mick’s blog

Joe Wilder

February 22, 2021

Joseph Benjamin Wilder (February 22, 1922 – May 9, 2014) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer.

Wilder was awarded the Temple University Jazz Master’s Hall of Fame Award in 2006. The National Endowment for the Arts honored him with its highest honor in jazz, the NEA Jazz Masters Award for 2008.

Wilder was born into a musical family led by his father Curtis, a bassist and bandleader in Philadelphia. Wilder’s first performances took place on the radio program “Parisian Tailor’s Colored Kiddies of the Air”. He and the other young musicians were backed up by such illustrious bands as Duke Ellington‘s and Louis Armstrong‘s that were also then playing at the Lincoln Theater. Wilder studied at the Mastbaum School of Music in Philadelphia, but turned to jazz when he felt that there was little future for an African-American classical musician. At the age of 19, Wilder joined his first touring big band, Les Hite’s band. Wilder was one of the first thousand African Americans to serve in the Marines during World War II. He worked first in Special Weapons and eventually became Assistant Bandmaster at the headquarters’ band. Following the war during the 1940s and early 1950s, he played in the orchestras of Jimmie Lunceford, Herbie Fields, Sam Donahue, Lucky Millinder, Noble Sissle, Dizzy Gillespie, and finally with the Count BasieOrchestra. From 1957 to 1974, Wilder did studio work for ABC-TV, New York City, and in the pit orchestras for Broadway musicals, while building his reputation as a soloist with his albums for Savoy (1956) and Columbia (1959). His Jazz from Peter Gunn (1959), features ten songs from Henry Mancini (“Peter Gunn“) television score in melodic and swinging fashion with a quartet. He was also a regular sideman with such musicians as NEA Jazz Masters Hank Jones, Gil Evans, and Benny Goodman. He became a favorite with vocalists and played for Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Johnny Mathis, Harry Belafonte, Eileen Farrell, Tony Bennett, and many others. Wilder earned a bachelor of music degree in 1953, studying classical trumpet at the Manhattan School of Music with Joseph Alessi, where he was also principal trumpet with the school’s symphony orchestra under conductor Jonel Perlea. In the 1960s, he performed on several occasions with the New York Philharmonic under Andre Kostelanetz and Pierre Boulez and played lead for the Symphony Of The New World from 1965 to 1971.

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Claude “Fiddler” Williams

February 22, 2021

Claude “Fiddler” Williams (February 22, 1908 – April 26, 2004) was an American jazz violinist and guitarist who recorded and performed into his 90s. He was the first guitarist to record with Count Basie and the first musician to be inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.

Claude Gabriel Williams was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma on February 22, 1908, the son of Lee J. Williams, a blacksmith, and Laura Williams, home maker. He was the youngest of six children. Talented from a young age, Williams could play multiple instruments in his brother-in-law’s string band: banjo, cello, guitar, mandolin. Their early band played outside, in hotels, and at barbershops around their hometown of Muskogee, Oklahoma and on a circuit up through Oklahoma City. At the time he’d make six to seven dollars for a night of playing. He commented that at this time people would work the whole week for about five or six dollars. At a concert in Muskogee he heard Joe Venuti play, and this inspired Williams to start playing jazz violin.

He went to Kansas City, Missouri in 1927 and became part of the Twelve Clouds of Joy, led by trumpeter Terrence Holder and then Andy Kirk, with Mary Lou Williams on piano. He recorded with them for Brunswick Records the following year. After leaving Kirk, he played in Chicago in a band with Nat King Cole and his brother Eddie Cole and then became the first guitarist to record with Count Basie.

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Buddy Tate

February 22, 2021

George HolmesBuddyTate (February 22, 1913 – February 10, 2001) was a jazz saxophonist and clarinetist. Tate was born in Sherman, Texas, and began performing on alto saxophone. According to the website All About Jazz, Tate was playing in public as early as 1925 in a band called McCloud’s Night Owls.” Tate’s 2001 New York Times obituary stated that “he began his career in the late 1920s, playing around the Southwest with bands led by Terrence Holder, Andy Kirk and Nat Towles.”

Tate switched to tenor saxophone, making a name for himself in bands such as the one led by Andy Kirk. He joined Count Basie in 1939 and stayed with him until 1948. He had been selected by Basie after the death of Herschel Evans, which Tate stated he had predicted in a dream.

After his period with Basie ended, he worked with several other bands before he found success on his own, starting in 1953 in Harlem. His group worked at the Celebrity Club from 1953 to 1974. In the late 1970s, he co-led a band with Paul Quinichette and worked with Benny Goodman.

In 1980, he was injured by scalding water in a hotel shower, which kept him inactive for four months. He later suffered from a serious illness. The 1990s saw him slow down, but he remained active playing with Lionel Hampton among others.

