Cultural Percussionist

Captain Beefheart Day

January 15, 2019

Don Van Vliet (/væn ˈvlt/, born Don Glen Vliet; January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010), best known by the stage name Captain Beefheart, was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and visual artist. Sometimes collaborating with his teenage friend Frank Zappa, Van Vliet’s musical work was conducted with a rotating ensemble of musicians called the Magic Band, with whom he recorded 13 studio albums between 1964 and 1982. His music blended elements of blues, free jazz, rock, and avant-garde composition with idiosyncratic rhythms, surrealist wordplay, and his wide vocal range, commonly reported as five octaves.Known for his enigmatic persona, Beefheart frequently constructed myths about his life and was known to exercise an almost dictatorial control over his supporting musicians.

Van Vliet developed an eclectic musical taste during his teen years in Lancaster, California, and formed “a mutually useful but volatile” friendship with Zappa. He began performing with his Captain Beefheart persona in 1964 and joined the original Magic Band line-up, initiated by Alexis Snouffer, the same year. The group released their debut album Safe as Milk in 1967 on Buddah Records. After being dropped by two consecutive record labels they signed to Zappa’s Straight Records, where they released 1969’s Trout Mask Replica; an album variously described as “unlistenable”, “a joke”, and a “masterpiece”, that would later rank 58th in Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 1974, frustrated by lack of commercial success, he pursued a more conventional rock sound, but the ensuing albums were critically panned; this move, combined with not having been paid for a European tour, and years of enduring Beefheart’s abusive behavior, led the entire band to quit. Beefheart eventually formed a new Magic Band with a group of younger musicians and regained critical approval through three final albums: Shiny Beast (1978), Doc at the Radar Station (1980) and Ice Cream for Crow (1982).

Widely regarded as unusual and interesting, critics have had difficulty in pinning down Beefheart’s musical style; he has been described as “one of modern music’s true innovators”, though most see his music as a quirky and idiosyncratic variation of blues music which, while not achieving mainstream commercial success, attracted a cult following and was an influence on new wave, punk, and experimental rock artists.

Earl Hooker Day

January 15, 2019

Earl Zebedee Hooker (January 15, 1930 – April 21, 1970) was a Chicago blues guitarist known for his slide guitar playing. Considered a “musician’s musician”, he performed with blues artists such as Sonny Boy Williamson II, Junior Wells, and John Lee Hooker and fronted his own bands. An early player of the electric guitar, Hooker was influenced by the modern urban styles of T-Bone Walker and Robert Nighthawk. He recorded several singles and albums as a bandleader and with other well-known artists. His “Blue Guitar”, a slide guitar instrumental single, was popular in the Chicago area and was later overdubbed with vocals by Muddy Waters as “You Shook Me“.

In the late 1960s, Hooker began performing on the college and concert circuit and had several recording contracts. Just as his career was on an upswing, he died in 1970, at age 40, after a lifelong struggle with tuberculosis. His guitar playing has been acknowledged by many of his peers, including B.B. King, who commented, “to me he is the best of modern guitarists. Period. With the slide he was the best. It was nobody else like him, he was just one of a kind”.

Hooker was born in rural Quitman County, Mississippi, outside of Clarksdale. In 1930, his parents moved the family to Chicago, during the Great Migration of blacks out of the rural South in the early 20th century.

Gene Krupa Day

January 15, 2019

Eugene Bertram Krupa (January 15, 1909 – October 16, 1973) was an American jazz drummer, band leader, actor, and composer known for his energetic style and showmanship. His drum solo on “Sing, Sing, Sing” (1937) elevated the role of the drummer as a frequently used solo voice in the band.

He is also known for defining the standard drum kit used today in collaboration with brands Slingerland and Zildjian. Krupa is considered “the founding father of the modern drumset” by Modern Drummer magazine.

The youngest of Anna (née Oslowski) and Bartłomiej Krupa’s nine children, Gene Krupa was born in Chicago. Bartłomiej was an immigrant from Poland. Anna was born in Shamokin, Pennsylvania and was also of Polish descent. His parents were Roman Catholics who groomed him for the priesthood. He spent his grammar school days at parochial schools. After graduation he attended Saint Joseph’s College for a year but decided the priesthood was not his vocation.

Krupa studied with Sanford A. Moeller and began playing drums professionally in the mid-1920s with bands in Wisconsin. In 1927 he was hired by MCA to become a member of Thelma Terryand Her Playboys, the first notable American jazz band—all-girl bands excepted—to be led by a female musician.[citation needed] The Playboys were the house band at The Golden Pumpkin nightclub in Chicago and toured throughout the eastern and central United States.

