Thursday, February 1, 2018


"Hip flasks of hooch, jazz, speakeasies, bobbed hair, 'the lost generation.' The Twenties are endlessly fascinating. It was the first truly modern decade and, for better or worse, it created the model for society that all the world follows today." (from Kevin Rayburn, "Two Views of the 1920s.")

The Flapper Era

For most, a “flapper” is a merely a young woman from the 1920s. Unfortunately, her significance and importance has been forgotten. She’s been regulated to nothing more than an inspiration for Halloween costumes.

Yet, remembering “flappers” illuminates the changing mores of Western culture after World War I. Flappers were a major part of the decade of the 1920s. The same decade that laid the foundation of our “modern” society.

Women of the 21st century, and in many regards men, owe a huge debt to the flappers. They proved that “well-behaved women seldom make history.”


What does it mean when we say “flapper?” 

The word likely originated as a description of a young bird learning to fly and then used to described young women in general.

In England, the word “flapper” has referred to both a “young girl” (whose pigtail flapped around) and a “prostitute.” 

By the end of the 19th century, the English used “flapper” to describe prostitutes and as a derogatory remark for a young woman. 

The word appeared in print as early as 1903.

In 1920, the movie The Flapper portrayed a character that we’d now consider the epitome of the term.

Beyond the simple “young woman of the 1920s,” a flapper can also be defined by her fashion, attitude, and technology. Those areas were shaped by the three great events of the second decade of the 20th century: World War I, 1918 flu pandemic, and Prohibition.

Flapper Fashion

Flappers wore knee-length dresses that seldom had sleeves. By today’s standards, such a frock is tame. In 1920s, it was radical.

Flappers wore their hair short, usually in a bob. Hitherto, women had long hair. Again, a radical departure.

Tastemakers had a lot to do with the simple silhouette casted by the flappers’ frock. Another influence was the ease at which these dresses could be made. Women of modest means and talent were able to sew flapper dresses at home.

While class distinctions were eroding in the 1920s, wealthy women still wore elaborate, ornate dresses and poor women were left to window shop. Nonetheless, a large swarth of women between those extremes were able to be fashionable.

It should be noted that flapper apparel was unrestrictive. It allowed them to move (and for that matter breathe).

For men, it’s odd to think about clothes prohibiting movement, but in the 1920s, women had only recently abandoned the corset.

When we write that flappers wore unrestrictive garb we’re not being figurative. Literally, Flappers wore garments that allowed them to be mobile and participate in the same activities as men.


Flappers showed disdain for convention, tradition, and authority. They drank, smoke, and were causal about sex. They rejected Victorian gender roles that shackled their mothers and grandmothers.

Part of their attitude was a reaction to 100 million people (depending on what numbers you use) that died in World War I and from the 1918 flu pandemic. 

Basically, five percent of the world’s population died in a five-and-a-half-year period. Flappers learned first-hand the fragility of life. They decided to live in the now and have as much fun as possible.

Many women worked in factories during World War I and didn’t want to return to homemaking. Some were landing careers in the historically male dominated fields of medicine, law, and aviation.

A booming economy, and the rise of consumerism, also shaped flapper’s progressive attitudes. Women had disposable income and companies had products to sell them.

In the United States, Prohibition was extremely unpopular and fostered a spirit of unlawfulness. It was “cool” to break the law and drink.

Finally, women received the right to vote in 1920. That inspired flappers to seek the same economic, political, and sexual freedoms as men.


Flappers coincided with the rise of jazz, the dominate popular music of the 1920s.

Jazz was the perfect soundtrack for flappers, the roaring twenties, and the general excesses of the decade. The music was new, exciting, and drenched in possibilities.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, popular music and technology have been linked. The rise of Jazz was also connected to advances in technology.

Jazz artists utilized the relatively new phonograph to promote their sound. Sure, phonographs were still a few years from being ubiquitous, but it definitely helped the genre gain popularity.

One such recording artist was Bessie Smith. Smith was not only a favorite amongst flappers, and a woman who embodied the attitude of the 1920s, she also inspired legends like Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin.

Another technological advancement to the flapper lifestyle was the proliferation of the automobile. The car allowed women to leave the home and explore their world.

