Tagged with "roll"
Planet Rock - By Reginald C. Dennis Tags: planet rock roll hall fame orgins music word life production new quality entertainment

When the surviving members of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five assembled in the grand ballroom of New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and triumphantly accepted the honor of becoming the first hip-hop group ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it was the ultimate endorsement of this unlikely and often maligned genre’s rugged march towards parity, respectability and acceptance.

It might have taken nearly 35 years for the hip-hop’s standard to navigate the nine or so miles from 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx — the movement’s ancestral home and headquarters of DJ Kool Herc and his famed Herculoids sound system — to midtown Manhattan, but on that night in 2007, when it finally took its place alongside the others, the circle of rock and roll edged that much closer to completion.

Unfortunately, not everyone saw it that way.  And in some circles, even after the 2009 induction of Run-D.M.C — the group credited with establishing the rap/rock hybrid as a genre of its own — questions regarding hip-hop’s overall merit and legitimacy still persisted.

Hip-Hop — a sub-culture created by and for a segment of the population that had little in the way of formal artistic training or access to the reigns of institutional power— might have blossomed from a local underground youth movement into a global lifestyle with enough street smarts to change the course of most aspects of entertainment, fashion, sports and commerce, but was it really rock and roll? Most would agree that hip-hop music was a state of mind held mostly aloft by endless tales of dangerous women, fast cars, narrow escapes, and the ongoing triumph of the outlaw, but was it truly art?  Its seductive appeal might have fueled the international sales of hundreds of millions of records and introduced scores of devastatingly compelling sounds, tones and production techniques to the world at large, but was it truly music?

The answer to all of these questions and concerns is a resounding yes.

As its supporters have always known and understood, hip-hop is but the latest iteration of a conversation America has been having with itself for the past 400 years. It is a conversation that began with African slaves brought to toil on foreign shores, where traditions were lost and remembered and recreated.  Languages were lost, but the drums remained. Banjos, soul claps and raw husking ditties informed joyful noises of praise, struggle and faraway triumph. And out of this hardship, a portion of American song was forged.  The volume of this conversation — mostly one-sided but always passionate — escalated throughout the 20th century and with the advent of population migrations, new technologies and a restless desire to be heard, wondrous innovations like jazz and the blues soon accompanied a nation’s slow crawl to maturity.

Rock and Roll, what rough living blacks euphemistically called sex, was born during this modern struggle.  World-weary badmen celebrated the improbable mythology of a people who would not be silenced or contained.  Men and women who, though they dwelled in a world that was an arm’s length away from fairness and justice, still heroically fought to be counted.

Not long after helping to create a safe harbor where those charged with safeguarding America’s future could meet, influence and collaborate, did rock and roll change and evolve.  The “Bo Diddley Beat” gave way to a British Invasion and the native sounds — often labeled “devil’s music”— of young America spun off into soul, folk, rock, funk and the early stages of an unfortunate self-segregation. Though infinitely enjoyable, the music of this new era seemed to lack something. Yes, there were grand theatrical displays and men and women still sang songs turbocharged with the hubris and swagger of entitlement, but where was the danger?  Where was the shock of the new?

As it happens, it was already being created, forged and honed for the battle ahead.

By the mid-1970s, the generational alliance between black and white teenage America had eroded and broken apart. Institutions of learning, though desegregated, became hotbeds of racial conflict as students — emboldened by the strict formats of their local radio stations — refused to dance to each other’s music. Separate but equal proms became workable solutions and what little racial harmony there was could easily come undone around the question of whether or not disco sucked. Young black faces no longer felt welcome within the halls of rock and roll and young whites no longer sought blacks to guide them through their turbulent adolescences.  Marginalized, disappointed and culturally estranged, the tastemakers of America needed a reason to come together.

Hip-hop and punk gave both tribes the opportunity to bring something to the table.

