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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Showing posts with label Philadelphia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philadelphia. Show all posts

Monday, December 24, 2012

Blues No. 6 - Ray Bryant

Raphael Homer "Ray" Bryant (December 24, 1931 – June 2, 2011) was an American Jazz pianist and composer. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ray Bryant began playing the piano at the age of six, also performing on bass in junior High School. Turning professional before his age of majority, Bryant accompanied many other leading players such as Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Melba Liston, and Coleman Hawkins, as well as singers Carmen McRae and Aretha Franklin. From the late 1950s, he led a trio, performing throughout the world, and also worked solo. In addition, he was a noted jazz composer, with well-known themes such as "Cubano Chant," "The Madison Time," "Monkey Business," and "Little Susie" to his credit. The musicians Kevin Eubanks, Duane Eubanks, and Robin Eubanks are his nephews. His brothers are the bass player Tommy Bryant (May 21, 1930 – March 1, 1982) and Len Bryant, who plays drums and is also a singer. His niece Jennifer Bryant who is also Len Bryant's daughter is a singer songwriter and producer. Both Tommy and Ray Bryant formed a trio with Oz Perkins as the back-up band for the off-Broadway run of the comedy show Cambridge Circus, at Square East in 1964. The show starred John Cleese, Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor, David Hatch, Jo Kendall, Graham Chapman, Jonathan Lynn, and Jean Hart. If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band! Please hit Video to watch.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Helpless - Ollie Jones

Combined into one oversized threat of a songwriter, some might call it a "du-ollie-ity," Ollie Jones (b Dec 9, 1929)wrote adorable pop songs for Perry Como but years later choked out titles such as "Impaled" and "Murder in Mind," not to mention the dreaded and presumably messy "Bathroom Autopsy." In actuality, the songwriting phenomena of Ollie Jones must be examined in plural. The guy with roots in early-'50s doo wop and the member of a band whose name itself is a Desecration are different people, from different generations and, as established, representing different points of view. The larger, although less shocking, songwriting catalog belongs to the earlier Ollie Jones. His first professional stirrings were in the Blenders, the combo frothing up out of the more daring members of a New York church choir in the late '40s. Jones was known as the group's leader and was also linked to other vocal groups of the period, including the Ravens and the Four Notes. On recordings, the group began establishing a reputation after signing with Coral. This subsidiary of Decca had a largely deserved reputation for being oh-so-hep with R&B. Jones and bandmates, including Abel DeCosta, continued recording for the latter firm and MGM into the early '50s, then became aligned with producer Joe Davis, by then a recording industry veteran. the Blenders were part of a typical Davis ruse, supposedly recording under other group names even after the actual band had broken up. Jones and DeCosta started a new ensemble, the Cues, and originally intended the project as an in-house accompanying unit for R&B recording stars. Such performers immediately saw the value of such a venture, if not swearing allegiance to its chosen name. As the group went to work it was known under a variety of other monikers, depending on who was in charge: the Rhythm Makers, the Ivory Tones, and so forth. Efforts to score a hit without a frontman and as the Cues were in vain, but the group continued to work as a background unit. Publishing must have become more worthwhile than the weary road, Jones and co-writers such as Tommy Smith coming up with a series of songs that many pop vocalists felt worthy of covering. "Tiger" roared into the international hit jungle; the Latin version was "El Tigre." "Send for Me" has been one of Jones' most recorded works, suggesting that the song's title works as some kind of automatic command when read by a producer. Fans of Elvis Presley may know of Jones as an author of "Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers. If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Wanna ThankYou - Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly