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World Music Memorial with Joe Burke

February 22, 2021

Joseph Aloysius Burke (March 18, 1884 – June 9, 1950) was an American composer, pianist and actor. His successful songs, written with various lyricists, included “Down Honolulu Way” (1916), “Oh How I Miss You Tonight” (1924), “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” (1929), “Moon Over Miami” (1935), “Getting Some Fun Out of Life” (1937) and “Rambling Rose” (1948).

Joe passed peacefully from this life on Saturday 20th February surrounded by his family in the care of Galway Hospice. With current restrictions on attending funerals, it may not be possible for many to attend Joe’s funeral. A condolence book has been opened at the bottom of this notice where you can leave a message for Joe’s family to offer your condolences.

 

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Daily Roots with Mojo Antwi

February 22, 2021

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Surviving the Pandemic and Realizing Racial Justice

February 21, 2021

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The Cosmos with NGC 2244

February 21, 2021

In the heart of the Rosette Nebula lies a bright open cluster of stars that lights up the nebula. The stars of NGC 2244 formed from the surrounding gas only a few million years ago. The featured image taken in January using multiple exposures and very specific colors of Sulfur (shaded red), Hydrogen (green), and Oxygen (blue), captures the central region in tremendous detail. A hot wind of particles streams away from the cluster stars and contributes to an already complex menagerie of gas and dust filaments while slowly evacuating the cluster center. The Rosette Nebula‘s center measures about 50 light-years across, lies about 5,200 light-years away, and is visible with binoculars towards the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros).

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Corey Harris

February 21, 2021

Corey Harris (born February 21, 1969 in Denver, Colorado, United States) is an American blues and reggae musician, currently residing in Charlottesville, Virginia. Along with Keb’ Mo’ and Alvin Youngblood Hart, he raised the flag of acoustic guitar blues in the mid-1990s. He was featured on the 2003 PBS television mini-series, The Blues, in an episode directed by Martin Scorsese.

Harris was born and raised near Denver, Colorado. He graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine with a bachelor’s degree in 1991, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2007. Harris received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for language studies in Cameroon in his early twenties, before taking a teaching post in Napoleonville, Louisiana under the Teach For America program. His debut solo album Between Midnight and Day(1995) was produced by Grammy nominee/composer/producer Larry Hoffman, who discovered him in 1994 in Helena, Arkansas. The record included covers of Sleepy John Estes, Fred McDowell, Charlie Patton, Muddy Waters, and Booker White. His second recording with Hoffman, Fish Ain’t Bitin’, was the recipient of the 1997 W.C. Handy Award for Best Acoustic Blues Album of the Year. Recorded in New Orleans, it featured Harris’ original songs, vocal, and guitar backed on certain tracks by a trio of tuba and two trombones arranged by producer Hoffman. In 2002, Harris collaborated with Ali Farka Toure on his album Mississippi to Mali, fusing blues and Toure’s music from northern Mali. In 2003, he contributed to the Northern Bluesrelease Johnny’s Blues: A Tribute To Johnny Cash.

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Nina Simone

February 21, 2021

Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), known professionally as Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.

The sixth of eight children born to a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of a few supporters in her hometown, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She then applied for a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was denied admission despite a well-received audition, which she attributed to racial discrimination. In 2003, just days before her death, the Institute awarded her an honorary degree.

To make a living, Simone started playing piano at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She changed her name to “Nina Simone” to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play “the devil’s music” or so-called “cocktail piano”. She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist. She went on to record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with Little Girl Blue. She had a hit single in the United States in 1958 with “I Loves You, Porgy“. Her musical style fused gospel and pop with classical music, in particular Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.

Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina. The sixth of eight children in a poor family, she began playing piano at the age of three or four; the first song she learned was “God Be With You, Till We Meet Again”. Demonstrating a talent with the piano, she performed at her local church. Her concert debut, a classical recital, was given when she was 12. Simone later said that during this performance, her parents, who had taken seats in the front row, were forced to move to the back of the hall to make way for white people.She said that she refused to play until her parents were moved back to the front, and that the incident contributed to her later involvement in the civil rights movement. Simone’s mother, Mary Kate Waymon (née Irvin, November 20, 1901 – April 30, 2001), was a Methodist minister and a housemaid. Her father, Rev. John Devan Waymon (June 24, 1898 – October 23, 1972),was a handyman who at one time owned a dry-cleaning business, but also suffered bouts of ill health. Simone’s music teacher helped establish a special fund to pay for her education.Subsequently, a local fund was set up to assist her continued education. With the help of this scholarship money, she was able to attend Allen High School for Girls in Asheville, North Carolina.

