Though the British blues-rockers The Animals recorded a gritty version of a song called “Gin House Blues” in 1966, the tune was originally released by Bessie Smith in 1928 under the name “Me and My Gin.” Smith, the storied blues singer of the Prohibition and Great Depression, did record another song a few years earlier that may have confused other artists over the years who attempted to cover Smith’s version....more
Posts Tagged: jazz
One of the most entertaining things about the early days of recorded jazz music is the clever way musicians worked around the conservative mores of the time. The well-loved etymologist William Safire, in a 2002 article, diligently attempts to decode the playful gibberish sung so beautifully by Nat King Cole in his suggestive tune, “The Frim Fram Sauce,” only to shrug, in the end, and concede that it’s probably “about sex.” You can almost hear the smirk in Cole’s silky smooth voice as he sings:
I don’t want French fried potatoes, red ripe tomatoes
I’m never satisfied.
When it comes to musical legacies, Detroit’s is singular: talking about “Detroit sound” can refer to a jump into Motown’s soul vibes or a dive into the roots of techno’s hammering basses, two apparently distant and antipodal hearts that have more in common than we might think....more
A new jazz documentary is making its way around the festival circuit. Directed by Kasper Collin, I Called Him Morgan traces the career of trumpet player Lee Morgan, who worked with greats like Art Blakey and Dizzy Gillespie before being murdered—shot dead on stage mid-performance—by his wife....more
While Fitzgerald’s haunts have certainly evolved over the years, and some have disappeared altogether, visitors to Paris can still relive the old-fashioned glamor of Fitzgerald’s Paris. It requires imagination, champagne, and a touch of despair.
In an article for Travel + Leisure, Jess McHugh writes about the Paris of F....more
For years, people have been referring to lost sessions featuring Betty Davis and her former husband Miles Davis playing with bending genres, with Betty Davis introducing the jazz giant to Jimi Hendrix and the sounds of psychedelic rock. Recorded from 1968-1969 at Columbia’s 52nd Street studios, the mythic sessions laid the groundwork for the mix of jazz and psychedelia that later coalesced in Miles Davis’s radically innovative Bitches Brew....more
Books live in our collective unconscious as well as our individual imaginations. It’s best to air these stories occasionally so that we may examine the myths we hold dearly. Movies may be messy but they can be viewed en masse, which makes them the perfect medium for this analysis.
The fifth International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert took place on the White House’s South Lawn on Friday, featuring performances from giants Herbie Hancock and Aretha Franklin alongside an all-star band made up of musicians from around the world.
President Obama gave a speech welcoming the UNESCO concert back to the US....more
Before news hit about David Bowie’s passing, we had planned a post about the posivibes his most recent album, Blackstar, had received from the media. Although there is so much more to talk about in the wake of his death, we still want to acknowledge the haunted beauty of his last album....more
A new documentary explores the New York jazz scene circa 1959 through the lens of W. Eugene Smith, the LIFE Magazine photojournalist, and the shows that sprang up in a squat in Chelsea’s Flower District. Read more about The Jazz Loft According to W....more
If it seems that “lost” books, short stories, and everything else are coming out of the woodwork, well, they are. The Strand magazine has just published Twixt Cup and Lip, an early play by William Faulkner written in the 1920s:
The Strand describes the play as “a light-hearted jazz age story.” Prohibition is under way, and the friends are enjoying an illicit drink.
One of the most enduring individual legacies from the Jazz Age is that of the towering figure of Louis Armstrong. The super-influential artist grew up in New Orleans’s Storyville district during a time of artistic upheaval. His exposure to the musical melting pot of New Orleans left an indelible impression on him....more
Aquarium Drunkard has highlighted some incredible recent vault releases from the jazz masters, including archival footage that definitely merits a listen. From Miles Davis there’s a Bootleg Series spanning live performances from 1955–1975: four CDs of unreleased material of Davis at Newport Jazz Festivals over the years....more
Aquarium Drunkard recently released its second mix in collaboration with Peer Schouten, a Copenhagen-based DJ and record collector. Titled Shaft’s Old Man: An Imaginary Soul Jazz Soundtrack, the mixtape is divided into an intro and six acts, delineating the major plot points and themes of the imaginary spy film it sonically scripts....more
Jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman passed away last week at age 85, and the intervening days have yielded some truly beautiful pieces on the Pulitzer Prize-winning musician. The New Yorker published a comprehensive article on Coleman’s career and revolutionary approach to improvisation, following his influence on jazz as it bled into literature, citing a reference to Coleman in Thomas Pynchon’s V; MOJO traced the artist’s innovation through some thoroughly memorable quotes given by Coleman’s peers (Thelonious Monk’s “that cat is nuts” being one); okayplayer....more
By now Miles Davis has become a cornerstone of modern music. We can’t get rid of him, which is good, because we would never want to. Miles Davis is inside us; he surrounds us, and permeates our collective consciousness. For that reason, it’s easy to take him for granted....more