Saturday, September 14, 2013

Oliver Lake (b. September 14, 1942): Innovative Alto Saxophonist, Flautist, Composer, and Poet



OLIVER LAKE (b. September 14, 1942) is an outstanding alto saxophonist, flautist, arranger and composer who began his professional career in the early 1960s in St. Louis, Missouri and has gone on to become one of the seminal and most creatively versatile musicians and composers of the last 40 years. An original co-founder of the critically acclaimed and now legendary World Saxophone Quartet (along with his longtime cohorts and colleagues David Murray, Hamiett Bluiett, and the late, great Julius Hemphill) Lake has also led many ensembles of his own in duo, trio, quartet, quintet, septet, octet and large orchestral formats, as well as playing a pioneer role and excelling in solo improvisational settings. As a longtime devoted fan and supporter of Oliver's highly eclectic and always dynamic music(s) in both avant-garde and more traditional context, I have been fortunate to witness how Lake has played a pivotal role in the creative development and global expansion of contemporary black creative music in many different genres and styles that is always solidly rooted in Oliver's fierce and joyous commitment to the very highest standards of the music.

Lake's music was also integral to a twice weekly radio program that I founded, hosted and worked as a DJ for which featured contemporary black creative music on Detroit's public radio outlet WDET-FM from 1978-1983 called SOUND PROJECTIONS. My theme song for the program was none other than the title track's extraordinary composition 
"Heavy Spirits" by Lake that he played with his amazing ensemble of the mid and late '70s period. Produced on the Arista label this 1975 recording was played on every single program for the entire five year period of the show and never failed to elicit a wide range of deeply appreciative reactions and responses from listeners (especially painters, poets, other musicians, and dancers). Thus in the spirit of SOUND PROJECTIONS and all that it stood for (and tried to stand for) I share with you the following link to one of the tracks of the recording entitled "Owshet" as well as an image of the beautifully designed original artwork that adorned the cover of the Arista LP.  ENJOY...




Reggie Workman-bass
Andrew Cyrille-Drums
Oliver Lake--Alto saxophone

(b. 1942)

Oliver Lake: "It's all about choices," states modern Renaissance Man Oliver Lake to explain his expansive artistic vision. An accomplished poet, painter and performance artist, Lake has published a book of poetry entitled Life Dance, has exhibited and sold a number of his unique painted-sticks at the Montclair Art Museum, and has toured the country with his one-man performance piece, Matador of 1st and 1st. But it's his extraordinary talents as composer, saxophonist, flautist and bandleader that have brought him world-renown. Although his greatest reputation exists in the world of jazz, Lake's amazingly eclectic musical approach is best expressed by his popular poem SEPARATION: put all my food on the same plate!

Whether composing major commissioned works for the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra and the Brooklyn Philharmonic; creating chamber pieces for the Arditti and Flux String Quartets, the Amherst Sax Quartet and the San Francisco Contemporary Players; arranging for pop diva Bjork, rocker Lou Reed and rap group A Tribe Called Quest; collaborating with poets Amiri Baraka and Ntozake Shange, choreographers Ron Brown and Marlies Yearby, Native American vocalist Mary Redhouse, Korean kumongo player Jin Hi Kim, and Chinese bamboo flute player Shuni Tsou; doing unique performances with MacArthur Award recipients, actress/author Anna Devere Smith and writer/law professor/political commentator Patricia Williams; sharing the stage with hip-hop artist Mos Def and pop star Me'shell Ndegeocello; or leading his own Steel Quartet, Big Band and cooperative ensembles the World Saxophone Quartet and Trio 3; Oliver views it all as parts of the same whole: dixieland, be-bop, soul, rhythm & blues, cool school, swing, avant-garde jazz, free jazz, rock, jazz rock


Extremely few artists could embrace such a diverse array of musical styles and disciplines. Lake is not only able to thrive in all of these environments, but does so without distorting or diluting his own remarkable artistic identity. Part of this is due to his experience with the Black Artists Group (BAG), the legendary multi-disciplined and innovative St. Louis collective he co-founded with poets Ajule and Malinke, and musicians Julius Hemphill and Floyd La Flore over 35 years ago. But in reality, Oliver's varied artistic interests go back even further than that.

Born in Marianna, Arkansas in 1942, Oliver moved to St. Louis at the age of two. He began drawing at the age of thirteen (and paints daily, using oil, acrylics, wood, canvas, and mixed media), and soon after began playing cymbals and bass drum in various drum and bugle corps. At 17, he began to take a serious interest in jazz.
Like many other members of BAG and its Chicago-based sister organization, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Lake moved to New York in the mid-'70s, working the fertile ground of the downtown loft scene and quickly establishing himself as one of its most adventurous and multi-faceted artists.

A co-founder of the internationally acclaimed World Saxophone Quartet with Hemphill, Hamiet Bluiett and David Murray in 1977 (and recently celebrating its 26th anniversary with an album of Jimi Hendrix pieces for Justin Time Records), Oliver continued to work with the WSQ and his own various groups - including the groundbreaking roots/reggae ensemble Jump Up - and collaborating with many notable choreographers, poets and a veritable Who's Who of the progressive jazz scene of the late 20th century, performing all over the U.S. as well as in Europe, Japan, the Middle East, Africa and Australia.

While he has continued to tour regularly with his own groups, collaborations and guest appearances - in the last three months of 2003, he performed in Europe, Japan and various U.S. cities - Oliver recognized the changing trends and new challenges facing creative artists, especially those working in the jazz tradition. Always a strong proponent of artist self-empowerment and independence, in 1988 Lake founded Passin' Thru, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit, dedicated to fostering, promoting and advancing the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of jazz, new music and other disciplines in relation to music.

Under his artistic direction, Passin' Thru has commissioned new works, sponsored performances by emerging artists, documented works by prominent artists, and has established on-going educational activities not only in its home base of New Jersey and New York, but also in Florida, Minnesota, Arizona and Pennsylvania, along with occasional activities in other locales all over the U.S. The organization also operates Passin' Thru Records, which has recently issued its 12th recording (Dat Love by the Oliver Lake Steel Quartet). In addition to Oliver's albums, ranging from solo to big band, Passin Thru has also issued recordings by the late, legendary multi-reed master Makanda Ken McIntyre, piano great John Hicks and the first recording by Lake's mentor, St. Louis tenor sax giant Freddie Washington. A 13th album by renowned trombonist Craig Harris is scheduled for release in the spring of 2004.

A recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, Lake is one of the most heavily commissioned composers to emerge from the jazz tradition. He's the most-commissioned composer in the history of the eminently respected organization Meet The Composer, most recently completing a three-year project funded by its New Residencies Program that resulted in six new musical works, a theater piece, three dance pieces and extended educational residencies in New Jersey and Tucson, Arizona; along with the establishment of Common Thread, an annual series of concerts featuring gifted female artists.