Frankie Beverly (born Howard Beverly, December 6, 1946, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American singer, musician, songwriter, and producer, known primarily for his recordings with the soul and funk band, Maze. Beverly started out singing gospel music in church as a schoolboy in Philadelphia. He has claimed that his first professional concert was a tour with The Silhouettes (famous for their 1958 hit single, "Get a Job") when he was only twelve years old. However, this is disputed by those associated with the group, whose members were never known to mention him while they were alive. As a teenager he formed The Blenders, a short-lived a cappella, doo-wop group that were influenced by The Dells, The Moonglows, and The Del Vikings. After that outfit dissolved, he founded The Butlers, which would be the first group he recorded with in 1963. As time passed, they caught the attention of the record producer Kenny Gamble, who eventually released recordings by the group. It turned out that music performed by The Butlers did not fit into the "Philly Sound", and after some heavy touring, the group relocated to California. The unit was re-christened as Raw Soul and caught the attention of a sister-in-law to Marvin Gaye. Gaye featured them as an opening act at his shows, and also convinced Beverly to change the band's name to Maze. The group's popularity was enhanced considerably in the UK by DJ Greg Edwards in the late 1970s and early 1980s when they performed live at London's Lyceum Ballroom for broadcast on Capital Radio. They are best known there for their UK #57 hit single, "Joy and Pain".Their most popular song here in the States is "Before I Let Go." Beverly's onstage attire (all-white casual clothing, including slacks, long-sleeved shirt, and a baseball cap) has become his signature dress style over the years. His son, Anthony, who has toured as a drummer with Maze, recently organized a tribute to his father, founding the record label Brantera as an homage to the work of Maze. If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Frank Bey

Frank Bey is a blues singer who grew up in Millen, Georgia, son of gospel singer Maggie Jordan. Frank toured with the Otis Redding Review in the 60's and later with Archie Jenkins & The Incredible Saxons. He rejoined the music business in 1996. He has been performing in the Philadelphia and New Jersey area ever since. His performances include yearly appearances at the Cape May Jazz Festival. His debut CD, which premiered in 1998 was entitled "Steppin' Out". In 2000, he released a single "I Wanna See You Soon." Frank Bey's latest CD released September 2007 is 'Blues in the Pocket." The CD was produced by Kevin Frieson and Jeff Monjack who also provided the original compositions. It was released by jeffhouse records. Frank's current band includes Joe Blong on bass, Joe Novak on guitar, Thomas Jefferson (TJ) on drums, Sam Reed of tenor sax, Kenny Taylor on trumpet, and Bill Levinson on keyboards. If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Me And Mrs Jones - Billy Paul

Billy Paul (born Paul Williams on December 1, 1934 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is a well known soul singer, famous for his Grammy-winning vocals on “Me and Mrs. Jones”. He is sometimes known as a one-hit wonder, because while “Me and Mrs. Jones” was a No. 1 hit for the last three weeks of 1972, it was his only chart topper on the pop and soul music listings. Paul has been a frequent member and hit maker for the soul music scene in the years before and after his Grammy Award, especially with the use of the consistently popular Philadelphia soul style as his backing. He has, however, recorded much other material of note, including “Am I Black Enough For You?”, “Let’s Make A Baby” and an alternate version of “Let’s Stay Together”. Jones was on the Neptune Records label for many years. Other songs he recorded include “Thanks For Saving My Life”, “Let ‘Em In”, “Your Song”, “Only The Strong Survive” and “Bring The Family Back”. Paul is married, and continues to tour around the world extensively. If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bullfight - Chuck Edwards

