The beginning of NPR’s bio of bassist Ray Brown does a good job of quickly defining who he was — and the company he kept:
Grammy Award-winning double-bassist Ray Brown was a leader in defining the modern jazz rhythm section — in addition to being a first-rate soloist. His unique dynamic and innate sense of swing graced performances by Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson and countless others.
Bebop was great music, but it could be intellectual and inaccessible. Brown’s allmusic bio, which is on the same page as Brown’s discography, hints at a player who wasn’t as challenging to listeners as many who played in his era:
The huge and comfortable sound of Ray Brown’s bass was a welcome feature on bop-oriented sessions for over a half-century.
Mr. Brown won numerous critics’ and listeners’ popularity polls, and was regularly included among the half-dozen or so greatest of all jazz bassists, along with Oscar Pettiford, Charles Mingus, Milt Hinton, and Jimmy Blanton, whose performances with Duke Ellington he counted among his greatest influences.
Acknowledging various dates takes on a melancholy feel as a person gets older. This site has been up since the beginning of March, and I’ve probably run 10 or so posts on people who have passed away during that time. There also are the birthdays of folks who are no longer around.
In any case, Jerry Garcia would have been 70 years old today. Above, he plays Irving Berlin’s beautiful Russian Lullaby with David Grisman.
Allan Sherman was the original Weird Al Yankovic. The difference is that Sherman’s parodies of popular and folk songs in most cases got their humor by shifting them to Jewish themes.
The early 1960s was a time that ethnic humor was first finding its way into mass media. The Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War made it okay to deal with difficult subjects on television. The era of Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best passed quickly. Ethnicity became fair game for drama and humor. Sherman — who also was a television producer — helped get the ball rolling in a small and gentle way.
Shake Hands with Your Uncle Max was a spoof of the Irish folks song Dear Old Donegal. There is a pleasant surprise in the lyrics of the original song: One of the names recited is Shapiro. Perhaps Sherman should be reciprocated and thrown a Murphy or a Kelly into his version.
The montage in the video above is pretty funny, especially the pictures of the relatives. The author gets the album wrong (the song was on the classic My Son, the Folk Singer) and the photo he uses for Ocean Parkway definitely isn’t the one in Brooklyn to which Sherman no doubt is referring. But it’s a labor of love and a nice job.
Indeed, it’s ironic that Sherman’s biggest hit, Hello Muddah, didn’t have an overtly Jewish theme. My Son, the Folk Singer is Sherman at his best. Each track is a riot. Here are two examples:
The Ballad of Harry Lewis (sung to The Battle Hymn of the Republic):
Oh Harry Lewis perished
In the service of his Lord
He was trampling through the warehouse
Where the drapes of Roth are stored
He had the finest funeral
The union could afford
And his cloth goes shining on
Glory, glory Harry Lewis
Glory, glory Harry Lewis
Glory, glory Harry Lewis
His cloth goes shining on
Another is Sarah Jackman, here performed by Dave Brinnel and Hailey Brinnel (sung to Frère Jacques):
Sarah Jackman, Sarah Jackman,
How’s by you? How’s by you?
How’s your brother Bernie?
(He’s a big attorney.)
How’s your sister Doris?
(Still with William Morris.)
How’s your cousin Shirley?
(She got married early.)
How’s her daughter Esther?
(Skipped a whole semester.)
How’s your brother Bentley?
(Feeling better ment’ly.)
How’s your cousin Ida?
(She’s a freedom rider.)
What’s with Uncle Sidney?
(They took out a kidney.)
How’s your sister Norma?
(She’s a non-conforma.)
How’s yours cousin Lena?
(Moved to Pasadena.)
How’s your Uncle Nathan?
(Him I got no faith in.)
I ain’t heard from Sonja.
(I’ll get her to phone ya.)
How’s her daughter Rita?
(A regular Lolita.)
How’s your cousin Manny?
(Signed up with Vic Tanny.)
How’s your nephew Seymour?
(Seymour joined the Peace Corps.)
He’s nice too. He’s nice too.
The Wikipedia suggests that Sherman’s life fell apart quite quickly. He died in 1973 at the age of only 48.
The quintet playing Pennies From Heaven, according to Songbook, is comprised of Lester Young on tenor saxophone, Bill Harris on trombone, Hank Jones on piano, Ray Brown on bass and Buddy Rich on drums. The high quality of the video because it is taken from a film, Norman Granz at Montreux Jazz: Improvisation.
Sweetness is what Young was all about. When he started to gain attention, the dominant style of the day was the aggressive, hard-driving saxophone of Coleman Hawkins. But Young played in the upper range of his tenor in a lyrical, relaxed style.
It is a nice feature, and here is another. Here are Lester Leaps In and Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. The latter was written in honor of Young by bassist Charlie Mingus, who is among the performers in the clip. It was later renamed Theme for Lester Young, according to Wikipedia. Young traditionally wore a pork pie hat.
One great Olympic musical moment was Slim Dusty singing Waltzing Matilda at the opening ceremonies of the 2000 games in Australia.
On this day in 1984, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton died at age 58 in Los Angeles. Thornton wrote and recorded Ball ‘n’ Chain, which was covered (as Ball and Chain) by Janis Joplin. Thornton also recorded Hound Dog, which was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1952. The Elvis hit came four years later. Above, she performs Hound Dog with Buddy Guy.
According to Livewire Mobile, its free Rumpus Android app enables users to far more efficiently and easily navigate the huge amount of music available. The company said the app hooks into the Mediadrome music backend to find what the listener wants. Says the company:
The genius behind Rumpus is the unique way the millions of tracks in the Livewire Mobile database have been connected, so that users can search for artists or tracks and find all the relationships and information that make music discovery so addictive.
New features will be added to Rumpus–which is available on Google Play–this year and next, the company said in a press release.
Here is a bit from the bio from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted the band in 2003:
Quite simply, the Clash were among the most explosive and exciting bands in rock and roll history. They played a major role in creating and defining the punk movement. If the short-lived Sex Pistols were glorious nihilists, then the Clash expressed punk’s impassioned political conscience. Their explosive, uptempo punk-rock manifestos were unleashed with pure adrenaline and total conviction.