Jason Weiss has a new book out. It is titled Always in Trouble (An Oral History of ESP-Disk', the Most Outrageous Record label in America) and was published by Wesleyan University Press on May 1, 2012.

ESP-Disk's first release was a Various Artists record Ni Kantu En Esperanto (Let's Sing in Esperanto), a collection of songs in the international language. And then there came a flood of incredible titles, bringing mostly free jazz, beginning with Spiritual Unity by Albert Ayler Trio, Pharoah Sanders' debut, New York Art Quartet, Ornette Coleman at Town Hall, and many other with music of e.g. Sun Ra, Don Cherry, Paul Bley, Henry Grimes, Frank Wright, Charles Tyler, Bob James or Noah Howard.

Always in Trouble is built upon a collection of 40 interviews with people involved in different aspects and activities of the legendary label, including its founder and owner Bernard Stollman. Among the reviewees were poets/writers Amiri Baraka and Ishmael Reed, a large group of musicians appearing on the original LPs, and in that number Gato Barbieri, Marion Brown, Jacques Coursil, Milford Graves, Burton Greene, Giuseppi Logan, Sunny Murray, William Parker, Gary Peacock, Roswell Rudd, Alan Silva, Sonny Simmons, Sirone, Warren Smith or John Tchicai.

The book covers also other dimensions of the ESP-Disk like their interest in underground rock. ESP released recordings by such noncommercial bands as The Fugs, The Godz and Pearls Before Swine all the time staying true to their famous slogan “The artists alone decide what you will hear on their ESP-Disk”.



On Monday, April 30, 2012 we will all be celebrating a great new feast. It'll be the first annual Jazz Day. It was proclaimed during the UNESCO General Conference in November 2011. The Day is intended to support all interested parties in the struggle for peace, unity, dialogue and free cooperation among people.

The reasons for creating such an event are obvious. Not only is jazz a great symbol of unity, peace and tolerance, but it can also reduce all sorts of tensions between individuals, communities and, hopefully, even nations and races. It advocates freedom of expression, breaking down barriers between humans. It strengthens the role of youth of today in social change.

The UNESCO people hope to bring together artists, historians, academics and jazz aficionados as well as schools and communities in all countries. This wonderful idea cannot be fulfilled, of course. At least not this time. One should remember, however, that this is only the beginning. Such a festival is going to be organized for the first time in history.

Still, many countries agreed to participate. Almost the entire alphabet, from A to U (Algeria to Uruguay), although having Zimbabwe would make it look more complete. So, along with the obvious jazz countries like the US, Italy, France, Japan or the UK, there are some less obvious like The Dominican Republic, Oman, Papua New Guinea or Togo, which is really great to see. It comes as a minor shock, however, to find out that Norway or Holland are absent from the list of the participating countries.

Jazz is an unusual phenomenon and so is the International Jazz Day. I mean, this day will last longer than 24 hours.

The whole festival will be launched in Paris on April 27 by Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. It will be a big and important event with a series of concerts, discussions, film screenings, Master Classes, photo exhibitions and even jazz dance demonstrations.

Master Classes will be conducted by Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hugh Masekela, Barbara Hendricks, Herbie Hancock, Lionel Loueke, Marcus Miller or Bireli Lagrene among others. During the concerts that will take place on that day you will be able to hear Tania Maria, Marcus Miller, Bireli Lagrene, Hugh Masekela, Riccardo Del Fra, Tigran, Giovanni Mirabassi and many more!

There will also be talks on jazz, featuring for example Bertrand Tavernier, Vladimir Cosma but also a discussion between Danilo Perez and Wayne Shorter titled "Global Jazz and Peace" which is going to be transmitted live from New York City.




Nobel Prize winning poet Wislawa Szymborska passed away at 88. She died in her sleep at home in Krakow on February 1, 2012. She suffered from lung cancer but remained very active and creative till her very last days. She had many fans and some of her admirers include Umberto Eco, Woody Allen, Krzysztof Kieslowski or Tomasz Stanko. I am told that Kieslowski's famous film Three Colors: Red was inspired by Szymborska's poem Love At First Sight. And Czeslaw Milosz, another Nobel Prize winner from Krakow, also had high regard for her.

Apart from being a poet, she was also an essayist, literary critic, columnist and translator and she was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1996. The body of her work is rather sparse. Just around 350 published poems (before the Nobel Prize it was about 200). That was a result of her quest for artistic perfection. If she was not fully satisfied, a poem would always land in a wastepaper basket. Clearly, she treated herself and her readers very seriously. At the same time, she had a great sense of humor, which was present both in her life and her poetry.

Wislawa Szymborska was known to be a jazz fan. Maybe she was not a die-hard aficionado, still she used to listen to Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong or Miles Davis and others. But her all-time favourite jazz artist was Ella Fitzgerald. In Here, her last published volume of poetry, Szymborska included a poem titled Ella in Heaven, a proof how much she loved the singer.

In 2009 she had a public meeting at the Opera House in Krakow to promote her new book. On the bill was also Tomasz Stanko, invited to appear with the poet. He improvised dialogues on his trumpet in reaction to the author's reading. When Stanko heard the news about Wislawa Szymborska's passing, he flew from New York for the funeral.

It was snowing as the urn with Szymborska's ashes was buried at the Rakowicki Cemetery. And her beloved Ella Fitzgerald could be heard singing Black Coffee, a song that seemed to be a very appropriate choice. The funeral was attended by thousands of mourners including heads of state and many famous poets, artists and actors.

Later that day Tomasz Stanko took part in a memorial event at the Museum of Modern Art and played a duo with pianist Marcin Wasilewski. The two great jazzmen performed a few compositions, one of which, titled Wislawa, was especially written for this sad occasion.













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