“Great Encounters” are book excerpts that chronicle famous encounters among twentieth-century cultural icons. This edition tells the story of the 1925 recording session of Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong
Excerpted from Bessie, by Chris Albertson
I’ve got the world in a jug;
The stopper’s in my hand.
“Down Hearted Blues”
When Bessie sang those words on her first recording date in 1923, her future looked promising, but by the onset of 1925, there was no longer any doubt — Bessie had “arrived.” She could look back on a year and a half of prominence and prosperity; her billing as “The Greatest and Highest Salaried Race Star in the World” was accurate; dreams of supporting her family had come true; […] Continue reading »
Four powerful quotes to remember…In honor of the 50-year anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act. […] Continue reading »
“Reminiscing in Tempo” is part of a continuing effort to provide Jerry Jazz Musician readers with unique forms of “edu-tainment.” As often as possible, Jerry Jazz Musician poses one question via e mail to a small number of prominent and diverse people. The question is designed to provoke a lively response that will potentially include the memories and/or opinion of those solicited.
This edition asks the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz record albums of the 1960’s?” Respondents include the musicians John McLaughlin, Vijay Iyer, Warren Wolf, Jane Ira Bloom, Don Byron, Robin Eubanks, and journalists Gary Giddins, Dan Morgenstern, Terry Teachout, Neil Tesser, John Goodman and lots more… […] Continue reading »
What do the musicians Don Byron, Jane Ira Bloom, Eric Revis, Robin Eubanks, Steve Turre, and Warren Wolf have in common with the journalists Gary Giddins, John Goodman, Terry Teachout, and Marc Myers? They have all participated in the next edition of “Reminiscing in Tempo: Memories and Opinion” by answering the question, “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings from the 1960′s?”
The complete edition will be published in April, and many more participants are expected. Meanwhile, here is a sampling of responses: […] Continue reading »
“I think there are only three things that America will be known for 2,000 years from now when they study this civilization: the Constitution, jazz music and baseball. They’re the three most beautifully designed things this culture has ever produced.”
—Gerald Early, cultural critic
Spring is upon us, and so is the start of the baseball season. As Gerald Early points out, there are great connections between jazz and baseball, prominent of which is the role that desegregation of each institution played in creating the political climate essential to the civil rights movement.
There are interesting similarities among two of the leading African American figures of the era who helped integrate their professions, not the least of which was the quality of their character. To Branch Rickey, after thoroughly investigating the college-educated Jackie Robinson, he felt […] Continue reading »
At the invitation of Duke Ellington, the great Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt came to America in October, 1946. Long a dream of his, according to Reinhardt biographer Michael Dregni, “he yearned to play his guitar in the homeland of jazz…picking out his improvisations with the American greats in the high churches of jazz – the Savoy, Roseland, Paramount, Apollo, Minton’s, Monroe’s, the Onyx, the Three Deuces. Those reveries had gone unrequited, concert plans thwarted, tour schemes halted by war.”
He would play several major U.S. cities with Ellington, including Carnegie Hall performances of November 23 and 24, 1946. […] Continue reading »
In “Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism, author Thomas Brothers writes about Armstrong’s early fascination with marijuana — an interest that began in Chicago, 1928, while playing the Savoy Ballroom. This interest led to a marijuana possession arrest on November 13, 1930 in the parking lot of Los Angeles’ Cotton Club. “Armstrong was allowed to finish out his night work before they hauled him off to jail around 3:00 A.M.,” Brothers writes.
The following book excerpt begins with a rather humorous transcript from his trial, and then […] Continue reading »
“Everybody has the blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith. In music, especially this broad category called jazz, there is a stepping-stone to all of these.”
— Martin Luther King
[…] Continue reading »
Graham Nash tells a story about how bandmate David Crosby reacted to Miles Davis’ cover of Crosby’s song “Guinivere,” which Davis recorded during the Bitches Brew sessions in 1970, and was subsequently released in 1979 on Circle in the Round (also released on The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions).
Excerpted from Graham Nash: Wild Tales, a Rock & Roll Life
“Lady of the Island”…was a three-track record on an eight-track tape that we got on one take. Me singing and playing guitar, with Crosby sitting right next to me, blending in that beautiful cellolike fugue. We also got a gorgeous take of “Guinevere,” […] Continue reading »
“Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.”
— Charles Mingus
[…] Continue reading »