Thursday, April 2, 2020

Ellis Marsalis, Pianist And Patriarch Of Legendary New Orleans Jazz Family, Dies | Pollstar News

Ellis Marsalis, Wynton MarsalisAP PhotoEllis Marsalis, Wynton MarsalisThe Marsalis jazz dynasty is in the house when Ellis Marsalis and son Wynton sound check before a gig at NYC
Ellis Marsalis Jr., jazz pianist, teacher and patriarch of a New Orleans musical clan that includes famed performer sons Wynton and Branford, has died after battling pneumonia brought on by the new coronavirus, one of his sons said late Wednesday.

He was 85.

Ellis Marsalis III confirmed in an Associated Press phone interview that his father's death was sparked by the virus that is causing the  global pandemic. "Pneumonia was the actual thing that caused his demise. But it was pneumonia brought on by COVID-19," he said.

He said he drove Sunday from Baltimore to be with his father as he was hospitalized in Louisiana, which has been hit hard by the outbreak.  Others in the family spent time with him, too.

Four of the jazz patriarch's six sons are musicians: Wynton, trumpeter, is America's most prominent jazz spokesman as artistic director of jazz at New York's Lincoln Center. Branford, saxophonist, led The Tonight Show band and toured with Sting. Delfeayo, a trombonist, is a prominent recording producer and performer. And Jason, a percussionist, has made a name for himself with his own band and as an accompanist. Ellis III, who decided music wasn't his gig, is a photographer-poet in Baltimore.

In a statement, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said of the man who'd continued to perform regularly in New Orleans until December: "Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz. He was a teacher, a father, and an icon — and words aren't sufficient to describe the art, the joy and the wonder he showed the world."

Because Marsalis opted to stay in New Orleans for most of his career, his reputation was limited until his sons became famous and brought him the spotlight, along with new recording contracts and headliner performances on television and tour.

"He was like the coach of jazz. He put on the sweatshirt, blew the whistle and made these guys work," said Nick Spitzer, host of public radio's American Routes and a Tulane University anthropology professor.

The Marsalis "family band" seldom played together when the boys were younger but in 2003 toured East in a spinoff of a family celebration that became a PBS special when the elder Marsalis retired from teaching at the University of New Orleans.

Harry Connick Jr., one of Marsalis' students at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, was a guest. He's one of many now-famous jazz musicians who passed through Marsalis' classrooms. Others include trumpeters Nicholas Payton and Terence Blanchard, saxophonists Donald Harrison and Victor Goines, and bassist Reginald Veal.

Marsalis was born in New Orleans, son of the operator of a hotel where Marsalis met touring black musicians who couldn't stay at the segregated downtown hotels where they performed. He played saxophone in high school; he also played piano by the time he went to Dillard University.

Although New Orleans was steeped in traditional jazz, and rock 'n' roll was the new sound in the 1950s, Marsalis preferred bebop and modern jazz.

Spitzer described Marsalis as a "modernist in a town of traditionalists."

"His great love was jazz a la bebop — he was a lover of Thelonious Monk and the idea that bebop was a music of freedom. But when he had to feed his family, he played R&B and soul and rock 'n' roll on Bourbon Street," Spitzer said.

The musician's college quartet included drummer Ed Blackwell, clarinetist Alvin Batiste and saxophonist Harold Battiste playing modern.

Ornette Coleman was in town at the time. In 1956, when Coleman headed to California, Marsalis and the others went along, but after a few months Marsalis returned home. He told the New Orleans Times-Picayune years later, when he and Coleman were old men, that he never figured out what a pianist could do behind the free form of Coleman's jazz.

Back in New Orleans, Marsalis joined the Marine Corps and was assigned to accompany soloists on the service's weekly TV programs on CBS in New York. There, he said, he learned to handle all kinds of music styles.

Returning home, he worked at the Playboy Club and ventured into running his own club, which went bust. In 1967 trumpeter Al Hirt hired him. When not on Bourbon Street, Hirt's band appeared on national TV — headline shows on The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, among others.

Marsalis got into education about the same time, teaching improvisation at Xavier University in New Orleans. In the mid-1970s, he joined the faculty at the New Orleans magnet high school and influenced a new generation of jazz musicians.

When asked how he could teach something as free-wheeling as jazz improvisation, Marsalis once said, "We don't teach jazz, we teach students."

In 1986 he moved to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. In 1989, the University of New Orleans lured him back to set up a jazz-studies program.

