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Musician

Melba Liston

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Born in Kansas City, Melba moved to Los Angeles as a child, and became a working musician at age sixteen. She learned to arrange and write, as well as play, and quickly found herself snapped up by Gerald Wilson, who hired her as a copyist, arranger, and trombonist during the War. When Wilson's band broke up in 1948, she joined Count Basie, and in 1949, Dizzy Gillespie. Her writing and arranging were formidable, and after Dizzy's big band folded in 1957, she stayed busy in New York with writing and playing. She returned to Los Angeles in the late 1960s, and moved to Jamaica in 1974, to teach at the Institute of Music there

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Article: Radio & Podcasts

Art of the Arranger

Read "Art of the Arranger" reviewed by David Brown


This week, large ensembles and horn sections arranged Don Sebesky for Freddie Hubbard, Mary Lou Williams for the Twelve Clouds of Joy, Quincy Jones for The Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra plus arrangements by Miho Hazama, Melba Liston, Kamasi Washington and more. Then, jazz and spoken word from Charles Mingus, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Darius Jones. Then, new ...

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Article: Radio & Podcasts

New Releases Plus a Celebration of Jazz Capricorns Sade, Melba Liston and More

Read "New Releases Plus a Celebration of Jazz Capricorns Sade, Melba Liston and More" reviewed by Mary Foster Conklin


This broadcast presents new releases from Pete Malinverni, Remy Le Boeuf's Assembly of Shadows and the Yellowjackets. In the first hour, songs by Sade and in the second hour a set of tunes honoring composer, arranger trombonist Melba Liston to celebrate their birthdays. Other Capricorn shoutouts include Rachel Z, Chelsea McBride, Christine Tobin, Ingrid Jensen, Andrea ...

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Article: Book Review

The Lady Swings: Memoirs of a Jazz Drummer

Read "The Lady Swings: Memoirs of a Jazz Drummer" reviewed by David A. Orthmann


The Lady Swings: Memoirs of a Jazz Drummer Dottie Dodgion and Wayne Enstice 264 Pages ISBN: #9780252085512 University of Illinois Press2021 Dottie Dodgion isn't reluctant to share the trials and tribulations endured throughout a long life. Dodgion was raped by her stepfather at age ten, afflicted with early ...

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Article: Album Review

Umlaut Big band: Mary's Ideas

Read "Mary's Ideas" reviewed by Mark Corroto


In the liner notes of Embraced (Pablo Live, 1978), Mary Lou Williams defends the late music of John Coltrane thus ..."the healing power comes from the deep feeling that is in jazz--the feeling of the Blues which is characteristic of all good jazz no matter what form it takes. Even John Coltrane's music was never without ...

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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. ...

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Article: Building a Jazz Library

CTI Records: Ten Tasty Albums With No Added Sugar (Almost)

Read "CTI Records: Ten Tasty Albums  With No Added Sugar (Almost)" reviewed by Chris May


Few jazz producers divide opinion as much as Creed Taylor. He is a hero to many and a villain to as many more. His fans love him for his high production values. His detractors accuse him of dumbing jazz down with excessively sweetened orchestrations and other sales-oriented compromises. Nowhere is the dispute more heated than over ...

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Article: Building a Jazz Library

Lift Every Voice And Sing: Twenty #BlackLives Albums That Matter

Read "Lift Every Voice And Sing: Twenty #BlackLives Albums That Matter" reviewed by Chris May


Jazz has been inextricably linked with social and political protest since at least the late 1930s, when Billie Holiday made famous the leftist songwriter and poet Abel Meeropol's “Strange Fruit." The song, which has a power to move that is undiminished by familiarity, likens the bodies of lynched African Americans to fruit hanging in trees.

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Article: Building a Jazz Library

Atlantic Records: More Giant Steps: An Alternative Top 20 Albums

Read "Atlantic Records: More Giant Steps: An Alternative Top 20 Albums" reviewed by Chris May


Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun's Atlantic Records differs in one key respect from Prestige, Riverside, Impulse!, Strata-East and Flying Dutchman, the most prominent labels covered so far in this Building A Jazz Library series. Those labels' discographies consist almost exclusively of jazz. Atlantic had parallel interests in soul and rhythm-and-blues and, later, rock. This had consequences, as ...

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Article: Building a Jazz Library

Impulse! Records: An Alternative Top 20 Zeitgeist Seizing Albums

Read "Impulse! Records: An Alternative Top 20 Zeitgeist Seizing Albums" reviewed by Chris May


There can be little argument that a jazz label ever captured a zeitgeist more completely than Impulse! did during its original 1960s incarnation. In the US, the fight back against white racism was cresting, opposition to the Vietnam war was growing, outrage over the assassinations of figures of hope such as President Kennedy, Martin Luther King ...


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