Wednesday, June 28, 2017

In a few days, the Schomburg Center will close its 2016-2017 fiscal year. We would greatly appreciate an additional contribution to help us meet our fiscal year end goals.

Schomburg Center

In a few days, the Schomburg Center will close its 2016-2017 fiscal year. We would greatly appreciate an additional contribution to help us meet our fiscal year end goals.

For over 90 years, we have been the world's leading cultural institution devoted to the history of Black Americans and the global African diaspora. Just this year, we added the personal archives of James Baldwin and Sonny Rollins to our remarkable collections of over 11 million items.

We're excited for the 2017–2018 fiscal year, especially now that we are the new home of these significant archives. Our staff is already busy brainstorming ideas about how to bring James Baldwin's work and Sonny Rollins's music to a new generation of readers and listeners, and we need your financial help to enter the new fiscal year on strong financial ground. Viola Masterclass with Nokuthula Ngwenyama Saturday, July 8 at 11:00am, University of Portland, Portland, Oregon

Violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama
has a website at
and is featured at
Presented by Chamber Music Northwest (CMNW) Summer Festival.
Hear Nokuthula Ngwenyama work with some of the brightest talents in our community. Sponsored by University of Portland and Kennedy Violins.

Sinfo-Nia Youth Orchestra 'One Love' Jamaica Tour, Kingston & Montego Bay, Jamaica Performance Tour July 2-13, 2017

Sinfo-Nia U.S. Music Ambassadors bound for Jamaica
to celebrate its 55th year of Independence!


John Malveaux: I suggest attending the Metropolitan Opera performance of La Bohème to see/hear Soprano Angel Blue and Tenor Russell Thomas on October 19, 23, 27

Angel Blue

 Russell Thomas

John Malveaux of 

Pride & Self-Deception

As a past R&B, Jazz, Gospel, Hip Hop, & Pop concert promoter and current devotee of 360 degrees of music, I invested six hours to watch the BET Awards pre-show and Awards on July 25, 2017. With appreciation for the multitude of genius performing talent assembled for the BET Awards, I also considered the prevalent impact of so-called Black Music that exclude the images and achievements by people of African descent in the classical & opera genres.

The BET AWARDS, and the 2017 NAACP IMAGE AWARDS are counterproductive to the historical achievements and current high stake blind casting and diversity efforts of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Metropolitan Opera and other presenters of classical and opera music.

Assuming the President and Board of BET and NAACP are informed and aware of the history and expanding achievements by people of African descent in classical and opera on international stages, why does the DISCRIMINATORY practice continue and who benefits from the MISEDUCATION of our youth?

If the President and Board of NAACP Image Awards and BET Awards are unaware of current achievements by African American artists in opera and classical music, I suggest attending the Metropolitan Opera performance of La Bohème to see/hear Soprano Angel Blue and Tenor Russell Thomas on October 19, 23, 27 or Soprano Janai Bridges sing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Concert Hall October 19, 20, 21.  Please see and

Monday, June 26, 2017

AaronAsk: Weekly mentoring for a creative life: Just the Fax, Ma'am (5:01)

Aaron P. Dworkin writes:

Greetings and welcome to this week's episode of AaronAsk, your weekly mentoring session to live a fulfilling creative life!  This week's episode is titled, Just the Fax, Ma'am!
In today's world of 24-hour news, it's a challenge at times being able to decipher legitimate news versus that dreaded fake news. In today's video, I discuss my Triple S System on how to differentiate factual and properly sourced news vs. news that is just made-up. I believe this is important for everyone to learn so you don't share news that could damage your career or diminish respect you have earned from your friends and peers. Let me know what you think!
Enjoy, we wish you a creative day and see you for next week's session!

Comment by email:
Thank you so much Bill!  Aaron  [Aaron P. Dworkin]

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Acoustic Guitar: How Composer Scott Joplin’s Sizzling Syncopations Inspired Ragtime Guitar As We Know It

Bob Evans - Maple Leaf Rag (Composed Joplin, Arranged Evans)

Scott Joplin (c.1867-1917) is profiled at, which features a Bibliography and comprehensive Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma,

Acoustic Guitar

From the August 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BY STEPHEN BOISSON

This year marks the centennial anniversary of ragtime innovator Scott Joplin’s death, on April 1, 1917. The big news of the day was America’s involvement in the Great War, not the passing of a once-popular composer. Joplin’s funeral was a quiet affair, with scant notice in the press. The maestro had requested that his most famous composition, “Maple Leaf Rag,” accompany the service, but his widow deemed such joyful music to be inappropriate. Lottie Joplin regretted that decision for the rest of her life.
His music—and ragtime in general—lay dormant through the 1920s and ’30s. But Joplin’s syncopated, intricate creations, such as “Sunflower Slow Drag,” “Elite Syncopations,” “The Entertainer,” “The Cascades,” and, of course, “Maple Leaf Rag,” continue to regale us.

