Blew notes
Jazziverseries October 1st

Albert Collins (guitar, electric) 1932-1993  :: Albert Collins was an American electric blues guitarist and singer with a distinctive guitar style. Collins was noted for his powerful playing and his use of altered tunings and capo. His long association with the Fender Telecaster led to the title “The Master of the Telecaster”

He was introduced to the guitar at an early age through his cousin Lightnin’ Hopkins, also a Leona resident, who frequently played at family associations (reunions). In 1938 his family relocated to Marquez, Texas, eventually settling in Houston, Texas, in 1941 where he later attended Jack Yates High School. Collins initially took piano lessons when he was young but during periods when his piano tutor was unavailable his cousin Willow Young would loan him his guitar and taught Collins the altered tuning that he used throughout his career. At the age of twelve, he made the decision to concentrate on learning the guitar after hearing “Boogie Chillen’” by John Lee Hooker. At eighteen Collins started his own group called the Rhythm Rockers in which he honed his craft while remaining in employment including four years working on a ranch in Normangee, Texas, followed by twelve years of driving a truck for various companies. Collins initially played an Epiphone guitar during his first two years with the Rhythm Rockers but in 1952 after seeing Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown playing a Fender Esquire he decided to purchase a Fender. Collins had wanted to buy a Telecaster but due to their cost he opted instead to buy an Esquire which he then took to the Parker Music Company in Houston to have it fitted with a genuine Telecaster neck; this would remain his main guitar up until his move to California and the guitar that he used on his earliest recordings including his signature song “Frosty”. In 1954 Collins, then aged 22 and still without a record release, was joined in the Rhythm Rockers by the 17 year old Johnny Copeland who had just left the Dukes of Rhythm (a band he had started with Houston blues musician Joe “Guitar” Hughes).

Collins started to play regularly in Houston most notably at Shady’s Playhouse where James “Widemouth” Brown (brother of Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown) and other well-known Houston blues musicians would meet for the Blue Monday jams. By the mid 1950s he had established his reputation as a local guitarist of note and had started to appear regularly at a Fifth Ward club called Walter’s Lounge with the group Big Tiny and the Thunderbirds. The saxophonist and music teacher Henry Hayes had heard about Collins from Joe “Guitar” Hughes. After seeing him perform live Hayes encouraged Collins to record a single for Kangaroo Records; a label he had started with his friend M. L. Young. Collins recorded his debut single “The Freeze” b/w “Collins Shuffle” for Kangaroo Records at Gold Star Studios, Houston, in the spring of 1958 with Henry Hayes on saxophone. Texas blues bands of this period incorporated a horn section and Collins later credited Henry Hayes with teaching him how to arrange for horns. In 1964 he recorded “Frosty” at Gulf Coast Recording Studio, Beaumont, Texas, for Hall Records owned by Bill Hall, who had signed Collins on the recommendation of Cowboy Jack Clement; a songwriter and producer who had engineered sessions for Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash at Sun Records. His debut album The Cool Sounds Of Albert Collins was released in 1965 on the TCF label and consisted of previously released instrumentals including “Thaw Out” and “Don’t Lose Your Cool”.

Albert Collins was an inspiration to a generation of Texas guitar players including Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughn. He was amongst a small group of Texas blues players, along with Johnny “Guitar” Watson and Johnny Copeland, who together shaped the legacy of T-Bone Walker into a modern blues template that was to have a major influence on many later players. From an interview with Robert Cray in Guitar World magazine:

…it was seeing Albert Collins at a rock festival in 1969 that really turned his head around. Two years later, Collins played at Cray’s high school graduation party in Tacoma, Washington, and the ice-pick sound really sunk in deep. “That was it,” Cray recalls. “That changed my whole life around. From that moment I started seriously studying the blues.”

Curtis Lundy(bass) 1955 :: Happy birthday to Curtis Lundy. Curtis is an American double bass player, composer, producer, choir director and arranger. Lundy is best known for his work as part of jazz vocalist Betty Carter’s band, through whose ranks several eventually renowned musicians have passed.

Lundy has also played on other jazz artists’ recordings, including albums by John Hicks, Bobby Watson, Steve Nelson Quintet and Johnny Griffin. Inn the late 1980s, he briefly stepped out of the background and issued Just Be Yourself (1988). A decade later, with Justin Time Records, he released Against All Odds (1999) and Purpose (2002). Both albums feature pianists John Hicks and Anthony Wonsey.

Curtis Lundy’s arrangement of “Walk With Me”, recorded by the ARC Gospel Choir was sampled by rapper Kanye West and became the Grammy Award Winning, ground breaking hit “Jesus Walks”.

Curtis Lundy is the brother of jazz vocalist Carmen Lundy.

Dave Holland(bass) 1946 :: Many happy returns to bassist Dave Holland. Dave Holland is an English jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader who has been performing and recording for five decades. He has lived in the United States for 40 years.

His work ranges from pieces for solo performance to big band. Holland runs his own independent record label, Dare2, which he launched in 2005. He has explained his musical philosophy by quoting fellow jazz artist Sam Rivers. “Sam said, ‘Don’t leave anything out — play all of it,’ ”

Holland has played with some of the greatest names in jazz, and has participated in several classic recording sessions.

At 20, Holland was keeping a busy schedule in school, studios and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London’s premier jazz club, where he often played in bands that supported such touring American jazz saxophonists as Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Joe Henderson. He also linked up with other British jazz musicians, including guitarist John McLaughlin, saxophonist Evan Parker, reedsman John Surman, South Africa-born London-based pianist Chris McGregor, and drummer John Stevens, and performed on the Spontaneous Music Ensemble’s classic 1968 album Karyobin. He also began a working relationship with Canada-born, England-based trumpeter Kenny Wheeler.

In 1968, Miles Davis and Philly Joe Jones heard him at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, playing in a combo that opened for the Bill Evans Trio. Jones told Holland that Davis wanted him to join his band (replacing Ron Carter). Davis left the UK before Holland could contact him directly, and two weeks later Holland was given three days’ notice to fly to New York for an engagement at Count Basie’s nightclub. He arrived the night before, staying with Jack DeJohnette, a previous acquaintance. The following day Herbie Hancock took him to the club, and his two years with Davis began. This was also Hancock’s last gig as Davis’s pianist, as he left afterwards for a honeymoon in Brazil and was replaced by Chick Corea when he couldn’t return for an engagement due to illness. Holland’s first recordings with Davis were in September 1968, and he appears on half of the album Filles de Kilimanjaro (with Davis, Corea, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams).

Holland was a member of Davis’s rhythm section through the summer of 1970; he appears on the albums In a Silent Way and Bitches’ Brew. All three of his studio recordings with Davis were important in the evolution of jazz fusion.In the first year of his tenure with Davis, Holland played primarily upright bass. By the end of 1969, he played electric bass guitar (often treated with wah-wah pedal and other electronic effects) with greater frequency as Davis’s music became increasingly electronic, amp-based and funky.

Holland was also a member of Davis’s working group during this time, unlike many of the musicians who appeared only on the trumpeter’s studio recordings. The so-called “lost quintet” of Davis, Shorter, Corea, Holland and Jack DeJohnette was active in 1969 but never made any studio recordings as a quintet

After leaving Davis’s group, Holland briefly joined the avant-garde jazz group Circle with Chick Corea, Barry Altschul and Anthony Braxton. This started a 34-year association with the ECM record label. After recording a few albums, Circle disbanded when Corea departed. 1972 saw the recording of Conference of the Birds, with Rivers, Altschul and Braxton – Holland’s first recording as a leader, and the beginning of a long musical relationship with Rivers. The title of the album is taken from that of a 4,500 line epic poem by Persian Sufist writer, Farid al-Din Attar.

Holland formed his first working quintet in 1983, and over the next four years released Jumpin’ In, Seeds of Time, and Razor’s Edge, featuring alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, trumpeter Wheeler and trombonist Julian Priester. Subsequently, he formed the Dave Holland Trio (with Coleman and DeJohnette) for the 1988 album Triplicate, and teamed with Coleman, electric guitarist Kevin Eubanks and drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith for Extensions. He also recorded Life Cycle, an album of compositions played on solo cello.

During the ‘90s, he renewed an affiliation, begun in the 1970s, with Joe Henderson, joining the tenor saxophonist on So Near (So Far), a tribute to Miles Davis, Porgy & Bess, and Joe Henderson Big Band. Holland also reunited with vocalist Betty Carter, touring and recording the live album Feed the Fire (1993). Fellow Davis alumnus Herbie Hancock invited Holland to tour with him in 1992, subsequently recording The New Standard. Holland joined Hancock’s band again in 1996. More recently, he was part of the sessions for River: The Joni Letters, winner of the 2008 Grammy for Album of the Year.

In 2009, Holland was a co-founder of an all-star group called The Overtone Quartet. The group consisted of Holland on bass, Chris Potter on tenor saxophone, Jason Moran on piano, and Eric Harland on drums. The group toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.

Donny Hathaway(vocalist) 1945 - 1979 :: Donny Edward Hathaway was an American jazz, blues, soul, and gospel vocalist and musician. Hathaway contracted with Atlantic Records in 1969 and with his first single for the Atco label, “The Ghetto, Part I” in early 1970, Rolling Stone magazine “marked him as a major new force in soul music.”

His collaborations with Roberta Flack scored high on the charts and won him the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for the duet, “Where Is the Love” in 1973.

Donny Hathaway worked as songwriter, session musician and producer. Working first at Chicago’s Twinight Records, he later did the arrangements for hits by The Unifics (“Court of Love” and “The Beginning Of My End”) and took part in projects by The Staple Singers, Jerry Butler, Aretha Franklin, The Impressions and Curtis Mayfield. After becoming a “house producer” for Mayfield’s label, Curtom Records, he started recording there as a member of The Mayfield Singers. He recorded his first single under his own name in 1969, a duet with singer June Conquest called “I Thank You Baby”. They also recorded the duet “Just Another Reason”, released as the b-side. Former Cleveland Browns president Bill Futterer, who as a college student promoted Curtom in the southeast in 1968 and 1969, was befriended by Hathaway and has cited Hathaway’s influence on his later projects.

That year, Hathaway signed to Atco Records after being spotted for the label by producer/musician King Curtis at a trade convention. He released his first single of note, “The Ghetto, Pt. 1”, which he co-wrote with former Howard roommate Leroy Hutson, who became a performer, writer and producer with Curtom. The track appeared the following year on his critically acclaimed debut LP, Everything Is Everything, which he co-produced with Ric Powell while also arranging all the cuts.

His second LP, Donny Hathaway, consisted mostly of covers of contemporary pop, soul, and gospel songs. His third album Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway was an album of duets with former Howard University classmate and label mate Roberta Flack that established him, especially on the pop charts. The album was both a critical and commercial success, including the Ralph MacDonald-penned track “Where Is The Love”, which proved to be not only an R&B success, but also scored Top Five on the pop Hot 100. The album also included a number of other covers, including versions of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend”, “Baby I Love You”, originally a hit for Aretha Franklin, and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”.

Perhaps Hathaway’s most influential recording is his 1972 album, Live, which has been termed “one of the best live albums ever recorded” by Daryl Easlea of the BBC. The album can also be found on the British online music and culture magazine The Quietus’ list of “40 Favourite Live Albums”. It was recorded at two concerts: side one at The Troubadour in Hollywood, and side two at the The Bitter End in Greenwich Village, Manhattan.

Donny Hathaway is also known as the co-composer and performer of the Christmas standard, “This Christmas”. The song, released in 1970, has become a holiday staple and is often used in movies, television and advertising.

His final studio album, Extension of a Man came out in 1973 with two tracks, “Love Love Love” and “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” reaching both the pop and R&B charts. However, it was probably best noted for his classic ballad, “Someday We’ll All Be Free” and a six-minute symphonic-styled instrumental piece called “I Love The Lord, He Heard My Cry”. He told UK music journalist David Nathan in 1973, “I always liked pretty music and I’ve always wanted to write it.” Added the writer, “He declined to give one particular influence or inspiration but said that Ravel, Debussy and Stravinsky were amongst whom he studied.”

Mark Helias(bass, acoustic) 1950 :: Birthday greetings to Mark Helias. Mark is an American jazz double bass player and composer born in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

He did not begin playing the double bass until the age of 20, graduating from Yale University’s School of Music with a Masters degree in 1976. He has also studied at Rutgers University. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, The New School, and SIM (School for Improvised Music).

