From the Desk Of: Eugene Marlow
Marlow’s “Jazz in China” Book Nominated for “Best Jazz Book” by the Jazz Journalists Association


BREAKING NEWS! April 15, 2019: Dr. Eugene Marlow’s book Jazz in China: From Dance Hall Music to Individual Freedom of Expression (University Press of Mississippi August 2018) has been nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association in the
“Best Jazz Book” category. Voting ends April 28.Jazz in China: From Dance Hall Music to Individual Freedom of Expression by Eugene Marlow, Ph.D.

January 2019: The New York City Jazz Record names Dr. Marlow’s Jazz in China book one of the “five best books on jazz in 2018.”

November 2018: Reviewer Kevin Canfield writes: “Jazz in China: From Dance Hall Music to Individual Freedom of Expression is a sweeping, informative work of history.” (New York City Jazz Record).

October 2018: Tom Cunniffe (Jazz History Online) calls the Jazz in China “a pioneering study.”

August 2018: University Press of Mississippi publishes Jazz in China: From Dance Hall Music to Individual Freedom of Expression.

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“Blue in Green” An Award-Winning Album of Poetry and Jazz Coming April 2019

Blue In Green: Original Compositions by Eugene Marlow, Inspired by the Jazz Poems of Grace Schulman“Blue In Green: Original Compositions by Eugene Marlow Inspired by the Jazz Poems of Grace Schulman”—a collaborative album of 10 poetry tracks by world-renowned, award-winning poet Grace Schulman and 10 original jazz compositions by award-winning composer/arranger Eugene Marlow—will be released on April 30, 2019, International Jazz Day. April is also both Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) and Poetry Appreciation Month.

Dr. Grace Schulman, a Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College (City University of New York) —who contributed and recorded the jazz poems on this album—will be inducted in the American Academy of Arts and Letters on May 22, 2019.  She is also the 2016 Robert Frost awardee from the Poetry Society of America.

Hear Now Official Selection 2019“Blue In Green” has been selected to be part of  National Audio Theatre Festivals (NATF) Playhouse’s 2019 PODCAST  PALOOZA at the 2019 HEAR Now Festival. The Festival’s podcast pages opens the day of the Festival, June 6, 2019, and runs through August 1, 2019.

“Blue In Green” is also a March 2019 recipient of a Silver Medal Award from the Global Music Awards.

2019 Silver Medal AwardNumerous jazz musicians are referenced in Schulman’s poems, including: Art Tatum, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Bill Evans, and Thelonious Monk, as well as classical violinist Itzhak Perlman and Danish author Chris Albertson.

Marlow’s challenge was to create compositions that reflected—in whole or in part—the content or tone of each of Schulman’s 10 jazz poems.

“Blue In Green” will be available on cdbaby.com April 30, 2019.

Advance copies of the CD can be purchased for $15 + S&H by contacting Eugene Marlow at meiienterprises@aol.com. Use code word “BING” in the subject line.

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“Swinger” Stride Pianist Judy Carmichael’s Memoir

Swingers: A Jazz Girl's Adventures from Hollywood to Harlem by Judy CarmichaelMarlowsphere Blog (#142)

When you get to the end of stride pianist Judy Carmichael’s memoir Swinger—A Jazz Girl’s Adventures from Hollywood to Harlem (C&D Productions, Sag Harbor, NY 2017) you’re sorry the set (of chapters) has concluded. You want to know more about this sui generis performer whose multi-decade career has taken her around the world (to China, for example).

Judy Carmichael is a stride pianist. For the uninitiated, stride piano is a style of jazz piano playing in which the right hand plays the melody while the left hand plays a single bass note or octave on the strong beat and a chord on the weak beat. The style was developed in Harlem during the 1920s, partly from ragtime piano playing. Among the several dozen great well-known stride pianists are James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Willie “The Lion” Smith. Dick Hyman, Dick Wellstood, Thelonius Monk, Jaki Byard, Marcus Roberts, and Herbie Hancock. Most of the dozens of well-known stride pianists are no longer living, a reason, perhaps, why the style has mostly fallen out of favor among jazz pianists.

Judy Carmichael in China Courtesy of the U.S. State Department 1992Among this group of stride piano virtuosos, however, there are three women, perhaps I should say only three women—Dorothy Donegan (no longer living), Stephanie Trick (very much living), and Judy Carmichael!

Carmichael’s pianistic chops are formidable. I’ve heard her perform (at Tanglewood). Her former saxophonist, Michael Hashim (who also performs in my own quintet), once remarked “Her left hand is so strong she doesn’t need a bass player!” How true. Her group consists of her, a guitarist, and a saxophonist. (As an aside, jazz piano virtuoso Oscar Peterson’s playing was so strong that one of his trios consisted of him, a bass player and a guitarist. No drums!).

Swinger provides dozens of insights into the world of being a musician—not just a jazz musician, but a jazz musician who is a woman in primarily a man’s world. Carmichael also provides a perspective on how non-musicians perceive artists who are musicians. On one of her on-the-road gigs a well-to-do audience member asked Judy why she came all this way for this gig, as if to say “This is a long way to come for your art?” Her reply was “I do it for the money because musicians also need money to live!” She makes clear that even though her well-deserved fame brings her well-paying gigs, she still hustles to get gigs. It’s a never-ending process.

Carmichael’s memoir covers a lot of professional ground, from her early development as a jazz pianist, to her multi-year sojourn at Disneyland, then a Jazz Inspired Guests who have been on Judy Carmichael's NPR showUnited States Department of State sponsored tour to China in the early 1990s, to her initiation of “Jazz Inspired” on NPR. And like all memorable autobiographies, her book is full of personal travails, from her difficult relationship with her parents and her brother, to other musicians, to friends and lovers. She also delves unequivocally and unabashedly into her bouts with cancer.