Marsalis retired from UNO in 2001 but continued performing, particularly at Snug Harbor, a small club that anchored the city's contemporary jazz scene — frequently backing young promising musicians.

His melodic style, with running improvisations in the right hand, has been described variously as romantic, contemporary, or simply "Louisiana jazz." He's always on acoustic piano, never electric, and even in interpreting old standards there's a clear link to the driving bebop chords and rhythms of his early years.

He founded a record company, ELM, but his recording was limited until his sons became famous. After that he joined them and others on mainstream labels and headlined his own releases, many full of his own compositions.

He often played at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. For more than three decades he played two 75-minute sets every Friday night at Snug Harbor until he decided it was exhausting. Even then, he still performed on occasion as a special guest.

On Wednesday night, Ellis III recalled how his father taught him the meaning of integrity before he even knew the word.

He and Delfeayo, neither of them yet 10, had gone to hear their father play at a club. Only one man — sleeping and drunk — was in the audience for the second set. The boys asked why they couldn't leave.

"He looked at us and said, 'I can't leave. I have a gig.' While he's playing, he said, 'A gig is a deal. I'm paid to play this set. I'm going to play this set. It doesn't matter that nobody's here.' "

Marsalis' wife, Dolores, died in 2017. He is survived by his sons Branford, Wynton, Ellis III, Delfeayo, Mboya and Jason.


Sony launches $100m COVID-19 relief fund, including money for entertainment industry | Music Business Worldwide

Tokyo-based Sony Corporation has launched a $100 million fund to support those around the world affected by the COVID-19 virus.

Through the fund, Sony says it will provide support in three areas:

  1. Assistance for those individuals engaged in frontline medical and first responder efforts to fight the virus;
  2. Support for children and educators who must now work remotely, and
  3. Support for members of the creative community in the entertainment industry, which has been greatly impacted by the spread of the virus.

in terms of the creative community – covering music, film/TV, games and animation, together with Sony’s group companies engaged in the entertainment industry – Sony says it will “seek ways to support up-and-coming creators, artists and all those in professions supporting the industry, who have been impacted by the cancellation or postponement of concerts and live events, or the shutting down of film and television productions”.

In terms of medical support, $10 million will be devoted first to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO powered by the UN Foundation and Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, as well as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist medical workers and others on the frontline of response efforts to the virus. Sony will also work with its external partners to explore ways that it can support activities that prevent the further spread and contribute to treatment of the COVID-19 virus.

“we will do all we can as a global company to support the individuals on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19, the children who are our future, and those who have been impacted in the creative community.”

Ken Yoshida, Sony (pictured)

In the area of education, where children are losing education opportunities as a result of school closures, Sony will explore ways to leverage its technologies in support of education activities, and cooperate with educators to implement these measures.

Kenichiro Yoshida, President and CEO, Sony Corporation, said, “Sony extends its condolences to the families of those who have passed away as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and extends its sympathies to all those who have been impacted. In order to overcome the unprecedented challenges that as a society we now face around the world, we will do all we can as a global company to support the individuals on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19, the children who are our future, and those who have been impacted in the creative community.”

Sony has also announced that employees will be able to provide their support through a matching gift program that is scheduled to be offered to its approximately 110,000 employees worldwide.

Going forward, Sony says it will work together with its partners and stakeholders to explore ways to further extend these initiatives.Music Business Worldwide


Vietnam bans posting fake news online | The Register

Vietnam will fine people posting fake news on social media in an effort to crack down on the spread of both general misinformation and falsehoods about the novel coronavirus.

The new law, which will come into effect on April 15, will fine people who post or share fake news online VND10 to VND20m ($425-$850), which is several months salary for many Vietnamese. The authorities will also have power to force the user to remove the post.

Vietnam's Law on Cyber Security, which took effect in January 2019, already prohibits spreading fake news, but doesn't stipulate specific fines for spreading fake news on social media.

The country's communist government's definition of fake news (in Vietnamese) includes not only posts that include incorrect or misrepresented information, but also extends to slandering the reputation of companies and organisation, and insulting the "honor and dignity" of individuals.

The decree also includes "causing confusion among people", inciting violence, or promoting gambling, as well as encouraging unsound customs, promoting depraved cultural products, or detailing murderous actions.

The act also enables the government to pose a heftier fine of VND20m to VND30m (US$850-$1270) for disclosing state secrets, violating personal privacy, and posing other secrets that are not serious enough for penal liability.

