December 17, 2007


Grover Washington, Jr. (December 12, 1943 – December 17, 1999) was a jazz-funk musician born in Buffalo, New York. Along with George Benson, David Sanborn, Bob James, Chuck Mangione, Herb Alpert, and Spyro Gyra, he is considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of the smooth jazz genre.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Washington made some of the genre's most memorable hits, including "Mr. Magic", "Black Frost", and "The Best is Yet to Come". In addition, he performed very frequently with other artists, including Bill Withers on "Just the Two of Us" (still in regular rotation on radio today) and Phyllis Hyman on "A Sacred Kind of Love".

He is also remembered for his take on a Dave Brubeck classic, called "Take Another Five", and for his hit "Soulful Strut".

His mother was a church chorister, and his father was a collector of old jazz 78s and a saxophonist as well, so music was everywhere in the home. He grew up with the great jazzmen and big band leaders like Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, and others like them. At the age of 8, with the desire for him to be more than he could be, Grover Sr. gave Jr. a saxophone. He practiced and sneaked into clubs to see famous Buffalo blues musicians.

He left Buffalo and played with a midwest group called the Four Clefs. He was drafted into the US Army shortly thereafter, but this was to be to his advantage, as he met drummer Billy Cobham. Cobham, a mainstay in New York City, introduced Washington to many New York musicians. After leaving the Army, Washington freelanced his talents around New York City, eventually landing in Philadelphia in 1967.

Grover's big break came at the expense of another artist. Alto sax man Hank Crawford was unable to make a recording date with Prestige Records, and Washington took his place, even though he was a backup. This led to his first album, Inner City Blues. He was talented, and displayed heart and soul with soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones. Refreshing for his time, he made headway into the jazz mainstream. His fifth album, 1974's Mister Magic was a commercial success, and introduced guitarist Eric Gale in as a near-permanent member in Washington's arsenal.

A string of acclaimed records brought Washington through the 1970s, which culminated in the signature piece for everything Washington would do from then on. 1980's Winelight was the album that defined everything Washington was about. The album was smooth, fused with R&B and easy listening feel. Washington's love of basketball, especially the Philadelphia 76ers, led him to dedicate his first track, "Let It Flow" to Julius Erving (Dr. J). The highlight of the album, and a main staple of radio airplay everywhere, was his great collaboration with soul artist Bill Withers, "Just The Two of Us". It was also the final step away from Motown, landing him on Elektra Records and into a new era of jazz excellence. The album went platinum in 1981, and also won Grammy Awards in 1982 for Best R&B Song ("Just The Two of Us"), and Best Jazz Fusion Performance ("Winelight"). "Winelight" was also nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

From that point, Washington is credited (or scorned, as some may say) for giving rise to a new batch of talent that would make its mark in the late 80s and early 90s. He is known for bringing Kenny G to the forefront, but also credited with bringing such smooth jazz artists as Walter Beasley, Steve Cole, Pamela Williams, Najee, George Howard and The Philadelphia Experiment.

The tragedy and irony of Washington's life was that while he was able to get his big break from another artist's absence, Washington lived long enough to bring smooth jazz to the last points of the old millennium, but didn't outlive Hank Crawford, whose absence gave him his big break (and is still alive, as of 2005). On December 17th, 1999, while waiting in the green room after taping four songs for the The Early Show, at CBS Studios in New York City, Washington collapsed. He was taken to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 7:30 p.m. His doctors determined that he had suffered a massive heart attack. He was 56 when he died.

Grover Washington Jr.'s legacy lives on in the futures of up-and-coming jazz artists, and his life is celebrated from college campuses all around the nation to the hallowed streets of his own Philadelphia, his adopted hometown.

December 16, 2007


Sonia Sanchez is an African American poet most often associated with the Black Arts Movement. Born Wilsonia Benita Driver in Birmingham, Alabama on September 9, 1934, she has authored over a dozen books of poetry, as well as plays and children's books.

When Sanchez was only a year old, her mother died and she was sent to live with her paternal grandmother. In 1943, she moved to Harlem to live with her father, her sister, and her stepmother who was her father's third wife. In 1955, she received a B.A. in Political Science from Hunter College, where she had also taken several creative writing courses. Later, Sanchez completed postgraduate work at New York University where she studied poetry with Louise Bogan. Sanchez married poet Etheridge Knight and she had three children with him. They later divorced. In 1972, she joined the Nation of Islam, but left the organization after three years in 1975 because her views on women's rights conflicted with theirs.

Sanchez has taught as a professor at eight universities and has lectured at over 500 college campuses across the US, including Howard University. She advocated the introduction of Black Studies courses in California. Sanchez was the first to create and teach a course based on Black Women and literature in the United States. Sanchez was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University where she began working in 1977, where she held the Laura Carnell chair until her retirement in 1999. She is currently a poet-in-residence at Temple University. She has read her poetry in Africa, the Caribbean, China, Australia, Europe, Nicaragua, Canada, and Cuba. Sanchez has also appeared on Bill Cosby's CBS show in the 1990s.

The author is a member of the Plowshares, the Brandywine Peace Community and MADRE. She also supports MOMS in Alabama and the National Black United Front.

Sanchez was a very influential part of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Arts Movement. Sanchez was an advocate for the people. She was a member of CORE (Congress for Racial Equality), where she met Malcolm X. She wrote many plays and books that had to do with the struggles and lives of Black America. Sanchez has edited two anthologies on Black literature, We Be Word Sorcerers: 25 Stories by Black Americans and 360° of Blackness Coming at You.

Sanchez is also known for her innovative melding of musical formats - like the blues - and traditional poetic formats like haiku and tanka.

In 1969, Sanchez was awarded the P.E.N. Writing Award. She was awarded the National Education Association Award 1977-1988. She also won the National Academy and Arts Award and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Award in 1978-1979. In 1985, she was awarded the American Book Award for Homegirls and Handgrenades. She has also been awarded the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Lucretia Mott Award, the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Humanities, and the Peace and Freedom Award from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

December 05, 2007


Diane Reeves, born 23 October 1956 in Detroit, Michigan, known more for her live performances than her albums. Alongside her peers Dee Dee Bridgewater, Diana Krall and Cassandra Wilson she is considered one of the most important female jazz singers of our time. She lives in Denver, Colorado.
Dianne came from a very musical family. Her father, who died when she was two years old, was also a singer. Her mother, Vada Swanson, played trumpet. A cousin, George Duke is a well known piano and keyboard player and producer.
Dianne and her sister Sharon were raised by their grandmother in Denver, Colorado. As a child Dianne took piano lessons and sang at every opportunity. When she was 11 years old her interest in music was enhanced by an inspiring teacher who thought that music was the best way to bring students together. Dianne discovered a love of music and that she wanted to be a singer.
Her uncle, Charles Burell, a bass player with the Denver Symphony Orchestra, introduced her to the music of jazz singers, from Ella Fitzgerald to Billie Holiday. She was especially impressed by Sarah Vaughan.
At the age of sixteen she was singing at the George Washington High School (Denver) in Denver, in a high school big-band. That same year the band played at a music festival (Convention of the National Association of Jazz Educators). Her Band won first place and it was there she met the trumpeter Clark Terry, who after discovering her became her mentor.
A year later she began studying music at the University of Colorado, before she moved in 1976 to Los Angeles. In L.A. her interest in Latin-American music grew. She began experimenting with different kinds of vocal music and finally decided to pursue a career as a singer. She met Eduardo del Barrio, toured with his group "Caldera" and sang in Billy Child's jazz band "Night Flights". Later she toured with Sergio Mendes.
From 1983 until 1986 she toured with Harry Belafonte as a lead singer. This period saw her first experiences with world music. In 1987 she became the first vocalist to sign with Blue Note records. She moved back to Denver from Los Angeles in 1992. She sang at the closing ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Grammy Awards
She has currently won 4 Grammy Awards for "Best Jazz Vocal Performance" for her albums
2001 In the Moment
2002 The Calling
2003 A Little Moonlight
2006 Good Night, and Good Luck (Soundtrack)
She is the only singer to have won this Grammy for three consecutive recordings.

December 04, 2007


Kevin Mahogany was born in 1958 in Kansas City, Missouri. During high school, he taught clarinet and was a featured baritone saxophonist and pianist in several jazz bands. He shifted his focus to singing while attending Baker University.

Kevin Mahogany grew up with the sound of Memphis and Mowtown as well as the ever-evolving rock 'n' roll in the turbulent '60s. He attended the Charlie Parker Foundation in his hometown of Kansas City, and was teaching clarinet by the time he was 14. He also studied piano and became an accomplished baritone saxophonist, performing with three jazz bands while still in high school. His interest in singing did not materialize until he attended Baker University in Kansas where the industrious Mahogany founded a jazz choir. He entered the school in 1976 and graduated with a BFA in Music and English Drama in 1981. After College, Kevin established two groups, ensembles focusing on contemporary R&B, crossover jazz and classic '60s soul music. At the same time Kevin was very attracted to singers such as Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, and Eddie Jefferson.

