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Charles Mingus - Voices of Jazz
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: voices jazz charles mingus word life production new quality entertainment

One of the most important figures in twentieth century American music, Charles Mingus was a virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer. Born on a military base in Nogales, Arizona in 1922 and raised in Watts, California, his earliest musical influences came from the church– choir and group singing– and from “hearing Duke Ellington over the radio when [he] was eight years old.” He studied double bass and composition in a formal way (five years with H. Rheinshagen, principal bassist of the New York Philharmonic, and compositional techniques with the legendary Lloyd Reese) while absorbing vernacular music from the great jazz masters, first-hand. His early professional experience, in the 40’s, found him touring with bands like Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory and Lionel Hampton.

Eventually he settled in New York where he played and recorded with the leading musicians of the 1950’s– Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington himself. One of the few bassists to do so, Mingus quickly developed as a leader of musicians. He was also an accomplished pianist who could have made a career playing that instrument. By the mid-50’s he had formed his own publishing and recording companies to protect and document his growing repertoire of original music. He also founded the “Jazz Workshop,” a group which enabled young composers to have their new works performed in concert and on recordings.

Mingus soon found himself at the forefront of the avant-garde. His recordings bear witness to the extraordinarily creative body of work that followed. They include: Pithecanthropus Erectus, The Clown, Tijuana Moods, Mingus Dynasty, Mingus Ah Um, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, Cumbia and Jazz Fusion, Let My Children Hear Music. He recorded over a hundred albums and wrote over three hundred scores.
Although he wrote his first concert piece, “Half-Mast Inhibition,” when he was seventeen years old, it was not recorded until twenty years later by a 22-piece orchestra with Gunther Schuller conducting. It was the presentation of “Revelations” which combined jazz and classical idioms, at the 1955 Brandeis Festival of the Creative Arts, that established him as one of the foremost jazz composers of his day.

In 1971 Mingus was awarded the Slee Chair of Music and spent a semester teaching composition at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In the same year his autobiography, Beneath the Underdog, was published by Knopf. In 1972 it appeared in a Bantam paperback and was reissued after his death, in 1980, by Viking/Penguin and again by Pantheon Books, in 1991. In 1972 he also re-signed with Columbia Records. His music was performed frequently by ballet companies, and Alvin Ailey choreographed an hour program called “The Mingus Dances” during a 1972 collaboration with the Robert Joffrey Ballet Company.

He toured extensively throughout Europe, Japan, Canada, South America and the United States until the end of 1977 when he was diagnosed as having a rare nerve disease, Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis. He was confined to a wheelchair, and although he was no longer able to write music on paper or compose at the piano, his last works were sung into a tape recorder.

From the 1960’s until his death in 1979 at age 56, Mingus remained in the forefront of American music. When asked to comment on his accomplishments, Mingus said that his abilities as a bassist were the result of hard work but that his talent for composition came from God.

Mingus received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Smithsonian Institute, and the Guggenheim Foundation (two grants). He also received an honorary degree from Brandeis and an award from Yale University. At a memorial following Mingus’ death, Steve Schlesinger of the Guggenheim Foundation commented that Mingus was one of the few artists who received two grants and added: “I look forward to the day when we can transcend labels like jazz and acknowledge Charles Mingus as the major American composer that he is.” The New Yorker wrote: “For sheer melodic and rhythmic and structural originality, his compositions may equal anything written in western music in the twentieth century.”

He died in Mexico on January 5, 1979, and his wife, Sue Graham Mingus, scattered his ashes in the Ganges River in India. Both New York City and Washington, D.C. honored him posthumously with a “Charles Mingus Day.”

After his death, the National Endowment for the Arts provided grants for a Mingus foundation created by Sue Mingus called “Let My Children Hear Music” which catalogued all of Mingus’ works. The microfilms of these works were then given to the Music Division of the New York Public Library where they are currently available for study and scholarship – a first for jazz.  Sue Mingus has founded three working repertory bands called the Mingus Dynasty, Mingus Orchestra, and the Mingus Big Band, which continue to perform his music. Biographies of Charles Mingus include Mingus by Brian Priestley, Mingus/Mingus by Janet Coleman and Al Young, Myself When I Am Real by Gene Santoro, and Tonight at Noon, a memoir by Sue Mingus.