Other commissions have been received from the Library of Congress, the Rockefeller Foundation ASCAP, the International Association for Jazz Education, Composers Forum, the McKim Foundation, the Mary Flagler Cary Trust and the Lila Wallace Arts Partners Program. In addition to the ensembles mentioned earlier, others who have commissioned works are the Wheeling Symphony, New York New Music Ensemble, and Pulse Percussion Ensemble of New York. Oliver is often specially cited for his numerous endeavors with female artists and performers, to the extent of being called "The Feminist Composer" in an arts course taught at Wesleyan University.

Currently, in addition to performing and touring with his Steel Quartet, his Big Band, the WSQ and Trio 3, Oliver continues to collaborate with Mary Redhouse, Anna Devere Smith, Patricia Williams, Craig Harris and various artists in many disciplines. He is currently developing a symphonic piece that draws upon elements from his African, Native American and European heritage, and is in the midst of an extensive residency in Tucson, Arizona, partially sponsored by Chamber Music America, and a two-month multi-arts residency in Minneapolis.

Oliver Lake
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Oliver Lake (b. Marianna, Arkansas, September 14, 1942) is an American jazz saxophonist, flautist, composer and poet. He is known mainly on alto saxophone but also performs on soprano saxophone and flute.[1]

During the 1960s Lake worked with the Black Artists Group in St. Louis.

In 1977 Lake co-founded the World Saxophone Quartet, with David Murray, Julius Hemphill and Hamiet Bluiett.
Lake is a resident of Montclair, New Jersey.[2] His son is jazz drummer Gene Lake (b. 12 January 1966).


1 Discography
1.1 As leader
1.2 As sideman
2 Awards
3 References
4 External links


As leader

1971: Ntu: The Point From Which Freedom Begins (Freedom Records)
1974: Passin' Thru (Passin' Thru)
1975: Heavy Spirits (Freedom)
1976: Holding Together (Black Saint)
1978: Shine (Arista Novus)
1978: Life Dance Of Is (Arista Novus)
1979: Zaki (hat Art)
1980: Prophet (Black Saint)
1981: Jump Up (Gramavision)
1981: Clevont Fitzhubert (Black Saint)
1982: Plug It (Gramavision)
1984: Expandable Language (Black Saint)
1986: Gallery (Gramavision)
1987: Impala (Gramavision)
1989: Otherside (Gramavision)
1991: Again and Again (Gramavision)
1992: Virtual Reality (Gazell Records))
1992: Zaki (Hat-Hut Records)
1994: Edge-ing (Black Saint)
1996: Dedicated to Dolphy (Black Saint)
1996: Matador Of 1st & 1st (Passin' Thru)
1996: Movements, Turns & Switches (Passin' Thru)
2000: Talkin' Stick (Passin' Thru)
2001: Have Yourself A Merry (Passin' Thru)
2003: Cloth (Passin' Thru)
2004: Dat Love (Passin' Thru)
2005: Oliver Lake Quartet Live (Passin' Thru)
2008: Plan (Passin' Thru)
2010: Oliver Lake Quartet Live (Passin' Thru)
2011: For a little Dancin' (Intakt Records)
2013: Wheels

As sideman

With World Saxophone Quartet
Title Year Label
Point of No Return 1977 Moers Music
Steppin' with the World Saxophone Quartet 1979 Black Saint
W.S.Q. 1981 Black Saint
Revue 1982 Black Saint
Live in Zurich 1984 Black Saint
Live at Brooklyn Academy of Music 1986 Black Saint
Plays Duke Ellington 1986 Elektra / Nonesuch
Dances and Ballads 1987 Elektra / Nonesuch
Rhythm and Blues 1989 Elektra / Nonesuch
Metamorphosis 1991 Elektra / Nonesuch
Moving Right Along 1993 Black Saint
Breath of Life 1994 Elektra / Nonesuch
Four Now 1996 Justin Time
Takin' It 2 the Next Level 1996 Justin Time
Selim Sivad: a Tribute to Miles Davis 1998 Justin Time
Requiem for Julius 2000 Justin Time
25th Anniversary: The New Chapter 2001 Justin Time
Steppenwolf 2002 Justin Time
Experience 2004 Justin Time
Political Blues 2006 Justin Time

With Anthony Braxton
New York, Fall 1974 (Arista, 1974)
With Michael Gregory Jackson
Karmonic Suite (1978, Improvising Artists)
With James Blood Ulmer
Are You Glad to Be in America? (1980. Artists House)
Awards[edit source]

Guggenheim Fellowship (1993)
Melon Jazz Living Legacy Award (2006)


Jump up ^ Allmusic biography
Jump up ^ The State of Jazz: Meet 40 More Jersey Greats, The Star-Ledger, September 28, 2004
External links[edit source]

Official Oliver Lake website
Passin' Thru website
Portraits of Oliver Lake by Dominik Huber /

JOSEPH JARMAN (b. September 14, 1937): Innovative Multi-instrumentalist, Composer, and Charter Member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago

(b. September 14, 1937)


"Great black music: Ancient to the future"

Filmed at the Berlin Jazzfest - October 31, 1991

The personnel of the Art Ensemble of Chicago:

Lester Bowie, trumpet
Joseph Jarman, reeds
Roscoe Mitchell, reeds
Malachi Favors Maghostut, bass
Famoudou Don Moye, drums

Their motto: Great black music:  Ancient to the future

Joseph Jarman's solo begins at 4:49 after Roscoe Mitchell's.

The band first recorded together in 1966. In 1967 Joseph Jarman joined the group.

In 1969, when the group toured Europe they used more than 500 instruments.

See more at:

Born: 14-September1937
Birthplace: Pine Bluff, AR

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Occupation: Musician
Nationality: United States
Executive summary:  Art Ensemble of Chicago multi-intrumentalist and composer

After leaving the army, in which he had been performing in bands on saxophone and clarinet, Joseph Jarman moved to Chicago in time to participate in the creative movement taking root in the early 1960s. He joined both the incipient Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and The Experimental Band, working for the first time alongside two musicians who would become his longstanding bandmades: Roscoe Mitchell and Malachi Favors. In 1969 the three -- joined by fellow AACM member Lester Bowie -- would form the Art Ensemble of Chicago, a band that would help define the free jazz movement. With the Ensemble, Jarman recorded in excess of 50 albums and toured the world extensively before retiring from the group in 1993.

Amongst his many non-AEOC projects, Joseph Jarman headed his own group in the late sixties, recorded numerous solo and collaborative albums, contributed to theatre productions, and has had several volumes of his poetry published. He is credited as being one of the first musicians to perform entirely solo pieces on the saxophone.

Art Ensemble of Chicago
The Experimental Band

Joseph Jarman-- Tenor saxophone
Marilyn Crispell --Piano

"Dear Lord" (Composition by John Coltrane)

Joseph Jarman and Marilyn Crispell: 

Connecting Spirits
Recorded January 12, 1996:


Egwu-Anwu (Sun Song) is an out-of-print live recording by Joseph Jarman and Famoudou Don Moye. The recording is of a live performance recorded in Woodstock, NY, which was released by India Navigation in January of 1978.

