Sunday, August 15, 2010

An Amateur's Tribute to Jazz

The great jazz singer and civil rights activist, Abbey Lincoln, passed away today. I've been listening to her music a lot today and that led to listening to some of my other favorites. So in tribute to those wonderful artists I'm posting clips of a few of the tunes I've revisited today.

Throw It Away is from Abbey Lincoln's final album of songs she composed herself. Some critics have labeled it her most moving song.
Throw It Away

This is the song that inspired my love of jazz. Take Five is from the first jazz album I ever bought. I love me some Dave Brubeck, even if he and his band look like a group of nerds.
Take Five

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free by Nina Simone is one of my all-time favorite songs. Some days I just leave it on repeat.
I Wish

This isn't my favorite by Anita O'Day, but I do like it very much and I love the hipster show host.
Body and Soul

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong were amazing and it's hard for me to pick a favorite so I'm cheating. One by each and a duet. Dream a Little Dream is one of their fantastic duets (and one of my favorite Mamma's and Pappa's songs).
Dream a Little Dream

It wouldn't be right to include a clip of the First Lady of Jazz that didn't have a little of her scatting.
Lullaby of Birdland

I love Edith Piaf's version of La Vie En Rose but I think I love Louis' even more.
La Vei En Rose
Piaf's Version

Here's another cheat -- Cole Porter was a composer not a singer. This is my favorite Porter song sung by Billie Holiday.
Night and Day

And now one of Billie Holiday's most famous songs, Strange Fruit. Strange Fruit was a poem put to music; the fruit was a reference to the dead bodies of men who had been lynched.
Strange Fruit

Duke Ellington was the most prolific American composer ever. There are much crisper recordings of Mood Indigo but I was feeling nostalgic. For all of the youngsters out there, the crackling noise is that of a needle on vinyl.
Mood Indigo

Fables of Faubus is probably my favorite protest song; a great "up yours" to Governor Faubus who was infamous for calling out the national guard to prevent integration of schools in Little Rock. Charlie Mingus' record company orignally refused to put out this song with lyrics.
Fables of Faubus

The man with the cheeks. One of my favorite online discussions about Dizzy Gillespie was, of course, regarding his puffed-out cheeks. Somebody commeted on how bad that was, the reply was "so what if his embouchure was bad, he still plays better than you." Here he is with another great, Charlie Parker.
Night in Tunisia

John Coltrane and Miles Davis together; can you ask for anything more?
So What

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