Sunday, December 30, 2012

Secrets Revealed on January 30

It has been a couple of years since the release of Secrets From The Jazz Ghetto, and since my last Quintet gig.  With a new birthday coming up and a New Year about to start it is time to kick things off with bang - come experience  the George Kahn "Secrets" Quintet at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, CA
George Kahn on piano
Eric Marienthal on sax
Dr. Bobby Rodriguez on trumpet
 Alex Acuna on drums
 Lyman Medeiros on bass
6725 Sunset Boulevard  Los Angeles, CA 90028
(1 block east of Highland, park on No. McCadden)
Please RSVP for best seats: (323) 466-2210
$15 cover charge + minimum
(Student tix available - call the club!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Here are the singers for the Jazz & Blues Revue PATH Ventures Holiday Jazz Party on December 12 at the Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood.  $25 tickets are now available from the clup, please RSVP - we expect a sell-out show!

Courtney Lemmon - Crystal Knighton - Gina Saputo
See the flyer for more information

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Let the holidays begin…with an evening of great Jazz that’s also a benefit for the Los Angeles homeless community. On Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 PATH Ventures will host their 7th Annual Holiday Jazz Revue, an unforgettable evening of dinner, music, and fun at the classic Catalina Bar and Grill. The event will take place from 6:30-10:00 PM and feature Jazz Pianist and Composer, GEORGE KAHN
 with an all-star band of L.A. studio artists.
Jazz legend Bubba Jackson from KJAZZ, will return this year as the MC. 

Proceeds from the evening will help PATH Ventures raise critical funding to directly support our affordable housing developments across Southern California.
Advance tickets for Dinner show are $90 each, or $500 for a table of 6
For more information or to RSVP, please call: Tessa Madden at 323-644-2202 
There are over 51,000 people living on the streets of Los Angeles County on any given night. They are women with children, people struggling with serious health issues, war veterans, seniors, emancipated foster youth, and families who lost everything because of the recession. PATH Ventures’ housing models aim to prevent and end homelessness by integrating supportive services, community development
and permanent housing for people in need.

PATH Ventures, in partnership with for-profit and non-profit sponsors, has developed seven housing developments consisting of 385 permanent housing units and 120 transitional units. Our expertise extends across all stages of development, including acquisition, predevelopment, design, construction, financing lease-up and asset management. In addition, PATH Ventures has a strong social services program
 that we bring to all of our developments.

The Catalina Jazz Club is located at 6725 W. Sunset Blvd (At McCadden Place)
323 466 2210.  There is paid parking available.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

LIVE! At the Idyllwild Jazz In The Pines Festival

George Kahn, Lyman Medeiros and M. B. Gordy, August 26, 2012

Sunshine Of You Love - LIVE at Idyllwild JazzFest

Lyman Medeiros - bass, MB Gordy - drums,  and George Kahn - Piano  The Cream song, reinterpreted (also available on the "Cover Up!" CD.)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

John Cage - Happy Birthday!

From some of my earliest memories about music and composition, I was attracted to the avant garde and the "mavericks".  Mozart was pretty, and Beethoven's symphonies could be moving, but for me the lights really turned on when I was in high school and my first music theory teacher, Mr. Edwards, played our class a recording of Charles Ives' "Putnam's Camp, Redding, Connecticut":a short 6 minute "symphonic scene" that captures the sound of two marching bands playing to two keys and two tempos marching towards each other.
You can hear it here, if you like

Then, in the summer of 1968 I saw a performance of John Cage's "Radio Music", a piece he wrote in 1956 for 1-8 performers, each with their own radio (once again - 6 minutes long, hmm...).  This composition, as you can guess, sounds different every time it is performed, depending on what shows up on the radios.  It was than that I realized that anything was really possible with music - all you had to do was have the willingness to open up your ears.

By the end of my freshman year in college in 1970, I had set myself on a course to be a music composition major. I studied Schoenberg, Webern and Berg,  I studied Bartok and Stravinsky.  I studied the Bach Chorales.  I learned the keys, the modes, and the values of each note and how they related to the notes around it.

What I did not realize at that time was that I was too late.  In 1952, the year I was born and John Cage was 40 years old, he wrote 4' 33", which is performed in the absence of deliberate sound; musicians who present the work do nothing aside from being present for the duration specified by the title.
Here is a very formal performance of the piece by full orchestra.  The audience bursts into thunderous applause at the end of the piece, around 6:26 into the video.
Although I think John Cage would have preferred this black screen video version of the piece as a more personal, interactive presentation.  Check this out
Or this "classic" performance by David Tudor, one of Cage's long-time friends and associates, and the pianist that premiered the piece in Woodstock NY in 1952.

Cage's belief was that music is the interaction of sound and silence and the organization of these two elements. 4'33" is the logical extreme of this philosophy.  I use the word "philosophy" on purpose, because I find Cage's music to really be more a precursor of "performance art" than music per se. He blew the doors off the barn the year I was born, and all the horses had escaped by the time I began formal study.  The music conservatories and university music departments had decided to ignore the memo, though, as they have continued to do for the last 60 years.

