Really, really digging this far-flung collection of Upper Midwestern sounds, just released by the categorically with-it label Dust-to-Digital. 5 CDs of music by diverse rural, indigenous, and immigrant performers, a DVD of recently transferred footage of Alan Lomax’s trip to the region, and what promises to be an exhaustive text alongside it. An archive at hand!
Here’s a link to the whole thing: https://www.dust-digital.com/folksongs/
In the past week, two live concerts and a series of viral videos on Youtube have given me a newfound feeling that the next generation of blues greats is beginning to emerge. We’ve watched many come through the pipeline in the new millennium, but this current group is diverse and worth a big smile. Sure, Gary Clark Jr. (31) has grabbed the national spotlight, but after seeing performances by Alligator Records’ Jarekus Singleton (31) and Selwyn Birchwood (30); and currently-unsigned blues prodigy Christone “Kingfish” Ingram (15!) are each capable of riveting performances. As Otis Spann sang, “The Blues Will Never Die,” and I can’t wait to see how these stars of tomorrow develop.
This is one of my favorite weeks of the year because in three consecutive days we get to celebrate three geniuses of the American music, all of whom represent different examples of artistry and innovation in jazz.
Eddie Durham (b. August 19, 1906 in San Marcos, Texas) was a composer, arranger, trombonist, and an early adopter of the electric guitar. His sides with Lester Young’s Kansas City Five and Six represent the first electric guitar solos in jazz and consequently, the first use of the electric guitar as a solo voice in the music. While his most famous composition is “Topsy,” he is also responsible for writing or arranging “Moten Swing,” “One O’Clock Jump,” “Jumpin’ At The Woodside,” and “Lunceford Special,” to name but a few.
Milford Graves (b. August 20, 1941 in Queens, New York) is a free jazz percussionist whose groundbreaking work as a sideman, leader, and part of the New York Quartet in the 1960s de-constructed the notion of swing and liberated the drums from strictly timekeeping role. From 1973 to 2011, Graves was a professor at Bennington College, where, besides an active course of instruction in improvisation, he conducted research about the holistic effects of music on the body. Over the past 40+ years, Graves has continued to refine his fiercely independent, highly unique concept of percussion and today remains an fiercely independent, highly influential presence in the international avant-garde jazz scene.
Count Basie (b. William James Basie, August 21, 1904 in Red Bank, New Jersey) was a composer, pianist, and bandleader. No one swung like the Basie band propelled by the All-American Rhythm Section: Basie’s minimalist piano, Freddie Greene’s subtle rhythm guitar, Walter Page’s steadfast bass, and the unimpeachable drive of Jo Jones. Unfortunately, Basie’s talents as a pianist are overlooked in favor of the soloists like Lester Young who passed through his band over the years, but Basie was also master of timing, taste, and feel.
LISTEN! to jazz historian Phil Schaap celebrate Count Basie’s 106th birthday back in 2010. