The advent of bebop added a fresh sound to American music. It also added new voices to some metropolitan radio stations: the late-night jazz DJs who specialized in presenting this new music to their fellow hipster nightflies. To recognize the work of the groundbreaking DJs who lent them critical exposure, jazz musicians of the period would occasionally write songs in their honor. Here are five of those songs.
Charles Mingus was a virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer. Influenced both by church choirs and Duke Ellington, he studied double bass and composition with classical masters.
Repression of African Americans didn’t stop at the end of the Civil War, and prisons and chain gangs were full of black people arrested for minor violations. This song, “Another Man Done Gone”, tells of the death of a man on one of those chain gangs.
Folklorist Alan Lomax recorded Vera Hall singing “Another Man Done Gone” in 1940, and praised her as having the "loveliest untrained voice [he] had ever recorded."
Bassist Buster Williams is a living legend of jazz,who has worked with Miles Davis, Count Basie, Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey, Chet Baker, McCoy Tyner, Woody Shaw, Benny Golson, and Kenny Baron, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson.
Lonnie Johnson was one of the first American guitar masters, with a style that bridged jazz and blues, as well as country styles. Though often labeled as a “blues” player, he was versatile and accomplished enough to be a guest artist with Louis Armstong’s Hot Five in 1927, and with Duke Ellington in 1928.
Among his many contributions, he is considered the first to play single-string guitar solos and was a major influence on jazz guitar pioneers Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. He recorded “Somebody’s Got To Go” in 1941.
Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote in 2003: “Mr. Galbán was one of the wonders of Cuban music in the 1960s. His playing pulled together two almost contradictory approaches: the floating reverb of surf guitar and the percussive, snapping sound of the tres, the small guitar that’s a fulcrum between rhythm and melody in Cuban son groups.”
The 12th official Jazz Appreciation Month began when April did. But today, the Smithsonian Museum of American History, which founded the JAM campaign, kick started its own celebration with a series of performances, discussions and ceremonies.
The incredibly talented organist Joey DeFrancesco comes from a musical family, brought up in the rich Philadelphia jazz scene: his grandfather played reeds, his dad Papa John DeFrancesco is a fine jazz organist. Joey went to jazz clubs with his father and learned the piano and the B-3, and by age 6, he was sitting in on his father's gigs.
His unmistakable big warm sound was based in the blues, and he polished it on the road as a 17 year-old addition to bluesman Lowell Fulson's band in the early 1950s. That band also included Ray Charles.