mick’s blog

Jaki Byard

June 15, 2021

John ArthurJakiByard (/ˈbˌɑːrd, ˈbaɪərd/; June 15, 1922 – February 11, 1999) was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger. Mainly a pianist, he also played tenor and alto saxophones, among several other instruments. He was known for his eclectic style, incorporating everything from ragtime and stride to free jazz.

Byard played with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and was a member of bands led by bassist Charles Mingus for several years, including on several studio and concert recordings. The first of his recordings as a leader was in 1960, but, despite being praised by critics, his albums and performances did not gain him much wider attention. In his 60-year career, Byard recorded at least 35 albums as leader, and more than 50 as a sideman. Byard’s influence on the music comes from his combining of musical styles during performance, and his parallel career in teaching.

From 1969 Byard was heavily involved in jazz education: he began teaching at the New England Conservatory of Music and went on to work at several other music institutions, as well as having private students. He continued performing and recording, mainly in solo and small group settings, but he also led two big bands – one made up of some of his students, and the other of professional musicians. His death, from a single gunshot while in his home, remains an unsolved mystery.

Byard was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. At that time, his parents – John Sr and Geraldine Garr – were living at 47 Clayton Street. Both of his parents played musical instruments; his mother played the piano, as did his uncles and grandmother, the last playing in cinemas during the silent film era. He began piano lessons at the age of six, but they ended when his family was affected by the Great Depression. He was also given a trumpet that belonged to his father, and attempted to copy the popular players of the time, Roy Eldridge and Walter Fuller. As a boy he often walked to Lake Quinsigamond to listen to bands performing there. He heard Benny Goodman, Lucky Millinder, Fats Waller, and Chick Webb, and listened to other bands of the era on the radio.“Those were the things that inspired me – I guess it stuck with me”, he commented decades later.

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Errol Garner

June 15, 2021

Erroll Louis Garner (June 15, 1921 – January 2, 1977) was an American jazz pianist and composer known for his swing playing and ballads. His best-known composition, the ballad “Misty“, has become a jazz standard. Scott Yanow of Allmusic calls him “one of the most distinctive of all pianists” and a “brilliant virtuoso.” He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6363 Hollywood Blvd. His live album, Concert by the Sea,[9]first released in 1955, sold over a million copies by 1958 and Scott Yanow’s opinion is: “this is the album that made such a strong impression that Garner was considered immortal from then on.”

Garner was born with his twin brother Ernest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 15, 1921, the youngest of six children in his family. He attended George Westinghouse High School (as did fellow pianists Billy Strayhorn and Ahmad Jamal). Interviews with his family and music teachers (and with other musicians), plus a detailed family tree are given in Erroll Garner: The Most Happy Piano by James M Doran. Garner died of cardiac arrest related to emphysema on January 2, 1977. He is buried in Pittsburgh’s Homewood Cemetery.

 

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World Music with Gájanas

June 15, 2021

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Daily Roots with Anthony Ellis

June 15, 2021

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The Cosmos with NGC 3254

June 14, 2021

This image shows the spiral galaxy NGC 3254, observed using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). WFC3 has the capacity to observe ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared light, and this image is a composite of observations taken in the visible and infrared. In this image, NGC 3254 looks like a typical spiral galaxy, viewed side-on. However, NGC 3254 has a fascinating secret that it is hiding in plain sight — it is a Seyfert galaxy, meaning that it has an extraordinarily active core, known as an active galactic nucleus, which releases as much energy as the rest of the galaxy put together.  Seyfert galaxies are not rare — about 10% of all galaxies are thought to be Seyfert galaxies. They belong to the class of “active galaxies” — galaxies that have supermassive black holes at their centres that are actively accreting material, which releases vast amounts of radiation as it is accreted. There is a second, far more active, type of active galaxy that is known as a quasar. The active cores of Seyfert galaxies, such as NGC 3254, are brightest when observed in light outside the visible spectrum. At other wavelengths, this image would look very different, with the galaxy’s core shining extremely brightly.

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Marcus Miller

June 14, 2021

William Henry Marcus Miller Jr. (born June 14, 1959) is an American film composer, jazz composer, record producer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist, best known as a bassist. He has worked with trumpeter Miles Davis, pianist Herbie Hancock, singer Luther Vandross, and saxophonist David Sanborn, among others.

