Artist Highlight – John Handy

John Handy

"Music elevates the human spirit"
 -- John Handy

John Handy is a performer and composer who continues to sweep audiences into ecstasy with his vast range of creative, emotional, and technical inventiveness. With a superb knowledge and practical experience with music of several cultures, he fuses, with each selection, a musical genre that is coherent, provocative, logical, and enjoyable. As a singer, he brings a kind of storytelling narrative to the blues that is entertaining, educational, and moving; while his up tempo scat vocals could be compared to the best scat singers anywhere. He sings ballads with inventiveness that is rare among singers.

John Handy has written a number of highly acclaimed, original compositions. “Spanish Lady” and “If Only We Knew” both earned Grammy nominations for performance and composition. The popular jazz/blues/funk vocal crossover hit, “Hard Work“, brought him fame in another realm; while “Blues for Louis Jordan” displayed his talents in rhythm and blues. He has written many compositions of various sizes for both instrumental and vocal groups. His more extensive works include Concerto for Jazz Soloist and Orchestra which was premiered by the Parnassus Symphony Orchestra; and Scheme Number One which was lauded as a fine example of fixed and improvised music by the great composer, Igor Stravinsky.

John Handy at Lincoln Center in 2016

John Handy has performed in the world great concert halls including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Berlin Philharmonic Auditorium, San Francisco Opera House, Davies Hall; the major performance venues including Tanglewood, Saratoga (NY), and Wolf Trap; and the pre-eminent jazz festivals including the Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival, Pacific Coast Jazz Festival; and international jazz festivals at Montreaux (Switzerland), Antibe (France), Berlin (Germany), Cannes (France), Yubari (Japan), Miyasaki (Japan), among others. His album and CD covers read like a who’s who of record labels – Columbia, ABC Impulse, Warner Brothers, Milestone, Roulette, Boulevard, Quartet (Harbor), MPS Records and many others.

His most recent recordings are “John Handy Live at Yoshi’s” and “John Handy’s Musical Dreamland” (available only on Boulevard Records, Stuttgart, Germany), “Centerpiece“, and “Excursion in Blue“. Some of his earlier works have been reissued on CD – “John Handy: Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival“, “The Second John Handy Album“, “New View“, and “Projections“. He recorded with Sonny Stitt, and recorded nine albums with Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop.

His album and CD covers read like a who’s who of record labels – Columbia, ABC Impulse, Warner Brothers, Milestone, Roulette, Boulevard, Quartet (Harbor), MPS Records and many others.

For the best and most updated information visit John Handy’s website:  www.johnhandy.com

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Artist Highlight – Ella Fitzgerald

“Music comes out of her. When she walks down the street, she leaves notes.” — Jimmy Rowles

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald is considered one of the very best singer in the world. She is admired by her fans, young and old alike and she inspires her fellow artists and musicians. She performed at top venues all over the world. Her audiences were as diverse as her vocal range. They were rich and poor, made up of all races, all religions and all nationalities. In fact, many of them had just one binding factor in common – they all loved her.

Dubbed The First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums.

Her voice was flexible, wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. She could sing sultry ballads, sweet jazz and imitate every instrument in an orchestra. She worked with all the jazz greats, from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Nat King Cole, to Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman.

Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald sing Cole Porter

She toured all over the world, sometimes performing two shows a day in cities hundreds of miles apart. In 1974, Ella spent a legendary two weeks performing in New York with Frank Sinatra and Count Basie. She was inducted into the Down Beat magazine Hall of Fame, and received Kennedy Center Honors for her continuing contributions to the arts. 1958 the first Grammy awards were held and Ella Fitzgerald won Best Female Vocal Performance for The Irving Berlin Songbook (album) and Best Individual Jazz Performance for The Duke Ellington Songbook (album) 1959 Grammy awards, Best Female Vocal Performance for But Not For Me and Best Individual Jazz Performance for Ella Swings Lightly.

Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Va. on April 25, 1917. Her father, William, and mother, Temperance (Tempie), parted ways shortly after her birth. Together, Tempie and Ella went to Yonkers, N.Y, where they eventually moved in with Tempie’s longtime boyfriend Joseph Da Silva. Ella’s half-sister, Frances, was born in 1923 and soon she began referring to Joe as her stepfather. Their apartment was in a mixed neighborhood, where Ella made friends easily. She considered herself more of a tomboy, and often joined in the neighborhood games of baseball. Sports aside, she enjoyed dancing and singing with her friends, and some evenings they would take the train into Harlem and watch various acts at the Apollo Theater.

In 1934 Ella’s name was pulled in a weekly drawing at the Apollo and she won the opportunity to compete in Amateur Night. Ella went to the theater that night planning to dance, but when the frenzied Edwards Sisters closed the main show, Ella changed her mind. “They were the dancingest sisters around,” Ella said, and she felt her act would not compare. Once on stage, faced with boos and murmurs of “What’s she going to do?” from the rowdy crowd, a scared and disheveled Ella made the last minute decision to sing. She asked the band to play Hoagy Carmichael’s Judy, a song she knew well because Connee Boswell’s rendition of it was among Tempie’s favorites. Ella quickly quieted the audience, and by the song’s end they were demanding an encore. She obliged and sang the flip side of the Boswell Sister’s record, The Object of My Affections. Off stage, and away from people she knew well, Ella was shy and reserved. She was self-conscious about her appearance, and for a while even doubted the extent of her abilities. On stage, however, Ella was surprised to find she had no fear. She felt at home in the spotlight. “Once up there, I felt the acceptance and love from my audience,” Ella said. “I knew I wanted to sing before people the rest of my life.” In the band that night was saxophonist and arranger Benny Carter. Impressed with her natural talent, he began introducing Ella to people who could help launch her career. In the process he and Ella became lifelong friends, often working together.

