• In his 1993 book Upside Your Head! Rhythm and Blues on Central Avenue, the jazz and blues musician and impresario Johnny Otis writes primarily about the music scene in Los Angeles during the 40’s and 50’s.

  • In 1961 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had purchased Verve Records from Norman Granz. Creed Taylor became the new executive director, and made a number of crucial policy decisions, including the sacking of the majority of Verve’s contract artists. One of a handful to survive was

  • On the evenings of April 21 and 22, 1961, Miles Davis and his quintet recorded at San Francisco’s The Black Hawk nightclub, a longtime Tenderloin neighborhood establishment described by Bay area music writer Ralph J. Gleason as

  • A story about “a man of the cloth…deputized by a higher power to save jazzmen’s souls from the lures and wiles and temptations of bad taste.”

  • Johnny Otis writes about racism
  • Great Encounters: In the studio with Bill Evans and Stan Getz
  • Liner Notes -- Miles Davis in Person At The Blackhawk
  • "Father Kniest, Jazz Priest" -- a short story by Con Chapman
vince Features » In Memoriam

Vince Guaraldi — a career beyond “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

Arguments abound about what is hip and what isn’t when it comes to Christmas music, but few can argue that Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas remains a breath of fresh air in a world otherwise dominated by recordings by Kenny G, Mannheim Steamroller, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Certified “triple platinum” by the Recording Industry Association of America, and ranked by Sound Scan as the #10 best selling Christmas album since 1991, A Charlie Brown Christmas — and his association with Peanuts creator Charles Schulz — is what Guaraldi is best remembered for.

What few of us probably know about Guaraldi, however, is that he was actually a self-proclaimed “reformed boogie-woogie player” who got his start filling in for […] Continue reading »

cocker1 Features » In Memoriam

“Cry Me a River” — Joe Cocker’s remake of a 1950’s torch song

Joe Cocker, the flamboyant British rocker who died yesterday at the age of 70, was best known for his gravelly voice and charismatic onstage personality, but his career was especially noteworthy due to his successful model of interpreting popular songs of the day. The most obvious example -– the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” performed before hundreds of thousands at Woodstock in 1969 -– was his signature career achievement, a performance Paul McCartney yesterday called “mind-blowing,” one that he was “forever grateful for him for having done that.” One could make the case that Cocker’s appearance at Woodstock and his filmed performance of that tune was indeed a defining moment of the rock era.

Cocker also successfully remade Arthur Hamilton’s “Cry Me a River,” a 1953 torch song originally composed for Ella Fitzgerald to sing in Pete Kelly’s Blues, the Jack Webb film in which Peggy Lee portrayed an […] Continue reading »

voice1 Uncategorized

Young students who “got (more) rhythm” are academically impressive

Yet more evidence of the importance music education plays in the lives of our children’s future was reported on in the December 19 edition of the New York Times. Elizabeth Harris writes that students at Voice Charter School in Queens “learn to read music, execute complicated harmonies and play a little piano in the music classes they attend at least once a day, and where, far more than in other general education schools, they learn to sing, sing, sing.” The song they were learning to sing? George and Ira Gershwin’s “I’ve Got Rhythm.” The school’s principal, Franklin Headley, says that students “learn how to be really good at something. We believe that then translates into everything else.”

The result of this strategy is impressive. Students have dramatically outperformed their peers academically. Harris writes, “Academically, students at Voice did significantly […] Continue reading »