Mory Kanté Day

March 29, 2020

Mory Kanté (born 29 March 1950) is a Guinean vocalist and player of the kora harp. He is best known internationally for his 1987 hit song “Yé ké yé ké“, which reached number-one in Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, and Spain. The album it came from, Akwaba Beach, was the best-selling African record of its time. Mory Kanté was born of mixed Malian and Guinean descent, into one of Guinea’s best known families of griot (hereditary) musicians. After being brought up in the Mandinka griot tradition in Guinea, he was sent to Mali at the age of seven years – where he learned to play the kora, as well as important voice traditions, some of which are necessary to become a griot. As a Muslim, he integrated aspects of Islamic music in his work. In 1971 Kanté became a member of the Rail Band, in which Salif Keita was a singer. Keïta left the band in 1973, leaving Kanté as the singer.

In 1987, he released the song “Yé ké yé ké“, which was one of Africa’s best-ever selling hits as well as being a European number-one in 1988, making it the first ever African single to sell over one million copies.[citation needed] The album it came from, Akwaba Beach, became the best-selling African record of its time. The album also featured an Islamic song, “Inch Allah”, alongside the pop hit “Yé ké yé ké”. The album also featured the song “Tama”, which inspired two Bollywood songs, “Tamma Tamma” in Thanedaar (1990) and “Jumma Chumma” in Hum (1991), the latter also featuring another song “Ek Doosre Se” which was inspired by “Inch Allah”.

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Michael Brecker Day

March 29, 2020

Michael Leonard Brecker (March 29, 1949 – January 13, 2007) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. He was awarded 15 Grammy Awards as both performer and composer. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music in 2004, and was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 2007. Michael Brecker was born in Philadelphia and raised in Cheltenham Township, a local suburb. Born and raised in a Jewish family, his father Bob (Bobby) was a lawyer who played jazz piano and his mother Sylvia was a portrait artist.

Brecker was in great demand as a soloist and sideman. He performed with bands whose styles ranged from mainstream jazz to mainstream rock. Altogether, he appeared on over 700 albums, either as a band member or a guest soloist. He put his stamp on numerous pop and rock recordings as a soloist. His featured guest solos with James Taylor and Paul Simon are examples of that strand of his work. Other notable jazz and rock collaborations included work with Steely Dan, Lou Reed, Donald Fagen, Dire Straits, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, John Lennon, Aerosmith, Dan Fogelberg, Frank Sinatra, Frank Zappa, Bruce Springsteen, Roger Daltrey, Parliament-Funkadelic, Cameo, Yoko Ono, Todd Rundgren, Chaka Khan, Orleans, Blue Öyster Cult, The Manhattan Transfer, Average White Band, Players Association, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Everything but the Girl, Patti Austin, Art Garfunkel, Carly Simon, The Brothers Johnson, and Karen Carpenter.

Brecker also recorded or performed with leading jazz figures during his era, including Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Chet Baker, Jan Akkerman, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius, McCoy Tyner, Pat Metheny, Elvin Jones, Claus Ogerman, Billy Cobham, Horace Silver, Mike Stern, Mike Mainieri, [(Max Roach)],Steps Ahead, Dave Holland, Joey Calderazzo, Kenny Kirkland, Bob James, Grant Green, Don Cherry, Hubert Laws, Don Alias, Larry Goldings, Bob Mintzer, Gary Burton, Yusef Lateef, Steve Gadd, Dave Brubeck, Charlie Haden, John Abercrombie, Vince Mendoza, Roy Hargrove and Spyro Gyra.

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Astrud Gilberto Day

March 29, 2020

Astrud Gilberto (Brazilian Portuguese: [aʃˈtɾud ʒiwˈbɛʁtu]; born March 29, 1940) is a Brazilian samba and bossa nova singer. She became popular in the 1960s after her performance of the song “The Girl from Ipanema“.

Astrud Gilberto was born Astrud Evangelina Weinert, the daughter of a Brazilian mother and a German father, in the state of Bahia, Brazil. She was raised in Rio de Janeiro. She married João Gilberto in 1959 and had a son, Marcelo Gilberto. She has another son from a second marriage, Gregory Lasorsa . Later she began a relationship with her husband’s musical collaborator, American jazz saxophone player Stan Getz.. She emigrated to the United States in 1963, residing in the U.S. from that time. Astrud and João divorced in the mid-1960s.