In January 1935 she won the chance to perform for a week with the Tiny Bradshaw band at the Harlem Opera House. It was there that Ella first met drummer and bandleader Chick Webb. Although her voice impressed him, Chick had already hired male singer Charlie Linton for the band. He offered Ella the opportunity to test with his band when they played a dance at Yale University. If the kids like her she can stay, Chick announced.

Shortly afterward, Ella began singing a rendition of the song, (If You Can’t Sing It) You Have to Swing It. During this time, the era of big swing bands was shifting, and the focus was turning more toward bebop. Ella played with the new style, often using her voice to take on the role of another horn in the band. You Have to Swing It was one of the first times she began experimenting with scat singing, and her improvisation and vocalization thrilled fans. Throughout her career, Ella would master scat singing, turning it into a form of art. In 1938, at the age of 21, Ella recorded a playful version of the nursery rhyme, A-Tisket, A-Tasket. The album sold 1 million copies, hit number one, and stayed on the pop charts for 17 weeks. On June 16, 1939, Ella mourned the loss of her mentor Chick Webb. In his absence the band was renamed Ella Fitzgerald and Her Famous Band, and she took on the overwhelming task of bandleader.

Ella Fitzgerald sings April in Paris with her husband Ray Brown on bass

While on tour with Dizzy Gillespie’s band in 1946, Ella fell in love with bassist Ray Brown. The two were married and eventually adopted a son, whom they named Ray, Jr. At the time, Ray was working for producer and manager Norman Granz on the “Jazz at the Philharmonic” tour. Norman saw that Ella had what it took to be an international star, and he convinced Ella to sign with him. It was the beginning of a lifelong business relationship and friendship.

Under Norman’s management, Ella joined the Philharmonic tour, worked with Louis Armstrong on several albums and began producing her infamous songbook series. From 1956-1964, she recorded covers of other musicians’ albums, including those by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, the Gershwins, Johnny Mercer, Irving Berlin, and Rodgers and Hart. The series was wildly popular, both with Ella’s fans and the artists she covered.

"I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them," Ira Gershwin

Ella Fitzgerald on the Dean Martin Show

Ella also began appearing on television variety shows. She quickly became a favorite and frequent guest on numerous programs, including “The Bing Crosby Show,” “The Dinah Shore Show,” “The Frank Sinatra Show,” “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Tonight Show,” “The Nat King Cole Show,” “The Andy Willams Show” and “The Dean Martin Show.”

Ella Fitzgerald received so many awards that they are too numerous to mention in this article, some of the highlights which included:

• 13 Grammy awards
• A-Tisket, A-Tasket entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame
• Kennedy Center for Performing Arts’ Medal of Honor Award
• The Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award
• Pied Piper Award
• American Society of Composers
• Women at Work organization’s Bicentennial Woman
• Authors and Publishers’ highest honor
• George And Ira Gershwin Award for Outstanding Achievement
• National Medal of Art
• Honorary chairmanship of the Martin Luther King Foundation
• Received first ASCAP award in recognition of an artist
• Honorary doctorate degrees from Dartmouth, Talladega, Howard and Yale Universities
• Peabody Award for Outstanding Contributions in Music
• The first Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award, named “Ella” in her honor
• NAACP Award for lifetime achievement

Ella continued to work as hard as she had early on in her career, despite the ill effects on her health. She toured all over the world, sometimes performing two shows a day in cities hundreds of miles apart. In 1974, Ella spent a legendary two weeks performing in New York with Frank Sinatra and Count Basie. Still going strong five years later, she was inducted into the Down Beat magazine Hall of Fame, and received Kennedy Center Honors for her continuing contributions to the arts.

Outside of the arts, Ella had a deep concern for child welfare. Though this aspect of her life was rarely publicized, she frequently made generous donations to organizations for disadvantaged youths, and the continuation of these contributions was part of the driving force that prevented her from slowing down.

To learn more or to watch a few videos about Ella Fitzgerald major performances visit:  www.ellafitzgerald.com

Ella Fitzgerald started a non-profit organization in 1993 that is still going strong. http://www.ellafitzgeraldfoundation.org/news.html

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Artist Highlight – Thelonious Monk

theloniusmonk

Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire (including his classic works Round Midnight and Blue Monk). He is often regarded as a founder of bebop, although his playing style evolved away from the form.

“Everyone is influenced by everybody but you bring it down home the way you feel it.”

Thelonious Monk

Round Midnight

His compositions and improvisations are full of dissonant harmonies and angular melodic twists, and are impossible to separate from Monk’s unorthodox approach to the piano, which combined a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of silences and hesitations. Round Midnight is a 1944 jazz standard by jazz musician Thelonious Monk. It is thought that Monk originally composed it sometime between 1940 and 1941, however Harry Colomby claims that Monk may have written an early version around 1936 (at the age of 19) with the title Grand Finale. This song has also been performed by many artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea and Hermeto Pascoal.

Blue Monk

Bebop or bop is a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos and improvisation based on harmonic structure rather than melody. It was developed in the early and mid-1940s. It first surfaced in musicians’ argot some time during the first two years of the Second World War. Hard bop later developed from bebop combined with blues and gospel music. Melodically the predominating contour of improvised bebop is that it tends to ascend in arpeggios and descend in scale steps. While a stereotype, an examination of Charlie Parker solos will show that this in fact is a key quality of the music. Ascending arpeggios are frequently of diminished seventh chords, which function as 7b9 chords of various types. Typical scales used in bebop include the bebop major, minor and dominant (see below), the harmonic minor and the chromatic. The half-whole diminished scale is also occasionally used, and in the music of Thelonious Monk especially, the whole tone scale.