Famous Flappers

Famous women who projected the flapper lifestyle included Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Joan Crawford, Anita Loos, and Colleen Moore. The fictional character, Betty Boop, was inspired by flappers.

Although he was not a flapper, F. Scott Fitzgerald certainly helped popularize the movement.

Contrary to popular belief, Dorthey Parker was not a flapper. She criticized the fad in “Flappers: A Hate Song.”

End of Flappers

Flappers didn’t fade away. They vanished in the blink of an eye. The cause of their hasty departure was the Wall Street Crash of 1929. 

The extravagances that flappers enjoyed in the 1920s were gone as quickly as they came. The economic conditions of the Great Depression meant overconsumption was over.

Flappers, as well as the world, had to make do with less. There was no money for fashion, alcohol, or jazz. By 1934, all remnants of flapper fashion were gone from the popular culture landscape.

While they were around, flappers laid the foundation for further advancements in feminism and women’s rights. Say what you will about them, but at least they made history.

The Harlem Renaissance

"Harlem was not so much a place as a state of mind, the cultural metaphor for black America itself." (from Henry Louis Gates Jr., Rhapsodies in Black, 1997)

Occurring concurrently with the flapper era was the Harlem Renaissance. While flappers strived for equal freedom for women, the Harlem Renaissance did the same for African Americans. Yet, their medium wasn’t fashion. It was art.

Like the name suggests, the Harlem Renaissance was based in New York City. Harlem is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan.

The literature, poetry, and music produced by the Harlem Renaissance uplifted African Americans. Using the parlance of the day, the movement’s aim was to create a “New Negro.” 

Through art, the Harlem Renaissance challenged racism and stereotypes. It moved African American culture out of the country and into the city. 

The Harlem Renaissance had no set artistic parameters. Its main thrust was dignity, promoting integration, and supporting progressive politics.

The lack of a clear artistic structure hurt the renaissance from within. There were African American intellectuals who disapproved of how some artists of the Harlem Renaissance depicted the black experience. To put it another way, high art clashed with low art.

African Americans fueled the Harlem Renaissance both artistically and commercially. White Americans participated on the periphery through admiration and patronage.

Unfortunately, there were some white Americans drawn to the Harlem Renaissance by white guilt and “primitivism.”  Primitivism is believing a culture is “primitive” and then experiencing that “primitive culture” because it’s an oddity. 

Many modern scholars and intellectuals look at the Harlem Renaissance as a failed American experiment a failed civil rights movement.

Certainly, scholars and intellectuals can debate the efficacy of the Harlem Renaissance’s politics. What’s not up for debate is the art the movement produced that continues to inspire and enlighten Americans of every ilk.

Notable Harlem Renaissance People

Names associated with the Harlem Renaissance include:

Langston Hughes
Gwendolyn Bennett
Sterling Brown
Beauford Delaney
Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller
Marcus Garvey
Zora Neale Hurston
James Weldon Johnson
Richard Bruce Nugent
Ann Lane Petry
Dorothy West

Sarah Lancman - A contretemps (JAZZ ELEVEN 2018)

« She’s truly a great new voice for jazz » : that’s what Quincy Jones said about Sarah Lancman when she won the first prize of the international SHURE jazz voice competition 2012, in Montreux.

After the success of her album « Inspiring Love » recorded in New York, the singer Sarah Lancman comes back with a new release called « A Contretemps » surrounded by a prestigious team : The pianist Giovanni Mirabassi ( 17 disques d’or, Victoire de la Musique, Django d’or,) who currently played with Chet Baker, Steve Grossman, Eliott Zigmund, Glenn Ferris and many others, Gianluca Renzi (Ari Hoenig, André Ceccarelli, Kevin Pays…) on doubleness, Gene Jackson (Herbie Hancock Trio, Diane Reeves, Christian McBride , Joe Lovano…), and as special guest the japanese singer and flugelhorn player TOKU (13 albums, recorded artist from Sony Jazz Japan).

