Jazz and Blues

News about jazz, blues, Studio Sessions, and music samplings from jazz artists in the northwest and around the world.

FOTOSONS.COM

Bebo Valdes, Cuban pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader died Friday March 22, 2013.  He was 94.

It’s one of the defining songs of the Blues, written by one of its formative figures, Son House. The opening lyric “Woke up this morning…” would be considered trite today, but its 1930 recording date makes it more iconic than anything.

With its simple but insistent guitar rhythm and mournful lyrics, “Walkin’ Blues” is a virtual blueprint for Delta Blues, and a powerful influence on the development of modern blues.

kuumbwajazz.org

A protégé of the legendary jazz master Dizzy Gillespie, a founding member of the innovative Cuban group Irakere, a renowned classical musician who performs regularly with symphony orchestras around the world:  trumpeter, pianist and composer Arturo Sandoval returns to Seattle's Jazz Alley this week.

Verve Records

Over the past few years, Take 5’s theme-based music lists have covered a wide variety of subjects. We’ve covered all the seasons of the year, all the holidays, different types of weather, the careers of jazz legends, the cutting-edge work of up-and-coming jazz artists and have gotten into the musical minutiae of things like flowers, birds, baseball, prohibition and civil rights.  And now it’s time for Take 5 to go meta and present a five-song list of songs about….LISTS.  It had to happen sooner or later.

Louis Jordan is one of the pioneers of American music, and an important force in the transition from the Jazz Era to Rock and Roll. He was one of the first to down-size the big band format to a combo of five or six players, pounding out high energy jump, swing and rhythm and blues for dance audiences.

One of the early bands to use electric guitar, he established a musical style that rock originators like Bill Haley followed closely. Louis Jordan’s 1947 recording of “Early in the Morning” is an example of the influence of Afro Cuban rhythms on American music.

Joe Conzo, Jr.

“If it wasn’t for the Puerto Rican community of Spanish Harlem, of the South Bronx, Afro Cuban music would never have survived in this country, and expanded to the heights that it has.”—Bobby Sanabria from the film “From Mambo to Hip Hop”

John Froschauer

KPLU's Midday Jazz Host Dick Stein is one smart cookie. And his ideas aren’t half-baked, either.  

Stein was honored today by the Girl Scouts of Western Washington on the Pacific Lutheran University campus for coming up with a good idea that really stuck.

Like thousands of other Western Washington residents, Stein buys Girl Scout Cookies every year. 

Most blues started in the country before becoming urbanized, and Bukka White brought his brand of Mississippi blues to Chicago in the 1930’s and 40’s.

It is likely that he met and learned from elemental bluesman Charley Patton, and he was known for playing a National steel guitar with a slide. He recorded “Shake ‘Em On Down” in 1937 and established the cutting edge.

stereophile.com

The pioneering Cuban jazz band, Irakere, nurtured some of Cuba's leading musicians who went on to gain international fame.

Time is on their side: Ageless jazz drumming

Mar 6, 2013

I've been listening to two very good new albums led by drummers. After learning that both men are in their early 70s, I can't help but wonder how I process that fact in what I hear.

"Killer" Ray Appleton (b. 1941) and Barry Altschul (b. 1943) practice different styles. But they both came of musical age in the hard-bop era, spent many years living in Europe and eventually returned to New York. In other words, they've each got a lot of experience.

Little Walter made a harmonica sound like nothing that had been heard before – somewhere between a saxophone and an electric guitar. By the early 1950’s he not only used amplification, he used the amp to creatively alter his sound with distortion and sonic effects.

You might say he was the Jimi Hendrix of the harmonica. One song in particular has rolled through history: 'Mellow Down Easy.'

afrocubanlatinjazz4.blogspot.com

William Correa was born to Puerto Rican parents in Brooklyn, and was raised surrounded by music in El Barrio.  At 14 he began learning to play bongos, later graduating to conga, timbales and trap drums.  

It’s another one of those mysteries — who actually wrote “One Way Out”?

Elmore James recorded it in 1961, but didn’t release it until ’65. Sonny Boy Williamson released a version in 1961 and 1965 and G.L. Crockett had a 1965 hit with the same song under a different name.

Daniel Sheehan

Seattle is home to a number of very talented musicians whose focus is Latin Jazz.  Here are three bands well worth searching for in the clubs and concert halls of the Emerald City:

www.theculturemom.com

Three Seattle-area high school jazz bands have been selected from nearly 100 schools across the country to compete in this year’s prestigious Essentially Ellington Competition in New York City.

Jazz bands from Garfield and Roosevelt in Seattle as well as Edmonds-Woodway were the only three high schools selected from a region that includes 11 states and several Canadian provinces.

