I expected my juke joint pilgrimage to feel like a peripatetic wake. Decades ago, blues luminaries like Charley Patton, Robert Johnson and Sonny Boy Williamson traveled across the South, guitar or harmonica in hand, from joint to joint for just enough money and food to get to the next one. In doing so they laid the foundation for nearly every form of popular American music that would follow.
But today, juke joints, once too numerous to count, have slipped away as their owners pass on. When I asked Roger Stolle, a founder of the Juke Joint Festival, held annually in Clarksdale, Miss., how many such places still exist, he replied: “With actual real, live blues music at least sporadically? Maybe five.”
Taking a route through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, I set out to find some of these spots and discovered that where juke joints still exist jubilance remains. Traditionally seen as dens of the devil’s music — jook is believed to originate from an African-derived Gullah word meaning disorderly — the surviving joints have become redefined as sanctuaries. Within their ramshackle walls, a sense of community and a love of soul-searching rhythms reign supreme.
I’m a Mystic Man
I’m just a Mystic Man
I man don’t
I don’t drink no champagne
No I don’t
And I man don’t
I don’t sniff them cocaine
I man don’t
No I don’t
Don’t take a morphine
I man don’t
I don’t take no heroin
No no no
‘Cause I’m a man of the past
And I’m livin’ in the present
And I’m walking in the future
Stepping in the future
Man of the past
And I’m livin’ the present
And I’m walking in the future
I’m just a mystic man
Got to be a mystic man
I man don’t
Eat up your fried chicken
I man don’t
Eat up them frankfurters
I man don’t
Eat down the hamburger
can’t do that
I man don’t
Drink pink, blue, yellow, green soda
Just a mystic man
Got to be a mystic man
I man don’t
No I don’t
Play fools’ games on Saturday
And I man don’t
No I don’t
Congregate on a Sunday
Such a mystic man
Just a mystic man
Just a mystic man
Got to be a mystic man
James Cotton is now in his 69th year of performing. The latest album by the Mississippi-born, Chicago based bluesman is called Cotton Mouth Man.
Conjure up a list of all time great blues harmonica players, and high up on it, you’ll see the name James Cotton.
Cotton’s music begins at the source: He was born in Tunica, Mississippi and started playing harp at the age of 9, learning directly from Sonny Boy Williamson II. He eventually made his way to Chicago, where he played for a dozen years in Muddy Waters‘ band before he struck out on his own.
James Cotton is now in his 69th year of performing. Throat cancer has captured his singing voice, but his harmonica continues to wail. Or, as he tells it: “The voice is gone, but the wind’s still there.”
Cotton’s latest album on Alligator Records is called Cotton Mouth Man. It features guest appearances by — among others — Gregg Allman, Delbert McClinton and Keb’ Mo’. NPR’s Scott Simon spoke with James Cotton and Keb’ Mo’ about making the new album; click the audio link on this page to hear their conversation.
April 30, 2013 Taj Mahal’s influences are drawn from many places around the world, from California to Africa to the Pacific Islands. But in this archival Mountain Stage performance from 1995, he pays tribute to his roots with a lively set of blues and boogie songs.
This is a very tight N.O. swing band that plays regularly at their homey bar, the Spotted Cat on Frenchman Street. Check em’ out. If you like old swing jazz these guys will take you back when it was played properly in the 30′s and 40′s in Europe and New Orleans. J.R.
This band has an excellent sound. Most of the members have been playing together for quite some time (several were in the now-defunct New Orleans Jazz Vipers), and they have a strong rapport that allows them to play nice, tight arrangements while maintaining a very relaxed, swinging groove. The instrumental solos are the main attraction here, but the vocals are surprisingly good; several band members sing, and they take a refreshingly straightforward approach, eschewing the corny histrionics and affectations that younger singers sometimes indulge in when performing traditional jazz. This CD is also recorded just perfectly — it’s wonderfully balanced, and all the instruments are clear and distinct, with great warmth and presence. This is one of my favorite recent releases by any New Orleans jazz band, and I’m really hoping they’ll record a follow-up soon.
A 1967 issue of Crawdaddy, the pioneering rock magazine.
Paul Williams, a writer and critic who founded the alternative pop music magazine Crawdaddy, one of the first outlets for serious writing about rock music, and whose critical support helped rescue the science fiction author Philip K. Dick from obscurity, died on Wednesday.