Helias has performed with a wide variety of musicians, first and foremost with trombonist Ray Anderson, with whom he led the ironic 1980s avant-funk band Slickaphonics, and a trio with Gerry Hemingway on drums, formed in the late 1970s, later named BassDrumBone, and continuing to play together. Besides Helias performed with the previous members of Ornette Colemans original band, Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, and Ed Blackwell, just as with musicians affiliated with the AACM, such as Anthony Braxton, Anthony Davis, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Julius Hemphill. Furthermore he played with Cecil Taylor, Marilyn Crispell, Simon Nabatov, and reed players i cludings Oliver Lake, Carlos Ward, Arthur Blythe, Don Byron, and Marty Ehrlich, whereas less usual were performances with Abbey Lincoln, Mose Allison, and J.B. Horns.

Since 1984 Mark Helias has released six recordings under his own name and further six albums leading the archetypal improvising trio Open Loose since 1996. The group comprises Helias on bass, first Ellery Eskelin, then Tony Malaby on tenor saxophone and Tom Rainey on drums.


Wendell Harrison(sax, tenor) 1942 :: Bornday greetings to Wendell Harrison. Wendell is an American jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist.

Harrison began playing clarinet at age seven, and switched to tenor saxophone in high school. He studied under Barry Harris before moving to New York City in 1960. There he played with Jack McDuff, Elvin Jones, Sonny Stitt, Grant Green, Hank Crawford, and Sun Ra in the 1960s. In 1970 he moved back to Detroit and has remained a mainstay of the music scene there for over forty years.

In addition to albums as a leader, Harrison has worked as a session musician, and has a long list of famous artists with whom he has recorded. Early collaborations included recordings and concerts with premier jazz, R&B, soul, and Motown musicians, including Aretha Franklin, Sun Ra, and Marvin Gaye.

Harrison co-founded the Tribe record label and collective with Phil Ranelin in the 1970s. In the 1980s, he initiated the construction of a non profit “jazz performance and education organization”; Rebirth Inc. Two related record labels; Rebirth Records, and Wen-Ha Records are the product of Rebirth, Inc. He has worked as an educator, and played with Leon Thomas, Marcus Belgrave, Dennis Rowland, Kirk Lightsey, Roy Brooks, Charles Tolliver, and James Carter, among many other famous jazz musicians. Also, Harrison has collaborated with performers outside the jazz realm, such as techno artist Carl Craig, rapper Proof, R&B artist Amp Fiddler, and world music performer Sean Blackman.

;

Jazziversaries September 30th

Antonio Hart (saxophone) 1968 :: Bornday greetings to Antonio Hart.Antonio is a jazz alto saxophonist. He attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, studied with Andy McGhee at Berklee College of Music, and has a master’s degree from Queens College, City University of New York. His initial training was classical, but he switched to jazz in college.He gained recognition for his work with Roy Hargrove.

Hart is currently serving as a full-time professor of jazz studies in Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College City University of New York.

Buddy Rich (drums) 1917-1987  :: Bernard “Buddy” Rich  was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. Rich was billed as “the world’s greatest drummer” and was known for his virtuoso technique, power, groove, and speed.

He began playing drums in vaudeville when he was 18 months old, billed as “Traps the Drum Wonder.” At the peak of Rich’s childhood career, he was reportedly the second-highest paid child entertainer in the world (after Jackie Coogan). At 11 he was performing as a bandleader. He received no formal drum instruction, and went so far as to claim that instruction would only degrade his musical talent. He also never admitted to practicing, claiming to play the drums only during performances and was not known to read music. He expressed great admiration for, and was influenced by, the playing of Chick Webb, Gene Krupa, Dave Tough, and Jo Jones, among others.

At 21, Rich participated in his first major recording with the Vic Schoen Orchestra (the band that backed the Andrews Sisters). In 1938, he was also hired to play in Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra where he met and performed with Frank Sinatra. In 1942, Rich left the Dorsey band to join the United States Marine Corps. He rejoined the Dorsey group after leaving the Marines two years later. In 1946, Rich formed his own band with financial support from Sinatra, and continued to lead different groups on and off until the early fifties.

In the early fifties Rich played with Dorsey and began to perform with trumpeter Harry James, an association which lasted until 1966. In 1966, Rich left James to develop a new big band. For most of the period from 1966 until his death, he led successful big bands in an era when the popularity of big bands had waned from their 1930s and 1940s peak. In this later period, Rich continued to play clubs and stated in multiple interviews that the great majority of his big band’s performances were at high schools, colleges and universities, with club performances done to a much lesser degree. Rich also served as the session drummer for many recordings, where his playing was often much more understated than in his own big-band performances. Especially notable were Rich’s sessions for the late-career comeback recordings of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, on which he worked with pianist Oscar Peterson and his famous trio featuring bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis.

Johnny Mathis (vocalist) 1935 :: Many happy returns to John Royce “Johnny” Mathis. Johnny Mathis is an American singer of popular music. Starting his career with singles of standard music, he became highly popular as an album artist, with several dozen of his albums achieving gold or platinum status, and 73 making the Billboard charts.”Johnny Mathis has sold over 350 Million records worldwide”.

Mathis was spotted at a jam session by Helen Noga, the former head cocktail waitress and co-owner of the Black Hawk Club in San Francisco and The DownBeat Club along with her husband John, and Guido Caccienti. She became his musical manager. The clubs attracted the world’s finest jazz musicians, including Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, and Billie Holiday. John Noga and Guido Caccienti had opened the Black Hawk in the fall of 1949. In September 1955, after Noga had found Mathis a job singing weekends at Ann Dee’s 440 Club, she contacted the jazz producer George Avakian, whom she had found out was on vacation near San Francisco. Avakian came to listen to Mathis sing, and after doing so, he sent a telegram to Columbia Records stating: Have found phenomenal 19-year-old boy who could go all the way. Send blank contracts.

Mathis’s first record album Johnny Mathis: A New Sound In Popular Song was a slow-selling jazz album, but Mathis stayed in New York City to sing in nightclubs. His second album was produced by the Columbia Records vice-president and record producer Mitch Miller, who helped to define the Mathis sound. Miller preferred that Mathis sing soft, romantic ballads, pairing him up with the conductor and music arranger Ray Conniff, and later, Ray Ellis, Glenn Osser, and Robert Mersey. In late 1956, Mathis recorded two of his most popular songs: Wonderful! Wonderful! and It’s Not For Me To Say.

During the summer of 1958, Mathis left San Francisco with the Nogas, who sold their interest in the Black Hawk club that year to Max Weiss, the secretary-treasurer of San Francisco’s avant-garde Fantasy Records, and he moved to Beverly Hills, California where the Nogas bought a house where Mathis resided with them, their daughter Beverly, and their granddaughter. This house was later sold to the singer Dionne Warwick during the summer of 1973 for about $360,000.

Helen Noga, looking to expand her operations into production, financing, and publishing, also founded and funded Philles Records in 1961 with Phil Spector, with Lester Sills handling the business side of sales and promotion, which launched the Crystals in September 1961. Using money from Liberty Records, Noga was bought out by Spector in 1962 for around $60,000. Mathis had two of his biggest hits in the years 1962 and 1963, with “Gina” (#6) and “What Will Mary Say” (#9). In October 1964, Mathis sued Noga to void the management arrangement, which Noga fought with a counterclaim in December 1964. Mathis purchased a mansion in the Hollywood Hills, that was originally built by billionaire Howard Hughes in 1946, and later owned by hotel owner Hyatt R. Von Dehn and Oilman Robert Calhoun, and where he still maintains a residence.

After splitting from Mrs. Noga, Mathis established Jon Mat Records, Inc., incorporated in California May 11, 1967, to produce his recordings (previously, he created Global Records, Inc. to produce his Mercury albums), and Rojon Productions, Inc., incorporated in California September 30, 1964, to handle all of his concert, theater, showroom, and television appearances, and all promotional and charitable activities. His new manager and business partner was Ray Haughn, who helped guide his career until his death in September 1984. Since that time, Mathis has taken sole responsibility for his career, operating from office suites at 1612 W Olive Avenue in Burbank, California. With the exception of a four-year break with Mercury Records in the mid-1960s, he has been with Columbia Records throughout his recording career.

In 1958, Johnny’s Greatest Hits was released and was the first ever Greatest Hits album in the music industry. It began the Greatest Hits tradition copied by every record company. His LP album Johnny’s Greatest Hits in 1958 spent an unprecedented 491 consecutive weeks through 1967 (nine and a half years) on the Billboard top 100 album charts, earning him a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records. He has had five of his albums on the Billboard charts simultaneously, an achievement equaled by only two other singers, Frank Sinatra, and Barry Manilow. He has released 200 singles and had 71 songs charted around the world. Recordings Historian Paul Gambaccini confims Mathis recordings have sold well over 350 million worldwide and he is the third most successful recording artist in the USA. This makes Johnny Mathis the third biggest selling recording artist of the 20th century, only after Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

Oscar Pettiford(bass) 1922 -1960 :: Oscar Pettiford was an American jazz double bassist, cellist and composer. He was one of the earliest musicians to work in the bebop idiom.

He grew up playing in the family band in which he sang and danced before switching to piano at the age of 12, then to double bass when he was 14. He is quoted as say he did not like the way people were playing the bass so he developed his own way of playing it. Despite being admired by the likes of Milt Hinton at the age of 14, he gave up in 1941 as he did not believe he could make a living. Five months later, he once again met Hinton, who persuaded him to return to music.

In 1942 he joined the Charlie Barnet band and in 1943 gained wider public attention after recording with Coleman Hawkins on his “The Man I Love”. Pettiford also recorded with Earl Hines and Ben Webster around this time. He and Dizzy Gillespie led a bop group in 1943. In 1945 Pettiford went with Hawkins to California, where he appeared in The Crimson Canary, a mystery movie known for its jazz soundtrack, which also featured Josh White. He then worked with Duke Ellington from 1945 to 1948 and for Woody Herman in 1949 before working mainly as a leader in the 1950s.

As a leader he inadvertently discovered Cannonball Adderley. After one of his musicians had tricked him into letting Adderley, an unknown music teacher, onto the stand, he had Adderley solo on a demanding piece, on which Adderley performed impressively.

Pettiford is considered the pioneer of the cello as a solo instrument in jazz music. He first played the cello as a practical joke on his band leader (Woody Herman) when he walked off stage during his solo spot and came back, unexpectedly with a cello and played on that. In 1949, after suffering a broken arm, Pettiford found it impossible to play his bass, so he experimented with a cello a friend had lent him. Tuning it in fourths, like a double bass, but one octave higher, Pettiford found it possible to perform during his rehabilitation (during which time his arm was in a sling) and made his first recordings with the instrument in 1950. The cello thus became his secondary instrument, and he continued to perform and record with it throughout the remainder of his career.

Patrice Rushen(keyboard) 1954 :: Bornday greetings to Patrice Rushen. Patrice Louise Rushen  is an American composer, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, music director and vocalist. Her 1982 single, “Forget Me Nots”, received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Rushen had great success on the R&B and dance charts, but “Forget Me Nots” was the only one to crack the Top 40 pop charts.

Admired by many for her groundbreaking achievements, Rushen has amassed an impressive list of “firsts”:

She was the first woman to serve as Musical Director for the 46th, 47th & 48th Annual Grammy Awards, the first woman in 43 years to serve as Head Composer/Musical Director for television’s highest honor, the Emmy Awards and the first woman Musical Director of the NAACP Image Awards, an honor she held for 12 consecutive years. 

Rushen has also been the only woman Musical Director/Composer for the Peoples Choice Awards and HBO’s Comic Relief.  She was the only woman Musical Director/Conductor/Arranger for a late-night television talk show.  The show was The Midnight Hour, which aired on CBS. 

In addition, Rushen was named the Musical Director/Composer for Newsweek’s first American Achievement Awards, broadcast from the Kennedy Center and she served as the Musical Director for Janet Jackson’s World Tour, “janet.”  As the Musical Director for the award shows, she composed and performed special musical tributes to Michael Landon, Ted Turner, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, The Temptations, James Garner and Leonard Bernstein to name a few.  Rushen was named Composer in Residence during the August 2004 sessions at the Henry Mancini Institute.

Z.Z. Hill(vocalist) 1935 -1984 :: Arzell “Z. Z.” Hill  was an American blues singer, in the soul blues tradition, known for his 1970s and 1980s recordings for Malaco. His 1982 album, Down Home, stayed on the Billboard soul album chart for nearly two years. The track “Down Home Blues” has been called the best-known blues song of the 1980s. This track plus the songs “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In” and “Open House” have become R&B/Southern soul standards.

Hill began his singing career in the late 1950s as part of a gospel group called The Spiritual Five, touring Texas. Around 1960, he started collecting records by B. B. King, Freddie King, Sam Cooke, Bobby “Blue” Bland and Wilson Pickett and began singing and writing songs influenced by these styles.

