Monthly archives for July, 2013

Norman Granz (Sunday 7.28.13)

Jazz producer and music impresario Norman Granz was born to Jewish immigrants in Los Angeles and came of age in pre-WWII America. During a time of segregation, fear and war Granz wanted to unite, desegregate and entertain. He arranged desegregated jam sessions in LA that later turned into Jazz at The Philharmonic. He started various…

Tadd Dameron (Sunday 7.21.13)

Rabbi Neil Blumofe examines American jazz musician in this week’s Liner Notes short. The composer, arranger and pianist is most well known for his involvement in the bebop era, but also in the swing and hard bop genres. The Cleveland native collaborated with other Liner Notes artists such as Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny…

Sarah Vaughan (Sunday 7.14.13)

With her ability to banter with the audience and outspoken sense of humor Sarah Vaughn was best described as “sassy.” Her first big break came after she won an amateur night at the famous Apollo Theatre.  She would go on to work with such great jazz musicians as Louie Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Count Basie,…

Hank Mobley (Sunday 7.7.13)

Hank Mobley was a self-taught hard bop and soul jazz tenor saxophone player whose sound was situated between that of John Coltrane and Stan Getz. As a bandleader he worked to encourage musicians to develop their concepts and skills past what they may have thought possible, as he created a space for performers to work…

Lena Horne (Sunday 6.30.13)

Jazz singer, actress, dancer and activist Lena Horne began performing at the Cotton Club in her teens before moving to Hollywood where she work as an actress and also from which she was blacklisted during the Red Scare. Over her long career, that ran from the mid 1930s until 2000, she enchanted audience yet never…

Milt Hinton (Sunday 6.23.13)

Milt Hinton, known as “The Judge”, was the most recorded jazz musician in history. Over his extensive career he recorded on more than 1,100 sessions as a bass player. He was also a very accomplished photographer whose images captured intimate moments shared between some of the greatest jazz legends in history. In this short feature…

Horace Silver (Father’s Day, Sunday 6.16.13)

Horace Silver’s powerful and transcendent musical pieces pushed him beyond the label of jazz pianist. His specific composing and instrumentation of his quintet, created the unique sound that combined rhythm-and blues and gospel music with jazz known as “Hard Bop.”. He was known for his straight forward sound and his songs that drew their meaning…

Stan Getz (Sunday 5.26.13)

“My life is music, and in some vague, mysterious and subconscious way, I have always been driven by a taut inner spring which has propelled me to almost compulsively reach for perfection in music, often – in fact, mostly – at the expense of everything else in my life. – Stan Getz Stan Getz brought…

Cab Calloway (Sunday 5.12.13)

Singer, dancer, and bandleader, Cab Calloway is often referred to as the “hi- di -hi- di-ho” man. His nonsensical sounds and improvised melodies made him one of the fathers of “scat.” He was also a commercial success as a performer on stage and in film. In the 1979 movie “The Blues Brothers”, he adorned his…

Art Tatum (Sunday 5.5.13)

Self taught pianist, Art Tatum is acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. Known for his technical proficiency, speed, and unique improvisations, he set a new standard for jazz piano. His visual impairment allowed him an interesting relationship with the piano, taking his playing to indefinable levels and spreading his sound…

Ella Fitzgerald (Sunday 4.28.13)

Coming from a troubled childhood, Ella Fitzgerald found solace in music and song. Discovered at age 17, after singing in the style of the Boswell sisters in a talent competition, she would become the top female jazz singer for 50 years. Her distinctive vocals and her ability to personally hear and feel the emotion in…

Dizzy Gillespie (Sunday 4.21.13)

With his conception of harmonics and driving tempos, Dizzy Gillespie was an architect of the modern sound (bebop), daring others to reach for the stars, alongside him. His virtuosity and creativity helped to define a whole new approach to improvisation and self-expression, as his career spanned more than 50 years. An entertainer as well as…

Clifford Brown (Sunday 4.14.13)

Jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown is known for his precise and captivatingly smooth technique, and as a musician who died before his time in a tragic car crash at the age of 25. He recorded most notably with drummer Max Roach and saxophonist Sonny Rollins, and his compositions Joy Spring and Daahoudare jazz standards to this day. His lasting…

Billie Holiday (Sunday 4.7.13)

Billie Holiday once said, “No two people on earth are alike, and it’s got to be that way in music or it isn’t music.” As we look back on her life and legacy we gain a deep appreciation for her unique voice, and the authenticity and openness of her approach to music. Even as she struggled with…

Bud Powell (Sunday 3.31.13)

As we recognize Bud Powell as one of the most influential jazz pianists of the 20th century, we must also acknowledge how much of his greatness and potential was muted beneath the cruelty and inhumane treatment that marked so much of mid 20th century America. Yet, even through the pain he suffered, when he sat…

Benny Goodman (Sunday 3.24.13)

In the 1930’s, the clarinetist and bandleader, Benny Goodman, brought jazz stylings to mainstream America. With this short feature jazz historian and Rabbi Neil Blumofe muses on how Goodman offered a space for freedom and expression which combated early 20th century ideologies based on fear and tyranny. In an age of segregation, creeping fear, and…

Louis Armstrong (3.10.13)

Trumpeter Louis Armstrong is consider one of the most important musicians of the 20th century. With his innovations in ensemble playing and his distinctive personal voice, he helped to inspire generations of musicians.  In his long career, Armstrong modeled both accommodation and radicalism in confronting issues of segregation, poverty, violence, and the perils of commercialism….

Charles Mingus (Sunday 3.3.13)

The music that Mingus wrote was rooted in standard musical forms and grounded in the blues, yet he challenged these conventions with new perspectives and unorthodox juxtapositions, encouraging his bands to do the same. In this short feature Rabbi Neil Blumofe examines at how interpretation of these forms in performance might bring about the transformation of a musician, a listener, and potentially, the world.

Thelonious Monk (Sunday 2.24.13)

The presence and genius of Thelonious Monk can influence our perspective on how to develop and maintain creativity and authenticity amidst the unique challenges of our time, as described by Rabbi Neil Blumofe.

Miles Davis and Kind of Blue (Sunday 2.17.13)

Rabbi Neil Blumofe highlights the significance of Kind of Blue during at the time of its release in 1959, and offers a spiritual perspective on what it means to us even today.