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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

ARTICLE: FILM REVIEW

Billie

Read "Billie" reviewed by Ian Patterson

Billie New Black Films 96 minutes 2020 A victim of her own self-destructive excesses is a common trope when assessing Billie Holiday. Yet James Erskine's handsome documentary Billie makes a convincing case for Holiday--arguably the greatest of all jazz singers--as more a victim of poverty, racism, manipulation and brutal misogyny. ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Marty Elkins: 'Tis Autumn

Read "'Tis Autumn" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

There exists a group of jazz musicians dedicated to pre-bebop jazz who have traditionally populated the catalogs of the Nagel-Heyer and Arbors record labels. These musicians include Herb Pomeroy, Max Kaminsky, Randy Sandke, Harry Allen, and Dave McKenna. Central to this group is vocalist Marty Elkins who, while in college, discovered the recordings of Ella Fitzgerald, ...

ARTICLE: CATCHING UP WITH

Ron Miles: Rainbow Sign Of The Times

Read "Ron Miles: Rainbow Sign Of The Times" reviewed by Ian Patterson

The title of Ron Miles' Rainbow Sign (Blue Note Records, 2020) carries great personal meaning for the Denver cornetist/composer and educator. The initial influence was The Carter Family song “God Gave Noah the Rainbow Sign," with its line 'No more water but the fire next time," which in turn gave James Baldwin the title for his ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Ada Bird Wolfe, Jamieson Trotter: He & Me

Read "He & Me" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Ada Bird Wolfe's 2018 debut CD, Birdie (Self Produced), was one of the best recordings released that year. For Wolfe, music has been a lifetime love, even while in school and after, working in business, and writing full time. Wolfe has sojourned from the East to the West Coast, where she finally landed, set down roots ...

ARTICLE: INTERVIEW

Mauro Ottolini: Nel cuore pulsante di Storyville

Read "Mauro Ottolini: Nel cuore pulsante di Storyville" reviewed by Paolo Marra

Con il disco Storyville Story, prodotto dall'etichetta Parco della Musica Records, Mauro Ottolini ci riporta nel cuore pulsante della vita artistica di New Orleans facendoci rivivere lo spirito esuberante della tradizione del jazz degli anni'20 del secolo scorso. L'album, registrato dal vivo ad Orvieto e Perugia tra fine 2018 ed estate 2019, vede Fabrizio Bosso come ...

ARTICLE: LIVE REVIEW

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal 2020

Read "Festival International de Jazz de Montréal  2020" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

2020 Festival International de Jazz de Montréal Various Venues Montréal, Canada June 27-30, 2020 Above all else the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is a spectacular ten-day event: with around 2 million visitors and 500 concerts on 20 stages, it is ranked as the world's largest jazz ...

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 ...


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