Mingus’ masterwork, “Epitaph,” a composition which is more than 4000 measures long and which requires two hours to perform, was discovered during the cataloguing process. With the help of a grant from the Ford Foundation, the score and instrumental parts were copied, and the piece itself was premiered by a 30-piece orchestra, conducted by Gunther Schuller, in a concert produced by Sue Mingus at Alice Tully Hall on June 3, 1989, ten years after Mingus’ death.

The New Yorker wrote that “Epitaph” represents the first advance in jazz composition since Duke Ellington’s “Black, Brown, and Beige,” which was written in 1943. The New York Times said it ranked with the “most memorable jazz events of the decade.” Convinced that it would never be performed in his lifetime, Mingus called his work “Epitaph,” declaring that he wrote it “for my tombstone.”

The Library of Congress purchased the Charles Mingus Collection, a major acquisition, in 1993; this included autographed manuscripts, photographs, literary manuscripts, correspondence, and tape recordings of interviews, broadcasts, recording sessions, and Mingus composing at the piano.

Sue Mingus has published a number of educational books through Hal Leonard Publishing, including Charles Mingus: More Than a Fake Book, Charles Mingus: More Than a Play-Along, Charles Mingus: Easy Piano Solos, many big band charts— including the Simply Mingus set of big band music charts– and a Mingus guitar book.

Reprinted in part from More than a Fake Book © 1991 Jazz Workshop, Inc.

Links to Additional Biographical and Historical Information on the Web

Library of Congress
An index to the holdings of the Charles Mingus Collection, Music Division of the Library of Congress.
http://www.loc.gov/performingarts/encyclopedia/collections/mingus.html

Wikipedia entry

 

John Cena Tags: greatest wrestler all time john cena word life production new quality entertainment

Professional wrestler John Cena took home the United States WWE Championship, defeating The Big Show in March 2004 in Wrestlemania XX.

John Cena was born April 23, 1977, in West Newbury, Massachusetts. Calling himself "The Prototype," he captured the UPW title in 2000. In 2001 he signed a contract to work at Ohio Valley Wrestling. He captured the OVW heavyweight title in February 2002, then made his WWE debut that June. Two years later, he took the United States Championship. Since then he has notched many wins and titles.

At an early age, Cena showed a passion for sports and working out. By the time he was 15 he was a regular gym rat and, after graduating high school, Cena headed off to Springfield College in Massachusetts to study exercise physiology and prove his worth on the football field. At Springfield, Cena turned himself into a Division III All-American offensive lineman and team captain.

In 2000, the new college graduate left the Bay State despite his father's wishes, seeking a new life in California as a body builder. It wasn't an easy transition for the 6-foot 1-inch aspiring star. He had just $500 in his pocket to make it across country and get settled. To make ends meet, he folded towels and cleaned toilets at a Gold's Gym in Venice Beach. And because he couldn't afford an apartment, he shacked up in his 1991 Lincoln Continental.

But the turning point came in early 2000, during a casual conversation Cena had with a wrestler at Gold's who encouraged the gym employee to take classes at Ultimate Pro Wrestling (UPW), a former World Wrestling Entertainment developmental company.

For Cena, the suggestion of making a go of it as a wrestler wasn't an entirely outlandish idea. His father, John, Sr. (a.k.a. Johnny Fabulous) made a living as a wrestling announcer and businessman. As a kid growing up in suburban Massachusetts, the younger Cena spent many hours glued to the television set as he watched his wrestling heroes such as Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior and Shawn Michaels go at it in the ring.

As a wrestler himself, Cena's ascension was rapid. Calling himself "The Prototype," the ambitious Cena captured the UPW title on April 27, 2000, in San Diego, California. Over the course of the next year, Cena drew the attention of WWE executives, and in 2001 the young enterntainer signed a developmental contract with the company to work at Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW).

