Don Heckman

Don’s Contributions

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June 2008    Features

Bennie Maupin: The Rebirth Of

Bennie Maupin says he’s only learned a few phrases in Polish. But he’s discovered firsthand that the language of jazz can transcend all boundaries. And his new recording, Early Reflections (Cryptogramophone), recorded in Warsaw with a band of Polish musicians...

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May 2008    Features

Dianne Reeves: Grand Passion

Dianne Reeves sounds relaxed and happy. A few months of vegging out at home can do wonders for anyone’s state of mind, even a dedicated road warrior such as Reeves. “I’m savoring my last weeks here in Denver before going out on tour to support the new album...

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April 2008    Features

Marcus Miller: New York State of Mind

Marcus Miller stretches out in an office chair, trademark hat on his head, a contented smile on his face. Keyboards, monitors and assorted electronic gear are all within easy reach for another night in the cozy, cluttered Santa Monica rooms that serve as...

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March 2008    Overdue Ovation

Azar Lawrence: Enlightened in the New Age

When Azar Lawrence grabs you for a handshake, your fingers quickly know they’ve met their match. He may be past the mid-century mark, but the veteran Los Angeles tenor saxophonist still has the sturdy look and powerful presence of a first-string linebacker...

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March 2008    Features

Diane Schuur: Deedle Me This

“Look at me,” says Diane Schuur, a pixyish smile on her face. “Here we are in the middle of weight-conscious Beverly Hills, and I’ve still got a big shelf.” Thrusting her ample chest forward, she breaks out in a loud guffaw. She’s right on both counts. We’re...

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January/February 2008    News

20th Annual Thelonious Monk Competition: In Walked Brass

The least-known persons on the stage on Oct. 29 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood were a trio of young trumpet players: Jean Gaze from Haiti, Ambrose Akinmusire from Oakland and Michael Rodriguez from New York City. Surrounding them on the program was an...

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December 2007    Features

Luciana Souza: Meet the New Bossa

The words Luciana Souza and bossa nova fit beautifully into the same sentence, and equally so on the same recording. And why not? Souza is, after all, the offspring of parents—poet Tereza Souza and singer/songwriter Walter Santos—who were on-the-scene participants...

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11/01/07    Concerts

Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition and Herbie Hancock Tribute

The least-known persons on the stage on Oct. 29 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood were a trio of young trumpet players: Jean Gaze from Haiti, Ambrose Akinmusire from Oakland and Michael Rodriguez from New York City. Surrounding them on the program was an...

November 2007    Features

Louie Bellson: The Go-To Guy

There’s an innate elegance about Louis Bellson. Not just in the princely garb he usually wears, or in his self-assured manner, but in the way those qualities come together to produce a timeless image of a classy musician in action. Even now, at 83, he climbs...

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September 2007    Overdue Ovation

Lennie Niehaus: Composing for Clint

I’m still out there,” says Lennie Niehaus, looking trim and vigorous, a 78-year-old with plenty of miles left on his odometer. “Last year I did two movies and a six-hour miniseries, and a couple of years ago I went to England to conduct the BBC Jazz Orchestra...

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July/August 2007    Features

Kenny Burrell: String Theory

Kenny Burrell’s office has the cluttered, chaotic, where’d-that-CD-get-to look of a profoundly busy man. Papers and files compete with stacks of CDs and assorted periodicals in his small, corner workspace, the brain center for the Jazz Studies program he...

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May 2007    Overdue Ovation

Clora Bryant: Trumpetiste Extraordinaire

A little more than a week after she suffered a heart attack, Clora Bryant is characteristically full of vim and vigor. “They took me to the hospital Wednesday,” she says. “But they couldn’t keep me there. I was doing my thing, making them all smile when...

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December 2006    Overdue Ovation

Snooky Young: High Brass

Lead trumpet players have always been viewed as the macho men of big-band jazz. The demands of soaring over a 17-piece ensemble, routinely scaling the area around high C and above, have busted the chops of more than one tough guy. The image of the big, brawny...

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About Don Heckman

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Native Pennsylvanian Don Heckman has been active in the jazz world since the ’60s, playing alto sax in Manhattan’s avant-garde scene, studying music theory and musicology, and writing columns for The Village Voice and The New York Times as well as liner notes for musicians Andrew Hill, Wayne Shorter and Yusef Lateef. Currently, he is the jazz critic at The Los Angeles Times.