The Hollywood Sentinel® attended The Grammy's® Salute to Jazz on Tuesday night, February 3, 2009, at the beautiful new Nokia Theatre in the sparkling lights of downtown Los Angeles' booming revitalization movement. The estimable President and CEO of the Recording Academy, NEIL PORTNOW graced the stage of this stellar night of tribute to the grandest living jazz greats on the planet, as sax master JOE LOVANO seared soulful movements with smooth and seamless perfection, later backed by an outstandingly talented group of high school jazz instrumentalists on stage, that are more in the league of an Einstein or Mozart child prodigy, rather than adolescent novelty, finely headed by JUSTIN DiCIOCCO and DR. RON McCURDY.
A sweet, romantic, melancholy cut followed next, by horn maestro TERENCE BLANCHARD, whose gift to make his trumpet sound as romantic as a saxophone transcended space in this foggy blue lit moment. The seductive, sultry voice of CASSANDRA WILSON left Grammy guests spellbound this night, and wanting more, as her breathy, heartfelt voice burst forth with an intensity, depth, and control that most singers can only dream of obtaining. We had the pleasure to talk Ms. Wilson, and she is a true sweetheart, and her manager is equally charming. The classy legend NATALIE COLE hosted the night, introducing all including the President of jazz label pioneer, BLUE NOTE RECORDS founder himself, BRUCE LUNDVALL. Natalie Cole asked Mr. Lundvall a serious question:
NATALIE COLE: Bruce, I was wondering, does any one ever call you Brucey Baby?! (audience laughter).
Mr. Lundvall took the stage, and proves not only to be a musical genius with his pulse on the heartbeat of jazz throughout his near 50 year career in the music business, but is also quite a speaker.
BRUCE LUNDVALL: I have to confess, I turned 72 recently, but I am happy to say, I still have the body of a 71 year old! (The crowd laughs). He went on for about 10 minutes more, proving to not only be a fascinating legend in jazz, but a gentleman with a great sense of humor. He told us a story, 'I remember I told my father once when I was a child,' he stated, 'that I wanted to grow up and work in the music business. My dad said,' he goes on, 'Just do one or the other,' And he proceeded to tell us that he did in fact, he worked in the music business, and never grew up. What a cool cat this guy is.
CHARLIE HADEN went on to tell some old school stories about RAY CHARLES and gave props out to one of THE DELLS sitting near us in the front row. BILLY VERA and Vice Chair of the Recording Academy NEIL TESSER were also recognized, as was funk and jazz man, and Chair of the Recording Academy, JIMMY JAM, who we also has the pleasure to speak with, and who is as cool as his name.
THE HOLLYWOOD SENTINEL: Jimmy, it's a pleasure, I have a fond appreciation of your work. I think you know one of my clients, DAVID WILLIAMS, he's music supervisor to a film we are working on.
JIMMY JAM: David Williams, David Williams, would he play guitar? Is he a guitarist?
HOLLYWOOD SENTINEL: Yes! He played on 'Thriller' with Michael Jackson and with Madonna…
JIMMY JAM: Oh yes, David! I know David, very well. We've played together. In fact, his daughters were flower girls at my wedding!
HOLLYWOOD SENTINEL: That's great! I'll tell him you said hi… (Jimmy goes on to discuss his love for the Grammy's)
JIMMY JAM: I am very fond of the Grammy's and what they do around the world for young people and for musicians. The Recording Academy is a great organization, and it keeps getting better and better. And it's amazing that they cover so much, every area of music, it's really incredible. I am very honored to be working with them…
Music legend HERBIE HANCOCK (who looks half his age) took the stage to close out this amazing night, playing piano like it was curtain call for the world, and he was giving us his all.
Before Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash, and The Beastie Boys helped bring rap, scratch, and hop hop to the masses, Herbie Hancock brought it first, with his soulful, jazz induced mastery of multiple genres that culminated in 'Rock it', which shook multiple generations, and opened the door for a youth underground street scene called break, with break beats, break dancing, and break outs, to soon discover this musicians' classic jazz origins. 'Beat Street!' The King of the Beat hit theatres. Rap was born, and in no small part to the brilliance of Herbie Hancock.
THE HOLLYWOOD SENTINEL (Bruce Edwin): I was surprised to see on the White House website recently, that Obama actually has the Constitution up there. It's like some one is actually paying attention to it now!
HERBIE HANCOCK: (laughs) Yes! Exactly! That's true. I saw that too. It is great to see that. He does care. That is his area, that is his specialty (constitutional law).
BRUCE EDWIN: Yes!
HERBIE HANCOCK: I think things are going to get better. It will take some time, but he is making good decisions... Mr. Hancock goes on to talk a bit about his new work...'I am really busy this year. I have things lined up back to back. But I'm happy.'
The Hollywood Sentinel® © 2009, With special thanks to the Recording Academy®