Jazz Jottings December 2023

Pianist Bob Ravenscroft has an impressive resume of having worked with countless musicians, both with his own combos and with the Christian ministry, Majesty. In 2004, he founded Music Serving The Word Ministries (MSW) where he continues to create and encourage others “to discover new and innovative ways for music to transcend mere performance and truly serve the living Word. John 1:1.”

His Jazzbird Studio has played a pivotal role in the Phoenix music community for almost two decades, offering jazz instruction, audio production and numerous concert series. A year ago, he opened Ravenscroft, a 200-seat performing arts center and jazz club in North Scottsdale. On select Sundays, concerts are held in the concert hall where the proceeds go entirely to local charities and global projects. The Arizona Classic Jazz Society was a recent $10,000 beneficiary from one of those concerts that featured the talented six hands of Stephanie Trick, Paolo Alderighi and Nicole Pesce on two pianos performing “A Tribute to Hollywood & Broadway.”

Hot Jazz Jubile

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2023 has been an auspicious year for Adrian Cunningham. He became a US citizen and now holds dual citizenship. He first came to the United States from his native Australia in 2007 and has since become an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and world traveler. He now spends half his time performing in the US from his New York City base, and half in Europe, mainly Spain, where he married his wife Julie, an artist from France, this past June. The couple have an apartment in Barcelona.

Moving forward, Adrian will be the featured guest at the Teagarden Jazz Festival on February 10, 2024, at Sacramento State University.

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What was described as “an absolutely joyous night at Birdland” in late October was the occasion to celebrate the 94th birthday of the venerable journalist Dan Morgenstern. A sold-out, standing-room crowd was on hand to honor the former editor of several jazz publications and retired director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark. Dan was even enticed to come on stage and chirp “I Can’t Believe that You’re in Love with Me,” backed by David Oswald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band.


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Clint Baker is the new director of the Sacramento Youth Jazz Camp, succeeding Bill Dendle. Clint was a student himself at the Jazz Camp when he was 13, which also was the year he led his first band. Over the years, he has taught himself to play eight different instruments without formal training, making him an autodidact, i.e., someone whose knowledge is self-taught. He started playing professionally in 1989 and over the years has become a busy and highly-respected bandleader, lecturer and historian.

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Mike Vax laments that booking a touring big band gets to be more of a challenge every year, but he is determined to keep the Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra touring as long as possible. The band will be touring the Eastern United States from April 8 – 21, 2024. Any school that books the band for an evening concert gets a free afternoon clinic for the students from the whole band.

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“When you spend your life in music, you may not always end up where you thought you would. But you’ll always end up where you’re supposed to be, because a life in music is a life well-spent.” – Stan Mark & MusiciansUnite

Lew Shaw started writing about music as the publicist for the famous Berkshire Music Barn in the 1960s. He joined the West Coast Rag in 1989 and has been a guiding light to this paper through the two name changes since then as we grew to become The Syncopated Times.  47 of his profiles of today's top musicians are collected in Jazz Beat: Notes on Classic Jazz.Volume two, Jazz Beat Encore: More Notes on Classic Jazz contains 43 more! Lew taps his extensive network of connections and friends throughout the traditional jazz world to bring us his Jazz Jottings column every month.

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