Soul shouter Chuck Edwards was born Charles Edward Edwins in Philadelphia on November 29, 1927. According to online funk e-zine Funky 16 Corners, he began playing guitar professionally during the late '40s, and made his recorded debut on the Sonny Thompson Band's "Harlem Rug Cutter." Credited as Charles Edwins & His Orchestra, he made his headlining debut for Duke with 1953's "I Got Loose" before assuming the name Chuck Edwards for subsequent efforts, including "If You Love Me (Like You Say You Do)" and "You Move Me." Moving with each successive release from his formative smooth blues sound to a grittier R&B approach, Edwards frequently changed labels, following 1956's Apollo effort "Just for a Day" with 1959's Alanna single "Lucy and Jimmy Got Married," backed on the latter by the Five Crowns (featuring a then-unknown Ben E. King). None of these records made any kind of commercial impact, however, and by the early '60s Edwards was living in the Pittsburgh suburb of Canonsburg and working in a steel mill; he ultimately saved up enough money to found his own label, Rene (named for his wife, Irene), cutting his own sides as well as lending his unique guitar to back other artists. Edwards' headlining sides from his mid-'60s Rene period include "Shake Baby Shake" and "I Don't Want No Company," each honing a distinctive sound marrying Edwards' gritty vocals and incendiary guitar with backing performances as raw and energetic as anything coming out of garages in Anytown U.S.A. In late 1965 he issued the rocking "Bullfight," a huge local hit picked up for national release on Roulette and a Pittsburgh oldies radio favorite to this day. "Bullfight No. 2," issued in 1966, added a funky Hammond organ to the reworked original. Issued on the Rene subsidiary Punch, 1967's "Downtown Soulsville" remains Edwards' masterpiece -- boasting a truly wild vocal and some brilliantly funky guitar, the record was not a national hit but immediately captured the imagination of die-hard soul and funk aficionados, with a reissue on U.K. tastemaker Dave Godin's Soul City label and an appearance on the 1969 compilation Soul from the City. Back Again Also in 1967, Edwards recorded "Sweet Sweet Love" for major label Kapp -- the circumstances of the recording are not known, but the single was not a hit and he seemed to drop from sight for several years, relocating his family to the San Francisco area around 1972. The family unit soon began performing and recording as a group dubbed the Edwards Generation, releasing the single "School Is In" on Ghetto and the full-length The Street Thang on Tight. the Edwards Generation even appeared on television's The Mike Douglas Show. He continued performing during the decades to follow, resurfacing in 1994 with Back Again, a collection of new material and re-recorded classics. If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Blind Man's Blues - Katie Crippen

Katie Crippen (November 17, 1895 – November 25, 1929), also billed as Little Katie Crippen or Ella White, was an African American entertainer and singer. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. She performed at Edmond's Cellar in New York City ca. 1920. In 1921 she recorded four sides for Black Swan Records in the classic female blues style, accompanied by Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra. She toured in 1922–23 as the star of a revue, "Liza and her Shuffling Sextet", that included Fats Waller. She subsequently formed a revue, "Katie Crippen and Her Kids", in which she was accompanied by a teenaged Count Basie. In the later 1920s he appeared in revues at the Lafayette Theater in New York City, and toured the RKO theater circuit with Dewey Brown as Crippen & Brown. After a long illness, Crippen died of cancer in New York City on November 25, 1929. She is buried in Merion Memorial Park, in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kevin Eubanks - Live in Seattle

Kevin Tyrone Eubanks (born November 15, 1957 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an
American jazz guitarist and composer who was the leader of The Tonight Show Band with host Jay Leno from 1995 to 2010. He also led The Primetime Band on the short-lived The Jay Leno Show. Eubanks was born into a musical family. His mother, Vera Eubanks, is a gospel and classical pianist and organist. His uncle, Ray Bryant, was a jazz pianist. His older brother, Robin Eubanks, is a trombonist, and his younger brother Duane Eubanks is a trumpeter. Two cousins are also musicians, the late bassist David Eubanks and the pianist Charles Eubanks. Kevin studied violin and trumpet, before settling on the guitar. As an elementary school student, Eubanks was trained in violin, trumpet, and piano at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia. He later attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and then moved to New York to begin his professional career. Eubanks is a pescetarian and maintains a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, egg whites, and fish. He is also an avid fan of Philadelphia sports teams. He once lost a bet on the Philadelphia 76ers, and he was forced to eat a corn dog when he lost. In 2007, he was voted PETA's "World's Sexiest Vegetarian Man" After Eubanks moved to New York, he began performing with noted jazzmen such as Art Blakey (1980–81), Roy Haynes, Slide Hampton and Sam Rivers. Like his brother Robin, he has played on record with double bassist Bill Dryden and Dave Holland. In 1983, while continuing to perform with others, he formed his own quartet, playing gigs in Jordan, Pakistan, and India on a tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department. If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Down South Blues - Hannah Sylvester