Kevin recorded three well-recieved albums with the German independent Enja before landing at Warner Bros. Records in 1995. With his self-titled Warner Bros. debut in 1996, Kevin won acclamations from NewsWeek, which described him as "the standout jazz vocalist of his generation." Esteemed writer Whitney Balliet declared in The New Yorker, "There is little Mahogany cannot do," while the L.A. Times pronounced Mahogany to be "one of the first truly gifted male vocalists to emerge in years." The album also earned excellent reviews including four stars from USA Today. That same year, Mahogany appeared in Robert Altman's film Kansas City portraying a character inspired by Big Joe Turner.

Since then, Kevin has been in high demand. He appears on the upcoming Malpaso release Eastwood After Hours, a Clint Eastwood ensemble project performed and recorded live at Carnegie Hall earlier this year. Additionally Kevin headlined this year's IAJE Benefit, also at Carnegie Hall.

If Kevin Mahogany had set out to prove he is the quintessential jazz vocalist, he could not have made a more convincing album. But Kevin leaves those concerns to the critics. He simply sings with great feeling and subtlety, transporting the listener to regions of the heart and soul - to "Another Time, Another Place" his second release on Warner Bros. Records - which is the real sign of a great jazz artist. Filled with rich originals as well as swinging standards, Kevin Mahogany delivers a focused and mature collection of jazz tunes with a mega-watt panache that so impressed his listeners in his critical acclaimed self-titled debut release last year. He encompasses blues, soul, gospel, and jazz, or as Mahogany once said, "I listened to everything while I was coming up. If all that is in your background, you should be able to sing anything..."

December 03, 2007


John Maurice Hartman was born on July 3, 1923 in Chicago, IL
Though he was never the most distinctive vocalist, Johnny Hartman rose above others to become the most commanding, smooth balladeer of the 1950s and '60s, a black crooner closely following Billy Eckstine and building on the form with his notable jazz collaborations, including the 1963 masterpiece John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. Born in Chicago, he began singing early on and performed while in Special Services in the Army. Hartman studied music while at college and made his professional debut in the mid-'40s, performing with Earl Hines and recording his first sides for Regent/Savoy. After Hines' band broke up later in 1947, Hartman moved to the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band and stayed for two years, recording a few additional sides for Mercury as well.

Johnny Hartman's first proper LP came in 1956 with Songs from the Heart, recorded for Bethlehem and featuring a quartet led by trumpeter Howard McGhee. He recorded a second (All of Me) later that year, but then was virtually off-record until 1963, when his duet album John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman appeared on Impulse. A beautiful set of ballad standards including top-flight renditions of "Lush Life" and "My One and Only Love," the album sparked a flurry of activity for Hartman, including two more albums for Impulse: 1963's I Just Dropped by to Say Hello and the following year's The Voice That Is. During the late '60s and early '70s, he recorded a range of jazz and pop standards albums for ABC, Perception and Blue Note. Hartman recorded sparingly during the 1970s, but returned with two albums recorded in 1980, one of which (Once in Every Life) earned a Grammy nomination just two years before he crossed over on Sep 15, 1983 in New York, NY.

December 02, 2007


Carmen Mercedes McRae, born April 8, 1920 was an American jazz singer. Considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th Century, it was her behind-the-beat phrasing and her ironic interpretations of song lyrics that made her memorable.

Carmen McRae was one of the earliest, and best, bop vocalists. Her scat improvisations and choice of material would have been daunting for any singer, but her real fortitude was in the emotional depth she brought to every lyric
McRae was born in Harlem, New York City , to West Indian parents. She began studying piano as a child. As a teenager she came to the attention of Teddy Wilson and his wife, the composer Irene Kitchings Wilson. Through their influence, one of McRae’s early songs, "Dream of Life", was recorded by Wilson’s longtime collaborator Billie Holiday.

By the late 1940s she was well known among the modern jazz musicians who gathered at Minton's Playhouse, Harlem's most famous jazz club, where she was the intermission pianist. But it was while working in Brooklyn that she came to the attention of Decca’s Milt Gabler. Her five year association with Decca yielded 12 LPs.
Her live 1987 duets with Betty Carter are highly regarded.

The musicians she sang with include Benny Carter, Mercer Ellington, Count Basie, Sammy Davis Jr., Dave Brubeck, and Louis Armstrong. As a result of her early friendship with Billie Holiday, she never performed without singing at least one song associated with Lady Day.

She was married to drummer Kenny Clarke and the double bassist Ike Isaacs.
"She had the musical sense to know that when she had five notes to hit, she'd find the one in the range where she heard it in her head and would go for it," said drummer Joey Baron, who recorded with McRae. "That left so much space that was full of feeling rather than filled up with cluttered clichés. And she just swung so hard!"

McRae was a prodigy on piano, she wrote "Dream of Life," which Billie Holiday recorded while McRae was in her teens. She sang with Benny Carter's orchestra in 1944 and with Count Basie and Mercer Ellington a few years later. During this time she also worked as a singer and pianist at Minton's Playhouse where she absorbed rhythmic ideas from the boppers who made the New York club their headquarters. She began recording as a leader in 1953 and continued to work for various labels and lead different groups for the next four decades. In 1988, she recorded a unique album of Thelonious Monk compositions.

McRae crossed over on Nov. 10, 1994.

December 01, 2007

"SPOTLIGHT ON JAZZ & POETRY" Celebrates One Year On The Air

Clayton E. Corley, Sr. aka Bigtrigger is celebrating his one year anniversary of bringing the best in Jazz and Poetry to the world via his internet radio program, "Spotlight On Jazz And Poetry" on National Artist League Radio. Although he began back in April of 2006 he considers his REAL program launch as of December 3, 2007.

He's just as passionate and driven today about bringing you the best that the Jazz and Poetry world has to offer, as he was one year ago. He says "Jazz and Poetry have so much in common there's no doubt that these two art forms fit together like hand in glove. They are so deep and rich in history and they're major ways of communicating with one another and negotiating agendas.

On Sunday, September 30th, 2007 "Big Trigger" received a Versatility and Image Award in recognition of his ground breaking work in support of jazz musicians and poets through the program. Accompanying Clayton Corley were a few of the artists that have greatly benefitted from the exposure from his program from right: poet Lamont "Napalm" Dixon, poet Safiyyah Amina Muhammad and saxaphonist Shenole Latimer.(pictured above)

One of the first things that you notice about Clayton is the amount of love and respect that he has for artists and their work. He grew up listening to jazz and has virtually an encyclopedic knowledge of it and its history, and both the columns that "Big Trigger" has written for Shenole Latimer's newsletter "On The Inside" and this Liner Notes blog, stand as clear illustrations of this fact.


Here's What Folks are saying about Bigtrigger and SOJP;

Best wishes to you and congratulations on your one year anniversary. Keep up the good work!
Best regards, Claire

hardy congratulations 'trigger'...
blessings to you for shining light on those who are deserving but may otherwise go unnoticed or under-noticed...
kudos and keep doing what you do!!!!


Congrats my divine brother. You do a phenomenal job at what you do and so many are blessed to partake in the gifts you share.~~ Truth Theory

November 28, 2007


Dakota Staton was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 3, 1931. Although hers was not a musical family, Dakota claims to have known from early on that performing was her destiny. "When I was four years old, I started singing and dancing like Shirley Temple," she recalled in a recent interview. Staton further developed these budding abilities at Pittsburgh’s Filion School of Music. "When I was sixteen, I was in a stage show called Fantastic Rhythm. From that show, I was chosen to be a vocalist with the top band in the Pittsburgh area, Joe Wespray and his orchestra.
I sang with him for two years. Then I went to Detroit, Michigan, and worked in all the show bars there.." While in Detroit, Staton made a particularly strong impression at The Flame Show Bar. From there, she followed a nightclub circuit that led as far afield as Toronto and Montreal in Canada before returning stateside and passing through Indianapolis; Minneapolis; Cleveland and St. Louis before eventually winding it’s way to New York.

It was while singing in a Harlem nightclub called the Baby Grand that Staton was discovered by Capitol producer Dave Cavanaugh and signed to the label. "My first record was a single release on Capitol in 1954," she recalls. "It was called ‘What Do You Know About Love?’ and on the other side was ‘You’re My Heart’s Delight’. Staton attracted enough attention to win the prestigious Down Beat award for the most promising new comer of the year 1955. Although at this point there was still enough of an R&B tinge to her presentation to merit her inclusion, along with the likes of Big Joe Turner and Fats Domino, in fabled disc jockey Alan Freed’s first New York area Rock ‘n’ Roll party stage shows at the St. Nicholas arena, she was rapidly evolving into the dynamic, jazz based stylist whose debut Capitol album, ‘The Late, Late Show’ (1958) would quickly rise to #4 in the album charts. Staton freely admits that Dinah Washington was both a personal favorite and an important stylistic influence, and deep impression she made on Dakota is evident from the first album and throughout all her subsequent recorded work.