Can you learn to like music you hate?

Feb 19, 2013

You hear some music you hate. That's fair. We all do on occasion. But can you learn to love — or at least not loathe — that music? Can you intentionally transform the visceral response you have to certain pieces and styles, or does that happen at some more incalculable, subtle level?

Researchers at Australia's University of Melbourne say that the more dissonance (which they describe as "perceived roughness, harshness, unpleasantness, or difficulty in listening to the sound") that we hear in music, the less we enjoy said music. Seems obvious enough, right?

allaboutjazz.com

The KPLU Travel Club trip to Cuba was a great success, and the days and nights were filled with music! 

Use the arrows above the picture to flip through the slide show of 15 of my music-related photos from Cuba.

sfjazz.org

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) encourages us to acknowlege World Radio Day

"...a day to celebrate radio as a medium; to improve international cooperation between broadcasters; and to encourage major networks and community radio alike to promote access to information and freedom of expression over the airwaves. "

Joel Mann

It’s one of the most iconic songs from New Orleans, and like the city, it’s origin and meaning are a product of may different influences.

Its meaning is still being debated by scholars and linguists, but “Iko Iko” was first recorded in 1953 by James “Sugar Boy” Crawford, who wrote the pop song “Jock-A-Mo” based on 2 different Mardi Gras Indian chants. The Mardi Gras “Indians” are actually African-American groups who have been parading as Indian tribes at Mardi Gras since the mid-19th Century.

Justin Styer / KPLU

Cuban bandleader, composer and arranger Juan de Marcos González is known as the "Quincy Jones of Cuba" and as the architect of the Afro-Cuban All Stars (the foundation for The Buena Vista Social Club), and the founder of another successful Cuban band, Sierra Maestra.

His father was a singer for Arsenio Rodriguez's Orchestra; his uncle was Ruben González, famed pianist for the Buena Vista Social Club.

Juan's mission is the preservation of his rich musical heritage.

Last month more than 4,600 votes were cast by our listeners for the songs they felt were the greatest jazz vocal of all time.

The votes have been counted and the top 50 songs are now available below in our 24/7 stream!

When your grandfather is the greatest living drummer

Feb 6, 2013

The drummer Marcus Gilmore is coming off a major year in his career. In 2012, DownBeat magazine named him its top Rising Star Drummer in its long-running Critics Poll; pianist Vijay Iyer's trio, of which Gilmore is a member, also took the Jazz Album and Jazz Group of the Year categories.

Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup has been called the “father of rock and roll” for writing the song that launched Elvis Presley’s career. His own career had a rough start-- after migrating from Mississippi around 1940, he was living on the Chicago streets, playing for tips.

His unique, though unpolished sound was distinctive enough to land him a record deal, and he had several songs on the mid-40’s r & b charts. Despite the success of his songs, he was never paid fairly for the music he composed and worked as a laborer to support his family.

After a slew of multidisc sets devoted to key points in the career of Miles Davis, you'd think Columbia Records would have unearthed every speck of consequential music by now. But not quite.

This week, Columbia brings out Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 — a three-CD, one-DVD set devoted to the jazz maverick's "lost" quintet, his touring band from 1969.

In the Western Hemisphere, January is typically the coldest month of the year.  Most of us feel that if we can somehow drag ourselves through January, things will begin to turn around and we’ll be on the road to springtime. 

But January is also typically the month that feels as if it will never end.  So as we slog through the cold rain and snow, awaiting January’s demise, here are five winter blues songs to help get us through:

Charkrem

Latin Jazz artists are well-represented at the new SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, which had its grand opening this week with an all-star concert, broadcast and video streamed on public radio stations.

Thirty years after presenting its first concerts in San Francisco, the organization SFJAZZ has built a permanent home and performance venue. The SFJAZZ Center, conceived as the first stand-alone building for jazz in the U.S., opens with a star-studded concert tonight, hosted by Bill Cosby. 

Artists include: McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Esperanza Spalding, Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano, Bobby Hutcherson, Mary Stallings, John Handy, Pete Escovedo, Eric Reed, and more! 

WATCH LIVE NOW!

Thirty years after presenting its first concerts in San Francisco, the organization SFJAZZ has built a permanent home and performance venue. The SFJAZZ Center, conceived as the first stand-alone building for jazz in the U.S., opened with a star-studded concert on Jan. 23.

Listen to the concert. Video will be available in the following days. 

history.com

On the day we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let's revisit his thoughts on Jazz and Blues from his address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival:

pmwd@flicker

This native of the South Bronx grew up with jazz and Cuban music simultaneously.  Playing trumpet and conga drums, he came up in the bands of Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Palmieri and Manny Oquendo. 

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