Jazz Ska Attack 2011

I am hoping to get some cell time, in the Governor Moonbeam not Cool Hand Luke sense, with jazz musician Josh Roseman in advance of his Nov. 12 show at Jen Bilfield’s Stanford Lively Up Your Arts series.

I booked Josh into the Agenda Nightclub in San Jose in 2002 during my short-lived time as a talent buyer there; the rest of the series was a disaster with the club owner asking instrumental bands to bring vocalists and then people outright refusing to play. I called the series “Din-din Din” meaning it was not your typical supper jazz (although I should have called it “Din-din dun” because the same club owner that dissed so many bands also refused to pay me as promised).

I ran into Josh at Stanford Jazz Workshop a few years ago, but never followed up with whatever I had wanted to accomplish. I recall bumping into him a couple times at Printer’s Ink during a time that he had an ongoing project here; he’s based in New York or Brooklyn. My impression is that Josh Roseman, the trombone player, is part Jewish along the lines of Josh Shedroff Redman or Dave Ellis; I was actually a little surprised, therefore, when I saw the listings describing Josh as Jamaican. (His mother is from Jamaica, it says somewhere. I sometimes tell people I was once, for a few years even, an honorary or aspiring Dominican, of the Roseau kind. I had two girlfriends in a row from the same tiny West Indian and former British colony nation; I guess I was a “josh Roseau-man”).

I was a josh, meaning fake, Roseau-man, meaning I was in love with a West Indian woman, from Dominica

I saw a flyer for a ska band forming at Stanford and briefly corresponded with its author, a Stanford Marching Band horn player of no little ambition who is engrossed in travel in and study of Japan and has therefore punted the project which I was hoping to rename for her Skankford or Stanford Ska Project — I wrote her about Josh.

When the Toasters played Cubberley in 1997 or so, they brought along Lester “Ska” Sterling, one of the original Skatalites. I recall him sleeping on two folding chairs in the cafeteria, the green room, of the former high school multipurpose room, waiting his hit. The link at the end to the Don Drummond video tribute is due to Josh saying elsewhere that Don Drummond not Don Cherry is the main influence here although the 2002 album is called “Cherry”:


I spoke to Josh’s label guy, Harvard grad and Either Orchestra leader Russ Gershon, himself a reeds player, about sundry topics and his work with Ethiopian music and jazz — now that’s a project for SLA. (I checked his avails the year I brought Steve Bernstein’s Diaspora suite cd release show to Bottom of the Hill; I also checked Tim Berne Bloodcount, on a tip from Wedge Craig Matsumoto, who flew out to Mark Christman’s Ars Nova in Philly to check it);

I am reasonably certifiable that the book for Josh’s upcoming show, if not all the personnel, draw from, color or inform, shoot across the universe as if, this 2007 session on Accurate (which is actually done live in Austria?):


This might be a good time to check or checker out once and for all and learn to describe the distinction between reggae and ska. It would be interesting to check in with Corey Harris, the MacArthur Fellow, and see how he compares the path of the blues from West Africa to New Orleans to the evolution of jazz, ska and reggae – how does it all fit together? He and Josh should talk.

There’s some cute videos of young people “skanking” (or are they “skankin’ “?), the straight-legged dance associated with ska.

I once did a show with a Japanese ska band with a Korean-American producer, Kemura, on Roadrunner Records, who were added to a bill that already had The Electrocutes (aka The Donnas), the Peechees (featuring Molly Neuman and Chris Appelgren, who ended up signing then managing the Donnas), J Church (featuring who couldn’t play but came anyways to check it out — a class move). We could have let Kemuri play longer if we knew that The Electrocutes — who were only 16 at the time — were only gonna go 25 minutes of their hour — isn’t that often the case?)

Josh’s bigger band includes Jacob Garchik, the son of Chronicle gossip columnist Leah Garchik, both of whom I now pepper or pester with sundry ideas and observations. I saw Jacob’s accordion project was given 62 word preview in Sunday Times by Nate Chinen. (I had asked Garchik to make a demo of Lee Konitz’ “Palo Alto” which I want used as hold-music when we call City Hall).

Liberty Ellman, Charlie Hunter and Peter Apfelbaum — all of whom I’ve interviewed either live for KZSU or for Palo Alto Patch AOL — play with Josh, or play Josh’s music.

