Commentary

Art Beat: Jon Hendricks left his mark on jazz world & Toledo scene

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Sad to learn this morning that jazz vocalist and lyricist Jon Hendricks has died at 96 on Wednesday (Nov. 22, 2017). You can easily find the extensive obituaries spelling out his importance in jazz, and his career that extended well into his 90s. He didn’t invent the concept of creating words to go along with jazz instrumentals and improvised solos, but his persistence and longevity meant his work gained the most prominence. My memories of him date to 2000 when he moved back to Toledo, where he spent his formative years, including singing with legendary pianist Art Tatum. He came back not just to teach, but to preside over the local jazz scene. He didn’t show up just to sing, but to listen. When the Toledo Museum of Art opened the sculpture garden he was there, always resplendent in a solid, candy colored suit and his captain’s cap. Even when off-stage, Hendricks always had stage presence. I heard him sing several times on stage at the Art Tatum Jazz Heritage Festival. But I also heard him sing in the audience. During a break at an early festival, he was expounding on the virtues of an evergreen ballad to one of his many fans, leaning over as he illustrated his point with softly sung gem-like phrases. Let me say this, I really wanted to hear Hendricks sing standards. His voice was warm and gruff, weathered, but never world weary, perfect for the classic lines of the Great American Songbook. As a writer himself, he knew how to get inside a lyric. He was a great supporter of the festival. When it moved to International Park, he headlined the first year then helped bring in top vocalists to headline, and always seemed to be happy to join them on stage. They seemed thrilled to have him. My most enduring memory comes from 2009, the year after the Tatum festival gave up the ghost. As it had in the intervals between jazz festival iterations, Murphy’s Place hosted a jazz party. Of course, Hendricks was there to perform. He was exiting the club after his set, surrounded by a clutch of ladies of a certain age, charming them. We were outside where a stage had been set up, and some of our regional jazz masters were holding forth. There was already a lot of jazz history on stage. Renell Gonsalves, son of Ellington saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, was on drums. Clifford Murphy, who owned the club with Joan Russell, was on bass. Claude Black, who played with Aretha Franklin until she switched from soulful jazz to soul, was on piano. And Ernie Krivda, one of the music’s greatest tenor saxophonists who eschewed fame to settle in his native Cleveland, was out front. If memory serves me right the band was deep into a classic blowing tune as Hendricks strolled by. He turned his head toward the Krivda’s swirling, Rococo melodies. He listened, then listened more intently, then graciously excused himself. He walked onto the stage, and with Black’s assistance found a microphone, and added his voice to the jam. The ebullience and joy that emanated from the stage transformed that parking lot near the Maumee. We were lifted into jazz heaven. This kind of spontaneous artistry, an energy plugged…

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Beyond the angelic hosts: A personal Christmas soundtrack

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When I was growing up I remember our family having five Christmas records – a compilation of the standard pop tunes, organ and chimes of sacred tunes, pre-Rudolph Burl Ives, the Chipmunks and a ”A Christmas  Carol” performed by Lionel Barrymore. Besides that it was carols around the piano with my mother accompanying my talented older brothers, with me elbowing my way in as I could and my father in his chair tapping with both feet.  There were the pop tunes bleeding from the radio, though this was before the time of wall-to-wall holiday music from Thanksgiving to Christmas. And then there was music at church. A full-blown French Midnight Mass with “Il Est Ne, Le Divin Infant” (“He Is Born, The Holy Child”) and the climax “Minuit Chretiens (“O Holy Night”) sung with reedy ardor by a tenor who worked summers at the local amusement park, and probably in one of the factories nearly the church otherwise. I loved the music, every year, seemingly having a favorite hymn. By high school I scoured a collection of international carols for oddities, and studied the notes about origins of tunes. Years later when Linda and I bought a piano – our first was a freebee old upright that weighed about as much as Santa’s sleigh fully packed – the first music we bought was that same “The International Book of Christmas Carols.” Now we have three copies, one each for piano players in the family, Linda and son Phil, who declared at age 8 “it’s never too early for Christmas music,” and one for trombone – my days of reading over the pianist’s shoulder without my putting them in danger of injury from my slide are long gone. As a high schooler, my friends and I would schlep from church to church playing for services. One particular night I and three trombone playing buddies did our part for Christian ecumenicalism by playing Bach chorales as a prelude to Midnight Mass. My background, though, is in jazz. When I started reviewing jazz recordings for Cadence magazine. I took on the job of doing an annual survey of Christmas releases. Now I recall the days when jazz Christmas recordings were a novelty. Stan Kenton issued one, and Columbia put out a couple compilations of holiday recordings by their current roster. Then as the Christmas commercial machine gathered steam, we were greeted by an avalanche of releases. Every year in fall, UPS would drop off a package of a dozen or more Christmas jazz CDs. The quality, in general, was worse than the general run of music I reviewed. Higher percentage of bah humbugs and lower percentage of alleluias. Still I enjoyed seeing how people tried to negotiate their way through that limited collection of standard pop and sacred hymns, and their attempts of corralling the usual holiday clichés into an original songs. Reality check – how many people since the Cratchits have roasted chestnuts over an open fire? Over the years as my feelings about the season and music matured, but certainly not mellowed, and the internet opened up new vistas and relations shared their own favorites, I accumulated a couple dozen songs that spoke in particular ways to me. Over the years I’ve done Christmas mix…