Charlie Parker, Well You Needn’t

He was born on October 10, 1917 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the son of Thelonious and Barbara Monk, two years after a sister named Marian. A younger brother, Thomas, was born a couple of years later. His parents moved to New York when young Thelonious was five years of age. A year or so later he was picking out tunes on the family piano. Monk started playing the piano at the age of nine; although he had some formal training and eavesdropped on his sister’s piano lessons, he was essentially self-taught. By the time he was 12 he was accompanying his mother at the local Baptist church as well as playing at “rent parties”, those informal gatherings where tenants who were behind with their payments to the landlord would hold a party in the hope that visitors would contribute to the debt clearance!

Thelonious Monk started his first job touring as an accompanist to an evangelist. He was inspired by the Harlem stride pianists (James P. Johnson was a neighbor) and vestiges of that idiom can be heard in his later unaccompanied solos. However, when he was playing in the house band of Minton’s Playhouse during 1940-1943, Monk was searching for his own individual style. Private recordings from the period find him sometimes resembling Teddy Wilson but starting to use more advanced rhythms and harmonies.

He worked with Lucky Millinder a bit in 1942 and was with the Cootie Williams Orchestra briefly in 1944 (Williams recorded Monk’s “Epistrophy” in 1942 and in 1944 was the first to record “‘Round Midnight”), but it was when he became Coleman Hawkins’ regular pianist that Monk was initially noticed. He cut a few titles with Hawkins (his recording debut) and, although some of Hawkins’ fans complained about the eccentric pianist, the veteran tenor could sense the pianist’s greatness.

Fortunately, Alfred Lion of Blue Note believed in him and recorded Monk extensively during 1947-1948 and 1951-1952. He also recorded for Prestige during 1952-1954, had a solo set for Vogue in 1954 during a visit to Paris, and appeared on a Verve date with Bird and Diz.

In 1955, he signed with Riverside and producer Orrin Keepnews persuaded him to record an album of Duke Ellington tunes and one of standards so his music would appear to be more accessible to the average jazz fan. In 1956 came the classic Brilliant Corners album, but it was the following year when the situation permanently changed. Monk was booked into the Five Spot for a long engagement and he used a quartet that featured tenor saxophonist John Coltrane. Finally, the critics and then the jazz public recognized Thelonious Monk’s greatness during this important gig. He came to Europe to play at the Paris Jazz Fair and played in the audiences at the Salle Pleyel and the Club St. Germain, joining in the loud applause for this true jazz original. Towards the end of the Fifties, with riverside records setting up all manner of interesting studio sessions, he formed his own quartet, first with tenor saxist John Coltrane, then Johnny Griffin and, in 1959, Charlie Rouse. It was Rouse who probably had more experience of Monk’s music than any other horn player, for Charlie remained with Thelonious from 1959 until 1970. In the autumn of 1967 Monk’s quartet was booked to take part in a touring extravaganza under the title “Jazz Expo ’67”; along with men such as Dave Brubeck, Herbie Mann etc. It was decided to enlarge Thelonious’s working group of Charlie Rouse, Larry Gales and Ben Riley with the addition of some additional frontline players and the so-called Nonet made its appearance in the Odeon Hammersmith, in London, just a week before the Salle Pleyel date presented here.

Thelonious Monk, who was criticized by observers who failed to listen to his music on its own terms, suffered through a decade of neglect before he was suddenly acclaimed as a genius; his music had not changed one bit in the interim. In fact, one of the more remarkable aspects of Monk’s music was that it was fully formed by 1947 and he saw no need to alter his playing or compositional style in the slightest during the next 25 years. After his death it seemed as if everyone was doing Thelonious Monk tributes. There were so many versions of Round Midnight that it was practically a pop hit! He played with the Giants of Jazz during 1971-1972, but then retired in 1973. He passed away on February 17, 1982.

By Ranie Smith

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Misinformation wars shape our minds and hearts unless we analyze the source of information.

Russia shapes opinions in the West by sponsoring anti-government media content

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Supporters of anti-immigration right-wing movement PEGIDA take part in a demonstration march, in reaction to mass assaults on women on New Year’s Eve, in Cologne, Germany, January 9, 2016. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay Full Article

The war for “hearts and minds” is in full force like never before.  The internet has liberated both the distribution and the reception of content.

In the East, Radio Free Europe in particular has spread Western News and Western concepts for many years to counter act the spread of Communism in the Border States of the Soviet Empire.  This created a cushion of discontent and mistrust against the Soviet Union and eventually its disintegration. The Soviet people dreamed of living in a “free world” and they wished especially to gain the Western style material comforts.  What they had not learned while growing up in an oppressive society is the concept of trust, sharing, caring, and the fact that you have to actually work and earn that material wealth.  Many were well versed in “working the system.”  As a result the economies quickly became the personal playgrounds of oligarchs who were not at all interested in creating a strong middle class.  History shows that a strong middle class is a prerequisite of a free society.  It takes a lot of political will to support a strong middle class.  The oligarchs take and take and take and use the public without their knowledge.  This works primarily through misinformation.

For the past decades and especially since the inception of Cable TV and the Internet Russia has joined the information war.

Their press release reads:

RT’s (Russia Today) Spanish channel and pan-Latin American network TeleSUR in Venezuela launched a new joint project on Monday, aimed at providing a different perspective to Western mainstream media. RT is already the leading news provider on YouTube. Last December, RT hit 2 billion views on the popular video hosting resource. Only a year earlier, RT International was the first news channel to achieve over 1 billion views.

