I VOTED (7:31AM)!

Wow, what a great feeling! I stood in line at 6:45AM and about a dozen people were already ahead of me. At 7:15 AM I cast my vote. People did not take long at all to vote. It appeared that they knew what they want for this election. I saw some neighbors in line and we visited. I saw a line up to the end of our block when I got out of the polling place. I have never seen a turn out like this for an election before. Very inspiring!

I am Proud to be an American!

The result of tonight’s election brought back my trust in our country and my pride to be an American. We were able to look outside our differences and UNITE for a better future together. As Obama said during his speech, this is our victory. His election is an opportunity for change but we need to pull together as avid servers of our country to bring about the real change that we all need.

My Endorsements for Election 2008

1. Senator Barack Obama for President and Senator Joe Biden for Vice President

2. Yes on 1A California High Speed Rail-Bond Measure

3. Yes on 2 Prevention of Animal Cruelty Act

4. No on Prop 4 Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy

5. No on Prop 7 Renewable Energy Generation

6. No on Prop 8 Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry

7. No on Prop 10 Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy Bonds

The Status of Jazz in Los Angeles

p>I am sharing with you the best way to describe the status of jazz here in Los Angeles. — CC

“Jazz: Competing and Competing” [10/26/2008]

One of the 20th Century’s greatest artists, a cat named Thelonius Monk, the pianist and composer of countless jazz standards, including “Round Midnight” and “Well, You Needn’t,” left behind, among other things, a brilliant son (the drummer, T.S. Monk), a lucrative publishing catalogue, and a legacy of musical encouragement. The Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz is one of America’s most powerful forces in propagating and teaching an art form that keeps reaching for the stars, even as the culture at large does everything it can to marginalize jazz music and repeatedly declare it deceased. The Monk Institute conducts an annual competition, a talent search, dedicated each year to a different musical discipline. (This year it’s the saxophone.) The winners get big scholarships and recording contracts, and perhaps even more important, an effective marketing campaign that instantly brands them as musicians worth listening to. It’s the “American Idol” of jazz, except that with the Monk Competition the judges actually know what they’re talking about and the speed-dialing and text-messaging skills of teenaged girls have little impact on the results.

Still, as we’ve noted previously in this space, if you had to pick someone who never would have won the Monk Competition in his lifetime, it would be Thelonius Monk. Iconoclasm doesn’t play well in the mainstream.

Sadly, jazz music here in Los Angeles, is slowly drifting toward the margins of the culture. Aside from the gala extravaganzas like the Monk Competition, which concludes at the Kodak Theater – site of the Academy Awards and the “American Idol” finals – with brand name guests like Joni Mitchell, Sting, and Bono lending their illustrious names to the event, most jazz concerts in Los Angeles are poorly attended. On a recent Saturday night in Hollywood, the greatest quartet in America, the Tierney Sutton Band, played to fewer than 100 people. The TSB isn’t an obscure outfit; they’ve been the beneficiaries of another splendid marketing tool, the Grammy Awards. But even two consecutive nominations in the Vocal Jazz category don’t guarantee an audience for music that is profound, transcendent, and mildly challenging, not to mention astonishingly beautiful. Our leading arbiter of cultural worthiness, the Los Angeles Times, recently axed jazz coverage from its Calendar pages. No reviews, no previews, no feature stories, no listings, nothing. The longtime jazz critic there, Don Heckman, who has more than 5,500 signed articles at the paper, has been ushered to the sidelines, where the Times (and the culture at large) believes he belongs, leaving more editorial space for vital coverage of indispensable reality TV shows and celebrity fashions. Mr. Heckman’s ideas can be found now at his new Website: http://irom.wordpress.com/. But if you want a comprehensive listing of who’s playing where – or even an incomprehensive listing – you’ll have to look elsewhere than our local newspaper, which behaves as though jazz music doesn’t exist, except as a peculiar subculture unworthy of serious consideration.

If you find this state of affairs an affront to your aesthetic sensibilities, the man in charge of the Calendar section is Leo Wolinsky. Leo’s email’s address is Leo.Wolinsky@latimes.com. Perhaps letting him know that people who care about jazz aren’t an entirely silent minority would help.

