March 25, 1998 |
George Howard, 41, a Philadelphia-born saxophonist who gathered a legion of fans with his contemporary jazz recordings, died of lymphoma Sunday in Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. With his R&B-influenced smooth-jazz style, Mr. Howard recorded 14 CDs over the last 15 years, his family said. His music was popular on contemporary jazz stations, and several of his albums hit the top of the Billboard magazine jazz charts. Mr. Howard, who grew up near 53d and Catharine Streets in West Philadelphia, began playing the clarinet when he was 6 years old. Until he was about 15, he stuck to classical music.
March 24, 1998 |
George Howard, the West Philadelphia native whose soprano saxophone unfurled a silk tapestry of R&B-flavored jazz that wove around the hearts and souls of his fans, died Sunday in an Atlanta hospital. He was 41. Howard suffered from lymphoma, a form of cancer, and his condition had deteriorated in the last few months, according to a statement from his record company, GRP. He was one of contemporary jazz's better musicians, one of the few with a signature sound - smooth and warm on the surface, supported by a strong soulful R&B feel, with a finger trill thrown in for good measure.
February 26, 1998 |
Will Smith's been gone from Philadelphia for what, 10, 15 years now? But the actor/rapper still plays up his Philly roots. Opening last night's Grammys, Smith sported the Men In Black suit, danced with some Kiddies in Black, before switching into a Phillies jersey and cap to perform "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It. " And indeed Smith, known for his safe, commercial-style rap, got jiggy, winning a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance for "Men...
April 29, 1997 |
It was a feel-good, foot-tapping, hip-swaying party at Penn's Landing last night. It was a big, fat, juicy Philadelphia kiss to all the delegates and volunteers to say thanks, and please, please come again. There was an avalanche of free pretzels, cheesesteaks, hoagies, smoothies, soda, Tastykakes, water ice and hot dogs. There was music that inspired conga lines and twists, and fifty-year-old women screaming over South Philly heartthrob Frankie Avalon as he crooned his 1959 hit "Venus.
December 26, 1996 |
Back in the 1930s and '40s, jazz was a popular source of entertainment. People flocked to large ballrooms to listen, dance and marvel at the skills of the musicians. But the presentation and packaging changed. Jazz became the exclusive province of the cerebral chic and cheap club owners. The music that best "reflects the American democratic idea," was banished to "dark, little, stinky clubs," says T.S. Monk, son of the late jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk. And T.S. Monk, a former funk and R&B drummer who now plays jazz, believes the only way for jazz to reconnect with Americans is to get it on television, not in the usual historical or cultural shows, but as pure entertainment - with lighting, staging, drama, excitement.
August 30, 1996 |
As is the case with so many musicians and singers, vocalist Barbara Walker's earliest days in the business found her performing in some rather tough locations - especially for a 15-year-old girl. It was OK, though, since Walker's father was on hand to look out for her. Her debut was at 65th Street and Haverford Avenue. Walker doesn't recall the name of the West Philadelphia club where she appeared with her father, organist Bill Walker. But she does remember that the performance did not come off without some resistance from her mother.
July 12, 1996 |
They grew up together in the Mount Airy section, formed a jazz trio when they were barely past puberty, and began getting serious attention when they were in their late teens. Stardom was inevitable. It hasn't always been easy for Pieces of a Dream, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. One of the musicians even went out on his own for several years. They all now live in different cities, but pianist James Lloyd, drummer Curtis Harmon and bassist Cedric Napoleon are back where they began - playing jazz with a touch of R&B funk, making their kind of music.
June 18, 1996 |
A capacity crowd at Penn's Landing endured 90-degree heat to watch Mellon PSFS Jazz Festival headliner Grover Washington Jr. play a marathon four sets on Sunday. The contemporary-jazz giant set the tone early during his five hours on stage. "We're here today to honor me," said the saxophonist, to whom the festival is dedicated. "But my job here today is to honor all these musicians who are a part of my past, present and future. " The program was a survey of the musicians with whom the West Mount Airy resident has been associated during his three-decade career.
June 17, 1996 |
Grover Washington Jr. was one of the featured performers at Penn's Landing yesterday during the 1996 Mellon PSFS Jazz Festival. He played during a Philly reunion segment.
June 14, 1996 |
When talk turns to cuts in school music programs, the jittering stops. Grover Washington Jr., his storehouse of energy released in little bursts of hand-rubbing and pants-smoothing, hunches over to make his point. "Music is a part of the whole learning and creative experience of school," he says intently. "We should remind these old heads that when they were in school, there was art and music. I'm sure it enriched their lives even though they have probably forgotten or do not want to admit it. " Washington's zeal about music education represents what he's been doing for 40 years in the business.