The Jacksons: “On Primetime”

As 2009 officially closes out this Thursday, I was going to post my top 10 music CD’s of the year for jazz, rock, soul, and best of the year. But as I got closer to my deadline and procrastination of the holiday season, I did something that I said I wasn’t going to do or partake in. I visited the website Fancast and noticed the A & E Network posted the first two episodes of “The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty.” I clicked on the pilot episode and after the first ten minutes of the show, I was hooked! In the weeks leading up to the premier, the reviews were stellar and many claimed it was “must watch television.” Those who know me can tell you I don’t watch much television, but as I completed the the pilot episode, I had to watch the second one.

This year we lost one of the most prolific music and video icons of the last 50 years next to Elvis Prestley and Frank Sinatra. Michael Jackson made his transition on June 25th, 2009 to a fatal cardiac arrest attack in his California home at the age of 50. Unlike myself, and tens of millions of music fans that were impacted by his music and his presence, Michael’s death still is a shock to many, and many still love and adore his contributions to popular music. Not only that, but The Jackson 5’s legacy stopped the world at a time when the Beatles were about to break up and British glam rock was about to explode here in the states. These five young African-American boys from Gary, Indiana caused havoc on all the world with their message of love and dancing with slick and innovative R &B tunes. Of course there were other family groups like The Sylvers and The Osmonds, but The Jackson 5 had a shrewd marketing and fan base that was over the top.

The Jackson’s agreed to make this show for A & E during the middle of last year but it was the sudden death of Michael and the brother’s 40th Anniversary that generated a lot of buzz for it’s recent premier. Right now, The Jacksons and Steven Segal’s reality shows are the highest rated cable shows on right now beating some of the top rated news shows in their respected time slots. The timing of Michael’s death has many wondering if the Jackson’s are doing this for the money, but in episode two, the viewers will get a full and unscripted answer from the brothers.

In the pilot episode, The Jacksons revisit their roots and go back to Gary, Indiana where Jackie’s sons get a feel of where the origins began. It’s in this episode we get caught up with Marlon, Tito, Jermanine, and Jackie 40 years later. All of them have become successful parents and we see this recurring theme of family throughout the episodes. There’s a scene where the brothers play basketball with their nephews and elder Jackson’s argued during the whole game ticking off the nephews where they eventually walk off the court saying “are you going to play basketball…or argue the entire game.” After the brothers realized their faults, they decide to come together for a meeting to decide if they’re going to do the 40th Anniversary Tour.

Most of the buildup of this episode is the last 10 minutes of meeting with Jermanine, Tito, Jackie, and Marlon. There were many personal issues that the brothers hadn’t resolved when Jermanine left the group in 1975 and he had to come clean after 30 years. The viewer is allowed all access to the Jackson’s recording material for the new record as well as how they function as brothers when it comes to handling their personal decisions as parents and business as a group. At times, it can be real personal, but that’s what makes this program work. We get to see a side of one of the most revered music family in history.

The second episode focuses on the death Michael Jackson and how the brothers are dealing with losing their sibling. Also, due to Michael’s untimely death, the brothers are being sued because they contractually agreed to perform a tribute concert and they must decide whether they’re going to perform or pay out of court. We see the Jacksons working with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (produced 6 of sister Janet Jackson’s multi-grammy winning albums) on ideas for the new record. One of the most compelling scenes is when Tito meets with his sons the group 3T. 3T is a very popular singing group overseas and Tito was very instrumental in putting the group together and managing them when they first started. Their debut disc was executive produced and released on Michael Jackson’s label MJ Records. Michael even sang on two of their songs. The meeting between Tito and his sons was somber and disappointing. The group is in the middle of recording their new album and are at an emotional low point due the passing of their Uncle Michael. Tito realizes the boys look like they’re on the verge of breaking up and gives the sons encouragement to carry on his legacy.

Finally, the Jacksons finally agree on doing the anniversary tour and begin putting the tour planning in action.

The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty is an interesting look inside of the “Black Kennedys” and how these brothers have gone from cultural icons to devout businessmen and fathers. Family is what the Jackson’s bond is all about and Tito praises his father Joseph while visiting the family home in Gary. Tito adds “I respect what Joseph had to do to instill a better life for us. If he wasn’t as tough as he was, we couldn’t achieve the success we’re accomplished.” Despite the love/hate relationship Joseph has with the family and press, this show doesn’t sensationalize Michael’s name nor the family. Instead, we see how the Jacksons deal with being an everyday person while honestly bring out each of brother’s individual personality.

Viewers find out Marlon is the comedian and jokester, Tito is stern and gruff  (a lot like his dad), Jermanine is sensitive, Jackie is the level headed and business-mined of the group.

