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Gregg Reese

Contributor

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Jazz titan Gerald Wilson dead at 96

Gerald Wilson, the prolific Jazz arranger, bandleader, composer, educator, and trumpeter, died at his family home in Los Angeles on Sept. 8. Perhaps the ultimate testament to his musical versatility was his ability to transition from the swing era of the 1930s to the eclectic trends of the 21st century. His passing was announced by his son, noted guitarist Anthony Wilson, who listed the cause of death as pneumonia. He was 96.

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Music, mysticism, and the Mississippi:

Talented misfit comes to ‘Memphis’ in search of artistic fulfillment

Memphis, Tenn. occupies a unique place in the folklore and musical legacy of America, as demonstrated by the cultural traditions of its two foremost landmarks: Beale Street and Graceland. Its pre- eminent status as an incubator for Blues, Gospel, Jazz, Rockabilly and Soul was a determining factor for independent director Tim Sutton to base his second film, the eponymously titled “Memphis,” in that fabled city.

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Hollywood has new filmmakers

Reel Black Men Short Film Showcase explores new directions in subject matter

A colleague recently bemoaned the fact that Black films suffer from a limited outlay of subject matter. Once you get past the repetitive yarns of “gangsta” stories and urban melodramas, the “chick flicks” and redundant romances, and so forth, there is very little to choose from.

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Panic in the streets: Black cops weigh in on Ferguson

African American law enforcement professionals converge in the midst of Midwest civil unrest

It is perhaps just one of the oxymorons of modern society that Black men, among the most marginalized within the American justice/legal system, find gainful employment within the law enforcement entity that is so often at odds with the African American presence here in the United States.

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Legendary drummer Idris Muhammad dead at 74

New Orleans native contributed to generations of musicians

Although he did not boast the marquee status of contemporaries such as Art Blakey and Elvin Jones, none of them eclipsed the influence of Idris Muhammad’s “bottom-up style” of drumming, and his ability to adapt across a variety of musical styles that spanned some five decades. The legendary bandleader, composer, and percussionist died July 29 at the age of 74 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The cause of death was not immediately revealed, but family members acknowledged he had previously been undergoing dialysis. He was buried immediately according to the dictates of his Islamic faith.

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The Dorner fallout: Policing the cops

The aftermath of a grotesque tragedy can often give an inkling of a bigger problem

As further investigations are revealing, that very well may be the case in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Christopher Dorner affair.

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Rock and Soul legend Bobby Womack dead at 70

Controversy and scandal marked life of talented entertainer

While he never enjoyed the accolades or chart-topping success of some of his peers, arguably none of them could match the artistic versatility of Bobby Womack. The consummate singer, songwriter, and guitarist died Friday at age 70. The cause of death was not immediately revealed.

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Jazz innovator Horace Silver dies at 85

Horace Silver, the innovative bandleader, composer and pianist who brought a grounded earthiness to the “hard bop” genre of Jazz in the 1950s, has died of natural causes at his New Rochelle, N.Y. home. He was 85.

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Los Angeles Film Festival celebrates the city as a mecca for inspiration, variety

Marks its 20th anniversary

At this point in its history, the film industry is becoming increasingly decentralized as productions move to more (economically) hospitable locales. The Los Angeles Film Festival, now in its 20th year, seeks to celebrate the charms of this, the birthplace of moving pictures. Towards this goal, they have initiated a special section within the festival to highlight 11 movies inspired by the “City of Angeles.” Under the banner L.A. Muse, this “festival within a festival” is meant to promote the idea of L.A. as a continuing source of inspiration for filmmakers on an international level, and is curated by Los Angeles Film Festival Director Stephanie Allain (now in her third year shepherding the fest), and internationally renowned critic Elvis Mitchell.

Three dissimilar candidates in the race for California Insurance Commissioner

The California Insurance Commissioner and the agency he/she is charged with overseeing, the California Department of Insurance, are comparatively less glamorous than other components within the state’s bureaucracy, but none-the-less cast a formidable shadow as it ministers over the hundreds of insurance companies, and scores of consumers they serve.



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