In 1964, Hill moved to California and recorded “You Were Wrong” on his brother’s M.H. record label. The single charted and Hill released several more singles for Kent, but none of them charted. He moved labels several times, including signing with Phil Walden’s Macon, Georgia based Capricorn label, but Hill refused to record for Walden, and his recording contract was bought by Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams’ Mankind label, where Hill finally fulfilled his end of the deal.

In 1971, Williams recorded Hill in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and they had hits including “Faithful & True” (Cash Box Top 100) and “Chokin’ Kind” (Cash Box R&B #50). With his brother’s help, Hill then signed to United Artists, where he released several successful singles. During the United Artist period in the mid 1970s, he was aided by arrangements and compositions by established R&B talents like Lamont Dozier and Allen Toussaint.

One of Hill’s biggest selling hits came while signed to Columbia, “Love Is So Good When You’re Stealing It,” which spent 18 weeks on the Billboard R&B chart in the summer of 1977. Signed to Malaco Records in 1979, Hill’s next hit single was “I’m Gonna Stop You From Givin’ Me The Blues,” in 1980. Hill’s recording of songwriter George Jackson’s “Cheatin’ In The Next Room,” was released in early 1982 and broke into the top 20 nationally, spending a total of 20 weeks on the charts. He had a number of best-selling albums on Malaco, the biggest one being Down Home Blues, which sold in excess of one million copies. Other Malaco sides that received airplay in the early 1980s were “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In”, “Bump And Grind”, “Shade Tree Mechanic”, and “Get You Some Business”. George Jackson also wrote Hill’s signature tune, “Down Home Blues”, which label-mate Denise LaSalle later recorded.

Jazziversaries September 29th

David Kikoski b. 1961 piano :: Birthday greetings to David Kikoski. David is an American jazz-pianist and keyboardist.

Kikoski learned piano from his father and played with him in bars as a teenager. He studied at the Berklee College of Music in the early 1980s, then moved to New York City in 1985, touring and recording subsequently with Roy Haynes (from 1986), Randy Brecker (1986-88), Bob Berg (1988), and Billy Hart (1989). He has also played or recorded with George Garzone, Barry Finnerty, Red Rodney, Craig Handy, Ralph Moore, Didier Lockwood, Joe Locke, Olivier Ker Ourio and Mingus Big Band. Kikoski won a 2011 Grammy Award with the Mingus Big Band for the Best Live Jazz Ensemble Album, “Live at the Jazz Standard”. He also had a Grammy nomination with Roy Haynes for the “Birds of a Feather” CD.

Jean-Luc Ponty(violin) 1942 :: Bon anniversaire Jean-Luc. Jean-Luc is a French virtuoso violinist and jazz composer.

At sixteen, he was admitted to the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, graduating two years later with the institution’s highest award, Premier Prix. In turn, he was immediately hired by one of the major symphony orchestras, Concerts Lamoureux, where he played for three years.

While still a member of the orchestra in Paris, Ponty picked up a side gig playing clarinet (which his father had taught him) for a college jazz band that regularly performed at local parties. It proved a life-changing jumping-off point. A growing interest in the jazz sounds of Miles Davis and John Coltrane compelled him to take up the tenor saxophone. One night after an orchestra concert, still wearing his formal tuxedo, Ponty found himself at a local club with only his violin. Within four years, he was widely accepted as the leading figure in jazz fiddle.

John Lewis of The Modern Jazz Quartet invited Ponty to perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1967, Jean-Luc’s first-ever American appearance garnered thunderous applause and led to a U.S. recording contract with the World Pacific label and the albums Electric Connection with the Gerald Wilson Big Band and Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio.

In 1969 Frank Zappa composed the music for Jean-Luc’s solo album King Kong (World Pacific). In 1972 Elton John invited Ponty to contribute to his Honky Chateau album. Within a year — at the urging of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention who wanted him to join their tour — Ponty emigrated with his wife and two young daughters to America and made his home in Los Angeles. He continued to work on a variety of projects — including a pair of John McLaughlin Mahavishnu Orchestra albums and tours (Apocalypse and Visions of the Emerald Beyond) until 1975, when he signed on as a solo artist with Atlantic Records.

For the next decade Jean-Luc toured the world repeatedly and recorded 12 consecutive albums which all reached the top 5 on the Billboard jazz charts and sold millions of copies. Early Atlantic recordings, such as 1976’s Aurora and Imaginary Voyage, firmly established him as a figurehead in America’s growing jazz-rock movement. He went on to crack the top 40 in 1977 with the Enigmatic Ocean album and again in 1978 with Cosmic Messenger. In 1984 a video featuring time-lapse images was produced by Louis Schwarzberg for the song Individual Choice. Along with Herbie Hancock Ponty became one of the first jazz musicians to have a music video.

In 1983, after his records began to sound increasingly formulaic, Ponty switched gears and recharged his creative batteries on the synthesizer. Starting with the Individual Choice album, he began constructing attractive revolving patterns of electronic sounds with the help of sequencers, producing backdrops for his violin that were elegantly indebted to Europop influences. He took this direction with him when he signed with Columbia in 1987, but on 1991’s Tchokola album Ponty was on the move again, throwing out the sequencers and recording with West African musicians who provided him with new ostinato patterns to play with. Ponty opened the 21st century with Life Enigma in 2001, following it with Live at Semper Opera that same year. A live Warsaw date from 1999 was released in 2004 as Jean-Luc Ponty in Concert. The Acatama Experience appeared in 2007.

Jerry Lee Lewis(piano) 1935 :: Many happy returns to Jerry Lee Lewis! Jerry is an American rock and roll and country music  s an American rock and roll and country music singer-songwriter and pianist. He is known by the nickname “The Killer” and is often viewed as “rock & roll’s first great wild man”.

An early pioneer of rock and roll music, in 1956 Lewis made his first recordings at Sun Records. “Crazy Arms” sold 300,000 copies in the South, but it was his 1957 hit “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” that shot Lewis to fame worldwide. Lewis followed this when he recorded songs such as “Great Balls of Fire”, “Breathless” and “High School Confidential”. However, Lewis’s rock and roll career faltered in the wake of his marriage to his young cousin.

He had little success in the charts following the scandal and his popularity quickly faded. His live performance fees plummeted from $10,000 per night to $250. In the meantime he was determined to gain back some of his popularity. During the early 1960s he didn’t have much chart success with few exceptions such as “What’d I Say”. His live performances at this time were increasingly wild and energetic. His album Live at the Star Club, Hamburg from 1964 is often regarded by many music journalists and fans as one of the wildest and greatest rock and roll concert albums ever. After recording songs such as “I’m on Fire” for several years with little success, in 1968 Lewis made a transition into country music and had hits with songs such as “Another Place, Another Time”. This reignited his career and throughout the late 1960s and 1970s he regularly topped the country-western charts. His No. 1 country hits included “To Make Love Sweeter For You”, “There Must Be More to Love Than This”, “Would You Take Another Chance on Me” and “Me And Bobby McGee”.

Lewis’s successes continued throughout the decade and he embraced his rock and roll past with songs such as a cover of the Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace” and “Rockin’ My Life Away”. In the 21st century Lewis continues to tour to audiences around the world and still releases new albums. One such album, titled Last Man Standing, is his best selling to date at over a million copies sold worldwide. This was followed by Mean Old Man, which has received some of the best sales of Lewis’s career.

Lewis has had a dozen gold records in both rock and country, won several Grammy awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. Lewis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and his pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 1989, his life was chronicled in the movie Great Balls of Fire, starring Dennis Quaid. In 2003, Rolling Stone listed his box set All Killer, No Filler: The Anthology number 242 on their list of “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. In 2004, they ranked him number 24 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Lewis is the last surviving member of Sun Records’ Million Dollar Quartet and the Class of ‘55 album, which also included Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley.

Roy Campbell(trumpet) 1952-2014 :: Roy Sinclair Campbell, Jr.  was an American trumpeter frequently linked to free jazz, although he also performed rhythm and blues, bebop and funk at times during his career.

At the age of fifteen he began learning to play trumpet and soon studied at the Jazz Mobile program along with Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan and Joe Newman. Throughout the 1960s, still unacquainted with the avant-garde movement, Campbell performed in the big bands of the Manhattan Community College. From the 1970s to the present he has performed primarily within the context of free jazz, spending some of this period studying with Yusef Lateef.

In the early 1990s Campbell moved to the Netherlands and performed regularly with Klaas Hekman and Don Cherry. In addition to leading his own groups, he has performed with Yo La Tengo, William Parker, Peter Brotzmann, Matthew Shipp, and other improvisors. Upon returning to the United States he began leading his group Other Dimensions In Music and also formed the Pyramid Trio—a trio formed with William Parker that is unique for not employing the traditional use of a piano. He performed regularly as part of the Festival of New Trumpet Music, which is held annually in New York City.

Roy Campbell, Jr.’s composing, arranging, and playing embraced a wide range of roots and styles, including jazz, funk, rock, rhythm & blues, hip-hop, rap, classical, reggae, and more. Whether performing, writing, arranging, or producing, Roy Campbell’s abilities burst forth in an electrifying stream of talent and originality. His virtuoso instrumental performances have been praised by fans, critics, and fellow musicians alike. All of the bands he led have inspired and uplifted audiences to spiritual heights, and each band is unique and highly acclaimed by all.

Robert Innapollo, in a review from “Cadence” Magazine (January, ‘9O), stated, “Campbell is a monster trumpeter. He’s the latest in a long line that has extended from Navarro through Brownie through Booker Little and beyond.” Program notes from the 1998 Fire in the Valley Festival praise his “approach and technique, taking the influences of both Lee Morgan and Booker Little and hauling them into the future.”

Joe ‘Guitar’ Hughes(guitar) 1937-2003 :: Joe ‘Guitar’ Hughes was an American blues musician, from Houston, Texas, United States. Hughes was an inventive and versatile performer who was equally adept at playing a slow blues or Texas shuffle as well as R&B hits.

Hughes was inspired by local musicians such as Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Johnny “Guitar” Watson - "anyone who had fire in their playing and a good shuffle". His first band was the Dukes Of Rhythm in the 1950s, which also included his friend, Johnny Copeland.

In the 1960s he worked for Little Richard’s old group the Upsetters, and next as a member of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s band in the 1960s. Like Johnny Copeland he could not see much of a future for the blues in Houston, but unlike him Hughes stayed there.

A long dry spell followed, but Hughes finally came back to the spotlight with a set for Black Top Records in 1989 with If You Want to See These Blues (by that time, he had inserted a “Guitar” as his middle name, much like his old pal Watson).

From the early 1980s he toured Europe and recorded for Double Trouble Records of Holland. They issued Texas Guitar Master in 1986, which included a live “Battle of the Guitars” with fellow Texan bluesman Pete Mayes, that testified to the abiding influence on both men by T-Bone Walker.

martelchapman:

Transfiguration - Portrait of John Coltrane

martelchapman:

Transfiguration - Portrait of John Coltrane

Jazziversaries September 28th

Ben E. King (vocalist) 1938 :: Many happy returns to Ben E King! Benjamin Earl King, better known as Ben E. King, is an American soul singer. He is perhaps best known as the singer and co-composer of “Stand by Me”, a US Top 10 hit in both 1961 and later in 1986 (when it was used as the theme to the film of the same name) and a number one hit in the UK in 1987, and as one of the principal lead singers of the R&B vocal group The Drifters.

In 1958, King (still using his birth name) joined a doo wop group called The Five Crowns. Later in 1958, The Drifters’ manager George Treadwell fired the members of the original Drifters, and replaced them with The Five Crowns. King had a string of R&B hits with the group on Atlantic Records. He co-wrote and sang lead on the first Atlantic hit by the new version of the Drifters, “There Goes My Baby” (1959). He also sang lead on a succession of hits by the team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, including “Save the Last Dance for Me”, “This Magic Moment”, and “I Count the Tears”. King only recorded thirteen songs with The Drifters— two backing other lead singers and eleven lead vocal performances —including a non-single called “Temptation” (later redone by Drifters vocalist Johnny Moore).

Due to a contract dispute with Treadwell in which King and his manager, Lover Patterson, demanded that King be given a salary increase and a fair share of royalties, King never again performed with the Drifters on tour or on television; he would only record with the group until a suitable replacement could be found. On television, fellow Drifters member Charlie Thomas usually lip synched the songs that King had recorded with the Drifters. This end gave rise to a new beginning.

