February 14, 2013

By Randall Chase and

Katie Zezima Associated Press

 

Jazz musician Donald Byrd, a leading hard-bop trumpeter of the 1950s who collaborated on dozens of albums with top artists of his time and later enjoyed commercial success with hit jazz-funk fusion records such as “Black Byrd,” has died. He was 80.

He died Feb. 4 in Delaware, according to Haley Funeral Directors in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Mich., which is handling arrangements. It didn’t have details on his death.

Byrd, who was also a pioneer in jazz education, attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit, played in military bands in the Air Force and moved to New York in 1955. The trumpeter, whose given name was Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II, rose to national prominence when he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers later that year, filling the seat in the bebop group held by his idol Clifford Brown.

He soon became one of the most in-demand trumpeters on the New York scene, playing with Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. He also began his recording career by leading sessions for Savoy and other labels.

In 1958, he signed an exclusive recording contract with the Blue Note label and formed a band with a fellow Detroit native, baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, making their label debut with the 1959 album “Off to the Races.” The band became one of the leading exponents of the hard-bop style, which evolved from bebop and blended in elements of R&B, soul and gospel music. A 1961 recording, “Free Form,” brought attention to a promising young pianist, Herbie Hancock.

In the 1960s, Byrd, who had received his master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, turned his attention to jazz education. He studied in Paris with composer Nadia Boulanger, became the first person to teach jazz at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and started the jazz studies department at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Byrd began moving toward a more commercial sound with the funk-jazz fusion album “Fancy Free” in 1969, taking a path followed by fellow trumpeters Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. He teamed up with the Mizell brothers to release “Black Byrd” in 1973, a blend of jazz, R&B and funk that became Blue Note’s highest selling album at the time.

Jazz critics panned Byrd for deviating from the jazz mainstream, but he was unperturbed.

“I’m creative; I’m not re-creative,” Byrd told the Detroit Free Press in a 1999 interview. “I don’t follow what everybody else does.”

Byrd invited several of his best students at Howard to join a jazz-fusion group called the Blackbyrds that reached a mainstream audience with a sound heavy on R&B and rock influences. The band landed in the Top 10 on the R&B charts with the mid-'70s albums “Street Lady,” “Stepping Into Tomorrow” and “Place and Spaces.”

In 1982, Byrd, who also had a law degree, received his doctorate from New York’s Teachers College, Columbia University, and turned his attention from performing to education. Byrd, a longtime resident of Teaneck, N.J., was a distinguished scholar at William Paterson University and twice served as an artist-in-residence at Delaware State University.

Byrd didn’t have much training in mathematics but created a groundbreaking curriculum called Music + Math (equals) Art, in which he transformed notes into numbers to simultaneously teach music and math.

“I can take any series of numbers and turn it into music, from Bach to bebop, Herbie Hancock to hip-hop,” he told The Star-Ledger newspaper of Newark, N.J.

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, he returned to playing hard-bop on several albums for the Landmark label, which also featured saxophonists Kenny Garrett and Joe Henderson.

He performed on Guru’s 1993 jazz-rap album, “Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1,” and his recordings were sampled on more than 100 hip-hop songs by such performers as Black Moon, Nas, Ludacris and A Tribe Called Quest.

In 2000, the National Endowment for the Arts recognized Byrd as a Jazz Master, the nation's highest jazz honor.

Zezima reported from Trenton, N.J. Associated Press writer Charles J. Gans in New York contributed to this report.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

February 14, 2013

Key events in the expansive, ongoing manhunt for Christopher Dorner, the fired Los Angeles police officer suspected of killing three people — including a police officer in Southern California — and posting a manifesto on Facebook outlining plans to kill the families of those he says have wronged him, all times approximate:

— Sunday, Feb. 3: An assistant women’s college basketball coach and her fiancé are found shot to death in their car in Irvine, Calif. Police learn later the woman was the daughter of a retired Los Angeles police captain who represented Dorner in disciplinary hearings that resulted in his dismissal from the force.

— Monday, Feb. 4: Some of Dorner’s belongings, including police equipment, are found in a trash bin in suburban San Diego, linking him to Irvine killings.

— Wednesday, Feb. 6: Police announce finding Dorner's manifesto online.

— 10:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 6: A man matching Dorner’s description makes a failed attempt to steal a boat from a San Diego marina. An 81-year-old man on the vessel is tied up but otherwise unharmed.

— 1:30 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 7: LAPD officers, protecting a person named in the manifesto, chase a vehicle they believe is Dorner’s. One officer is grazed in the forehead by a bullet during a shootout, and the gunman flees.

A short time later, a shooter believed to be Dorner ambushes two Riverside police officers during a routine patrol. One officer is killed, and the other critically injured.

— 2:20 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 7: A shuttle bus driver turns in a wallet with an LAPD badge and a picture ID of Dorner to San Diego police. The wallet was found fewer than five miles from the boat, near San Diego International Airport.