Are you aware how impactful the spread of the Communist point of view is?

On a daily basis misguided news clips that are fantastically well produced and design to spread hate and discontent are not only shown on YouTube but are spread on facebook, twitter and other social media outlets.

When watched without analysis as to the source of the material it may look like a “normal” news report.  But when viewed through the lens of what the news provider in RT’s case the Putin government and in TeleSUR’s Case the Venezuelan Communist Party are trying to accomplish it is rather ominous.

We are now entering an era of true democracy of information.  Everyone has access to every point of view.  When someone shares information make sure you analyze the source of the information before you swallow it hook, line and sinker.  One of the best ways to know if the source of information is trust worthy is to check whether the owners and their countries providing it protect freedom of the press. If a country openly suppresses journalists you already know dictators and/or would be dictators are trying to get you to support their nefarious cause to suppress knowledge and public opinion. Their goal is to undermine and destabilize countries that offer freedom of speech.   Let your friends know when they are being brainwashed by horrid people without realizing it.  Promote critical and analytical thinking.  Russia does not love freedom of speech as it is reported that 56 Journalists were killed since 1992.  When they sponsor people like Abby Martin to do their bidding in the West – Buyer Beware, know the source.  More When watching her Russia / Venezuela sponsored content knowing it comes from Russia makes it sound entirely different.

Reuters reported recently that until a few years ago Germany had been left out of the misinformation war stemming from Russia.  Those days are gone and while Putin is railing and making fun of Germany’s problems with Neo Nazi’s the Russian government is actually sponsoring it.  Full Reuter’s Article

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Artist Highlight – Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong
Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong

“What is harder than rock, or softer than water? Yet soft water hollows out hard rock. Persevere.”

Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong

Louis Armstrong contracted several books about his life. He enjoyed collaborating with the lawyer, hobby journalist, and jazz historian Robert Gaffin from Belgium.

“Dear Pal Goffin,” Louis Armstrong wrote to his Belgian acquaintance, the lawyer, hobby journalist, and jazz historian Robert Goffin, on July 19, 1944. “‘Man—I’ve been trying to get in touch with you […]. Here’s another hundred dollars toward the five hundred. […] So accept this hundred and I’ll send the other before a ‘Black Cat can ‘Lick his ‘Buhind’ ….. haw haw haw…” (80).

Historical records show that actually Louis Armstrong wrote large parts of his own biographies. He then hired Robert Goffin, a white man, to claim them to make sure they could be published. Louis Armstrong realized that his biographies helped his popularity around the world after the heavily ghosted Swing That Music (1936).

Today we are still able to view many of the quotes in the original French version Louis Armstrong: Le Roi du Jazz (1947) and the English version Horn of Plenty. We are fortunate that large parts of Armstrong’s hand-written manuscript survived. They cover the jazz musician’s life between 1918 and 1931 and were initially published by Thomas Brothers as “The ‘Goffin Notebooks’” in Louis Armstrong, in his Own Words (1999). Horn of Plenty includes most of the events covered in Armstrong’s “Notebooks,” it unfortunately was edited in a way that portrayed Louis Armstrong in a much more primitive way than his actual notes would indicated. Perhaps Griffin thought it was necessary to abide by the culture prejudices of the times.

Louis Armstrong  4 August, 1901 – July 6, 1971, nicknamed Satchmo and Pops, was an American jazz musician. Armstrong was a charismatic, innovative performer whose inspired improvised soloing was the main influence for a fundamental change in jazz, shifting its focus from collective melodic playing, often arranged in one way or another, to the solo player and improvised soloing. One of the most famous jazz musicians of the 20th century, he first achieved fame as a cornet player, later on switching to trumpet, but toward the end of his career he was best known as a vocalist and became one of the most influential jazz singers.

Armstrong was born into a very poor family in New Orleans, Louisiana. He spent his youth in poverty in a rough neighborhood of uptown New Orleans, as his father, William Armstrong (1881-1922), abandoned the family when Louis was an infant. His mother, Mary Albert Armstrong (1886–1942), then left him and his younger sister Beatrice Armstrong Collins (1903–1987) under the upbringing of his grandmother Josephine Armstrong.

He first learned to play the cornet (his first of which was bought with money loaned to him by the Karnofskys, a family of Russian Jewish immigrants, that hired Louis to work on their junk wagon.) in the band of the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs, where he had been sent after (as police records show) firing his stepfather’s pistol into the air at a New Year’s Eve celebration. To express gratitude towards the Karnofskys, Armstrong wore a Star of David pendant for the rest of his life. He followed the city’s frequent brass band parades and listened to older musicians every chance he got, learning from Bunk Johnson, Buddy Petit, Black Benny and above all Joe “King” Oliver, who acted as a mentor and almost a father figure to the young Armstrong. Armstrong later played in the brass bands and riverboats of New Orleans, and first started traveling with the well-regarded band of Fate Marable which toured on a steamboat up and down the Mississippi River; he described his time with Marable as “going to the University”, since it gave him a much wider experience working with written arrangements. When Joe Oliver left town in 1919, Armstrong took Oliver’s place in Kid Ory’s band, regarded as the top hot jazz band in the city.

In 1922, Armstrong joined the exodus to Chicago, where he had been invited by Joe “King” Oliver to join his Creole Jazz Band. Oliver’s band was the best and most influential hot jazz band in Chicago in the early 1920s, at a time when Chicago was the center of jazz. Armstrong made his first recordings, including taking some solos and breaks, while playing second cornet in Oliver’s band in 1923.