Joseph Jarman - tenor and alto sax, sopranino, flutes, bass clarinet, conch, vibraphone

Famoudou Don Moye - drums and other percussion, bailophone, conch, whistles, horns, marimba.

Joseph Jarman / Famoudou Don Moye - nanke ala ikpa-azu - ohnedaru
Joseph Jarman and Anthony Braxton (saxophones)

Together Again Dawn Dance Morning (including Circles)
Jarman and Braxton (1974):


Jarman and Braxton ~ Together Alone, Dawn Dance Morning (including Circles)

"Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City"
(Poem, recitation, and composition by Joseph Jarman)

Joseph Jarman--recitation, alto sax
Christopher Gaddy-- piano
Charles Clark-- bass
Thurman Barker-- drums

Recorded October 20th 1966, Chicago Sound Studios.

'Song For', released on Delmark in 1967, is one of the earliest documents of the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and was pianist Christopher Gaddy's only recording. Both he and bassist Charles Clark would die at just 24 years of age in 1968 and 1969 respectively: Gaddy of internal disorders sustained during US Army service, Clark (who was the youngest member of the AACM) of a cerebral hemorrhage. Jarman, Barker (and the other musicians on the date, Fred Anderson and Steve McCall), meanwhile, would go on to have long careers in experimental jazz.

Jarman's poem 'Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City' (subsequently the title of a 21st-century Art Ensemble of Chicago album, and the subject of a setting by Roscoe Mitchell for orchestra and baritone singer) is much more than just the 'Black Dada Nihilismus' rip-off one reviewer dismissed it as being. Jarman's delivery is, like Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka's, deceptively quiet, almost menacing; but, whereas Baraka's poem (and its companion piece, 'Black Art') was a deliberately inflammatory, confrontational work, Jarman's is more reflective, concerned, like Jones, with European modernism ("dada/new word out of the twenties of chaos") but, though acutely aware of racial concerns ("returned in the suntan jar" suggesting, perhaps, the white man's desire for the 'exotic' trappings of blackness whilst remaining truly white - 'everything but the burden'), less tied to nationalistic cries for action ("exit the tenderness for power/ black or white"). Likewise, while some might dismiss this as 'beat poetry', based on a superficial understanding of its technical workings and general 'ambiance', in fact, the connection between music and words is actually, it could be argued, more fundamental than in the somewhat tentative experiments of Jack Kerouac or Kenneth Patchen from the previous decade.

As Sean Bonney puts it an essay named after Jarman's poem and published in the online poetics journal Pores: "Even with a good poet such as Kerouac, whose writing was exemplary in finding a literary mirror of what music can do, the music is reduced to an accompaniment, and while supposedly subservient to the words, actually carries them and, essentially, does their work. An exploitative relationship that destroys the music's own systems of thought, and where the analogies with capitalist division of labour are absolutely clear. [However], in the most militant periods of the 1960s, poetry began to appear with more and more frequency on radical jazz records, and managed to escape the problems of jazz-poetry we mentioned above. The poems, in recordings such as Joseph Jarman's "Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City", in Barbara Simmons' work with Jackie McLean, and in Baraka's own work with The New York Art Quartet, Sunny Murray and Sun Ra, were able to be incorporated into the sonic field in such a way that they became one equal element in the collective of voices that made up the piece. The music was no longer there as an accompaniment that allowed the poem to sound greater than it actually was, but would respond to the words only inasmuch as the poem would respond to the music. The poem would push the music into clear speech, and the music in its turn would take that speech into places that it wouldn't ordinarily be able to get to, thus refusing the too easy fixion of meaning that a less equal partnership of music and words would be unable to get beyond."
Photograph of Joseph Jarman (c) Amir Bey, 2009

This was one of the early classics of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). Alto saxophonist Joseph Jarman, who would become a permanent member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago shortly after this recording, is heard in a sextet with trumpeter William Brimfield, the legendary tenor Fred Anderson, pianist Christopher Gaddy, bassist Charles Clark, and Steve McCall on drums.

Recorded at Sound Studios in 1966

Album: SONG FOR (Delmark records)

Joseph Jarman
"As If It Were the Seasons"
Recorded in 1968
Delmark Records

Review by Scott Yanow

This set is one of the legendary early AACM releases. Joseph Jarman (heard on alto, bassoon and soprano in addition to fife and recorder) is featured shortly before he became a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Some of his sidemen would become well-known (pianist Richard Abrams, tenors Fred Anderson and John Stubblefield), while others remained obscure or short-lived (bassist Charles Clark, drummer Thurman Barker, flutist Joel Brandon, trumpeter John Jackson and trombonist Lester Lashley). The two lengthy group improvisations (Sherri Scott adds her voice to "Song for Christopher") contrast sound and silence, noise with more conventional sounds, "little instruments" with powerful saxophones. Certainly not for everyone's taste, the truly open-eared will find the innovative results quite intriguing.

Joseph Jarman is a cofounder of Chicago's famed AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) founded in 1965 and a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago from 1969 to 1993. He has performed, toured and recorded in all parts of the Western world as well as in Japan and Eastern Europe. In 2001 he was invited by the Mayor of Chicago as an honored guest composer and performer, and to the Dogen Country in Mali by invitation of the French Consulate for a special project of music and art with Dogen artists and Western Artists (Leroy Jenkins, Thomas Buckner, and Alain Kirili).

Best known as a saxophonist, Mr. Jarman plays all the woodwinds and many percussion instruments, including vibes, marimba, balophone, and an array of bells, gongs and little instruments. Mr. Jarman has also worked extensively in Music/theater and is largely responsible for its development as a means of expression in new music. As a writer and poet, Joseph Jarman has published in Black Scholar, Dada Artist, New World and other books and magazines. He has also written the liner notes for many Art Ensemble of Chicago recordings.

Mr. Jarman studied music at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and Chicago Teachers College. He has been awarded numerous fellowships and grants, including several NEA grants, New York State Council grants for composition. In 1984 he received an interacts grant with Jessica Hagdorn, Blondell Cummings and John Woo for The Art of War. He also had a grant in 1999 from the British Arts Council. Mr. Jarman has received numerous first place awards from Downbeat Critics Polls. He is a member of the National Jazz Educators, Composers Forum, and Jazz Institute of Chicago (Life member). Mr. Jarman is an honorary lifetime member of the Chicago Jazz Society and is an honorary citizen of the city of Atlanta, GA and Madison, Wisconsin.

In 1990 Mr. Jarman was ordained a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Priest and also holds the rank of Godan (5th degree) black belt in the martial art of Aikido. He now directs the Jikishinkan Aikido Dojo and Brooklyn Buddhist Association. Mr. Jarman's most recent recordings include Pachinko Dream track 10 on Music @ Arts Records; Return of the Lost Tribe - Delmark Records; Out of the Mist - Ocean records; and Lifetime Visions for the Magnificent Human - Bopbuda Music

 Joseph Jarman (saxophone) & WORKS:

(Michel Gentile - flute, Daniel Kelly - piano, Rob Garcia - drums)

Performing at Brooklyn Jazz Wide Open on December 15, 2010.