For her second Capitol effort, "Dynamic!’ (1958), which reached #22 in the album charts later that year, Cavanaugh turned the musical reins over to a close friend, the gifted arranger and conductor Sid Feller, with whom Staton was to enjoy a long and fruitful collaboration. Feller had arranged for Jack Teagarden’s big band before a hitch in the Army during World War II, and in 1951 he began a longtime association with Cavanaugh and Capitol records (Feller later moved on to the ABC label where he began arranging and conducting for Ray Charles, a pursuit that would occupy him for over thirty years). "I remember when Dave drove me down to a nightclub in Philadelphia to meet Dakota Staton," recalled Feller recently. "When she opened her mouth to sing and I heard that voice, I was overwhelmed. I thought she was just a marvelous singer.

She’s very underrated." "I don’t think that Dakota ever got the breaks she deserved that would’ve helped her become a major pop singer, but I know she’s always been very well respected in the jazz community." Regrettably, Feller’s assessment of Staton’s career development has the ring of truth about it. A wonderfully gifted singer with a thorough grounding in jazz, Staton was always oriented toward albums and never enjoyed the hit single that might have broadened her appeal to a larger market. This, coupled with the fact that she first arrived on the scene after the rock and roll revolution had altered the game rules of popular music forever, has to a degree robbed Dakota of the widespread name recognition she so richly deserves.

Dakota Staton crossed over on April 14, 2007

November 27, 2007


Diane Marino, singer/pianist was born in Manhattan, NYC. She received her early piano training of classical studies and improvisation from the age of 10. Diane was accepted on NYC’S ‘Famed’ High School for the Performing Arts as a classical piano major. She later attended the Mannes College of Music in Manhattan where she studied piano with world-renowned concert pianist Murray Perahia. While working towards her Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance, Diane began singing with small groups in the NYC tri-state area, After graduating from Mannes, she was singing professionally 6 nights a week. It was only natural and a matter of time before she would combine her singing and piano playing skills.

Diane performed solo gigs for several years in the NYC area before teaming up with bassist Frank Marino. The duo formed the nine member Brazilian group, ‘Som Brasileiro’ (Sounds of Brazil) in 1993 and have performed at numerous jazz festivals, venues and concerts in the Southeast sharing the bill with artists such as Tania Maria, Pete Escovedo, Joe Henderson and Dr. John, to name a few.

Diane’s debut jazz quartet CD ‘A Sleepin’ Bee’ was released in 2003 and has received national acclaim charting on the national charts as well as receiving extensive radio airplay and rave reviews. This CD offers a wide array of vocal and instrumental traditional jazz standards, Latin jazz, and Brazilian jazz (sung in Portuguese).

Diane’s second CD ‘On the Street Where You Live’, released in May of 2004 has also received national acclaim charting on the national jazz charts and proves once again that Diane is a natural whether playing, singing, or both. This CD will take the listener to the very depths of emotions. There is a re-current theme throughout that tells stories of love, and love lost, as well as playful gems of Latin and Brazilian jazz. Diane is joined by bandmates Frank Marino (bass), Mitch Reilly (saxes/flute), and Chris Brown (drums).

Diane Marino and her quartet’s CD ‘On The Street Where You Live’ once again delivers to the listener, masterful musical magic and another gift for the ears to treasure.

November 26, 2007


George V. Johnson Jr is a talented young jazz vocalist that specializes in a brand of jazz singing popularized most notably by Jon Hendricks and Eddie Jefferson called Vocalese. In fact, the title of this CD, Next in Line bring to bear the very words uttered by Eddie Jefferson (heard in the opening seconds of the disc) proclaiming his protege' George V. Johnson as the successor to the throne. On this CD, Johnson sings with exuberance on a number of varied standards, including tunes by Charlie Parker, Jimmy Heath, and Miles Davis.
The original “Opening Night” laments the lack of recognition that the major record companies give to serious aspiring jazz artists, and will strike a chord with every jazz musician that has ever solcited a record company in hopes of a record deal. Johnson has a smooth, graceful, and soulful style, and is supported very well in this regard by bandmates that can groove alongside, and underneath him. George V. Johnson shows us on Next In Line that he is a man dedicated to the art of song and singing, bringing forth both tradition and intuition. The promise first heard over twenty years ago is finally seeing the light of day, as Johnson is can be heard scatin' and singin' the night away. It's as if he was singing the world a lullaby; giving it everything he's got, and asking nothing in return. George V. Johnson Jr. The “V” is for Vocalese .

Track listing: Eddie Jefferson sound bite: Opening Night; My Little Suede Shoes; Star Eyes; Nigerian ju ju Highlife; Gingerbread Boy; Freedom Jazz Dance; Bitches Brew.
Personnel: George V. Johnson Jr. (vocals); Tina Prat (jazz tap); Arnold Sterling (alto sax); Bernard Samuel (piano); Herman Foster (piano); Tom Mc Kenzie (bass); Mark Johnson (drums); Victor Jones (drums)

Considering himself the musical offspring of the highly entertaining jazz singer Eddie Jefferson, George V. Johnson, Jr.'s common surname has sometimes led to confusion, particulary in the early days of his career when neither the middle initial nor "junior" status were attached to his credits. Some discographers thus see a double image in which a man named George Johnson was involved in modern jazz singing projects, including credits for vocal arrangements in 1979. Then along comes George V. Johnson, Jr. a few years later, hanging in for the long haul and finally enjoying the benefit of releases under his own name with the ironically titled Next in Line in 2000.

Not to be confused with scat singing, which consists of nonsense syllables and sounds, this vocalist belongs to a singing tradition in which lyrics are concocted to fit the ebb and flow of a jazz soloist's performance, often including the original improvised horn solo. While Johnson, Jr.'s excellent efforts included a version of John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" for one of Pharoah Sanders' highly-praised Evidence recording dates in the early '80s, the singer's efforts were reduced to part-time status for a good portion of the ensuing decades due to having to hold a day job. Nonetheless, he performed regularly as part of the James Moody group, a fitting setting since after all it was where Jefferson himself had been featured quite regularly. After the release of not one but two discs under his own name in 2000 Johnson, Jr. apparently decided to notch up his efforts and try to make it as a fulltime performer

November 25, 2007


Art Tatum was born Oct. 13, 1909 in Toledo, Ohio and despite being blind in one eye and only partially sighted in the other he became arguably the greatest jazz piano player who ever lived. He came from a musical family and when younger had some formal training at the Toledo School of Music, however he was largely self-taught. His teacher their recognized his talents and tried to steer him towards as a career as a classical concert pianist. Tatum was more interested in the music of Fats Waller, which would be a strong influence on his music. At 18 he was playing interludes at a local radio station and within a short period of time he had his own show. In 1932 he was heard by the singer Adelaide Hall who brought him to New York as her accompanist. One year later he made his first recordings, among which was "Tiger Rag". This song which features breakneck tempo and rippling left- andright-hand cascades and crashing bass notes had every pianist in the country amazed by his astonishing dexterity.

While in New York he established his reputation in "cutting contests" with other top pianists, which he never lost. He spent the next few years playing in Cleveland, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles and even England in 1938. During this time he established himself as a major figure in jazz circles. In the early 1940s Tatum formed an extremely popular trio with bassist Slam Stewart and guitarist Tiny Grimes. He spent much of the next decade touring North America. In 1953 Tatum signed by producer Norman Granz and recorded extensively both as a soloist and in small groups with Benny Carter, soloist and in small groups with Benny Carter, Buddy De Franco, Roy Eldridge, Lionel Hampton, Ben Webster and others. His incredible talent allowed him to be extremely productive during this time. Ray Spencer in his biography, noted that Tatum was constantly "refining and honing down after each performance until an ideal version remained needing no further adjustments". This allowed him to achieve a remarkable work rate. For example, his solo sessions for Granz were mostly completed in two days. That is a total of 69 tracks and all but three of them needed only one take.

The starting point of Art Tatum's style was Fats Waller's stride. As Tatum once said, "Fats, that's where I come out of and, man, that's quite a place to come from". From this beginning he went on to create and superbly original and creative style of playing piano. His left-handed figures where similar to stride but he was really known for the way that he explored harmonic complexities and unusual chord progressions. When improvising, Tatum would often insert totally new chord sequences (occasionally with a chord on each beat) into one or two measures. He also developed the habit of quoting from other melodies, something that became a standard practice among modern jazz musicians. What really set Tatum apart was his amazing technical abilities which combined with his willingness to explore the imagined limitations of the orthodox keyboard which produced astonishing rhythmic and harmonic complexities. It is claimed that he could identify the dominant note in a flushing toilet. Perhaps the greatest tribute to the excellence of Art Tatum lies in the opinions of his peers.

His influenced many musicians including Bud Powell, Herbie Hancock, and even non-pianists such as Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. Many would say that he inspired the bebop revolution in jazz. When Oscar Peterson first heard him play he thought it was two people and he considered Tatum the best jazz instrumentalist of all time. Legend has it that classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz was so awed by Tatum's wizardry that it brought him to tears. Fittingly, his strongest support comes from one of his early influences, Fats Waller. One time in 1938 Tatum dropped in to hear Waller play at a club. By way of introduction Waller told the audience, "I just play the piano, but God is in the house tonight."