Hannah Sylvester (c. 1900 – October 15, 1973) was an African American blues singer who performed in the classic female blues style that was popular during the 1920s. She was billed as "Harlem's Mae West". Sylvester was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, and sang and danced from the age of 3. She is thought to have moved to New York City in c. 1920. In the early 1920s she appeared at the Paradise Cafe in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 1923 she recorded eleven sides with Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra. Thereafter she toured the theater circuit in vaudeville shows throughout the 1920s. In the early 1930s she appeared in numerous revues in New York City, and in 1931 performed with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra at the Howard Theater, Washington, D.C., for broadcast on WSJV radio. She toured with the Snooky Russell Orchestra in 1940. By the early 1950s Sylvester worked primarily outside music; she tended bar at the Celebrity Club in New York City, but occasionally sang there with the Buddy Tate Band. She appeared in X-Glamour Girls Revue in New York City in 1962. In that year she recorded for Victoria Spivey's Spivey Records. She died in New York City on October 15, 1973. “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I'm A Stranger - Steve Guyger with Filthy Rich

Steve Guyger is one of the finest blues harmonica players and singers in the world today. Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Steve still makes his home in Philly and can be seen on a regular basis at clubs in the tri-state area in addition to touring with the New Legends of the Blues All-Stars. If you're located within a 100 mile radius of Philadelphia, PA check out Steve's schedule for dates and times when he's appearing live and in person.
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Railroad Blues - Luckey Roberts

Charles Luckeyeth Roberts, better known as Luckey Roberts (August 7, 1887 – February 5, 1968) was an American composer and stride pianist who worked in the jazz, ragtime, and blues styles.
Luckey Roberts was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was playing piano and acting professionally with traveling Negro minstrel shows in his childhood. He settled in New York City about 1910 and became one of the leading pianists in Harlem, and started publishing some of his original rags.

Roberts toured France and the UK with James Reese Europe during World War I, then returned to New York where he wrote music for various shows and recorded piano rolls.

With James P. Johnson, Roberts developed the stride piano style of playing about 1919.

Robert's reach on the keyboard was unusually large (he could reach a fourteenth), leading to a rumor that he had the webbing between his fingers surgically cut, which those who knew him and saw him play live denounce as false; Roberts simply had naturally large hands with wide finger spread.

Luckey Roberts noted compositions include "Junk Man Rag", "Moonlight Cocktail", "Pork and Beans", and "Railroad Blues". "Moonlight Cocktail" was recorded by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and was the best selling record in the United States for ten weeks in 1942.

An astute businessman, Roberts became a millionaire twice through real estate dealings. He died in New York.
If you like what I’m doing, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Instrumental - Stanley Clarke

Exploding into the jazz world in 1971, Stanley was a lanky teenager from the Philadelphia Academy of Music. He arrived in New York City and immediately landed jobs with famous bandleaders such as: Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Pharaoh Saunders, Gil Evans, Stan Getz, and a budding young pianist composer named Chick Corea.

All of these musicians recognized immediately the ferocious dexterity and complete musicality the young Clarke possessed on the acoustic bass. Not only was he expert at crafting bass lines and functioning as a timekeeper in the bass’ traditional role, Stanley also possessed a sense of lyricism and melody gained from his bass heroes Charles Mingus, Scott LaFaro, and others, including non-bass players like John Coltrane. Clarke recognized the opportunity to propel the bass into a viable melodic soloist role and was uniquely qualified to do just that.

The opportunity to state melody and to propel the bass to the front of the concert stage came to fruition when Clarke and Corea formed the seminal electric jazz/fusion band Return to Forever. RTF was a showcase for each of the quartet’s strong musical personalities, composing prowess, and instrumental voices. Clarke surmised, “we really didn’t realize how much of an impact we were having on people at the time. We were touring so much then, we would just make a record and go back on the road.” The band recorded eight albums, two of which were certified gold (the wildly successful Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy and the classic Romantic Warrior), won a Grammy award (No Mystery) and received numerous nominations while touring incessantly. And this was a jazz band!

