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Oscars 2021: bumper year for jazz connections in the nominations

It has been an unusually fertile year for jazz connections in the movies as the Oscar nominations indicate. So, for instance in the top best picture category zoning in on Judas and the Black Messiah the link is that avant trombonist Craig Harris …

Published: 15 Mar 2021. Updated: 38 days.

It has been an unusually fertile year for jazz connections in the movies as the Oscar nominations indicate. So, for instance in the top best picture category zoning in on Judas and the Black Messiah the link is that avant trombonist Craig Harris and the trumpeter Mark Isham wrote the music for the Shaka King-directed political thriller.

In the best actress category Viola Davis is nominated for her gutsy interpretation of the title role of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. In the same category Andra Day is nominated for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in The United States vs Billie Holiday after success at the Golden Globes. The film comes hard on the heels of a fine documentary Billie, not nominated for an Oscar unfortunately.

In the best actor category Chadwick Boseman is nominated for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. The knife scenes involving the late actor's character Levee are positively Shakespearean.

The much talked about Soul is nominated for best animated feature. In the music, which was composed by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste, Tia Fuller provides the real saxophone sound behind the hard to impress bandleader Dorothea Williams and probably steals the show in the fictional Half Note when hero Joe (voiced very warmly by Jamie Foxx) finally fulfils his dreams and plays a significant gig after years as a middle school teacher as he attempts to come back from the dead.

Terence Blanchard is up for best score for Da 5 Bloods (the score largely bypasses jazz) and in the same category the music for Soul is also nominated. Soul also is in the running for best sound among other nods from the Academy. It is disappointing, however, that Branford Marsalis' excellent score for Ma Rainey didn't get nominated. In best original song Celeste is up for 'Hear my Voice' from The Trial of the Chicago 7 basically a mainstream song but with a strong jazz relatable flavour. The Brit lost out in the same category as the Golden Globes. And in best documentary short A Concerto is a Conversation by Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers (a Monk prize-winning pianist who composed the music for Green Book and the acclaimed TV series Mrs America) is also nominated. Kris Bowers, top.

Tags: News

The Bad Plus become a core duo as they announce the departure of pianist Orrin Evans

The hit piano trio The Bad Plus have announced the departure of Orrin Evans three years after the pianist Grammy-nominated this year with his Captain Black Big Band for The Intangible Between replaced Ethan Iverson. The band, bassist Reid Anderson …

Published: 15 Mar 2021. Updated: 38 days.

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The hit piano trio The Bad Plus have announced the departure of Orrin Evans three years after the pianist Grammy-nominated this year with his Captain Black Big Band for The Intangible Between replaced Ethan Iverson. The band, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King, made the announcement via the band's official Facebook page:

''Orrin has made the decision to further pursue the music under his own name and will be closing his chapter with The Bad Plus. Reid and Dave will continue on as The Bad Plus and are excited to open the door to new collaborative possibilities and fresh perspectives on their 20+ years of creative music together. While this marks the end of TBP as a piano trio (for now, at least), they are looking forward to expanding the ensemble as they work on creating music for their next record.'' (Full post, top)

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Evans also issued a Facebook post about his departure an excerpt of which reads:

''Three years ago, I joined an outstanding band called The Bad Plus. We've made some beautiful music worldwide during those years while fellowshipping with some incredible people. As we look toward the future, we are all excited to venture in new directions and evolve, yet again. For myself, this means that I've decided to focus on musical projects under my name, build Imani Records, and close my chapter with The Bad Plus. It is with a deep appreciation for the community that I share this news, and I make these changes with nothing but love and respect for Reid, Dave, and the entire Bad Plus family.'' (See full post above)