Brooklyn Jazz Wide Open is a concert series presented by Connection Works

Joseph Jarman and WORKS at Brooklyn Jazz Wide Open - "Hail We Now Sing Joy"

Friday, September 13, 2013

The 50th Anniversary of the Deadly Birmingham, Alabama Church Bombings of September 15, 1963 and its Ominous Impact on the Legacy of White Supremacy in the United States

The Racial Ghosts of the Birmingham Church Bombing Still Haunt America
by Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Huffington Post

(b. 1945)

The commemoration of the bombing presents yet another chance for federal and state prosecutors to permanently close the book on all the nation's old unsolved racial murders. Without that, the ghosts of that atrocious past will continue to haunt America.

The Birmingham church bombing that killed four African-American girls fifty years ago was no isolated racial horror. At the time, the Sixteenth Street Baptist church bombing was just another in the decade long train of racist terror attacks that included beatings, shootings, mob attacks, ambushes, and, of course, bombings. Dozens were killed in the attacks. The victims had two things in common. They were either targeted for their civil rights work, or targeted solely out of racial hate and revenge. The other was that in nearly every case their killers were never prosecuted, and in more cases than not, were not even arrested though their identities were often well-known. In several cases, they were known because the FBI had fingered them.

The Birmingham bombing was a near textbook example of how officials turned a blind eye toward murder. The man who actually planted the bomb, Robert Chambliss, was quickly identified. He was arrested but not on murder charges, but simply illegal possession of dynamite. He got a paltry fine and a hand slap six-month sentence. His other three accomplices, Herman Cash, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Cherry were also soon identified. They were not arrested. It would take nearly two decades before Chambliss was finally tried and convicted and got a life sentence for the bombing and more than two decades after before Blanton and Cherry (Cash had died) were convicted and got life sentences.

This closed the legal book on this horror. In a few other cases federal prosecutors and D.A.'s in the South were determined to nail the perpetrators of old racial crimes. They scored some notable victories. State prosecutors in Mississippi convicted Byron De La Beckwith in 1994 for the 1963 murder of civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, and former Klan Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers in 1998 for the 1965-firebomb murder of Mississippi NAACP official Vernon Dahmer, and conviction of three Klansmen in the 1964 Birmingham church bombing. For years the murdered men's relatives pressed prosecutors to bring charges against the killers.

While their prosecution and jailing, is commendable, the racial atrocity book still remains wide open on many others. Some of them were well-known and shocking.

• 1959, Mack Charles Parker was seized from a Mississippi jail by a group of armed white men. Parker was accused of raping a white woman. Ten days later Parker's mutilated body was fished out of a river in Louisiana. Within three weeks of the killing, FBI agents identified his killers. They had solid evidence that the murderers had crossed state lines, and that law enforcement officers had conspired with the killers. No state or federal charges were ever brought.

• In 1961, a white Mississippi state representative murdered Herbert Lee, a NAACP worker, on an open highway during a traffic dispute. He was unarmed. No state or federal charges were ever brought.

• In 1965, Jimmy Lee Jackson, a black church deacon was gunned down by an Alabama state trooper following a voting rights protest march and rally in Marion, Ala. Eyewitnesses insisted that Jackson was unarmed and did not threaten the officer. No state or federal charges were ever brought.

According to FBI reports, the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a para-military terror squad in Mississippi, committed nine murders between 1960 and 1965. In nearly all cases, FBI agents quickly learned the identities of the suspected killers through Klan informants, or the men's own boasts of the killings. There was only a token effort made to bring them to justice.

Federal prosecutors have, and in fact always have had, the legal weapons to indict the suspected killers. Two federal statutes have long been on the books that give the Justice Department the power to prosecute public officials and law enforcement officers who committed or conspired with others to commit acts of racial violence.

The four children massacred in the Sixteenth Street Baptist church on that nightmarish Sept. 15 day a half-century ago and the other cold case victims were not solely victims of Klan terrorists, hostile local sheriffs, and state officials, but at times of a racially indifferent federal government. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson cautiously and reluctantly pushed the FBI to make arrests and the Justice Department to bring indictments in the murders of the three civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964, army major Lemuel Penn in Georgia in 1964, and civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo in Alabama in 1965. Even then it took mass outrage and pressure to get legal action against them.

The fiftieth anniversary of the Birmingham church bombing is a reminder of how far the nation has come from its ugly and violent racial past. But at the same time, it also tosses another terrible glare on the period in the South when blacks were murdered with the tacit approval of Southern state officials, and the cold shoulder indifference of the federal government. The commemoration of the bombing presents yet another chance for federal and state prosecutors to permanently close the book on all the nation's old unsolved racial murders. Without that, the ghosts of that atrocious past will continue to haunt America.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a nationally acclaimed author and political analyst. Hutchinson is the author of ten books on race and politics in America. His featured interviews and comments on race and politics have appeared in numerous national publications: He is a frequent guest analyst on CNN, Fox, and American Urban Radio Network:

He is the National Political Writer for New America Media and a regular contributor to: the Grio, and Electronic Urban Radio Network. He is the host of The Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network. His latest ebook '47 Percent Negro': A Chronicle of the Wackiest Racial Assaults on President Obama is now available (Amazon).

Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter:

From left: Denise McNair, 11, Carole Robertson, 14, Addie Mae Collins, 14, and Cynthia Wesley, 14, are shown in photos from 1963, the year they were killed in the Birmingham church bombing. (AP)

Prosecutor reflects on 50th anniversary of 1963 Birmingham bombing
September 14, 2013
Los Angeles Times

It was 50 years ago this Sunday a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., killing four girls: Denise McNair, 11, and Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, all 14.

Birmingham native G. Douglas Jones befriended the father of one of those girls, and about 40 years later, as a federal prosecutor, he convicted two of the Ku Klux Klan members responsible for the bombing.

Jones, 59, now a private lawyer, spoke with the Los Angeles Times on Friday about his memories of the bombing, the trials that followed and the legacy of the civil rights movement in his hometown.

What is it like in Birmingham today? Do you plan to attend any of the events this weekend marking the anniversary of the bombing?

It’s been a jam-packed couple of weeks. I’ve just been going from one event to the next. It’s a very exciting time—everything seems to be coming together culminating in the church service Sunday afternoon. The Congressional Black Caucus was in town, and I did a panel this morning with [former secretary of State and Birmingham native] Condoleezza Rice and moderated by Gayle King. Bill Cosby is in town for some events, and Spike Lee, who did the movie “Four Little Girls,” he’s going to show that.

It’s a very emotional time, an exciting time—people are really recognizing the significance of what happened in 1963, beginning with the children’s [civil rights] marches and culminating in the deaths of those four children.

What is your memory of the bombing? What was Birmingham like back then?