He and Oliver parted in 1924 and Armstrong moved to New York City to play with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, the top African American band of the day. Armstrong switched to the trumpet to blend in better with the other musicians in his section

He returned to Chicago, in 1925, and began recording under his own name with his famous Hot Five and Hot Seven with such hits as Potato Head Blues, Muggles (a reference to Cannabis or marijuana, for which Armstrong had a lifelong fondness), and West End Blues, the music of which set the standard and the agenda for jazz for many years to come.

Armstrong had considerable success with vocal recordings, including versions of famous songs composed by his old friend Hoagy Carmichael, Armstrong’s famous interpretation of Stardust became one of the most successful versions of this song ever recorded, showcasing Armstrong’s unique vocal sound and style and his innovative approach to singing songs that had already become standards.

As with his trumpet playing, Armstrong’s vocal innovations served as a foundation stone for the art of jazz vocal interpretation. The uniquely gritty colouration of his voice became a musical archetype that was much imitated and endlessly impersonated. His scat singing style was enriched by his matchless experience as a trumpet soloist, and his resonant, velvety lower-register tone and bubbling cadences on sides such as “Lazy River” exerted a huge influence on younger white singers such as Bing Crosby.

After spending many years on the road, he settled permanently in Queens New York in 1943 in contentment with his fourth wife, Lucille Armstrong played more than three hundred gigs a year Armstrong kept up his busy tour schedule until a few years before his death. While in his later years, he would sometimes play some of his numerous gigs by rote, but other times would enliven the most mundane gig with his vigorous playing, often to the astonishment of his band. He also toured Africa, Europe, and Asia under sponsorship of the US State Department with great success and become known as “Ambassador Satch”. While failing health restricted his schedule in his last years, within those limitations he continued playing until the day he died.

Louis had many nicknames as a child, all of which referred to the size of his mouth: “Gatemouth,” “Dippermouth,” and “Satchelmouth.” During a visit to Great Britain, Louis was met by Percy Brooks, the editor of Melody Maker magazine, who greeted him by saying, “Hello, Satchmo!” (He inadvertently contracted “Satchelmouth” into “Satchmo.”) Louis loved the new name and adopted it for his own. It provides the title to Louis’s second autobiography, is inscribed on at least two of Louis’s trumpets, and is on Louis’s stationery Friends and fellow musicians usually called him Pops, which is also how Armstrong usually addressed his friends and fellow musicians (except for Pops Foster, whom Armstrong always called “George”.

Some musicians criticized Armstrong for playing in front of segregated audiences, and for not taking a strong enough stand in the American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968) civil rights movement.

Armstrong, in fact, was a major financial supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists, but mostly preferred to work quietly behind the scenes, not mixing his politics with his work as an entertainer. The few exceptions made it more effective when he did speak out; Armstrong’s criticism of President Eisenhower, calling him “two-faced” and “gutless” because of his inaction during the conflict over school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 made national news. As a protest, Armstrong canceled a planned tour of the Soviet Union on behalf of the State Department saying “The way they’re treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell” and that he could not represent his government abroad when it was in conflict with its own people.

He was an extremely generous man, who was said to have given away almost as much money as he kept for himself. Armstrong was also greatly concerned with his health and bodily functions. He made frequent use of laxatives as a means of controlling his weight, a practice he advocated both to personal acquaintances and in the diet plans he published under the title Lose Weight the Satchmo Way. Armstrong’s laxative of preference in his younger days was Pluto Water, but he then became an enthusiastic convert when he discovered the herbal remedy Swiss Kriss; he would extol its virtues to anyone who would listen and pass out packets to everyone he encountered, including members of the British Royal Family. (Armstrong also appeared in humorous, albeit risqué, advertisements for Swiss Kriss; the ads bore a picture of him sitting on a toilet — as viewed through a keyhole — with the slogan “Satch says, ‘Leave it all behind ya!’“)

In his early years, Armstrong was best known for his virtuosity with the cornet and trumpet. The greatest trumpet playing of his early years can be heard on his Hot Five and Hot Seven records. The improvisations which he made on these records of New Orleans jazz standards and popular songs of the day, to the present time stack up brilliantly alongside those of any other later jazz performer. The older generation of New Orleans jazz musicians often referred to their improvisations as “variating the melody”; Armstrong’s improvisations were daring and sophisticated for the time while often subtle and melodic. He often essentially re-composed pop-tunes he played, making them more interesting. Armstrong’s playing is filled with joyous, inspired original melodies, creative leaps, and subtle relaxed or driving rhythms. The genius of these creative passages is matched by Armstrong’s playing technique, honed by constant practice, which extended the range, tone and capabilities of the trumpet. In these records, Armstrong almost single-handedly created the role of the jazz soloist, taking what was essentially a collective folk music and turning it into an art form with tremendous possibilities for individual expression.

In 1964, Armstrong knocked the Beatles off the top of the Billboard Top 100 chart with Hello, Dolly (song)”, which gave the 63-year-old performer a U.S. record as the oldest artist to have a #1 song.

Hello Dolly performed in Germany

In 1968, Armstrong scored one last popular hit in the United Kingdom with the highly sentimental pop song What a Wonderful World, which topped the British charts for a month; however, the single did not chart at all in America. The song gained greater currency in the popular consciousness when it was used in the 1987 movie Good Morning Vietnam, its subsequent re-release topping many charts around the world.