Sadly, on Nov. 4, 1956 his prodigious output was cut short when he died of uremia, however his artistic influence has been strong and long-lasting.

November 24, 2007


Sterling A. Brown was born May 1, 1901, into a black middle-class Washington, D.C. family. His father was a pastor at a local church and a teacher at Howard University’s School of Religion. His mother was a graduate of Fisk University. Brown attended Dunbar High School where writer Jessie Fauset taught him. In 1918, he graduated with honors and received a scholarship to Williams College. After graduating cum laude in 1922, he began Harvard University where he received his master’s degree in English in 1923.

During the Harlem Renaissance, Sterling took a unique approach to his style of writing. Unlike the majority of other black poets and writers, he chose to write in the dialect of country black folk. Even though at the time this was an unpopular style, his extraordinary talent and his ability to reveal humanity in his poetry won over the most ardent critics of this style.

After graduating from Harvard, Brown accepted a teaching position at Virginia Seminary and College. It was during this three-year time in Lynchburg that Brown began learning and studying the dialect of the town’s rural black residents. He spent time with local residents and listened to blues music and spirituals. These first hand accounts with rural blacks later influenced his use of dialect poetry.
After returning to Washington to teach at Howard in 1929, Brown’s poetry was published a few years later. Not surprisingly, his poetry reflected rural black speech patterns. Black writers who considered it demeaning often dismissed this type of poetry. However, Brown’s use of the voice of black folk in traditional forms of sonnets, ballads, and villanelle, proved successful in his work Southern Road (1932). Even writer and opponent of this style, James Weldon Johnson declared that Brown had successfully replicated rural black dialect.

His other important work included The Negro in American Fiction (1937), Negro Poetry and Drama (1937), and The Last Ride of Wild Bill and Eleven Narratives (1975). Brown was a contributor of poetry and reviews to Opportunity, The New Republic, Phylon, and the Journal of Negro Education. In the 1930s, he served as editor of Negro affairs for the Roosevelt Federal Writers Project. In 1969, Brown retired from his position at Howard. He died on leukemia on January 13, 1989.

Sterling Allen Brown defied popular black poetry. Instead of writing in the voice an intellectual, Brown’s poetry captured the dialect of rural black folk. Brown’s poetry was an artistic expression that revealed the humanity of the characters of his poetry.

Sterling Brown crossed over on January 13, 1989

November 23, 2007


Omar Sosa was born April 10, 1965, in Camagüey, Cuba. he is a composer, bandleader, and virtuoso jazz pianist.

He began studying marimba at age eight, then switched to piano at the Escuela Nacional de Musica in Havana, where he began to study jazz. Sosa moved to Quito, Ecuador in 1993, then San Francisco, California in 1995. In San Francisco he became deeply involved in the local Latin Jazz scene and began a long collaboration with percussionist John Santos.

The next year Omar made his U.S. recording debut on Otá Records with Omar Omar, followed in 1997 with the first in a trilogy of groundbreaking world-jazz recordings: Free Roots, Spirit of the Roots (1998) and Bembon (2000).
In 1998 Omar began his collaboration with noted Bay Area percussionist and educator John Santos. The duo released a live recording, Nfumbe, in conjunction with their appearance at the San Francisco Jazz Festival that year. The following year, revealing more of the contemplative side of his musical sensibilities, Omar released his second solo piano recording, Inside, a Top-20-selling CD in France for distributor Night & Day. Capping an extraordinarily productive period, Omar also travelled to Ecuador in 1999 to record his critically acclaimed large-ensemble CD Bembon. In approximately 1999, Sosa moved to Barcelona, Spain.

With Prietos (2001) and Sentir (2002), Omar stretches his genre-expanding fusion still further with the use of traditional vocals and instruments from the Gnawa culture of North Africa. We find tongues in Arabic, English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Yoruba, as well as instruments like the guembri, oud, djembi, balafon, and marimba. These recordings are world music in its finest sense: strong, uncompromising sounds, yet always welcoming and honest. Throughout we hear Omar's genius as an arranger and his extraordinary inspiration at the piano.

November 22, 2007

MANNIE HAGER "Defiant Sun"

Mannie Hager aka Defiant Sun, was born in Ponze, Puerto Rico at home on the couch out my mothers womb in 1973, moved to Brooklyn in 1985, where he couldn't speak any real english, Mannie learned English by watching cartoons.  His mother who is German spoke to me in German and his father who was Puerto Rican spoke to him in Spanish.  He was born in a house hold of torn religious views.  He is the product of Christianity and Islam and somewhere in between there was peace.  Mannie a Brooklyn native of Puerto Rican and German decent, relocated to Lawton, Oklahoma in 2002. Mannie spent 9 years on active duty where his highest achieved rank was Staff Sergeant. While in the military, he went on numerous campaigns which included being deployed to Somalia, Rwanda, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Haiti, and Bosnia. After he left the military in 2001 he resided in Newport News, VA where he worked for Coca-Cola Enterprises until his mother had a stroke and then moved to Lawton, Oklahoma to help take care of his mother. Since his stay in Lawton, Oklahoma, Mannie decided to started school, which at a late age is a struggle. He attends Cameron University where his major is History and Political Science. He will be graduating in May of 2007. Mannie has overcome many obstacles which include surviving cancer in 2005, a battle that he is still fighting to win every day and surviving running over a land mind in Somalia. His story is fascinating on many levels; his poetry is energetic, entertaining, and heartfelt. Mannie speaks from his heart.

His passion for poetry comes from the depth of his soul, at an early age Mannie started to write poetry. He was exposed to spoken word while being stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas where he went to a book store called Under One Roof in 1999, This was his poetic birth and was hooked ever since. His energetic performance and strength are heart felt within his performance. He can speak on many topics which include political, love, erotica, and history.

Mannie has been writing poetry for about a total of about 15 years and started performing his art 8 years ago. He as had many accomplishments which include organizing some of the hottest shows in the state of Oklahoma on both a University level and professional level. He has also been published on ,, and an article in the Dallas Examiner where he as received honors for his work. He has been interviewed by the Cameron University Collagen and been interviewed on CUTV for his poetic craft, and has been in rotation with Jazz Poetry Café Radio hosted by Phillip G.

He has shared stages along sides of some of the hottest poets in the country such as Taalam Acey, Mahogany L. Brown, L.I.F.E, Nuyorican Grand Slam Champion Archie the Messenger, Rob Hylton, Nathan P, Noodles, SahdoKat, Andrew Tyree, Atryn, HBO Def Poetry Poet Rockbaby, HBO Def Poet Joaquin Zihuatanejo, HBO Def Poet Gemineye, HBO Def Poet Big Mike, Michael Guinn, Stacey Williamson, Jenean Livingston, AJ Houston, Anthony Douglas, Silence, Vocab, Cocoafire, and Austin Grand Slam Champion 2 times in a row Christopher-Michael, and the Dallas raining grand slam champ Colin Gilbert just to mention a few.

He has preformed on many venues to include hosting at the Verbal High in Lawton, Oklahoma.

Book and CD
Openly Crying CD 2006
Out of the mouth of Mannie 2006
Speaking from the Heart 2007 available on

November 12, 2007


Arthur Prysock was perfectly at home singing jazz, blues, or RB, but his smooth-as-silk baritone made him a superbly effective (and underappreciated) pop crooner in the manner of his chief influence, Billy Eckstine.

Prysock was born January 2, 1929, in Spartanburg, SC, and was the brother of saxophonist Red Prysock. As a teenager, he moved to Hartford, CT, where he worked in the aviation industry and sang with several small bands by night. He was discovered in 1944 by jump blues bandleader Buddy Johnson, who signed him as lead male vocalist and brought him to Harlem. Prysock sang on a number of Johnson's hits for the Decca label before going solo in 1952 to tour the chitlin circuit (sometimes with his brother). He quickly landed an RB hit with "I Didn't Sleep a Wink Last Night," and subsequently made his name among black audiences as an emotive balladeer. During the '50s, Prysock recorded for several smaller labels, but his popularity in concert gradually gained him more exposure. He began a long relationship with the Old Town label, scoring RB hits with "I Worry 'Bout You" in 1958, Ray Noble's old ballad "The Very Thought of You" in 1960, and "It's Too Late Baby, It's Too Late" in 1965. That year, he fulfilled a dream by recording an album with Count Basie on Verve, the label he remained with for most of the '60s. Prysock performed at ~Carnegie Hall in 1966, and hosted his own TV show for a short time. By the end of the '60s, Prysock had returned to Old Town, where he recorded several albums while touring the club circuit. He had an unexpected disco hit in 1976 with "When Love Is New," but otherwise remained largely out of sight.