Then Stanley, his now famous Alembic bass in hand, fired the shot heard ‘round the world’. He single-handedly started the 1970s “bass revolution,” paving the way for all bassist/soloist/bandleaders to follow. In 1974 he released his eponymous Stanley Clarke album, which featured a hit 45rpm “single” (we’re still talking about jazz here,) titled “Lopsy Lu.” In 1976 Stanley released School Days, of which the title track is now a bona fide bass anthem.

He acknowledges, quite unboastfully: “Anyone who seriously wants to learn to play the bass has to buy that record and learn to play that song.” Aspiring bassists must also master the percussive slap funk technique that Stanley pioneered as well. Stanley saw Larry Graham’s technique (Sly and the Family Stone) and seized upon the idea. He built his facility to a frightening speed, and then adapted it to complex jazz harmonies. Says Stanley, “Larry started it, but he had only one lick. I saw him do it, and I took it from there.” Stanley was the first musician to pop over chord changes. “A lot of guys could jam all day in E, but couldn’t play it over changes.”

Stanley Clarke became the first bassist in history to headline tours, selling out shows worldwide, and have his albums certified gold. The word “legend” was used to describe Stanley by the time he was 25 years old. In 1997 Epic/Sony released: By this tender young age, Stanley was already a celebrated pioneer in fusion jazz music. He was also the first bassist in history to double on acoustic and electric bass with equal virtuosity, power, and fire. He had also invented two new instruments: the piccolo bass and the tenor bass. The piccolo bass, built to his specifications by New York luthier Carl Thompson, is tuned one octave higher than the traditional electric bass guitar. The tenor bass is a standard Alembic bass tuned up one fourth higher than standard. With both of these instruments, Stanley’s melodic range is extended for playing in higher registers as he sees orchestrationally fit.

Alembic honored Stanley by offering a signature model Stanley Clarke bass, the first time in the company’s history of making only custom built instruments to do so. Whatever the instrument: acoustic bass viol, electric bass guitar, tenor bass, piccolo bass, acoustic bass guitar, electric upright, or any of the hundreds of axes in his arsenal, Stanley’s musicality and command of these instruments clearly define him as the greatest living bass virtuoso in the world, second to none, hands down, end of discussion.

Now king of the acoustic and electric jazz worlds, in 1981 Stanley teamed with George Duke to form the Clarke/Duke Project. Together they scored a top-twenty pop hit with “Sweet Baby,” recorded three albums and still tour to this day. Stanley’s involvement in additional projects as leader or active member include: Jeff Beck (tour of Japan and Europe, 1978-1979), Ronnie Wood's & Keith Richards’ New Barbarians (North American tour, 1979), Animal Logic (with Stewart Copeland, two albums and tours, 1989), The "Superband”(with Larry Carlton, Billy Cobham, Najee, and Deron Johnson, 1993-94), The Rite of Strings (with Jean Luc Ponty and Al Dimeola, 1995), Vertu’ (with Lenny White, 1999). A much more detailed listing of Stanley Clarke’s bands can be found in Discography. Clarke has won literally every major award available to a bass player: Grammys, Emmys, every readers’ poll out there, all the critics’ polls, gold and platinum records, walks of fame- you name it. He was Rolling Stone’s very first Jazzman of the Year, and bassist winner of Playboy’s Music Award for ten straight years.

Ever seeking new challenges, in 1985 Stanley turned his boundless creative energy to film and television scoring. Starting on the small screen with an Emmy nominated score for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, he progressed onto the silver screen as composer, orchestrator, conductor and performer of scores for such blockbuster films as: Boys N the Hood, What’s Love Got to Do With It (the Tina Turner Story), Passenger 57, Higher Learning, Poetic Justice, Panther, The Five Heartbeats, Little Big League, and Romeo Must Die. He has even scored a Michael Jackson video release directed by Jon Singleton entitled Remember the Time. Currently his scoring may be heard on the number one rated show for the Showtime Network: Soul Food. Stanley has become one of the elite in-demand composers in Hollywood.