WWE Debut

Cena captured the OVW heavyweight title in February 2002, then made his WWE debut that June when he signed up with the Smackdown roster. Just two years later, Cena took home the United States Championship, defeating The Big Show in March 2004 in Wrestlemania XX.

In the years since, Cena has notched many wins and titles. In 2007, he became the first wrestler to ever come up victorious against Edward "Umaga" Fatu.

Along the way Cena, whose good looks and sculpted body have earned him the title "The Marky Mark of Wrestling", has greatly increased his celebrity. Like Hogan, Cena has proven that his showmanship in the ring crosses over into venues outside of it.

Ventures Outside Wrestling

Through the production wing of WWE, Cena has starred in two action films, The Marine (2006) and 12 Rounds (2009), the latter featuring the wrestler trying to save his girlfriend from a gang of terrorists in New Orleans.

In addition, Cena, who has long had an affinity for hip-hop culture, became a recording artist when his rap album, You Can't See Me, hit record stores in 2005. The recording debuted on the U.S. Billboard chart at No. 15. His credits also include appearances on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice.

In 2015, Cena received critical praise for his acting skills in the hit comedy Trainwreck, directed by Judd Apatow and written by the film's star Amy Schumer. Cena played Schumer's sensitive muscle-bound boyfriend. “I got my chance to throw my sense of humor out into the world, and at the same time play this hulky guy who’s a softy, which in real life I’m a very emotional guy,” Cena told Business Insider.

In his personal life, Cena married his girlfriend, Elizabeth Huberdeau, in July 2009. In May 2012, Cena filed for divorce, allegedly shocking Huberdeau. Their messy separation played out in the media, but they eventually settled in July of that year.

Source: Biography.com

This week's celebrity pick is Jurnee Smollett-Bell
Category: Celebrity Pick
Tags: jurnee smollett bell celebrity pick word life production new quality entertainment

Jurnee Diana Smollett-Bell (born October 1, 1986) is an American actress. She began her career as a child actress appearing on television sitcoms, with her most significant regular role being on On Our Own (1994–95). She received critical acclaim and Critic's Choice Award for playing title role in the 1997 independent drama film Eve's Bayou.

In adult age, Smollett-Bell has starred in films The Great Debaters (2007) and Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (2013). She also had starring roles on number of television series, include NBC sports drama Friday Night Lights (2009-2011), and HBO vampire drama True Blood (2013-2014). In 2016, Smollett-Bell began playing a leading role as Rosalee, the house slave, in the WGN America period drama, Underground. Smollett-Bell has won three NAACP Image Awards.

Smollett-Bell was born Jurnee Diana Smollett in New York City, the daughter of Janet and Joel Smollett. Her father was Jewish (his family immigrated from Russia and Poland), and her mother is African American. She is the fourth of six performing siblings, one sister, Jazz, and four brothers: Jussie, JoJo, Jake, and Jocqui.

Smollett-Bell began her acting career appearing in a recurring roles on the ABC family sitcoms include Full House and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper playing Denise Frazer. From 1994 to 1995, she co-starred with her siblings in the short-lived ABC sitcom On Our Own. In 1996, she appeared in the Francis Ford Coppola film Jack, making her big screen debut.

Smollett-Bell received critical acclaim for her performance as 10-year-old Eve in the 1997 independent film Eve's Bayou opposite Lynn Whitfield, Samuel L. Jackson and Debbi Morgan. In casting the role, writer-director Kasi Lemmons envisioned "a light-skinned black child who could convey the nuances of a Creole child in the 60s.” She received the Critic's Choice Award and was nominated for the NAACP Image Award. The following year, she joined the cast of CBS sitcom Cosby, for which she won two NAACP Image Awards. In 1999, Smollett-Bell starred in the racially charged Disney channel film Selma, Lord, Selma. In 2000, she co-starred with Sharon Stone and Billy Connolly in the film Beautiful Joe. In 2001, she played the daughter of Angela Bassett in the television film Ruby's Bucket of Blood. In 2005, she co-starred with Bow Wow and Brandon T. Jackson in the roller skating film Roll Bounce. In 2006, she appeared in the drama film Gridiron Gang.

