Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Geri Allen Dead at 60

Geri Allen, influential jazz pianist and composer, died Tuesday, June 27, 2017, according to NPR. 
The cause was cancer, said Ora Harris, her manager of 30 years. She died in Philadelphia.

Allen was born June 12, 1957, in Pontiac, Michigan, and raised in Detroit. She studied music at Cass Technical High School in Detroit and then at the Jazz Development Workshop under Marcus Belgrave. She earned a degree in jazz studies from Howard University and then a master’s in ethnomusicology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1982.

Allen moved to New York City and toured with Mary Wilson, the former member of the Supremes. In the mid-1980s, she became a charter member of Brooklyn’s M-Base movement. M-Base was a loose collective of talented young musicians that included Cassandra Wilson, Steve Coleman, and Greg Osby. She became the keyboardist in the funk group Steve Coleman and Five Elements.
Allen recorded her debut album in Germany in 1985. The album, called “The Printmakers,” featured the Geri Allen Trio of Allen, Anthony Cox, and Andrew Cyrille. She released several albums in subsequent years.
In 1995, Allen was the first recipient of Soul Train’s Lady of Soul Award for jazz album of the year for “Twenty-One,” featuring Ron Carter. She recorded with legendary jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman in 1996.

Allen’s 2010 album, “Flying Toward the Sound,” was rated the ninth best of the year in the Village Voice’s Jazz Critic’s Poll. Her 2013 album, “Grand River Crossings: Motown & Motor City Inspirations,” paid tribute to the city in which she was raised.

For the past four years, Allen had been the director of jazz studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She toured Europe earlier this year with the legendary jazz pianist McCoy Tyner.
Allen is survived by her father; her brother, Mount Allen III; and three children, Laila Deen, Wallace Vernell, and Barbara Ann.

Rain (1932) Joan Crawford

For residents on the idyllic South Seas island of Pago Pago, life is simple until a boat arrives carrying two couples, the Davidsons (who are missionaries), the MacPhails and a prostitute named Sadie Thompson. Davidson is more than just a religious zealot; he's a mad man. When the boat, which was en route to another port, is temporarily stranded on the island due to a possible Cholera outbreak on-board, Sadie spends her time "partying" with the American soldiers stationed on the island. Her behavior, however, is more than the Davidsons can stand and soon Mr. Davidson confronts Sadie about her evil ways and offers salvation. When Sadie rebels and the attempted redemption does not go as planned, Davidson arranges to have her sent back to San Francisco, where she fled some years ago due to mysterious personal issues. Davidson soon becomes unhinged and thus begins a series of surprising events which culminate in disaster.

First made as a silent with Gloria Swanson, the stage play "Miss Sadie Thompson" had been a controversial Broadway hit, and young Joan Crawford fought hard to get the coveted role of Sadie. She shed her drawing room manners and designer gowns, researching the part by visiting the red-light district of San Diego to see what the street-walkers of the day looked and sounded like. "Rain" will not be to everyone's liking, but it is a thought-provoking story that should be of interest to anyone who enjoys psychological drama.★★★


 Lewis Milestone (uncredited)


 John Colton (play), Clemence Randolph (play) (as C. Randolph) 


 Joan CrawfordWalter HustonFred Howard

Joan Crawford

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

PTA Blues Video Tribute to Yvette Vickers

Something snaps when an actress loses her looks and her career falters.  It doesn’t happen all the time, but a very sad fall from grace for some girls is all too common – especially when their career was almost exclusively based on their sex appeal.  Once their male audiences lose interest, things go downhill fast.

Yvette Vickers had appeared in Sunset Boulevard (1950) and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman before making a splash as the centerfold in a 1959 issue of Playboy.  Hugh Heffner has stated that he was genuinely concerned a major lawsuit would result from Yvette’s bare behind, but nothing materialized. In the years that followed, Yvette bounced from B-movie to B-movie, making appearances on the convention circuit before fading into obscurity.

Those that knew her in her later years say she was paranoid and delusional, ultimately becoming a total recluse.  Then, in 2011, a disturbing discovery: Yvette’s mummified remains were found in her apartment – she had been dead for over a year!  Yvette lived a full life, but her later years were lonely and sad.

There Goes The Bride (1980) Tommy Smuthers

A nervous ad executive (Tommy Smothers) creates havoc on his daughter's wedding day and becomes obsessed with a dream girl (Twiggy) he sees but no one else can.
This is not a great film, but it does have some funny moments. Tom Smothers plays a father who goes off the deep-end. It reminded me of Jimmy Stewart's film Harvey, who was friends with an invisible rabbit. This is one of those movies you can find in the $1.00 ben. The film did not get good reviews but for me it was fun. ★★1/2    


 Terry Marcel


 John T. Chapman (play) (as John Chapman), Ray Cooney(play) 


 Tom Smothers, Graham StarkPhil SilversArthur Ballard, Jim Backus, Twiggy

Tommy Smothers