Sarah Lancman : vocal, composition ( piano on " Conjugaison Amoureuse")
Giovanni Mirabassi : piano, composition
Gianluca Renzi : doublebass
Toku : vocal & Fluggelhorn

Vinkeloe | Smith | Nordeson - Elegans (BALANCE POINT ACOUSTICS 2018)

This trio has all of the quality of Vinkeloe's well-known trio recordings with Barre Phillips or the late Peter Kowald (both with drummer Peeter Uuskyla), but due to Smith's very original playing, and Nordeson's exciting performances on drums and vibraphone, the trio takes on a character of its own. Of course, Vinkeloe's playing is as stellar as ever.

According to double-bassist and occasional Biggi Vinkeloe collaborator Barre Phillips, “The music of Biggi Vinkeloe, with her beautiful melodies, instrumental tone and lush phrasing, the delicate, tasteful rhythmic offerings and harmonic richness of Kjell Nordeson plus the warm depth and microtonal colorings of Damon Smith all add up to a very enjoyable recording.” 

According to Marc Medwin of the Bagatellen web site, “I chose a late evening to audition this latest Nuscope offering for the first time, and now it never sounds quite right during the day. The duo and trio explorations exist, by and large, in afterglow, in the calm but magical world of overtone and shadow I associate with moonlight. The music is not reticent—far from it! It ebbs and flows with the quiet certainty of expectation, making the occasional moments of more extreme light and darkness more vivid. 

The opening to “Kinkajou” is one such instance; Smith’s puckish arco scoops and Nordeson’s percussive twitters giving rise to one of the disc’s most overtly dramatic exchanges. Vinkeloe, far from drawn into the serio-comic fray, exudes long-toned admonishments, she and Smith seeming to have swapped roles to engage in some beautifully orchestral interplay. Her flute work on “Parish”, on the other end of the spectrum, sounds an “Oriental” clarion call amidst ominous rumbles and microtonal clusters, Smith’s shredding moans and sighs sounding like the remnants of some butchered coral. Indeed, it’s hard to tell where bass ends and percussion begins before an uneasy calm is eventually restored. 

These are moments of obviously polarized unrest though, and much of the disc’s reflectivity can be gauged from the title track. What might be a military cadence, if Nordeson chose to engage stereotype, pervades the texture, his drum work a series of loosely defined in-tempo patterns that always seem to break down at the last moment. Vinkeloe and Smith dodge and weave, emerging repeatedly from Nordeson’s fractured structures only to be shoved, gently, in another direction. 

Most beguiling though, bespeaking midnight, is “Today, the sun is Blue”, a gorgeously contrapuntal Smith/Vinkeloe duet; the silence surrounding each gesture is magical, each phrase leads ineluctably into the next, maintaining a perfect but fragile blend of sound and silence, a recipe for disaster in the wrong hands. 

Many of the quieter moments here are so successful because the recording is absolutely first-rate. Nordeson’s subtle vibraphone is captured in a way that forms a perfect stereophonic contrast to the other players’ more sharply defined presences. The disc is a credit to Nuscope, whose output continues to be of the highest quality, and to this fine trio, from whom I hope to hear a lot more.” 

This disc is a stunning collection of duos and trios that is certain to have much lasting value for fans of both free jazz and free improvisation. The release features an 8-page booklet with liner notes from the great bassist Barre Phillips, and exciting new art from artist Caio Fonseca.

1. Today the Sun is Blue 03:21
2. Nattens 04:41
3. Elegans 07:23
4. Au petit Matin 02:50
5. Joilesse 03:35
6. Dwarswind 05:23
7. Separation 02:02
8. Lucidity 02:03
9. Parish 02:45
10. Chiche 03:19
11. Kinkajou 04:16
12. Carmin Fragile 04:56
13. Luer Bas Rouge 03:14
14. At the End of the Rainbow 05:15

Alto Saxophone, Flute – Biggi Vinkeloe
Artwork [Cover Art] – Caio Fonseca
Co-producer – Damon Smith, Russell Summers
Composed By – Biggi Vinkeloe, Damon Smith, Kjell Nordeson
Double Bass – Damon Smith
Drums, Vibraphone – Kjell Nordeson
Executive-Producer, Design [Graphic Designer] – Russell Summers
Liner Notes – Barre Phillips, Russell Summers
Mastered By – Alan Bise
Photography By [Biggi Vinkeloe] – Kristen Lidell
Photography By [Damon Smith and Kjell Nordeson] – Katherine J. Gin
Recorded By, Mixed By – Scott R. Looney

