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Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte, Jr. is a humanitarian and political activist known best as a singer from the 1950’s who started the craze for Caribbean inflected music. “The Banana Boat Song” became his signature song. Born in New York City of a Jamaican mother and Martiniquan father in 1927, Belafonte was sent to live with his grandmother in Jamaica from 1932 to 1940. When he returned, he worked as an assistant janitor in a building. He was given two theatre tickets from one of the tenants and subsequently took acting classes in New York. He took classes with Marlon Brando and Sidney Poitier and performed at the American Negro Theatre. His first musical release “Matilda” in 1953 became a hit and the album “Calypso” sold over 1 million copies in 1956

Riverside Records: An Alternative Top Ten

Read "Riverside Records: An Alternative Top Ten" reviewed by Chris May

From 1953, when it was set up, to 1964, when it was acquired by ABC, Riverside Records rivalled Blue Note and Prestige as one of the leading independent jazz labels based in New York City. The founders of all three labels were jazz fans who operated on slim margins and became producers partly because they enjoyed ...

ARTICLE: LIVE REVIEW

Charleston Jazz Festival 2020

Read "Charleston Jazz Festival 2020" reviewed by Martin McFie

Various Venues Charleston Jazz Festival Charleston, SC January 23-26, 2020 Jazz Festivals are like people, six years old is still in infancy, but everything has to start somewhere. Historically, the city which gave birth to the Charleston dance craze and was the inspiration for Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, deserves The Charleston ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Nat King Cole: Hittin’ the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943)

Read "Hittin’ the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943)" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Before pianist/vocalist Nat King Cole had a career as a pop crooner--his many hits included “All for You," “The Christmas Song," “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66," “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons," “Nature Boy" and “Mona Lisa" (the No. 1 song in 1950)--he led a successful jazz trio which featured both his piano playing and ...

ARTICLE: LIVE REVIEW

Monty Alexander at the Avalon Theater

Read "Monty Alexander at the Avalon Theater" reviewed by Geno Thackara

Monty Alexander and Friends The Avalon Theater Easton, MD August 31, 2019 “Ten years," Monty Alexander wryly observed at the center-stage microphone with a disbelieving shake of the head. “Ten years of this festival, and 75 years as me." It was a celebration of multiple anniversaries at the weekend-long Labor Day ...

ARTICLE: INTERVIEW

Monty Alexander: Still Rolling

Read "Monty Alexander: Still Rolling" reviewed by Geno Thackara

If there's one defining quality to Monty Alexander's music, it's joy. An unmistakable undercurrent of happiness has been constant across several decades, dozens of recordings and countless performances all over the world. He could be honoring classic jazz balladeers, exploring the danceable “riddims" of his native Jamaica or anything in between, and you can always hear ...

ARTICLE: HI-RES JAZZ

New Music in an Anxious Time: Teis Semey, Peggy Lee and Philipp Gropper

Read "New Music in an Anxious Time: Teis Semey, Peggy Lee and Philipp Gropper" reviewed by Mark Werlin

Historians of jazz identify the African-American civil rights struggle circa 1945-1965 as the locus for the most active involvement of jazz music in expressions of social and political protest. One of the earliest recorded instances of explicit political protest in jazz, “Strange Fruit," was refused by Decca, singer Billie Holiday's record label, for fear of reprisals ...

ARTICLE: SOCAL JAZZ

Michael Lauren: Give My Regards To Portugal

Read "Michael Lauren: Give My Regards To Portugal" reviewed by Jim Worsley

From Broadway to jazz to Portugal. A circuitous route for sure. One that has, however, served international musician Michael Lauren well. The now seventy-year- old multi-styled drummer came out of the womb with a kick pedal and has been holding down a symphony of beats ever since. Over the years he has played or recorded with ...

ARTICLE: INTERVIEW

Sam Tshabalala: Returning Home

Read "Sam Tshabalala: Returning Home" reviewed by Seton Hawkins

The late 1970s saw a surge of extraordinary musical creativity in South Africa. Driven in part by a changing political climate reflecting the youth-led Soweto uprising of 1976, a younger generation of South African artists harnessed the arts to give voice to a new chapter in the anti-apartheid struggle. Indeed, rising ensembles like Movement ...

ARTICLE: LIVE REVIEW

Lila Downs at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn

Read "Lila Downs at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn" reviewed by Ernest Barteldes

Lila Downs BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn at Prospect Park Brooklyn, NY June 29, 2017 Backed initially by an eight-piece band directed by saxophonist (and husband) Paul Cohen, singer, songwriter and activist Lila Downs began her set with an up-tempo rendition of “Mezcalito," a tune that talks about mezcal, Mexico's ...


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