Cage never stopped creating.  In 1973 I organized a performance by John Cage at Brandeis University. Cage had been to Brandeis in 1965 to perform ROZART MIX, a composition for tape loops to be played on at least a dozen tape recorders.  By 1973 Cage had moved beyond tape loops, and had started to focus on spoken word pieces that involved taking writings and deconstructing them into their individual words.  His performance, in the "all purpose room" of the Student Union, consisted of texts by Henry David Thoreau.  Looking now at Cage's list of published works, it seems it was a version of  his "Song Books (Solos for Voice 3–92)", published in 1970.  Speakers were set up around the room, and various recordings of Cage reading the words would come from each set of speakers.  At the same time, Cage sat at a table on the stage in the front of the room with a small desk lamp, reading a version of the text in his sing-song, high pitched voice.

The result was a cacophonous mix of spoken words, all of which made no sense, as hard as one might try to make sense of it.  The room was set up with rows of chairs.  Some people sat in the chairs.  Others moved about the room to get closer or father away from the various speakers.  As time passed, and the drone of words continued, some people started to leave.  Other people, sensing that perhaps this was one of those artistic "happenings" they had heard of, started taking the chairs and piling them into a sculpture in the middle of the room.  Finally, someone raced the stage, pulled the plug on Cage's light and microphone, and ran out of the auditorium through a side exit.  Staff quickly reconnected Cage's light and equipment, and the performance continued until the end.

At a question and answer period after the performance, Cage was asked if he minded that people were piling chairs and making noise during the performance.  He answered that he had no problem with that - but he was enraged that someone would come up and pull the plug on his performance.  "I don't care what you do, but you have no right to stop me or interfere with my performance."  This was, for me, the essence of John Cage - Creative, opinionated, always searching, and if you don't like it, please leave me alone and let me do my thing.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Great Weekend in Idyllwild

I had the pleasure of experiencing the Idyllwild Jazz In The Pines Festival in two ways this year - as a guest and as a performer.  If you have not experienced this great event during it's 19 year history, you owe it to yourself to check it out next year.

Three stages filled with an amazing variety of jazz and blues, Zydeco, Cajun and more.  It takes place in the most beautiful setting - the campus of the Idyllwild Arts Academy.  The place is so huge that you can have three bands playing outdoors simultaneously, and the sound at each stage does not interfere with the other performers!  A great "French Quarter" area for dancing to the rockin' blues bands.  Wonderful craft booths. The friendliest  staff, and a chance to meet and greet with some great jazz artists.

This year's line-up was an outstanding collection of Los Angele's finest musicians.  Besides my trio featuring Courtney Lemmon on vocals, I had a chance to see Janis Mann with an all-star band, Kenny Burrell Trio, Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, Mary Stallings with Eric Reed, Brian Bromberg, The Hot Club of Idyllwild, Mike Woffor and Holly Hofman, etc, etc.

The weekend capped off with two acts that really showed the variety of talent at this festival:  The main stage featured and amazing latin jazz ensemble, Johnny Polanco Y Su Conjunto Amistad.  At the same time at another stage was the cream of Los Angeles' Jazz Elite performing with Clayton Cameron on drums, Billy Childs on piano, Darek Oles on bass, Bob Sheppard on Tenor sax, Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet and Duane Benjamin on trombone.

If you missed our show in Idyllwild, Courtney and I are bringing it to the Hip Kitty on Saturday night, Sept. 8, and then to Vitello's in Studio City on Thursday September 29.  Hope to see yo uthere, andhope to see you next summer, at the Jazz In The Pines 2013 Festival, on August 17 and 18.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

George Kahn and Courtney Lemmon play Idyllwild JazzFest August 26


THE GEORGE KAHN TRIO, will take the stage at the 19th Annual IDYLLWILD JAZZFEST on Sunday afternoon, August 26.  Featuring singer COURTNEY LEMMON, George will be accompanied by Lyman Medeiros on bass and M. B. Gordy on drums.  The set will start at 1:30 PM and end at 2:30 PM.  George and Courtney will perform a variety of original compositions as well as recognizable hits from his various albums, for a thoroughly entertaining Jazz experience.

From the Los Angeles area: Take Highway 10 east, past San Bernardino, through banning, to 8th Street exit. Turn Right and follow the signs to HWY 243 to Idyllwild. Turn right on Tollgate and follow to Festival parking.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The "Cover Up" Recording Session

Mark Berndt is an amazing photographer and graphic artist - he has designed and/or done the photos for many of my CDs (Out Of Time, Midnight Brew, ...Compared To What and Cover Up).  Here is a wonderful collection of rare photos from the Cover Up sessions, featuring Brian Bromberg, Alex Acuna, Justo Almario, John Fumo and Courtney Lemmon

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Jazz Shmammys Are Official!