The government's Department of Information and Communications has slapped hundreds of fines on individuals posting incorrect information about the virus outbreak. According to data from the Ministry of Public Security, over 650 offenders have been identified. More than 160 were fined, including three celebrities who took down their posts and offered public apologies.

In the latest example, the government fined a 20-year-old company driver VND10m for a false Facebook post saying that Ho Chi Minh City would be locked down for 14 days from March 28.

Vietnam's prime minister last week asked major cities to prepare for such scenario, but has not yet instituted a lock down. The government has banned crowds of more than 20 people and ordered all non-essential businesses to close until April 15.

Vietnam is especially vulnerable to coronavirus because it lacks the resources of its wealthier Asian neighbors. The country has seen a surge of cases since early March, many of whom were foreign travelers returning home. A cluster of cases in a hospital in Hanoi has also been identified. The positive count stands at 218, with no deaths, according to its health ministry.

Rather than conduct mass tests, Vietnam has focused on isolating infecting people and aggressive contact-tracing. Other measures include mandatory 14-day quarantine for all people arriving into the country and conscripting medical students, retired medical doctors and former nurses to support local hospitals. ®

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Asleep At The Wheel’s Ray Benson Announces He Has COVID-19, Says Typical Symptoms Don’t Necessarily Apply To Everyone | Pollstar News

Ray Benson of Asleep At The WheelJason MooreRay Benson of Asleep At The WheelAustin City Limits Music Festival, Zilker Park, Austin, TX

Ray Benson, frontman of Grammy-winning country band

Asleep At The Wheel

, announced Wednesday he has tested positive with COVID-19 and that while he is “still very fatigued/dizzy,” he feels optimistic about his current situation. 

Benson, who is also an actor and voice actor, shared a lengthy message about his condition on his

Facebook page

, beginning with saying he was “filled with so much love and gratitude” and thanked family, friends and fans for calls, texts, emails and notes on social media. 

The musician explained he tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday after being bed-ridden with headaches and extreme fatigue / dizziness. Benson said that after initially being tested for flu and influenza, which came back negative, he requested a COVID-19 test but was told there were none available. He went back home but the symptoms kept recurring and progressing, “being extremely fatigued, just falling asleep all the time, headaches were getting worse,” and so he went back to the doctor on Monday to do bloodwork and other tests. 

“I am still very fatigued/dizzy and in bed for now,” Benson wrote. “Doctor says if nothing further comes up like elevated temperature, respiratory, cough etc., I should be in the clear in the coming weeks.”

Benson’s message noted that you can be positive for COVID-19 even if you don’t have the most common symptoms associated with coronavirus, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. Patients who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 have also experienced “aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea,” according to the

World Health Organization

, while others become infected but don’t develop any symptoms. 

“What I’d like to get out there is I am and was very frustrated with the lack of testing available,” Benson said. “It took basically testing for everything else to acquire a COVID 19 test. Luckily, I wasn’t around that many people within this time frame and was practicing the standard things like washing your hands/sanitizer, wearing a mask at the doctors, keeping proper distance etc.. So I’d like everyone to know the  “symptoms” that are out there as ways to know if you have it or don’t have the virus, doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone. They didn’t for me!” 

The rest of his message is posted below. 

“So, please take this virus seriously! It’s for real. Please follow the safety guidelines out there.  If you think or subscribe to those folks whose opinion is that this virus isn’t that big of a deal, please consider otherwise. Please use your voice to demand getting testing out to everyone NOW! Please send your thoughts and prayers out there to all the wonderful people putting their health and their families at risk defending ours. We all know someone or somebody who has lost their life to this virus and we have lots of folks currently fighting the virus and their families need your thoughts and prayers as well. 

“Please love each other and treat everyone with respect in this time of crisis. This is real and needs to be treated as such. Be safe, wash your hands, STAY OUT OF THE PUBLIC,  hunker down and I look forward to getting out on the road and playing music with my band and seeing everyone ASAP!” 

Recent Boxoffice reports for Asleep At The Wheel include a Feb. 5 show at Ponte Verde Concert Hall in Ponte Verde Beach, Fla., that sold 400 tickets and grossed $13,012 and a Dec. 2 show at the Mary Staurt Rogers Theatre in Modesto, Calif., that sold 504 tickets and grossed $23,870. 

The group also opened for

George Strait

at Dickeies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, Nov. 22-23, which sold 24,953 tickets over two days and grossed more than $5.7 million.


