Blew notes
Jazziversries August 1st

Robert Cray (guitar, electric) 1953 :: Bornday greetings to Robert Cray. Robert is an American blues guitarist and singer. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he has led his own band, as well as an acclaimed solo career.

Cray started playing guitar in his early teens. He attended Denbigh High School in Newport News, Virginia. By the age of twenty, Cray had seen his heroes Albert Collins, Freddie King and Muddy Waters in concert and decided to form his own band; they began playing college towns on the West Coast. In the late 1970s he lived in Eugene, Oregon, where he formed the Robert Cray Band and collaborated with Curtis Salgado in the Cray-Hawks. In the 1978 film National Lampoon’s Animal House, Cray was the uncredited bassist in the house party band Otis Day and the Knights. After several years of regional success, Cray was signed to Mercury Records in 1982. Two albums on HighTone Records in the mid-80s, Bad Influence and False Accusations, were moderately successful in the United States and in Europe, where he was building a reputation as a live artist. His fourth album release, Strong Persuader, produced by Dennis Walker, received a Grammy Award, while the crossover single “Smokin’ Gun” gave him wider appeal and name recognition.

He was invited by Keith Richards to join the backing band for Chuck Berry in the 1987 film, Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N’ Roll, directed by Taylor Hackford.

By now, Cray was an opening act for such major stars as Eric Clapton (who remains a friend to this day), and sold out larger venues as a solo artist. Cray has generally played Fender guitars (Telecasters and Stratocasters) and there are two signature Robert Cray Stratocasters models available from Fender. The Robert Cray Custom Shop Stratocaster is made in the United States in the Fender custom shop and is identical to the guitars that Cray currently plays, while the Robert Cray Standard Stratocaster is a less-expensive model made in Fender’s Ensenada, Mexico plant.

Cray had the opportunity to play alongside John Lee Hooker on his album Boom Boom, playing the guitar solo in the song “Same Old Blues Again”. He is also featured on the Hooker album, The Healer; he plays a guitar solo on the song “Baby Lee”. The entire Robert Cray Band backs Hooker on the title track of Hooker’s 1992 album “Mr. Lucky”, where Cray plays lead guitar, sings, and banters with Hooker throughout the song.

Cray was invited to play at the “Guitar Legends” concerts in Seville, Spain at the 1992 Expo, where he played a signature track, “Phone Booth”. Albert Collins was also on the bill on this blues night of the “Legends” gigs.

Cray continues to record and tour. He appeared at the Crossroads Guitar Festival, and supported Eric Clapton on his 2006-2007 world tour. In Fargo, North Dakota, he joined Clapton on backup guitar for the Cream song “Crossroads”. In 2011, Cray was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame.

Jazziversaries July 31st

Gap Mangione  (piano) 1938 :: Birthday greetings to Gap Mangione. Gap is a jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader from Rochester, New York, United States.

Mangione was born and raised in Rochester; his younger brother is Grammy-winning flugelhornist Chuck Mangione. Members of a music-loving family, both Gap and Chuck took up instruments. In 1958, they started performing together as the Jazz Brothers, eventually recording three albums for Riverside Records.

In 1968, Gap Mangione released his first solo album, Diana in the Autumn Wind, featuring drummer Steve Gadd and bassist Tony Levin in their first recordings, and new compositions and arrangements by Chuck Mangione who conducted as well.

The 1970s brought more solo albums along with tours with his own group and many as featured pianist in his brother’s orchestral performances.

In the 1980s, Mangione began to spend more time playing in and around Rochester and less time on the road. In 1990, he formed the Gap Mangione New Big Band, which remains the premier dance and concert big band in the Rochester area. The New Big Band has released four CDs since 1998. Many major rappers and producers, including Jaylib, Talib Kweli, Guerilla Black, Ghostface Killah, and Slum Village have sampled Gap’s Diana in the Autumn Wind for their recent works.

Today, Mangione continues to make regular appearances at Rochester locations, among them the Woodcliff Hotel and Spa (since May, 1987), Pier 45 at the Port and the Rochester International Jazz Festival, as well as private gigs. He can be found playing solo, with the 14-piece New Big Band, the “New Blues Band” (a quartet) or his sextet. He and Chuck continue to play together, mainly for appearances with symphony orchestras, or with Chuck as special guest with Gap’s big band.

In 2004 he received the Artist of the Year Award from the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester.

Hank Jones(piano) 1918-2010  :: Hank Jones was an American jazz pianist, bandleader, arranger, and composer. Critics and musicians described Jones as eloquent, lyrical, and impeccable.

