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Mid- Week Beat: New Orleans & the Birth of Jazz

2368151299_10901a5dae_zThis week is a big one for New Orleans and the authentic American art form it spawned: jazz. As we all know, next Tuesday is Fat Tuesday and the streets of the Crescent City are currently loaded with brass bands filling the air with the sweet music that only a city with such a diverse and turbulent history could create. But Mardi Gras isn’t the only reason this is a notable week in New Orleans music.

On this day, in 1917, the first jazz record was recorded for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York. The group was The Original Dixieland Jass Band and the song was “Livery Stable Blues” with the B-side of the 78 rpm record being “Dixie Jass Band One Step.” The record is steeped in controversy as it was recorded by a group of white musicians who billed themselves as “The Creators of Jazz” and claimed authorship over jazz standards that had been played by African-American musicians for some time prior to the first recordings. In fact, musicians like Jelly Roll Morton, Buddy Bolden, King Oliver, Sidney Bechet and Kid Ory had already popularized jazz as a musical form in New Orleans long before The Original Dixieland Jass Band took their versions up north.

Most of America, however, was unaware of the musical developments happening in New Orleans and for many, “Livery Stable Blues” was their first exposure to this wild new sound. The record was a surprise hit and its release ushered in what would become known as “The Jazz Age.” So, while the record is indicative of the racism of the times, it did bring the wild and wondrous sounds of New Orleans into the homes of more Americans than ever before and, in its way, helped white audiences to appreciate this African-American music as the sophisticated art form that it was. Without the success of this record we never would have heard the wonderful strains of Louis Armstrong’s cornet in King Oliver’s first recordings for Okeh and Gennett just a few years later, when the jazz boom was in full swing.

So, this week, in honor of New Orleans, Mardi Gras and the birth of recorded jazz music, we’re going to feature some upcoming jazz concerts that pay tribute to the Crescent City and the early years of jazz.
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The Mid-Week Beat: Jazz for Autumn Nights

This week on the Mid-Week Beat, we turn our attention to some of the great jazz performances we got coming up this week.

There’s nothing I like better on a rainy Seattle fall night than putting on some great Verve or Blue Note recordings (on vinyl of course), eating some good food and enjoying a nice glass of wine. It really doesn’t get any better does it? Good jazz can often envelope you in a nice rhythm and mood like no other music can.

While jazz recordings are wonderful to listen to in the comfort of your own home, live jazz is where it’s at. Jazz is rooted in improvisation and there are few more visceral experiences that witnessing a skilled player improvise around a solid rhythm section. Fellow wino, Jack Kerouac often wrote about the transformative qualities of witnessing a live band that was really swinging and anyone that’s witnessed a jazz great in action knows exactly what he was talking about.

Well, this week, we got some world-class jazz performances happening all around the country and I thought I’d share a few that jumped out at me. For all the hep-cats out there!
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Tuesday Tease: The Burly Beat!

Music and burlesque are natural bedfellows. I mean, it’s pretty hard to shimmy without some sort of a backbeat right? The neo-burlesque scene has made a concerted effort to take burlesque sounds away from the bump & grind/jazz/r&b/rockabilly soundtrack we tend to associate with classic burlesque, incorporating almost every genre of music imaginable. Now you can see a burlesque show that incorporates hip hop, classic rock, electronica, hell, I’ve even seen burlesque dancers perform to classical music! The sky’s the limit when it comes to a performers chosen soundtrack.

While music is omnipresent at burlesque shows, it’s not always the focus. So, this week, I’ve decided to feature burlesque events where the music is the star. It could be a tribute to a well-known artist or a show built around an original soundtrack, we got it all and these events span many musical genres: classic burlesque striptease tunes, the music of Meat Loaf, the cartoon music of the Animaniacs, hip hop and Celtic punk among others.

Doesn’t matter if you’re on the West Coast, East Coast, the sultry South or the UK, the burly beat goes on. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 15

Hot Patooties: A Burlesque Tribute to Meat Loaf!Brooklyn, New York   Whatever happened to Saturday night? In 1975, with these immortal words, Meat Loaf (née Marvin Lee Aday) made like a bat out of Hell, bursting out of Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s freezer and into the American consciousness. In the almost 4 decades since he has not only sold more than 80 million albums worldwide – he has also collaborated with Cher, been called Robert Paulson, had Michael Bay direct 3 of his music videos, and, in the ultimate sign of a life of sex, drugs and rock & roll, been the subject of both a Behind the Music AND a VH1 biopic. In honor of this, some of New York’s finest burlesque and variety performers have come together to celebrate the man whose voice is synonymous with both losing your virginity and losing the person you lost your virginity to. Victoria Privates and Creamed Stu are thrilled to present Hot Patooties: A Burlesque Tribute to Meat Loaf! Starring Jo Boobs, Darlinda Just Darlinda, Evelyn Vinyl, Apathy Angel, Victoria Privates, Creamed Stu, Scary Ben, Loose Wayne, and Dick Jones. MC’d by the golden throat of burlesque, Broadway Brassy! Stage kitten and go-go by Gemini Blitz.

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GIVEAWAY: Nectar Lounge Brings Earth Day for All Ages to Seattle!

(Just want to win tickets to the Earth Day extravaganza? Scroll to the bottom of this post!)

It’s always a treat to work with our neighbors over at Nectar Lounge! The venue/bar is a fantastic spot, committed to sustainability, good times, nightly events, and patio beverages. For this Earth Day weekend, Seattle can have it all, with all-ages activities and music during the day and of-ages party action during the night at the Fremont Earth Day Festival — and all it sets you back is $15 or an old bike. Proceeds benefit the Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation.

While the party for grown-ups goes all day and all night, the daytime is geared toward kids and families, opening at 11 a.m. both days this weekend begin with a dance party, going into a special performance each day at noon: Bubbleman (a bubbleman) on Saturday, then the Not-Its (kindie rock!) on Sunday, plus some Earth Day-themed activities to keep them busy.

Later, once you’ve gotten a sitter (or if you don’t have kids and you’re just ready to party), the of-ages happenings start with a chill but fun-loving, diverse lineup of folk, R&B, reggae and more, including songwriter Sarah Christine, acclaimed jazz/funk/world collective Snarky Puppy, and improvisational rocker Nefarious Jones, spread over both Saturday and Sunday nights for a full weekend of eco-minded grooves. The full line-up is available here.

Snarky Puppy in action:

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International Jazz Day & the 2011 Bellevue Jazz Festival

Hey hep cats! When was the last time you dug out that old Blue Note vinyl, kicked back and enjoyed the sound of sweet horns, laid back bass and brushed snare drums? Well, dig this, Saturday, May 28 is International Jazz Day, so dust off that beret, change the needle on your record player and get groovin’.

International Jazz Day was started in 1991 by musician D. Michael Denny as a way to appreciate and celebrate this distinct musical art form and its history. Jazz has been called the first authentically American musical form. Many feel it was born in New Orleans but Kansas City and Chicago have also laid claim as its birthplace and its produced such American icons as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. Jazz was unique in that it blended African and European musical traditions together and while it initially started out as good-time music, it matured during the bebop era of the 50’s and became a sophisticated musical expression with a focus on improvisation and complex arrangements that rivalled those of the greatest classical music composers.
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