If “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang — the “Rock Around the Clock” of 1979 — spread the rap gospel to the world beyond the five boroughs of New York, then “Rapture” — Blondie’s unexpected 1980 homage to the still evolving genre — quickly made real the notion that young whites searching for new thrills might once again find something worthwhile on the bleeding edge of black culture.  This cultural mingling worked both ways as men like as Afrika Bambaataa — long known for his eclectic musical tastes — incorporated the best parts of NYC’s other revolution — the outré sounds of punk, electronica and new wave  — into his DJ sets and studio recordings.  In fact, many of the kids who flocked to Bambaataa’s Bronx River parties did so to escape the increasingly formulaic, toothless and watered -down direction that black music had stumbled into and embraced a menu of breaks and beats that skated effortlessly through the funkiest moments of James Brown, Bob James, Sly Stone and the Meters.  With the advent of the rhythmic scratch — courtesy of Grand Wizard DJ Theodore — hip-hop suddenly had its signature sound, a defiant corruption of technology that was strikingly innovative and undeniably urgent. And when the masters of ceremony took to the stage, audiences were treated to an endless barrage of cleverly rhymed boasts, intoxicated harmonies and outrageous volleys of shouted call and response. Topical, magnetic and capable of traveling at the speed of thought, this was the genesis of a new American dialog, one sorely needed and long overdue.  And if rock and roll has a purpose, it is to get people in a position, either intellectually or geographically, to communicate with one another.  Hip-Hop merely achieved that mandate on a grander scale and in half the time.

In 2010 cultural diversity is the fulcrum that turns the world of culture. Today’s generation has never known a world without the cross pollinating effects of BET and MTV. Their musical heroes are just as likely to rap as sing and many are proficient at both as a matter of course. Rappers perform with live bands and DJs often accompany rock groups. Samplers and drum machines are legitimate means to an end and the sales of turntables nearly equal those of guitars. The 21st century is the age of the cultural mash-up, a digital age where all things are welcome, equal and accepted.  It’s what Afrika Bambaataa called “Planet Rock.”

To deny hip-hop an honored place in rock’s narrative is to take a tremendous leap backwards and disregard a near century’s worth of shared cultural markers. In the tradition of rock and roll hip-hop was born from the everyday struggles of black life. Locked away from upward mobility, its marginalized creators celebrated the earthy pleasures of the moment.  Championed by influential DJs, its innovative sounds, topics and rhythms were propelled to national prominence.  Imitated, maligned and feared, it quickly achieved supremacy over its era and became institution unto itself. And it is the enduring power of that institution that we recognize.

Source: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc.

2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee - Deep Purple Tags: deep purple rock roll hall fame word life production new quality entertainment

They created a riff everyone knows, a concert format no one had previously presented, and a sound to which countless bands owe a great debt. That gives Deep Purple at least three claims on history. The chugging chord progression of “Smoke on the Water” became so deeply embedded in the culture, it now has the resonance of a Biblical quote. The 1969 Concerto for Group and Orchestra was the first live release ever to pair a rock band with a full symphony, while Deep Purple’s essential musculature forged the hard-rocking sound that later solidified into heavy metal. “If there were a Mount Rushmore of hard rock, it would have only three heads – Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple,” according to guitarist extraordinaire Tom Morello. “They are the Holy Trinity of hard rock and metal bands.”

Of the three, Deep Purple has the fastest attack. While Zeppelin and Sabbath weighed their music down, to powerful effect, Purple has kept theirs fleet, presaging the pace that later helped define thrash. They further distinguish themselves with a particular mix of classical and proto-metal sounds. Several other groups in the late 60s may have drawn significant inspiration from the classical world, including the Nice, Procol Harum and the Moody Blues. But none of them grounded it in such a fiercely rocking style.

Such assets allowed Purple to progress through a range of incarnations while holding fast to their prime hue. The consistent power of the band’s lineups explains why players from iterations both preceding and following the version that fans know best are being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Of course, the band’s peak lineup – singer Ian Gillan, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, keyboardist Jon Lord, bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice – minted the most indelible works, including In Rock and Machine Head. But every incarnation has held the music to a high standard, anchored by the encompassing drumming of Paice, the sole member to bash with the band from Day One.

