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Bessie Smith

“Empress of the Blues” She embodied the meaning of the blues, living the life she sang about. Bessie Smith set the standard for blues singers on how it should be done. Bessie Smith, born on Apr. 15, 1894, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was one of ten children. Her parents died by her eighth birthday, and she was raised by her older sister Viola. She was taught to sing and dance by her older brother Clarence, who later arranged an audition for Smith with the traveling Moses Stokes Show where she was hired as a dancer in 1912. She became friends with Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, a blues singer, who became her mentor

Sex & Drugs & Jazz & Jive: Top Ten Stash Records Albums

Read "Sex & Drugs & Jazz & Jive: Top Ten Stash Records Albums" reviewed by Chris May

With all the transgressive flair you would expect of bohemian New York City in the 1970s and 1980s, Bernie Brightman's Stash Records made its name with a hugely entertaining series of sex and drugs-themed compilations of swing-era recordings. The first was Reefer Songs in 1976. But Brightman's legacy extends much further. There was a finite amount ...

ARTICLE: RADIO

Big April Birthdays & More

Read "Big April Birthdays & More" reviewed by Marc Cohn

April birthdays this week on G&M with the Carmen McRae centennial, along with the 90th birthdays of Herbie Mann, pianist Frank Strazzeri (who toured in the 1970's with Elvis!), Claude Bolling and Richard Davis (the latter 2 still with us); as well as the 80th birthdays of George Adams and the very much alive Herbie Hancock! ...

ARTICLE: RADIO

Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out - Celebrating Bessie Smith

Read "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out - Celebrating Bessie Smith" reviewed by Mary Foster Conklin

Halfway through April, which is also Jazz Appreciation Month, the broadcast includes new releases from vocalist Nanette Frank, composer Wayne Alpern, trumpeter Johnny Summers and pianist Monika Herzig, with birthday shoutouts to the Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith, pianist Herbie Hancock, plus vocalists Marilyn Maye and Dusty Springfield. Thanks for listening and please support the ...

AACM: Together We Are Stronger

Read "AACM: Together We Are Stronger" reviewed by Chris May

With the passing in 2017 of the pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and trumpeter Phil Cohran, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, formed in Chicago in 1965, lost the last two of the four musicians who organised its inaugural meeting. But with two succeeding generations of standard bearers stepping up to the plate, the AACM ...

ARTICLE: BLUES DELUXE

Cotton Pickin' Blues

Read "Cotton Pickin' Blues" reviewed by Martin McFie

Blues began with enslaved African peoples' work songs in the cotton fields of the Deep South of America. The Slave Narrative of Mr. Sam Polite, given at 93 years of age, chronicles that life. It was written on St. Helena, a cotton producing Sea Island in the Carolinas, where Mr. Polite was born into slavery. The ...

ARTICLE: RADIO

Another Edition of Listeners’ Favorites!

Read "Another Edition of Listeners’ Favorites!" reviewed by Marc Cohn

Listeners' favorites from Gifts and Messages shows 401-410. 'We play the hits!.' See if yours made it to the top of the chart. Enjoy. (That would be a VERY young DrJ in the photo) Playlist Mose Allison “I'm Not Talking" from The Word from Mose (Atlantic) 00:00 Mike LeDonne “From The Heart" from From ...

Tumbledown House

“Launched in the drizzly climes of Portland, Oregon by smoky-toned singer Gillian Wolfe and producer, guitarist and harmony vocalist Tyler Ryan Miller, Tumbledown House has thrived since relocating to the Bay Area in 2012, honing a sinewy, speakeasy sound with some of the region’s finest musicians. Focusing on beautifully crafted original songs, the band balances spacious, loose-limbed arrangements with precisely calibrated dynamics and tightly coiled energy… Tumbledown House brings together instrumentation that evokes the small combos of the swing era, while delivering songs that feel as if they were composed the day after tomorrow.” - Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, 2019 San Francisco songwriting deviants, Tumbledown House, have never been easy to describe

ARTICLE: YEAR IN REVIEW

2019: The Year in Jazz

Read "2019: The Year in Jazz" reviewed by Ken Franckling

The year 2019 was robust in many ways. International Jazz Day brought its biggest stage to Australia. An important but long-shuttered jazz mecca was revived in a coast-to-coast move. ECM Records celebrated a golden year. The music and its makers figured prominently on the big screen. The National Endowment for the Arts welcomed four new NEA ...

ARTICLE: RADIO

Wayne, Newk, 21st Century Tunes & A Vault Dive

Read "Wayne, Newk, 21st Century Tunes & A Vault Dive" reviewed by Marc Cohn

Our 2 features this week: quartet tracks from Wayne Shorter's Emanon (the Downbeat Magazine's Critics and Readers Poll best album of the year) and Sonny Rollins' monumental Saxophone Colossus. We've got 21st century music from four bass players and two Chicago trumpeters. And, of course, a waltz through the vaults with Fletcher Henderson, Bessie Smith, Charles ...


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