A Gateway to Ragtime
Snippets of the old style ran through popular songs and jazz tunes, many of which placed “rag” in the title. Country-blues guitarists recorded simplified ragtime forms: Mississippi John Hurt based “My Creole Belle” on a section of “Creole Belles” by J. Bodewalt Lampe and George Sidney; Reverend Gary Davis cut an abbreviated version of “Maple Leaf” called “Make Believe Stunt.” Indeed, by the time of its resurgence in the late ’60s and ’70s, many acoustic pickers were playing real ragtime—David Laibman, Eric Schoenberg, Stefan Grossman, Duck Baker, Guy Van Duser, Ton Van Bergeyk, Lasse Johansson, and others. And Dave Van Ronk deserves special mention for recording “The St. Louis Tickle” in 1963. (Current fingerstyle great Mary Flower even has an instructional DVD devoted to ragtime guitar.)
As Joplin reigned during the music’s heyday, he reclaimed the throne upon its return. Though “Maple Leaf Rag” was at no point forgotten, it was again a popular gateway to the genre. “It’s a song that people like when they hear it,” fingerstylist Pat Donohue says. “I’m always looking for those.”
“Maple Leaf Rag” was published in 1899 by John Stark and Son of Sedalia, Missouri, where Joplin lived at the time. The composer was guaranteed one cent per copy. Stark boasted that “Maple Leaf Rag” sold more than a million copies, “and no abatement of demand,” though it’s not proven those numbers were met in Joplin’s lifetime. Nonetheless, the royalty from this composition alone provided Joplin with a comfortable base income.

While “Maple Leaf Rag” was not the first ragtime instrumental published, it was the most musically ambitious for the day.

“Maple Leaf Rag” was widely beloved. At a White House soiree during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration, the president’s 17-year-old daughter, Alice, asked the director of the U.S. Marine Band to play Joplin’s piece. When the director pleaded ignorance, Alice assured him that “the Boys” played it often for her, and the request was met. In fact, the U.S. Marine Band made one of the earliest recordings of the song.
While “Maple Leaf Rag” was not the first ragtime instrumental published—that would be William Krell’s “Mississippi Rag” in 1897—it was the most musically ambitious for the day. Most rags were divided into three strains, or sections, whereas “Maple Leaf Rag” has four. The melody takes surprising twists and turns and the bass part is equally felicitous.
Joplin’s musical sophistication would prompt him to move beyond ragtime, to ballets and operas, an ambition Stark tried to dissuade. In his final years, he was debilitated by tertiary syphilis and an exasperating struggle to stage his 1911 opera, Treemonisha. The closest he came was a barebones recital in 1915 at Harlem’s Lincoln Theatre, where he provided the orchestration on piano.


National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives Expands to Iowa by Welcoming New Chapter in Des Moines

Washington, DC - NOBLE is proud to announce the expansion of its membership to Iowa. "As we continue to respond to the growing needs of the communities we serve, we are proud to welcome Des Moines chapter into the NOBLE family. Our law enforcement community continues to provide advocacy, instruction and guidance to members across this country as well as elected officials, community leaders, advocacy groups and others. Considering the challenges that we face as a nation in forging mutual respect and accountability, NOBLE seeks to advance its mission through continued growth. We look forward to launching operations and supporting our newly chartered membership organization in Iowa,"- stated NOBLE National President, Perry Tarrant, and Region Four Vice President, Brenda Goss Andrews.
NOBLE is proud to have the support of the Honorable Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, as he and the city recognize the importance of the organization's work and influence as we continue the dialogue and much needed reform work throughout the country.
NOBLE's newest chapter will publicly be announced in a press conference on Thursday June 29th at 10am. Please join us at the Polk County Training Center located at 1985 NE 51st Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50310. We are honored to have mayor Cownie joining us as well as the Polk County Sherriff's Department and leaders from across the state.


Texas Public Radio: William Appling's Final Recordings: A More Authentic Rag

Scott Joplin: The Complete Rags, Waltzes & Marches
William Appling, Piano
WASO 2008-4 (2017)

Scott Joplin (c.1867-1917) is profiled at, which features a Bibliography and comprehensive Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma,


Jun 20, 2017 
If you want to start a fight at a ragtime concert, start mucking with the tempo of the music. YouTube videos are full of comments about how fast or slow the pianist is playing any particular piece. The King of Ragtime, Scott Joplin, himself wrote “it is never right to play Ragtime fast.” But how fast is fast? There are piano roll recordings of Joplin himself clocking in the “Maple Leaf Rag” at around 100 beats per minute. That feels about right for a style of music that was based in equal parts on African syncopation and European harmony, dressed up as a lively march.