Mr. Williams was a 17-year-old freshman at Swarthmore College when he started his magazine, in 1966. The first issue, mimeographed and stapled together, promised readers a level of critical insight into the emerging rock scene that it said was missing in fan magazines and trade publications. “Crawdaddy will feature neither pin-ups nor news-briefs; the specialty of this magazine is intelligent writing,” Mr. Williams wrote.
Mr. Williams is considered by many to be rock journalism’s founding father. He printed the first issue of Crawdaddy (the name, taken from the London nightclub where the Rolling Stones first played, was originally rendered with an exclamation point, at least some of the time) 18 months before Jann Wenner founded Rolling Stone and two years before the debut of Creem, another major competitor. (Smaller rock publications had been started before then, but not distributed nationally.)
Turning a stapled dorm publication into a national journal required cleverness and some luck, friends said. Besides handing out copies on the Swarthmore campus, west of Philadelphia, Mr. Williams mailed them to the performers reviewed in its pages, a tactic that drew phone calls of appreciation from some of them, including Bob Dylan. Mr. Williams parlayed the calls into extended published interviews with Mr. Dylan, Paul Simon and others, which drew notice from record companies interested in ads.
Mr. Williams left college at the end of his freshman year, moving the magazine first to Boston and then to a small office on Canal Street in Lower Manhattan, where it became a platform for many first-generation rock writers, including Jon Landau, Sandy Pearlman and Richard Meltzer, author of “The Aesthetics of Rock,” a 1970 collection of essays, many of which first appeared in Crawdaddy.
Published on a shoestring, with a combined circulation from subscriptions and single-copy record store sales of about 20,000, Crawdaddy was quickly overtaken by the slicker and more professionally managed Rolling Stone, which achieved a circulation of around 250,000 within three years. But Mr. Williams’s innovative idea — to publish smart writing about the increasingly sophisticated ’60s rock scene — was by all accounts seminal.
Seminal American blues singer and songwriter Muddy Waters.
On April 4, 1915, McKinley Morganfield was born near Rolling Fork, Miss. He was raised by his grandmother; legend has it that, after watching him play in a creek, she nicknamed him Muddy Waters. In 1954, Waters recorded the song that would take his name to a wide audience: “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man.”
Muddy Waters scored his first R&B hit with “I Can’t Be Satisfied” in 1948. It still had the sound of the country blues he played before leaving the Mississippi Delta for Chicago five years earlier. By the time he recorded “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” in 1954, he’d assembled what he later called his best band: guitarist Jimmie Rodgers, pianist Otis Spann, Willie Dixon playing bass, Fred Below on drums and Little Walter blowing his harmonica like a saxophone.
“Hoochie Coochie Man” was Waters’ 10th hit and best-selling single ever. It clung near the top of the R&B charts for 13 weeks. But that didn’t mean Muddy Waters made a lot of money, says Marshall Chess, whose father and uncle ran Chess Records, Waters’ label.
“There were not many radio stations that played black music,” Chess says. “White radio was very racist at the time. There was not distribution everywhere in black neighborhoods of the big cities. There weren’t many record shops. People bought their music at barber shops — sort of general store, package stores where they sold milk, beer, cigarettes and records.”
Still, it seems that the distinctive stop-time rhythm of “Hoochie Coochie Man” was not lost on another singer from Mississippi, by the name of Elvis Presley. Legend has it that when Muddy Waters heard Presley’s 1958 recording of the Jerry Leiber-Mike Stoler song “Trouble,” Waters said, “I better watch out. I believe whitey’s picking up on the things that I’m doing.” But by this time, the racial makeup of Waters’ own audience had started to shift.
I found an old New Yorker under my bed this morning, along with a lot of dust. I’ve got to do some cleaning. Anyway, I kept this August, 2005 issue for a good reason. A very funny, in fact hilarious Kinky Friedman story/interview when he was running for Texas Governor… J.R.
Here are a few lessons from modern American music. First, he not busy being born is busy dying. Second, you can’t hang a man for killing a woman who is trying to steal your horse. And, third, you come to see what you want to see; you come to see, but you never come to know.