Prysock returned to active recording in 1985 with the well-received A Rockin' Good Way album on Milestone, and also sang a well-known jingle for Lowenbrau beer. Two more albums for Milestone followed, 1986's This Guy's in Love With You and 1987's Today's Love Songs, Tomorrow's Blues, before Prysock receded from the limelight again. He died on June 21, 1997.

November 11, 2007

This Is My Beloved

This Is My Beloved is not so much a record to be listened to as an experience to be shared; the listener feels as if he were eavesdropping on an intensely private monologue in which a man is reliving a crucial love affair.

The album, a reading of a long narrative poem, is a radical departure for Arthur Prysock. Though he has made two narrative short discs (Maman and the intensely popular, A Working Man’s Prayer). Prysock is chiefly known to his army of fans as the most masculine of pop baritone singers, with hit records spanning two decades. The fans will be startled by this one! Even those who have seen him on the Johnny Carson show and noted his easy stage presence and the depth and richness of his speaking voice, are going to discover with a shock that Arthur is a natural actor. In his portrayal of a desperate man who loves, “not wisely but too well,” Prysock speaks with the same direct simplicity, the same lack of pretense which marks his singing style. The result is a very moving characterization.

The poem divides naturally into two sections. Side One is love shared, Side Two is love lost, love remembered. The first two haunting bars of music introduce Prysock’s quiet portrayal as he tells his girl how much he needs her love in a time hate, and from that moment we are caught up in the personal story of a man who shares with us his most intimate thoughts as he memorizes every detail of the woman he loves. We share the recurring premonition that it cannot last. And as the first side ends, it is already later than the lovers think.

“I waited years today. One year for every hour.”

He had bought her favorite food and wine for their private supper, he had bought the purple asters she loved, to set between them on a candle-lit table.

“But you did not come.”

As suddenly as that, the affair is over. There is only the bitter aftermath to come-and we live through that, too, in Prysock’s quiet characterization, movingly underplayed and completely real from beginning to end.

Prysock’s reading gets a fine assist from the sensitive musical score by Mort Garson, whose arrangements have enhanced previous Prysock Albums. To underline the loneliness of the lover, Garson has chosen a transparent approach in which every instrument and group-solo flute, string quartet, rhythm section-comes through cleanly and separately, each a solitary voice. Living and working in Hollywood, Garson has composed an accompaniment in the best tradition of film scoring. The original music provides a moody backdrop for the story, never intruding on it except by design, when the intrusion is that of the outside world intruding upon the lovers with the clatter of a subway train or the ticking of a clock.

The free-verse poem which provides the text was written by Walter Benton during World War II, but like all good love poems it is impervious to time. In Prysock’s interpretation, it takes on new meaning; the “time of hate” in which Prysock lives is different from that of which Benton wrote. But love does not change, and because it doesn’t the poem’s appeal is universal.

This Is My Beloved is not an album for Prysock fans alone-or for poetry lovers alone. It is an album for any man or woman who has ever “loved and lost,” the story of a love affair with Prysock telling it like it is-and was and will be.

November 10, 2007


Shirley Scott was born on March 14, 1934 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An admirer of the seminal Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott has been one of the organ's most appealing representatives since the late '50s. Scott, a very melodic and accessible player, started out on piano and played trumpet in high school before taking up the Hammond B-3 and enjoying national recognition in the late '50s with her superb Prestige dates with tenor sax great Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. Especially popular was their 1958 hit "In the Kitchen." Her reputation was cemented during the '60s on several superb, soulful organ/soul-jazz dates where she demonstrated an aggressive, highly rhythmic attack blending intricate bebop harmonies with bluesy melodies and a gospel influence, punctuating everything with great use of the bass pedals. Scott married soul-jazz tenor man Stanley Turrentine, with whom she often recorded in the '60s. The Scott/Turrentine union lasted until the early '70s, and their musical collaborations in the '60s were among the finest in the field.

Scott wasn't as visible the following decade, when the popularity of organ combos decreased and labels were more interested in fusion and pop-jazz (though she did record some albums for Chess/Cadet and Strata East). But organists regained their popularity in the late '80s, which found her recording for Muse. Though known primarily for her organ playing, Scott is also a superb pianist -- in the 1990s, she played piano exclusively on some trio recordings for Candid, and embraced the instrument consistently in Philly jazz venues in the early part of the decade. At the end of the '90s, Scott's heart was damaged by the diet drug combination, fen-phen, leading to her declining health. In 2000 she was awarded $8 million in a lawsuit against the manufacturers of the drug. On March 10, 2002 she died of heart failure at Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia.

November 09, 2007


Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas on June 7, 1917, the granddaughter of a runaway slave, and grew up in the slums of Chicago. Her parents were David Anderson Brooks, a janitor, and Keziah Corinne (Wims) Brooks, formerly an elementary schoolteacher. From the time she was one month old, Ms. Brooks lived with her family, which later came to include a brother, Raymond, in the sprawling black ghetto on the South Side of Chicago.

Her economically deprived but respectable upbringing was enriched by her parents’ love of education and culture. Keziah brooks composed songs and “storyettes” to amuse her children; David Brooks read them daily selections from his prized set of Harvard Classics. Encouraged by her parents, Ms. Brooks read widely and was especially fond of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the Canadian novelist who wrote Anne of Green Gables, and Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the black poet.

When she was thirteen, one of her poems “Eventide,” was published in American Childhood, a popular children’s magazine of the period. Urged by her mother, she sent samples of her work to James Weldon Johnson and Langston Hughes and received encouraging comments from both men. After graduating from Englewood High school in 1934, she completed her formal education at Wilson Junior College, now known as Kennedy-King College, in 1936, majoring in English literature. Gwendolyn Brooks had been a regular contributor to “Lights and Shadows,” a column of miscellany in the Chicago Defender, the city’s black daily newspaper. When she obtained her college degree, she hoped for work as a Defender reporter.

In the mid-1940s such established literary magazines as Harper’s, the Saturday Review of Literature, the Yale Review, and Poetry, began to publish Ms. Brooks’ poems. Encouraged, she submitted nineteen poems to Harper & Brothers, which agreed to publish them on the recommendation of Richard Wright, the black novelist. In his appraisal Wright said: “[Ms. Brooks] easily catches the pathos of petty destinies, the whimper of the wounded, the tiny incidents that plague the lives of the desperately poor, and the problem of common prejudice. . . . There is not so much an exhibiting of Negro life to whites in these poems as there is an honest human reaction to the pain that lurks so carefully in the Black Belt.”

Gwendolyn Brooks was an "objective" poet, one who has discovered the neglected miracles of everyday life. A lifelong resident of Chicago Brooks wrote unflinchingly about the lives of its impoverished blacks, particularly its women, in wrenching portraits that are social documents as well as works of art. Despite the narrow focus of her work, her poems have a universal appeal.

In 1946 and 1947 Brooks received a Guggenheim Fellowship for creative writing and in 1946 a $1,000 grant in literature from the National Institute of Arts and letters. Mademoiselle magazine named her one of its Ten Women of 1945.

To Blyden Jackson, who analyzed her work years later in Black Poetry in America: Two Essays in Historical Interpretation (1974), Annie Allen was representative of Ms. Brooks’ method: the study “of the flower in the crannied wall.” “Her genius operates within its area of greatest strength,” he wrote, “the close inspection of a limited domain, to reap from that inspection . . . a view of life in which one may see a microscopic portion of the universe intensely and yet, through that microscopic portion, see all truth for the human condition wherever it exists.” Annie Allen won for Brooks the Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize from Poetry magazine in 1949 and the Pulitzer for poetry in 1950. It was the first time the award was conferred on a black woman.

On Sunday, December 3, 2000, world-renowned writer, and humanitarian Gwendolyn Brooks passed away at her Chicago, Illinois residence; she was 83. Brooks is survived by her son, Henry Blakely III, her daughter, Nora Brooks Blakely, and countless family members, friends, and fellow poets. Her husband, Henry Blakely, II, preceded her in death.

The legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks consists of her immeasurable contribution to literature as well as the cultural and social contributions made by those she influenced in myriad ways.

November 08, 2007


Janine Nash…aka…Lady J, was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. Lady J is a lyricist, poet and singer with over 10 years of performance and studio experience. She has been a background vocalist for Barrington Henderson (lead singer for the Temptations); and The Rose Brothers. She has performed as an opening act for Kirk Whalum; Howard Hewitt; Bloodstone and Slave. As a writer she has penned songs with former Earth, Wind and Fire guitarist, Sheldon Reynolds and member Ralph Johnson. One of her written pieces appears on the recently released “Devoted Spirits CD, “The Answer”.

Born October 11th, Lady J is true to her birth sign…Libra. Balance and Harmony are very important and is reflective in her lyrics.

Lady J’s live performances blend soulful R&B with thought-provoking spoken word/poetry…delivering significant messages with a seductive vibe.
Her sets have been described from “Unique & Soul Stirring” to a “Quiet Revolution”. “She makes a sincere and intimate connection with her audience as though they were sitting in her living room”.

