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Wanted: Jazz Artist to Reign in Rose Parade; Jamming at Clubs; School Program Tunes Up

Want to ride in the Rose Parade? Mark Paulson, chairman of the Alhambra Tournament of Roses Assn., is looking for a major name jazz artist to ride on a float in next year’s Rose parade. In line with the 1990 general theme, “A World of Harmony,” Paulson said it would be great to have a jazz theme float. "(Alhambra) had just come out of the ‘Mardi Gras’ theme for this year, where jazz was prominent,” Paulson said, “so I thought jazz would be really neat.”

Paulson has asked such artists as Ray Charles, Al Jarreau, Herb Alpert and Chuck Mangione to participate, but without success. “They all think it’s a wonderful idea but they’re all busy,” he said. “I would love to have one super musician playing live, riding on our float. I think it would be a kick. And with 350 million people watching this parade, talk about publicity.”

The Alhambra float, the city’s 59th Tournament of Roses entry, has been designed by Kraig Gibbons, an artist who works for C.E. Bent and Co., the parade’s largest float builder. “His sketch calls for two huge saxes and a drum,” said Paulson, “and in the middle of the drum will be an elevator, on which the performing musicians would appear.”

Paulson said he has no money to pay musicians. “We are a nonprofit organization,” which he said is looking to raise, rather than spend, money. Interested artists can call Paulson at 818-282-6121.

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COME BLOW YOUR HORN: At a time when jam sessions are almost a thing of another era, two local rooms have instituted sit-in policies. The Nucleus Nuance in West Hollywood hosts “The Nuance Jam” on Mondays, with pianist Tennyson Stephens, drummer Greg Field and bassist John B. Williams as the house regulars; and the Comeback Inn in Venice offers an open jam session on Tuesdays, where the Venice Jazz Band is featured.

“As far as I know, there are no clubs doing this in this part of town,” said Susan DeBoismilon, entertainment director for the Nuance. “And since musicians need a place to be together and work out, I thought, ‘Why not make a musicians’ hangout on Monday nights?’ ”

DeBoismilon said that Field has “put the word out and we’re hoping that some of the heavyweights will find out they have a place to play and do their thing.”

The Nuance started as a jazz club, DeBoismilon said, but mostly features dance music these days. A jam session would make sure that jazz stays alive at the club. “We don’t want to forget our roots,” she said.

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Will Raabe, owner of the Comeback Inn, could not be reached for comment.

IN THE CLASSROOM: The International Assn. of Jazz Appreciation recently began its second season of “Jazz Goes to School,” a musical and historical program that introduces the art form to inner-city youngsters via performances and lectures at eight Los Angeles schools. The seven-week program--which is partially funded by Warner Bros. Records and the National Music Performance Trust Fund--runs through April 7 and is presented to students (grades kindergarten through 12) at such schools as Western Avenue Elementary, Foshay Junior High and Horace Mann Junior High.

“We feel that JGTS is a long-range means of preserving jazz by developing interest in it, both from a musical standpoint and by developing a consumer audience as well,” said William Coffey, association president.

Coffey said inner-city schools were chosen because “we feel the greatest need for art of all kinds is there,” he said. “Cultural programs are more readily available at the suburban schools.”

The Jazz Goes to School program includes presentations and explanations of such styles as New Orleans, Blues, Boogie Woogie, Swing, Bebop and Fusion given by such top locals as pianist Lanny Hartley, bassist Larry Gales, drummers Washington Rucker and Paul Humphrey, reedman Herman Riley, trumpeter/bandleader Gerald Wilson and singer Benard Ighner. Rucker, who has taught jazz classes for UCLA Extension, is program director. For further information, call the association at (213) 469-5589.

COMING HOME, BABY: Trumpeter Carmell Jones--a mainstay of the Los Angeles jazz milieu in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s who lived in Europe from 1965-82--returns to his former hometown this Sunday to perform with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra at the John Anson Ford Theatre. The show, which also spotlights the big bands of Shorty Rogers and Bill Holman, is the first of a four-concert series that “offers a capsule musical history of modern jazz on the West Coast from Central Avenue through the ‘50s to today,” said Ken Poston, who’s producing the concerts for KLON radio.

Jones--who was a featured soloist with Wilson, the Harold Land-Red Mitchell Quintet and Horace Silver’s group--has been quite active since he left Los Angeles. “He played all the time in Germany,” said Poston, “and he’s been working steadily in his native Kansas City,” where he’s lived since moving back to the states.

Both Poston and Wilson had high praise for Jones. “He’s sounds good, maybe even better than he used to,” said Poston. “He’s a major artist that many people have either never heard of, or, if they have, they don’t know what happened to him.”

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“Oh, man, Carmell was one of the giants of my band,” said Wilson, who showcased the trumpeter on such LPs as “You Better Believe It” and “Moment of Truth” (Pacific Jazz). “He’s got stuff on records that will last forever. He’s one of the greats.”

Poston noted that Jones has wanted to come to Los Angeles and play but, until now, “he just hasn’t had the opportunity.”

**** 1/2. Pianist Benny Green’s “Prelude” (Criss Cross) reveals a keyboardist and composer with maturity far beyond his 26 years. Green--a Bud Powell/Sonny Clark devotee who was just in town with Art Blakey and here leads a fivesome--is ardently imaginative on the blistering “The Song is You,” where tenorman Javon Jackson shines, and hauntingly tender on McCoy Tyner’s uncommonly pretty, undulating “Peresina,” where trumpeter Terrance Blanchard crackles.


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