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This year the festival featured national  headliners and legends such as Maynard

Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau Band, Pieces of A Dream, Jimmy Scott . . .

Oscar Brown Jr. as well as . . . Ray Vega’s Latin Jazz Band

 

 

Cape May Jazz Festival 

Celebrates Its Tenth Anniversary

By Junious Ricardo Stanton

 

The Cape May Jazz Festival a semi annual event held in April and November in the quiet sea shore town of Cape May, New Jersey was the brainchild of Wilmer “Woody” Woodland and Carol Stone, two jazz afficionados.

In October of 1993 they were traveling back to Cape May on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry from the Rehobeth Jazz Festival in Rehobeth Beach Delaware. They set out to turn their idea into reality by setting a goal of bringing a first class Jazz festival to Cape May, New Jersey. From their idea the Cape May Jazz Festival was born.

Woodland and Stone were able to garner support within the community and several key hotels joined in the planning. The first festival featured local and regional artists who preformed in the Marquis de Lafayette Hotel. One thousand jazz lovers attended the first weekend festival but the seeds of success were planted early on.

The town believed in the idea. Stone and Woodland put together a community board of directors and an executive board that was able to secure a myriad of sponsors and supporters. From that first weekend festival the Cape May Jazz Festival has grown into one of the premiere weekend musical events on the East Coast. From a single venue that first weekend the Cape May Jazz Festival has grown to eight sites ranging from larger auditoriums like the Cape May Convention Hall and the Grand Ballroom of the Grand Hotel to a church gymnasium to more intimate settings like the Corinthian Yacht Club and several clubs and restaurants along the beach front. The semi-annual festivals attract over eight thousand Jazz lovers to the three-day events.

Many of the same original supporters who helped get the festival off the ground are still active. Woody Woodland, Carol Stone, and their board of directors work assiduously to make sure the festival is top shelf and offers a variety of artists and styles.

Woodland, a native of Chester Pennsylvania, is a charismatic personality who maintains the Cape May Jazz Festival is helping keep the Jazz tradition alive.

“We’re working hard to keep Jazz music alive. We bring in the best artists and pay them what they ask. If they ask for $5,000 or $10,000 we give it to them. 

We don’t try to skimp or talk them down to $2,500 or $3,500 and we’re a non-profit organization. We’re thankful for our sponsors and the support of the people. We’ve gone from having one thousand people attend to the point we attract about eight thousand, and we’re growing.”

This year the festival featured national  headliners and legends such as Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau Band, Pieces of A Dream, Jimmy Scott (formally known as Little Jimmy Scott), Oscar Brown Jr. as well as local, regional and nationally known vocalists and musicians such as Ray Vega’s Latin Jazz Band. Eric Alexander, Gerald Veasley, Charles Fambrough, David Leonhardt, Papa John, and his son Joey DeFrancesco, Aaron Graves, Jeannie Brooks and up-and-coming talent like Sherri Wilson Butler, Denise King, and young heads, Eleazar and Tyrone Shafer. 

Jimmy Scott and Oscar Brown Jr put on fabulous shows and were backed up by two outstanding bands the Jazz Expressions and the Aaron Graves Trio respectively; excellent ensembles in their own right.  Jimmy Scott and Oscar Brown, Jr.’s voices were crisp and they had the audience eating out of their hands, hanging on their every phrase and especially enjoying Oscar Brown Jr.’s antics as he belted out favorites like “The Snake,” “Hey Daddy,” “Signifying Monkey,” “Hips,” as well as topical and timely new material.

Cape May is easily accessible from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and parts South. The festival markets itself by partnering with serious jazz radio stations in the New York/North Jersey, Philadelphia, South Jersey WBGO FM and WRTI FM, periodicals like JazzTimes Dot Com, Atlantic City commercial FM station WTTH and several South Jersey newspapers.

In addition to the concerts the Festival sponsors free workshops for young people and aspiring musicians open to the public. They have Saturday and Sunday afternoon jam sessions where musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments and sit in with the professionals, who work the festival as an added attraction. The public gets to watch and enjoy the music. The festival supplies an ideal mix because the planners bring in musicians who appreciate their audience, the public is receptive to and appreciative of the musicians and performers and the laid-back atmosphere and environment are conducive to having a good time.  

Festival organizers schedule several performances either simultaneously or in staggered intervals. They provide shuttle busses to take folks to and fro to the various locations and things actually run smoothly and efficiently. If one venue is crowded folks just get on a shuttle and go to another one or they wait patiently for the next set. Festival attendees are mature; the crowds are ethnically mixed.

They are knowledgeable about jazz and extremely friendly. They may sit through a set, or leave before it concludes so they can catch another performance going on at another venue and the artists don’t mind because other folks are coming in to take their place so the place stays packed. There is a lot of jovial interaction as strangers meet and mingle waiting for busses or in line to get into a venue and old acquaintances are renewed. The audiences respect both the genre of Jazz and the artists. They come expecting a good show and the performers don’t disappoint.

Weekend packages with the various hotels, Bed and Breakfast establishments during the off-peak seasons of April and November make for a nice mini vacation and cultural smorgasbord of Jazz with some Blues and Gospel sprinkled in for good measure.  Woody Woodland, Carol Stone, and Company have hit upon a great formula: keeping jazz alive, providing an entertaining and fun filled weekend at the same time.    

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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Hopes and Prospects

By Noam Chomsky

In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky surveys the dangers and prospects of our early twenty-first century. Exploring challenges such as the growing gap between North and South, American exceptionalism (including under President Barack Obama), the fiascos of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli assault on Gaza, and the recent financial bailouts, he also sees hope for the future and a way to move forward—in the democratic wave in Latin America and in the global solidarity movements that suggest "real progress toward freedom and justice." Hopes and Prospects is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about the primary challenges still facing the human race. "This is a classic Chomsky work: a bonfire of myths and lies, sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky is an enduring inspiration all over the world—to millions, I suspect—for the simple reason that he is a truth-teller on an epic scale. I salute him." —John Pilger

In dissecting the rhetoric and logic of American empire and class domination, at home and abroad, Chomsky continues a longstanding and crucial work of elucidation and activism . . .the writing remains unswervingly rational and principled throughout, and lends bracing impetus to the real alternatives before us.—
Publisher's Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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update 6 January 2012                            

 

 

 

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