Stanley says that: “film has given me the opportunity to compose large orchestral scores and to compose music not normally associated with myself. It’s given me the chance to conduct orchestras and arrange music for various types of ensembles. It’s been a diverse experience for me musically, made me a more complete musician, and utilized my skills completely.”

His artistry has spanned classical, jazz, R&B and pop idioms. He has already succeeded in a multitude of diverse careers, any one of which would be satisfactory to anyone else. Yet he still pushes on, as invigorated and as passionate about music as that teenage prodigy from Philadelphia with a dream.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Philadelphia Jerry Ricks

Jerry Ricks (May 22, 1940 – December 10, 2007) was an American blues guitarist.

Ricks was born and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, playing trumpet as a child; he started playing guitar in local coffee shops in the late 1950s. He worked as a booking manager for the Second Fret Coffee House in Philadelphia from 1960-1966, coming into contact with many key figures in the blues revival (Son House, Lightnin' Hopkins, Libba Cotten, Jesse Fuller, Mance Lipscomb, Lonnie Johnson).

In 1969, Ricks toured with Buddy Guy on a State Department-sponsored East African tour. After returning to the U.S. briefly to do field work in Arkansas for the Smithsonian Institution, he moved to Europe in 1971, remaining there until 1990. He did come back to the states in 1972 and 1973 and recorded with Hall & Oates on Whole Oats and Abandoned Luncheonette.

Ricks recorded 13 solo albums in Europe, but his first American releases did not arrive until 1998, when Rooster Blues released his Deep in the Well. The album was nominated for three W.C. Handy Awards. Many Miles of Blues followed on the same label in 2000.

In 2007 Ricks and his wife moved to Kastav, Croatia, and on December 10, 2007 he died at the age of 67 in Kastav.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

See See Baby - Sean Costello and the Soul Shakers

Sean Costello (April 16, 1979 – April 15, 2008) was an American blues musician, renowned for his fiery guitar playing and soulful singing. He released five critically acclaimed albums before his career was cut short by his sudden death at the age of 28. Tinsley Ellis called him ‘the most gifted young blues guitarist on the scene... he was a triple threat on guitar, vocals and as a songwriter’
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, Costello moved to Atlanta, Georgia at the age of nine. Obsessive about the guitar from a young age, he got hooked on the blues after buying Howlin’ Wolf's 'Rockin' Chair Album'. At 14 the young prodigy created a stir in a Memphis guitar shop, where an employee tipped his father off about a talent contest sponsored by the Beale Street Blues Society, which Costello duly entered and won. He formed his first band shortly after.
Costello honed his skills through almost constant performing, playing over 300 gigs a year and touring widely in the USA and Europe. His reputation as a brilliant live performer enabled him to play alongside blues luminaries such as B. B. King and Buddy Guy (Ma Rainey House benefit concert, Columbus, Georgia, June 1997), James Cotton (Cotton's 64th birthday concert in Memphis) and Hubert Sumlin (South by Southwest, Austin, Texas, March 2005). When not touring, Costello made a living playing small venues in his home town of Atlanta, Georgia, such as the Northside Tavern. Richard Rosenblatt, former President of Tone-Cool Records, recalls Costello's performances:

As a guitarist he was astounding, but for Sean it was never about showing off monstrous chops or stroking his own ego. His playing always fit the song; he would work the tone and phrasing, sometimes with an economy of notes that let the empty spaces hang achingly for what seemed like hours. When he did take off on the occasional blazing run, he was the ultimate tightrope walker, flirting fearlessly with danger before bringing it all back home with the unlikeliest of phrases that was still, somehow, perfect.
Sean Costello was found dead in his Atlanta hotel room on April 15, 2008, one day before his 29th birthday. A medical report later determined that he died of an accidental drug overdose. Posthumously, Costello's family revealed that he had suffered from bipolar disorder, and set up the Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research in his honor.
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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fine and Mellow - Billy Holiday

Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Harris April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo.

