From the Desk Of: Eugene Marlow
“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

Back to Top


2018/2019 Upcoming Events
2018
October 1 CD Release: MEII Enterprises releases its first double CD album by Pianist Nada: “Capriccios & Intermezzos: Nada & Brahms.” 
October 13 Eugene Marlow is interviewed by stride pianist extraordinaire Judy Carmichael for her National Public Radio show “Jazz Inspired.” Dr. Marlow talks about his recently published book Jazz in China and his approach to composing and arranging. The program to be aired at a later date.
October 28 Eugene Marlow records two albums at Dubway Studios in New York City: Blue In Green: Inspired by the Jazz Poems of Grace Schulman and a second album by the ArcoIris Sandoval Trio (to be named later) of Eugene Marlow originals. Both albums are due for release in 2019.
November 3 Private Event Performance: Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble returns to the Music School of the Lighthouse Guild for a performance/demo.
November 9 Dr. Eugene Marlow invited to join the Launch and Editorial Board of Jazz Education in Research and Practice: A Journal of the Jazz Education Network 
December 7 The Recording Academy (Grammys) announces that Bobby Sanabria’s “Multiverse Big Band” album “West Side Story Reimagined” (JazzHeads 2018) was nominated for a Grammy in the Latin Jazz category.  Gene Marlow’s bembe arrangement of “Maria” is one of the tracks on the double CD album.
December 8 Performance: Multi-Grammy nominee Bobby Sanabria’s “Multiverse” Big Band performs Gene Marlow’s bembe arrangement of “Maria” as part of the “West Side Story Reimagined” Suite (Jazzheads 2018), National Museum of Mathematics, New York City.
December 10 Performance: Dr. Marlow’s piece for two Bb clarinets and piano, “Aspetta Ancora Qualche Minuti” (Wait a Few More Minutes) in two short movements,  performed as part of a New York Composers Circle concert by Guido Arbonelli’s TRIO NAMASTE, 7:30 @ The Marc Scorca Hall, National Opera Center, 330 Seventh Avenue (29th Street), New York City.
December 13 Private Event Performance: The Heritage Ensemble (duo), private event, Department of English “Wassail,” Baruch College (City University of New York).
December 17 CD (digital only) release: MEII Enterprises announces the release of “Reflections at Christmas,” a single digital track in the “In Their Own Voice” series. Music is by Eugene Marlow, lyrics by Janet Lawson. Vocalist is Mila Milosevic, with ArcoIris Sandoval on the Rhodes. Available at cdbaby.com/artist/Eugene Marlow
2019
January The New York City Jazz Record includes Dr. Marlow’s 12th published book Jazz in China: From Dance Hall Music to Individual Freedom of Expression (University Press of Mississippi 2018) as one of the “Five Best Jazz Books of 2018.”
January 18 Performance: Bobby Sanabria’s Grammy-nominated “Multiverse” Big Band performs Eugene Marlow’s bembé arrangement of “Maria” as part of the ensemble’s 2018 Latin-Jazz Grammy nominated “West Side Story Reimagined” set at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The album is available on the Jazzheads label (2018).
January 28 Dr. Eugene Marlow begins his 62nd semester teaching at courses in media and culture at Baruch College (City University of New York). This semester he is teaching an honors class entitled “Jazz: Cultural Touchstone of the 20th Century.”
January 30 Dr. Marlow begins his third semester hosting “Jazz: America’s Classical Music” on Radio WBMB-FM (Baruch College Radio), every Wednesday from 4:30-5:30 p.m. The show’s signature tune is “Taylored for Billy,” an original composition by Dr. Marlow recorded by The Michael Abene Quintet on “A Summer Afternoon with You” album (MEII Enterpises 2005).
February 10 Grammy winners announced. Bobby Sanabria’s “West Side Story Reimagined” has been nominated in the Latin Jazz Category. Eugene Marlow contributed a bembé arrangement of “Maria” from the famed Broadway show to the double album released in July 2018 on the JazzHeads label.
February 14 CD Digital Release: “When She Returns” The ArcoIris Sandoval Trio Interprets  Romantic Music by Eugene Marlow (Valentine’s Day).
February 23 Composer/Arranger Dr. Eugene Marlow attends the Dance/NYC Conference at Hunter College (New York City). Marlow has composed and arranged music for numerous dance companies.
February 26 Performance: Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble performs selections from its several albums at the Dizzy Gillespie Auditorium.
March 10 CD Digital Release: “Aspetta Ancora Qualque Minuti” (Wait A Few More Minutes) performed by the Italian ensemble “Trio Namaste.” In the United States March 10 is Daylight Savings Time. There are some people in some places who would prefer to leave well enough alone, hence the single track title.
April 10 CD Digital Release: In Their Own Voice, Vol. VIII: “Lullaby” (for Madeline).
April 30  CD Release: MEII Enterprises releases “Blue In Green: Inspired by the Jazz Poems of Grace Schulman,” a 20-track album consisting of 10 jazz poems by 2016 Robert Frost awardee Grace Schulman and 10 original compositions by Eugene Marlow performed by 18 various jazz artists, including members of Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble.
May 15 Performance: The Heritage Ensemble (duo) performs for the Baruch College Students Awards Ceremony.
May 15 The Third Annual “Eugene Marlow Prize in Arts Leadership” is presented at the Baruch College Students Awards Ceremony.
May 27 CD Digital Release: “Resolution” an original piece for big band in honor of Memorial Day.
June 9  CD Digital Release: MEII Enterprises releases “The Afro-Caribbean Rhythmic Artistry of Bobby Sanabria and Matthew Gonzalez” in honor of National Puerto Rico Day Parade in New York City.
June 10-24 Composer Dr. Eugene Marlow attends the 2nd Annual Mostly Modern Festival at Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs) as part of the Composer Program. Dr. Marlow gives a presentation on “Why Knowing What Your Net Worth Is Can Enhance Your Music Career.”
June 27-30 Dr. Marlow attends the 20th Annual Media Ecology Association Conference in Toronto, Canada. Gives talk on “Technology, Jazz, and Individual Freedom of Expression in China.”
August 26 Dr. Eugene Marlow begins his 63rd semester teaching courses in media and culture at Baruch College (City University of New York).
September 2  CD Digital Release: “The Caverns at Carlsbad”: nine miniatures for trombone quartet.
September 4 Eugene Marlow begins his fourth semester hosting “Jazz: America’s Classical Music” one-hour program on WBMB-FM (Baruch College Radio).
November 29 CD Release: “Lotus Blossom: Billy Strayhorn and The Michael Hashim Quartet” coincident with Strayhorn’s 104th birthday.
December 12 Performance: Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble (duo) performs for the Baruch College Department of English Wassail.

Please check back often as updates with new dates and more details
will be added to the schedule.

Click here to learn more about Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble

EMHE

Back to Top


The Heritage Ensemble @ The Kitano New York 3-14-18 8pm &10pm

Jazz at the Kitano, New York

Wednesday, March 14, 2016
Jazz At The Kitano
66 Park Avenue (at E.38th St.)
NY, NY 10016
The Jazz Poems of Grace SchulmanRESERVATIONS: 212-885-7119
TIME:  8:00pm & 10:00pm

TICKETS: $18 cover + $20 minimum
Reservations Advised

Please arrive at least 15 minutes                                         early for all performances.

Audience members will be among the first to hear original compositions from The Heritage Ensemble’s forthcoming album “The Jazz Poems of Grace Schulman” (MEII Enterprises), melodies from the Great American Songbook and several of leader Marlow’s original compositions in their unique sound that melds the melodic & rhythmic commonalities among Jazz, Afro-Caribbean & Brazilian musical cultures.


Jazz At The Kitano

New York City’s most intimate Jazz Lounge offers the best in world class Jazz entertainment. Our ever-changing schedule of acts include the legends of the genre and the next generations stars. Located on the lobby level, The Kitano New York Hotel’s JAZZ at KITANO , features Contemporary American cuisine with Pan Asian influences and a full bar, including rare malt Whiskeys, Classic Cocktails, Fine Wines, Champagne and Sake.

Enjoy a small plate or a full dinner while you enjoy world class jazz performances. See menu.


Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble

Eugene Marlow QuartetEugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble’s music is a fresh sound and experience that audiences can access and be inspired by. This imaginative and tight quartet melds the melodic & rhythmic commonalities among Jazz, Afro-Caribbean & Brazilian musical cultures. This is why the New York City Jazz Record called the ensemble “a cross-cultural collaboration that spins and grooves.”

The Heritage Ensemble is multi-cultural: Drummer and 7X Grammy-nominee Bobby Sanabria is Nuyorican. NEA Performance Grantee saxophonist Michael Hashim is of Lebanese descent. Phi Beta Kappa bassist Frank Wagner hails from an eastern European background. Eugene Marlow’s own heritage is Russian, Polish, German, and British.

See all Heritage Ensemble Albums at cdbaby.

More Live Dates @ http://www.eugenemarlow.com/

 

Back to Top


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

Back to Top


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

Back to Top