Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Innumerable losses

It's the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and while the news networks play for ratings with commemorative specials and pay lip service to the victims and survivors, very little is actually being done (except providing shelter with toxic chemicals). I hope there's a large turnout at the Essence-organized Day of Presence. My heart goes out to all those who have been and still are affected by this disaster. I never got to visit NOLA pre-Katrina, and as the mecca for most of my musical interests, it pains me that it may never be rebuilt culturally. Structurally it may well be impossible to build a city on that ground again, but to me it's the cultural environment that defines New Orleans, and the fact that artists are scattered with no means to get back or places to return is a travesty.

My friend, the great organist Vanessa Rodrigues has passed on word that Canada's Dr. Music, Doug Riley, has passed. For anybody who loved straightahead jazz in Canada, Doug was one of the leading figures in the national scene. His tremendous musicality and great spirit was evident at every gig he played. I never officially "met" him, though I saw him play both piano and organ a few times, and I was always incredibly humbled. Playing B-3 with Alex Dean's "Tenor Madness" band (5 tenors, Doug, bass and drums), he could have easily indulged in Hammond tricks and upped the showboating ante, but each solo was well-crafted and wonderful. His contribution to the Canadian jazz landscape will be missed.

More from the Toronto Star and blogger Mark Federman.

Tonight I'm hosting Jazz Euphorium on CKUT, and the plan is now to feature music from NOLA, music from Doug, and an interview I did with Kurt Rosenwinkel during Jazz Fest (which I had been previously planning to air tonight). The Rosenwinkel interview may have to wait.

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