Fotos and videos today are of the Carrie Jackson (& friends) concert in Weequahic Park. Extreme contrast between brite and dark areas washes out detail from the brite areas and plunges darker areas into obscurity in some of these pix. But since my camera is autofocus and autoexposure, I don't think there's much I can do about that.Newark-born jazz singer Carrie Jackson appears at Skipper's Plane Street Pub this Sunday from 4-8pm with an instrumental trio (Lou Rainone, piano; Steve Freeman, bass; Gordon Lane, drums). Plane Street is the former name of University Avenue, and Skipper's is at 304 University (fone: (973) 733-9300), opposite Essex County College). I Mapquested it and found that it is supposed to be a mere one block north of Market Street, which means that I must have passed that location dozens of times without noticing any jazz club. Guitarist Joseph Frame has also appeared there and says it's a nice place.
This foto is so bad it's good, it seems to me, because it renders a mere representational, documentary reportage kind of scene into a nearly abstract picture. You can't tell what the brite things in the background are. The last foto today makes that plain.I met Carrie at the concert that she and a slitely different trio gave in Weequahic Park August 25th as part of this year's Essex County Parks Summer Concert Series. (Les McKee was on drums on that occasion.) I meant to use the fotos and video I took that evening before now, but since the event had passed and was not repeating, it wasn't urgent to do so. Now I can use them to give you a foretaste of Carrie & Co.'s music.
When you're learning music as a child (at least in the days when every school had music education, something that some school districts have stolen from our children — is Newark among them? How is it we used to be able to afford everything, decades ago, but now we have to close down firehouses and cut music and art departments?), you are taught to sing a song just as it was written. When I was a child, there was a TV show (and even earlier, a radio show) called Your Hit Parade, in which in-house singers performed the hit songs of the day, in pretty straightforward fashion, with little embellishment or personal flourish.
The show faded with the rise of rock and roll when the performance became more important than the song. It is said that big band singer Snooky Lanson's weekly attempts to perform Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" hit in 1956 hastened the end of the series.
In this pic, I tried to show the context within which the mobile bandstand fitted, a wide lawn near a hill up to basketball courts. Unfortunately, all detail on the bandstand was lost. And the elegant basketball hoop structures aren't clear.In jazz too the performance is more important than the song, and jazz artists are famous / notorious for altering the melody, words, and beat to make a song their own. You can hear Carrie do this in the videos below, from her park concert.
This little tent-canopied information table was giving out info about the 2010 census. Unfortunately, it was not provided with any internal liting. Still, the Census Bureau is really trying to reach out to urban populations this time, to impress upon them how important the Census is to the funding their area gets. The Halsey Street Block Parties I attended also had a Census information table.I had a lot of trouble finding the Weequahic Park concert, because the Essex County website that gave info about these concerts didn't trouble to tell you specifically where within these large parks, the mobile bandstand would be set up. This doubtless accounts in part for the very poor attendance these concerts get, for very good performers. Even the email I got from Carrie Jackson herself gave the location only as Meeker Avenue and Elizabeth Avenue, which is the northernmost corner of the park. That is NOT where the bandstand was set up. I went to that intersection and listened to find the location from music in the distance. Nothing. I went down Elizabeth Avenue a bunch of blocks. Nothing. I turned up a sidestreet and found my way back down to Meeker and made a right to follow the northeastern edge of the park. Down perhaps 900 feet or so I saw an entrance cars could use, and turned into it to follow a park drive. After a bit, I heard faint music ahead. Finally, perhaps a half mile from Meeker and Elizabeth Avenue, I saw the bandstand, but had to park several hundred feet farther on because I had just missed closer parking, and the road is one-way.
The Essex County website should tell people exactly where the free summer concerts are, not just "Weequahic Park" or "Branch Brook Park". In smaller parks, like Vailsburg or Ivy Hill, finding the bandstand might not be a problem. But Weequahic and Branch Brook are huge. I tried to find the BBPk concert with fireworks early in the season but hadn't a clue where it was, so wandered part of Park Drive, in the dark, in vain. There is absolutely no excuse for a webmaster to omit specific info about location. It's not as tho s/he has to fit everything on a single-sheet flyer. Web space is unlimited, and online maps can be placed on the webpage alongside info about each concert.
This picture, and any other that shows the drummer's face, was taken after the break during which I took the little video, below, that introduces the trio's members.In any case, I did manage to find the Carrie Jackson concert after 10-15 minutes of driving around, lost.
Here, the trio entertains while Carrie tends to sales of CD's. She has her own recording company right here in Newark: C-Jay Recording & Production, Inc., P. O. Box 20375, Newark, NJ 07101; NJ Service Number: 973-372-5409; www.cjayrecords.com.I ran into Lynn Presley of the women's art collective Catfish Friday (which has a show as part of this year's Open Doors arts whirl, on Saturday, October 24, at 972 Broad Street, near the Rodino Federal Building (see my online calendar for all the Open Doors events I know of). Unfortunately, Gallery 21 is not among the venues this year, because it ceased operations shortly before the Carrie Jackson concert. Lynn hadn't heard about that until I mentioned it. She and I both liked that place, but it's gone.
I took four little videos that evening. This is the first, 'Carrie Jackson and friends', Part I: "The Street Where You Live". If the embedded player below doesn't work, you can go directly to the video's location on Blip.tv: http://blip.tv/file/2520858. Keep in mind that these videos were taken with a little camera whose main purpose is to take still fotos, so the sound is not as rich as it should ideally be. (I still haven't found the connectors for my Canon video camera, so can't charge the battery nor offload vids. They have to be around here somewhere, because there's no way I would have taken them out of the house.) These videos are also all from a handheld camera. I didn't think to take my tripod out of the car, and the car was hundreds of feet away, so I didn't go back for the tripod.This next video shows a small part of Carrie's rendition of the jazz standard "Bye Bye Blackbird", which has an unusually long and interesting history for a jazz piece, if we can believe Wikipedia. That online reference is now imposing some discipline from senior editors over at least some entries, so perhaps we can trust what it says about this song. Direct URL on Blip.tv: http://blip.tv/file/2520898.
The third video is Carrie's slitely Newarkized version of the popular standard "Take the 'A' Train". Direct URL on Blip.tv: http://blip.tv/file/2520977.
And finally, here's just a little documentary video to show you the musicians up close. Direct URL on Blip.tv: http://blip.tv/file/2521000.
And here's the still picture I spoke of.
I have now seen at least three Essex County Parks Summer Concert Series concerts, by Denise Hamilton in Ivy Hill Park, Carrie Jackson in Weequahic Park, and La Fuerza Positiva in Riverbank Park. These were all very professional performances, but none had the audience they deserve. At least in Riverbank Park there were so many people around and active doing things in the vicinity that they got to enjoy the music while doing what they actually came to the park to do. But it must be disheartening to the performers when a lack of publicity — or a clear location — or whatever keeps a crowd from forming to listen. Tho some people bring their own lawn chairs, the County Parks Department sets up only about 50 or 75 folding chairs for each concert. That is dismal for a county of the population density we have.
In this foto the brite things in the left background are finally clear.
I blame the lack of a Newark TV station for such poor attendance at Newark events. WNET is assigned to Newark but pays absolutely no attention to Newark events. Mayor Booker should file formal objections with the FCC and force WNET to return to Newark and serve the people of THIS city, as by giving ample publicity to Essex County Park concerts. New York has TV stations enuf. WNET was assigned to Newark, and it belongs in Newark. Booker should sue, if need be, to get it back.