These are good lessons. Bob Dylan provided the first, Willie Nelson the second. The third belongs to Kinky Friedman, who, in the nineteen-seventies, travelled around the country with his country-and-Western band—Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys—annoying audiences with a series of goading, satirical songs with titles like “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and “Asshole from El Paso.” In the eighties, after the band broke up, Kinky reinvented himself as a mystery novelist. In the past twenty years, he has written seventeen mysteries starring a detective named Kinky Friedman—a Jewish cowboy from Texas who has quit a singing career for a life of sleuthing and one-liners in New York City. Today, Dylan and Nelson, whose onstage thrones in the great concert hall of musical divinity were installed decades ago, seem to intend to ride their tour buses forever. Kinky, who never learned to sit still much, has grown tired of his second career—this year, at the age of sixty, he announced that his most recent mystery will be his last—and has sought out a third. He intends to be the governor of Texas.
Bebo Valdés rehearses at the Latin Grammy Awards in 2004.
One of the giants of Cuban music, pianist and composer/arranger Bebo Valdés, died Friday in Sweden due to complications from pneumonia, according to his wife and manager. He was 94.
Ramón Emilio “Bebo” Valdés Amaro was born in 1918 in a village outside Havana. Trained at conservatory, and having absorbed the sounds of Afro-Cuban street music and American jazz in various ensembles, he became the house pianist and arranger at the Tropicana Nightclub in 1948. The Tropicana was the hottest venue in Havana at the time; many American entertainers performed there, and Valdés became known as the go-to arranger in town for studio dates, film scores and dance numbers. In 1952, he also participated in the first Afro-Cuban descarga, or jam session, recorded in Cuba, where a group improvisation turned into the recording “Con Poco Coco.”
But as his career was booming, a revolutionary government took over in Cuba, accompanied by a crackdown on the entertainment industry. In 1960, he left Cuba to play a gig in Mexico City with his own band. He never returned, leaving behind his wife and children. Valdés eventually wound up in Sweden, where he remarried and pursued a quieter music career, often playing piano for cruise ships or in choice hotels.
‘Canto’ is as fine an album that you’ll ever find, but the cover art captures the meaning of “magical realism”.
Canto, the second album from the all-star Los Super Seven, begins with a mellow, Habanera-influenced groove and the suave vocal incantations of Raul Malo. It’s a luring introduction to a CD that offers up one superb song after another. The follow-up to their Grammy award-winning 1998 self-titled debut, Los Super Seven‘s Canto projects the sophisticated, enduring, and variegated sounds of Latin American music itself. From “Qualquem Coisa,” a Brazilian ballad sung by Caetano Veloso, to “Teresa,” a Los Angeles-infused songo, Canto‘s 12 tracks touch upon a number of traditional Latin American styles while retaining a sound all their own. On Canto, the stalwart Los Super Seven crew of Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo from Los Lobos, country singer Rick Trevino, and Tejano star Ruben Ramos welcome Brazilian sensation Caetano Veloso, Raul Malo from the Mavericks, and Peru’s primary diva, Susana Baca. All the performers on the album, instrumentalists and vocalists alike, project a confident, smooth, and cosmopolitan sound. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be much a Latin music fan, do yourself a favor and check out Canto. Los Super Seven have managed, once again, to defy simple market categories with a release that is Grammy material and, more importantly, great music through and through.
Chris Strachwitz leads the Treme Brass Band parade through the streets of Berkeley, Calif., in 2011, in honor of Arhoolie Records’ 50th anniversary.
For the past 37 years, Down Home Music Store has sat on a lonely block in El Cerrito, Calif. For all that time, Chris Strachwitz has stocked the store with a treasure trove of American roots music. He produced many of the records filling Down Home’s bins.
Strachwitz’s Arhoolie label has recorded blues singer Big Mama Thornton, Tex-Mex accordionist Flaco Jimenez, Cajun band BeauSoleil and hundreds of others. He bought the building that houses Down Home Music thanks to the money he earned recording a little-known San Francisco folk musician, Country Joe McDonald, in 1966. The session took place in Strachwitz’s Berkeley living room.
Strachwitz decided he wanted to record some of this music himself. In 1960, he set off for East Texas. He’d heard a song about “Tom Moore’s farm,” and he found it — and Moore himself — in Navasota. He asked Moore who played for his workers.
“Tom Moore said, ‘Well, there’s this fellow they seem to like here in town; he plays for them. I don’t know his name. You can go to the railroad station and ask for Peg Leg.’ Well, it wasn’t hard to find Peg Leg, and that’s how we found out his name was Mance Lipscomb,” he says.
