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Musician

Melba Liston

Born:

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: 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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Article: Under the Radar

Women in Jazz, Pt. 3: The International Women in Jazz Organization

Read "Women in Jazz, Pt. 3: The International Women in Jazz Organization" reviewed by Karl Ackermann


In part 1 and part 2 of the Women in Jazz series, we looked at the historical marginalization of women in jazz from Lil Hardin Armstrong and Blanch Calloway in the 1920s to Tia Fuller in 2019. Part 2 focused on several prominent pioneering artists including the all-female International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Marian McPartland, and Melba ...

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Article: Building a Jazz Library

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 ...

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Article: Radio

Big Long Silidin' Thing - Celebrating Melba Liston

Read "Big Long Silidin' Thing - Celebrating Melba Liston" reviewed by Mary Foster Conklin


In the first hour, we celebrate trombonist, composer and arranger Melba Liston in honor of her birthday, and take a look at some recent trombone players making noise in the jazz world. We sample some new releases by vocalists Josephine Beavers, Lila Ammons, Virginia Schenck, flutist Andrea Brachfeld and pianist Roberta Piket, with birthday shout outs ...

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Article: Album Review

Audrey Ochoa: Frankenhorn

Read "Frankenhorn" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan


Trombonist Audrey Ochoa's Frankenhorn has a big, bold sound. The set was originally planned as a feature for duets with pianist Chris Andrew, with remixes by electronica DJ Battery Poacher. But things got out of hand, in the best sense of things. A rhythm section and strings and keyboard seasonings were brought into the mix, resulting ...


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