Recorded in Oakland, California on February 5, 2005 at 1510 Studios.
Mixed in Oakland, California on September 13, 2005 at 1510 Studios.
Mastered in Cleveland, Ohio on October 25, 2005 at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Sly & Robbie + Nils Petter Molvær + Eivind Aarset + Vladislav Delay - Nordub (OKEH RECORDS 2018)

On “Nordub”, Grammy-winning Reggae legends Sly & Robbie team up with Norwegian Jazz innovator Nils Petter Molvaer to create a unique sound panorama, spanning the colorful atmospheres of Norwegian Jazz and the energetic grooves of Jamaica. Together with Eivind Aarset on guitars and Vladislav Delay on electronics, this is a band of musical soulmates, beyond all boundaries of genre. During a first tour in 2016 they received worldwide attention for their new project. Yet, the successful as innovative project just came together by sheer good fortune: Even though they had liked each other’s music for years, it was a coincidence that Mark van den Bergh – a friend of Sly & Robbie – ran into Nils Petter Molvaer at Java Jazz Festival.

“I got to know Mark at Java Jazz Festival in 2014,” says Nils Petter Molvaer. I told him that I’d been a fan of Sly & Robbie since the 80s, when they were releasing music with their Reggae band Black Uhuru. I like them for their creative unrest. They are innovators in so many ways, combining Dancehall, Soul, Hip Hop, Reggae and many other influences, and collaborating with such great musicians as Sting, No Doubt, Ben Harper and Carlos Santana. Mark told me that Sly & Robbie were great fans of my music as well, and the idea to work together was born. A few months later, in July 2015, we met at a festival in a little village in France, where we were supposed to play a concert together, though we’d never played together before.”

Robbie Shakespeare remembers: “It was totally crazy. Ever since I first heard Nils’ music in the late 90s, I’ve been fascinated by his atmospheric fusion of styles and his unparalleled trumpet playing. Now we were supposed to play together, though we’d never met before. But when I met Nils for the first time in this little village in France, I immediately liked him. He was cracking jokes and had back pain from the long trip there, just like me, so that created something. It was a great concert, in the end, that enabled us to go far beyond our comfort zones and to discover new ways of creating music.”

After the success of the initial concert in France, the new “band” decided to continue its collaboration and to go on tour in 2016. During the tour several new songs were created and Sly & Robbie, Nils Petter Molvaer, Eivind Aarset and Vladislav Delay were ready to record their first album together in Oslo: “Nordub”.

1 If I Gave You My Love
2 How Long
3 White Scarf in the Mist
4 Strange Bright Crowd
5 Norwegian Sword Fish
6 Was in the Blues
7 European Express
8 Dream Drifter
9 Rock-Stone Noah Bingie
10 Politically KKKorrrekkkttt
11 Neil Five

Sly Dunbar (dr)
Robert Shakespeare (b,p)
Nils Petter Molvaer (t)
Eivind Aarset (g)
Vladislav Delay (elec)

Teenage Burnout - los (February 9, 2018)

Years ago, Josh Sinton, Owen Stewart-Robertson, and myself had a band called Teenage Burnout. We played regularly and even did some recording that was never finished.

In July of 2016, we somehow found ourselves reunited to record an album. It will be released on February 9th as a download and a limited edition CD-R and is up for pre-order now.

1. uff
2. sup
3. tum tak
4. ign
5. oli zbb

Josh Sinton - baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
Owen Stewart-Robertson - guitar
Tony Falco - drums

Produced by Teenage Burnout
Album art by Akinbo Akinnuoye
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Tony Falco
Recorded at Big Enuf Studios in Greenfield, MA on July 6, 2016

Mats Gustafsson & Didi Kern - Marvel Motor (2018)

Mats Gustafsson
Born 1964 in Umeå, Sweden.
Saxplayer, improviser and composer. 
Working groups The Thing, FIRE!, Gush, Swedish Azz and Fake (the facts). 1800 concerts and over 200 album productions.