Readers click on links to get news & they’re shocked to find…

By AMY FRY   In the last several weeks I have heard more and more often about how people are living in “information bubbles.” As a librarian, this concerns me. One of my chief missions is to make high-quality information sources available so students can engage in critical thought bolstered by the best information. I’m not casting blame: I’ll admit that a few months ago I was getting most of my news through my Facebook feed. But I just got tired of it, so I paid for a subscription to a national newspaper and got more deliberate about reading the weekly magazine I’ve been subscribing to for the last 25 years. I was struck by the time and effort it takes to stay informed. I think it’s funny how in an age when such an overwhelming amount of information is available we need to make more of a concerted effort to seek out and engage with it, because it’s so easy to only see what shows up in our social media feeds. “Facebook is hosting a huge portion of the political conversation in America,” according to an August article in the New York Times Magazine. 61% of respondents to a 2014 survey of 18-33 year olds said they get news about politics from Facebook. My guess is that number would be higher now. And a lot of what we see there is not quality, fact-based journalism but opinion, conjecture, and outright garbage, making it like the carnival claw game in some ways – fishing around the limited options (much of which is junk), you win whatever’s accessible at the moment, if you win at all. Like most people, I immerse myself in information from a wide variety of sources of with a wide range of credibility and authority. Some of my choices are clearly based on how easy they are to get to (Wikipedia) and how entertaining I find them (Last Week Tonight with John Oliver). Others are based on my desire for depth, nuance and realism (books and newspapers). There’s nothing wrong with this approach to getting information – what becomes key is how you a) supplement the most accessible and entertaining information, b) evaluate how each source balances bias and authority, and c) sort opinion from fact. Even legitimate and very factual news sources are filled with instances of opinion: cable news has pundits and commentators, and newspapers have editorials and letters. So you must always be an active participant in the evaluation of your own consumption of media. My favorite guide to how to do this comes from the totally non-authoritative site Cracked.com, but you may have also seen Matt Masur’s more recent piece in the Huffington Post, “Bernie Sanders Could Replace President Trump With Little-Known Loophole,” which is NOT about what the title claims at all. There are untrustworthy sites that sow misinformation on both the right and the left (the Wall Street Journal’s Blue Feed, Red Feed compellingly demonstrates this) and, fortunately, both Google and Facebook recently announced plans to address this. If you aren’t sure about something, there are plenty of ways to check it out.  When my mom posted this picture to her Facebook account, I turned to snopes.com for a quick fact check. Snopes also has a list of fake news sites, several people have shared this similar Google docs list with me, and FakeNewsWatch.com categorizes sites into fake/hoax news, satire, and clickbait. This is…


Gathering in BG to show solidarity for Standing Rock protest

Submitted by MEGAN SUTHERLAND There will be an open and public Standing Rock Peace Gathering this Saturday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. at the public green space in Bowling Green, located next to the First Presbyterian Church,. All are invited to attend this gathering, which is rooted in peace, prayer and education. Our hope is to show our support for the non-violent water protectors from over 250 Native American tribes, which have gathered in North Dakota, on the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation, in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, a crude oil pipeline that will be running under the Missouri River, just upstream from the reservation. Our hope is to educate the public, gain awareness to what is happening, and show our support. love and respect for those in Standing Rock. The Native Americans’ peaceful gathering has been met with brutal force from the authorities, and we wish to send our prayers to them, as well as open the conversation on what we can do, in our own hometowns, to address these issues. Please join us to learn, pray, and show your support for Standing Rock with your community! If you have any questions about the gathering, or if you know of a professor or faith leader which would like to speak, please contact Megan Sutherland at 419-341-0164 or at megan.sutherland.bg@gmail.com


