David "fathead" newman* david newman - mr. fathead


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Ray tries to explain Ray's blues—the angst in his heart—in heavy-handed Freudian terms. At age 5, Ray helplessly watched his younger brother, George, drown. The film insists that the guilt Ray felt for failing to rescue George is responsible for the dark side of his soul. Once the guilt is lifted, the adult Ray is not only free from his heroin habit but is liberated—in a treacly flashback—from his emotional turmoil. George's death was certainly traumatic for the young Ray, yet the only time Ray suffered what he termed a nervous breakdown had neither to do with the drowning nor the loss of his sight a year later. "It's the death of my mother Aretha," he told me, "that had me reeling. For days I couldn't talk, think, sleep or eat. I was sure-enough going crazy." That the film fails to dramatize the scene—we learn of Aretha's death in a quick aside from Ray to his wife-to-be—misses the crucial heartbreak of his early life. It happened when Ray was 15, living at a school for the blind 160 miles from home. "I knew my world had ended," he said. The further fact that Ray fails to include a single scene from his extraordinary educational experience is another grievous oversight. It was at that state school where he was taught to read Braille, play Chopin, write arrangements, learn piano and clarinet, start to sing, and discover sex. Ray shows none of that. Such scenes would have been far more illuminating than the unexciting story, which the film does include, of Ray changing managers in midcareer.

In 2004, the Artist-in-Residence program was revamped to include visits to the Next Generation Jazz Festival and Summer Jazz Camp outside the Festival weekend in September. Violinist Regina Carter was the first Artist-In-Residence to fulfill this expanded educational role.


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