Josh was the most indie member of the first SFJAZZ Festival All-Star band when it formed in 2004.

Josh does a mean version of “Don’t Be Cruel.”

When I managed John Ellis we got a lot of traction following in certain ways in the tracks of Josh Roseman, and his then-manager Erica Jacobson was a fount of ideas and inspiration. It seems that Josh played some of John’s music recently at Jazz Gallery in New York.

Rob Syrett and I are doing a poster on spec for the Matmos So Percussion show next month at Stanford Lively Arts — Rob did their album cover — and we considered creating a concept that would bridge Matmos So Percussion with the November 12 ska show by JRU; I think I was also thinking of “Up” the animated movie as Matmos album is called “Supreme Balloon” and again upsessed by this pun on the Bob Marley line “Lively Up” versus “Lively Arts.”

I ran into Jay Thorwaldsen and Sue Dremann at Palo Alto Sol last night and resisted giving them the doctored Palo Alto Weekly fall arts preview cover in which I took a sharpie to Etienne Charles and made him into Josh Roseman. But I also left what I hoped was a constructive voice mail for Rebecca Wallace suggesting that there is still time to give Josh a cover; they gave me one once for Jah’s sake. (which is reminding me that I mean to post a mean but not cruel riff at Paul Loesh’s column about Bob Dylan and blowing the shofar to confuse Satan.)

I guess it’s fair to ask Josh about his hair — the press page shows him shaved, not dreaded. I booked a show once of Stanford’s Venus Opal Reese doing nothing but talking about hair. Speaking of having booked shows at the Cub featuring both Medeski and Lester “Ska” Sterling, I also recently unearthed an old flyer for the Femi Kuti show that also touted an upcoming Steve Lacy gig.

Satan can you hear me now? Satan, now can you hear me? Satan, what is the frequency? Satan, how many kegs of beer can they drink at a Phish concert (250) versus Palo Alto Gran Fondo (6)? Can Josh Roseman, Satan, blow a shofar? Will Josh, Satan, be chauffeured? Is all the music in four, or who, Satan, is counting?

I thought that Vince Difiore of Cake, on “Prolonging The Magic”– currently this very day back in my car cd player —  did a good impression of a shofar. I recall when Cake played Cubberley in 1995 a teenager read my description of the show and said she liked jazz. They put blues bands and beyond indie bands like Deerhoof at jazz (even Ornette’s) festivals, but can they put Jamaican Ska Jazz bands in a mariachi show, and why not? Because sales will plunger?

I guess my main questions for Josh would be who you bringin’, have you ever blown a shofar, and something about The Varsity Theatre?

The little staccato-like blasts of the shofar I think (because I admit, I’ve only been to the Talmud study class twice, but can probably squeeze in one or two more visits by the time I see Josh Roseman) are called teruah. There are also sounds called Tekiah which tempt me to want to split the difference between klezmer and lounge music and do a special Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur version of “Tequila” — I am the poor-man’s Hal Willner. (I founded with Beth Custer and Glenn Hartman Drone and Bone — Al Williams on trombone — that morphed Ravel’s Bolero with “George of the Jungle” and now am working on something with basically the same cast called “Sussman Can’t Sleep” a tribute to Coen Brother’s and Hendrix — hey, maybe Josh Roseman can sit in?)

I would ask Josh Roseman about Don Byron’s interest in Mickey Katz.

Also, maybe I’d ask him about the young female sax player, I recall her name as Eisner of Eisner of Chicago, in the band that played Montalvo a few years back. Also, not that it has anything to do with Josh, Jazz or Jamaica, but I am meaning to know the name of the Asian trumpet player in Matt Nathanson’s band, that was on Leno. Maybe as Dave Douglas has a festival of new trumpet music (FONT), Josh can have a festival of new trombone that is FONTR, ie even more font than Dave’s.

That is pretty wack that I call this an interview and a) I don’t even talk to the dude — I am trying, PICK UP, JOSH, — and b) I use it to brainstorm or throw out or suggest new material. Mind your own business, young man!

Or Lively Up Yourself!

This reminds me of the Woody Allen joke about he was teaching a class on masturbation but if he got there late the class would start without him.