In May 1960, King left the Drifters, assuming the more memorable stage name Ben E. King in preparation for a successful solo career. Remaining on Atlantic Records on its Atco imprint, King scored his first solo hit with the ballad “Spanish Harlem” (1961). His next single, “Stand by Me”, written with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, ultimately would be voted as one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America. “Stand by Me”, “There Goes My Baby”, and “Spanish Harlem” were named as three of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll; and each of those records plus “Save The Last Dance For Me” has earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. King’s other well-known songs include “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)”, “Amor”, “Seven Letters”, “How Can I Forget”, “On the Horizon”, “Young Boy Blues”, “First Taste of Love”, “Here Comes the Night”, “Ecstasy”, and “That’s When It Hurts”. In the summer of 1963, King had a Top 30 hit with “I (Who Have Nothing)”, which reached the Top 10 on New York’s radio station, WMCA.

King’s records continued to place well on the Billboard Hot 100 chart until 1965. British pop bands began to dominate the pop music scene, but King still continued to make R&B hits, including “What is Soul?” (1966), “Tears, Tears, Tears” (1967), and “Supernatural Thing” (1975). A 1986 re-issue of “Stand by Me” followed the song’s use as the theme song to the movie Stand By Me and re-entered the Billboard Top Ten after a 25-year absence.

As a Drifter and as a solo artist, King had achieved five number one hits: “There Goes My Baby”, “Save The Last Dance For Me”, “Stand By Me”, “Supernatural Thing”, and the 1986 re-issue of “Stand By Me”. He also earned 12 Top 10 hits and 25 Top 40 hits from 1959 to 1986. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Drifter; he has also been nominated as a solo artist.

Houston Stackhouse(guitar) 1910 -1980 :: Houston Stackhouse was an American Delta blues guitarist and singer. He is best known for his association and work with Robert Nighthawk. Although Stackhouse was not especially noted as a guitarist nor singer, Nighthawk showed gratitude for being taught to play by Stackhouse, by backing him on a number of recordings in the late 1960s. Apart from a tour to Europe, Stackhouse confined his performing around the Mississippi Delta.

By the late 1930s, Stackhouse had played guitar around the Delta states and worked with members of the Mississippi Sheiks, plus Robert Johnson, Charlie McCoy and Walter Vinson. He also teamed up with his distant cousin, Robert Nighthawk, whom he taught how to play guitar. Originally a fan of Tommy Johnson, Stackhouse often covered his songs. In 1946, Stackhouse moved to Helena, Arkansas to live near to Nighthawk, and for a time was a member of Nighthawk’s band, playing on KFFA radio.

He split from Nighthawk in 1947 and alongside the drummer James “Peck” Curtis, appeared on KFFA’s “King Biscuit Time” programme, with the guitar player Joe Willie Wilkins plus pianists Pinetop Perkins and Robert Traylor. Sonny Boy Williamson II then rejoined the show, and that combo performed across the Delta, using their radio presence to advertise their concert performances.

Stackhouse tutored both Jimmy Rogers and Sammy Lawhorn on guitar techniques. Between 1948 and 1954, Stackhouse worked during the day at the Chrysler plant in West Helena, Arkansas, and played the blues in his leisure time. He did not move from the South, unlike many of his contemporaries, and continued to perform locally into the 1960s with Frank Frost, Boyd Gilmore and Baby Face Turner. In May 1965, Sonny Boy Williamson II, who was by then back on “King Biscuit Time”, utilised Stackhouse when he was recorded in concert by Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records. The recording was issued under Williamson’s name, titled King Biscuit Time. Shortly afterwards, Williamson died, but Stackhouse continued briefly on the radio program, back in tandem with Nighthawk.

In 1967, George Mitchell recorded Stackhouse in Dundee, Mississippi. Named the Blues Rhythm Boys, Stackhouse was joined by both Curtis and Nighthawk, although the latter died shortly after the recording was made. Another field researcher, David Evans, recorded Stackhouse in Crystal Springs, but by 1970 following the deaths of both Curtis and Mason, Stackhouse had moved on to Memphis, Tennessee. There he resided with his old friend Joe Willie Wilkins and his wife Carrie. At the height of the blues revival Stackhouse toured with Wilkins, and the Memphis Blues Caravan, and appeared at various music festivals. His lone trip overseas saw Stackhouse play in 1976 in Vienna, Austria.

Earlier in February 1972, Stackhouse recorded an album titled Cryin’ Won’t Help You. It was released on CD in 1994.

John Gilmore (saxophone) 1931-1995 :: John Gilmore was an avant-garde jazz saxophonist known for his tenure with keyboardist/bandleader Sun Ra from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Gilmore grew up in Chicago and played clarinet from the age of 14.[2] He took up the tenor saxophone while serving in the United States Air Force from 1948 to 1952, then pursued a musical career, playing briefly with pianist Earl Hines before encountering Sun Ra in 1953.

For the next four decades, Gilmore recorded and performed almost exclusively with Sun Ra. This was puzzling to some, who noted Gilmore’s talent, and thought he could be a major star like John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins. Coltrane, in fact, was impressed with Gilmore’s playing, and took informal lessons from him in the late 1950s. Coltrane’s epochal, proto–free jazz “Chasin’ the Trane” was inspired partly by Gilmore’s sound.

In 1957 he co-led with Clifford Jordan a Blue Note date that is regarded as a hard bop classic: Blowing In from Chicago. Horace Silver, Curly Russell, and Art Blakey provided the rhythm section. In the mid-1960s Gilmore toured with the Jazz Messengers and he participated in recording sessions with Paul Bley, Andrew Hill (Andrew! and Compulsion), Pete La Roca (Turkish Women at the Bath), McCoy Tyner (Today and Tomorrow) and a handful of others. In 1970 he co-led a recording with Jamaican trumpeter Dizzy Reece. His main focus throughout, however, remained with the Sun Ra Arkestra.

Gilmore’s devotion to Sun Ra was due, in part, to the latter’s use of harmony, which Gilmore considered both unique and a logical extension of bebop. Gilmore had stated that Sun Ra was “more stretched out than Monk” and that “I’m not gonna run across anybody who’s moving as fast as Sun Ra … So I just stay where I am.”

Many fans of jazz saxophone consider him to be among the greatest ever, his fame shrouded in the relative anonymity of being a member of Sun Ra’s Arkestra. His “straight ahead post-bop” talents are exemplified in his solo on the Arkestra’s rendition of “Blue Lou,” as seen on Mystery, Mr. Ra.


Kenny Kirkland (piano) 1955-1998 :: Kenneth David “Kenny” Kirkland  was an American pianist/keyboardist. He is most often associated with Sting, Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, and Kenny Garrett.

One of his closest friends on the New York jazz scene was Chinese-Jamaican documentary filmmaker Lee Lew-Lee (now a tech industry CEO). Between 1973 and 1980, Lew-Lee, then a music industry manager/documentary photographer, introduced Kirkland to several musicians whom Kenny ended up befriending personally or professionally.

In 1980, while Kirkland was on tour in Japan with Terumasa Hino, he met Wynton Marsalis, which began their long association. On Marsalis’s self-titled debut album, Kirkland shared the piano duties with one of his musical influences, Herbie Hancock, but was the sole pianist on Marsalis’s subsequent releases Think Of One, Hothouse Flowers and Black Codes (From the Underground). After his association with Wynton Marsalis, Kirkland joined Branford Marsalis’s band. He is featured on the albums Royal Garden Blues, Renaissance, Random Abstract, Crazy People Music, I Heard You Twice The First Time and the eponymously titled album from Marsalis’s funk band Buckshot Lefonque. When Branford Marsalis assumed the high-visibility role of bandleader for NBC TV’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Kirkland became the band’s pianist. But his time on the Los Angeles-based The Tonight Show would be short-lived, for while he finally received well desereved fame and publicity, he felt he was not making “real music”, and thus returned to the East Coast and more creative work after two years as The Tonight Show’s pianist.

As opposed to many piano “purists”, Kirkland was never shy of electric keyboards and synthesizers, although he is considered one of the finest, classically trained, jazz pianists of his era.

He also ran contrary to jazz orthodoxy when he left Wynton Marsalis’s acoustic traditional jazz combo to join Branford Marsalis accompanying ex-Police pop star Sting. Kirkland appears on Sting albums The Dream of the Blue Turtles, Bring On the Night (and in Michael Apted’s 1985 documentary film by the same name), …Nothing Like the Sun, The Soul Cages and Mercury Falling.

In 1991, he released his debut as a leader, Kenny Kirkland, on GRP Records. An album on Sunnyside Records, Thunder And Rainbows/J.F.K., is also credited to him.


Koko Taylor(vocalist) 1935-2009  :: Koko Taylor sometimes spelled KoKo Taylor  was an American Chicago blues singer, popularly known as the “Queen of the Blues.” She was known primarily for her rough, powerful vocals and traditional blues stylings.

In the late 1950s she began singing in Chicago blues clubs. She was spotted by Willie Dixon in 1962, and this led to wider performances and her first recording contract. In 1965, Taylor was signed by Chess Records subsidiary Checker Records where she recorded “Wang Dang Doodle,” a song written by Dixon and recorded by Howlin’ Wolf five years earlier. The song became a hit, reaching number four on the R&B charts and number 58 on the pop charts in 1966, and selling a million copies. Taylor recorded several versions of “Wang Dang Doodle” over the years, including a live version at the 1967 American Folk Blues Festival with harmonica player Little Walter and guitarist Hound Dog Taylor. Taylor subsequently recorded more material, both original and covers, but never repeated that initial chart success.

National touring in the late 1960s and early 1970s improved her fan base, and she became accessible to a wider record-buying public when she signed with Alligator Records in 1975. She recorded nine albums for Alligator, 8 of which were Grammy-nominated, and came to dominate the female blues singer ranks, winning twenty five W. C. Handy Awards (more than any other artist). After her recovery from a near-fatal car crash in 1989, the 1990s found Taylor in films such as Blues Brothers 2000 and Wild at Heart, and she opened a blues club on Division Street in Chicago in 1994, which relocated to Wabash Ave in Chicago’s South Loop in 2000. (The club is now closed.)

Taylor influenced musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, Shemekia Copeland, Janis Joplin, Shannon Curfman, and Susan Tedeschi. In the years prior to her death, she performed over 70 concerts a year and resided just south of Chicago in Country Club Hills, Illinois.

Little Buster (guitar) 1942 –2006  Edward ‘Little Buster’ Forehand was an American soul and blues musician. He was born sighted, but developed glaucoma at age of three. By the time his vision was completely gone, he was fluent on six instruments, including the guitar.

His first professional gig was at the Brooklyn Paramount, where he was a back-up guitarist for Alan Freed’s Rock and Roll shows. He also became a regular at Long Island clubs.

In 1961, Buster composed his first original song “Looking For a Home” while living in Glen Cove. First recorded on Josie/Jubilee after winning a talent contest at Harlem’s Apollo Theater in 1964, Buster released “Looking For a Home”. He recorded a series of singles there, including his biggest hit in 1968, Doc Pomus’ “Young Boy Blues”. Buster’s last single with Josie was “City of Blues” / “Cry Me a River”. His singles and several new compositions were compiled for the 1970 album, Looking For a Home that was finally by the UK label Sequel in 1997.

Buster changed his focus, concentrating on live blues with his band, The Soul Brothers. Buster married his wife, Mary, in 1969.

In 1995, Buster recorded his Bullseye release, Right On Time. This release brought him worldwide exposure, with a W.C. Handy Award nomination, and a runner-up award for Living Blues magazine’s Critics’ Award. His 2000 CD Work Your Show opened up mass media exposure via CBS This Morning, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Late Show with David Letterman, on Dan Aykroyd’s House of Blues Hour, international music festivals, and articles in Juke Blues, Backyard Blues and 20th Century Guitar magazines.

In 2000, Buster began his own label with friends Steve Kleinberg and Ayanna Hobson, where he released his final CD, Little Buster and the Soul Brothers, Live Volume One. His band consisted of himself on guitar and vocals, Jerry Harshaw on saxophone, Frank Anstiss on drums, Alan Levy on bass and Robert Schlesinger on keyboards. As Andy Breslau said in the liner notes for Right On Time,

"Edward ‘Little Buster’ Forehand is a sublimely talented soul singer, a tough blues guitarist and a sure-handed songwriter with a knack for making rhythm and blues songs that evoke the classic 1960s sound. As one of New York’s great undiscovered treasures, Buster has played the Long Island club circuit for over four decades."

Sirone(bass, acoustic) 1940 -2009  :: Norris Jones, better known as Sirone  was an American jazz bassist and composer. Sirone worked in Atlanta late in the 1950s and early in the 1960s with “The Group” alongside George Adams; he also recorded with R&B musicians such as Sam Cooke and Smokey Robinson. He moved to New York City in the middle of the 1960s, where he co-founded the “Untraditional Jazz Improvisational Team” with Dave Burrell. He also worked with Marion Brown, Gato Barbieri, Pharoah Sanders, Noah Howard, Sonny Sharrock, Sunny Murray, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, and Sun Ra.

