Keely Smith, who died Sunday at 89, lived long enough to see a new generation embrace the music that made her famous in the 50's. Her work with husband Louis Prima (1910-1978), a New Orleans-born swing trumpeter and singer, made her famous in the 50's when they became the hottest act in Las Vegas. But Smith was more than an onstage sidekick. She had a vocal gift own she exercised without Prima on a series of outstanding albums notable for their range and unrelenting sense of swing.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973) had a pioneering nature that cut several ways. A charismatic, energetic gospel singer-guitarist known for her onstage physical exuberance, she eschewed the mannered restraint of other sacred vocalists, Her acoustic and electric guitar work were years ahead of their time. She was among the few guitar-playing women (blues singer Memphis Minnie being another) who picked their own leads. Her use of primitive electronic distortion inspired to generations of blues players and rockers. Before gospel singers openly sought appeal beyond their core audience, she became a featured attraction in nightclubs in the late 30's and early 40's.
A 1964 UK Moody Blues 4-song EP (Extended Play) 45.
2017 Rock Hall of Famers the Moody Blues, contrary to some opinion, did not begin with "Nights In White Satin." In the beginning they were one of the British "beat" groups who swept England and made inroads into the American market. Their first significant hit in the UK and US was "You Better Go Now," a 1964 cover of an American R&B single by Bessie Banks that reached the US Top Ten early in 1965. One of the original MB's was guitarist Denny Laine, later known for his work with Paul McCartney in Wings. There's no point in including the obvious material, available in so many places.
On February 2, 1956, Verve Records recorded two sets of master jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald and jer trio performing at Zardi's Jazzland, one of LA's top jazz clubs. The album has never been released until now, as part of her 100th Birthday Celebration.
Jazz guitar great James Mundell Lowe, best known as "Mundy," who died Saturday December 2nd in San Diego at 95, had the good fortune to be able to celebrate that birthday onstage, guitar in hand, performing as he had since his teens. Despite battling two forms of cancer, kidney disease and cardiac problems in the past ten years, Lowe persevered until suffering a fall several weeks ago.
Vocalist Ranny Sincair recorded for Columbia from 1964 to 1966. Her breathy vocals and eclectic repertoire set her apart from any other jazz or pop vocalist in the era. With Columbia's legendary jazz producer Teo Macero handling her music, she had everything going for her, even collaborations with jazz piano star Dave Brubeck. But Sinclair was a bit too far ahead of her time--especially in thd mid-60's. This recent album release compiles her Columbia recordings for the first time anywhere, complete with an album cover designed to look like a 60's-era Columbia LP.
West Aliquippa's Enrico Nicola Mancini (1924-1994), known to the world as Henry or Hank, became one of the great composers and orchestrators of the 20th Century, writing the melodies to a variety of film scores (The Pink Panther, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Days of Wine and Roses, Experiment in Terror). Two songs from those movies became immortal: "Moon River" (from Tiffany's) and "The Days of Wine and Roses," with lyrics by the incomparable Johnny Mercer. Mancini's theme for Experiment in Terror became the longtime theme song for Channel 11's Chiller Theater.
Jon Carl Hendricks, a son of Ohio, born in Newark, a Columbus suburb, first sang in his father's church at age seven. He became one of the world's most innovative, clever and passionate jazz singers, still going as recently as early this year. He was 96 when he died last Wednesday (November 22) at a Manhattan hospital. Hendricks, known for his high-velocity vocals and scat-singing, became the defining artist in the complex jazz vocal style known as Vocalese, a concept pioneered by Pittsburgh jazz vocalist Eddie Jefferson. Scatting, a concept created by Louis Armstrong, generally involves singing sounds or syllables, not actual lyrics. (Photo: Toledo Blade)
Long before Touched By An Angel and her acting career, the late Della Reese, who died Monday at 86, was an enormously popular and eclectic vocalist, who could shift effortlessly from R&B to pop, jazz and gospel. She had several successful singles in the late 1950's and this sampler offers a look at her remarkable range from a 1956 TV appearance to singing the blues at the White House in 1999.
Bobby Bare's 1963 single of Tillis and Danny Dill's "Detroit City"
The late Mel Tillis first made his name as a composer writing songs that became hits for others, a career path similar to that of Roger Miller and Willie Nelson, whe were first famous as songwriters before becoming star vocalists in their own right. Here's a sample of Tillis compositions that became hits for others, starting with the man who discovered him after a fashion: Webb Pierce and ending with Ricky Skaggs, who took a Tillis song to # 1 in 1984.