It’s a Wonderful World

Louis Armstrong died of a heart attack on July 6 1971, at age 69, the night after playing a famous show at the Waldorf Astoria’s Empire Room. He was residing in Corona, Queens, New York City, at the time of his passing. He was interred in Flushing Cemetery, Flushing, in Queens, New York City.

Today, the house where Louis Armstrong lived at the time of his death (and which was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977) is a museum. The Louis Armstrong House & Archives, at 34-56 107th Street (between 34th and 35th Avenues) in Corona, Queens, presents concerts and educational programs, operates as an historic house museum and makes materials in its archives of writings, books, recordings and memorabilia available to the public for research. The museum is operated by the City University of New York’s Queens College, following the dictates of Armstrong’s will.

The influence of Armstrong on the development of jazz is virtually immeasurable. Yet, his irrepressible personality both as a performer, and as a public figure later in his career, was so strong that to some it sometimes overshadowed his contributions as a musician and singer.

As a virtuoso trumpet player, Armstrong had a unique tone and an extraordinary talent for melodic improvisation. Through his playing, the trumpet emerged as a solo instrument in jazz and is used widely today. He was a masterful accompanist and ensemble player in addition to his extraordinary skills as a soloist. With his innovations, he raised the bar musically for all who came after him.

Armstrong is considered by some to have essentially invented jazz singing. He had an extremely distinctive gravelly voice, which he deployed with great dexterity as an improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song for expressive purposes. He was also greatly skilled at scat singing, or wordless vocalizing. Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra are just two singers who were greatly indebted to him. Holiday said that she always wanted Bessie Smith’s ‘big’ sound and Armstrong’s feeling in her singing.

On August 4, 2001, the centennial of Armstrong’s birth, New Orleans’ airport was renamed Louis Armstrong International Airport in his honor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Armstrong
http://www.satchmo.net/
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Consumers influence officials and corporate execs toward pro-health and pro-sustainability actions and attitudes

Enjoy listening to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony while reading.

International response for glyphosate is moving along providing credence to those who are against the international trade deals. In May India decided to tightened rules for the sale of genetically-modified cotton seeds in a move that will cap royalties. Since Glyphosate kills all variety of plants, except for those that are artificially and genetically modified the crops in India now comprise 90% of all crops. After local farmers, regions and states complained about the financially abusive pricing by Monsanto, the world’s largest supplier of both Glyphosate Weedkillers and Weedkiller resistant seeds the government finally acted. From now on the seed prices are held at 800 rupees ($11.87) for a packet of 450 grams nearly one pound. In a country where you can hire a full time maid for an entire week for three dollars this new price is still quite expensive. This high price of $11.87 per slightly less than a pound will be held for a period of five years and then it will decrease by 10% per year thereafter. Once a GM seeds variety looses their traits or its effectiveness it will not be eligible for royalties.  The seeds typically loose those traits as the use of weed killers has starkly increased because of new weed killer resistant crops, GM traits are expected to have a limited period of efficacy.   More

The order also aims to break up the Monsanto monopoly without naming the company by adding that any local seed company seeking licenses for selling any new Bt cotton variety shall get the license within 30 days of requesting the licensor.

Monsanto is successfully battling attacks on their corporate ethics successfully on many fronts.  However in April 2016
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria disagreed Monsanto’s request to dismiss a lawsuit by Edward Hardeman, because simply having an EPA-approved label “does not prevent a jury from finding that that same label violates FIFRA.” The judge also said FIFRA requires “adequate” warnings about the potential risks of herbicides. In an order (PDF) denying the motion to dismiss, Judge Chhabria wrote:

“In this light, it’s hard to see how Hardeman’s failure-to-warn claims could ‘be construed more broadly than’ FIFRA. Indeed, Hardeman’s complaint explicitly bases his California-law failure-to-warn claims on Monsanto’s alleged violation of FIFRA.”

Europe Delegates decided in March to delay their vote to extend the permits to market Glyphosate products through-out Europe based on opposition from Germany and France.  They decided to await the results of a study that will definitely determine whether or not Glyphosate causes cancer. Currently Glyphosate has a 2A – maybe and maybe not – rating.

Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: Rushing to grant a new license now, without waiting for an evaluation by Europe’s chemical agency, would be like skydiving without checking your equipment first. As long as there is conflicting scientific advice, glyphosate should not be approved for use in the EU. And countries would be better advised to do without it.

Monsanto is the largest manufacturer of Glyphosate based products while Chinese Companies hold approximately 50% of the market.  Other companies involved are Adama, Albaugh/Atanor, Bayer, Cheminova, Dow, Excel, Nufarm, Phytereup, Sinon, and Syngenta.

The Guardian reported:

Meanwhile officials who wish to vote on the issues are uncovered to be completely biased and in many instances are working for organizations who receive large “donations” from Monsanto and similar firms. In 2012, the ILSI group took a $500,000 (£344,234) donation from Monsanto and a $528,500 donation from the industry group Croplife International, which represents Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and others, according to documents obtained by the US right to know campaign.

The Green MEP Bart Staes said: “The timing of the release of this report by the FAO/WHO could be described as cynical, if it weren’t such a blatantly political and ham-fisted attempt to influence the EU decision later this week on the approval of glyphosate.” More

Meanwhile in the US  ISP reports:  “The department must recognize the harm that is already being done to organic and non-GMO farmers and put the responsibility squarely where it belongs – with the biotech companies … Now USDA can no longer claim ignorance about this problem.”

Even as contamination reports continue to grow, the U.S. government’s most recent response, drawn from the AC21 recommendations, has been to encourage “good stewardship” practices and communication between neighbouring farmers. Yet non-GM farmers say that, in practice, this has meant substantial outlays of both time and money in order to safeguard their crops – and virtually no corresponding responsibility on the part of farmers using genetically modified crops.