Now there’s a new release of William Appling’s final recordings of Scott Joplin’s complete piano works, and they’re presented at measured tempi that allow the ear to better hear Joplin’s inventive harmonies, but I confess that with few exceptions, the heart wants what it wants, and for the most part I want my rags to pop when I hear ‘em.

Nevertheless, this new set offers plenty of riches and rare performances, from the three-quarter time, parlor-room elegance of “The Augustan Club Waltzes” and “Harmony Club Waltz” to the lilting “Solace,” and even a composition based on the largely forgotten real-life “Crash at Crush,” when an MKT railroad agent cooked up a publicity stunt to smash two steam engines into one another in East Texas. The collision killed two (maybe three) spectators, injured several others, and led Joplin to write the “Great Crush Collision” march, complete with pianistic flourishes meant to imitate the sound of a locomotive.

Appling’s performance of these rags is welcome for lovers of the genre, which to this day still falls somewhere between the world of jazz and classical, never quite getting its due. His interpretations, while not supplanting the now classic recordings of Joshua Rifikin, are illuminating, and the four-disc set also includes a lengthy booklet detailing the historical context of Scott Joplin's life and the development of ragtime.  

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Brennan Center For Justice: SCOTUS Set To Hear First Partisan Gerrymandering Case in a Decade

Supreme Court of the United States


The case could impact congressional maps in around half a dozen states and legislative maps in about ten states and have major implications for the next round of redistricting after the 2020 Census.

June 21, 2017

Cross-posted from The American Prospect

Americans are fed up with gerrymandering. The most recent Harris poll shows that 74 percent of Republicans, 73 percent of Democrats, and 71 percent of independents believe that politicians shouldn’t have a hand in drawing lines that benefit them.  
Despite public opposition across the political spectrum, politicians have taken a stronger and stronger hand in line-drawing, resulting in gerrymandered maps that are more and more extreme. The problems continue to mount: A combination of “Big Data,” single-party control of state governments, and polarized politics have allowed paid political operatives to craft increasingly surgical gerrymanders far more potent than their precursors, locking in lopsided maps that are deeply unrepresentative of the electorate. 
The good news is that the Supreme Court has the chance to take a major bite out of extreme gerrymandering this fall when it hears Gill v. Whitford, an appeal of a landmark decision striking down a Wisconsin state assembly map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.
In Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers drew the lower house map in secret, behind closed doors, with no input from Democrats. The result was a huge and disproportionate advantage for Republicans, at odds with Wisconsin’s status as a swing state. In 2012, Republicans won 60 of the 90 nine seats in the Wisconsin Assembly, despite winning only 48.6 percent of the two-party statewide vote; in 2014, they won 63 seats with only 52 percent of the statewide vote.
Read the full story on The American Prospect

The FBI’s Secret Dossier on the Legendary and Controversial Writer JAMES BALDWIN: THE FBI FILE By William J. Maxwell

James Baldwin: The FBI File
William J. Maxwell

Praise for James Baldwin: The FBI File:
“Maxwell presents the actual documentation in chronological order, using brief discussions to provide valuable context. . . He adeptly curates the strange hoard of documentation, but the primary sources will be most appreciated by completists. An unsettling demonstration of how a paranoid, reactionary government can treat significant artists.”—Kirkus
“This compendium offers an unquestionably unique look into the life of one of America’s most esteemed thinkers, whose work has seen a resurgence as a centerpiece of the Black Lives Matter movement.”—Publishers Weekly

Decades before Black Lives Matter returned James Baldwin to prominence, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI considered the Harlem-born author James Baldwin the most powerful broker between black art and black power. Baldwin’s 1,884-page FBI file, covering the period from 1958 to 1974, was the largest compiled on any African American artist of the Civil Rights era. This collection of once-secret documents, never before published in book form, captures the FBI’s anxious tracking of Baldwin’s writings, phone conversations, and sexual habits—and Baldwin’s defiant efforts to spy back at Hoover and his G-men.

James Baldwin: The FBI File reproduces more than one hundred original FBI records, selected by the noted literary historian William J. Maxwell, whose award-winning book F.B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature brought renewed attention to bureau surveillance. Maxwell also provides an introduction exploring Baldwin’s enduring relevance in the time of Black Lives Matter along with running commentaries that orient the reader and offer historical context, making this book a revealing look at a crucial slice of the American past—and present.