Swinger reads like Judy herself. Full of wit, self-effacement, irony, and verbal virtuosity. Sometimes her narrative is blunt, sometimes subtle, but always direct, compelling, and personal. Her memoir is aptly named. Carmichael—who happens to have been born female—is an artist who has survived several professional and personal challenges, but who has prevailed over time. Her memoir is a testament to focus and tenacity, the kind of characteristics you need to become one of the world’s best stride pianists.

© Eugene Marlow August 7, 2018

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Veterans Day and The Draft

Marlowsphere Blog (#141)

Marlow Receives AwardThere are two reasons why I am focused on Veterans Day.

The first is the Vietnam War. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from what is now known as Herbert Lehman College in the Bronx, NY in 1966. Two weeks later I received a draft letter from the United States Army. This led to one of the most important decisions of my young life. Instead of being drafted into the Army, I decided to voluntarily join the United States Air Force in June 1966. It meant four years of my life, rather than two, but I perceived I would have more control over my life in an Air Force uniform than in the Army. I was right as it turned out.

This decision leads to the second reason: The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, also known as the G.I. Bill—signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt—a law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans (commonly referred to as G.I.s). The bill has been updated several times by the United States Congress and is still providing benefits to ex-servicemen and women.

As a direct result of this bill, FDR, and the Vietnam War I was able to complete an MBA for almost no expense, and then several years later a Ph.D. for almost no expense. That Ph.D., plus extensive experience in print and electronic media helped me land a position as a professor in the then journalism program at Baruch College, CUNY. This position further gave me the opportunity to garner two more degrees: in music composition. I have now completed 30 years of teaching courses in media and culture at Baruch College.

In effect, a man by the name of FDR, together with the GI Bill of 1944—a year after I was born—plus the advent of the Vietnam War and the attendant draft had a direct impact on my personal and professional life over several decades that I could not have imagined when I was in high school or starting an academic pursuit in 1961.

Talk about unintended consequences!

I’d like to point to another unintended consequence that is directly related to the draft. The nation’s first military draft began in 1940, when President Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act. The draft continued through war and peacetime until 1973. More than 10 million men entered The Military Needs to Reflect All Strata of Societymilitary service through the Selective Service System during World War II alone.

One of the consequences of the draft and military service is that it creates a universal and immediate bond among those men and women who serve and have served in the military, regardless of branch of service. Whether in wartime or peace time, whether in combat or behind the lines, so to speak, putting on a uniform immediately creates a universal experience that can be shared with those who have also worn a uniform. This shared experience cannot be easily explained or even described to those who have never worn a uniform. And even though in today’s time the expression “Thank you for your service” is much more in vogue and prevalent than when I returned from active military service in 1970, when I hear it from someone who is too young to understand, it does not have the ring of authenticity in the saying of it.

In my opinion, the end of the active military draft in 1973 has resulted in the unintended consequence of at least two generations of Americans who do not share the universal military experience. And it is the absence of this shared experience that has contributed and does contribute to the economic and social divide in the United States.  As the most recent national election showed the United States of America is not united: it is two countries. One country on the east and west coasts, together with a smattering of states in the north Midwest, and the rest of the country, essentially the middle of the country—those sections of the country that either don’t directly experience the influx of immigrants from all over the world or are perceptually threatened by so-called illegal immigrants taking away job from those who are already here. Campaign rhetoric to the contrary, it’s been a while since this country was a manufacturing dominant country; this is primarily a service-oriented economy requiring higher levels of education and inter-personal and technical skills.

A Maturing ExperienceDuring the draft, young men from many walks of life, from different parts of the country, with varying levels of education, with a spread of ethnic backgrounds came together for basic training, further training, and living, working, and fighting together. It was a melting pot environment and surviving it, dealing with it, and profiting from the experience was an opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Further, in the 2001 book The Millionaire Mind by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley, among the many lessons presented there I was struck time and time again by how many of the multimillionaires described in the book had military experience. It came up as part of their backgrounds over and over again.

The Selective Service is actually in force today and men up to the age of 30 are required to register with it, but it is not an active draft. The question is: should it be? There are many reasons for and against. But I think there is a strong argument to be made for this country to institute some kind of national service, whether military or not. I perceive this kind of service would re-kindle the experiential homogeneity brought home by the GIs after WWII, and more recently the regional conflicts in the Middle East. Over 70 countries out of 196 countries in the world have some kind of mandatory military or national service. Perhaps we should take their lead.

© Eugene Marlow November 11, 2017

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Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble CD “A Not so Silent Night” Earns Four Stars from Downbeat Magazine

Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble’s “A Not So Silent Night” album (2016) has earned four stars in the December 2017 issue of Downbeat Magazine. It’s featured in Frank-John Hadley’s “Stellar Stocking Stuffers” article, p. 87.

 

The review is as follows:

 

Downbeat cover & review of Eugene Marlow's Heritage Ensemble's "A Not So Silent Night" December 2017 issue

 

"A Not So Silent Night" Eugene Marlow's Heritage Ensemble

 

“A Not So Silent Night” is the eighth album from The Heritage Ensemble featuring multi-Grammy nominated drummer Bobby Sanabria, saxophonist Michael Hashim, bassist Frank Wagner,  percussionist Matthew Gonzalez, and Leader/pianist Eugene Marlow.

 

“A Not So Silent Night” along with other Heritage Ensemble albums can be found at can be found at www.cdbaby.com/artist/eugenemarlow

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