She sang on two tracks on the influential 1963 album Getz/Gilberto featuring João Gilberto, Stan Getz, and Antônio Carlos Jobim, despite having never sung professionally before this recording. The 1964 single version of “The Girl from Ipanema“, taken from the 1963 album, omitted the Portuguese lyrics sung by João Gilberto, and established Astrud Gilberto as a Bossa Nova singer. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc. In 1964, Gilberto appeared in the films Get Yourself a College Girl and The Hanged Man. Her first solo album was The Astrud Gilberto Album (1965). Upon moving to the United States, she went on tour with Getz. Beginning as a singer of bossa nova and American jazz standards, Gilberto started to record her own compositions in the 1970s. She has recorded songs in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Japanese.

In 1982, Gilberto’s son Marcelo joined her group, touring with her for more than a decade as bassist. In addition, he collaborated as co-producer of the albums Live in New York (1996) and Temperance (1997). Her son Gregory Lasorsa played guitar on the Temperance album on the song “Beautiful You”, which features singer Michael Franks.

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Braguinha Day

March 29, 2020

Carlos Alberto Ferreira Braga (March 29, 1907 – December 24, 2006), commonly known as Braguinha (“Little Braga”) or João de Barro (“the Hornero“), was a Brazilian songwriter and occasional singer. He was born in Rio de Janeiro, where he lived all his life. Braga studied architecture in his youth, and, when he started to write songs, he adopted the pseudonym “João de Barro” (the name of a bird that builds elaborate mud nests), as his father wouldn’t approve of seeing the family name associated with the world of samba and popular music, then on the fringes of society.

Braguinha is most famous for his Carnaval marchinhas (a genre of light-hearted songs related rhythmically to the military march). Many of those, some composed as early as the 1930s, have become standards of Brazilian popular music, being sung by revellers year after year during Carnaval celebrations. His marchinhas have been recorded by some of the best-known Carnaval singers of the 20th century, such as Carmen Miranda.

In 1937, Braguinha wrote the lyrics to “Carinhoso“, composed by Pixinguinha twenty years earlier. The sophisticated samba-choro would become one of the most recorded songs in Brazilian musical history. Another beloved classic, the lyrical “Pastorinhas”, was written in collaboration with legendary samba composer Noel Rosa.

He died on December 24, 2006, at the age of 99; the official cause of death was described as multiple organ failure caused by a general infection.

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World Music with Charles Maimarosia

March 29, 2020

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Daily Roots with Morgan Heritage

March 29, 2020

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The Cosmos with NGC 4237

March 28, 2020

This picture taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the galaxy NGC 4237. Located about 60 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Coma Berenices (Berenice’s Hair), NGC 4237 is classified as a flocculent spiral galaxy. This means that its spiral arms are not clearly distinguishable from each other, as in grand design spiral galaxies, but are instead patchy and discontinuous. This gives the galaxy a fluffy appearance, somewhat resembling cotton wool.

Astronomers studying NGC 4237 were actually more interested in its galactic bulge — its bright central region. By learning more about these bulges, we can explore how spiral galaxies have evolved, and study the growth of the supermassive black holes that lurk at the centers of most spirals. There are indications that the mass of the black hole at the center of a galaxy is related to the mass of its bulge. However, this connection is still uncertain, and why these two components should be so strongly correlated is still a mystery — one that astronomers hope to solve by studying galaxies in the nearby Universe, such as NGC 4237.

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Ray McKinney Day

March 28, 2020

Born: March 28, 1931 Died: August 3, 2004 Detroit

The great tenor saxophonist Lester “Pres” Young preferred bassists who, in his words, played plenty of “deep sea divers.” Deep sea divers are low notes, bottom notes, notes with meaty, deep, resonant tones. Pres wanted the bass to anchor the rhythm section, not play on top of it. Ray McKinney’s playing fitted firmly within Pres’ philosophy, for McKinney was a strong section man with a lot of bottom to his sound.