  1. And The Winner is....  A quick follow-up on my Grammy Awards comment last month.  The four Jazz Grammy’s were awarded. Two of the four prizes went to Chick Corea (FOREVER).  Interestingly enough, on Spotify the track that won best solo, (500 Miles High) is not available for streaming.  ALSO, on both iTunes and Amazon the song is not available for purchase or download unless you buy the whole album. I wonder how many Grammy voters actually heard the solo they voted for? Vocal Jazz Awards went to Terri Lynne Carrington (The MOSAIC PROJECT) for an adventurous album by a drummer who brings together many of the best female vocalists (and instrumentalists) in jazz today.  A worthy effort.  Big Band Award went to Christian McBride (THE GOOD FEELING) - this was a bit of an upset, with LA-Based jazz great Gerald Wilson up for a well-deserved and never received Grammy for LEGACY.  Oh well, it would have been a nice 94th birthday present.  A more interesting fact is that of the 4 awards, 3 of them went to Concord Records, which is distributed by Universal and is now the 5th largest record group in the world.  So it pays to be big in the world of the Grammys.  Which brings us to:
  2. Scary Statistics: Some really interesting facts about the music industry:
    • In 2008 105,000 albums were released (428.4 million units sold total) 
    • In 2011 77,000 albums were released  (330.6 million units sold)  A 26% drop in releases, and a similar drop in sales. 
    • In the last 10 years music sales are down 60% (that is worse than the Las Vegas Real Estate Market!)  
  • In 2011 the top 10 albums made up 6% of all sales (Adele made up 3% of all sales for the year).  Of the 77,000 albums released, 2% (1,500) represented 90% of all sales.  The old 80/20 rules is now the 90/2 rule.   
  • If you do the math, this means that 98% of albums released last year averaged sales of 438 units.
  • The number 2 search engine behind Google today is: YouTube  (which is owned by: Google)
  • 95% of music that is streamed on the internet is not paid for.  The VAST majority of this music is streamed on: YouTube
  • Every minute of the day, 60 hours of new video and audio are uploaded to: YouTube
  • Think about this the next time you download music without buying it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Jazz Shmammys - who cares?

OK, pardon me if I vent a little.  With the new awards structure created by the Grammy Organization, they have cut back the Jazz category from 6 to 4 awards.  

One of them, “Best Improvised Jazz Solo”, has always been a bit of a joke.  How can one solo a year by a jazz artist top all others?  And how many of the Grammy members seek out the recordings and then seek out the solos in question to actually judge which is best?  Luckily, Herbie Hancock did not release an album this year, so someone else has a shot at this category.   

The one good thing they did was remove the “Best Contemporary Jazz Album” category, merging it with the “Best Jazz Instrumental Album” category.  Now that “Smooth Jazz” is officially dead, who can draw the line between “jazz” and “contemporary jazz”?  Of course now The Yellowjackets compete against Sonny Rollins, but hey, why not?  At least they have moved Dave Koz to the "Best Pop Instrumental Album" category. 

More Good news: of the 21 albums nominated, 16 are from independent labels (unless we consider Concord Records a major label – they have 5 nominations).  And now, with the help of Spotify (and little or no help from the Grammy Organization) we can actually listen to all the artists before we vote for a $5.00 monthly fee.  I guess we will see on Feb. 12 if any new names surface amongst the winners, or if the Jazz Grammys continue to be a popularity contest amongst established artists.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Some say Mahler is an acquired taste
but I took to his music immediately
when I was introduced to it.

Although he wrote in a Post-Romantic style, in many ways he was the first truly 20th Century composer.

A few words used to describe Mahler in Harold Schonberg's "The Lives of the Great Composers":
eternal questing
seeking and searching
inability to come to terms with society
guilt complex
doubt and anxieties
an "obsessive neurotic"
a psychic weakling
a sentimentalist
a "manic depressive"

In other words, the first 20th Century Schizoid Man.

"Only when I experience do I compose -
only when I compose do I experience."
- Gustav Mahler
The Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the direction of their 30-year old conductor Gustavo Dudamel, is performing "The Mahler Project", all 9 symphonies (plus the Adagio from the 10th) in a three-week time span.

I, of course, have to go.
I will bask in 7 symphonies in the course of the next 14 days, including the rarely performed Symphony #8 which asks for an orchestra and chorus of 1000 performers.

Over the years this overwhelming amount of music
has spoken to my heart
led me into marriage
and charted points in my mental joy and anguish.

Mahler died at the age of 51 in 1911.
His last completed score (Symphony #10: Adagio) was completed in 1910.
His music, and his life, bridges the Millennium.
Two years later, Schoenberg performed "Pierrot Lunaire".
Three years later, Stravinsky performed "The Rite of Spring".
Mahler's symphonies certainly led the way, consciously or unconsciously, for these composers.

Mahler was a crazy diamond.
I look forward to spending time studying the facets,
watching them shine.