Randy Jackson decided not to be involved in the show because of personal issues and Michael’s death.

This is must see television if you have 50 minutes to waste on mindless entertainment. This isn’t by any means C.S.I or Breaking Bad, but The Jackson’s show is something that’s about to become something big. Fans really do care about the Jacksons because of their impact on many musically around the world and it seems perfect to see how these men have adapted to living life outside the limelight and being reintroduced to another generation of fans.


Birdland 60th Anniversary Celebration

On December 15, 1949 a name synomous to music around the world would become an institution, especially jazz,  that would catapult musicians into becoming icons in their own right. Birdland, owned by Irving Levy and Morris Primack, was nicknamed after alto saxophonist Charlie Parker’s nickname “Bird,” who would become the headliner for the club. Parker, who’d become one of the father’s of “Be-bop,” created a buzz that all jazz musicians as well as the famous, made it a point to headline or visit the club. The food and entertainment was affordable and jazz music was part of popular culture.

The history of Birdland began when a young businessman named Irving Levy and co-partner Morris Primack started to own and operate nightclubs in New York City. The Bronx native along with his younger brother Morris, began to see a rise in people spending money on live music venues. Bebop was the latest form of jazz music in jazz clubs around the city and the big bands were struggling due to the financial restraints from having a large ensemble. The original Birdland was located at 1678 Broadway, just north of West 52nd Street in Manhattan. Levy allegedly bought the club from crime boss Joseph “Joe the Wop” Catalano in 1949 and used Charlie Parker as a marquee name for the venue because he was the undisputed man of jazz at the time.

Hailed as “The Jazz Corner of the World,” Birdland had already had reputation before Bird would shake the world with his musical genius. Biographer John Szwed writes in his book So What: The Life of Miles Davis, “Birdland was the closest thing to a pure jazz club at the time, a place where new bands were born, new alliances formed, and modern musicians felt at home. But it was also a site of drug dealing, hustling of various sorts, and violence. Irving Levy and Morris Primack were the owners of Birdland, though it was operated by Oscar Goodstein, who tended bar. Levy himself was stabbed to death in front of the club (in what papers called “the bebop killing”) and was replaced by brother Morris.” Morris would go on to own many music publishing companies and become the founder of Rouelette Records. After he founded Patricia Music, his first publishing company, he asked pianist George Shearing to write a song that would eventually become the standard “Lullaby of Birdland.”

Last week marked the 60th Anniversary of Birdland and the legendary NEA Jazz Master and drummer Roy Haynes played with his Fountain of Youth Band featuring Jaleel Shaw (sax), and David Wong (bass). Phil Schapp, curator of Jazz at Lincoln Center, was the emcee and club’s chief historian. Although Haynes was the star of the show, he’s the only musician alive that played on opening night of Birdland with Charlie Parker. Throughout the night, Haynes entertained and shared his wisdom to a packed house. Other legends that graced the stage with memories were “Papa” Lou Donaldson, Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Hank Jones, Lee Konitz, owner John Valenti, and Grady Tate.

Haynes told the audience before the set “Birdland was like heaven. All the musicians left their egos at the door and came to work. Fans came for the experience and one of the hottest spots in New York.” And he was correct. At any given time every major sports, film, and political came to hang out at Birdland. But the real legacy is the music.  Bandleader Count Basie and his band made Birdland their home, or nowadays what musicians call residency. Emcee Pee Wee Marquette was another presence at the club. Marquette was around three foot nine, and his high voice can be heard making the introductions on the legendary Blue Note Recording Art Blakey’s 1954 record “A Night at Birdland.” Saxophonist John Coltrane recorded his classic 1960 record “Live at Birdland.” Radio personality Symphony Sid Torin broadcasted live from the club to radio listeners on the east coast further putting jazz and the club on the mark.

Today the club hosts some of the latest and greatest musicians in jazz and continues to bring jazz music to fans all over the world. Artists still perform and record here to be apart of the rich history that have graced the presence of the club. Congratulations Birdland on keeping the legacy alive and maintaining the musical institution that you’ve become.

The Revolution Will Be Televised,
Brian Pace

2009 Z100 Jingle Ball: “Rockin’ for a Good Cause”

Z100’s 2009 Jingle Ball is the charity event of the year where proceeds go to Food Bank for New York. FBFNYC has been serving the city for over 25 years and is a citywide network of 1,000 food assistance programs. They also feed 300,000 free meals a day to New Yorkers in need. $1 was donated for each ticket sold for this sold-out event.