Miller was born in Brooklyn, New York City, in 1959 and raised in a musical family. His father, William Miller, was a church organist and choir director; Miller is jazz pianist Wynton Kelly‘s cousin. Miller is classically trained as a clarinetist and also plays keyboards, saxophone and guitar. He began to work regularly in New York City, eventually playing bass and writing music for jazz flutist Bobbi Humphrey and keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith. Miller became a session musician.

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Kenny Drew Jr

June 14, 2021

Kenny Drew Jr. (June 14, 1958 – August 3, 2014) was an American jazz pianist. His music is known for its hard-swinging bluesy sound and large, two-handed rooty chords contrasting with fast runs. The son of jazz pianist Kenny Drew, he did not credit his father as an influence.

His initial study was in classical music with his aunt and grandmother. In his teens he became interested in jazz and pop, but initially worked in funk bands. Later he went into jazz piano and in 1990 won The Great American Jazz Piano Competition in Jacksonville, Florida. Drew continued to perform jazz, but he also performed some chamber music. His style has some similarities to his father’s, but is different enough to generally avoid comparison; he was considered the more eclectic of the two men.

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Papa Wemba

June 14, 2021

Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba (14 June 1949 – 24 April 2016), known professionally as Papa Wemba, was a Congolese singer and musician who played Congolese rumba, soukous and ndombolo. Dubbed the “King of Rumba Rock”, he was one of the most popular musicians of his time in Africa and played an important role in world music. He was also a fashion icon who popularized the Sape look and style through his musical group Viva la Musica, with whom he performed on stages throughout the world.

Papa Wemba’s road to fame and prominence began when he joined the music group Zaiko Langa Langa in the late 1960s. This was followed by his success as a founding member both of Isifi Lokole and then Yoka Lokole, along with a short stint as a member of Afrisa International for a few months. During these early stages of his career, he was establishing a style that included traditional Congolese rumba and soukous, infused with traditional African sounds, Caribbean rhythms, rock and soul. But Wemba gained international success and status with his band Viva La Musica, especially after he took them to Paris, France in the early 1980s. It was there that Wemba was able to achieve more of an “eclectic sound” in his work, influenced by western popular music that reflected a European flavor and style, referred to as “Europop.

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Burton Greene

June 14, 2021

Burton Greene (born June 14, 1937) is a free jazz pianist born in Chicago, Illinois, though most known for his work in New York City. He has explored a variety of genres, including avant-garde jazz and the Klezmer medium.

Greene played during the 1960s on New York’s free jazz scene, gigging with well-known musicians which included Alan Silva and Marion Brown, among a host of others. With Alan Silva he formed the Free Form Improvisation Ensemble in 1963.[1] He joined Bill Dixon‘s and Cecil Taylor‘s Jazz Composers Guild in 1964, and also played with a number of other artists, including Rashied Ali, Albert Ayler, Gato Barbieri, Byard Lancaster, Sam Rivers, Patty Waters, and others. During this time, he recorded two albums under his own name for ESP-Disk.

He moved to Europe in 1969, first to Paris. Since then he has been living in Amsterdam and played with such Dutch musicians as Maarten Altena and Willem Breuker. During the late 1980s he began exploring the Klezmer tradition in his groups Klezmokum (along with Perry Robinson), Klez-thetics, and a more recent group called Klez-Edge with vocalist Marek Balata. Klez-Edge has a recent recording Ancestors, Mindreles, NaGila Monsters (2008) out on John Zorn’s Tzadik label. A duet with Perry Robinson, also on the Tzadik label, Two Voices in the Desert was released in January 2009.

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World Music with Maher Cissoko

June 14, 2021

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Daily Roots with Alton Ellis

June 14, 2021

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The Cosmos with Supercell Montana

June 13, 2021

Is that a spaceship or a cloud? Although it may seem like an alien mothership, it’s actually a impressive thunderstorm cloud called a supercell. Such colossal storm systems center on mesocyclones — rotating updrafts that can span several kilometers and deliver torrential rain and high winds including tornadoes. Jagged sculptured clouds adorn the supercell’s edge, while wind swept dust and rain dominate the center. A tree waits patiently in the foreground. The above supercell cloud was photographed in 2010 July west of Glasgow, Montana, USA, caused minor damage, and lasted several hours before moving on.

