John Fahey is one of the most unique guitarists ever. He was eccentric–I’ve heard a few stories over the years–and very influential.
Here are In Christ There is No East or West and Steamboat Gwine Round da Bend. The later is from the album Of Rivers and Religion, which is a masterpiece. I’m no expert, but it seems to me that he took music from the area around New Orleans, slowed it down and drew out its poignant nature. But please correct me if that’s off base.
I highly recommend this version of Phil Phillips’ Sea of Love because it’s great and shows just how different Fahey was.
Many good ideas on what to post come from the “this day in music”-type sites around the Web. I was visiting one earlier today and accidentally entered April 9 instead of August 9. The page that came up said that Paul Robeson was born on that day in 1898. Before I realized that I had the wrong day, I found the clip above. I should make mistakes like this more often.
Earl “Fatha” Hines (December 28, 1903 to April 22, 1983) is not as well remembered as Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington. But jazz critics put him on their level as a figure in jazz history. Last.fm said that he is known as “the first modern jazz pianist.” The site’s bio suggests an interesting history:
In 1928 (on his 25th birthday) Hines began leading his own big band. For over 10 years his was “The Band” in Al Capone’s Grand Terrace Cafe — Hines was Capone’s “Mr Piano Man”.
All About Jazz has a more extensive biography. Here’s how it starts:
A brilliant keyboard virtuoso, Earl “Fatha” Hines was one of the first great piano soloists in jazz, and one of the very few musicians who could hold his own with Louis Armstrong. His so-called ‘trumpet’ style used doubled octaves in the right hand to produce a clear melodic line that stood out over the sound of a whole band, but he also had a magnificent technical command of the entire range of the keyboard.
A third bio, at Red Hot Jazz, links Armstrong and Hines at what many consider the birth of modern jazz:
The Girl from Ipanema, most famously performed by Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto, is almost certainly the best known bossa nova song. It was written by Antonio Carlos Jobim who also wrote the equally pretty and far more esoteric Águas of Março, which translates to The Waters of March.
The first four verses set the tone:
A stick, a stone,
It’s the end of the road,
It’s the rest of a stump,
It’s a little alone
It’s a sliver of glass,
It is life, it’s the sun,
It is night, it is death,
It’s a trap, it’s a gun
The oak when it blooms,
A fox in the brush,
A knot in the wood,
The song of a thrush
The wood of the wind,
A cliff, a fall,
A scratch, a lump,
It is nothing at all
Here is a bit of Jobim’s bio from AllMusic:
It has been said that Antonio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim was the George Gershwin of Brazil, and there is a solid ring of truth in that, for both contributed large bodies of songs to the jazz repertoire, both expanded their reach into the concert hall, and both tend to symbolize their countries in the eyes of the rest of the world. With their gracefully urbane, sensuously aching melodies and harmonies, Jobim‘s songs gave jazz musicians in the 1960s a quiet, strikingly original alternative to their traditional Tin Pan Alley source.
There is a tremendous amount of bossa nova beyond Jobim. But he certainly is the place to start.