About COVID-19 | Music Business Journal | Berklee Co...

Dear Readers,

As you are aware, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused most college campuses to close. Berklee is no different. Both our Boston and Valencia campuses are shuttered with classes having moved to an online for the balance of the spring semester.

The Music Business Journal team has decided to continue the publication during these difficult times as a way to keep our audience connected with the music industry. We will not be publishing physical journals for the time being but will keep our website updated with new content and podcasts.

Thank you for your continued support of the Music Business Journal. Stay safe!

Ananta Arora

Editor in Chief



Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Adam Schlesinger | Lefsetz Letter

Adam Schlesinger – spotify

Now wait a minute, didn’t they tell us this was not going to happen? That if you weren’t over 65, the odds of dying from Covid-19 were slim, but if you were over seventy to watch out?


From: James Risk
Re: News Update-Day 20

My 22 yr old daughter, Phoebe, lost a male friend from High school days to Covid 19. Went to the hospital with symptoms and they told him to go home where he died a week later. JR


Speaking of which, you might have seen the post by Alan Merrill’s wife Johanna Ha, about his/her experience:

The Catch-22 wrapped in
Red Tape of getting a Coronavirus test
is getting People Killed.

It seems that the coronavirus is like Hollywood, as William Goldman so famously said: “Nobody knows anything.”

OF COURSE people know something, but in this era where you choose your own newsfeed, you may be exposed to information that is incorrect. And since our schools teach to the test, few have the power of analysis, the ability to read all the articles and construct your own educated opinion. And one thing’s for damn sure, you’re on your own.

I still get “National Geographic.” I saw it in a doctor’s office, read it there, and decided to subscribe once again. The new issue just came yesterday. One half is the optimism about climate change, the other is the pessimism about climate change. It’s interesting, there are two front covers, you flip the magazine to read each half. Are we gonna have to wait until rivers dry up and people die of heatstroke before we address climate change? The youngsters are on this, it’s their number one issue, but they’re dismissed because they don’t vote, even if they register their turnout is low. Furthermore, they’re no match for the fat cat lobbyists representing multinational corporations.

I’m sure you’ve read about Trump lowering the auto emission rules. It’s been bright and clear at night in L.A., supposedly in every metropolis, doesn’t this demonstrate that auto emissions are an issue? And Trump’s goal is to restrict California from making its own more stringent laws, even though California’s efforts have caused other states to enact their own laws and inspired manufacturers to make fifty state cars. But the kicker is, in Europe and Asia, they’re going in the other direction, they’re driving everybody into electric cars. Trump is single-handedly making the United States into a second-class nation under the rubric of making it great again. How great can it be if you’re dead or choking on pollution?

Now, Trump is freaking out. Now, he’s saying everybody is gonna die. Now, DeSantis is closing down Florida, he said he was waiting for Trump’s green light…but didn’t Trump say it was all up to the states? And if that is so, how come California can’t have its own auto emission rules?

I know, I know, I’m beating up on Trump.

But the best thing I’ve read about this today is by my frenemy Kara Swisher:

“Fox’s Fake News Contagion – The network spent too long spraying its viewers with false information about the coronavirus epidemic”

Bottom line… Swisher and her doctor brother could not convince their 80-something mother to self-quarantine, BECAUSE FOX WAS TELLING HER OTHERWISE!

This is the country we now live in, where science can be contradicted by a feeling, where news is about profit and scoring points for your team, and educated people are seen as elite and therefore must be written off.

Like Adam Schlesinger.

Schlesinger and his Fountains of Wayne bandmate Chris Collingwood met at Williams, one of America’s finest institutions of higher learning. And this intellect and education informed the band’s music. The lyrics were far from “moon in June.” The audience was so dumb, they didn’t realize “Stacy’s Mom” was tongue-in-cheek!

Honestly, it took me a while to get into Fountains of Wayne, the inspiration for which was even featured in “The Sopranos,” a nod to the act. But the third album, the one that actually contained “Stacy’s Mom,” “Welcome Interstate Managers,” is a big favorite of mine, if you listen you find it hard not to sing certain songs at certain times.

Rock and roll is dumbed down. Hell, it took a long time to accept Frank Zappa, but now there’s no humor extant, it’s all about bludgeoning the listener over the head with heavy sounds and dumb lyrics, but if you actually went to college, if you can actually cogitate, your experiences are wider and FOW referenced them.