Critic John Bush wrote that Holiday "changed the art of American pop vocals forever." She co-wrote only a few songs, but several of them have become jazz standards, notably "God Bless the Child", "Don't Explain", "Fine and Mellow", and "Lady Sings the Blues". She also became famous for singing "Easy Living", "Good Morning Heartache", and "Strange Fruit", a protest song which became one of her standards and was made famous with her 1939 recording.
Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Sarah Julia "Sadie" Fagan (née Harris). Her father, Clarence Halliday (Holiday), a musician, did not marry or live with her mother. Her mother had moved to Philadelphia when thirteen, after being ejected from her parents' home in Sandtown-Winchester, Baltimore for becoming pregnant. With no support from her own parents, Holiday's mother arranged for the young Holiday to stay with her older married half sister, Eva Miller, who lived in Baltimore.
Billie Holiday at two years old, in 1917

Billie Holiday had a difficult childhood, her mother often took what were then known as "transportation jobs", serving on the passenger railroads. Holiday was left to be raised largely by Eva Miller's mother-in-law, Martha Miller, and suffered from her mother's absences and leaving her in others' care for much of the first ten years of her life. (Holiday's autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, first published in 1956, was sketchy about details of her early life, but much was confirmed by Stuart Nicholson in his 1995 biography of the singer.)

Some historians have disputed Holiday's paternity, as a copy of her birth certificate in the Baltimore archives lists the father as "Frank DeViese". Other historians consider this an anomaly, probably inserted by a hospital or government worker. Frank DeViese lived in Philadelphia and Sadie Harris may have known him through her work.

Sadie Harris, then known as Sadie Fagan, married Philip Gough, but the marriage was over in two years. Holiday was left with Martha Miller again while her mother took further transportation jobs. Holiday frequently skipped school and her truancy resulted in her being brought before the juvenile court on January 5, 1925 when she was not yet 10. She was sent to The House of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic reform school. She was baptized there on March 19, 1925 and after nine months in care, was "paroled" on October 3, 1925 to her mother, who had opened a restaurant called the East Side Grill, where she and Holiday worked long hours. By the age of 11, the girl had dropped out of school.

Holiday's mother returned to their home on December 24, 1926, to discover a neighbor, Wilbur Rich, raping Holiday. Rich was arrested. Officials placed the girl at the House of the Good Shepherd in protective custody as a state witness in the rape case. Holiday was released in February 1927, nearly twelve. Holiday and her mother later lived with and worked for a madam. Shortly after working as prostitutes, both Holiday and her mother were arrested. They were released after a short stint in prison. During this time, Holiday first heard the records of Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith. By the end of 1928, Holiday's mother decided to try her luck in Harlem, New York and left Holiday again with Martha Miller.
Holiday was signed to Brunswick Records by John Hammond to record current pop tunes with Teddy Wilson in the new "swing" style for the growing jukebox trade. They were given free rein to improvise the material. Holiday's improvisation of the melody line to fit the emotion was revolutionary. Their first collaboration included "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," and "Miss Brown To You." The record label did not favor the recording session, because producers wanted Holiday to sound more like Cleo Brown. After "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" garnered success, however, the company began considering Holiday an artist in her own right. She began recording under her own name a year later (on the 35 cent Vocalion label), producing a series of extraordinary performances with groups comprising the swing era's finest musicians.

With their arrangements, Wilson and Holiday took pedestrian pop tunes, such as "Twenty-Four Hours a Day" (#6 Pop) or "Yankee Doodle Never Went To Town", and turned them into jazz classics. Most of Holiday's recordings with Wilson or under her own name during the 1930s and early 1940s are regarded as important parts of the jazz vocal library. She was then in her early to late 20s.