Raymond Patterson McKinney was born in Detroit on March 28, 1931, the fourth of ten children born to Bessie and Clarence McKinney. Ray worked with a variety of bands during his off-and-on stays in Manhattan, including a multi-month stay with Ghanaian drummer Guy Warren and a reunion with various Detroiters (including Barry Harris) at the Five Spot.(5) He also found work with older musicians, like tenor saxophonist Ben Webster and clarinetist Edmund Hall. “Those older cats liked the way I played,” McKinney remembered. His most significant musical association was with drummer Max Roach. McKinney and Roach first met while Ray was working with Guy Warren. “One night Max and Miles Davis came into the club,” he recalled. “Max dug my playing and tried to hire me, but I knew I wasn’t ready.” McKinney began an intense two-year period of intensive woodshedding – which, for Ray, meant taking breaks from practicing to eat and sleep. He cycled between New York and Detroit and got married, but soon settled in Manhattan on his own. McKinney and Roach met again, and Ray now felt confident enough to accept Max’s offer of employment. He spent over a year with Roach’s 1960 quintet, which comprised tenor saxophonist Walter Benton, trumpeter Booker Little, trombonist Julian Priester, McKinney and Roach. “Max was into different time signatures, like 5/4,” Ray remembered. “And he liked to play fast. He was amazed when he heard me play, because I could keep the tempos, keep up with him. My tempo thing was like greased lightening.” Roach’s group was slated to record for Candid under vocalist Abbey Lincoln’s name in February 1961. Roach added tenor colossus Coleman Hawkins, pianist Mal Waldron and reedman Eric Dolphy to his group. During the date, Charles Mingus arrived with one of his compositions and distributed the music. Hawkins had been drinking and had some difficulty playing the number. “He finally just packed up his horn and his scotch and split,” Ray remembered. Hawk wasn’t the only musician having problems with the music. “I didn’t understand how to play the bass part, which involved bowing tenths,” McKinney explained. “Mingus showed me how to play it, and that was a delicious revelation. But I didn’t dig the overall feel of the piece – it was in ‘free style’, cats going every which way – and I said so. So, they kicked me off the date and brought in Art Davis.” Hawkins returned to the studio later that day and made the date. Mingus’ number was not recorded.

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Bill Hughes Day

March 28, 2020

William Henry Hughes (March 28, 1930 – January 14, 2018) was an American jazz trombonist and bandleader. He spent most of his career with the Count Basie Orchestra and was the director of that ensemble until September 2010. Bill Hughes was born in Dallas, Texas, and his family moved to Washington, D.C., when he was nine years old. His father worked at the Bureau of Engraving and played trombone in the Elks Club marching band. Hughes began playing the trombone at age twelve or thirteen and was performing at Washington jazz venues by the age of sixteen. One of these venues was the 7T Club, where he performed with saxophonist and flautist Frank Wess.

His career plans changed the following year when Wess, a member of the Count Basie Orchestra, suggested that Count Basie invite Hughes to join the band. Hughes was also asked to join the Duke Ellington Orchestra; however in September 1953, he joined the Basie band where he already knew members Frank Wess, Eddie Jones, and Benny Powell. Hughes played in a three-piece tenor trombone section with Powell and Henry Coker until September 1957, when he decided to take a break from touring in order to help raise his family. During this hiatus, Hughes worked for the United States Postal Service and played trombone at the Howard Theater as well as with some small groups in Washington. A few years after returning to the band in July 1963, Hughes switched from the tenor to the bass trombone. Hughes took over leadership of the band in 2003 following the death of Grover Mitchell. He retired from the band in September 2010, stating he wanted to spend more time with his wife Dolores, whom he married on July 6, 1952. He spent the last years of his life in Staten Island, New York with his wife and three children.

 

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Thad Jones Day

March 28, 2020

Thaddeus Joseph Jones (March 28, 1923 – August 20, 1986) was an American jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader who has been called “one of the all-time greatest jazz trumpet soloists.” Thad Jones was born in Pontiac, Michigan, on March 28, 1923, to Henry and Olivia Jones, a musical family of 10 (an older brother was pianist Hank Jones and a younger brother was drummer Elvin Jones). A self-taught musician, Thad began performing professionally at the age of 16. He served in U.S. Army bands during World War II (1943–46). In 1959 Jones played cornet on Thelonious Monk‘s 5 by Monk by 5 album.

Jones left the Basie Orchestra in 1963 to become a freelance arranger and musician in New York City. In 1965 he and drummer Mel Lewis formed the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. The group started with informal late-night jam sessions among New York’s top studio musicians. They began performing at the Village Vanguard in February 1966, to wide acclaim, and continued with Jones in the lead for 12 years. They won a 1978 Grammy Award for their album Live in Munich.[2] Jones also taught at William Paterson College in New Jersey, which is now the site of the Thad Jones Archive, containing pencil scores and vintage photos as part of the Living Jazz Archives.