That day occurred in 1968, but its roots snaked back to 1967, when Chris Curtis – the former drummer of U.K. band the Searchers – had an idea for a “supergroup” of revolving musicians. It was to be called, aptly enough, Roundabout. Curtis’ first hire was Hammond organ player Jon Lord, a classically trained musician who had worked with the Artwoods (led by Ron Wood’s brother Art). Next he brought in Ritchie Blackmore, a successful session player who performed with the campy Screaming Lord Sutch. When the mercurial Curtis lost interest in the project he conceived, Lord and Blackmore decided to fill out the lineup on their own.

For the bass, Lord brought in Nick Simper, with whom both he and Blackmore had played in the past. Another audition drew a twofer of talent from a band called the Maze: vocalist Rod Evans and drummer Ian Paice. Both made the cut. (Previously, Lord and Blackmore had asked singer Ian Gillan to audition for the band – an interesting foreshadowing of the band’s future – but he turned them down, believing that his group at the time, Episode Six, had a better chance of breaking through.)

The finalized lineup began rehearsals in March 1968 in Hertfordshire. During those sessions, Blackmore suggested a fresh name: “Deep Purple,” which referenced his grandmother’s favorite song. (The band’s best rejected moniker was Concrete God.) Two months later, the group recorded its debut, Shades of Deep Purple, in just three days, which accounts for four cover songs balancing an equal number of originals. Luckily, the band had a role model for turning other artists’ compositions into vehicles for personal expression in the American group Vanilla Fudge. That U.S. band went gold by larding pop hits from Motown and the Beatles with heavy doses of psychedelia. Purple’s LP was released in America on the Tetragrammaton label, followed by a U.K. release on EMI/Parlophone.

The United States was first to embrace the band, making its cover of the Joe South song “Hush,” burnished by Evans’ commanding vocal, a Top Five hit. Purple’s sonic treatment of “Hush” as well as the Fab Four’s “Help!” was distinguished by a rash of classical quotes and flourishes borrowed from composers Rimsky-Korsakov and Ravel. Much of the impetus for this came from Lord, balanced by Blackmore’s own feverish leads in the opening instrumental “And the Address” and the funky psychedelia of “Mandrake Root,” a clear homage to Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.” Grounding their differing approaches was the holistic drumming of Paice who, at 18, had the voraciousness of Keith Moon, but with far more precision. The album reached Billboard’s Top 25, and the band garnered an opening slot on Cream’s Farewell tour.

Purple’s second LP, The Book of Taliesyn, was released in the U.S. a brisk three months after the band’s debut. It featured three covers, including Neil Diamond’s “Kentucky Woman,” which entered the Top 40. To vary things, the songs ran longer and delved deeper into prog-rock soloing. The original lineup’s first two albums may have been promising, but with their third release, a self-titled effort issued in June 1969, they encountered a creative standoff and a business disaster. Their American label folded, ruining the prospects of any promotion for the disc. At the same time, the ruling body of Lord and Blackmore felt that the harder direction on the album should be pushed exponentially, and sacked Simper and Evans.

Blackmore wanted to replace Evans with the powerhouse vocalist Terry Reid, but when Reid turned him down, the band tapped Ian Gillan – Episode Six, it turned out, had gone nowhere. (Reid, incidentally also rebuffed Jimmy Page, who wanted him as frontman for a little band to be called Led Zeppelin.) This time, Gillan signed on, as did the bassist from Episode Six, Roger Glover. The revamped band began its next phase with a bold twist. Fulfilling a long-held dream, Lord created a symphonic extravaganza to be known as Concerto for Group and Orchestra. In September 1969, Purple recorded that groundbreaking, three-movement work with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra live at the Royal Albert Hall. Though, in places, the music seemed less a collaboration than a face-off, the concerto’s most exciting sections proved the connection between the drama of classical music and the impact of rock. The novelty helped heighten the band’s press profile, and gave it its first U.K. chart presence. The album also included a new rock song, “Child in Time,” which would find ideal expression on the band’s next album, the pivotal Deep Purple In Rock (1970).