"Shades of J", the title of her debut CD, is also the name of her performance band which consists of Co-writers and & Producers Don Manor (Guitar/Keyboards) and Eric Bolden (Drummer). - Nominated for local Cincinnati Music Award - CD Sales - MySpace

November 06, 2007


Brian O'Neal was born in Detroit, Michigan. At the age of six, Bean's musical interest awakened when he began taking drum lessons. Before long Bean immersed himself in music, mastering the Sax, bass and trombone. He aspired to become a professional drummer until his grandmother, "Daisy" purchased a piano for him when he was sixteen. This was a pivotal moment in his development and marked the exploratory phase of his experimentation with melodies and chords. His diligence and expertise earned him a full piano/music scholarship at Alcorn University in 1984.

November 05, 2007


If you have never heard of Eddie Oliver, then you will hear of Eddie Oliver real soon. And if you have not witnessed this artist in action, then you should make it a point to do so real, real soon. It would be a treat indeed to catch Eddie Oliver spitting tales about urban life, love, and spirituality. His listeners love his smooth delivery and vocal expression, in addition to having a great respect for the topics and subject matters that he so eloquently chooses to tackle. Eddie is known for his range and may speak about anything from love, politics, racism, or religion as evident by his spoken word cd entitled POETIC SOUL : MIRROR IMAGES OF EDDIE OLIVER. The CD, POETIC SOUL, is laced with Hip-Hop, Jazz, and soulful rhythms and is exalted by many as a soulful masterpiece. His follow up cd entitled RAMBLIN : STREET CORNER SOUL is just as masterful. He is without question, one of the most influential, and up and coming spoken word artists of our time.

A native of Orlando, Florida, Eddie left home in 1999 to pursue his dreams of writing. While searching for more national exposure for his art form, he stumbled across the Atlanta poetry scene where he has strived and succeeded in earning the respect of being called one of the top spoken word artists in the country. He has captivated fans from all walks of life while performing at grand events throughout the country. Eddie has graced many, many stages with his smooth yet melodic, urban poetry. He has blessed audiences from The National Black Arts Festival, to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and everything in between. He has been featured on the television special POESY, and The Soul Lounge Groovenation Tour. Eddie has shared countless stages with a variety of soulful stars including Malcolm Jamal Warner, India.Arie, and Musiq Soulchild just to name a few. His song I Just Want to Live was featured on the cd compilation FUSION : A BLEND of POETRY and MUSIC distributed by Malaco through Genesis Poets Music Inc.

Eddie is also a rising star on the theatrical scene. He has played the lead role in the hit Gospel stage play Daddy If You Only Knew, A Dance of Fatherhood, and Diante’s Hell where his melodic urban poetry was featured. His poetry has also been on display in Rolling Out Magazine, The Creative Loafing, and The Orlando Times. Feature articles have been written about this new age, renaissance artist in Profound Word Magazine, The Poetry Papers, and Music 2 Showcase Magazine. And this is only the beginning. Now that his first poetry book entitled REFLECTIONS; has been released Eddie aspires to someday be catapulted amongst the poetry elite along side his idol, the great Mr. Langston Hughes.

October 29, 2007


Rod Tate was born in San Francisco California, Oct. 6. He credits as his musical influences Cannonball Adderly, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins. Joe Henderson, Lee Morgan, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Toots Thielsmanns, John Klemmer, Grover Washington Jr., Steve Grossman, Gerald Albright, David Sanborn. When he's not performing he devotes his time to his Church where he is the music director and plays keyboards.
He's inspired by the goal of touching peoples lives. Getting his voice out to the world at large is paramount. Rod graduated from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
Rod's goals are to continue to learn, grow, and to touch lives positively through his musical expression. As a songwriter, Rod's goals are to soothe the listeners soul and to speak love to their spirits. He also aspires to have his music featured in movies, commercials, and television programming.

October 28, 2007


Born on September 11th, his given name is Christopher L. Fields. Tapping into the ambient energy of verbal expression; he assumed his true identity of
The Poetry Man.
His style is a hybrid of the Church, the Classroom, and the Corner. Equally comfortable in the basement or the penthouse, he bends words to penetrate and overcome all barriers to effective communication.
A native of Ohio, he now resides in the DC Metropolitan Area; where he addresses contemporary issues with an old soul, and a profound understanding of self that engages the listener to the point of being entranced. In terms of subject matter, he can go from one end of the spectrum to other in the blink of an eye. The Poetry Man does not recite his work; he lives, breathes, and bleeds Poetry. His very soul is manifest each time he delivers the word.

October 19, 2007


Dorothy Jeanne Thompson, grew up around music in Detroit where her father, guitarist Wiley Thompson, often brought home fellow jazz musicians. Even as a young girl, Dorothy would provide support and background to their music by playing the piano. She attended Cass Technical High School where fellow students included such future musical talents and jazz greats as Donald Byrd, Gerald Wilson, and Kenny Burrell. While in high school she played a number of instruments (including the saxophone and string bass) before coming upon the harp.

She attended Wayne State University in Detroit where she studied piano and music education. After she graduated, she began playing the piano in the jazz scene in Detroit, though by 1952 she had made the harp her main instrument. At first her fellow jazz musicians were resistant to the idea of adding the harp, which they perceived as an instrument of classical music and also somewhat ethereal in sound, into jazz performances. So Ashby overcame their initial resistance and built up support for the harp as a jazz instrument by organizing free shows and playing at dances and weddings with her trio. She recorded with Richard Davis, Jimmy Cobb, Frank Wess and others in the late 1950s and early 1960s. During the 1960s, she also had her own radio show in Detroit.

Ashby's trio, including her husband John Ashby on drums, regularly toured the country, recording albums for several different record labels. She played with Louis Armstrong and Woody Herman, among others. In 1962 Downbeat magazine's annual poll of best jazz performers included Ashby. Extending her range of interests and talents, she also worked with her husband on a theater company, the Ashby Players, which her husband founded in Detroit, and for which Dorothy often wrote the scores.
In the late 1960s, the Ashbys gave up touring and settled in California where Dorothy broke into the studio recording system as a harpist through the help of the soul singer Bill Withers, who recommended her to Stevie Wonder. As a result, Dorothy was called upon for a number of studio sessions playing for such popular recording artists as Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Barry Manilow. Her harp playing is featured in the song "Come Live With Me' which is on the soundtrack for the 1967 movie, Valley of the Dolls. One of her more noteworthy performances in contemporary popular music was playing the harp on the song "If It's Magic" on Stevie Wonder's 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life. She is also featured on Bill Withers' 1974 album, +'Justments.

Her albums include The Jazz Harpist, In a Minor Groove, Hip Harp, Fantastic Jazz Harp of Dorothy Ashby with (Junior Mance), Django/Misty, Concerto De Aranjuez, Afro Harping, Dorothy's Harp, The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby, and Music for Beautiful People. Between 1956-1970, she recorded 10 albums for such labels as Savoy, Cadet, Prestige, New Jazz, Argo, Jazzland and Atlantic. On her "Rubaiyat" album, Ashby played the Japanese musical instrument, the koto, demonstrating her talents on another instrument, and successfully integrating it into jazz.

October 18, 2007


Ruth L. Henderson-Lowe was born in New York City but grew up in Jamaica, Long Island. She graduated from the City College of New York receiving a BA and a MA in World History as a major and Spanish as a minor. She now resides in Bergenfield, New Jersey.

Ruth is a retired New York City School District Supervisor, a widow, mother, and grandmother. Both of her children are talented musicians. Her daughter Ayana, is a jazz vocalist primarily singing at jazz clubs in the New York City area and her son David is an accomplished pianist/organist and composer. So you see, the arts run deeply in her family. Ruth has traveled world wide and speaks Spanish fluently.

Ruth's hobbies are reading, travel, playing tournament bridge, and writing poetry. She is also very active in Saint Mark's church. Ruth's favorite jazz artists are Billie Holliday, Charlie Parker, and Peggy Lee.

Ruth L. Henderson-Lowe's poetry is very moving and is deeply rooted in the family. Spotlight On Jazz and Poetry is truly blessed to have her as a featured poet!

October 17, 2007


Stan Getz, born to Ukrainian-Jewish parents and raised in New York City, played a number of instruments before his father bought him his first saxophone at the age of 13. In 1943, he was accepted into Jack Teagarden's band. After playing for Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman, Getz was a soloist with Woody Herman from 1947–49. He scored a hit with Early Autumn. With few exceptions, Getz would be a leader on all of his recording sessions after 1950.

Getz married Beverly Byrne, a vocalist with the Gene Krupa band, on November 7, 1946; they had three children. He married Swedish aristocrat Monica Silfverskiold on November 3, 1956, and had two children. In 1957, Swedish girlfriend Inga Torgner gave birth to his son, Peter.

In the 1950s, Getz become popular playing cool jazz with Horace Silver, Johnny Smith, Oscar Peterson, and many others. His first two quintets were notable for their personnel, including Charlie Parker's rhythm section of drummer Roy Haynes, pianist Al Haig and bassist Tommy Potter. In 1958, Getz tried to escape his narcotics addiction by moving to Copenhagen, Denmark.

