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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it will be in Cleveland Thursday when the 13-piece Makanda Project big band roars into Bop Stop playing a book of his unpublished compositions.

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Roll Call: February 5, 2021

 

I get a lot of music for my consideration, more than 460 new releases in 2020. Almost all of them are notable for something, and I’d like to give them their due. So, every week, more or less, I’ll offer hot takes on the releases of the preceding seven days.

It’s been a minute since I’ve called the roll. Nothing bad, just the usual procrastination and some fairly large-scale work for PostGenre Media and All About Jazz whose scribbling staffs I’ve been fortunate to join. In the midst of that work, holiday madness, some pressing matters of health and the near collapse of the Republic all dampened my enthusiasm for music and for writing. Now I’m back and there’s a lot of catching up to do. Moving backwards from the present . . . .

Vibraphonist Dan McCarthy recorded this 56-minute trio session in Brooklyn February 28, 2019. The following day, he packed his things and returned to Toronto. I guess that makes “A Place Where We Once Lived” (self-released, digital only) a breakup record of sorts, but

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