Hank studied piano at an early age and came under the influence of Earl Hines, Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson, and Art Tatum. By the age of 13 Jones was performing locally in Michigan and Ohio. While playing with territory bands in Grand Rapids and Lansing in 1944 he met Lucky Thompson, who invited Jones to work in New York City at the Onyx Club with Hot Lips Page.

In New York, Jones regularly listened to leading bop musicians, and was inspired to master the new style. While practicing and studying the music he worked with John Kirby, Howard McGhee, Coleman Hawkins, Andy Kirk, and Billy Eckstine. In autumn 1947, he began touring in Norman Granz’s Jazz at the Philharmonic package, and from 1948 to 1953 he was accompanist for Ella Fitzgerald, and accompanying her in England in the Fall of 1948, developed a harmonic facility of extraordinary taste and sophistication. During this period he also made several historically important recordings with Charlie Parker, which included “The Song Is You”, from the Now’s the Time album, recorded in December 1952, with Teddy Kotick on bass and Max Roach on drums.

Engagements with Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman followed, and recordings with artists such as Lester Young, Cannonball Adderley, and Wes Montgomery, in addition to being for a time, ‘house pianist’ on the Savoy label. From 1959 through 1975 Jones was staff pianist for CBS studios. This included backing guests like Frank Sinatra on The Ed Sullivan Show. He played the piano accompaniment to Marilyn Monroe as she sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy on May 19, 1962. By the late 1970s, his involvement as pianist and conductor with the Broadway musical Ain’t Misbehavin’ (based on the music of Fats Waller) had informed a wider audience of his unique qualities as a musician.

During the late 1970s and the 1980s, Jones continued to record prolifically, as an unaccompanied soloist, in duos with other pianists (including John Lewis and Tommy Flanagan), and with various small ensembles, most notably the Great Jazz Trio. The group took this name in 1976, by which time Jones had already begun working at the Village Vanguard with its original members, Ron Carter and Tony Williams (it was Buster Williams rather than Carter, however, who took part in the trio’s first recording session in 1976); by 1980 Jones’ sidemen were Eddie Gomez and Al Foster, and in 1982 Jimmy Cobb replaced Foster. The trio also recorded with other all-star personnel, such as Art Farmer, Benny Golson, and Nancy Wilson.

In 1989, The National Endowment for the Arts honored him with the NEA Jazz Masters Award. He was also honored in 2003 with the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Jazz Living Legend Award. In 2008, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. On April 13, 2009, the University of Hartford presented Jones with a Doctorate Degree for his musical accomplishments. Jones recorded over sixty albums under his own name, and countless others as a sideman.

Kenny Burrell (guitar) 1931 :: Bornday greetings to Kenny Burrell. Kenny is an American jazz guitarist. His playing is grounded in bebop and blues; he has performed and recorded with a wide range of jazz musicians.

While a student at Wayne State University, he made his debut recording as a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s sextet in 1951, following which he recorded the “Ground Round” single at Fortune Records in Detroit. He toured with Oscar Peterson after graduating in 1955 and then moved to New York City in 1956.

A consummate sideman, Burrell has recorded with a wide range of prominent musicians. He has also led his own groups since 1951 and recorded many well-received albums.

In the 1970s he began leading seminars about music, particularly Duke Ellington’s. Although the two never collaborated directly, Ellington called Burrell his “favorite guitarist,” and Burrell has recorded a number of tributes to and interpretations of Ellington’s works.

A highly popular performer, Burrell has won several jazz polls in Japan and the United Kingdom as well as in the United States. He has recorded about 106 albums, including Midnight Blue (1963), Blue Lights, Guitar Forms, Sunup To Sundown (1990), Soft Winds (1993), Then Along Came Kenny (1993), and Lotus Blossom (1995).

As of 1996, Burrell has served as Director of Jazz Studies at UCLA, mentoring such notable alumni as Gretchen Parlato and Kalil Wilson.Burrell teaches a course entitled “Ellingtonia”, examining the life and accomplishments of Duke Ellington.

Stanley Jordan(guitar, electric) 1959 :: Happy birthday to Stanley Jordan. Stanley is an American jazz/jazz fusion guitarist and pianist. He began his music career at age six, studying piano, then shifted his focus to guitar at age eleven. He later began playing in rock and soul bands. In 1976, Jordan won an award at the Reno, Nevada, Jazz Festival. He earned a BA in music from Princeton University in 1981, where he studied theory and composition with composer Milton Babbitt and computer music with composer Paul Lansky. While at Princeton in 1979 he played with Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie.