Strachwitz found Lipscomb and founded Arhoolie Records to release a recording he made. The album became a hit in folk circles, and Lipscomb became a regular at festivals all over the country. Guitarist Ry Cooder first heard Lipscomb on an Arhoolie disc he found in a shop near his boyhood home in Los Angeles. He still remembers another Arhoolie record he found there, Mississippi’s Big Joe Williams and His Nine-String Guitar.
“It just jumped out of the speaker on this little school record player,” Cooder says. After listening to the record he decided “once and for all” to become a musician. “I’m gonna do this, too. I’m gonna get good on guitar, and I’m gonna play it like that, and I’m gonna make records, and that’s what I’m gonna do with my life.”
Cooder became a star in his own right, and Strachwitz continued to sleuth for music in Louisiana and Texas.
Guitarist Alvin Lee, whose incendiary performance with the British band Ten Years After was one of the highlights of the 1969 Woodstock festival, has died. He was 68. Lee’s website says he “passed away early this morning [Wednesday] after unforeseen complications following a routine surgical procedure.” An assistant to his daughter also confirmed the news to NPR.
His band’s biggest hit — “I’d Love to Change the World” — came a couple years after Woodstock. We’ll embed a clip from that.
But for those of us of a certain age who wished they could play a guitar well, it’s Lee’s furious fretting on “I’m Going Home” — famously memorialized in the Woodstock movie — for which he’ll be most remembered.
It begins with a heartbeat. Released in 1973, The Dark Side of the Moon was Pink Floyd‘s eighth studio album. It would become one of the best-selling albums of all time, and its iconic cover image still hangs in college dormitories everywhere.
The record turned 40 this week. To mark the occasion, Weekend Edition asked All Songs Considered hosts Robin Hilton and Bob Boilen where they were when they heard Dark Side for the first time. Hear the full version of this story by clicking the audio link on this page.
Almost 40 years after their first collaboration,Emmylou Harris and former bandmate Rodney Crowell are back with a new album of duets. Old Yellow Moon includes Crowell originals as well as revivals of songs by Roger Miller, Patti Scialfa andKris Kristofferson.
“The whole spirit of this record was just two people singing together,” Harris says. “That was the most important thing.”
“Technology allows you to produce and manipulate,” Crowell adds. “You can manipulate sound and you can manufacture recordings, but you cannot manufacture a performance.”
The duo spoke with NPR’s Scott Simon and performed a song from Old Yellow Moon in the studio.
Aretha Franklin made her first record when she was 14, singing some gospel standards in the church of her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, an easygoing Detroit pastor who was friends with Martin Luther King and just about every gospel singer you could name. One of the stars who visited a lot was Sam Cooke, who convinced Aretha that she could be a hit singing popular music. So in 1960, at 18, she dropped out of school and, eventually, was signed to Columbia Records by its top talent scout, John Hammond. Hammond, who had discovered Count Basie and Billie Holiday, among others, saw her as a potential jazz star.
Columbia went back to recording albums of jazzier stuff, while occasionally trying to cross her over. Part of the problem, though, was the label’s insistence on using its own producers and engineers and studios, and apparently nobody at Columbia understood what they had in Franklin. In 1963, for instance, someone named Robert Mersey tried for a hit with “You’ve Got Her.”
By 1966, Columbia had lost $90,000 on Franklin and was offering her a deal she didn’t like to re-sign. Across town, the folks at Atlantic Records were paying attention. What if they offered her the opportunity to write her own material, to play her piano with a little more gospel in it, use her sisters for backup vocalists and to record at funkier studios? In January 1967, they went into the studio and began to find out.
The original cover art to Duke Ellington’s 1944 studio recording Black, Brown and Beige.
The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s inspired several black artists to explore their African heritage and the black experience in America, from enslavement to life after emancipation and migration to cities in the north. In the musical world, pianist James P. Johnson composedYamekraw: A Negro Rhapsody, a 12-minute portrait of a black community in Savannah, Ga.Yamekraw was orchestrated for a 1928 performance at Carnegie Hall by black composer William Grant Still, who would write his own Afro American Symphony in 1930.
Since then, many more African-American artists have employed the expansive concepts of suites, symphonies and extended works to render the saga of black life from Africa to America. Here are excerpts from five extended jazz representations of black history.
Magic Slim performing in Memphis in April of 2011.