In Rock presented the first fully focused sound for Purple, with a velocity, density, and skill that formed the blueprint for heavy metal to come. It found a thrilling balance between Blackmore’s flight-of-the-bumblebee leads and Lord’s surging organ solos – an argumentative, call-and-response pattern that established Lord as one of the only rock organists with the power to challenge the primacy of the electric guitar. It was on this album that Gillan perfected a scream that would become one of metal’s defining cri de coeurs; a yowl so hallowed that it inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber to cast him in the lead on the original Jesus Christ Superstar recording the same year.

In Rock holds as much value in the annals of metal history as Sabbath’s Paranoid and Zeppelin’s second album, offering the ideal setup for its chaser, Fireball, released one year later. The title track opens the album like a bullet out of a gun. In the style of Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown,” it predicted the racing subgenre that, decades later, became known as speed metal. Still, those albums served as mere test runs for the band’s masterpiece, Machine Head. The 37-minute disc contains not a single slack second, from the opening rallying cry, “Highway Star,” to the final freakout, “Space Truckin.’” With its flickering riffs and pulsing rhythm, “Highway Star” captures the excitement of automated travel, with more wind-in-the-face veracity than any song this side of “Born to Be Wild.” Yet another track would become the band’s most referenced, most revered recording: There isn’t an electric guitarist alive who didn’t cut his or her teeth on the key chords of “Smoke on the Water.” Says Morello: “Only Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony gives it a run for the money as far as recognizability and badassed-ness.”

The song’s lyrics became legendary for telling the story behind the album’s creation. Originally, Purple planned to record Machine Head at the Montreux Casino, “by the Lake Geneva shoreline.” But when “some stupid with a flare gun/ burned the place to the ground,” they had to cut it in a corridor at the nearby Grand Hotel. The adversity intensified their creativity, making the album a commercial colossus upon its 1972 release, spending 118 weeks on the Billboard chart and going Number One internationally. Perhaps no work could properly follow that, but the group did manage some high points on Who Do We Think We Are (1973), especially the catchy single, “Woman From Tokyo.”

More exciting was a live album, Made in Japan, cut in 1972 in Osaka and Tokyo, which showed both the potency of the band in concert and its improvisational skill, evident in a 19-plus minute take on “Space Truckin.’” Despite their creative high, exhaustion from touring and internal tensions caused a potentially ruinous split: Both Gillan and Glover ditched the band in 1973. The defection of the signature singer proved so challenging that the remaining members wound up hiring two vocalists to replace him – the unknown David Coverdale, and ex-Trapeze player Glenn Hughes, who doubled on bass.

In 1974 the recast band released Burn, with a title track that ably underscored its trademark balance of speed and skill. While the album and its followup went gold, the band faced another potentially deadly blow when Blackmore ankled in 1975. They tried to rally by hiring the fleet, jazz-tinged American guitarist Tommy Bolin. But the drug-hampered musician lasted just one album, the funk-influenced Come Taste the Band. Clearly, the spirit had gone out of the group. They finally called it quits in March 1976. Nine months later, Bolin died of an overdose.

It seemed a sad end to a great legacy, but after a 9-year Purple diaspora, its peak lineup reunited in 1984 for the platinum-selling Perfect Strangers. Blackmore would bow out again a decade later, but the remaining core of Gillan, Paice, Lord, and Glover soldiered on with dexterous guitarist Steve Morse and, following the retirement of Lord in 2002, organist Don Airey. In 2012, at 71, Lord died of pancreatic cancer. Still, Purple continues to tour and record, with Gillan’s peacocking voice, Paice’s barreling drums, and Glover’s pumping bass extending a sound that will always epitomize a singular expression of rock’s power.

