Sunday, March 12, 2017

Bayou City Book Festival

I am honored to be a part of this year's Bayou City Book Festival. The festival takes place April 3-8 at the various Lone Star College campuses. The festival's mission to create the venue for nationally and internationally known authors to speak to audiences about unique ideas, meet with attendees on an individual basis, provide free literary programming, promote diverse works of literature and their authors, and focus attention on literacy within the City of Houston.

I will be at one of the authors exhibiting at the festival on Saturday, April 8, at Lone Star College - Kingwood. Copies of my book Freedom of Expression: Interviews With Women in Jazz will be available for sale (I'll have a table at the Lone Star College Kingwood Art Gallery). I will also be part of a panel discussion titled "How Positive, Interactive Relationships Help Musicians and Artists Realize Their Potential." Pianist Pamela York and saxophonist Alisha Pattillo, who are each interviewed in my book, will also be a part of the panel.

Much more information, including a complete schedule for the festival and maps, is available on the Bayou City Book Festival website.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Read Excerpts from Freedom of Expression: Interviews With Women in Jazz

For those of you new to Freedom of Expression: Interviews With Women in Jazz, I’ve posted excerpts from some of the interviews in the book:  

Cellist Nioka Workman
Saxophonist Mindi Abair

Freedom of Expression: Interviews With Women in Jazz, a collection of interviews with 37 female musicians of all ages, nationalities, and races and representing nearly every style of jazz one can imagine, was released November 16, 2015.

You can purchase the book via Amazon

The interviewees, including Terri Lyne Carrington, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Eliane Elias, Anat Cohen, Helen Sung, Diane Schuur, Ellen Seeling, Val Jeanty, Carmen Lundy, Mindi Abair, Cheryl Bentyne, Jane Ira Bloom, Sharel Cassity, Connie Crothers, Jane Monheit, and Sherrie Maricle, speak about their earliest experiences playing music, the years of practice and study required to become a professional musician, and what it means to be a jazz musician in the 21st century. The 320-page book includes a 25-page history of jazz, as well as introductions to each interview, to provide helpful context for readers who are unaware of the contributions by women to the development of this music.

Cover photo of Connie Crothers by Peter Gannushkin. 

"At long last, an in-depth recognition of the female contributions to jazz.  As Dr. Billy Taylor said about the lack of awareness of female musicians: ‘If it isn't written down, it didn't happen.’ Now everyone will know that it did happen and continues to happen. What a great gift to the history of women and music." — Judy Chaikin, director of the award-winning documentary The Girls in the Band

"Finally, a comprehensive HERstory of jazz music! Each of the women interviewed in this book have created strong musical identities while operating under the radar for far too many years. Thanks to Chris Becker, the world can discover the inner workings and creative lives of these fine, deserving jazzwomen. This book is a riveting read . . . an exciting journey into the mind of female genius." — Rachel Z., composer, keyboardist (Steps Ahead, Larry Coryell, Wayne Shorter, Peter Gabriel)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

November Readings With Music

In November, I will be doing two readings from my book Freedom of Expression: Interviews With Women in Jazz accompanied by Houston jazz pianist Pamela York. My hope is that by arranging music around specific passages from my book will reveal additional layers of meaning and history to the content. It also should be a lot more fun to listen to than just me reading solo.

The November 17 event is for a student music club at Lone Star College Kingwood.

On November 27, Pamela and I will be at Project Row Houses as a guest of Houston artist, historian, and DJ Tierney Malone, who is one of the participating artists in Round 45, curated by Public Art Director Ryan N. Dennis. Through the duration of the Round, artists will present a variety of public programs. The November 27 reading with music is free and open to the public.

Here are the dates, times, and locations:

November 17, 2017
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Lone Star College Kingwood | Choir Hall
Book lecture with music for the Camarata Club

November 20, 2017
3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Project Row Houses
2521 Holman St, Houston, Texas 77004

And looking ahead, I will be leading a panel discussion at the Bayou City Book Festival, April 8, 2017. The panel discussion takes place 11:15 to 12:15 p.m. Panelists will include Pamela York and saxophonist Alisha Pattillo, who is also interviewed in my book.

More details to come. Thank you for your support.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Mary Osborne On Guitars

A friend on Twitter shared this ad with me. The ad copy is awkward, but interesting. It does indeed acknowledge and celebrate Mary Osborne's talents, but also has mildly condescending, definitely sexist tone as well. ("Love a quick, easy action!") And of course, we can't have Osborne holding the guitar like an actual guitarist, right? Hmm. Of course, this approach to advertising guitars and saxophones hasn't changed all that much in the 21st century, for women or for men.

Here's what Connie Crothers has to say about Osborne in her interview in my book:

Mary Osborne is one of the most important musicians in jazz. She's the missing link between Charlie Christian and the guitar players who came afterwards. The missing link the historians have been looking for is her. She was Charlie Christian’s only protégé. She's major. Billie knew about her, and hired her for that TV special. So there were two women in that band. [laughs] — Connie Crothers to the author, 2013

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The History of Houston's Musical Soul

Saturday, October 1, the The Jung Center of Houston will be selling copies of my book Freedom of Expression: Interviews With Women in Jazz in their pop-up shop at the Houston History Alliance - HHA's History of Houston's Musical Soul conference. My book features interviews with three Houston jazz women: Pamela YorkAlisha Pattillo, and Jacqui Sutton.
Saturday's speakers and panelists include John Nova Lomax, Roger Wood, Rick Mitchell, Dr. Robert Morgan and many others. I'm really looking forward to learning much, much more about Houston's musical history. Hope to see you there! 

Zydeco dancers at PT's Cajun BBQ House in Clear Lake, which closed in 2005.
Photo by James Fraher

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Connie Crothers Memorial Broadcast Archived

Suga' In My Bowl's memorial broadcast for pianist Connie Crothers is now archived online. Sadly, Connie left us August 13. She graces the cover of my book Freedom of Expression: Interviews With Women in Jazz.

The broadcast incorporates a recording of the interview I did with Connie back in April 2013 for my book, as well as remembrances from her fellow musicians, including trumpeter Lewis 'Flip' Barnes, drummer Warren Smith, and dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker
Suga' In My Bowl host Joyce Jones did an amazing job putting this show together in a very short amount of time. I'm pleased to have contributed in some way to Connie's memory. 
Listen on demand >> here.