After her graduation, Simone spent the summer of 1950 at the Juilliard School as a student of Carl Friedberg, preparing for an audition at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Her application, however, was denied. Only 3 of 72 applicants were accepted that year, but as her family had relocated to Philadelphia in the expectation of her entry to Curtis, the blow to her aspirations was particularly heavy. For the rest of her life, she suspected that her application had been denied because of racial prejudice. Discouraged, she took private piano lessons with Vladimir Sokoloff, a professor at Curtis, but never could re-apply due to the fact that at the time the Curtis institute did not accept students over 21. She took a job as a photographer’s assistant, but also found work as an accompanist at Arlene Smith‘s vocal studio and taught piano from her home in Philadelphia.

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Tadd Dameron

February 21, 2021

Tadley Ewing Peake Dameron (February 21, 1917 – March 8, 1965) was an American jazz composer, arranger, and pianist. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Dameron was the most influential arranger of the bebop era, but also wrote charts for swing and hard bop players. The bands he arranged for included those of Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Jimmie Lunceford, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, and Sarah Vaughan. In 1940-41 he was the piano player and arranger for the Kansas City band Harlan Leonard and his Rockets. He and lyricist Carl Sigman wrote “If You Could See Me Now” for Sarah Vaughan and it became one of her first signature songs. According to the composer, his greatest influences were George Gershwin and Duke Ellington.

In the late 1940s, Dameron wrote arrangements for Gillespie’s big band, who gave the première of his large-scale orchestral piece Soulphony in Three Hearts at Carnegie Hall in 1948. Also in 1948, Dameron led his own group in New York, which included Fats Navarro; the following year Dameron was at the Paris Jazz Festival with Miles Davis. From 1961 he scored for recordings by Milt Jackson, Sonny Stitt, and Blue Mitchell.

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Scrapper Blackwell

February 21, 2021

Francis Hillman “Scrapper” Blackwell (February 21, 1903 – October 7, 1962) was an American blues guitarist and singer, best known as half of the guitar-piano duo he formed with Leroy Carr in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He was an acoustic single-note picker in the Chicago blues and Piedmont blues styles. Some critics have noted that he veered towards jazz.

Blackwell was born in Syracuse, South Carolina, one of sixteen children of Payton and Elizabeth Blackwell. He was part Cherokee. He grew up in and spent most of his life in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was given the nickname “Scrapper” by his grandmother, because of his fiery nature. His father played the fiddle, but Blackwell was a self-taught guitarist, building his first guitar out of a cigar box, wood and wire. He also learned to play the piano, occasionally performing professionally. By his teens, Blackwell was a part-time musician, traveling as far as Chicago. He was known for being withdrawn and hard to work with, but he established a rapport with the pianist Leroy Carr, whom he met in Indianapolis in the mid-1920s, and they had a productive working relationship. Carr convinced Blackwell to record with him for Vocalion Records in 1928; the result was “How Long, How Long Blues“, the biggest blues hit of that year.

Blackwell also made solo recordings for Vocalion, including “Kokomo Blues”, which was transformed into “Old Kokomo Blues” by Kokomo Arnold and later reworked as “Sweet Home Chicago” by Robert Johnson. Blackwell and Carr toured throughout the American Midwest and South between 1928 and 1935 as stars of the blues circuit, recording over 100 sides. “Prison Bound Blues” (1928), “Mean Mistreater Mama” (1934), and “Blues Before Sunrise” (1934) were popular tracks.

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Andrés Segovia

February 21, 2021

Andrés Segovia Torres, 1st Marquis of Salobreña (21 February 1893 – 2 June 1987) was a virtuoso Spanish classical guitarist from Linares, Spain. Many professional classical guitarists today were students of Segovia, or students of his students. Segovia’s contribution to the modern-romantic repertoire not only included commissions but also his own transcriptions of classical or baroque works. He is remembered for his expressive performances: his wide palette of tone, and his distinctive musical personality, phrasing and style.

Segovia was born on 21 February 1893 in Linares, Jaén, Spain. He was sent at a very young age to live with his uncle Eduardo and aunt María. Eduardo arranged for Segovia’s first music lessons with a violin teacher after recognizing that Segovia had an aptitude for music. This proved to be an unhappy introduction to music for the young Segovia because of the teacher’s strict methods, and Eduardo stopped the lessons. His uncle decided to move to Granada to allow Segovia to obtain a better education; after arriving in Granada, Segovia recommenced his musical studies. Segovia was aware of flamenco during his formative years as a musician but stated that he “did not have a taste” for the form and chose instead the works of Fernando Sor, Francisco Tárrega, and other classical composers. Tárrega agreed to give the self-taught Segovia some lessons but died before they could meet, and Segovia states that his early musical education involved the “double function of professor and pupil in the same body”.