By Jim Farber

- See more at: http://www.rockhall.com/inductees/deep-purple/bio/#sthash.YWsi2FwJ.dpuf

Source: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Jazz Legend - Sonny Rollins
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: jazz legend sonny rollin word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Theodore Walter Rollins was born on September 7, 1930 in New York City. He grew up in Harlem not far from the Savoy Ballroom, the Apollo Theatre, and the doorstep of his idol, Coleman Hawkins. After early discovery of Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, he started out on alto saxophone, inspired by Louis Jordan. At the age of sixteen, he switched to tenor, trying to emulate Hawkins. He also fell under the spell of the musical revolution that surrounded him, Bebop.

He began to follow Charlie Parker, and soon came under the wing of Thelonious Monk, who became his musical mentor and guru. Living in Sugar Hill, his neighborhood musical peers included Jackie McLean, Kenny Drew and Art Taylor, but it was young Sonny who was first out of the pack, working and recording with Babs Gonzales, J.J. Johnson, Bud Powell and Miles Davis before he turned twenty.

“Of course, these people are there to be called on because I think I represent them in a way,” Rollins said recently of his peers and mentors. “They’re not here now so I feel like I’m sort of representing all of them, all of the guys. Remember, I’m one of the last guys left, as I’m constantly being told, so I feel a holy obligation sometimes to evoke these people.”

In the early fifties, he established a reputation first among musicians, then the public, as the most brash and creative young tenor on the scene, through his work with Miles, Monk, and the MJQ.

Miles Davis was an early Sonny Rollins fan and in his autobiography wrote that he “began to hang out with Sonny Rollins and his Sugar Hill Harlem crowd…anyway, Sonny had a big reputation among a lot of the younger musicians in Harlem. People loved Sonny Rollins up in Harlem and everywhere else. He was a legend, almost a god to a lot of the younger musicians. Some thought he was playing the saxophone on the level of Bird. I know one thing–he was close. He was an aggressive, innovative player who always had fresh musical ideas. I loved him back then as a player and he could also write hisbutt off…”

Sonny moved to Chicago for a few years to remove himself from the surrounding elements of negativity around the Jazz scene. He reemerged at the end of 1955 as a member of the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet, with an even more authoritative presence. His trademarks became a caustic, often humorous style of melodic invention, a command of everything from the most arcane ballads to calypsos, and an overriding logic in his playing that found him hailed for models of thematic improvisation.

It was during this time that Sonny acquired a nickname,”Newk.” As Miles Davis explains in his autobiography: “Sonny had just got back from playing a gig out in Chicago. He knew Bird, and Bird really liked Sonny, or “Newk” as we called him, because he looked like the Brooklyn Dodgers’ pitcher Don Newcombe. One day, me and Sonny were in a cab…when the white cabdriver turned around and looked at Sonny and said, `Damn, you’re Don Newcombe!” Man, the guy was totally excited. I was amazed, because I hadn’t thought about it before. We just put that cabdriver on something terrible. Sonny started talking about what kind of pitches he was going to throw Stan Musial, the great hitter for the St. Louis Cardinals, that evening…”

Chuck UPright

In 1956, Sonny began recording the first of a series of landmark recordings issued under his own name: Valse Hot introduced the practice, now common, of playing bop in 3/4 meter; St. Thomasinitiated his explorations of calypso patterns; and Blue 7 was hailed by Gunther Schuller as demonstrating a new manner of “thematic improvisation,” in which the soloist develops motifs extracted from his theme. Way Out West (1957), Rollins’s first album using a trio of saxophone, double bass, and drums, offered a solution to his longstanding difficulties with incompatible pianists, and exemplified his witty ability to improvise on hackneyed material (Wagon Wheels, I’m an Old Cowhand). It Could Happen to You (also 1957) was the first in a long series of unaccompanied solo recordings, and The Freedom Suite (1958) foreshadowed the political stances taken in jazz in the 1960s. During the years 1956 to 1958 Rollins was widely regarded as the most talented and innovative tenor saxophonist in jazz.