My personal memory is not what Birmingham was like. I was 9 years old in 1963, a white kid living out in suburbia, and so my life was a very segregated life, a sheltered life. I don’t have any recollections of that day—I knew there was things going on downtown, but I don’t have a recollection of the bombing.

Birmingham was two towns—a black town and a white town. It took me getting into junior high to see things changing. My elementary school was all white, but when I went to the seventh grade I for the first time went to a school that was integrated, and the kids started adapting, trying to work together.

It was years later, in 1977, that Alabama Atty. Gen. Bill Baxley convicted the first Klansman, Robert Chambliss, in connection with the bombing. You were a law student at Samford University outside Birmingham—do you remember that trial?

Baxley, the young attorney general at the time, was one of my heroes. I was a second-year student so I cut classes that week and went and watched Baxley’s argument—it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. The history, the power, that the law can change things for good, that public-service lawyers can have an effect on the world around you.

It was 20 years later that you became a federal prosecutor and convicted an additional two suspects, Thomas Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry. How did that happen?

To finish the case that Bill had started in the same courtroom where I had watched as a kid was truly an amazing time.

The case got reopened a year or so before I became U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, appointed by Bill Clinton. Obviously, with the history that I had, I also had some personal history with the McNair family that lost their daughter Denise, the case moved to the top priority for me.

I got to know Chris McNair [the girl’s father] when I was in college, through my political work — I was a young college student involved in politics, he was a newly elected member of the Alabama legislature; he actually represented my area. I had known them for a long time.

They were different cases. With Blanton, we repackaged some of the old evidence and presented it. Cherry ran his mouth a lot. He was his own undoing.

What was it like interviewing the victims' families?

We didn’t initially do much interviewing with the families. I didn’t talk to Bill Baxley about the case either, even though we had been friends for years.

The reason was, I didn’t know if we could win the case, if we had the evidence, and I didn’t want to lose my objectivity. I was just afraid that one day, I might have to tell them I couldn’t do it.

So it was towards the end that we really started working with the families, got them prepped for trial. Ms. Robertson, she was like a saint—she died about two months after the Cherry case was over. I still miss her.

How did you get Cherry’s ex-wife, Willadean, to talk?

Ex-wives are always high on the prospective witness list, but nobody could find her.

In the fall of 1998, we decided to take the investigation in a little bit of a different direction and start calling people for the grand jury. It was no secret what we were doing, calling Klansmen to testify, and a reporter from Jackson, Miss., came and did a story about it.

Willadean read that story in a tiny little town in Montana and she called the FBI and said, “I need to come talk to you.” She drove a couple hundred miles to the nearest office. She just introduced us to her brother, who lived with them for a time; he was in Florida. We had a granddaughter who contacted us who was there at the kitchen table with him talking about the bombing at 16th Street Church. She was just an 11-year-old white kid sitting at the table with a Klansman—she was scared.

Cherry would brag about this to people. With the passage of time, he just got kind of empowered that nothing was going to happen.

How was he able to get away with it for so many years?

It was an open secret among friends. It was an open secret among family members. It was not something that people reported to law enforcement. It just took a full opening of the case and good investigative work to track that down.

What was some of the most powerful evidence and testimony you presented?

The most powerful testimony was the surviving victim, Sarah [Jean Collins Rudolph].

In the Blanton case, there was a tape, what was called “the kitchen tape,” an undercover tape made by the FBI who placed a bug under the kitchen sink of Blanton and his then-wife -- she was his girlfriend at the time of the bombing -- where she asks him where he was on the Friday night before the bombing when he stood her up, he broke a date with her. He says it three times, “We had the meeting to make the bomb”—he admitted it three times.

With Cherry, it was his admissions to family and friends. And I never underestimated the lies that he gave to law enforcement over the years.

You have said prosecuting the cases took an emotional toll on you—did it change the way you see Birmingham?

It changed the way I felt about the city for the positive. By the time we prosecuted these cases, all the bad about Birmingham was known—it was documented. But Birmingham had long before tried to not only put this behind us, but celebrate it with the civil rights museum and the renovating of the Birmingham Civil Rights District. It certainly put the city in a better light when juries, black and white, convicted these guys.

It was an emotionally draining case—it would drain you every day. But from that point on, it’s been nothing but uplifting. We’ve lost witnesses, we’ve lost Ms. Robinson, but the fact of the matter is there’s been so much celebration. Even today, 11 years after the fact, people still stop me and thank me for my service. It’s humbling to have been a part of that. To sit there in the halls of Washington, D.C., the other day and see these girls receive a Congressional Gold Medal is humbling.

This year marks a lot of 50th civil rights anniversaries—sad ones like the bombing, but uplifting ones, too, like the March on Washington. You have said you want people to remember the “hatefulness and viciousness” of that era. Why is that important, and what else should they remember?

In the next couple of years you’re going to see more—anniversaries of the passing of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. I especially hope they mark the passage of the Voting Rights Act as it’s being dismantled by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case that came down this year. I believe we’re taking steps back with regards to civil rights. In legislatures across this country, I believe they are suppressing the rights of minorities to vote with voter ID laws and things of that nature.

On Sept. 15, 1963, hate prevailed over everything as four innocent children were killed. Once that happened, I think so much of America’s consciousness woke up and said, “Oh my God--this is not just a question of culture anymore, it’s a question of hate.” When you remember those deaths and the bombing, what you really think back and do is remember the changes and the catalyst. I think it was one of the things that caused Congress to act and caused the American people to start changing their hearts and minds.

This week in Birmingham is called “Empowerment Week,” and it’s because we are not just focusing on the past but on the future. I think that speaks volumes about not just, look at what we’ve done, but what are we doing. We need to continue expanding whether it’s gay rights, rights for the elderly or the disabled. By looking at the mistakes made by society in the past, maybe we won’t make them again.

So where will you be on Sunday?

The U.S. Attorney General [Eric H. Holder Jr.] and I are friends. I’m looking forward to seeing him and his wife on Sunday. [Former Atlanta mayor and congressman] Andrew Young, [civil rights leader] the Rev. Joseph Lowery—it’s just an exciting time.

Initially I will probably go to the church services—the first one is going to truly be a church service; my wife and I will attend. At about 12:30 p.m. I have to do a C-SPAN show live from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, then at 3 p.m. Birmingham time will be the big memorial where Holder will speak and Young will speak, and then we’ll have the dedication of the statue of the girls.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013



(b. September 8, 1931--d. October 18, 2010)

from Henry English PLUS 2 years ago / via Vimeo Desktop Uploader NOT YET RATED
 Film (1967) on Free Jazz musician MARION BROWN, who died in October, 2010. 

Filmmaker Henry English's first film
from Henry English

on Vimeo.

Marion Brown biography:

Marion Brown (born 8 September 1935 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA) is a jazz alto-saxophonist and ethnomusicologist.

