[JPL] Shamed, Yoshi's pulls CD, apologizes Club hit sour note with lack of black musicians on record

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Mon Jun 4 10:17:47 EDT 2007


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/06/02/MNG6QQ69RE31.DTL

Shamed, Yoshi's pulls CD, apologizes
Club hit sour note with lack of black musicians on record

Jesse Hamlin, Steven Winn, Chronicle Staff Writers
Saturday, June 2, 2007
The managers of Yoshi's jazz club said Friday that issuing a 10th
anniversary CD with no African American musicians was "a huge mistake" and
"a major oversight." In the wake of complaints by some African American
musicians and community leaders, the club issued an apology and withdrew the
disc.

With "Live at Yoshi's: Anniversary Compilation" off the market, the club
plans to create a new recording that more accurately reflects the musicians
who play the 340-seat venue at Oakland's Jack London Square, said Joan
Rosenberg, marketing director for the club.

Yoshi's had sold about 500 of the 1,000 CDs it began offering on its Web
site last month. The disc, the first made by Yoshi's, was not distributed to
stores.

"We really messed up on the CD," said Yoshi's owner Kaz Kajimura. "We
apologize to anyone who feels slighted by this omission, as that was never
our intention."

The musicians on the disc include pianist Marian McPartland, singer
Madeleine Peyroux, the late guitarist Joe Pass and Latin percussionist
Poncho Sanchez.

Kajimura and Yoshi's artistic director Peter Williams attributed the botched
CD to haste and expediency. "This was done on the spur of the moment, and we
didn't have a lot of time and research to put into it," said Kajimura.
Yoshi's began working on the project in late March to mark the club's 10
years in Oakland in May.

Eight of the 10 tracks, from four different musicians, came from Concord
records, one of the world's largest recording labels. The other two came
from San Francisco radio station KFOG's archives.

"That was the easiest, quickest thing to do," said Williams. "We assumed
Concord would have the most music recorded live at Yoshi's." When the new CD
is made, he added, it will include African American musicians recorded live
at Yoshi's on such labels as Verve, MaxJazz and Blue Note. That will involve
more elaborate negotiations for rights and licensing fees.

"If Yoshi's is calling this an oversight, then maybe there needs to be a
larger discussion about the dynamic of what jazz is all about," said Glen
Pearson, an African American musician and College of Alameda instructor.
"Diversity is a word that gets kicked around a lot these days. But how
sincerely or honestly is that concept really being applied? Or is it just a
politically convenient term to use?"

Williams said race and ethnicity are "things that I just never think about
when I'm booking the club. It always comes out that we have a great mix. I'm
very comfortable with what we've done."

Kajimura said that more than half of the musicians who play Yoshi's are
African American.

Orrin Keepnews, the famed Bay Area-based jazz record producer who put out
classic albums by Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins and many others on his
Riverside label, calls the Yoshi's CD affair "an embarrassingly small
deal.''

"With all due respect to the venerable Marian McPartland, whom I love and
have always loved, there's nobody on that record of major current
importance," said Keepnews. "The club put out an anniversary record that was
thoughtless and not very well put together. They limited themselves to
material recorded live at the club. You have a half-dozen things here that
don't have the making of a significant or representative record, regardless
of what color anybody is.''

As for Yoshi's pulling the CD in reaction to the controversy, Keepnews said:
"It's become very customary when you make a big public mistake to then
withdraw as much as you can. It's been going on at all the networks
recently. It's childish. If you're insulted, you haven't removed the insult
by removing the product. I don't think Yoshi's necessarily insulted people,
but it wasn't a very bright thing to do. But I don't really think it's any
kind of fatal mistake.''

Black saxophonist Howard Wiley thinks Yoshi's had no choice but to pull the
CD. "I think it's the right step, to turn a negative into a positive. Let's
all come to the table now and play some beautiful music together."

The racial mix of musicians in this summer's Downtown Berkeley Jazz Festival
also came into question this week. Susan Muscarella, who is booking the
festival through the sponsor, Berkeley's Jazzschool, was in a diversity
committee meeting there Friday afternoon. "We're addressing the issue across
the board, in all our education and performing programs," she said, calling
charges of racial imbalance "unfair and ungrounded."

Muscarella said the Aug. 22-26 festival is about halfway planned. "My
problem now is how to book African American artists when they might think
they're only being invited in response to the controversy."

E-mail the writers at jhamlin at sfchronicle.com and swinn at sfchronicle.com.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/06/02/MNG6QQ69RE31.DTL

This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

 © 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.

Related Article:

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2007/06/more_on_jazz.html


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