Archive for August, 2013

BREAKING: Universal Pictures has found its James Brown. They’ve set Chadwick Boseman, who just played iconic Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman Jackie Robinson in 42. The Help‘s Tate Taylor is directing the film. Imagine Entertainment‘s Brian Grazer is producing the film with another musical icon, Mick Jagger. The film will be a co-production between Jagged Films, based on a screenplay by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth. Grazer and Jagger will produce along with Jagged’s Victoria Pearman and Imagine’s Erica Huggins. Universal signed on recently. The story charts a young boy’s rise from extreme poverty and violence to become The Godfather Of Soul, one of the most influential black artists in history whose career spanned six decades. Grazer started the project at a time when the singer himself was an active part in its development, before he died in late 2006.



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New and soulful from Joe ft Fantasia!

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He was a local schoolboy legend who returned home after an out of town stay at the University Of Marquette, where he became an All-American who would lead his team to victory in the N.I.T., back when it was still important. The Knicks used him as their first guard off the bench to replace either “Clyde” or the “Pearl”.

He came along at just the right time. The team had won it all in ’70 and he was drafted in ’71. They drafted him with the expectation that he’d supply youth, speed and tenacious defense off the bench. He didn’t disappoint.

He only had to wait for one season before he tasted the champagne. Five of the NBA’s all-time top fifty players were on the roster and a sixth would soon join them. The coach was a future Hall Of Famer and the under appreciated Phil Jackson was a reserve as well. The team was loaded.

When he touched the floor, they scrapped their half court pattern game, took the shackles off “The Dream” and for a quarter at a time, they ran with reckless abandon and speed became the featured attraction. Lord, he could play.

I met Dean Meminger at the peak of the Knicks/Bulls rivalry in the early ’90s. I’d go to games, see him in the building and I was pleased to find that he was an easy going and friendly retired Knicks legend who loved to talk basketball. He was a supporting player on a team filled with stars and he handled it with humility and grace. But when he got on the floor for the ’73 Championship team, he shone as brightly as any of the others. Tonight, I learned that he passed away. He will always be thought of fondly by Knicks fans from their golden era, and in that way, “The Dream” will always live on.



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So Long


George Duke

Jazz was still important in the American era that I was born in, and particularly so in the immediate area where I grew up, when it was mixed with rock and funk, the resulting fusion music that was produced fed my soul. Because of this, my teenage and young adult years had a soundtrack. For those of us who’d been reared on funk and soul, disco – the popular but watered down excuse for funk, forced us to look elsewhere for musical inspiration.

Soul City was located right outside of Manhattan and had a population of 26,000 people. Small yes, but it still supported three independently run record shops, at a time, when music was so important that people bought their music and children were forbidden to touch the family record player or their parent’s records.

For a time, I lived right next to a shop that stocked mostly soul and funk. I spent significant time and money with them. Another, stocked recordings of show tunes, pop singers, big band and nostalgia. I spent less time there because their inventory was extremely adult; their atmosphere a bit stuffy and more sophisticated than my tastes were at the time, and they had a pricing policy that reflected it.

My favorite shop was on the main drag of the business district in the heart of town. There the jazz/funk/fusion that I loved dearly was carried. It was here, on a Saturday afternoon long ago, where a friend played ‘scuse Me Miss for me – a funky Earth Wind and Fire influenced instrumental by the genre-defying George Duke.

I joined the movie while it was already in progress and before I encountered his enormous talents, Duke had been a sideman with Frank Zappa’s Mothers Of Invention; a member of a trio that featured the great Al Jarreau; rocked with the the electrified violinist Jean Luc Ponty and had been a collaborator with the great Cannonball Adderly.

My introduction to Duke’s music coincided with his emergence as a full on commercial funk, pop, band leader, composer, producer and force of nature. Like Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, and Chick Corea, he experimented with the then new vocabulary of the electronic keyboard synthesizers. And like them, he soon proved to be a Master of The Game. I loved George Duke’s stuff, he kept it funky. R.I.P.


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Sudden disaster or long-term illness can wreck all prospects for a family and their future. Among the most potentially devastating of all quickly striking calamities is fire.

Stanley Young is a single father of seven who is based in Washington D.C. He lost the mother of his children last year and recently lost his family’s home to fire. He is an unemployed construction worker who has been raising his children as a single parent.

The family has been residing in a hotel temporarily and unless there is a change in their fortunes, they will have to move on August 13. Their plight was recently covered by a local news broadcast and by chance Nas – the voice of his generation – happened to catch it while on a recent trip to the nation’s capital.

This morning, I received an e-mail from Nas’ manager, Ant Saleh informing me and a few other friends that Nas and Ant were not only touched by Young and his children’s predicament, but moved to act as well.

Through friend’s at Crowdtilt, they have started a fundraising effort to bring relief to the Young family. Nas has also announced his intentions on Twitter this morning and just over half of the projected goal of $20,000 has been reached. There is still more work to be done.

Please find it in your heart to help this family in their time of need, and click on the link to the Young family’s Crowdtilt page. Any and all donations will be greatly appreciated.



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