Glyphosates are a big deal and GMO crops may end up causing much harm, despite the fact that as survey conducted in 2013 showed that 93% of the US populations wishes to have GMO ingredients clearly labelled.

Consumers cannot rely on the regulatory bodies to care for their health.  The regulatory bodies are influenced by their funding, their goals in the defense industry, their corporate bottom line and their duties to share holders.  However, as consumers become more aware perhaps consumer demand will dictate a more health oriented stance by governments and industry alike.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

From one Revolutionary to another (Beethoven and David Bowie)

Classical Revolution Orchestra (USA)
‘Eroica’ Beethoven Symphony No. 3 and the Music of David Bowie

Classical Revolution celebrates its 10th anniversary by presenting its first ever series of orchestra concerts. The performances focus on two of the most vastly influential figures in all of music: the symphonies of Beethoven and classical arrangements of compositions by David Bowie.

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Since 2006 Classical Revolution has given more than 1,000 live concert performances in over 100 community and neighborhood venues across the Bay Area with the goal of expanding audiences and making classical music accessible.

Sunday May 29th, 7:00pm
Duration: 90 minutes with intermission.

Cowell Theater
Tickets: General Admission
$20 advance, $25 door

If you want to learn about Beethoven and Eroica watch a BBC show about Eroica here it is at your leisure on YouTube:


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Allison Lovejoy in recital at Enso Piano accompanies singers Gerry Basserman and Colleeen Touriane, May 21, 2016.

This Saturday, May 21, the third in a series of magical musical events in Half Moon Bay. Come join Carrie and Mauro again in their effort to keep serving the community through the unique creation called Enso. Donations, loans and art purchases welcome.

Allison Lovejoy in recital at the Enso piano.
Gerry Basserman and Colleen Touriane, songs.

Music, refreshments, art, and poetry, from 6 til 9 pm
These salons are rich and satisfying. Bring a friend!
Enso : 131 Kelly Ave, Half Moon Bay, CAFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

CRYPTICAL show tonight at Sweetwater in Mill Valley

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We hope you got enough sleep last night, ’cause tonight’s CRYPTICAL show includes a whopping 32 Grateful Dead classics performed live for your listening and dancing pleasure. Tonight’s lineup includes Barry Erde, Stephen Ramirez, Mitch Stein, Mark Corsolini and very special guests Dave Hebert (JGB) and Sunshine F Becker (Furthur).

We’ll have a Shakedown Street Bazaar including some very talented local vendors, and will be offering some really great auction and raffle items to benefit the Rex Foundation.

The Grateful Dead’s own Howard Danchik will be mixing the show, so bring your friends along as we bop on back to Portland in 1974 for an epic show that’s sure to have you dancing into the wee hours!Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

David Mort’s latest book Voodoo Child now available on Kindle

David Mort’s latest book “Voodoo Child” is available now from the Kindle Book Store. You may be interested in it as it covers the evolution of the blues and rock.

One of rock music’s more iconic images is that of Jimi Hendrix onstage at the Monterey Pop Festival in ’67, kneeling over the remains of his burning guitar after his performance of “Wild Thing.” He was beckoning the flames to rise as if summoning up demons and dragons from hell, which is what several fans described as witnessing after ingesting “Monterey Purple,” a strain of LSD concocted especially for the event.

Thirty years earlier, a bluesman by the name of Robert Johnson supposedly made a pact with the Devil at the crossroads in return for becoming an Ace” on the guitar. So perhaps Jimi had made a similar pact as both their souls were claimed at the age of 27. And before Robert there was another “Ace” named Charlie Patton who, like Jimi, could play the guitar behind his back, above his head and with his teeth. And before Jimi there was T Bone Walker who performed in a similar fashion. And as these three musicians were African Americans with Cherokee ancestors, perhaps they’d inherited an added spiritual dimension.

By the time Robert Johnson made his supposed pact however, the myth was already as old as the hills. The fact is that most blues musicians were itinerants who’d chosen a life on the road over a mundane, family or domestic existence, leading loved ones to conclude they were dancing to the devil’s tune.

For the purposes of my story, which traces the evolution of blues, r n b, soul and rock n roll from the Mississippi flood of ’27 to the deaths of Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, all such talented musicians, those deemed “Aces” “Kings” or “Queens,” had made similar pacts with the devil. Artists such as Buddy Holly, Bessie Smith, Eddie Cochran, Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, who when their respective souls passed over, often after meeting a violent death at an early age, could be claimed to play for the “ARKestra Paradiso.”

This “ARKestra,” so called because it boasts two players per instrument, performs in a room whose walls are made of a membrane fashioned from tightly stretched goat skin or vellum. Therefore, it can pick up on sound waves travelling through air and water. This room is situated in an old slave ship named “the Paradiso” which floats on a giant underground lake, so can detect vibrations through its wood, taut ropes or sheets, and surroundings. This lake is in a giant cavern known as the Orpheus chamber, situated deep inside a mountain, home to stalactites, stalagmites and crystalline, flower like structures named anthodites, which also pick up on vibrations passing through rock. Consequently, these musicians are performing in a closed environment that resonates like a gigantic bell, thereby creating a wall of sound.

The “ARKestra” is composed of pairs of those musicians deemed “Aces,” “Kings” or “Queens,” plucked from the flood of misery that segregation created to help change the New World for the better. They mentor and sympathetically resonate with musicians still alive, and working through their performances and recordings, seek to create a new vibe called the “big beat,” woven from different strands of music.