This years performers and guests were Adam Lambert, Taylor Swift, John Mayer, Justin Bieber, Leighton, Jay Sean, Pitbull, Boys Like Girls, Orianthi, The Fray and Jordin Sparks.

The Jingle Ball was really catered to the pre-teen crowd. The intense screaming and racing estrogen as Jay Sean and Boys Like Girls performed made for a really entertaining evening.

Standout performances were from Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter John Mayer. Mayer performed a duet with Taylor Swift halfway during his set which is off his new “. Pitbull is the next biggest MC/Producer to hit the radio. His mix of  Latin and Miami based “bass laden” style hip-hop has dominated the radio for the last 5 years. With hits like “Dammit Man”, “Back Up”, “Toma”, and “That’s Nasty” (both featuring Lil Jon), Pitbull’s music is extremely popular in the clubs and had fans on the floor during his entire set.

As the holiday approaches, please take time to donate any food or financial support to the Food Bank of New York or your local food bank. According to the FBFNYC, “approximately 1.3 million New Yorkers — the majority of whom are women, children, seniors, the working poor and people with disabilities — rely on emergency food. With the goal of ending food poverty throughout the five boroughs, the Food Bank For New York City provides a series of financial empowerment, nutrition and health education programs in addition to distributing more than 50 million pounds of food to more than 1,000 food assistance programs every year.”

The artists and sponsors for this year’s Jingle Ball donated their time and resources to make sure people eat this Christmas. Sure, the kids were entertained, but this concert was about New Yorkers and homeless.

The Revolution Will Be Televised,

Brian Pace

The Pace Report

http://www.thepacereport.comThe Fray performing Live

Remembering John…..

On December 7th, 2009 singer/songwriter/activist John Lennon would’ve turned 70 years old. Lennon’s legacy was his anti-war stance during the Vietnam War and his message of love and peace. Songs like “Give Peace a Chance” to his anthem “Imagine” impacted generations of musicians and fans around the world.

Mark David Chapman shot Lennon three times in front of his apartment on the upper west side in New York City on December 8th, 1980.

Last weekend I witnessed one of the most touching and memorable tributes on John and his musical legacy. The 29th Annual John Lennon Tribute benefiting the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation took place to a sold out crowd at Symphony Space in New York City. The tribute was the brainchild of Theater Within’s Executive Director Joe Raiola. Performers included The Kennedy’s, Joan Osborne, Bettye LaVette, David Bromberg, Dan Bern, Chris Bliss and the Angel Band.

Since 1962, Theater Within has been committed to providing the public with producing shows for charities and social causes. Created by the late Alec Rubin, Theater Within is an experimental theater workshop where actors learn their craft in lab workshops throughout the year.

Joe Raiola has been the backbone of the Lennon tribute for the last 29 years. What makes this one of the most successful  Lennon tributes is the hybrid of all performance artists that contributed their time and energy for the event.There was stand-up comedy, dancing, juggling and singing to John’s music. Generations of performers both young and old were affected by his music.

Soul legend Bettye LaVette tore the roof off with her rendition of  John’s “I’m Losing” and “Working Class Hero.” Before her performance, she told me “I used to sing the Beatles songs while performing during the 1960’s. Both John and Paul’s music impacted singers and musicians in my generation.” When Joe asked her to perform for this year’s benefit, she felt compelled to give her time to Theater Within and the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.

Other standout performances included singer Dan Bern’s acoustic version of “Oh My Love.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience after he sang. Also, singer/songwriter Lucy Kaplanski dedicated her performance of “Beautiful Boy” to her daughter, whom she told the audience “was an avid Beatles fan.”

As I sat down for three hours I couldn’t believe how music can bring people from all races and nationalities together in peace. That’s what John lived in his music and in real life. All of the songs from “Imagine” to “Give Peace a Chance” to “Across the Universe” really gave the world an escape from the wars, poverty, and violence that continue to spill over in our diaspora. The performers and music fans put their differences aside for an evening to celebrate John’s life.

John’s wife, Yoko Ono, who’s been a supporter of the Lennon Tribute, has donated Theater Within original lithographs to help raise money for the organization. She also stated in the benefit’s program “this special event was started by a group of performing artists who loved John and were deeply inspired by his songs and open heart. Over time it has grown into a charity benefit, raising money for New York’s homeless children, World Hunger Year and now the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. What an honor to John and the values he believed in!”

This week as we reflect on the life and music of John Lennon, lets continue to leave our imprint in world. Let’s be better mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Uplift and empower others. Finally, lets begin to give back. This is the holiday season and we tend to worry about our jobs and lack of finances. John was all about giving. As the Bible states “much given, much is required.”

The Revolution Will Be Televised,

Brian Pace

The Pace Report