DownBeat March 2021

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Humor Belongs in Jazz When did DownBeat declare open season on the reputation of its writers? How else, then, to explain your publi- cation of a mean-spirited letter by a reader named Bob Oberg in your January issue (“No Patience for Puns”). Oberg attacks the author of a piece on Charles McPherson, in which said author makes a harmless pun about the saxophon- ist’s range of talent in composing both jazz and music for a ballet company (“Charles McPherson Takes A Leap,” December). Oberg ridicules your writer by suggest- ing that he or she was under the influence of drugs when they wrote the article. Oberg, tellingly, closes his letter by referring to jazz as “our deadly serious art form.” If there’s one thing talented jazz musi- cians through the generations have appre- ciated—from Duke Ellington to Charles Min- gus to Art Tatum and even the cantankerous Miles Davis—it’s that humor can, at times, be just as “deadly serious” a musical compo- nent as anything else. People like Oberg need to get off their collective high horse, and DownBeat needs to be more protective and respectful toward its dedicated writers. Friends & Icons I want to express a multitude of accolades for your coverage and spotlight on the pass- ing of master percussionist and NEA Jazz Master Cándido Camero in your January issue. I amquite fortunate and privileged to have shared the stage with Baba Cándido, and we enjoyed a wonderful friendship. In your article, when listing the extraordinary artists associ- ated with Cándido, you omitted an extremely important person: NEA Jazz Master Dr. Randy Weston (1926–2018). Masters Randy and Cándido had a long and intimate history of making incredible music. Their musical dialogue started in 1960 with the iconic album Uhuru Afrika , continued with the 1973 album Tanjah (which featured Cándido as a percussionist and narrator) and culminated with the 2016 release The African Nubian Suite .

Percussionist Cándido Camero (1921–2020) frequently collaborated with pianist Randy Weston.

As a member of Dr. Weston’s group Afri- can Rhythms for 38 years, I was always over- whelmed with joy when Cándido augmented our band. One such highlight was at Carnegie Hall a couple of years before Randy’s passing. Long live the spirit and musical legacy of Cándido de Guerra Camero.


music that you do choose to review. To my ears, it all sounds like a 1960s Miles Davis re- hash. The writing is mediocre, and they all sound alike. The musicians are clearly high- ly trained, and the recording technology is wonderful, but the players lack soul. Mostly, I go back to my old records.


The Talented Few As a pianist, bassist and former resident of Cleveland, I want to pay tribute to pianist and Cleveland native Bobby Few, who died on Jan. 6. Before moving to New York and then to Europe, Few established himself as one of Cleveland’s finest and most dedicated jazz musicians. He was known, respected and loved by the inner core of the city’s jazz community, and he will be remembered for his uncompromising and infectious love of post-bop, avant-garde jazz and world music.


Historical Value Is there some reason you have completely stopped reviewing historical jazz releases? So much great new/old music is being re- leased on labels like Corbett vs. Dempsey, Hat Hut, Resonance and others. Sun Ra alone is somehow releasing more music now than when he was on this planet! Your younger readers deserve to know about all this.


Lack of Innovation? I would like to riff on Dwight L. Wilson’s letter published in your December issue (“Fewer Black Artists in Reviews?”). I am a Black man who is longtime reader of DownBeat. I, too, have noticed the lower number of Black artists in the Reviews section over the decades. That is not my real issue, though: My problem is the lack of innovation in the


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