“I am Running for President, Sam I Am” -Jon Ilcisko

I do not like these candidates, Sam I am, I do not like these candidates, Sam I am. They are loud, gray, old and insulting, so I do not like these candidates, Sam I am. For President, will you run? Why, I might as well, Sam I am. It can’t be any harder Than eating Green Eggs and Ham. Well, have you been living here for 14 years? I have been living here for 14 years, I am 42 and I am in tears. I have been born in the USA, I haven’t left for over a day. Would you join the elephaants? Or would you join the Democraats? I will not join the Elephaants, I will not join the Demoraats. I know, I know, I should join a party, I will register now and not be tardy. I guess I will choose the Party of Green, As we all know that I will never be seen. Will you gather enough support? Will your expectations come up short? In the Caucus I will be discussed, Gathering support is solely a must. I May appear to be ordinary, But that will help me win the Primary. Sanders and Clinton for the Demorcaats, There are more candidates for the elephaants. With Rubio, Kasich, Cruz and Trump, One of each will get over the hump. Would you? Could you? Win the race? Win it! Win it! Receive first place!! I would not, could not win the race, As I still need to choose a running mate. I will then show my great intentions, While I reside in the national Convention. This is possible if the primary is won, Then I can start to have a lot of fun. I will debate and take the stage, I am over 35, the appropriate age. I have my ideas and policy, Let us not forget, philosophy. You may win it, you may see. Just do not yell, when you are on TV. I will win it, you may see, I will not yell when on TV. Trump and Clinton have it all wrong, They put each down and it takes too long. The ads are negative and they are mean, I hope I have a shot to keep it clean. I should win the race by being mature, And not insulting the others, oh I am sure. Voting is soon, voting is soon, The three debates are over, Are you singing a tune? Why, it is not the second Tuesday of November! It is only the middle of October. Even if I win by a mile, I will not be president for quite a while. While I wish I was president in the month of February, I will be inaugurated the following January. People choose one president and one vice, Let us hope, they choose one that is nice. Wait, the election is soon, it is too late too run. I am sad now, no more fun. Don´t worry, there will be another race, When four years pass, I will be your running mate. This thought was fun, Sam I am, This thought was Fun But now I have to vote, I would not could not in a boat. I do not like these candidates Sam I am, I do not like these candidates Sam I…


“Kudos to City Workers” -Gary Jones

When I walked our dog in City Park last might (Oct. 19), I was so pleased to see that the city was repairing the short stone wall where you enter the park. I had written a letter June 24 to city leaders requesting that something be done to protect and repair the aging wall, probably 75 years old. It was in sad disrepair. I want to commend the person(s) responsible for scheduling the repair and the workers who made the repair. Their work is excellent. And they put in a new, modern pad for the war memorial, a new pad for the artillery gun and what appears to be a pad for a picnic table. The work looks so nice. It’s worth a drive to city park to see it. Please thank those responsible. They deserve a lot of praise for a job well done. Gary Jones Bowling Green


“Don’t be blinded by party affiliation” -Nathan Eberly

This election cycle, much like many in recent past, has found our communities, and even families at times, sharply divided. Much like cheering for our favorite football team, many seem to want a “side” to win it all. In this case the side is a given political party. Across the board, political parties have stark contrasts which relate to given public policy opinions. These are guided from a view of big picture federal issues through their platforms. But when it comes to local matters, do the national platforms carry the same weight? It is easy for some to discount candidates due to the letter representing their political party. However, for this election, and all elections, I am hoping people evaluate individual candidates on their merits and how it pertains to their abilities for each office, and their respective plans and policies for their offices (and what they can actually do or not do in that position). Don’t be blinded by just the political affiliation. Look at their experiences, skills, and knowledge to best understand how they may perform in office. I myself, looking at my choices, support candidates in the Democrat Party, Republican Party, Independents, and Libertarians (I am sorry to say none this time around in the Green Party, but I have voted Green in the past as well). The reason is that I viewed each office and candidates critically. Not based on political affiliation. For instance, I support Joel Kuhlman for Commissioner and Jane Spoerl for Treasurer. A Democrat and Republican respectively. I support Ed Kolanko for Commissioner and Randy Gardner for State Senate. A Democrat and Republican respectively. I support Gary Johnson for President and Rob Portman for Senate. A Libertarian and Republican respectively. As I go down my ballot, I see that I have a healthy mix across the board, especially locally. I urge everyone to think critically about their choices, and not go into the polling places with the mindset of picking a side to win. If we continue to be so strict, though one side may “win” more offices, we are losing as a community, state, and country by continued heavy divisions. Evaluate each candidate and their background, history in office if applicable, and their plans for that office. This is how we become best represented as a community as opposed to represented based on political affiliation. Nathan Eberly Bowling Green