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C. Michael Bailey

I'm Sanctified and Southern Fried / Mama tried and daddy cried / I tell the truth 'cept when I've lied / And like my huevos on the side.

About Me

I am convinced that music is a spiritual expression. It is the highest representation and realization of human thought and creativity.

I am a simple country druggist, from the Deep Dixie, who fell into the world of medical research quite by accident...staying there for 35 years. Talk about “a long, strange trip.” By day I am a clinical research professional, helping keep medical research between the regulatory ditches at local academic medical center. By night, I am an intrepid music writer and cultural critic trying to figure it all out.

I grew up in the late '60s and early '70s, when the greatest popular music was being recorded and discovered the blues, that subatomic music that cannot be divided first hearing “You Shook Me” from Led Zeppelin (Atlantic, 1969). It took several more years to discover where the blues really came from and that is when my real interest in music began.

My jazz interests are in post-World War II acoustic small ensemble jazz, both from the East and West Coast, specifically Miles Davis and Art Pepper. My classical music interests are Renaissance and Baroque Choral Music, all 18th-Century music (specifically music for the clarinet), and Opera, primarily the Baroque operas of Vivaldi and Handel, the classical operas of Haydn and Mozart, and the Romantic Operas of Puccini, Verdi, and Wagner. I am a great admirer of Gustaf Mahler and Anton Bruckner, as well as Steve Reich and Philip Glass.

Through no fault of my own, my editors believe me some kind of authority on jazz vocals. I devote the majority of my writing time to jazz vocals for which I have found an abundance of fine players and recordings. It is a tough crowd to break into and I have respect for all who try. I have made many friends from this group of artists, all of who I value and love.

The first song I learned all the words to was Elvis Presley's “Return to Sender” in 1964 (on which one young Bobby Keys played baritone saxophone and who would change my life forever with a searing tenor solo on The Rolling Stones' “Brown Sugar”). I sold my precious soul to the rock n' roll Devil at the crossroads of Biscayne and Evergreen in Little Rock, Arkansas when I heard the monolithic slab o' rock “Mississippi Queen,” during the blistering hot Summer of 1969, not long after hearing two other great cowbell songs: “Honky Tonk Women” and “Time Has Come Today.” Did I mention that Miles Davis' “Bitches Brew” was released that same year?

I have never recovered from the stark terror of “Gimme Shelter” or the languid Summer groove of “Green River,” nor the sonic crunch of “A Whole Lotta Love” and “Heartbreaker.” The Guess Who taught me about “America Woman” and Joe Cocker introduced me to Ray Charles, Solomon Burke, Otis Redding, and Jackie Wilson. I was introduced to jazz and classical music as an adult by two incredibly wise teachers, one who taught me Pharmacology in Pharmacy School and the other as my Ophthalmologist. I learned to read and listen. Study enhances the listening experience with music.

I have been writing for All About Jazz since 1997 and was a director on the Board of the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation from 2013 to 2018. I am blessed to be surrounded by such fine music, musicians, writers, and editors.

My Jazz Story

Published on: 2017-06-14

I was first exposed to jazz in high school after purchasing Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" like about a zillion others. It was not until my introduction to alto saxophonist Art Pepper, that I really embraced jazz...and it has been a love affair since then.

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