Returning to America in 1961, Getz became a central figure in the Bossa nova. Along with Charlie Byrd, who had just returned from a U.S. State Department tour of Brazil, Getz recorded Jazz Samba in 1962 and it became a hit. The title track was an adaptation of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Samba De Uma Nota Só" (One Note Samba). Getz won the Grammy for Best Jazz Performance of 1963 for "Desafinado".

He then recorded with Jobim, João Gilberto and his wife, Astrud Gilberto. Their "The Girl from Ipanema" won a Grammy Award. The title piece became one of the most well-known latin jazz pieces of all time. Getz/Gilberto won two Grammys (Best Album and Best Single), besting The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night, a victory for Bossa Nova and Brazilian jazz. Wes Montgomery and Joe Henderson incorporated Brazilian jazz in their work. In 1967, Getz recorded albums with Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke.

Getz resurfaced in the 1980's, experimenting with an Echoplex on his saxophone, for which critics vilified him. He eventually discarded fusion and "electric jazz", returning to acoustic jazz. Getz gradually de-emphasized the Bossa Nova, opting for more esoteric and less-mainstream jazz. He had a cameo in the movie The Exterminator.

He had become involved with drugs and alcohol while a teenager, and would physically abuse his wives while under the influence. In 1954, he was arrested for attempting to rob a pharmacy to get a morphine fix. As he was being processed in the prison ward of Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, Beverly, whom Stan had gotten addicted to heroin, gave birth to their third child one floor below. After years of trying to get him clean, Monica, who had gained custody of Stan and Beverly's children, left him; he divorced her in 1987.

Getz died of liver cancer. In 1998, The "Stan Getz Media Center and Library" at the Berklee College of Music was dedicated to him through a donation from the Herb Alpert Foundation.

October 16, 2007


Barbara Nicholas, aka LadyBarbara, was born in Alton, Illinois, residing in St. Louis, MO for the past five (5) years.

Barbara is a middle-aged female who loves a wide variety of music; writing poetry and short stories and also producing audio poetry; interior decorating, singing, arts & crafts, sewing, cooking, playing board games, crossword puzzles, reading and shopping, etc.

She loves to laugh, make others laugh and enjoy life, because life is too short to do otherwise. She believes that laughter is good for the heart, mind, spirit and body. MHer favorite motto is, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

Barbara lives life moderately, nothing to the excess. She tries to take most things lightly, trying not to let anything or anyone dominate her completely. She gives all of her cares and woes to God, Our Heavenly Creator. I find that life is better for me with that frame of mind.

LadyBarbara has four children, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild whom she is very proud of. Being a single grandparent, I love my individuality and am enjoying life to the best of my ability.

October 11, 2007


Mala Waldron,vocalist, pianist and songwriter has been performing professionally since she was 15 yrs. old, when she joined a local R&B band. Within a year, the band was signed to RCA records with the release of a single "Take Little Love." After high school, she went on to expand her knowledge of music studying jazz piano, voice and composition at SUNY College of Old Westbury with Makanda Ken McIntyre. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Mala's recordings as a featured artist are "He's My Father," a duo with her father, jazz pianist and composer, Mal Waldron, and "Lullabye," her solo debut (both on Tokuma Communications/Japan; re-issues on 3361Black). She has had the pleasure of working with many notable artists including Andy Bey, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Don Braden, Jeanne Lee, Cecil McBee, George Cables, James Williams, Billy Drummand, Victor Lewis, John Betsch, James "Jabbo" Ware ME WE & THEM Orchestra, Hilton Ruiz, Andrei Strobert and Warren Smith.

Mala has toured in Japan, France and Belgium as well as in the U.S., performing most recently at the Medgar Evers Jazz Festival and the Port Jefferson Jazz Festival where she shared the stage with Kenny Rankin. She has been featured in Swing Journal, Jazz Life and GQ (Japan). Oceanlight/Synergy Records released a multi-artist CD "Smooth Jazz and R&B Scenes", which contains a track written and recorded by Mala entitled "Please Say You Do," as well as tracks by Jon Lucien, Bernadette Brown, Chuck Loeb and Bob Baldwin and many others.

When asked about her father (most known for his composition "Soul Eyes" recorded with John Coltrane), Mala smiles, saying how proud she feels to be carrying on her father's legacy. "I feel honored when people recognize me as the daughter of someone who has made such an important contribution to jazz." She admits that she gets the most personal gratification when she is recognized for her own unique and distinctive talents. Indeed, Mala has developed a style of her own that is most evident in her original music. One can hear her unmistakable jazz roots, and just as clearly you can hear tinges of the various other musical influences from her childhood -- the R&B, the calypso, the classical, the funk, the gospel -- it's all in there, and more.

October 10, 2007


Malcolm Earl Waldron was born in New York City on Aug. 16, 1926, Waldron received a Bachelor's degree in music and composition for ballet en route to a series of sideman gigs. Early work opportunities included time with Ike Quebec, Della Reese, Big Nick Nicholas and a number of r&b bands. Two of Waldron's best early high-profile gigs in jazz came working for Charles Mingus from 1954-'56 (he would work with the bassist again), and later with Billie Holiday from 1957-'59. In addition, Waldron was known for recording dates where he supplied all the written material to be recorded. Starting in 1960, he became a leader of his own bands, and was John Coltrane's pianist briefly after the saxophonist departed Miles Davis' band. Waldron's writing credits also include work for film scores and stage background music. Some of his work took him to Europe, where in 1965 he did some writing for film and decided to move there. He has continued to record and tour internationally.

Mal was a prolific composer in several genres as well as a pianist. His most celebrated jazz tune is the strong but wistful Soul Eyes, written in 1957. It became established in the jazz repertoire as a modern "standard", but he also composed scores for ballet and a number of films, beginning with The Cool World in 1965.

He began to learn piano at the age of eight, and his initial musical training came as a classical pianist. He played alto saxophone in the school band as well, but was intimidated by the example of Charlie Parker, and eventually set aside the alto and turned to piano in a jazz context as well.

He was called up by the US Army in 1943, and served in New York, where he trained cavalry horses and soaked up the city’s jazz scene. He was demobilised with the end of the war in 1946, and studied piano and composition at Queens College in New York, graduating with a BA in Composition.

He made his professional debut as a jazz pianist with saxophonist Ike Quebec in 1950. He linked up with Charles Mingus’s progressive Jazz Workshop in 1954, and remained with the bassist for two years, appearing on the classic Pithecanthropus Erectus album in 1956. He formed his own band later that year, and recorded copiously for Bob Weinstock’s Prestige label, both as a leader and as the effective "house" pianist on many of the label’s sessions.

The musicians he worked with in this period included Jackie MacLean, John Coltrane, Gene Ammons, Herbie Mann and Steve Lacy (the latter association would be taken up again when both became expatriates). His elegant and thoroughly attuned accompaniments for Billie Holiday in her last years led to further work with singer Abbey Lincoln and her then husband, drummer and bandleader Max Roach, who used Waldron in his own group for a time.

He formed a band with trumpeter Booker Little and saxophonist Eric Dolphy, and made important recordings with both musicians before their tragically early deaths in 1961 and 1964 respectively.

His refined technique and creative musical imagination kept him in constant demand as a session musician in addition to his work as a leader. The combination of drug problems and overwork eventually led to a nervous breakdown in 1963 (he claimed later that he had had to relearn his style from his old records). The pressures precipitated his move from the hot house of New York’s jazz scene to Paris in 1965, the first of his European homes.

He scored his first film, The Cool World, that year, and went on to compose music for several more films, including Marcel Carné's Trois Chambres à Manhattan (Three Rooms in Manhattan, 1965), Herbert Danska's Sweet Love, Bitter (1967) and Haruki Kadokawa's Tokyo Blues (1986). He appeared in Mal Waldron and Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard (1986) and Tom Overberghe’s documentary Mal (1997).

His recordings include Moods (includes longtime collaborator Steve Lacy, enja, 1978); The Quest (OJC, 1961). As a sideman: At The Five Spot Vol. 1 (with Eric Dolphy, Booker Little, OJC, 1961).

He adapted readily to life in Europe, and often linked up with various other members of the American jazz community in exile, including Ben Webster, Steve Lacy, Kenny Clarke and Archie Shepp. He worked with many European musicians, including a fruitful musical relationship with the English baritone saxophonist George Haslam, who both performed with the pianist and recorded his work for his own Slam label.

He was a frequent return visitor to the USA from the mid-Seventies, both to perform at club and concert dates and to record. He resisted any temptation to return to his homeland on a permanent basis, however, and settled in Brussels in the early Nineties.

He was popular in Japan, and was commissioned to compose and perform a piece commemorating the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima in 1995, in a concert which also celebrated his 70th birthday.

After some years of indifferent health, though continuing to perform, Waldron crossed over on December 2, 2002 in Brussels, Belgium.