Brown studied music education, political science, and history at Clark College and Howard University. He played in an army band, before heading to New York in 1957. It was here that he became involved in the free jazz movement, playing on early free jazz albums such as Archie Shepp’s Fire Music and John Coltrane’s Ascension. In the mid-1960s he travelled to Europe where he developed an interest in African music. He returned to the US in 1970, where he began teaching and studying linguistics and composition.
He has also performed with Harold Budd, John Fischer and Gunter Hampel.

MARION BROWN (1931-2010), Alto saxophonist, composer, and painter

Brown was the subject of a documentary film by Henry English, 1967 entitled: "YOU SEE WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY?

A film by Henry English:

Marion Brown, born in Atlanta, Georgia (September 8, 1931), is best known for being a player on John Coltrane's Ascension album, a landmark in the "Free Jazz" movement which was released in 1965. 

After studying music and pre-law, he moved to New York City in 1962 where he became part of the vibrant art and music scene there. Friends and colleagues included Amiri Baraka, Ornette Coleman, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, Pharaoh Sanders, Paul Bley and Rashied Ali.

In 1967, he moved to Paris where he expanded his creative horizons to include architecture, African music, Impressionistic art and the music of Eric Satie. 

In 1970, he returned to the US where he became an educator. He pursued academic studies in ethnomusicology and held several teaching posts in American colleges and universities. 

In 1981, Brown began focusing on drawing and painting, but as always continued to play and compose. 

Brown passed away in Florida on October 18, 2010.

See more at:

Marion Brown
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Marion Brown
Born September 8, 1931
Origin Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Died October 18, 2010 (aged 79)
Genres Avant-garde, jazz
Occupations Saxophonist, ethnomusicologist
Instruments Alto saxophone
Years active 1962–1990

Marion Brown (September 8, 1931 – October 18, 2010[1]) was a jazz alto saxophonist and ethnomusicologist. He is most well known as a member of the 1960s avant-garde jazz scene in New York City, playing alongside musicians such as John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, and John Tchicai. He performed on Coltrane's landmark 1965 album Ascension.[2]


1 Biography
2 Influence
3 Discography
3.1 As leader
3.2 As sideman
4 References
5 External links
Brown was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1931. He joined the Army in 1953 and in 1956 went to Clark College to study music. In 1960 Brown left Atlanta and studied pre-law at Howard University for two years. He moved in 1962 to New York, where he befriended poet Amiri Baraka and many musicians including Ornette Coleman, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, Pharaoh Sanders, Paul Bley and Rashied Ali. He appeared on several important albums from this period, such as Shepp's Fire Music and New Wave in Jazz, but most notably John Coltrane's Ascension.[3]

In 1967, Brown travelled to Paris, France where he developed an interest in architecture, Impressionistic art, African music and the music of Eric Satie. In the late 1960s, he was an American Fellow in Music Composition and Performance at the Cité Internationale Des Artists in Paris. Around 1970, he provided the soundtrack for Marcel Camus' film Le Temps fou, a soundtrack featuring Steve McCall, Barre Phillips, Ambrose Jackson and Gunter Hampel.[3]

Brown returned to the US in 1970, where he felt a newfound sense of creative drive. He moved to New Haven, Connecticut, to serve as a resource teacher in a child study center in the city's public school system until 1971. He composed and performed incidental music for a Georg Büchner play, Woyzeck. In 1971, Brown was an assistant professor of music at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, a position he held until he attained his Bachelor's degree in 1974. In addition to this role, he held faculty positions at Brandeis University (1971–74), Colby College (1973–74), and Amherst College (1974–75), as well as a graduate assistant position at Wesleyan University (1974–76). Brown earned a Master's degree in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan in 1976. His master's thesis was entitled "Faces and Places: The Music and Travels of a Contemporary Jazz Musician".[3]

In 1976 he played alto saxophone on Harold Budd's The Pavilion of Dreams. Throughout his many educational positions, Brown continued to compose and perform. In 1972 and 1976, Brown received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, which he used to compose and publish several pieces for solo piano, one of which was based on the poetry of Jean Toomer in his book Cane. He also transcribed some piano and organ music by Eric Satie including his Messe Des Pauvres and Pages Mysterieuses, and arranged the composer's Les Fils Des Etoiles for two guitars and violin.[3]

In 1981, Brown began focusing on drawing and painting. His charcoal portrait of blues guitarist Blind Lemon Jefferson was included in a New York City Kenkeleba Gallery art show called Jus' Jass, which also included works by artists such as Romare Bearden, Charles Searles and Joe Overstreet.[3]
By the 2000s, Brown had fallen ill; due to a series of surgeries and a partial leg amputation, Brown resided for a time in a nursing home in New York.[4] By 2005 he had moved to an assisted living facility in Hollywood, Florida, where he died in 2010, aged 79.[5]


Pianist Amina Claudine Myers' debut album Poems for Piano: The Piano Music of Marion Brown (Sweet Earth, 1979) featured Brown's compositions predominantly.

Aside from his influence in the jazz avant-garde, several other areas of music have taken interest in Brown's music. Indie rockers Superchunk included a song called "Song For Marion Brown" on their Indoor Living release, and Savath and Savalas released a piece entitled "Two Blues For Marion Brown" as part of Hefty Records's Immediate Action series.[citation needed]

His Name Is Alive performed a tribute concert in 2004, performing solely Brown's music. In 2007, High Two released portions of the concert with studio versions as Sweet Earth Flower: A Tribute to Marion Brown.[citation needed]


As leader[edit source]
1966: Three for Shepp (Impulse!)
1966: Juba Lee (Fontana)
1966: Why Not? (ESP-Disk)
1967: Marion Brown Quartet (ESP / Fontana)
1967: Porto Novo (Arista)
1968: Gesprächsfetzen (with Gunter Hampel) (Calig)
1969; In Sommerhausen (with Gunter Hampel and Jeanne Lee)
1970: Afternoon of a Georgia Faun (ECM)
1973: Duets (Freedom)
1973: Geechee Recollections (Impulse!)
1974: Sweet Earth Flying (Impulse!)
1975: Vista (Impulse!)
1977: La Placita / Live in Willisau (Timeless Muse)
1977: Solo Saxophone (Sweet Earth)
1977: Zenzile Featuring Marion Brown (Baystate)
1978: Passion Flower (Baystate)
1979: November Cotton Flower (Baystate)
1978: Reeds 'n Vibes (with Gunter Hampel) (Improvising Artists)
1979: Soul Eyes (Baystate)
1980: Back To Paris (Freelance Records)
1983: Gemini (Birth)
1985: Recollections (Creative Works)
1985: Songs of Love and Regret (Freelance, with Mal Waldron)
1988: Much More (Freelance)
1990: Native Land (ITM)
As sideman[edit source]
With John Coltrane
Ascension (1965)
With Archie Shepp
Attica Blues
Fire Music
With Harold Budd
The Pavilion of Dreams