Krupa made his first recordings in 1927 with a band under the leadership of Red McKenzie and guitarist Eddie Condon. Along with other recordings by musicians from the Chicago jazz scene, such as Bix Beiderbecke, these recordings are examples of Chicago style jazz. Krupa’s influences during this time included Father Ildefonse Rapp and Roy Knapp (both teachers of Gene), and drummers Tubby Hall, Zutty Singleton and Baby Dodds. Press rolls were a fairly common technique in the early stages of his development. There were many other drummers (Ray Bauduc, Chick Webb, George Wettling, Dave Tough) who influenced his approach to drumming and other instrumentalists and composers such as Frederick Delius who influenced his approach to music.

World Music with Rocky Dawuni

January 15, 2019

Ghana

 

Daily Roots with the Maytals

January 15, 2019

Echoes of Freedom by Sitting Bull

January 14, 2019

The Cosmos with UGC 6945

January 14, 2019

UGC 6945 (also known as Arp 194) is a trio of interacting galaxies. The highly disrupted galaxy to the northwest is actually two galaxies in the advanced stages of merger, and has an angular size of 0′.8 × 0′.6. About 40 to the southeast is a third galaxy with an angular size of 0′.35 × 0′.35.

Based upon a radial velocity of about 10,500 km s−1, the interacting pair of galaxies at the northwest are located at a distance of 175 Mpc (570 Mly) from us (assuming a Hubble constantvalue of 60 km s−1 Mpc−1). If we further assume that the third galaxy lies at the same distance away from us, we find that the galaxies are separated by a projected linear distance of roughly 34 Kpc (110 Kly)though later findings from Hubble may cast this assumption into doubt (see below)

As the pair of galaxies in the north gravitationally interact with each other, tidally-stripped gas from both galaxies is draped over the southern galaxy as a series of blobs, which are fueling a burst of star formation. While it has long been believed to be interacting with the northern galaxy, images from the Hubble Space Telescope clearly show that this stream of material is actually superimposed on the southern galaxy. This suggests that this third galaxy may actually lie in the background. Due to this uncertainty, the third galaxy may not be involved in the interaction.

Allen Toussaint Day

January 14, 2019

Allen Toussaint (/ˈtsɑːnt/; January 14, 1938 – November 10, 2015) was an American musician, songwriter, arranger and record producer, who was an influential figure in New Orleans R&Bfrom the 1950s to the end of the century, described as “one of popular music’s great backroom figures.” Many musicians recorded Toussaint’s compositions, including “Java“, “Mother-in-Law“, “I Like It Like That“, “Fortune Teller“, “Ride Your Pony“, “Get Out of My Life Woman“, “Working in the Coal Mine“, “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky”, “Here Come the Girls“, “Yes We Can Can“, “Play Something Sweet“, and “Southern Nights“. He was a producer for hundreds of recordings, among the best known of which are “Right Place, Wrong Time”, by his longtime friend Dr. John (“Mac” Rebennack), and “Lady Marmalade“, by Labelle.

The youngest of three children, Toussaint was born in 1938 in New Orleans and grew up in a shotgun house in the Gert Town neighborhood, where his mother, Naomi Neville (whose name he later adopted pseudonymously for some of his works), welcomed and fed all manner of musicians as they practiced and recorded with her son. His father, Clarence, worked on the railway and played trumpet. Allen Toussaint learned piano as a child and took informal music lessons from an elderly neighbor, Ernest Pinn. In his teens he played in a band, the Flamingos, with the guitarist Snooks Eaglin, before dropping out of school. A significant early influence on Toussaint was the syncopatedsecond-line” piano style of Professor Longhair.

After a lucky break at age 17, in which he stood in for Huey “Piano” Smith at a performance with Earl King‘s band in Prichard, Alabama, Toussaint was introduced to a group of local musicians led by Dave Bartholomew, who performed regularly at the Dew Drop Inn, a nightclub on Lasalle Street in Uptown New Orleans. His first recording was in 1957 as a stand-in for Fats Domino on Domino’s record “I Want You to Know“, on which Toussaint played piano and Domino overdubbed his vocals. His first success as a producer also came in 1957 with Lee Allen’s “Walking with Mr. Lee”. He began performing regularly in Bartholomew’s band, and he recorded with Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, Lee Allen and other leading New Orleans performers.

Kenny Wheeler Day

January 14, 2019

Kenneth Vincent John Wheeler, OC (14 January 1930 – 18 September 2014) was a Canadian composer and trumpet and flugelhorn player, based in the U.K. from the 1950s onwards.

Most of his performances were rooted in jazz, but he was also active in free improvisation and occasionally contributed to rock music recordings. Wheeler wrote over one hundred compositions and was a skilled arranger for small groups and large ensembles.

Wheeler was the patron of the Royal Academy Junior Jazz course.

Wheeler was born in Toronto, Ontario, on 14 January 1930. Growing up in Toronto, he began playing cornet at age 12, and became interested in jazz in his mid-teens. Wheeler spent a year studying composition at The Royal Conservatory of Music in 1950. In 1952 he moved to Britain. He found his way into the London jazz scene of the time, playing in groups led by Tommy Whittle, Tubby Hayes, and Ronnie Scott.

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