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Marv Tarplin

June 13, 2021

Marvin Tarplin (June 13, 1941 – September 30, 2011) was an American guitarist and songwriter, best known as the guitarist for the Miracles from the 1950s through the early 1970s. He was one of the group’s original members and co-wrote several of their biggest hits, including the 1965 GrammyHall Of Fame-inducted “The Tracks of My Tears“. He is also a winner of the BMI Songwriter’s Award, and the ASCAP Award Of Merit, and was a 2012 posthumous inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Miracles.

Referred to as the Miracles’ “secret weapon”, Tarplin began his career accompanying the Supremes, who at the time were still teenagers, and known as the Primettes. They were seeking an audition with Motown Records, and Tarplin played guitar as they performed for Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson. Robinson was impressed by Tarplin’s guitar playing, and lured him away from the Primettes to join the Miracles in 1958. In the 2006 Motown DVD release, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: The Definitive Performances 1963–1987, Robinson and fellow Miracles Pete Moore and Bobby Rogers commented that Tarplin’s guitar playing style was reminiscent of the late Curtis Mayfield, and was the inspiration behind many of their greatest hits. His guitar riffs at the beginning of the Miracles’ 1965 Grammy Hall of Fame million-seller, “The Tracks of My Tears“, are among the most famous in pop music history.

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Uriel Jones

June 13, 2021

Uriel Jones (June 13, 1934 – March 24, 2009) was an American musician. Jones was a recording session drummer for Motown‘s in-house studio band, the Funk Brothers, during the 1960s and early 1970s.

Jones was first hired by Motown as a fill-in for principal drummer Benny Benjamin; along with Richard “Pistol” Allen, he moved up the line as recordings increased and Benjamin’s health deteriorated. Hits that Jones played drums on include “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – both versions, by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell in 1967 and the 1970 remake by Diana Ross, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Ain’t That Peculiar” by Marvin Gaye, “Cloud Nine” (in which he was augmented by Spider Webb), “I Can’t Get Next to You“, and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by the Temptations, “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” by Jimmy Ruffin, Jr. Walker‘s “Home Cookin’,” “The Tracks of My Tears” and “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, and “For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder. His influences included jazz drummer Art Blakey. For his Motown recordings, Jones performed on a studio set composed of Ludwig, Slingerland, Rogers and Gretsch components and possibly Zildjian cymbals. Jones became better known to music fans through his appearance in the feature documentary film, Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Motown arranger Paul Riser said of Jones that “Uriel’s drum sound was the most open and laid-back, and he was the funkiest of the three guys we had…He had a mixed feel and did a lot of different things well.”

In 2008, he performed on the Carl Dixon BandTraxs session at Studio A, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, where he and fellow drummer Spider Webb helped complete Dixon’s dreams of paying homage to musicians from the city. In addition to Jones, on the session were others including Dennis Coffey, Bob Babbitt, Ray Monette, Robert Jones, Spider Webb, George Katsakis (The Royaltones), Gil Bridges (Rare Earth), Dennis Sheridan, Larry Fratangelo, John Trudell, David Jennings, Mark Burger, George Benson, Ed Gooch and Rob Pipho. Also ex Motown arranger David Van De Pitte, scored the musical arrangements around the original UK demos he was sent, and led the band in the studio. Jones died aged 74 at Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center in Dearborn, Michigan, after suffering complications from a heart attack.

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Attila Zoller

June 13, 2021

Attila Cornelius Zoller (June 13, 1927 – January 25, 1998) was a jazz guitarist born in Hungary. After World War II, he escaped the Soviet takeover of Hungary by fleeing through the mountains on foot into Austria. In 1959, he moved to the U.S., where he spent the rest of his life as a musician and teacher.

Zoller was born in Visegrád, Hungary in 1927. As a child, he learned violin from his father, a professional violinist. While in school, he played flugelhorn and bass before choosing guitar. He dropped out of school and played in jazz clubs in Budapest while Russia occupied Hungary. He fled Hungary in 1948 as the Soviet Union was establishing communist military rule. He escaped on foot, carrying his guitar through the mountains into Austria. He settled in Vienna, became an Austrian citizen, and started a jazz group with accordionist Vera Auer.

In the 1950s, Zoller moved to Germany and played with German musicians Jutta Hipp and Hans Koller. When American jazz musicians passed through, such as Oscar Pettiford and Lee Konitz, they persuaded him to move to the United States. He moved to the U.S. after receiving a scholarship to the Lenox School of Jazz. One of his teachers was guitarist Jim Hall and his roommate was Ornette Coleman, who got him interested in free jazz.