October 09, 2007


Cassandra Cleghorn is a Senior Lecturer at Williams College where she has taught English and American Studies since 1990. She received her BA in Greek from University of California, Santa Cruz and her PhD in American Studies from Yale University. Her poems have appeared in journals including The Paris Review, Yale Review, Prairie Schooner and Southwest Review.

The Merge project has brought together the two most important parts of Cassandra's artistic life: poetry and music. Cassandra has been writing poetry since she was six, 40 years ago. Her musical experiences predate that--doubtless back to her time in the womb--since she was born into a family of passionate musicians, both professional and amateur. Mom, a pianist; dad, a violist in the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; step-father, a conductor and violist; step-mother, a violinist; and siblings who were also musicians of one sort or another.
Although her family members were classical musicians, all kinds of music shaped her--from opera to folk music and jazz. Her fondest memories include being woken up in the morning by her Dad playing Mahler records at top volume and, at the end of the night, sitting with him after his symphony gig to listen to the latest Roberta Flack or Papa John Creach album. Flack's 1969 debut First Take (which includes Eugene McDaniels' "Compared to What") is one of her desert island albums.

Cassandra began playing the violin at age seven, and played seriously until she got to college. She travelled to Europe with the American Youth Symphony Orchestra when she was 16. When she got to college and discovered Greek literature and immersed herself in poetry, her love of reading and writing edged out her time on the violin and she put her instrument aside. . . for 20 years! Fast forward: marriage, grad school, four kids, full-time college teaching job, etc. When she finally picked up the violin again six years ago, she wanted to use a new approach, learning primarily by ear, and focusing on jazz improvisation and Irish-influenced fiddle music. She has embraced the role of student again, being lucky enough to study improvisation with cellist Eugene Friesen, and violinists Todd Reynolds and Charlie Burnham. One of the high points of her week is a jam session of New England/French Canadian/Irish music every Saturday morning in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Music is also present in Cassandra's poems in a deeper sense. The musical ideas expressed by her fellow ensemble members, Erik, Rene and Allison inspire images, language and forms of her poetry. Sometimes she will take a melody presented by one of them and use the rhythms and phrasing of that tune to shape the poems: as a lyricist might, but using spoken word to deliver them, rather than song. Sometimes Erik will take a poem of Cassandra's and follow the intonation and pacing of her delivery to discover its inherent melody and translate that to the flute or saxophone.

However the ensemble proceeds--from page to stage, from spoken voice to instrument, or vice versa--the key element for all four of them is LISTENING. This is the thing that Cassandra values above all learning from her parents and teachers--and what she in turn is handing down to her four musical children--Oliver (age 14 singer), Ripley (age 12, pianist/flutist/composer), Eve (age 12, trombonist/violinist/composer) and Jasper (age 8, pianist/drummer).

The happiest moments in her house are when several people are making music simultaneously, sometimes even on purpose and in harmony. She likes her teacher's motto, "Play loud and play often." Something similar can be said of poetry, "Write with passion and never stop (except to revise)." Put these together and who knows what will happen?

October 03, 2007


One of the Blue Note label's definitive hard bop artists, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley remains somewhat underappreciated for his straightforward, swinging style. Any characterization of Mobley invariably begins with critic Leonard Feather's assertion that he was the "middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone," meaning that his tone wasn't as aggressive and thick as John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins, but neither was it as soft and cool as Stan Getz or Lester Young. Instead, Mobley's in-between, "round" (as he described it) sound was controlled and even, given over to subtlety rather than intense displays of emotion. Even if he lacked the galvanizing, mercurial qualities of the era's great tenor innovators, Mobley remained consistently solid throughout most of his recording career. His solo lines were full of intricate rhythmic patterns that were delivered with spot-on precision, and he was no slouch harmonically either. As a charter member of Horace Silver's Jazz Messengers, Mobley helped inaugurate the hard bop movement: jazz that balanced sophistication and soulfulness, complexity and earthy swing, and whose loose structure allowed for extended improvisations. As a solo artist, he began recording for Blue Note in the latter half of the '50s, and hit his peak in the first half of the '60s with hard bop cornerstones like Soul Station, No Room for Squares, and A Caddy for Daddy.

Henry "Hank" Mobley was born on July 7, 1930, in Eastman, GA, and grew up mostly in Elizabeth, NJ.while spending a lot of his adult years in Philadelphia. Several family members played piano and/or church organ, and Mobley himself learned piano as a child. He switched to the saxophone at age 16, initially modeling his style on players like Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Don Byas, and Sonny Stitt. He soon started playing professionally in the area, and built enough of a reputation that trumpeter Clifford Brown recommended him for a job without having heard him play. That job was with Paul Gayten's Newark-based R&B band, which he joined in 1949, doubling as a composer. He departed in 1951 and joined the house band at a Newark nightclub, where he played with pianist Walter Davis, Jr. and backed some of the era's top jazz stars. That led to a job with Max Roach, who hired both Mobley and Davis after performing with them; they all recorded together in early 1953, at one of the earliest sessions to feature Roach as a leader. Meanwhile, Mobley continued to gig around his home area, playing with the likes of Milt Jackson, Tadd Dameron, and J.J. Johnson, among others; he also served two weeks in Duke Ellington's orchestra in 1953.

Mobley spent much of 1954 performing and recording with Dizzy Gillespie. He left in September to join pianist Horace Silver's group, which evolved into a quintet co-led by Art Blakey and dubbed the Jazz Messengers. Their groundbreaking first album for Blue Note, 1955's Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers, was a landmark in the genesis of hard bop, with its sophisticated solos and bright, almost funky rhythms. Mobley led his first session for Blue Note, The Hank Mobley Quartet, in 1955, and recorded for Savoy and Prestige during 1956. In the middle of that year, the original lineup of the Jazz Messengers split, with Blakey keeping the name and Silver forming a new group. Mobley stayed with Silver until 1957, by which time he had begun to record prolifically as a leader for Blue Note, completing eight albums' worth of material over the next 16 months. Some of his best work, such as Hank Mobley and His All Stars and The Hank Mobley Quintet, was cut with a selection of old Messengers mates. Not all of his sessions were released at the time, but some began to appear as import reissues in the '80s. Often composing his own material, Mobley was beginning to truly hit his stride with 1958's Peckin' Time, when a worsening drug problem resulted in an arrest that took him off the scene for a year.

Upon returning to music in 1959, Mobley oriented himself by rejoining Art Blakey in the Jazz Messengers for a short period. His comeback session as a leader was 1960's classic Soul Station, near-universally acknowledged as his greatest recorded moment. Mobley cut two more high-quality hard bop albums, Roll Call and Workout, over 1960-1961, as well as some other sessions that went unreleased at the time. In 1961, Mobley caught what looked to be a major break when he was hired to replace John Coltrane in Miles Davis' quintet. Unfortunately, the association was a stormy one; Mobley came under heavy criticism from the bandleader, and wound up leaving in 1962. He returned to solo recording with 1963's No Room for Squares, often tabbed as one of his best efforts, before drug and legal problems again put him out of commission during 1964. Energized and focused upon his return, Mobley recorded extensively during 1965, showcasing a slightly harder-edged tone and an acumen for tricky, modal-flavored originals that challenged his sidemen. At the same time, Dippin' found a funkier soul-jazz sound starting to creep into his work, an approach that reached its apex on the infectious A Caddy for Daddy later that year.

Mobley recorded steadily for Blue Note through the '60s, offering slight variations on his approach, and continued to appear as a sideman on a generous number of the label's other releases (especially frequent collaborator Lee Morgan). 1966's A Slice of the Top found Mobley fronting a slightly larger band arranged by Duke Pearson, though it went unissued until 1979. After cutting the straightforward Third Season in 1967, Mobley embarked on a brief tour of Europe, where he performed with Slide Hampton. He returned to the U.S. to record the straight-ahead Far Away Lands and Hi Voltage that year, and tried his hand at commercially oriented jazz-funk on 1968's Reach Out. Afterward, he took Hampton's advice and returned to Europe, where he would remain for the next two years. 1969's The Flip was recorded in Paris, and Mobley returned to the States to lead his final session for Blue Note, Thinking of Home, in 1970 (it wasn't released until ten years later). He subsequently co-led a group with pianist Cedar Walton, which recorded the excellent Breakthrough in 1972.

Sadly, that would prove to be Mobley's last major effort. Health problems forced him to retire in 1975, when he settled in Philadelphia. He was barely able to even play his horn for fear of rupturing a lung; by the dawn of the '80s, he was essentially an invalid. In 1986, he mustered up the energy to work on a limited basis with Duke Jordan; however, he died of pneumonia not long after, on May 30, 1986. During Mobley's heyday, most critics tended to compare him unfavorably to Sonny Rollins, or dismiss him for not being the innovator that Coltrane was. However, in the years that followed Mobley's death, Blue Note hard bop enjoyed a positive reappraisal; with it came a new appreciation for Mobley's highly developed talents as a composer and soloist, instead of a focus on his shortcomings.