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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16 Responses to Jazz Ska Attack 2011

  1. markweiss86 says:

    Governor Jerry Brown, who I reference in the first sentence above as a clever way of saying I am trying to reach Josh Roseman by phone, was called “governor moonbeam” by Chicago writer Mike Royko partially because Brown was an early advocate of satellite technology. Or is that Skatalite technology?
    fuck that’s the best line in the whole piece

  2. markweiss86 says:

    Lance Hahn came to the show at Cubberley, even though he could not play, to see Pansy Division, Peechees, The Donnas (as Electrocutes) and maybe he got there in time to see Mike Park and Kemuri, the Japanese ska band. Lance died in 2007 at age 40 of kidney disease. Which reminds me that I was meaning to read further about Robert Alter the wisdom books and kidneys as the seat of consciousness, perhaps as intro or tie in to Alden Van Buskirk who died of a rare kidney disease and incidentally was from the Caribbean — or does it all tie together somehow? — and I also cannot help but think of sax player from Berkeley Dayna Stephens.
    see also, on Jews and kidneys, “the kidneys advise…”

  3. markweiss86 says:

    Etienne Charles is a young trumpet player, a Trini who family traces through Martinique, who went to Julliard in 2008 and was in sections of Maria Schneider and Count Basie groups and just released his third cd. This sounds promising but the show is not until April and so I thought it appropriate to suggest ex post facto that putting Josh on cover would have been a better choice, and it is not too late the gates or repentence or atone are open.

    I hope he brings Jacques Schwartz-Bart the sax player who I met when he played Cubberley with James Hurt, on a bill with Amendola Scheinman and maybe Sickafoose.
    There seems to be an island theme going on. Although no man is an island, and Chris Blackwell’s Island Records broke a lot of ground, it does shed light on the question of where music came from, what it is, this look at Carribean but not just Cuban jazz. Brown girl in the ring, shalala, show us your motion, et cetera.

  4. markweiss86 says:

    compare for example Scott Billington, the Rounder A&R veep who loves New Orleans music who I met as Henry Butler’s manager — Henry and Corey Harris had a group Vudu Menz that Scott promoted — and his Tangleye which remixes Alan Lomax Carribean field recordings:

  5. markweiss86 says:

    Maria Eisen is the player with Lee Scratch Perry I saw, from Dub Is A Weapon, who it says here also sat in with Skatalites in Vermont:

  6. markweiss86 says:

    I did try Josh again at 9:34 a.m. and left a message; I don’t think he is dodging me as much as he is a very busy guy, teaching at New School, running some kind of venue of his own I will have to ask him about, having played with everyone from Lester Bowie to Dave Douglas to Roswell Rudd, but it is true I would see him chilling Cali Ave style.
    I will try to bring all my West Indian friends to the show, and afterwords big feast at I think we have two restaurants; calilou calling.

  7. markweiss86 says:

    I should watch my step here in that as even wiki knows, what goes around Dominica and what goes around Jamaica are not necessarily the same thing. The leaf used in Caliloo, a stew, often with crab and cocoanut milk, is different in Jamaica than in Trinidad, for example (and the Dominicans, not to be confused with the land of Sammy Sosa, Hispanola, are more like the Trinis) And hopefully no one is confused (though I was spelling-wise) into landing on the little Canadiana public television cartoon boy, although here the discussion of funny looking man in the garden reminds me of the talk I just heard of Oakland’s David Hilliard and the first time he saw Malcolm X, and they laughed at his get up.

  8. markweiss86 says:

    this really does not fit here except in the most plastic of plastic alto logic but i just got off the phone not with roseman but rosen, tal rosen, of Congregation KAM Isiah Israel in Chicago, the one across the street from the Obamas, about the judaica collection that my grandfather and namesake MB Weiss donated there and how in the new year, we can do more to market it or make it work for us. Maybe John Corbett who helped get Alton Abraham’s Sun Ra papers to University of Chicago, can be of help here. Or Noah Metz, my former intern, in Evanston. Maybe Josh Roseman can do a show in Chi town for the MB Weiss Judaica Collection. Maybe Obama will come to the show, or better we can move the venue to the White House, like for Eli Yamin.

  9. Pingback: Go Down, Roseman | Plastic Alto with Mark Weiss

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