1. Cold Start 02:02
2. Fun Generator 12:08
3. Marvel Motor 2 04:20
4. EnHANCEment 08:19
5. Besenkammer 06:58
6. Marvel Motor 1 01:37

Mats Gustafsson - saxophones
Didi Kern - drums

Released on Rock Is Hell, 2018

Toc - Will Never Play These Songs Again (2018)

No, Toc will never play those songs again. They can't do otherwise, can't help to start over every time without being sure not to grind some new manias escaped from his last tours.

Not having gave up belonging to the big family of the music industry, the three musicians continually reinvent their hypnotic free-pop, raising their intoxicating and solar rhythms with a hint of throbbing kraut jazz-core, producing hits without a future, heady and highly addictive ...

As their name seems to indicate, Toc members are quite obsessive and even compulsive. Their frenetic, ritualized but non-contagious behaviors bring the listener in a hectic space-time before bringing him back to the mainland in a more or less troubled state.

Sixth album of the trio, after incursions in the northern acoustic (Qeqertarsuatsiaat - 2015) and in the wet bayou (Air Bump - 2016), rich of his many concerts, experiments and meetings, Toc returns to its electrical and urban channel with fervor.

Unclassifiable and communicative, Toc persists to disturb the spirits since 2008.

1. The Last Hit 16:39
2. Ultimate Earworm 17:51
3. Lichen (bonus) 05:45

Jeremie Ternoy (fender rhodes, piano bass, piano)
Ivann Cruz (guitar)
Peter Orins (drums)

The Heavyweights Brass Band - This City (LULAWORLD RECORDS March 9th, 2018)

‘This City won't wash away. This City won't ever drown.’ The words of outlaw poet Steve Earle echo through the Heavyweights Brass Band's newest release, This City.  In their highly anticipated third full-length album, the Heavyweights have taken a pilgrimage to the city that has inspired them since their inception. Recorded in New Orleans, the cradle of jazz ,with a second-line of special guests from groups such as Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Trumpet Mafia and many more, the  Heavyweights bring a fresh, energetic take on a deeply grounded tradition.

Not forgetting their roots in Toronto, where they cut their teeth in the most diverse and  multicultural music scene on the planet, the album also furthers their hometown collaborations with the 10-time Grammy contributor Kevin Breit on guitar and Canada's reigning queen of jazz, blues and gospel Jackie Richardson on vocals. This City paints a beautiful duality between two cities that have informed their music and is without a doubt the strongest release from Canada's reigning champions of feel-good horn music. 

This City will be officially released worldwide on Friday, March 9th, 2018 and will be celebrated with a performance in Toronto at Lula Lounge on Thursday, March 29th, 2018.  This City is available from Slammin Media and distributed World Wide by Believe Distribution.

Ever since the Dirty Dozen and the Rebirth created the genre "New Brass Band," their tradition has been innovation.  This tradition is alive and well with this offering from the Heavyweights Brass Band.  Expect big things from this band. Davis Rogan

The Heavyweights Brass Band’s newest recording, This City, is a celebration of New Orleans horn styles of past, and present and brings the songs into tomorrow.  With elements of gospel, traditional New Orleans jazz and brass lines recalling the Dirty Dozen(Roger Lewis guests,) and Rebirth; The HW.B.B. crafts tunes that resonate in your bones, booty and soul! Murf Reeves - WWOZ Radio

1. Hands Down Lo’ (Butcher)  3:35
2. Tell Me Something Good (Stevie Wonder)  4:51
3. Two Foot Ticket (Richards)  3:49
4. I’ve Got Time For You (Metcalfe)  3:18
5. Roger’s Intro (Roger Lewis)  0:40
6. Dance Out on the Corner (Metcalfe)  5:15
7. Rosco’s Big Hit (Richards)  3:52
8. This City (Steve Earle)  3:03

John Pittman - Trumpet
Chris Butcher - Trombone
Paul Metcalfe - Tenor Saxophone
Tom Richards - Tuba
Lowell Whitty - Drums

Jackie Richardson - Vocals
Kevin Breit - Guitar and Mandolin
Roger Lewis - Baritone Saxophone
Ashlin Parker - Trumpet
Joe Lastie - Bass Drum
Eugene Grant - Vocals, Congas, Trumpet
Marla Dixon - Vocals