But in rock and roll you put on your leather jacket, make the devil horns and denigrate everybody with a brain.

But it wasn’t only the lyrics, but the hooks too.

I’m gonna make a playlist, I’m gonna put it at the top of this screed.

I’m starting with “Peace and Love,” the groove is so great you’ll like it even if you don’t listen to the lyrics:

Sometimes I think I might just move up to Vermont
Open up a bookstore or a vegan restaurant

If you grew up in the Northeast corridor, if you went to college prior to the turn of the century, you’re smiling and laughing simultaneously,

Then there’s “All Kinds Of Time,” which the NFL used in its promotion, when you hear it, you’ll remember.

Then, “No Better Place.” You’ve been left, alone…this song nails it, without being dreary and maudlin.

And then “Hackensack.” He’s nowhere, but she’s somewhere, and he’s still waiting for her. This is akin to George Jones’s “Never Stopped Loving Her Today, but for those who grew up north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

And then “Valley Winter Song” and “Fire Island.”

And of course, “Stacy’s Mom.”

And Tom Hanks built an entire movie around “That Thing You Do!”

And of course Schlesinger co-wrote the songs for the Broadway version of John Waters’s “Cry-Baby,” and so much more!

I didn’t know Adam.

But listening to “Hackensack” tears came to my eyes, because we’ll never be graced by Schlesinger’s genius ever again, and he was far from done, he was heavily involved in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”

I’m just plain mad.

Someone could have prevented this.

Who knows, maybe Adam Schlesinger had underlying conditions, but I do know the “leaders” of this country worried about themselves and not the public. And what the public lives for is art, other than sex, everything else is superfluous, but music never gets any respect.


Fountains Of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger Loses Battle To COVID-19 At Age 52 | Pollstar News

Fountains Of WayneFountains Of Wayne

Adam Schlesinger, who co-founded

Fountains of Wayne

in 1996 and went on find success as a songwriter for film and television in the years after the band ceased to be an active touring force, died today (April 1) in New York of complications of COVID-19.

He had been hospitalized and on a ventilator in the last week, according to Variety, which also confirmed his death at age 52.

Despite his hospitalization, family and fans were hopeful for a recovery. Earlier in the week, former bandmate Chris Collingwood tweeted a statement from Schlesinger’s family saying that “his condition is improving and we are cautiously optimistic. His family appreciates all of the love and support.”

Although Fountains of Wayne hasn’t actively toured since 2013, it did book dates at Slim’s in San Francisco and Keswick Theater in Glenside, Pa., in 2019. But for the most part, Schlesinger spent the intervening years making a name for himself writing songs for film and TV. 

In addition to five Emmy nominations for “My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” He’s also been nominated for his work on the Tony Awards, “Sesame Street,” and a Stephen Colbert Christmas Special. He was nominated in 2007 for an Oscar and a Golden Globe award for writing the theme to the film “That Thing You Do!,” which was directed by Tom Hanks.

Fountains of Wayne, which Schlesinger founded with Collingwood, earned two Grammy nominations in 2003: for best new artist (“slightly belated,” the band’s website notes) and best pop performance by a group for the single “Stacy’s Mom,” the video for which starred supermodel Rachel Hunter as the title subject, from the 2003 album Welcome Interstate Managers. He won the Grammy in comedy, however, for his work with Colbert.

Schlesinger also belonged to bands Tinted Windows and Ivy. He recorded five albums with Fountains of Wayne with Sky Full of Holes being band’s final recording, released in the U.S. by Yep Roc Records.

Fountains of Wayne was noted for live performances that belied its reputation as a power pop act. Among its earliest box office reported to Pollstar is an April 7, 1997 date with Sloan in support at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., that sold 262 tickets of a 500 capacity. But later in the year, an opening slot for Smashing Pumpkins in arenas that put the band in front of big audiences for the first time. It was enough to merit the band a Hotstar cover feature in Pollstar that year.

Audiences grew over the next few years, and FoW also toured with artists including matchbox 20, Squeeze, Aimee Mann, Jill Sobule and Crowded House. Its last reported shows in 2013 were opening for Soul Asylum with Evan Dando also sharing the bill. Festival appearances included the Virgin US Festival at Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore and at Coachella, both in 2007.

Most recently, Schlesinger collaborated with Sarah Silverman on a stage score for an off-Broadway musical, “The Bedwetter,” which was to open at the Atlantic Theater Company this spring, according to Variety.