Magic Slim, the singer and guitarist who was a staple of the Chicago blues scene, died on Thursday in Philadelphia at the age of 75.
He was born Morris Holt in Torrance, Miss., and given his stage name by his mentor, the Chicago-based guitarist Samuel “Magic Sam” Maghett. Holt began recording as Magic Slim in 1966. With his band, the Teardrops, he was known for his raw vocals and biting guitar playing.
Over the course of his career, Slim won six Blues Music Awards for Blues Band of the Year. He released his last record, Bad Boy, in 2012.
Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite’s new collaborative album is titled Get Up!
Ben Harper grew up roaming the aisles and restoring guitars at his family’s music store, the Claremont Folk Music Center. Going on its 60th year of business, the storefront in Southern California was where Harper first discovered the harmonica playing of blues legend Charlie Musselwhite.
“We had Charlie’s records stacked high at my family’s store and at my house,” Harper tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep.
Now, he can add another album to the stack. At 43, Harper has a dedicated following and two Grammy Awards, but he achieved a life goal on his latest release: collaborating with Musselwhite. The new album Get Up! is a collection of original blues and roots songs, heavily accented by Musselwhite’s harmonica.
“To me, the harmonica is like a voice,” says Musselwhite, who turns 69 Thursday. “And when I’m taking a solo, it’s like I’m singing without words.”
The songs on Get Up! draw on the great Chicago blues tradition that Musselwhite entered as a teen looking for factory work in the 1960s — a world of all-night jam sessions in smoky bars, where Muddy Waters was king.
Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite
Ben Harper has been hiding in plain sight for nearly 20 years, delivering handsome hybrid folk blues – sometimes politicized, sometimes heartbroken – in his signature high-tenor whisper, while playing slide guitar with flashes of Hendrixian fire. His version of Americana has often resonated more loudly abroad. But as the Black Keys, Gary Clark Jr. and others move blues back into the mainstream, there’s new context for Harper’s artisanal roots music.
So Get Up!, Harper’s shit-hot new collaboration with 68-year-old bluesman Charlie Musselwhite, comes at a perfect time. It’s a project that’s been brewing since 1997, when the two recorded “Burnin’ Hell” with Musselwhite’s longtime friend John Lee Hooker, who was impressed with the pair’s chemistry and encouraged them to pursue it. Here, it’s clear from the get-go: the way Musselwhite’s harmonica dances with Harper’s vocals on the coiled opener, “Don’t Look Twice,” and the unplugged “You Found Another Lover (I Lost Another Friend),” and how the singer works his lower register to match Musselwhite’s gravelly harp on “I’m In I’m Out and I’m Gone,” an on-fire juke-joint stomper.
Miles Davis’ Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 is a compilation of previously unreleased material performed by a short-lived incarnation of his touring band.
After a slew of multidisc sets devoted to key points in the career of Miles Davis, you’d think Columbia Records would have unearthed every speck of consequential music by now. But not quite.
This week, Columbia brings out Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 — a three-CD, one-DVD set devoted to the jazz maverick’s “lost” quintet, his touring band from 1969.
Playing hard, pivoting between moods and meters with whiplash-inducing quickness, these guys are breathing a brand of fire that’s clearly time-stamped to 1969. Davis and his touring group — longtime saxophonist Wayne Shorter, keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette — are clearly energized by what’s happening beyond the realm of jazz.
Professor Longhair performs at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, circa 1970.
On the tough side of Terpsichore Street in New Orleans stands a duplex — a two-story, wood-framed building with wood floors, high ceilings and a nice fireplace. But this old house is empty: no furniture, no walls, no electricity, no toilet. Iron bars hide the windows; there’s a lockbox on the door. The facade is three different shades of blecch, blurgh and blah. There’s nothing compelling about Henry Roeland Byrd’s house — that is, unless you’ve heard the music he made under his other name, Professor Longhair.
Through a career that began in the 1940s, Longhair’s style of R&B piano helped create a new musical tradition in New Orleans: a modern postwar sound that reverberated up and down the national charts. If you’ve ever heard New Orleans piano greats like Fats Domino, Eddie Bo, James Booker or Dr. John, you’ve already met Professor Longhair in the ether. Allen Toussaint, a piano player who’s written and produced music for more than 50 years, says the late musician’s work defies comparison.
“I’m a disciple of Professor Longhair,” Toussaint says. “There’s Professor Longhair, and then there’s the rest of us.”