^ ESP-'Disk Celebrates the Life of Marion Brown,
^ New York Times obit for Brown
^ a b c d e Marion Brown: Recollections. Frankfurt a. Main: J. A. Schmidt, 1984.
^ A Fireside Chat with Marion Brown by Fred Jung
^ Marion Brown's last years.
External links[edit source]

"A Fireside Chat with Marion Brown" from All About Jazz
Audio Recordings of WCUW Jazz Festivals - Jazz History Database
Marion Brown Discography
WorldCat entry for Brown's ethnomusicology thesis.
You See What I'm Trying to Say (1967) Henry English film on Marion Brown

Monday, September 9, 2013

Serena Williams Wins Her Fifth U.S. Open Title and 17th Grand Slam Tournament in Her Illustrious Career


Serena as Superwoman. Surprisingly graceful given the windy conditions. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The celebratory hop with a look to her box. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Serena jumps for joy on match point. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

Williams beats Azarenka for 5th US Open, 17th Slam

HOWARD FENDRICH (AP Tennis Writer) 14 minutes ago AP - Sports

NEW YORK (AP) -- Fussing with her skirt and flubbing her shots, Serena Williams was troubled in the U.S. Open final by the swirling air and the strong play of Victoria Azarenka.

After one miss, Williams declared, ''I can't play in this wind.'' After blowing a big lead and dropping the second set, Williams chucked her racket toward the sideline, and it bounced back onto the court.

In the end, Williams pulled herself together, as she usually does when it matters the most. Facing her only test of the past two weeks, the No. 1-seeded Williams overcame No. 2 Azarenka 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1 on Sunday for a fifth championship at Flushing Meadows and second in a row.

Williams, who turns 32 on Sept. 26, raised her Grand Slam singles title count to 17, the sixth-most in history and one shy of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. Williams collected a $3.6 million prize, including a $1 million bonus for producing the best results during the North American summer hard-court circuit leading up to the U.S. Open.

Helped by nine aces, one at 126 mph, Williams improved to 67-4 with a career-high nine titles in 2013. Since a first-round exit at the 2012 French Open, she is 98-5 with 14 titles, winning four of the past six Grand Slam tournaments.

''Vika's such a great opponent, such a great fighter,'' Williams said, ''and that's why she's been able to win multiple Grand Slams. That's why it was never over until match point.''

Yes, this one did not come easily, even though it appeared to be nearly over when Williams went ahead by two breaks at 4-1 in the second set. Williams served for the match at 5-4 and 6-5 - only to have the gutsy Azarenka break each time.

Still, Williams regrouped and regained control.

''In the third set, Serena really found a way to calm down and restart from zero and quickly erase what happened,'' said Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou.

This was a rematch of last year's final, also won by Williams in three sets, and two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka provided another challenge with her big swings off both wings.

''It is a tough loss, but to be in the final and play against the best player - who deserves to win today - it's incredible,'' said Azarenka, who is from Belarus. ''I gave it all today. We showed our hearts. We fought hard.''

Four times, Azarenka was only two points from taking the opening set. At one such moment, with Williams serving at deuce after a double-fault, she was called for a foot fault, erasing what would have been a 121 mph ace. There was another foot-fault call in the second set, too. They brought back memories of the American's loss to Kim Clijsters in the 2009 semifinals, when Williams was docked a point, and later fined, for a tirade against a line judge over a foot-fault call.

There was no such outburst directed at officials this time, although there was that racket toss. After the call in the match's 10th game, Williams simply put a hand to her face, composed herself, and won the point with a down-the-line backhand she celebrated with a fist pump, some foot stomping and a yell of ''Come on!''

Williams wound up holding there with a 104 mph ace, part of what seemed to be a match-altering stretch. She won five consecutive games and 16 of 18 points to take the first set and go up a break in the second.

''You could see she clicked,'' Mouratoglou said. ''She realized she was not aggressive enough. She was letting Vika dictate too much, and all of a sudden, things completely changed.''

Well, at least for a while.

Williams' lead grew to 4-1 in the second set, before Azarenka made things competitive again, which shouldn't surprise anyone. Azarenka is responsible for two of Williams' four losses this season. And entering Sunday, Azarenka was 31-1 on hard courts this season, and showed why for portions of the final, playing far better than she had in her preceding six matches in New York.

But she simply could not keep pace with Williams, who eventually adjusted to her opponent and the wind that topped 15 mph. Williams put aside her issues to finish with a 36-17 edge in winners.

At the outset, though, the breeze clearly bothered her as much as Azarenka did.

Williams caught service tosses. She grabbed at her skirt to try to stop it from flapping around. And, most importantly, she was thrown off by balls that danced oddly. Six of the first 16 points ended with unforced errors by Williams, which allowed Azarenka to go ahead 2-1.

Looking hesitant at times, Williams did not show the same dominance she had while dropping only 16 games during six straight-set victories through the semifinals. And after Williams did go ahead, Azarenka made things interesting with a hard-hitting comeback.

The first time Williams served for the championship, at 5-4, Azarenka hit a cross-court forehand winner for break point, then forced a backhand long. Williams came right back to break for a 6-5 edge. Given a second chance to serve it out, she double-faulted to get broken for the fourth time.

A year ago, they played the first three-set women's final in New York since 1995. And they went the distance again, a total of 2 hours, 45 minutes, because Azarenka was superior in the tiebreaker.

When it came time to close the deal yet again, Williams shined. She has six of the eight winners in the third set, forced Azarenka into 15 miscues, and soon enough, was hopping up and down after finishing with a service winner. Williams kept pumping her fist afterward, even while sipping from a water bottle.

Azarenka faltered late, the way she did when losing the last four games in the 2012 final. She hit two of her seven double-faults while getting broken to 3-1 in the third set, then could only watch as Williams hit a pair of aces in the next game.

On Sunday, with former President Bill Clinton among the announced crowd of 23,584 in Arthur Ashe Stadium, and Williams' older sister Venus in a front-row seat, the fans were mostly cheering for the American.

''I definitely felt the love,'' Williams said, ''so thank you all so much for the support.''

She equaled Steffi Graf with five U.S. Open titles, one behind Evert's record of six in the Open era, which began in 1968. Williams never had won two consecutive U.S. Opens, but now she has, adding to the trophies she earned in New York in 1999 - at age 17 - then 2002 and 2008.

Those go alongside five from Wimbledon, five from the Australian Open, and two from the French Open, which she won this year.

Williams also became the first woman to surpass $9 million in prize money in a single season, while topping $50 million for her career.

Two Grand Slam titles, nine titles overall, recaptured No. 1 in February for the first time since 2010, and all at 31 years old. Take a bow. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Serena Williams wins 17th Grand Slam title Sunday at the U.S. Open
by Shane Bacon
Busted Racquet

Back in 1999, Serena Williams was a teenager at the U.S. Open with a ton of talent and absolutely no idea about legacy, history or what might happen 15 years from that finals defeat of Martina Hingis.

In 2013, Williams might have done enough to be considered the greatest champion in women's tennis history.