Jordan was the first artist to be signed by Bruce Lundvall when the latter became president of Blue Note Records in 1985 and, consequently, Magic Touch was the first release (not reissue) of the rejuvenated label. Magic Touch was #1 on Billboard’s jazz chart for 51 weeks, setting a new record. Jordan also made the startup sound for the old Macintosh computers, Power Macintosh 6100, Power Macintosh 7100, and Power Macintosh 8100.

Jordan has performed in over 60 countries on 6 continents. He has performed at many jazz festivals, including: Kool Jazz Festival (1984), Concord Jazz Festival (1985), and the Montreux International Jazz Festival (1985). During the 1980s Jordan played with Quincy Jones, Michal Urbaniak, and Richie Cole. Stanley Jordan has four Grammy Nominations. His 2011 album “Friends” was nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

Ahmet Ertegun(founder) 1923-2006 :: Ahmet Ertegun was a Turkish American musician and businessman, best known as the founder and president of Atlantic Records, as a leader of the 1950s Rhythm & Blues revolution, and for discovering or championing artists like Eric Clapton; Phil Collins; Genesis; The Rolling Stones; Led Zeppelin; Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; Aretha Franklin; Ray Charles; Yes; Frank Zappa; and more. He also wrote classic blues and pop songs and served as Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and museum. Ertegun has been described as “one of the most significant figures in the modern recording industry.” He also co-founded the New York Cosmos soccer team of the original North American Soccer League.

Ahmet’s love for music pulled him into the heart of Washington, DC’s black district where he would routinely see acts such as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and countless others. While he did attend Landon School, an affluent all-male private school in Bethesda, Maryland, Ahmet would joke, “I got my real education at Howard.” Despite his affluent upbringing, Ahmet began to see a different world than his affluent peers. Ahmet would later say: “I began to discover a little bit about the situation of black people in America and experienced immediate empathy with the victims of such senseless discrimination. Because although Turks were never slaves, they were regarded as enemies within Europe because of their Muslim beliefs.”

The brothers also frequented Milt Gabler’s Commodore Record Store, assembled a large collection of over 15,000 jazz and blues 78s, and became acquainted with musicians such as Ellington, Lena Horne and Jelly Roll Morton. Ahmet and Nesuhi staged concerts by Lester Young, Sidney Bechet and other jazz giants, often at the Jewish Community Center, which was the only place that would allow a mixed audience and mixed band. They also traveled to New Orleans and to Harlem to listen to music and develop a keen awareness of developing musical tastes.

In 1946, Ahmet Ertegun became friends with Herb Abramson, a dental student and A&R man for National Records, and they decided to start a new independent record label for gospel, jazz, and R&B music. Financed by family dentist Dr. Vahdi Sabit, they formed Atlantic Records in September 1947 in New York City, and the first recording sessions took place that November.

In 1949, after 22 unsuccessful record releases including the first recordings by Professor Longhair, Atlantic had its first major hit with Stick McGhee’s “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee”. The company expanded through the 1950s, with Jerry Wexler and, later, Nesuhi Ertegun on board as partners, and with hit artists including Ruth Brown, Joe Turner, The Clovers, The Drifters, The Coasters, and Ray Charles.

aconversationoncool:

Chet Baker, 1961. 

aconversationoncool:

Chet Baker, 1961. 


Trellick Tower neighbourhood. Andy Aderinto

Trellick Tower neighbourhood. Andy Aderinto

Most relationships fail not because of the absence of love but because one person loves too much and the other loves too little.

Unknown (via onlinecounsellingcollege)

I think love is love. I don’t think there’s different levels. I think people show their love in different ways but I don’t think there’s a way to love too much or too little.

(via daniellemertina)

Jazziversaries July 30th

Buddy Guy (guitar, electric) - 1936 :: Happy birthday to electric bluesman Buddy Guy! Critically acclaimed, he is a pioneer of the Chicago blues sound and has served as an influence to some of the most notable musicians of his generation, including Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. In the 1960s Guy was a member of Muddy Waters’ band and as a house guitarist at Chess Records. He can be heard on Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Killing Floor’ and Koko Taylor’s ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ as well as on his own Chess sides and the fine series of records he made with harmonica player Junior Wells. Ranked 30th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”,Guy is known for his showmanship on stage: playing his guitar with drumsticks or strolling into the audience while playing solos. His song “Stone Crazy” was ranked 78th in list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time also of Rolling Stone.Guy’s autobiography, When I Left Home: My Story, was released on May 8, 2012.