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World Music with Sika Kokoo

February 21, 2021

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Daily Roots with Peter Broggs

February 21, 2021

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Surviving the Pandemic and Realizing Racial Justice

February 20, 2021

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Buffy Sainte-Marie

February 20, 2021

Buffy Sainte-Marie, CC (born Beverly Sainte-Marie, c. February 20, 1941) is an Indigenous CanadianAmerican singer-songwriter, musician, Oscar-winning composer, visual artist, educator, pacifist, and social activist. Throughout her career in all of these areas, her work has focused on issues facing Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Her singing and writing repertoire also includes subjects of love, war, religion, and mysticism. She has won recognition, awards and honours for her music as well as her work in education and social activism. Among her most popular songs are “Universal Soldier“, “Cod’ine“, “Until It’s Time for You to Go“, “Now That the Buffalo’s Gone“, and her covers of Mickey Newbury‘s “Mister Can’t You See” and Joni Mitchell‘s “The Circle Game“. Her music has been recorded by Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Donovan, Joe Cocker, Jennifer Warnes, Barbra Streisand, Shirley Bassey, Roberta Flack, Janis Joplin, and Glen Campbell.

In 1983, Sainte-Marie became the first indigenous person to win an Oscar. Her song “Up Where We Belong“, co-written for the film An Officer and a Gentleman, won both the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 55th Academy Awards and the Golden Globe for Best Original Song.

In 1997, she founded the Cradleboard Teaching Project, an educational curriculum devoted to better understanding Native Americans.

Sainte-Marie was born in 1941 on the Piapot 75 reserve in the Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan, Canada. She was abandoned as an infant and then adopted by Albert and Winifred Sainte-Marie, a Wakefield, Massachusetts couple of Mi’kmaq descent. She attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, earning degrees in teaching and Oriental philosophy and graduating in the top ten of her class.

In 1964, on a return trip to the Piapot Cree reserve in Canada for a powwow, she was welcomed and (in a Cree Nation context) adopted by the youngest son of Chief Piapot, Emile Piapot and his wife, Clara Starblanket Piapot, who added to Sainte-Marie’s cultural value and place in native culture.

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The Cosmos with NGC 5792

February 20, 2021

NGC 5792 is a barred spiral galaxy about 83 million light-years away in the constellation Libra. There is a magnitude 9.6 star on the northwestern edge of the galaxy.

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Nancy Wilson

February 20, 2021

Nancy Sue Wilson (February 20, 1937 – December 13, 2018) was an American singer and actress whose career spanned over five decades, from the mid-1950s until her retirement in the early 2010s. She was especially notable for her single “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am” and her version of the standard “Guess Who I Saw Today“. Wilson recorded more than 70 albums and won three Grammy Awards for her work. During her performing career, Wilson was labeled a singer of blues, jazz, R&B, pop, and soul; a “consummate actress”; and “the complete entertainer”. The title she preferred, however, was “song stylist”. She received many nicknames including “Sweet Nancy”, “The Baby”, “Fancy Miss Nancy” and “The Girl With the Honey-Coated Voice”.

Nancy Sue Wilson was born on February 20, 1937, in Chillicothe, Ohio, the first of six children of Olden Wilson, an iron foundry worker, and Lillian Ryan, a maid. Wilson’s father would buy records to listen to at home. At an early age Wilson heard recordings from Billy Eckstine, Nat King Cole, and Jimmy Scott with Lionel Hampton‘s Big Band. Wilson says: “The juke joint down on the block had a great jukebox and there I heard Dinah Washington, Ruth Brown, LaVerne Baker, Little Esther

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Frank Isola

February 20, 2021

Frank Isola (February 20, 1925 – December 12, 2004 in Detroit, Michigan) was an American jazz drummer.

Isola was born and raised in Detroit and was heavily influenced by Gene Krupa. He played in the U.S. military during World War II (1943–45), and then studied and performed in California with Bobby Sherwood and Earle Spencer. He then moved to New York City, where he played with Johnny Bothwell and Elliot Lawrence in 1947. Following this he played with Stan Getz (1951–53) and Gerry Mulligan (1953–54), as well as with Mose Allison, Eddie Bert, Bob Brookmeyer, Jimmy Raney, Johnny Williams and Tony Fruscella.

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Charles Kynard

February 20, 2021

Charles Kynard (20 February 1933 – 8 July 1979) was an American soul jazz/acid jazz organist born in St. Louis, Missouri.

Kynard first played piano then switched to organ and led a trio in Kansas City including Tex Johnson (flute, sax) and Leroy Anderson (drums). In 1963, he settled to Los Angeles and his band featured guitarists Cal Green and Ray Crawford, drummer Johnny Kirkwood.

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Interviews