In 2007, Smollett-Bell portrayed Samantha Booke (loosely based on Henrietta Bell Wells), the sole female debater at Wiley College in the historical film The Great Debaters. The film was produced by Oprah Winfrey and Harvey Weinstein and starred Denzel Washington, who also directed the feature. For her performance, Smollett-Bel received NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. The following year, she returned to television, appearing in two episodes of ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy. From 2009 to 2011, she was regular cast member in the DirecTV drama series Friday Night Lights playing Jess Merriweather. From 2010 to 2011, she also co-starred with Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell on the short-lived CBS legal drama The Defenders. From 2013 to 2014, she was regular on HBO series True Blood.

In 2013, Smollett-Bell played the leading role in the drama film Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor directed by Tyler Perry. The film received negative reviews from critics, but was box-office hit grossing $53,125,354. It is the highest-grossing Tyler Perry film which the writer-director did not star in and the highest-grossing Tyler Perry drama. She later played Juanita Leonard, the wife of boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, in the 2016 biographical sport film Hands of Stone co-starring with Usher and Robert De Niro.

In 2015, Smollett-Bell was cast as lead character in the WGN America period drama series Underground. Smollett-Bell plays Rosalee, a shy house slave, working on a plantation in 1857.

Smollett-Bell has been active in HIV/AIDS causes since she was 11. She spoke at the Ryan White Youth Conference. Her first encounter with the disease came at age seven when a crew member of On Our Own died of AIDS. Smollett-Bell is on the Board of Directors of Artists for a New South Africa, an organization dedicated to HIV/AIDS in Africa. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Defense Fund.

On October 24, 2010, she married musician Josiah Bell.

Source: Wikipedia

Billy Joel is Ultimate Rock Classic! Tags: billy joel ultimat rock classic word life production new qulaity entrtainment

Singer Billy Joel topped the charts in the 1970s and '80s with hits like "Piano Man," "Uptown Girl" and "We Didn't Start the Fire."

Born on May 9, 1949, in New York, Billy Joel bounced back after a disappointing first album, Cold Spring Harbor (1971), with 1973's Piano Man, featuring hits like "Piano Man" and "Captain Jack." He went on to make successful albums like Streetlife Serenade (1974), The Stranger (1977) and 52nd Street (1978). In the 1980s, Joel married supermodel Christie Brinkley, and topped the musical charts with "Uptown Girl" and "We Didn't Start the Fire." By 1999, his worldwide song sales had topped $100 million, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Several years later, in 2013, he received the Kennedy Center Honors.

Early Life

Singer-songwriter William Martin "Billy" Joel was born in the Bronx, New York, on May 9, 1949, to Howard and Rosalind Joel. Shortly after he was born, the family moved to a section of America's famous "first suburb," Levittown on Long Island. Although his father was an accomplished classical pianist, it was Joel's mother who pushed the young boy to study piano. He began playing at the age of four and showed an immediate aptitude for the instrument. By the time he was 16, Billy Joel was already a pro, having joined his third band before he could drive.

Early Career

It wasn't long before the artist, inspired by the Beatles' iconic Ed Sullivan Show performance, committed heart and soul to a life in music. He dropped out of high school to pursue a performing career, devoting himself to creating his first solo album Cold Spring Harbor, which was released in 1971. The terms of Joel's contract with Family Productions turned out to be onerous and the artist was unhappy with the quality of the album they released. It wasn't a commercial success.

Disillusioned with trying to make it as a rock star, Joel moved to Los Angeles to fly under the radar for a while. In early 1972, he got a gig working as a lounge pianist under the pseudonym Bill Martin. His time playing at The Executive Room on Wilshire Boulevard would later be immortalized in his song "Piano Man," which describes a no-name lounge's down-and-out patrons.

By late 1972, an underground recording of Joel's "Captain Jack" had been released on the East Coast and was garnering positive attention. Executives from Columbia Records sought out the lounge player and gave Joel a second chance to become a rock star.