Rollins’s first examples of the unaccompanied solo playing that would become a specialty also appeared in this period; yet the perpetually dissatisfied saxophonist questioned the acclaim his music was attracting, and between 1959 and late `61 withdrew from public performance.

Sonny remembers that he took his leave of absence from the scene because “I was getting very famous at the time and I felt I needed to brush up on various aspects of my craft. I felt I was getting too much, too soon, so I said, wait a minute, I’m going to do it my way. I wasn’t going to let people push me out there, so I could fall down. I wanted to get myself together, on my own. I used to practice on the Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge because I was living on the Lower East Side at the time.”

sonnyonthebridgefixedWhen he returned to action in early `62, his first recording was appropriately titled The Bridge. By the mid 60’s, his live sets became grand, marathon stream-of-consciousness solos where he would call forth melodies from his encyclopedic knowledge of popular songs, including startling segues and sometimes barely visiting one theme before surging into dazzling variations upon the next. Rollins was brilliant, yet restless. The period between 1962 and `66 saw him returning to action and striking productive relationships with Jim Hall, Don Cherry, Paul Bley, and his idol Hawkins, yet he grew dissatisfied with the music business once again and started yet another sabbatical in `66. “I was getting into eastern religions,” he remembers. “I’ve always been my own man. I’ve always done, tried to do, what I wanted to do for myself. So these are things I wanted to do. I wanted to go on the Bridge. I wanted to get into religion. But also, the Jazz music business is always bad. It’s never good. So that led me to stop playing in public for a while, again. During the second sabbatical, I worked in Japan a little bit, and went to India after that and spent a lot of time in a monastery. I resurfaced in the early 70s, and made my first record in `72. I took some time off to get myself together and I think it’s a good thing for anybody to do.”

In 1972, with the encouragement and support of his wife Lucille, who had become his business manager, Rollins returned to performing and recording, signing with Milestone and releasing Next Album. (Working at first with Orrin Keepnews, Sonny was by the early ’80s producing his own Milestone sessions with Lucille.) His lengthy association with the Berkeley-based label produced two dozen albums in various settings – from his working groups to all-star ensembles (Tommy Flanagan, Jack DeJohnette, Stanley Clarke, Tony Williams); from a solo recital to tour recordings with the Milestone Jazzstars (Ron Carter, McCoy Tyner); in the studio and on the concert stage (Montreux, San Francisco, New York, Boston). Sonny was also the subject of a mid-’80s documentary by Robert Mugge entitled Saxophone Colossus; part of its soundtrack is available as G-Man.

He won his first performance Grammy for This Is What I Do (2000), and his second for 2004’s Without a Song (The 9/11 Concert), in the Best Jazz Instrumental Solo category (for “Why Was I Born”). In addition, Sonny received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 2004.

In June 2006 Rollins was inducted into the Academy of Achievement – and gave a solo performance – at the International Achievement Summit in Los Angeles. The event was hosted by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and attended by world leaders as well as distinguished figures in the arts and sciences.

Rollins was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, First Class, in November 2009. The award is one of Austria’s highest honors, given to leading international figures for distinguished achievements. The only other American artists who have received this recognition are Frank Sinatra and Jessye Norman.

In 2010 on the eve of his 80th birthday, Sonny Rollins is one of 229 leaders in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, business, and public affairs who have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A center for independent policy research, the Academy is among the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and celebrates the 230th anniversary of its founding this year.

In August 2010, Rollins was named the Edward MacDowell Medalist, the first jazz composer to be so honored. The Medal has been awarded annually since 1960 to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her field.

Yet another major award was bestowed on Rollins on March 2, 2011, when he received the Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony. Rollins accepted the award, the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence, “on behalf of the gods of our music.”