David Sanborn (saxophone) - 1945  :: Many happy returns to sax playre Dave Sanborn! One of the most commercially successful American saxophonists to earn prominence since the 1980s, Sanborn is described by critic Scott Yannow as “the most influential saxophonist on pop, R&B, and crossover players of the past 20 years.” Sanborn is often identified with radio-friendly smooth jazz However, Sanborn has expressed a disinclination for both the genre itself and his association with it. He suffered from polio in his youth, and began playing the saxophone on a physician’s advice to strengthen his weakened chest muscles and improve his breathing. Alto saxophonist Hank Crawford, at the time a member of Ray Charles’ band, was an early and lasting influence on Sanborn.Sanborn performed with blues musicians Albert King and Little Milton at the age of 14, and continued playing blues when he joined Paul Butterfield’s band in 1967, after attending the University of Iowa.Although Sanborn is most associated with smooth jazz, he explored the edges of free jazz in his youth, studying with saxophonists Roscoe Mitchell and Julius Hemphill. In 1993, he revisited this genre when he appeared on Tim Berne’s Diminutive Mysteries, dedicated to Hemphill. Sanborn’s album Another Hand also featured leading avant garde musicians. In his three and-a-half decade career, Sanborn has released 24 albums, won six Grammy awards and has had eight gold albums and one platinum album.

Hilton Jefferson (sax, alto) - 1903-1968 :: Hilton Jefferson was an  alto saxophonist perhaps best known for leading the saxophone section from 1940-1949 in the Cab Calloway band. Jefferson is said to have been “a soft, delicate saxophone player, with an exquisite sensibility.”In 1929 Jefferson began his professional career with Claude Hopkins, and throughout the 1930s was busy working for the big bands of Chick Webb, Fletcher Henderson and McKinney’s Cotton Pickers. From 1952-1953 Jefferson performed with Duke Ellington, but ultimately became a bank guard to support himself with a steady income. In the 1950s he continued to perform, especially with Rex Stewart and some former members of the Fletcher Henderson band.

James Spaulding (sax, alto) - 1937 :: Happy Birthday wishes to sax player and flautist James Spaulding! He made his professional debut playing around Indianapolis with a rhythm “n” blues group.  In 1962, he arrived in New York City, and subsequently was associated with notables such as Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Max Roach and the Ellington Orchestra. In 1975, he received a bachelor’s degree in music from Livingston College in New Jersey where he taught flute as an adjunct professor. James’ daughters, Gina and Yvonne Spaulding were on the cover of his very first recording:  “The Legacy of Duke Ellington,” recorded in 1975.   Mr. Spaulding’s range of performance experiences extends nationally and internationally, from the concert stage to jazz clubs to colleges and street fairs. His original music, a suite entitled "A Song of Courage,"was performed by him with full orchestra and choir at the Voorhees Chapel at the Rutgers University campus from funds awarded him by the National Endowment for the Arts.He has performed as a sideman and been recorded on over 100 recordings.

Kevin Mahogany(vocal) - 1958 :: A very happy birthday to Kevin Mahogany. Kevin is known for his scat singing,and his singing style has been compared with jazz singers Joe Williams and Johnny Hartman. His first CD release as a solo artist was Double Rainbow in 1993. This was followed by the self-titled albumKevin Mahogany, which won him his first critical acclaim in the media, prompting Newsweekto call Mahogany “the standout jazz vocalist of his generation.” Mahogany appeared in Robert Altman’s 1996 film Kansas City, playing a character said to be based on Kansas City singer Big Joe Turner.Kevin Mahogany lists his vocal influences as Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Al Jarreau and Eddie Jefferson.

Vernell Fournier(drums) - 1928 - 2000 :: and, from 1975, known as Amir Rushdan, was a jazz drummer probably best known for his work with Ahmad Jamal from 1956 to 1962. Fournier was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He left college to join a big band led by King Kolax. After Kolax downsized to a quintet, Fournier moved to Chicago in 1948, where he played with such musicians as Buster Bennett, Paul Bascomb andTeddy Wilson. As house drummer at the Bee Hive club on Chicago’s South Side in 1953-55, he accompanied many visiting soloists, including Lester Young, Ben Webster, Sonny Stitt, J.J. Johnson, Earl Washington (musician) and Stan Getz. From 1953 to 1956, he also worked many recording sessions with Al Smith, Red Holloway, Lefty Bates, and others. He joined Ahmad Jamal’s trio in 1957, along with bass player Israel Crosby, and remained with the group until 1962, appearing on a series of recordings for the Chess label. The best known of these, At the Pershing: But Not for Me (1958), became one of the best selling jazz records of all time, remaining on the Billboard jazz charts for over two years. After leaving the Jamal trio, Fournier joined George Shearing for two years before rejoining Jamal briefly in 1965-66. He then took a long-running gig with a trio at a restaurant owned by Elijah Muhammad. He converted to Islam in 1975, and took the Muslim name of Amir Rushdan. He worked with Nancy Wilson, Clifford Jordan, Billy Eckstine and Joe Williams, John Lewis and Barry Harris. 