Those involved with the Monk Institute and all the other fine organizations that teach and present and celebrate America’s grandest contribution to the global arts, must feel like Sisyphus with a Saxophone. The majority of the semi-finalists at the Monk Competition, the majority of graduate students at Berklee College of Music, the majority of wildly talented and passionate musicians struggling to find their voice and vision – most of them will, at best, find work teaching other initiates, who will in turn teach others, who, like the thousands of others before them, will make music that very few people care about.

There is no competition in art. But competition in the cultural marketplace is brutal and unkind. This thing we call jazz is losing, badly. And though many of us are oblivious to the collective loss, we as a nation are losing, too.

The Monk Competition finalists will blow their hearts out. The Tierney Sutton Band will continue to create works of astonishing sublimity. And folks like Don Heckman will try to make sense of it all. Concurrently, our culture will slide further into the smelly muck. “What we play is life,” said Louis Armstrong. How chilling that we collectively seem to prefer an embrace of death. – Michael Konik

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Michael Konik is a bestselling author, FoxSports TV poker commentator, swinging jazz singer, record label owner and producer, and a true renaissance man. He graciously shared from his Website his Thought of the Week, which I believe elegantly and accurately describes the current status of jazz in Los Angeles. I am outraged that jazz (in the form of listings, feature articles, reviews) is no longer being covered in the Los Angeles Times. If you want your voice to be heard, please speak up and email Editor Russ Stanton at russ.stanton@latimes.com.– CC

Upcoming Election

After watching the last presidential debate tonight, I am reminded again how incredibly lucky I am. I am a woman, an immigrant, and yet I have the right to vote. This is a right that I cannot take for granted. Many lives were sacrificed so that I can vote on November 4, 2008, which could be the most important election I will face in my lifetime.

Tonight’s debate was clear: one candidate was centered, focused, and elegant, while the other wass aggressive, angry and uptight. One candidate attempted to answer questions, while the other mostly attacked his counterpart. I hope and pray that America saw what I did tonight.

Ella Konik, 1993-2008

Ella Guinevere Konik died peacefully last night at home in her bed,
surrounded by family. She was close to 15 1/2.

Frank Sinatra once told an interviewer, “They say you only live once.
But if you have a life like mine, once is enough.” Ella’s time on
Earth was like that. A white-lab and greyhound mutt, she was adopted
at 3 months and spent much of her adult years spreading joy. Ella was
a licensed therapy dog and the subject of the book “Ella in
Europe” and the Animal Planet TV show “Ella & Me.”

She was friends with everyone, a beautiful soul encased in white fur.

We miss her terribly.

Thankful

I was reminded tonight how extremely grateful I am for the many blessings I’ve received since I started this adventurous exploration of the world of music. All the successes I’ve earned are because of the hard work of many people — the devotion, love and endless support of family, friends and musical family. I would like to express tonight, once again, my gratitude to all of you. Ang lahat ng ito ay dahil sa inyo.

Lubos Na Nagpapasalamat,
Charmaine Clamor

Harana Project Completed!

I am so excited! We just completed our harana project; it’s mastered and ready for the factory. The album is composed of the most precious harana (serenade songs) from different regions in the Philippines, sung in at least 8 dialects and languages. Different indigenous instruments were used as well. I collaborated with Naxos recording artist, Richard Ickard, and have Mon David, the 2006 London International Jazz Vocal Competition Winner, as a special guest. I cannot wait to share this album with you (and the fabulous photos, too!). Look for the CD in October of 2008.

Thank you, Miri!

It was my first time in Malaysia and also for my band. After 18 hours of flying we were greeted warmly by the Miri International Jazz Festival (MIJF) staff, who made us feel like royalty. Thank you, Miri, for embracing us, our music and our passion so openly. Thank you MIJF team for taking care of us. Thank you also to all the media for your support of our music and the Festival. We had a memorable time (especially the exploding bass!) and we long to come back to see more of your beautiful country. I thank my fantastic band (Richard Ickard, guitar; Abe Lagrimas, Jr., drums; Gustavo Garcia, percussion; Matt Politano, piano; Dominic Thiroux, bass) and our road manager, Michelle, for sharing this journey with me. Stay tuned for photos!