The old slave ship, “Paradiso,” is also home to the largest record repository in the world. Known as the “ARKhive,” it comprises two copies of all the recordings ever made in the New World, arranged year by year in the aisles of the original slave hold.

David Mort

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Rolando Morales and Estaire Godinez to perform at Fairmont San Jose May 19

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Thursday May 19, The San Jose Fairmont, Lobby Lounge, 170 South Market St., San Jose CA, 9pm-Midnight.  Rolando Morales returns for you South Bay fans to this elegant venue.  Enjoy fine wines, unique martinis, appetizers and sushi along with the Rolando Morales Duet, this time featuring the amazing Latin percussionist/vocalist from Prince and Rolando’s first band, Passion and Grace, Estaire Godinez; and Rolando Morales leading the way on guitar and vocals and his magic pedal board.   Free!  See www.fairmont.com/sanjose/ for info, or call (408) 998-1900.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

WomenNow and New Delhi Restaurant host Spring India Day on June 11th in Union Square

WomenNow and New Delhi Restaurant will be hosting their second Spring India Day on June 11th in Union Square in the heart of San Francisco. Spring India Day is a free annual festival. It is a celebration of the colorful and exuberant Indian culture.

Come join us as we take over beautiful San Francisco’s crown jewel – Union Square – for a full day of fun and entertainment. Spring India Day will be featuring henna artists, Bollywood dancing, music, a high couture fashion show, and more! Our food booths will entice your taste buds with several Indian regional cuisines including samosas, keebabs, curried rice, exotic island delights, South Indian delicacies, and roadside chat selections.

Where: San Francisco’s Union Square
When: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Date: Saturday, June 11th, 2016

This event is organized by WomenNow TV in association with New Delhi Restaurant and benefits Compassionate Chefs Cafe a 501(c) non-profit organization with a mission to help Kids Across the Street in the Tenderloin After School Program and Across the Ocean in Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India to help them become global citizens.

Gandhi’s intention behind his Ashram in Ahmedabad, India, was to help uplift the underprivileged. On this very location, we are helping to fund the school for children of Harijan (Untouchable) Street Cleaners. This school helps us continue Mahatma Gandhi’s movement to eradicate the social injustice of being labeled Untouchable. These children will help to uplift their impoverished communities from within. It is most basic of all human needs to be clean and have nurturing human touch.

Closer to home, we are also supporting Tenderloin After School Program – which provides valuable services to kids of families living in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. The Tenderloin After School Program serves as a shelter from the street culture and many harmful influences that abound in this area. TASP provides kids with a safe space to be, where they can play and study, and get the proper support and training necessary to succeed in life.

Compassionate Chefs will be hosting a photo booth next to the main stage with props and backgrounds. Bring your smiling face and help out a great cause! Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Artist Highlight – Duke Ellington

“The wise musicians are those who play what they can master.” Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington is considered one of the world’s greatest composers and musicians and one of the most notable influences on jazz history. He was also a prolific composer. It is estimated that his orchestra recorded around two thousand compositions. These included instrumental pieces, popular songs, suites, musical comedies, various film scores, and “Boola,” an unfinished opera.

The United States bestowed upon him the highest civil honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The French government honored him with their highest award, the Legion of Honor, He played for presidents, royalty and for regular people and by the end of his 50-year career, he had played over 20,000 performances worldwide. He was “The Duke,” Duke Ellington.

Ellington got his nickname of “Duke” from a childhood friend who commented on his elegant manners, bearing, and dress. Edward Kennedy Ellington was born April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C. to Duke’s parents, Daisy Kennedy Ellington and James Edward Ellington. They served as ideal role models for young Duke, and taught him everything from proper table manners to an understanding of the emotional power of music. Ellington began playing piano at age seven. During the summers in Philadelphia or Atlantic City, where he and his mother vacationed, he began to seek out and listen to ragtime pianists. Duke sought out Harvey Brooks, a hot pianist in Philadelphia where Harvey showed Duke some pianistic tricks and shortcuts. Duke later recounted that, after he returned home he had a strong yearning to play. Previously he had not been able to get started, but after hearing Harvey he said to himself, “Man you’re going to have to do it.” Thus the music career of Duke Ellington was born.

Ten years later in 1923, Duke made his first recording. Ellington and his band, The Washingtonians, played at places like the Exclusive Club, Connie’s Inn, the Hollywood Club (Club Kentucky), Ciro’s, the Plantation Club, and most importantly the Cotton Club. Thanks to the rise in radio receivers and the industry itself, Duke’s band was broadcast across the nation live on “From the Cotton Club.” The band’s music, along with their popularity, spread rapidly. Duke Ellington and his band went on to play everywhere from New York to New Delhi, Chicago to Cairo, and Los Angeles to London. Ellington and his band played with such greats as Miles Davis, Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and Louis Armstrong. They entertained everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to the US President. Some of Ellington’s greatest works include “Rockin’ in Rhythm,” “Satin Doll,” “New Orleans,” “A Drum is a Women,” “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Happy-Go-Lucky Local,” “The Mooche,” and “Crescendo in Blue.”

Duke did a series of spiritual concerts, one of which was performed at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Duke had many friends here in San Francisco, many musicians that are still playing in local clubs to this day and have wonderful stories to tell of “The Duke.”

What made “The Duke” so great was that he knew each of his musicians’ abilities well (many had been with him for decades and were legends in their own rights) and wrote his music to accommodate their skills and strong points. The music was written specifically for his band.

The road was hard for Ellington and he made great sacrifices to keep his band together, but the sacrifices paid off in the undying loyalty of his musicians and a legacy of music to be cherished for all times.

Duke Ellington passed away in 1974.

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