Jazziversaries 29th July

Don Redman (arranger) 1900-1964 ::Don Redman was an American jazz musician, arranger, bandleader and composer.

In 1923 Don Redman joined the Fletcher Henderson orchestra, mostly playing clarinet and saxophones. He soon began writing arrangements, and Redman did much to formulate the sound that was to become big band Swing. (It is significant to note that with a few exceptions, Henderson did not start arranging until the mid-1930s. Redman did the bulk of arrangements (through 1927) and after he left, Benny Carter took over arranging for the Henderson band.)

His importance in the formulation of arranged hot jazz can not be overstated; a chief trademark of Redman’s arrangements was that he harmonized melody lines and pseudo-solos within separate sections; for example, clarinet, sax, or brass trios. He played these sections off each other, having one section punctuate the figures of another, or moving the melody around different orchestral sections and soloists. His use of this technique was sophisticated, highly innovative, and formed the basis of much big band jazz writing in the following decades.

In 1927 Jean Goldkette convinced Redman to join the Detroit, Michigan-based band McKinney’s Cotton Pickers as their musical director and leader. He was responsible for their great success and arranged over half of their music (splitting the arranging duties with John Nesbitt through 1931). Redman was occasionally featured as their vocalist, displaying a charming, humorous vocal style.

Redman then formed his own band in 1931 (featuring, for a time, Fletcher Henderson’s younger brother Horace on piano), which got a residency at the famous Manhattan jazz club Connie’s Inn. Redman signed with Brunswick Records and also did a series of radio broadcasts. Redman and his orchestra also provided music for the animated short I Heard, part of the Betty Boop series produced by Fleischer Studios and distributed by Paramount. Redman composed original music for the short, which was released on September 1, 1933.

The Brunswick records Redman made between 1931-1934 were some of the most complex pre-swing hot jazz arrangements of popular tunes. Redman’s band didn’t rely on just a driving rhythm or great soloists, but it had an overall level of arranging sophistication that was unlike anyone else of the period.

Notable musicians in Redman’s band included Sidney De Paris, trumpet, Edward Inge, clarinet, and popular singer Harlan Lattimore, who was known as “The Colored Bing Crosby”. On the side Redman also did arrangements for other band leaders and musicians, including Paul Whiteman, Isham Jones, and Bing Crosby.

In 1933, his band made a Vitaphone short film for Warner Bros. which is available as of 2006 on the DVD of the Busby Berkeley feature film Dames.

Redman recorded for Brunswick through 1934. He then did a number of sides for ARC in 1936 (issued on their Vocalion, Perfect, Melotone, etc.) and in 1937, he pioneered a series of swing re-arrangements of old classic pop tunes for the Variety label. His use of a swinging vocal group (called “The Swing Choir”) was very modern and even today, quite usual, with Redman’s sophisticated counterpoint melodies. He signed with Bluebird in 1938 and recorded with them until 1940, when he disbanded.

Joe Beck (guitar) 1945 :: Joe Beck was an American guitarist who had been notable in jazz for more than 30 years.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Beck also briefly flirted with rock music in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1967 he recorded with Miles Davis. Beck played in a variety of jazz styles, including jazz fusion, post bop, mainstream jazz and soul jazz.

Beck began as a member of the Gil Evans orchestra.

In 1970 he released Rock Encounter on Polydor Records. In 1975 he released an eponymous album for Kudu Records. With Esther Phillips, he released an album, What a Diff’rence a Day Makes in 1975 on Kudu Records.

In the 1980s Beck recorded several CDs for the DMP Digital Music Products label, including co-billed work with the noted flautist Ali Ryerson.

In 2000, he released a collaboration with Jimmy Bruno, Polarity, and “Coincidence”, in 2008 with John Abercrombie.

He played and recorded with numerous artists, including: Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, John Berberian, Gil Evans, Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich, Paul Desmond, Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Stan Getz, Kenny Rankin, Ali Ryerson, Larry Coryell, Gene Ammons, Sergio Mendez, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Dom Um Romão, Sabicas, Jimmy Bruno, Laura Nyro, Houston Person, Roger Kellaway, Richie Havens, Paul Simon, Joe Farrell, James Brown, David Sanborn and Gato Barbieri.