Career Breakthrough

With the momentum of a Top 20 single ("Piano Man") to his name, Joel began recording new songs and albums, coming out with Streetlife Serenade in 1974. Many of his songs related to a growing frustration with the music industry and Hollywood, foreshadowing his exit from Los Angeles in 1976. As the years passed, Joel's style began to evolve, showing his range from pop to the bluesy-jazz stylings that are now closely associated with his name. The Stranger (1977) was Joel's first major commercial breakthrough, landing him four songs in the Top 25 of the U.S. Billboard charts. By 1981, Joel had collected a slew of awards, including a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance and a People's Choice Award.

Awards and Achievements

Through the 1980s, Joel would be crowned a hit-maker with smashes such as "Tell Her About It," "Uptown Girl," "Innocent Man" and "The Longest Time." He would release two volumes of Greatest Hits and become the first American performer to unleash a full-scale rock production in the Soviet Union. While churning out hits, Joel would also frequent the benefit circuit, performing with stars such as Cyndi Lauper and John Mellencamp to raise money for various causes.

In 1989, on the heels of the successful single "We Didn't Start the Fire," Joel was presented with the Grammy Legend Award. His professional success continued unabated into the early 1990s, although his personal life became somewhat dramatic. After the release of River of Dreams (1994), Joel slowed his studio recordings but continued to tour alone and in combination with fellow artists such as Elton John. In 1999, the worldwide sales of his songs passed the 100 million mark. Also that year, Joel was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by his idol, Ray Charles. Several years later, in 2013, Joel received the Kennedy Center Honors.

Later Career

In the early 2000s, Joel found himself in and out of rehab, struggling with an ongoing alcohol addiction. In 2007, Joel released the single "All My Life," his first song with original lyrics in 13 years. Though semi-retired in terms of recording new pop songs, Joel has continued to tour and branch out as an artist. He has composed a number of classical songs and even reworked older ballads with an orchestral backing.

Throughout the years, Joel's songs have acted as personal and cultural touchstones for millions of people, mirroring his own goal of writing songs that "meant something during the time in which I lived... and transcended that time."

When Joel's residency at Madison Square Garden was announced in 2013, his devoted fans proved how much the singer's music resonated with them. As the first music franchise in MSG's history, Joel broke records; his monthly concerts have sold out every time, and as of October 2015, he has grossed over $46 million in sales.

Personal Life

In 1982, Joel split with his first wife, Elizabeth Weber Small, who had been his partner since 1973. In 1984, Joel would famously meet and marry supermodel Christie Brinkley. Soon after, their daughter Alexa Ray (named after Ray Charles) was born on December 29, 1985.

Joel divorced Brinkley in 1993. In 2004, he married the television personality and journalist Katie Lee. They would eventually divorce after five years of marriage.

In 2015, Billy Joel and his girlfriend of six years, Alexis Roderick, announced they were expecting a baby together. That summer, Joel and Roderick tied the knot at the couple's annual Fourth of July party at his Long Island estate. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo presided over the nuptials. Their daughter Della Rose Joel was born on August 12, 2015.

Source: Biography.com

Canadian Female Singer Leads a Global Invasion Tags: jenna glatt canadian singer various genres future entertainment word life production new quality entertainment

Jenna Glatt is an “exceptionally gifted” soulful singing sensation with an impressive track record. Raised in Ottawa, Canada, Jenna began singing when she was very young, winning her first competition at age 8 which was followed by her first professional gig a few months later on Parliament Hill as part of the Canada Day Celebrations. Jenna knew from that moment on that this is what she was born to do.

This accomplished Canadian singer/songwriter has earned many awards and accolades over the years and is a Berklee (Boston) Grad. Jenna has appeared at many international music festivals and venues as well as on radio and television programs and has been collaborating with top level producers and songwriters in New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Nashville, Atlanta, Toronto, and Copenhagen.

Jenna's third album (R&B/Pop) of all original music is currently getting world-wide airplay in Canada, the US, and across Europe and she has been highlighted in many magazines and on numerous online stations/websites where she has been chosen as their featured artist.

Having massive international appeal, Jenna is the next Canadian superstar.

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