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Ghost Notes: Boston’s 13-Piece Makanda Project Lifts A Significant Composer from Obscurity

The Makanda Project
The Makanda Project
Marty Khan
Marty Khan

Among the many souvenirs of his half century as a music producer, manager, writer and activist, Marty Khan also has a collection of sculptures carved in ebony by the Makonde people of Tanzania, among them, one that resembled both Rodin’s “The Thinker” and his longtime friend and client Makanda Ken McIntyre. One bright and sunny day in June 2001, Khan picked up the phone to call McIntyre, when he heard a rumble in the mountains near his Tucson home. “It was this really deep rumble like thunder,” Khan remembered. “All of a sudden, a wind picks up that sculpture and smashes it on the floor, and the head breaks off. A half hour later we get a call from [producer] Steve Rowland, his brother-in-law, to tell us that Makanda just passed.”

It was a characteristic move for McIntyre, the composer and instrumentalist who shunned the spotlight but still projected his formidable intellect and influence on the jazz seen as an educator and mentor. Yet like the thunder in the Arizona mountains, McIntyre’s presence continues to be felt, as it will be in Cleveland Thursday when the 13-piece Makanda Project big band roars into Bop Stop playing a book of his unpublished compositions.

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Vibraphonist Chris Dingman Brings His Journey of Healing to Cleveland’s Bop Stop

Chris Dingman

Listening to music has increasingly become a solitary, disembodied experience, these days. Yet an opposite if so far unequal reaction is rising: a new interest in music that serves a social purpose.

In the dim past, all music was social. It was used for celebration and worship, to lull children to sleep and to blunt the drudgery of hard, repetitive labor. The social music that Chris Dingman will bring to his solo concert at Cleveland’s Bop Stop on Thursday is similarly intentional yet with a somewhat different purpose: healing.

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Roll Call: April 8, 2022

I get a lot of music for my consideration, already more than 220 new releases so far this year. Almost all of them are notable for something, and I’d like to give them their due. So, when I’m not previewing live events in Northeast Ohio, I’ll offer hot takes on recent releases. Like these.

TheYuval Amichai - My 90s Summer - cover title cut from Yuval Amihai‘s My 90s Summer (Fresh Sound Records) begins with the leader’s warm-toned guitar over dewdrop Rhodes and a head-nodding backbeat rhythm. Where have I heard this before?

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Saxophonist Diego Rivera Makes Up for Lost Time Saturday at Bop Stop

 

Saxophonist Diego Rivera‘s 2020 gig at Cleveland’s Bop Stop is one that he’ll never forget, but not for the usual reasons. The Michigan saxophonist’s engagement at the Hingetown club was the first event to have been canceled as the darkness of the COVID pandemic descended on a terrified world.

“We actually canceled the morning of the gig,” Rivera said in a Zoom interview. “This was going to be my first performance under my name at the Bop Stop, and we talked for quite a while trying to make this happen. I was really looking forward to it, but Gabe [Pollack, the club’s director] was incredibly professional, very gracious, and really supportive. He was like, ‘You know, it’s the right thing to do. Don’t worry about it. We’ll do this again.'”

Pollack was as good as his word and so this Saturday Rivera will bring a hard-charging quintet to Cleveland for a concert that’s been 25 months in the making.

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