From 1962–1965, Zoller performed in a group with flautist Herbie Mann, then Lee Konitz and Albert Mangelsdorff. Over the years, he played and recorded with Benny Goodman, Stan Getz, Red Norvo, Jimmy Raney, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Shirley Scott, Cal Tjader, Jimi Hendrix, and in New York City jazz clubs in the 1960s with pianist Don Friedman.

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Wild Bill Moore

June 13, 2021

William M. “Wild Bill” Moore (June 13, 1918 – August 1, 1983) was an American R&B and jazz tenor saxophone player. Moore earned a modest hit on the Hot R&B charts with “We’re Gonna Rock, We’re Gonna Roll”, which also was one of the earliest rock and roll records.

Moore was born in Detroit Michigan and began playing the alto saxophone at an early age. However, prior to his musical career, he was an amateur boxer, winning Michigan’s Golden Gloves light heavyweight championship in 1937, before briefly turning professional. By the early 1940s, Moore abandoned his boxing career in favor of music, and was inspired by musicians Chu Berry and Illinois Jacquet to switch to tenor saxophone. In 1944, he made his recording debut, accompanying Christine Chatman, the wife of Memphis Slim, for Decca Records. Between 1945 and 1947, Moore was performing and recording in Los Angeles with Slim Gaillard, Jack McVea, Big Joe Turner, Dexter Gordon, and played on Helen Humes’ hit recording, “Be-Baba-Leba”.

In 1947 he moved back to Detroit and began recording with his own band, which included baritone player Paul Williams, later famous for “The Hucklebuck”. In December of that year, he recorded “We’re Gonna Rock, We’re Gonna Roll” for the Savoy label which was a modest hit and is remembered today as one of many candidates for the first rock and roll record. It was one of the first records played by Alan Freed on his “Moondog” radio shows in 1951. However, by the standards of its time it was quite a primitive recording, notable mainly for the juxtaposition of the words “rock” and “roll”, and the battling saxophones of Moore and Williams. In 1949, he cut “Rock And Roll”, reportedly featuring Scatman Crothers on vocals.

Moore continued recording and playing in clubs in and around Detroit. In this period he also recorded several jazz albums for the Jazzland label. In 1971, he was sought out by Marvin Gaye to play saxophone on the album What’s Going On, notably the track “Mercy Mercy Me“.

Eventually he returned to Los Angeles, California and lived there until his death, aged 65.

In their 1992 book, What Was the First Rock ‘n’ Roll Record?, Jim Dawson and Steve Propes dedicated a chapter to Moore and his influential “We’re Gonna Rock, We’re Gonna Roll.”

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Doc Cheatham

June 13, 2021

Adolphus Anthony Cheatham, better known as Doc Cheatham (June 13, 1905 – June 2, 1997), was an American jazz trumpeter, singer, and bandleader. He is also the Grandfather of musician Theo Croker.

Doc Cheatham was born in Nashville, Tennessee of African, Cherokee and Choctaw heritage. He noted there was no jazz music there in his youth; like many in the United States he was introduced to the style by early recordings and touring groups at the end of the 1910s. He abandoned his family’s plans for him to be a pharmacist (although retaining the medically inspired nickname “Doc”) to play music, initially playing soprano and tenor saxophone in addition to trumpet in Nashville’s African American Vaudeville theater. Cheatham later toured in band accompanying blues singers on the Theater Owners Booking Association circuit. His early jazz influences included Henry Busse and Johnny Dunn, but when he moved to Chicago in 1924 he heard King Oliver. Oliver’s playing was a revelation to Cheatham. Cheatham followed the jazz King around. Oliver gave young Cheatham a mute which Cheatham treasured and performed with for the rest of his career. A further revelation came the following year when Louis Armstrong returned to Chicago. Armstrong would be a lifelong influence on Cheatham, describing him as “an ordinary-extraordinary man.

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World Music with Anna Mudeka

June 13, 2021

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Daily Roots with Horace Andy

June 13, 2021

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The Cosmos with NGC 1497

June 12, 2021

NGC 1497 is a lenticular galaxy in the zodiac sign Taurus. The celestial object ran out on 11 December 1876 discovered by the French astronomer Édouard Jean-Marie Stephan. Center top brightest image

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