He co-founded the Revolutionary Ensemble with Leroy Jenkins and Frank Clayton in 1971; Jerome Cooper later replaced Clayton in the ensemble, which was active for much of the decade. In the 1970s and early 1980s Sirone recorded with Clifford Thornton, Roswell Rudd, Dewey Redman, Cecil Taylor, and Walt Dickerson.

In the 1980s, he was member of Phalanx, a group with guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer, drummer Rashied Ali, and tenor saxophonist George Adams.

From 1989 he lived in Berlin, Germany where he was active with his group ‘Concord’ (with Ben Abarbanel-Wolff and Ulli Bartel.) He was involved in theater, film, and was a practicing Buddhist.

Jazziversaries September 27th

Bud Powell (piano) 1924 :: Earl Rudolph “Bud” Powell was a jazz pianist who was born and raised in Harlem, New York City. His greatest influences on his instrument were Thelonious Monk, who became his close friend, and Art Tatum. Along with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Powell was a key player in the development of bebop, and his virtuosity as a pianist led many to call him the Charlie Parker of the piano.

In the early 1940s, Powell played in a few dance orchestras, including that of Cootie Williams, whom Powell’s mother decided her son should play for and tour with (rather than accept an offer from Oscar Pettiford and Dizzy Gillespie, whose modernist quintet was about to open at a midtown nightclub). Powell was the pianist on a handful of Williams’s recording dates in 1944, the last of which included the first-ever recording of Monk’s “‘Round Midnight”. His tenure with Williams was terminated one night in January 1945, when he got separated from the band after a Philadelphia dance engagement and was apprehended, drunk, by railroad police inside a station. He was beaten by them, and then briefly detained by the city police. Shortly after his release and return to Harlem, he was hospitalized—first in Bellevue, an observation ward, and then in a psychiatric hospital, sixty miles away. He stayed there for two and a half months.

Powell’s career advanced when Parker chose him to be his pianist on a quintet record date, with Miles Davis, Tommy Potter, and Max Roach in May 1947. Powell demonstrated his mature style on the third complete take of “Donna Lee”, where he got a brief solo spot, and with his jocular chord fills while the horn players paused to breathe during “Buzzy”, the last tune recorded.

The Parker session aside, Powell was inactive for most of 1947. In November, he had an altercation with another customer at a Harlem bar. In the ensuing fight, Powell was hit over his eye with a bottle. When Harlem Hospital found him incoherent and rambunctious, it sent him to Bellevue, which had the record of his previous confinement there and in a psychiatric hospital. It chose to institutionalize him again, though this time at Creedmoor State Hospital, a facility much closer to Manhattan. He was kept there for eleven months.

Powell eventually adjusted to the conditions in the institution, though in psychiatric interviews he expressed feelings of persecution founded in racism. From February to April 1948, he received electroconvulsive therapy, first administered after an outburst deemed to be uncontrollable. It might have been in reaction to learning, after a visit by his girlfriend, that she was pregnant with their child. While the electroconvulsive therapy was said to have made no difference, the MDs gave Powell a second series of treatments in May. He was eventually released, in October 1948—though from these early and subsequent hospitalizations, he was emotionally unstable for the rest of his career.

Bebop’s and Powell’s increased visibility by the end of 1948, the latter’s celebrity seemingly having accelerated in anticipation of his release, made plain as well that he had a serious problem with alcohol. Even one drink had a profound effect on his character, making him aggressive or morose. Nonetheless, after another (though brief) hospitalization in early 1949, Powell soon attained the greatest artistic height that he ever would reach.

The first Blue Note session, in August 1949, features Fats Navarro, Sonny Rollins, Powell, Tommy Potter and Roy Haynes, and the compositions “Bouncing with Bud” and “Dance of the Infidels”. The second Blue Note session in 1951 was a trio with Russell and Roach, and includes “Parisian Thoroughfare” and “Un Poco Loco”; the latter was selected by literary critic Harold Bloom for inclusion on his short list of the greatest works of twentieth-century American art. Sessions for Granz (more than a dozen) were all solo or trios, with a variety of bassists and drummers, including Ray Brown, George Duvivier, Percy Heath, Russell, Lloyd Trotman, Art Blakey, Kenny Clarke, Osie Johnson, Buddy Rich, Roach, and Art Taylor.

Powell’s continued rivalry with Parker, while essential to the production of brilliant music, was also the subject of disruptive feuding and bitterness on the bandstand, as a result of Powell’s troubled mental and physical condition.

Powell recorded for both Blue Note and Granz throughout the fifties, interrupted by another long stay in a mental hospital from late 1951 to early 1953, following arrest for possession of marijuana. He was released into the guardianship of Oscar Goodstein, the owner of the Birdland nightclub. A 1953 trio session for Blue Note (with Duvivier and Taylor) included Powell’s composition “Glass Enclosure”, inspired by his near-imprisonment in Goodstein’s apartment.

His playing after his release from hospital began to be seriously affected by Largactil, taken for the treatment of schizophrenia. And by the late fifties, his talent was clearly in eclipse. In 1956, his brother Richie was killed in a car crash alongside Clifford Brown. Three albums for Blue Note in the late fifties showcased Powell’s ability as a composer, but his playing was far removed from the standard set by his earlier recordings for the label.

After several further spells in hospital, Powell moved to Paris in 1959, in the company of Altevia “Buttercup” Edwards, whom he had met after an incarceration in 1954. In Paris, Powell worked in a trio with Pierre Michelot and Kenny Clarke. Buttercup, though, did not have Powell’s best interests in mind. She kept control of his finances and overdosed him with Largactil, but Powell continued to perform and record.

In December 1961, he recorded two albums for Columbia Records under the aegis of Cannonball Adderley: A Portrait of Thelonious (with Michelot and Clarke), and A Tribute to Cannonball (with the addition of Don Byas and Idrees Sulieman—despite the title, Adderley only plays on one alternative take). The first album (with overdubbed audience noise) was released shortly after Powell’s death, and the second was released in the late 1970s. Eventually, Powell was befriended by Francis Paudras, a commercial artist and amateur pianist, and Powell moved into Paudras’s home in 1962. There was a brief return to Blue Note in 1963, when Dexter Gordon recorded Our Man in Paris for the label. Powell was a last-minute substitute for Kenny Drew, and the album of standards—Powell could not by then learn new material—showed him to be still capable of playing with some proficiency.

In 1963, Powell contracted tuberculosis, and the following year returned to New York with Paudras for a return engagement at Birdland accompanied by drummer Horace Arnold and bassist John Ore. The original agreement had been for the two men to go back to Paris, but Paudras returned alone (although Powell did record in Paris, with Pettiford and Clarke, in July 1964). In 1965, Powell played only two concerts: one a disastrous performance at Carnegie Hall, the other a tribute to Charlie Parker on May 1 with other performers on the bill, including Albert Ayler. Little else was seen of him in public.

Powell was hospitalized in New York after months of increasingly erratic behavior and self-neglect. On July 31, 1966, he died of tuberculosis, malnutrition, and alcoholism. Several thousand people viewed his Harlem funeral procession.

Hank Levy(sax tenor) 1927-2001  :: Henry Jacob Levy was an American jazz composer and saxophonist whose works often employed unusual time signatures. He is best known as a big band composer for Stan Kenton and the Don Ellis Orchestra, as well as the founder and long-time director of Towson University’s Jazz Program.

Levy’s interest in odd meters pre-dates Dave Brubeck’s Time Out album. He studied composition with George Thaddeus Jones at Catholic University in Washington, DC, and became interested in odd meters through their use by such composers as Paul Hindemith, Maurice Ravel, and Igor Stravinsky. He was also a particularly good composer of counterpoint, which can be heard in such compositions as Passacaglia and Fugue (recorded by Don Ellis on “Live At Monterey”) and Quintessence (performed, but not recorded by, Stan Kenton).

Levy was also prolific as an arranger of jazz standards, though few of them were published during his lifetime. He was especially fond of the music of the stage as it came through bebop: Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern. In his last years, he more frequently turned to bebop originals, tunes by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Tadd Dameron. Though the odd meters he was associated with rarely appeared in these arrangements, and were typically conventional in respect to style, they often displayed a distinctive creativity.

Levy began his full-time college teaching career at Towson State University in late 1967 creating “The Towson State Jazz Ensemble”. By 1970, his hard work and passion for teaching brought the band to national prominence when his Towson State Jazz Ensemble competed and won the outstanding band honors at the prestigious Notre Dame Jazz Festival. Additional honors went to Levy’s lead trumpet player, Tony Neenan who was voted “Best Lead Trumpet” of the festival.

Today, Levy’s music is performed by the Hank Levy Legacy Band, based in Towson, Maryland. The band was founded in 1992 following his retirement from full-time teaching. The band has recorded two live CD’s: Hank At Home (2000) and An “Odd-Time” Was Had By All (2004), both distributed by Sonority Records.

A handful of Levy’s works are still in print through various distributors. His most well-known works, those recorded by Stan Kenton and originally published through Creative World, are now distributed by Sierra Music Publications, headed by Robert Curnow, another Kenton composer.

Red Rodney(trumpet) 1927-1994  :: Robert Roland Chudnick who performed under the stage name Red Rodney, was an American bop and hard bop trumpeter.

Born in Philadelphia, PA, he became a professional musician at 15, working in the mid-1940s for Jerry Wald, Jimmy Dorsey, Georgie Auld, Elliott Lawrence, Benny Goodman, and Les Brown. He was inspired by hearing Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker to change his style to bebop, moving on to play with Claude Thornhill, Gene Krupa, and Woody Herman. In 1949 he accepted an invitation from Charlie Parker to join his quintet. As the only white member of the group he was billed as Albino Red when playing in the racially segregated southern United States. In 1950 he joined the Charlie Ventura band. He also recorded extensively.

In 1958 he left jazz because of diminishing opportunities, lack of acceptance as a white bebop trumpeter, and problems with the police about his drug addiction. He continued to work in other musical fields. Although he continued to be paid well, he supported his drug habit through theft and fraud, eventually spending 27 months in prison. In the early 1970s he was bankrupted by medical costs following a stroke and returned to jazz. He also managed to give up drugs during the 1970s, although in 1975 he was incarcerated in Kentucky for drug offenses. While jailed he gave music lessons to guitarist Wayne Kramer of the MC 5.

From 1980 to 1982, Rodney made five highly regarded albums with multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan. In these albums he started to play post-bop jazz. He continued to work and record into the 1990s. Most notably, he performed with The Rolling Stones’ drummer Charlie Watts who created a tribute to Parker. Rodney provided an early showcase for saxophonist Chris Potter, who was a regular member of his working group and only 19 years old when Rodney recorded “Red Alert” in late 1990.

Jazziversaries September 26th

Gary Bartz (sax,alto) 1940 :: Birthday greetings to Gary Bartz. Gary is an American alto and soprano saxophonist and clarinetist.

His break into the music industry came when filling in with Art Blakey’s band at his father’s club in Baltimore.

Bartz has played with Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, and Jackie McLean. His group, the Ntu Troop, combined soul, funk, African music, hard bop, and avant-garde jazz.

In liner notes to his album released in 1995, The Red and Orange Poems, Bartz was described by jazz critic Stanley Crouch as “one of the very best who has ever picked up the instrument”. He has recorded more than 40 solo albums and over 200 as a guest artist. He won a Grammy Award in 2005 for his playing on McCoy Tyner’s album Illuminations.

He currently teaches at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, when not touring. On the campus website, he is quoted as saying that musicians don’t recognise categories and great music transcends labels like classical and jazz.


George Gershwin(composer) 1898-1973:: George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin’s compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known. Among his best known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and An American in Paris (1928), as well as the opera Porgy and Bess(1935).

Gershwin studied piano under Charles Hambitzer and composition with Rubin Goldmark and Henry Cowell. He began his career as a song plugger, but soon started composing Broadway theatre works with his brother Ira Gershwin and Buddy DeSylva. He moved to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger, where he began to compose An American in Paris. After returning to New York City, he wrote Porgy and Bess with Ira and the author DuBose Heyward. Initially a commercial failure, Porgy and Bess is now considered one of the most important American operas of the twentieth century. Gershwin moved to Hollywood and composed numerous film scores until his death in 1937 from a brain tumor.

Gershwin’s compositions have been adapted for use in many films and for television, and several became jazz standards recorded in many variations. Countless celebrated singers and musicians have covered his songs.