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World Music with Santrofi

March 28, 2020

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Daily Roots with Jackie Mittoo

March 28, 2020

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The Cosmos with NGC 3749

March 27, 2020

When astronomers explore the contents and constituent parts of a galaxy somewhere in the Universe, they use various techniques and tools. One of these is to spread out the incoming light from that galaxy into a spectrum and explore its properties. This is done in much the same way as a glass prism spreads white light into its constituent wavelengths to create a rainbow. By hunting for specific signs of emission from various elements within a galaxy’s spectrum of light — so-called emission lines — or, conversely, the signs of  absorption from other elements — so-called absorption lines — astronomers can start to deduce what might be happening within.

If a galaxy’s spectrum shows many absorption lines and few emission lines, this suggests that its star-forming material has been depleted and that its stars are mainly old, while the opposite suggests it might be bursting with star formation and energetic stellar newborns. This technique known as spectroscopy, can tell us about a galaxy’s type and composition, the density and temperature of any emitting gas, the star formation rate, or how massive the galaxy’s central black hole might be.

While not all galaxies display strong emission lines, NGC 3749 does! It lies over 135 million light-years away, and is moderately luminous. The galaxy has been used a “control” in studies of especially active and luminous galaxies — those with centres known as active galactic nuclei, which emit copious amounts of intense radiation. In comparison to these active cousins, NGC 3749 is classified as inactive, and has no known signs of nuclear activity.

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Junior Parker Day

March 27, 2020

Herman “Junior” Parker (March 27, 1932 – November 18, 1971) was an American Memphis blues singer and musician. He is best remembered for his voice which has been described as “honeyed” and “velvet-smooth”. One music journalist noted, “For years Junior Parker deserted downhome harmonica blues for uptown blues-soul music”. In 2001, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Parker is also inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame.

There is some disagreement over the details of Parker’s birth, but most reliable sources now indicate that he was born in March 1932 at Eastover Plantation near Bobo, Coahoma County, Mississippi. He moved with his mother to West Memphis, Arkansas, during the 1940s. Other birth dates in 1927 or 1932 have been suggested, and some research suggests that his name at birth was registered as Herbert ParkerHe sang in gospel groups as a child and, beginning in his teenage years, played on various blues circuits. His biggest influence as a harmonica player was Sonny Boy Williamson, with whom he worked before moving on to work for Howlin’ Wolf in 1949. Around 1950 he was a member of an ad hoc Memphis group, the Beale Streeters, with Bobby “Blue” Bland and B.B. King.

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Sarah Vaughan Day

March 27, 2020

Sarah Lois Vaughan (March 27, 1924 – April 3, 1990) was an American jazz singer. Nicknamed “Sassy” and “The Divine One“, she won four Grammy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. She was given an NEA Jazz Masters Award in 1989. Critic Scott Yanow wrote that she had “one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century”. Vaughan’s father, Asbury “Jake” Vaughan, was a carpenter by trade and played guitar and piano. Her mother, Ada Vaughan, was a laundress who sang in the church choir.

Vaughan was frequently accompanied by a friend, Doris Robinson, on her trips into New York City. In the fall of 1942, by which time she was 18 years old, Vaughan suggested that Robinson enter the Apollo Theater Amateur Night contest. Vaughan played piano accompaniment for Robinson, who won second prize. Vaughan later decided to go back and compete as a singer herself. She sang “Body and Soul“, and won—although the date of this victorious performance is uncertain. The prize, as Vaughan recalled to Marian McPartland, was $10 and the promise of a week’s engagement at the Apollo. On November 20, 1942, she returned to the Apollo to open for Ella Fitzgerald.

During her week of performances at the Apollo, Vaughan was introduced to bandleader and pianist Earl Hines, although the details of that introduction are disputed. Billy Eckstine, Hines’ singer at the time, has been credited by Vaughan and others with hearing her at the Apollo and recommending her to Hines. Hines claimed later to have discovered her himself and offered her a job on the spot. After a brief tryout at the Apollo, Hines replaced his female singer with Vaughan on April 4, 1943.

Vaughan spent the remainder of 1943 and part of 1944 touring the country with the Earl Hines big band, which featured Billy Eckstine. She was hired as a pianist so Hines could hire her under the jurisdiction of the musicians’ union (American Federation of Musicians) rather than the singers union (American Guild of Variety Artists). But after Cliff Smalls joined the band as a trombonist and pianist, her duties were limited to singing. The Earl Hines band in this period is remembered as an incubator of bebop, as it included trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, saxophonist Charlie Parker (playing tenor saxophone rather than alto), and trombonist Bennie Green. Gillespie arranged for the band, although the contemporary recording ban by the musicians’ union meant that no commercial recordings exist.