In an interview Longhair gave to the CBC shortly before his death in 1980, he came to a similar conclusion himself: “I imagine you can just about say every youngster in New Orleans had came by me in some form or fashion to either look, listen or show ‘em something,” he said.
December 10, 2012 Lovett gives a loose, engaging performance that feels like both an introduction and a victory lap. With a fresh-faced accompanist in fiddler and backup singer Luke Bulla, Lovett digs way back into his early archives here: All three of these songs are from his beginnings in the late ’80s.
Sitar master and composer Ravi Shankar died Tuesday at a hospital near his home in the San Diego area. Shankar’s foundation released a statement that says the musician had suffered from upper-respiratory and heart issues over the past year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last week. He was 92.
When he was just 10 years old, Pandit Ravi Shankar began performing in Europe and the U.S. with his family’s Indian dance troupe. It was a glamorous life: the best hotels, the best meals, celebrities coming backstage to say just how much they’d enjoyed the concert. But at age 18, Shankar gave up all the glitter and went back to a dusty little town in India to study with a guru who taught him the sitar. He apprenticed for years, then started to play in public on the ancient and difficult string instrument. Eventually, he became a master.
Chicano hippies playing mariachi music. That was my first impression of Los Lobos when I first saw the band back in the mid-1970s, before it had any albums out.
By that time, Los Lobos had already been a garage-rock band, so it was in the midst of falling back on our parents’ music, having discovered just how complex it was. These guys dug deep into rancheras, son jarochos and guapangos to find the sources of the music for themselves — and, by extension, other Baby Boomer Mexican-Americans who were calling themselves Chicanos.
For their first independently released album in 1978, they played that folk music and called themselves Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles. The band was a staple at parties when I was in college. Then, in 1983, Los Lobos’ first EP (…And a Time to Dance) fired a warning shot to rock music, suggesting impending change.
Released a year later, Los Lobos’ breakthrough album — How Will the Wolf Survive? — made it clear to everyone who heard it that loving The Rolling Stones as much as Flaco Jimenez was as natural as loving the Stones and, say, Woody Guthrie.
It felt as if they were writing music from my life: Los Lobos’ Grammy-winning “Anselma” reminds me of my aunts spinning me around the dance floor as a kid at family parties; I can smell my mom’s coffee in the background of songs like “Saints Behind the Glass”; they bridged the gap between themselves and another passion of mine when they covered The Grateful Dead‘s “Bertha,” complete with Cajun accordion fills; and they made me proud when they made a hit out of “La Bamba,” an old Mexican folk song that my dad played to my brothers and me when we were kids (not to mention the countless times I played it as a teenager in a Mexican wedding band).
It’s mind-boggling to think that the group is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. In our chat during this Guest DJ discussion, band members Louie Perez and Steve Berlin explain that the exact date is lost to history, but say they can trace their roots back to the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
We take time to dig deep into the DNA of Los Lobos by asking Perez and Berlin to bring in their own favorite tracks — mariachi, R&B, soul, blues. If we’d had more time, we’d have heard bluegrass, blues and folk music from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.
In other words, it’s just another day of listening to the sound of Chicano life in America. We have Los Lobos to thank for bringing it all together in vital, enriching music. Here’s to the next 40 years.
Dave Brubeck performing on the pilot episode of a television program in 1965..
For millions of Americans who came of age in the 1950s, Dave Brubeck was jazz. His performances on college campuses, Top 40 radio play, his role as a jazz ambassador for the U.S., his picture on the cover of Time magazine — all made him one of the most recognized and recognizable musicians of the era.
He died Wednesday morning, the day before his 92nd birthday, in Norwalk, Conn. The cause was heart failure.
Brubeck’s start in music was like the jazz he played: unorthodox. He never learned to read sheet music growing up. He refused classical training. And he developed his chops playing in a military band for Gen. George Patton’s Third Army. In the ’50s he formed a quartet with saxophone player Paul Desmond that broke into the Top 40 with “Blue Rondo à la Turk.”
JAZZ INNOVATOR WITH A POPULAR TOUCH–PLEASE READ MORE…
By BEN RATLIFF 22 minutes ago
Dave Brubeck, a pianist and composer whose distinctive mixture of experimentation and accessibility made him one of the most popular jazz musicians of the 1950s and ’60s, died Wednesday morning in Norwalk, Conn. He would have turned 92 on Thursday.