Julie London(vocalist) 1926 - 2000 :: Julie London was an American jazz and pop singer and actress. She was noted for her smoky, sensual voice and languid demeanor.

London began singing under the name Gayle Peck in public in her teens before appearing in a film. She was discovered by talent agent Sue Carol (wife of actor Alan Ladd), while working as an elevator operator. Her early film career, however, did not include any singing roles.

London recorded 32 albums in a career that began in 1955 with a live performance at the 881 Club in Los Angeles.Billboard named her the most popular female vocalist for 1955, 1956, and 1957. She was the subject of a 1957 Life cover article in which she was quoted as saying, “It’s only a thimbleful of a voice, and I have to use it close to the microphone. But it is a kind of oversmoked voice, and it automatically sounds intimate.”

London’s debut recordings were for the Bethlehem Records label. While shopping for a record deal, she recorded four tracks that would later be included on the compilation album Bethlehem’s Girlfriends in 1955. Bobby Troup backed London on the album, for which London recorded the standards “Don’t Worry About Me”, “Motherless Child”, “A Foggy Day”, and “You’re Blasé”.

London’s most famous single, “Cry Me a River”, was written by her high-school classmate Arthur Hamilton and produced by Troup. The recording became a million-seller after its release in December 1955 and also sold on reissue in April 1983 from the attention brought by a Mari Wilson cover. London performed the song in the film The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), and her recording gained later attention in the films Passion of Mind (2000) and V for Vendetta (2006). The song “Yummy Yummy Yummy” was featured on the HBO television series Six Feet Under and appears on its soundtrack album. London’s “Must Be Catchin’” was featured in the 2011 premiere episode of the ABC series Pan Am. Her last recording was “My Funny Valentine” for the soundtrack of the Burt Reynolds film Sharky’s Machine (1981).

Other popular singles include “Hot Toddy”, “Daddy”, and “Desafinado”. Recordings such as “Go Slow” epitomized her career style: her voice is slow, smoky, and playfully sensual.

London’s 35-year acting career began in films in 1944 and included playing opposite Gary Cooper in Man of the West (1958) and Robert Mitchum in The Wonderful Country (1959). She achieved continuing success in the TV medical drama Emergency! (1972–1979), co-starring her real-life husband, Bobby Troup, and produced by her ex-husband, Jack Webb, in which London played the female lead role of nurse Dixie McCall. She and Randolph Mantooth, who played one-half of her medical students, a paramedic, in the series, were very close to her family, until her death in 2000.

Nicholas Payton(trumpet) 1973  :: Bornday greetings to Nicholas Peyton. Nicholas is a trumpet and keyboard player from New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1997 Payton and Doc Cheatham won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for their playing on “Stardust”. Though widely considered a jazz musician, Payton considers the label “jazz” inappropriate and refers to his music as “BAM”, an acronym for Black American Music.

The son of bassist and sousaphonist Walter Payton, he took up the trumpet at the age of four and by the time he was nine he was playing in the Young Tuxedo Brass Band alongside his father. Upon leaving school, he enrolled first at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and then at the University of New Orleans, where he studied with Ellis Marsalis.

After touring with Marcus Roberts and Elvin Jones in the early 90s, Payton signed a recording contract with Verve; his first album, From This Moment, appeared in 1994. In 1996 he performed on the soundtrack of the movie Kansas City, and in 1997 received a Grammy Award (Best Instrumental Solo) for his playing on the album Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton. After seven albums on Verve, Payton signed with Warner Bros. Records, releasing Sonic Trance, his first album on the new label, in 2003. Besides his recordings under his own name, Payton has also played and recorded with Wynton Marsalis, Dr. Michael White, Christian McBride, Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove, Doc Cheatham and Joe Henderson.

In 2008, Payton became part of The Blue Note 7, a septet formed that year in honor of the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records. The group recorded an album in 2008, entitled Mosaic, which was released in 2009 on Blue Note Records/EMI, and toured the United States in promotion of the album from January until April 2009.

He also plays piano, and sometimes uses both instruments simultaneously, accompanying his right-handed trumpet with left-handed chords.

Dick Heckstall-Smith(saxophone) 1934-2004  :: Dick Heckstall-Smith was an English jazz and blues saxophonist. He played with some of the most influential English blues rock and jazz fusion bands of the 1960s and 1970s.

Heckstall-Smith was an active member of the London jazz scene from the late 1950s. He joined Blues Incorporated, Alexis Korner’s groundbreaking blues group, in 1962, recording the album R&B from the Marquee. The following year, he was a founding member of that band’s breakaway unit, The Graham Bond Organization. (The lineup also included two future members of the blues-rock supergroup Cream: bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker.)

In 1967, Heckstall-Smith became a member of guitarist-vocalist John Mayall’s blues rock band, Bluesbreakers. That jazz-skewed edition of the band, had also included drummer Jon Hiseman and future Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, released the album Bare Wires in 1968.

From 1968 to 1970, Heckstall-Smith and Hiseman were the key creative members of the pioneering UK jazz-rock band Colosseum. The band afforded Heckstall-Smith an opportunity to showcase his writing and instrumental virtuosity, playing two saxophones simultaneously.

After exiting Colosseum, Heckstall-Smith fronted and played in several other fusion units, including Manchild, Sweet Pain, Big Chief, Tough Tenors, The Famous Bluesblasters, Mainsqueeze, Big Chief and DHSS. Collaborating musicians common to many of these outfits included Victor Brox, Keith Tillman and harp player John O’Leary, a founder member of Savoy Brown. He participated in a 1990s reunion of the original Colosseum lineup and played the hard-working Hamburg Blues Band. In 2001 he cut the all-star project Blues and Beyond, which reunited him with Mayall, Bruce, Taylor, ex-Mayall and Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green. In the 1980s in his Electric Dream ensemble Heckstall-Smith also worked with the South African percussionist Julian Bahula.

Jazziversaries September 25th

Barbara Dennerlein (organ Hammond B3) 1964 :: Happy birthday to Barbara Dennerlein. At age 15, she played in a jazz club for the first time. When leading her own bands, Dennerlein was often the youngest musician in the group, and she learned to cooperate with more experienced musicians. Her local reputation as the “Organ tornado from Munich” spread after her first TV appearances in 1982.

Dennerlein’s first album included four of her own titles. Her compositions vary from traditional blues schemes, romantic, melancholic ballads to tempo driven compositions with elements of swing, bebop, funk and Latin rhythms. The fast tempos and rhythmic figures she uses in her interpretations of well-known standards, and in many of her own compositions, requires fast bass pedalboard foot work . Dennerlein often uses changing meter (e.g., 3/4 to 4/4), as well as unconventional harmonic changes to add expression to her compositions.

When her third LP Bebab was issued, Dennerlein established her own record label in 1985. She received two German Record Critics’ awards for self-produced albums. Later, she made three recordings for Enja Records and three for Verve Records. On these recordings she worked with Ray Anderson, Randy Brecker, Dennis Chambers, Roy Hargrove, Mitch Watkins, and Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts.

Bill Pierce (Saxoophone, tenor) 1948 :: Bornday greetings to Bill Pierce.

Bill Pierce (also Billy Pierce) is an American jazz saxophonist. He started his career in Boston playing R&B with such stars as Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.

He played with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in the early 1980s and in Tony Williams’s quintet in the mid-1980s to early 1990s. He also has released numerous CDs for which he is the band leader.

He studied with Joe Viola and Andy McGhee at Berklee College of Music, and with Joe Allard. He is the school’s woodwind department chair.

Craig Handy(saxophone) 1962 :: Many happy returns to Craig Handy. Craig  is an American post-bop tenor saxophonist.

Handy attended North Texas State University from 1981 to 1984, and following this played with Art Blakey, Wynton Marsalis, Roy Haynes, Abdullah Ibrahim, Elvin Jones, Joe Henderson, Betty Carter, George Adams, Ray Drummond, Conrad Herwig, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and David Weiss among many others. He is a member of the Mingus Big Band, Mingus Dynasty, and Mingus Orchestra.

Handy plays the role of Coleman Hawkins in the 1996 film Kansas City . He is credited for performing the Cosby Show season 6 theme.

Sam Rivers(sax, tenor) 1923 -2011 :: Samuel Carthorne Rivers was an American jazz musician and composer. He performed on soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet, flute, harmonica and piano.

Active in jazz since the early 1950s, he earned wider attention during the mid-1960s spread of free jazz. With a thorough command of music theory, orchestration and composition, Rivers was an influential and prominent artist in jazz music.

In 1959 Rivers began performing with 13-year-old drummer Tony Williams, who went on to have an impressive career. Rivers was briefly a member of the Miles Davis Quintet in 1964, partly at Williams’s recommendation. This edition of the quintet released a single album, Miles in Tokyo, recorded live in concert. However, Rivers’ playing style was a bit too avant-garde for what Davis had in mind for his music at this point, and he was replaced by Wayne Shorter shortly thereafter.

Rivers was signed by Blue Note Records, for whom he recorded four albums as leader and made several sideman appearances. Among noted sidemen on his own Blue Note albums were Jaki Byard, who appears on Fuchsia Swing Song, Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard. He appeared on Blue Note recordings by Tony Williams, Andrew Hill and Larry Young.

Rivers derived his music from bebop, but he was an adventurous player, adept at free jazz. The first of his Blue Note albums, Fuchsia Swing Song (1964), adopts an approach sometimes called “inside-outside”. Here the performer frequently obliterates the explicit harmonic framework (“going outside”) but retains a hidden link so as to be able to return to it in a seamless fashion. Rivers brought the conceptual tools of bebop harmony to a new level in this process, united at all times with the ability to “tell a story”, which Lester Young had laid down as a benchmark for the jazz improviser.

His powers as a composer were also in evidence in this period: the ballad “Beatrice” from Fuchsia Swing Song has become an important standard, particularly for tenor saxophonists. For instance, it is the first cut on Joe Henderson’s 1985 The State of the Tenor, Vols. 1 & 2, and Stan Getz recorded it during the 1989 sessions eventually issued as Bossas & Ballads – The Lost Sessions.

During the 1970s, Rivers and his wife, Bea, ran a jazz loft called “Studio Rivbea” in New York City’s NoHo district. It was located on Bond Street in Lower Manhattan and was originally opened as a public performance space as part of the first New York Musicians Festival in 1970. Critic John Litweiler has written that “In New York Loft Jazz meant Free Jazz in the Seventies” and Studio Rivbea was “the most famous of the lofts”. The loft was important in the development of jazz because it was an example of artists creating their own performance spaces and taking responsibility for presenting music to the public. This allowed for music to be free of extra-musical concerns that would be present in a nightclub or concert hall situation. A series of recordings made at the loft were issued under the title Wildflowers on the Douglas label.

During this era Rivers continued to record, including several albums for Impulse!: Streams, recorded live at Montreux, Hues (both records contain different trio performances later collated on CD as Trio Live), the quartet album Sizzle and his first big-band disc, Crystals; perhaps his best-known work from this period though is his appearance on Dave Holland’s Conference of the Birds, in the company of Anthony Braxton and Barry Altschul.

In the early 1990s Sam and wife Beatrice moved to Florida, in part to expand his orchestra compositions with a reading band in Orlando. This band became the longest-running incarnation of the RivBea Orchestra. He performed regularly with his Orchestra and Trio with bassist Doug Mathews and drummer Anthony Cole (later replaced by Rion Smith).

In 1998, with the assistance of Steve Coleman, he recorded two Grammy-nominated big-band albums for RCA Victor with the RivBea All-Star Orchestra, Culmination and Inspiration (the title-track is an elaborate reworking of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Tanga”: Rivers was in Gillespie’s band near the end of the trumpeter’s life). Other recent albums of note include Portrait, a solo recording for FMP, and Vista, a trio with drummers Adam Rudolph and Harris Eisenstadt for Meta. During the late 1990s he appeared on several albums on Postcards Records.

In 2006, he released Aurora, a third CD featuring compositions for his Rivbea Orchestra and the first CD featuring members of his working orchestra in Orlando.

Shadow Wilson(drums) 1919-1959 :: Rossiere “Shadow” Wilson was an American jazz drummer.

Much of Wilson’s early work was with swing jazz orchestras. He played with Lucky Millinder in 1939, and following this with Benny Carter, Tiny Bradshaw, Lionel Hampton, Earl Hines, Count Basie, and Woody Herman. Later in his career he played with Illinois Jacquet, Erroll Garner, Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Newman, Lee Konitz, Sonny Stitt, Phil Woods, Gene Quill, and Tadd Dameron. The drummer was known to sit in at the famed Minton’s Playhouse.