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Ben Webster Day

March 27, 2020

Benjamin Francis Webster (March 27, 1909 – September 20, 1973) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. He is considered one of the three most important “swing tenors” along with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. Known affectionately as “The Brute” or “Frog”, he had a tough, raspy, and brutal tone on stomps (with growls), yet on ballads he played with warmth and sentiment. He was indebted to alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges, who, he said, taught him to play his instrument.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, United States, he studied violin in elementary and taught himself piano with the help of his neighbor Pete Johnson, who taught him the blues. In 1927-1928 he played for silent movies in Kansas City and in Amarillo, Texas.

Kansas City was a melting pot from which emerged some of the biggest names in 1930s jazz. Webster joined Bennie Moten‘s band in 1932, a grouping which also included Count Basie, Hot Lipsand Walter Page. This era was recreated in Robert Altman‘s film Kansas CityWebster spent time with quite a few orchestras in the 1930s, including Andy Kirk, the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra in 1934, then Benny Carter, Willie Bryant, Cab Calloway, and the short-lived Teddy Wilson big band. Ben Webster played with Duke Ellington‘s orchestra for the first time in 1935, and by 1940 was performing with it full-time as the band’s first major tenor soloist. He credited Johnny Hodges, Ellington’s alto soloist, as a major influence on his playing.

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Leroy Carr Day

March 27, 2020

Leroy Carr (March 27, 1905 – April 29, 1935) was an American blues singer, songwriter and pianist who developed a laid-back, crooning technique and whose popularity and style influenced such artists as Nat King Cole and Ray Charles. He first became famous for “How Long, How Long Blues“, his debut recording released by Vocalion Records in 1928.

Carr was born in Nashville, Tennessee, United States, and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. His recording career was cut short by his early death, but he produced a large body of work. Some of his most famous songs include “Blues Before Sunrise” (1932), “Midnight Hour Blues” (1932), and “Hurry Down Sunshine” (1934). He had a longtime partnership with the guitarist Scrapper Blackwell. His light bluesy piano combined with Blackwell’s melodic jazz guitar attracted a sophisticated black audience. Carr’s vocal style moved blues singing toward an urban sophistication, influencing such singers as T-Bone Walker, Charles Brown, Amos Milburn, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Ray Charles, among others.

Carr was among the most prolific and popular blues artists between 1928 and 1935. He recorded for Vocalion through to when he signed to Victor‘s Bluebird imprint, where he made his final recordings.

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Flamenco Fridays with Jose Menese

March 27, 2020

Guajira (Flamenco) is a palo based on the Cuban Punto Guajira Cubana. It is in 12 beats and feels like it starts on 12. Guajíras is a prime example of so-called Cantes de Ida y Vuelta. The flamenco guajira is the adaptation to Melos flamenco of the Cuban point, the peasant point, a genre that brings together a series of songs called Guajiros that are grown in the rural areas of the island of Cuba. Guajíras is simply a song for voice and guitar with a series of similar letras.

The Guajíras is traditionally a woman’s dance. The dancer will often use a large Spanish fan. The fan is twirled and otherwise manipulated throughout the dance, adding an elegant and flirtatious air. Like all flamenco Palos, the Guajíras has a clear structure and consists of beginning, middle and end. The Guajiras usually begin with an introductory section (falseta) by the guitar which is based on the basic Guajiras harmony. The guitar resolves into the characteristic Guajíras chord pattern, over which the singer will sing the instantly recognizable salida. The dancer enters during the guitarist’s falseta or during the salida. The fluid nature of the choreography also allows for improvisation within the structure, including danced falsetas, and escobillas performed a palo seco.

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Daily Roots with Mykal Rose

March 27, 2020

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The Cosmos with M31

March 26, 2020

This surreal picture isn’t from a special effects sci-fi movie. It is a digital composite of frames of the real Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31, rising over a real mountain. Exposures tracking the galaxy and background stars have been digitally combined with separate exposures of the foreground terrain. All background and foreground exposures were made back to back with the same camera and telephoto lens on the same night from the same location. In the “Deepscape” combination they produce a stunning image that reveals a range of brightness and color that your eye can’t quite see on its own. Still, it does look like you could ride a cable car up this mountain and get off at the station right next to Andromeda. But at 2.5 million light-years from Earth the big beautiful spiral galaxy really is a little out of reach as a destination. Don’t worry, though. Just wait 5 billion years and the Andromeda Galaxy will come to you. This Andromeda Station is better known as Weisshorn, the highest peak of the ski area in Arosa, Switzerland.

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Interviews