Articles by Peter Solomon
This spring, the Richmond Jazz Society is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth with a series of performances by female jazz artists.
For 500 years, the Jewish community of Vilnius, Lithuania was one of the most important centers of Jewish life in all of Eastern Europe. In fact, it was referred to as "the Jerusalem of Lithuania." That changed when the Nazis invaded in 1941. In just three years , they virtually eradicated the city's Jewish population. They accomplished this by rounding up the Jews and other so-called undesirables, transporting them to the Ponar forest surrounding Vilnius, and shooting them dead one bullet at a time in mass grave sites. At least 100,000 people were executed in this fashion.
Langston Hughes published the 800-line poem “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz” in 1961. One of his most ambitious works, the poem touches on so many different things that it’s very hard to describe in a few sentences. In large part, it’s a meditation on the struggle for freedom in the U.S. and elsewhere in the early sixties. It references major figures in the American civil rights movement and the leaders of African nations that were gaining independence at the time.
It’s taken fifteen years for the 2001 recording “It’s All in the GAME” featuring Doug Richards and The Great American Music Ensemble (aka GAME) to finally see the light of day. Doug Richards founded VCU’s Jazz department. He’s a world renowned Ellington scholar, he’s an accomplished educato,r and his arrangements for big band are unique and masterful. Legendary critic Martin Williams called him “the most original writer for big band since Gil Evans.”