Another frequent accompanist was the tenor saxophonist Lester Young, who had been a boarder at her mother's house in 1934 and with whom Holiday had a special rapport. He said,

"Well, I think you can hear that on some of the old records, you know. Some time I'd sit down and listen to 'em myself, and it sound like two of the same voices, if you don't be careful, you know, or the same mind, or something like that."

Young nicknamed her "Lady Day", and she, in turn, dubbed him "Prez".
On May 16, 1947, Holiday was arrested for the possession of narcotics in her New York apartment. On May 27, 1947, she was in court. "It was called 'The United States of America versus Billie Holiday'. And that's just the way it felt," Holiday recalled. During the trial, Holiday received notice that her lawyer was not interested in coming down to the trial and representing her. "In plain English that meant no one in the world was interested in looking out for me," Holiday said. Dehydrated and unable to hold down any food, she pled guilty and asked to be sent to the hospital. The D.A. spoke up in her defense, saying, "If your honor please, this is a case of a drug addict, but more serious, however, than most of our cases, Miss Holiday is a professional entertainer and among the higher rank as far as income was concerned." By 1947, Holiday was at her commercial peak, having made a quarter of a million dollars in the three years prior. Holiday placed second in the Down Beat poll for 1946 and 1947, her highest ranking in the poll. In Billboard's July 6 issue on 1947, Holiday ranked 5 on its annual college poll of "girl singers". Jo Stafford topped the poll. In 1946, Holiday won the Metronome Magazine popularity poll
By the 1950s, Holiday's drug abuse, drinking, and relationships with abusive men caused her health to deteriorate. She appeared on the ABC reality series The Comeback Story to discuss attempts to overcome her misfortunes. Her later recordings showed the effects of declining health on her voice, as it grew coarse and no longer projected its former vibrancy.

On March 28, 1957, Holiday married Louis McKay, a Mafia enforcer, who like most of the men in her life was abusive, but he did try to get her off drugs. They were separated at the time of her death, but McKay had plans to start a chain of Billie Holiday vocal studios, à la Arthur Murray dance schools.

Holiday's late recordings on Verve constitute about a third of her commercial recorded legacy and are as popular as her earlier work for the Columbia, Commodore and Decca labels. In later years, her voice became more fragile, but it never lost the edge that had always made it so distinctive.
In early 1959 she found out that she had cirrhosis of the liver. The doctor told her to stop drinking, which she did for a short time, but soon returned to heavy drinking. By May she had lost twenty pounds. Friends Leonard Feather, Joe Glaser, and Allan Morrison tried to get her to check into a hospital, but she put them off.

On May 31, 1959, Holiday was taken to Metropolitan Hospital in New York suffering from liver and heart disease. She was arrested for drug possession as she lay dying, and her hospital room was raided by authorities. Police officers were stationed at the door to her room. Holiday remained under police guard at the hospital until she died from pulmonary edema and heart failure caused by cirrhosis of the liver on July 17, 1959. In the final years of her life, she had been progressively swindled out of her earnings, and she died with $0.70 in the bank and $750 (a tabloid fee) on her person.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Me & Mrs. Jones - Billy Paul

Billy Paul (born Paul Williams; December 1, 1934) is a Grammy Award winning American soul singer, most known for his 1972 number-one single, "Me and Mrs. Jones" as well as the 1973 album and single "War of the Gods" which blends his more conventional pop, soul and funk styles with electronic and psychedelic influences. He is usually identified by his diverse vocal style which ranges from mellow and soulful to low and raspy.
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Gettin' In The Way - Jill Scott

Jill Scott (born April 4, 1972) is an American soul and R&B singer-songwriter, poet, and actress. In 2007, Scott made her cinematic debut in the films Hounddog (as Big Mama Thornton) and in Tyler Perry's feature film, Why Did I Get Married? That year, her third studio album, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3, was released on September 25, 2007. She has won three Grammy Awards. She also appeared in the lead role of the BBC/HBO series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.
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