Jazziversaries September 24th

Blind Lemon Jefferson (vocalist) 1883 -1929 :: "Blind" Lemon Jefferson (Lemon Henry Jefferson) was an American blues singer and guitarist from Texas. He was one of the most popular blues singers of the 1920s, and has been titled “Father of the Texas Blues”.

Jefferson’s singing and self-accompaniment were distinctive as a result of his high-pitched voice and originality on the guitar. Though his recordings sold well, he was not so influential on some younger blues singers of his generation, who could not imitate him as they could other commercially successful artists. However, later blues and rock and roll musicians attempted to imitate both his songs and his musical style. His recordings would later influence such legends as B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Son House and Robert Johnson.

Jefferson began playing the guitar in his early teens, and soon after he began performing at picnics and parties. He also became a street musician, playing in East Texas towns in front of barbershops and on corners. By the early 1910s, Jefferson began traveling frequently to Dallas, where he met and played with fellow blues musician Lead Belly.

Jefferson did what very few had ever done - he became a successful solo guitarist and male vocalist in the commercial recording world. Unlike many artists who were “discovered” and recorded in their normal venues, in December 1925 or January 1926, he was taken to Chicago, Illinois, to record his first tracks. Uncharacteristically, Jefferson’s first two recordings from this session were gospel songs (“I Want to be like Jesus in my Heart” and “All I Want is that Pure Religion”), released under the name Deacon L. J. Bates. This led to a second recording session in March 1926. His first releases under his own name, “Booster Blues” and “Dry Southern Blues”, were hits; this led to the release of the other two songs from that session, “Got the Blues” and “Long Lonesome Blues,” which became a runaway success, with sales in six figures. He recorded about 100 tracks between 1926 and 1929; 43 records were issued, all but one for Paramount Records.

It was largely due to the popularity of artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson and contemporaries such as Blind Blake and Ma Rainey that Paramount became the leading recording company for the blues in the 1920s

In 1927, when Mayo Williams, Paramounts A& R man and one of their links to the black community,  moved to OKeh Records, he took Jefferson with him, and OKeh quickly recorded and released Jefferson’s “Matchbox Blues” backed with “Black Snake Moan,” which was to be his only OKeh recording, probably because of contractual obligations with Paramount. Jefferson’s two songs released on Okeh have considerably better sound quality than on his Paramount records at the time. When he had returned to Paramount a few months later, “Matchbox Blues” had already become such a hit that Paramount re-recorded and released two new versions, under producer Arthur Laibly.

In 1927, Jefferson recorded another of his now classic songs, the haunting “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” (once again using the pseudonym Deacon L. J. Bates) along with two other uncharacteristically spiritual songs, “He Arose from the Dead” and “Where Shall I Be.” Of the three, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” became such a big hit that it was re-recorded and re-released in 1928.

Fats Navarro(trumpet) 1923 ::  Theodore “Fats” Navarro was an American jazz trumpet player. He was a pioneer of the bebop style of jazz improvisation in the 1940s. He had a strong stylistic influence on many other players, most notably Clifford Brown.

By the time he graduated from Douglass high school he wanted to be away from Key West and joined a dance band headed for the midwest.

Tiring of the road life after touring with many bands and gaining valuable experience, including influencing a young J. J. Johnson when they were together in Snookum Russell’s territory band, Navarro settled in New York City in 1946, where his career took off. He met and played with, among others, Charlie Parker, one of the greatest musical innovators of modern jazz improvisation, but Navarro was in a position to demand a high salary, and did not join one of Parker’s regular groups. He also developed a heroin addiction, which, coupled with tuberculosis and a weight problem (he was nicknamed “Fat Girl”) led to a slow decline in his health and death at the age of twenty-six.

Among others, Fats Navarro played in the Andy Kirk, Billy Eckstine, Benny Goodman, and Lionel Hampton big bands, and participated in small group recording sessions with Kenny Clarke, Tadd Dameron, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Coleman Hawkins, Illinois Jacquet, Howard McGhee, and Bud Powell.

In Charles Mingus’ somewhat counter-factual autobiography Beneath the Underdog, Navarro and Mingus strike up a deep friendship while touring together. Navarro was hospitalized on July 1 and died in the evening of July 7, 1950. His last performance was with Charlie Parker on July 1 at Birdland.

Jack Costanzo(Bongos) 1922 :: Birthday greetings to Jack Costanzo. Jack is an American percussionist. Costanzo is best known as a bongo player, and is nicknamed “Mr. Bongo”. He visited Havana three times in the 1940s and learned to play Afro-Cuban rhythms on the bongos and congas.

Costanzo started as a dancer, touring as a team with his wife before World War II. After his discharge from the Navy, he worked as a dance instructor at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Latin band leader Bobby Ramos listened to Costanzo playing bongos in a jam session and offered him a job. Throughout the 1940s, Costanzo worked with several Latin bands, including a revived version of the Lecuona Cuban Boys, Desi Arnaz, and Rene Touzet.

Costanzo toured with Stan Kenton from 1947–48 and occasionally in the 1950s, and played with Nat King Cole from 1949 to 1953. He also played with the Billy May Orchestra, Peggy Lee, Danny Kaye, Perez Prado, Charlie Barnet, Pete Rugolo, Betty Grable, Harry James, Judy Garland, Jane Powell, Ray Anthony, Martin & Lewis, Frances Faye, Dinah Shore, Xavier Cugat, Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, and Eddie Fisher.

Costanzo formed his own band in the 1950s which recorded and toured internationally. Many Hollywood stars studied bongos with him, including: Marlon Brando, Rita Moreno, Carolyn Jones, Hugh O’Brien, Keenan Wynn, Van Johnson, Tony Curtis, Betty Grable, Vic Damone, and Gary Cooper.

Costanzo was in retirement until 1998 when he decided to make a comeback and in 2001 recorded Back From Havana under the Ubiquity Records umbrella. This album featured the likes of Blue Note’s Guilbert Castellanos, Steve Firerobing and the Panamanian singer Marilu. In 2002 he released another album with the same cast called Scorching the skins this time he also added Quino from Big Mountain. Costanzo has continued to tour and perform in California and abroad.


Jay Hoggard(vibraphone) 1954 :: Happy birthday to Jay Hoggard. Jay is an American jazz vibraphonist.

Hoggard first played piano and saxophone before picking up vibraphone. He played with Anthony Davis and Leo Smith in the early 1970s in New England, and after moving to New York City in 1988, he worked again with Davis and with Chico Freeman, Sam Rivers, Cecil Taylor, James Newton, and Kenny Burrell. Since then Jay has performed with famous vibraphonists Lionel Hampton, Milt Jackson, Tito Puente and Bobby Hutcherson. He has collaborated with Kenny Burrell, Billy Taylor, James Newton, Hilton Ruiz and Oliver Lake.

Hoggard has played in venues in Africa, South America, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. In the United States he has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Lincoln Center in New York City, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture also in New York City. Jay has performed at several jazz festivals in St. Lucia, Montreux, Mount Fuji, Pori and Hartford, CT. He has appeared on television on CBS Sunday Morning and BET Jazz.

Hoggard has recorded many dates as a leader, including several that have been commercially successful in the U.S. He graduated from and currently teaches at Wesleyan University.

Tarheel Slim(guitar) 1924 -1977 ::   Alden Bunn (aka Tarheel Slim) recorded in virtually every postwar musical genre imaginable. Lowdown blues, gospel, vocal group R&B, poppish duets, even rockabilly weren’t outside the sphere of his musicianship. However, spirituals were Bunn’s first love. While still in North Carolina during the early ’40s, the guitarist worked with the Gospel Four and then the Selah Jubilee Singers, who recorded for Continental and Decca. Bunn and Thurman Ruth broke away in 1949 to form their own group, the Jubilators. During a single day in New York in 1950, they recorded for four labels under four different names!

One of those labels was Apollo, who convinced them to go secular. That’s basically how the Larks, one of the seminal early R&B vocal groups whose mellifluous early-’50s Apollo platters rank with the era’s best, came to be. Bunn sang lead on a few of their bluesier items (“Eyesight to the Blind,” for one), as well as doing two sessions of his own for the firm in 1952 under the name of Allen Bunn. As Alden Bunn, he encored on Bobby Robinson’s Red Robin logo the next year. Bunn also sang with another R&B vocal group, the Wheels. And coupled with his future wife, Anna Sanford, Bunn recorded as the Lovers; “Darling It’s Wonderful,” their 1957 duet for Aladdin’s Lamp subsidiary, was a substantial pop seller. (Ray Ellis did the arranging.)

Tarheel Slim made his official entrance in 1958 with his wife, now dubbed Little Ann, in a duet format for Robinson’s Fire imprint (“It’s Too Late,” “Much Too Late”). Then old Tarheel came out of the gate like his pants were on fire with a pair of rockabilly raveups of his own, “Wildcat Tamer” and “No. 9 Train,” with Jimmy Spruill on blazing lead guitar. After a few years off the scene, Tarheel Slim made a bit of a comeback during the early ’70s, with an album for Pete Lowry’s Trix logo that harked back to Bunn’s Carolina blues heritage. It would prove his last.

Walter Smith III(sax, tenor) 1980 :: Bornday greetings to Walter Smith. Walter is an American jazz saxophonist and composer.

In addition to performing with his own group, Smith is a member of the Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet and Eric Harland’s Voyager. He regularly plays and records with modern jazz notables including Taylor Eigsti, Christian Scott, Logan Richardson, Kendrick Scott, Aaron Parks, Warren Wolf, and others.

Smith has released four albums as leader: Casually Introducing (2006), Live In Paris (2009), and III (2010) and just this September on the Concord label, Still casual (2014).

Smith has performed all over the world, in numerous national and international festivals and on famed stages in the U.S. such as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. He has shared the stage and appeared on recordings with many jazz notables, including Terence Blanchard, Roy Haynes, Christian McBride, Eric Reed, Mulgrew Miller, Joe Lovano, Bob Hurst, Myron Walden, Walter Beasley, Lewis Nash, Terri Lyne Carrington, and others. To date, he has appeared on more than 75 recordings.

Smith’s debut recording as a leader was released in March 2006 on the Fresh Sound New Talent label and features Ambrose Akinmusire, Aaron Parks, Reuben Rogers, Eric Harland, and Kendrick Scott, and others. His sophomore release, entitled Live in Paris, was released in October 2009 featuring Ambrose Akinmusire, Aaron Goldberg, Matt Brewer, and Marcus Gilmore. His most recent album, III, was released in September 2010 and was a top 10 bestseller on iTunes. It features Ambrose Akinmusire, Jason Moran, Joe Sanders, and Eric Harland.

Wayne Henderson (trombone) 1939-2014  :: Wayne Maurice Henderson  was an American soul jazz and hard bop trombonist and record producer.In 1961, he co-founded the soul jazz/hard bop group The Jazz Crusaders.Henderson left the group (who by then had changed their name to The Crusaders) in 1975 to pursue a career in producing, but revived The Jazz Crusaders in 1995.

In 2007, Henderson took a position with the California College of Music in Pasadena, California.

Bluesiversaries 23rd September

Albert Ammons (piano) 1907-1949  :: Albert Ammons was an American pianist and player of boogie-woogie, a bluesy jazz style popular from the late 1930s into the mid-1940s.

In the early to mid-1920s Ammons worked as a cab driver for the Silver Taxicab Company. In 1924 he met a fellow taxi driver who also played piano, Meade Lux Lewis. Soon the two players began working as a team, performing at club parties. Ammons started his own band at the Club DeLisa in 1934 and remained at the club for the next two years. During that time he played with a five piece unit that included Guy Kelly, Dalbert Bright, Jimmy Hoskins, and Israel Crosby. Ammons also recorded as Albert Ammons’s Rhythm Kings for Decca Records in 1936. The Rhythm Kings’ version of “Swanee River Boogie” sold a million copies.

Ammons moved from Chicago to New York, where he teamed up with another pianist, Pete Johnson. The two performed regularly at the Café Society, occasionally joined by Lewis, and performed with other jazz musicians such as Benny Goodman and Harry James.

In 1938 Ammons appeared at Carnegie Hall with Johnson and Lewis at From Spirituals to Swing, an event that helped launch the boogie-woogie craze. Two weeks later, record producer Alfred Lion, who had attended John H. Hammond’s From Spirituals to Swing concert on December 23, 1938, which had introduced Ammons and Lewis, started Blue Note Records, recording nine Ammons solos including “The Blues” and “Boogie Woogie Stomp”, eight by Lewis and a pair of duets in a one-day session in a rented studio.

