoston as Operations Director on November 1, is thrilled to be able to put his experience and musicianship to work for Greater Boston's jazz community.

Jon's musical journey began at age eight with flute lessons. Within a few years, the flute was replaced by saxophone, trombone, percussion, piano, and finally guitar, the instrument he plays today. It was Jon's interest in the guitar and his passion for jazz that inspired his professional career in music.

Moving to the Midwest after high school, Jon completed a degree in music composition and jazz studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In the years that followed, he launched a music engraving business, Clearsheet Music, and worked for a non-profit music publisher, where he was responsible for music licensing and online marketing. Jon recently returned to Massachusetts with his wife and two daughters.

Jon can be reached at jtaubman@jazzboston.org. If you're a member of JazzBoston or Greater Boston's jazz community, you are likely to be hearing from him in the near future.

Join the JazzBird team - Help move jazz radio into the 21st century

JazzBird is the answer for people looking for the best jazz radio as music continues to move online in the 21st century. The free radio app from JazzBoston lets you listen live, anytime and anywhere, to great jazz shows hosted by humans at stations around the globe. Even as local stations cut back, you can still hear your local jazz shows, and jazz shows from stations worldwide can become your local shows as well, 24 hours a day. There's nothing else like JazzBird. If you haven't already tried it, download the free version for iOS or Android and hear for yourself.

JazzBoston is expanding its JazzBird team. If you want to help shape the future of jazz radio and connect the world's jazz community, here's what it takes:

  • Can you offer just a few hours a month, working from home when it's convenient for you, to help keep JazzBird up to date?
  • Are you able to respond to emails quickly, regularly?
  • Are you willing to spend some time listening to new shows, and do you have enough knowledge of jazz to describe the style of their playlist?
  • Are you comfortable using web applications to change/update lists of information?
  • Do you know anything about Internet streaming, tracking down URLs and checking them? We'll help you learn if you're interested.
This is exciting stuff, the future! We're creating a 21st century solution for jazz fans. If you'd like more information about joining the JazzBird team, write to JazzBirdTeam@jazzboston.org.

Snapshots of the scene: Send your photos of recent local jazz events to photos@jazzboston.org for a chance to be featured in the JazzBoston newsletter!
Photo by Paul Burega
Photo by Paul Burega

Richard Nelson and the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra released Deep River at Scullers Jazz Club October 8th.

Frank Sinatra Tribute
Photo by Paul Burega
Photo by Paul Burega

The New England Conservatory Jazz Department celebrated Frank Sinatra with original Nelson Riddle arrangements and a variety of student soloists October 15th.

John Coltrane Memorial Concert
Photo by Paul Burega
Photo by Paul Burega

The 38th annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert celebrated the music of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman October 24th.

Fred Hersch Solo
Photo by Paul Burega
Photo by Paul Burega

Fred Hersch celebrated his 60th birthday and his 40th anniversary at NEC with a breathtaking solo performance October 29th.

Returning to Boston
Photo by Paul Burega
Photo by Paul Burega

Clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen returned to Boston for a fun-filled show at Scullers November 4th.

JazzBoston is the umbrella and advocacy organization for Greater Boston's jazz community. We connect and promote the entire jazz scene, and we champion the music, the musicians, and Boston's place in the constellation of the world's great jazz cities.

Plan now to be part of Jazz Week 2016
Friday, April 22 - Sunday, May 1