Serena took out No. 2 Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1 on Sunday to win her 17th Grand Slam title, an accomplishment made all the more impressive by the sheer longevity of her career as a Grand Slam champion and the fact that she will be 32-years-old by the time this month ends.

The win marks the fourth time in her career that Williams was able to defend a Grand Slam title, and the sixth time that Williams was able to win multiple Grand Slams in the same season after her French Open (edited by me) win earlier this year.

It wasn't an easy march for Serena, who looked like she would win this one in straight sets, serving for the match twice. Azarenka, who has been on the wrong side of this U.S. Open final for the second straight season, battled back with a ton of heart in that second set, with the two breaks and coming back in the tiebreaker to take the championship to three sets, but it was there Serena decided to show just how complete her game has become.

Williams' fastest serve on Sunday? Just 126 miles per hour, three miles per hour faster than Rafael Nadal notched in his semifinal win over Richard Gasquet.

Her third set stats when it looked like she was on the ropes and the momentum was in Azarenka's favor? An 85 percent first serve winning percentage, and facing just three break points, was able to convert two of them.

Williams now goes to the 2014 season with her eyes on a few different numbers. This win marks her 17th Grand Slam, putting her just one big win away from tying the 18 that both Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova were able to win, and it looks like she won't need much of a tweak to her game to at least match that number next season.

For now, Serena ends this season on an incredibly high note, winning a tournament that looked a breeze until that second set on Sunday and proving everyone that age is simply not a factor in Serena's world.

Conquering the Wind, Williams Enters Rarefied Air With a 17th Title

September 8, 2013 
New York Times

As it turned out, after 2 hours 45 minutes of raw emotion and territorial tennis, Serena Williams really could play in the wind, just as she has played and prevailed in so many conditions and circumstances through the years.

With her 32nd birthday approaching, Williams is in increasingly rare company as the major titles continue to pile up. Although she certainly wobbled in Sunday’s United States Open final — the longest recorded women’s Open final — and although Victoria Azarenka applied plenty of intense, next-generation pressure, there was ultimately no depriving Williams of another major celebration on a court where she has experienced plenty of disaster to go with her triumphs through the years.

This 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1 victory gave her a fifth United States Open singles title and a 17th Grand Slam singles title. It also underscored her place atop the women’s game.

She has had her most focused, consistently successful season, and yet Azarenka had defeated Williams in two of their last three matches. Each arrived in New York with one Grand Slam singles title in 2013.

This would be the tiebreaker, and although Williams cracked in the second set — losing a 4-1 lead and twice failing to serve out the match — she, not the ferociously ambitious Azarenka, is now the undisputed player of the year.

“I felt almost disappointed with my year, to be honest,” Williams said. “I felt like, yeah, I won the French Open, but I wasn’t happy with my performances in the other two Slams and not even making it to the quarterfinals of one. So I definitely feel a lot better with at least a second Grand Slam under my belt this year.”

There were other rewards, including prize money of $3.6 million, and a $1 million bonus for winning the United States Open Series, which put her at more than $50 million in career earnings.

“I think my dad got me into tennis because of the money, but me being naïve and silly, I never thought about it,” she said of her father, Richard Williams, long her primary coach along with her mother, Oracene Price. “I just thought I want to win. I wanted to do what Venus does.”

She now holds a 13-3 edge in her series with Azarenka, the closest she has to a rival in the women’s game at the moment.

“It’s good for Serena that Vika is there at this stage; good for both of them,” said Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams’s coach. “I think the best way to progress is to be pushed by someone.”

Azarenka has been pushing with increased success and resourcefulness — mixing in drop shots and forays to the net Sunday — but the bottom line is that Williams has won all eight of their Grand Slam matches.

When this one ended with a missed return, Williams jumped five times near the baseline and continued to exult after embracing Azarenka at the net. As Williams shouted and grinned and thrust her powerful arms into the air, Azarenka sat in her chair courtside and cried into a towel.

“She’s a champion,” Azarenka said later. “And she knows how to repeat that. She knows what it takes to get there. I know that feeling, too, so when two people who want it so bad meet, it’s like a clash.”

Azarenka, a marvelous counterpuncher who spent several years living and training in the United States, also rallied to force a third set in last year’s Open final before Williams won in a classic match, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.

This final did not hit as many high notes, but it still produced a memorable soundtrack: shrieks, growls, grunts and audible self-criticism, as well as appreciative roars from the crowd, which was treated to the rare sight of a young woman fully prepared to match Williams’s intensity.

“What is really interesting is that Vika is not at all intimidated by her opponent,” said Sam Sumyk, Azarenka’s coach. “And that is good because we know Serena is very, very strong but also likes to use intimidation to gain a bit of the edge over her opponents, and it’s good to see that doesn’t work with Vika.”

But there was another obstacle involved Sunday: the gusting, swirling wind that was even more of a factor than usual in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“The wind was unbelievable today,” Williams said.

Both players were repeatedly forced to adjust their ground strokes at the last moment, catch their service tosses and attempt with varying degrees of success to remain calm.

“It wasn’t pleasant; it wasn’t nice,” Azarenka said. “Skirts were always, you know, lifting up. You had to pull it down all the time.”

For much of the early going, Azarenka seemed to treat the wind as an ally while Williams treated it as an enemy.

“I can’t play in this wind,” Williams said to her team in the players box in the first set after a game full of off-balance ground strokes.

Her first-serve percentage was below 50 percent for much of that opening set, but she stabilized when serving at 4-5, shrugging off double faults and a foot fault (she has quite a history with those in Ashe) as well as a flurry of high-quality two-handed backhands from Azarenka.

Williams would end up reeling off five games in a row and taking command of the match, only to surrender it by failing to serve out the match twice in that second set. She faltered at 5-4 and again at 6-5, double-faulting into the net to allow Azarenka the chance to play a tiebreaker, which she proceeded to win.

With the match now even, Azarenka could not sustain the quality or, more surprisingly, the urgency. Williams broke her in the fourth and sixth games, and this time she did not crumble when she served for the title at 5-1.

She is now just one Grand Slam singles title behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, who each have 18 and rank fourth on the career list.

“I think she has a real sense of history right now, and she is defining her place in history,” Evert said on ESPN after the match.

Williams confessed that she had been thinking about No. 17 when she was two points from the match in the second set.

“That probably got me a little nervous, and I probably shouldn’t have been thinking about that,” she said.

Evert said that she believed Williams was fully capable of reaching 22 major singles titles, which would tie her with Steffi Graf for second behind Margaret Court’s record of 24.

But what mattered most Sunday night was this victory. A less resilient champion might have continued to fall apart after collapsing in the second set. Instead, Williams exhaled and willed herself into a more peaceful and less conflicted place: one where neither Azarenka nor the wind, that cursed wind, could knock her down.

Ben Rothenberg contributed reporting.

Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times
U.S. Open Women’s Final: Serena Williams won her 5th U.S. Open title, and her 17th Grand Slam title overall, one behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth on the career list.