In 1941, Ammons’ boogie music was accompanied by drawn-on-film animation in the short film Boogie-Doodle by Norman McLaren. Ammons played himself in the movie Boogie-Woogie Dream (1944), with Lena Horne and Johnson. As a sideman with Sippie Wallace in the 1940s Ammons recorded a session with his son, the tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons. Although the boogie-woogie fad began to die down in 1945, Ammons had no difficulty securing work. He continued to tour as a solo artist and between 1946 and 1949 recorded his last sides for Mercury Records, with bassist Israel Crosby.


Fenton Robinson (guitar electric) 1935 -1997 :: Fenton Robinson was an American blues singer and exponent of the Chicago blues guitar.

Robinson left his home at the age of 18 to move to Memphis, Tennessee where he recorded his first single “Tennessee Woman” in 1957. He settled in Chicago in 1962. He recorded his signature song, “Somebody Loan Me a Dime”, in 1967 on the Palos label, the nationwide distribution of which was aborted by a freak snow storm hitting the Windy City. Covered by Boz Scaggs in 1969, the song was misattributed, resulting in legal battles. It has since become a blues standard, being “part of the repertoire of one out of every two blues artists”, according to 1997’s Encyclopedia of Blues.

Robinson re-recorded the song for the critically acclaimed album Somebody Loan Me a Dime in 1974, the first of three he would produce under the Alligator Records label. Robinson was nominated for a Grammy Award for the second, 1977’s I Hear Some Blues Downstairs.

In the 1970s he was arrested and imprisoned for involuntary manslaughter in connection with a car accident. Paroled after nine months, he continued playing in Chicago clubs and later taught guitar.

Joe Hill Louis (Guitar) 1921-1957 :: born Lester Hill, Joe Hill Louis was an American singer, guitarist, harmonica player and one-man band. He is significant, along with fellow Memphis bluesman Doctor Ross, as one of only a small number of one-man blues bands to have recorded commercially in the 1950s, and as a session musician for Sun Records.

His nickname “Joe Louis” arose as a result of a childhood fight with another youth. At the age of 14 he left home to work as a servant for a wealthy Memphis family, and also worked in the Peabody Hotel, Memphis, in the late 1930s. From the early 1940s onwards he worked as a musician and one-man band.

Louis’ recording debut was made for Columbia in 1949, and his music was released on a variety of independent labels through the 1950s, most notably recording for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records, for whom he recorded extensively as a backing musician for a wide variety of other singers as well as under his own name.

His most notable electric blues single “Boogie in the Park” (recorded July 1950 and released August 1950) featured Louis performing “one of the loudest, most overdriven, and distorted guitar stomps ever recorded” while playing on a rudimentary drum kit at the same time. It was the only record ever released on Sam Phillips’ early Phillips label before founding Sun Records. Louis’ electric guitar work is also considered a distant ancestor of heavy metal music.

His most notable recording at Sun Records was probably as guitarist on Rufus Thomas’s “Bear Cat”, recorded as an answer record to Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog”, which reached No. 3 on the R&B chart and resulted in legal action for copyright infringement. He also shared writing credit for the song “Tiger Man”, which has been recorded by Elvis Presley, among others.

Around 1950 he took over the Pepticon Boy radio program on WDIA from B. B. King.

He was also known as “The Pepticon Boy” and “The Be-Bop Boy”.

Little Joe Blue(guitar) 1934-1990 :: Little Joe Blue was an American blues singer, and guitarist.

Born Joseph Valery, Jr. in Vicksburg, Mississippi, his music was heavily influenced by the work of Louis Jordan, Joe Liggins, and B. B. King. He played at the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1974, made later trips to Europe in 1982, and appeared at the Chicago Blues Festival in 1986.

He did not turn to music as a profession until the late 1950s, when he was well into his 20s, forming his band the Midnighters in Detroit, Michigan at the end of the decade. By the early 1960s, Valery had moved to Reno where he began recording as an adjunct to his performances in local clubs, before moving on to Los Angeles, California. He recorded for various record labels, including Kent and Chess’ Checker Records division during the early to mid-1960s, and never entirely escaped the criticism that he was a B. B. King imitator, which dogged him right into the 1980s. The style that King popularized also happened to suit Valery, however, and he gained some credibility in 1966 when he racked up a modest hit in 1966 with the song “Dirty Work Is Going On,” which has since become a blues standard. He had extended stints with Jewel Records and Chess from the late 1960s into the early 1970s, and recorded until the end of the 1980s.

There is a CD of his work in print, the Evejim Records Little Joe Blue’s Greatest Hits, a reissue of two LPs, I’m Doing Alright and Dirty Work Going On, that he cut in the 1980s. His “Standing on the Threshold,” featuring a powerful vocal performance and some beautifully soaring horns behind some lean, mean guitar and piano, also appears on Jewel Spotlights the Blues, Vol. 1.

On Little Joe Blue’s Greatest Hits, the songs include a new version of his most famous song, “Dirty Work Going On”, “Encourage Me Baby”, “Don’t Start Me To Talking” and Little Milton’s “How Could You Do It to Me”.

Mighty Joe Young(guitar, electric) 1927 -1999 :: Mighty Joe Young was an American Chicago blues guitarist. Though born in Louisiana, Young was raised in Milwaukee. He first began playing in the early 1950s by singing in Milwaukee nightclubs. By the mid-1950s, Young had recorded his first song for Jiffy Records in Louisiana.

Before Young became known for his contributions to blues, he was training to become a boxer.

Young was one of the busiest sidemen in Chicago from the late 1950s. He was in Otis Rush’s band for several years in the 1960s, and played on Magic Sam’s albums, West Side Soul and Black Magic. He recorded his own solo album, Blues with a Touch of Soul, for Delmark Records in 1971. Young also worked alongside Willie Dixon, Billy Boy Arnold and Jimmy Rogers Young’s song, “Turning Point”, appeared in the Michael Mann feature film, Thief (1981).

Ray Charles(piano) 1930-2004  :: Ray Charles Robinson  was an American singer-songwriter, musician and composer known as Ray Charles. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records. He also helped racially integrate country and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, most notably with his Modern Sounds albums. While with ABC, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company. Frank Sinatra called Charles “the only true genius in show business,” although Charles downplayed this notion.

The influences upon his music were mainly jazz, blues, rhythm and blues and country artists of the day such as Art Tatum, Nat King Cole, Louis Jordan, Charles Brown, and Louis Armstrong. His playing reflected influences from country blues, barrelhouse and stride piano styles.

Rolling Stone ranked Charles number ten on their list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” in 2004, and number two on their November 2008 list of “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”. In honoring Charles, Billy Joel noted: “This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley.

Charles’ first recording session with Atlantic (“The Midnight Hour”/”Roll With my Baby”) came in September 1952, although his last Swingtime release (“Misery in my Heart”/”The Snow is Falling”) would not come until February 1953. He began recording jump blues and boogie-woogie style recordings as well as slower blues ballads where he continued to show the vocal influences of Nat “King” Cole and Charles Brown. “Mess Around” became Charles’ first Atlantic hit in 1953 and he later had hits the following year with “It Should Have Been Me” and “Don’t You Know”. He also recorded the songs, “Midnight Hour” and “Sinner’s Prayer”. Some elements of his own vocal style showed up in “Sinner’s Prayer”, “Mess Around” and “Don’t You Know”.

Late in 1954, Charles recorded his own composition, “I Got a Woman”, and the song became Charles’ first number-one R&B hit in 1955 and brought him to national prominence. The elements of “I Got a Woman” included a mixture of gospel, jazz and blues elements that would later prove to be seminal in the development of rock ‘n’ roll and soul music. He repeated this pattern throughout 1955 continuing through 1958 with records such as “This Little Girl of Mine”, “Drown in My Own Tears”, “Lonely Avenue”, “A Fool For You” and “The Night Time (Is the Right Time)”.

While still promoting his R&B career, Charles also recorded instrumental jazz albums such as 1957’s The Great Ray Charles. During this time, Charles also worked with jazz vibraphonist Milt Jackson, releasing Soul Brothers in 1958 and Soul Meeting in 1961. By 1958, Charles was not only headlining black venues such as The Apollo Theater and The Uptown Theater but also bigger venues such as The Newport Jazz Festival. It was at the Newport festival where he cut his first live album. In 1956, Charles recruited a young all-female singing group named the Cookies, and reshaped them as The Raelettes. Before then, Charles had used his wife and other musicians to back him up on recordings such as “This Little Girl of Mine” and “Drown In My Own Tears”. The Raelettes’ first recording session with Charles was on the bluesy-gospel inflected “Leave My Woman Alone”.

 Charles reached the pinnacle of his success at Atlantic with the release of “What’d I Say”, a complex song that combined gospel, jazz, blues and Latin music and a song that Charles would later say he composed spontaneously as he was performing in clubs and dances with his small band. Despite some radio stations banning the song because of its sexually suggestive lyrics, the song became a crossover top ten pop record, Charles’ first record to do so.

During his Atlantic years, Charles was heralded for his own inventive compositions, however, by the time of the release of the instrumental jazz LP Genius + Soul = Jazz (1960) for ABC’s subsidiary label Impulse!, Charles had virtually given up on writing original material and had begun to follow his eclectic impulses as an interpreter.

The 1962 album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music and its sequel Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol. 2, helped to bring country into the mainstream of music. His version of the Don Gibson song, I Can’t Stop Loving You topped the Pop chart for five weeks and stayed at No. 1 R&B for ten weeks in 1962. It also gave him his only number one record in the UK. In 1962, he founded his own record label, Tangerine Records, which ABC-Paramount promoted and distributed. He also had major pop hits in 1963 with “Busted” (US No. 4) and Take These Chains From My Heart (US No. 8). With the rise of younger soul performers such as James Brown, Otis Redding and Motown singers such as Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and its own blind artist, Stevie Wonder, Charles’ successes on the pop and R&B charts peaked after 1964 though he remained a huge concert draw.

Charles’ renewed chart success, however, proved to be short lived and by the late 1960s his music was rarely played on radio stations. The rise of psychedelic rock and harder forms of rock and R&B music reduced Charles’ radio appeal, as did his choosing to record pop standards and covers of then-modern day rock and soul hits—his earnings from owning his own masters taking away motivation to write new material.

Roy Buchanan(guitarist) 1939 - 1988  :: Roy Buchanan  was an American guitarist and blues musician. A pioneer of the Telecaster sound, Buchanan was a sideman and solo artist, with two gold albums early in his career, and two later solo albums that made it on to the Billboard chart. Despite never having achieved stardom, he is still considered a highly influential guitar player. Although not mentioned on the Rolling Stone list “100 Greatest Guitarists of all Time,” Guitar Player praised him as one of the “50 Greatest Tones of all Time.”

In 1958, Buchanan made his recording debut with Dale Hawkins, including playing the solo on “My Babe” for Chicago’s Chess Records. Two years later, during a tour through Toronto, Buchanan left Dale Hawkins to play for his cousin Ronnie Hawkins and tutor Ronnie’s guitar player, Robbie Robertson. Buchanan plays bass on the Ronnie Hawkins single, “Who Do You Love?”. Buchanan soon returned to the U.S. and Ronnie Hawkins’ group later gained fame as The Band.

In the early ’60s, Buchanan performed numerous gigs as a sideman with various rock bands, and played guitar in a number of sessions with Freddy Cannon, Merle Kilgore, and others. At the end of the 1960s, with a growing family, Buchanan left the music industry for a while to learn a trade, and trained as a hairdresser. In the early ’70s, Roy Buchanan performed extensively in the Washington D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area with the Danny Denver Band, which had a large following in the area.

In 1961 he released ‘Mule Train Stomp’, his first single for Swan, featuring rich guitar tones years ahead of their time. Buchanan’s 1962 recording with drummer Bobby Gregg, nicknamed “Potato Peeler,” first introduced the trademark Buchanan “pinch” harmonic. An effort to cash in on the British Invasion caught Buchanan with The British Walkers.

Buchanan’s life changed in 1971, when he gained national notice as the result of an hour-long PBS television documentary. Entitled Introducing Roy Buchanan, and sometimes mistakenly called The Best Unknown Guitarist in the World, it earned a record deal with Polydor Records and praise from John Lennon and Merle Haggard, besides an alleged invitation to join the Rolling Stones (which he turned down). He recorded five albums for Polydor, one of which, Second Album, went gold, and after that another three for Atlantic Records, one of which, 1977’s Loading Zone, also went gold. Buchanan quit recording in 1981, vowing never to enter a studio again unless he could record his own music his own way. Four years later, Alligator Records coaxed Buchanan back into the studio. His first album for Alligator, When a Guitar Plays the Blues, was released in the spring of 1985. It was the first time he had total artistic freedom in the studio. His second Alligator LP, Dancing on the Edge (with vocals on three tracks by Delbert McClinton), was released in the fall of 1986. He released the twelfth and last album of his career, Hot Wires, in 1987.