— 5 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 7: LAPD officers guarding a manifesto target in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance open fire on a truck they mistakenly believe to be Dorner's. A mother and daughter delivering the newspaper are injured.

A short time later, Torrance police are involved in a second shooting involving a different truck they also mistake for Dorner’s. Nobody is hurt.

— 8:35 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 7: Police find a burned-out pickup truck near the Big Bear ski area in the San Bernardino Mountains. Six hours later, authorities identify it as Dorner’s.

— 9:40 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 7: Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego is locked down after a Navy worker reports seeing someone who resembles Dorner. Military officials later said Dorner had indeed checked into a hotel on base earlier in the week — on Tuesday — but had left on Wednesday.

— 4 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 7: Authorities search a Las Vegas-area home belonging to Dorner and leave with several boxes of items. They say no weapons were found but decline to disclose what was discovered.

— Friday, Feb. 8: Dozens of searchers hunt for Dorner in the freezing, snowy San Bernardino Mountains after losing his footprints near the site where the truck was found. Authorities search Dorner’s mother’s house in La Palma and collect 10 bags of evidence and also take five electronic items for examination. Police also search a storage locker in Buena Park.

— Saturday, Feb. 9: Helicopters equipped with heat-seeking technology resume search for Dorner in the mountains near Big Bear. Authorities reveal that weapons and camping gear were found in Dorner's burned truck.

— Sunday, Feb. 10: Authorities announce $1 million reward for information leading to Dorner’s arrest.

— Monday, Feb. 11: Riverside County prosecutors charge Dorner with murdering a police officer and the attempted murder of three other officers in a potential death penalty case. Authorities receive more than 700 tips since the reward was announced.

— 12:20 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12: Police are summoned after a man resembling Dorner steals a purple Nissan in the San Bernardino Mountains. The vehicle is quickly spotted by California Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens on Highway 38. After briefly losing the suspect, the wardens see a white pickup truck driving toward them erratically and at a high rate of speed. Wardens say Dorner rolled down his window and opened fire as he drove past them in the opposite directions.

One of the wardens was able to get out and fire at the driver, who escaped on foot after crashing his truck.

— 12:40 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12: State Fish and Wildlife wardens are involved in a shootout with the suspect. Two San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies are wounded in a second exchange of gunfire and are transported to Loma Linda Medical Center.

— 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12: Police surround the cabin where the suspect is holed up and gunfire erupts before a blaze engulfs the structure and law enforcement officers wait for the fire to burn out.

— 4:50 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12: A San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman confirms one of the two wounded deputies has died, and the other is in surgery and expected to survive.

— 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12: A law enforcement officials tells the AP a charred body has been found in the rubble of the burned cabin. They don’t confirm the identity, although authorities earlier said they believed the man in the cabin was Dorner.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

February 14, 2013

City News Service

 

An admitted drug courier was sentenced this week to five years probation and ordered to pay $2,000 in fines for scheming to bribe ex- Trans­portation Security Admin­i­stration agents at Los Angeles International Air­port to help smuggle marijuana onto a flight. Charles “Smoke” Hicks, 24, of Culver City, acknowledged in a plea agreement working with Millage J. Peaks IV, a retired Los Angeles city fire chief’s son, who promised to pay $500 for each suitcase containing marijuana that cleared security at LAX, according to prosecutors. A second admitted pot courier, Andrew “Drew” Welter, 25, of Fontana, is expected to be sentenced April 8.

Peaks, 25, admitted to bribing former TSA employees Dianna Perez and Randy Littlefield to allow pounds of marijuana to pass undetected through the LAX screening process between November 2010 and October 2011. The marijuana was being flown from Los Angeles to Boston, according to court papers. Peaks was sentenced to a year in federal prison and ordered to pay a $6,000 fine. Littlefield, 29, of Paramount, was sentenced to eight months behind bars, and also ordered to serve three years of supervised release. Perez is scheduled to be sentenced March 25.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

February 14, 2013

 

Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) issued the following statement on President Obama’s State of the Union Address:

“I applaud President Obama’s focus on the middle class tonight and the thousands of Americans struggling to lift themselves out of poverty.  By focusing on a balanced approach to reducing our deficits, investing in proven areas for job creation like education, infrastructure and manufacturing Congress can do its part to expedite our economic recovery.

“I was particularly pleased with the president’s call to increase the minimum wage.  As President Obama pointed out, if he and Governor Romney can find common ground on this issue then certainly we in Congress should be able to do the same so that everyone in the richest country in the world has a fair shot at getting ahead.

“By putting petty partisanship aside and ending the continuous cycle of self-made crises, Congress can not only tackle these challenges, but also take on comprehensive reforms to fix our broken immigration system, reduce gun violence to keep our children safe and eliminate unnecessary barriers to voting.

“These are all ideas worthy of an up or down vote and it’s time for Congress to get back to work on behalf of the American people.”

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

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