Sonny Rollins and President Barack Obama, White House, March 2, 2011d

Sonny Rollins and President Barack Obama, White House, March 2, 2011

Since 2006, Rollins has been releasing his music on his own label, Doxy Records. The first Doxy album was Sonny, Please, Rollins’s first studio recording since This Is What I Do. That was followed by the acclaimed Road Shows, vol. 1 (2008), the first in a planned series of recordings from Rollins’s audio archives.

Mr. Rollins released Road Shows, vol. 2 in the fall of 2011. In addition to material recorded in Sapporo and Tokyo, Japan during an October 2010 tour, the recording contains several tracks from Sonny’s September 2010 80th birthday concert in New York—including the historic and electrifying encounter with Ornette Coleman.

On December 3, 2011 Sonny Rollins was one of five 2011 Kennedy Center honorees, alongside actress Meryl Streep, singer Barbara Cook, singer/songwriter Neil Diamond and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.   Rollins said of the honor, “I am deeply appreciative of this great honor. In honoring me, the Kennedy Center honors jazz, America’s classical music. For that, I am very grateful.”

The saxophonist’s most recent CD is Road Shows, vol. 3 (Doxy/Okeh/Sony).  Rollins is currently time off from performing and planning to record again in 2015.

Source: Official Website

Jelly Roll Morton - Voices of Jazz
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: jelly roll morton voices jazz word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Jelly Roll Morton was an American pianist and songwriter best known for influencing the formation of modern day jazz during the 1920s.

Born on October 20, 1890 (some sources say 1885), in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jelly Roll Morton cut his teeth as a pianist in his hometown's bordellos. An early innovator in the jazz genre, he rose to fame as the leader of Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers in the 1920s. A series of interviews for the Library of Congress rekindled interest in his music shortly before his death, on July 10, 1941, in Los Angeles, California.

Early Years

Ferdinand Joseph Lamothe was born on October 20, 1890 (though some sources say 1885), in New Orleans, Louisiana. The son of racially mixed Creole parents—he was a mix of African, French and Spanish—he eventually adopted the last name of his stepfather, Morton.

Morton learned to play piano at age 10, and within a few years he was playing in the red-light district bordellos, where he earned the nickname "Jelly Roll." Blending the styles of ragtime and minstrelsy with dance rhythms, he was at the forefront of a movement that would soon be known as "jazz."

National Star

Morton left home as a teenager and toured the country, earning money as a musician, vaudeville comic, gambler and pimp. Brash and confident, he enjoyed telling people that he had "invented jazz"; while that claim was dubious, he is believed to have been the first jazz musician to put his arrangements to paper, with "Original Jelly Roll Blues" the genre's first published work.

After five years in Los Angeles, Morton moved to Chicago in 1922 and produced his first recordings the following year. Beginning in 1926, he led Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers, a seven- or eight-piece band comprised of musicians who were well-versed in the New Orleans ensemble style. The Red Hot Peppers earned national fame with such hits as "Black Bottom Stomp" and "Smoke-House Blues," their sound and style laying the foundation for the swing movement that would soon become popular. Morton's four-year run with the group marked the pinnacle of his career, as it provided a prominent platform for him to display his immense talents as a composer and a pianist.

Morton moved to New York in 1928, where he recorded such tracks as "Kansas City Stomp" and "Tank Town Bump." Despite making use of homophonically harmonized ensembles and allowing more room for solo improvisation in his music, he remained true to his New Orleans roots, producing music that gradually came to be viewed as old-fashioned within the industry. As a result, Morton fell out of the limelight and struggled to earn a living during the bleak times of the Great Depression.

Late Career, Death and Legacy

Morton was managing a jazz club in Washington, D.C., in the late 1930s when he met folklorist Alan Lomax. Beginning in 1938, Lorax recorded a series of interviews for the Library of Congress in which Morton offered an oral history of the origins of jazz and demonstrated early styles on the piano. The recordings helped rekindle interest in Morton and his music, but poor health prevented him from staging a legitimate comeback, and he died in Los Angeles, California, on July 10, 1941.

Although Morton may not have been the inventor of jazz, he is regarded by fans and experts as one of the art form's great innovators. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, underscoring the far-ranging impact of his influence as a musician.

Source: Biography.com

Curtis Mayfield - A Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Twice Tags: rock roll legen curtis mayfield word life production new quality entertainment

Curtis Mayfield is among an elite few members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who have been inducted more than once. Mayfield was first inducted with the Impressions in 1991 and then as a solo artist in 1999. His solo career, which began in 1970, is significant for the forthright way in which he addressed issues of black identity and self-awareness. He has been cited as an influence by such latter-day performers as Lenny Kravitz, Ice-T, Public Enemy and Arrested Development. Mayfield’s ability to voice hard truths through funky, uplifting music has rendered him one of the great soul icons.

In 1968, while still with the Impressions, Mayfield launched the Curtom label (his third, after the Mayfield and Windy C imprints). Two years later, his solo debut, Curtis, appeared. It contained one of his most forthright message songs, “Don’t Worry (If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Going to Go),” and was the first of 14 albums that he released in the Seventies. Whereas his Sixties work both with the Impressions and as a songwriter-producer defined Chicago soul-a regional scene comparable to Motown in Detroit and Stax in Memphis-Mayfield left his imprint on the Seventies by couching social commentary and keenly observed black-culture archetypes in funky, danceable rhythms. He explained the shift in subject matter as “a feeling in me that there need to be songs that relate not so much to civil rights but to the way we as all people deal with our lives.”

Working on a seemingly parallel track with Marvin Gaye circa What’s Going On, Mayfield’s third solo album, Roots (1971), sounded urgent pleas for peace and brotherhood over extended, cinematic soul-funk tracks that laid out a fresh musical agenda for the new decade. Mayfield’s solo career found him giving freer reign to his guitar playing, a choppy, rhythm-based style that owed much to his Chicago blues heritage and a self-devised tuning based on the black keys of the piano. His most popular and lasting work was Superfly, a film soundtrack in which he painted a gritty portrait of black life in America’s inner cities. Mayfield struck a creative and commercial motherlode with Superfly‘s smoldering rock-disco grooves and pointed social commentary. The soundtrack album yielded massive crossover hits in “Freddie’s Dead” and “Superfly.” Against a hypnotic backdrop of conga drums, strings and wah-wah guitar, Mayfield sang of a high-rolling ghetto drug dealer’s lifestyle in a sweet, stinging falsetto. As an aural document, Mayfield’s music for this classic “blaxploitation” film anticipated the reality-based rap and hip-hop of the Nineties.

Throughout his career Mayfield also shone brightly as a producer and songwriter for other artists, including soul and R&B giants like Jerry Butler and Major Lance (in the Sixties) and Aretha Franklin, the Staple Singers, and Gladys Knight and the Pips (in the Seventies). As a solo artist, he continued to score R&B hits into the mid-Eighties, many of them in a disco vein. Getting back to his roots, Mayfield joined the Impressions in 1983 for a reunion tour and revived his dormant Curtom label in 1990.

A freakish onstage accident in August 1990 left Mayfield paralyzed from the neck down. However, this tragedy did not diminish his spirit or end his career. In 1996, he released his 22nd solo album, New World Order. In his own words: “How many 54-year-old quadriplegics are putting albums out? You just have to deal with what you got, try to sustain yourself as best you can, and look to the things that you can do.” Despite his positive attitude, Mayfield’s health steadily deteriorated. He lost a leg to diabetes in 1998 and died a year later at age 57. On that day, the music world lost a man of great talent and conscience. In the words of Aretha Franklin, “Curtis Mayfield is to soul music what Bach was to the classics and Gershwin and Irving Berlin were to pop music.”

Source: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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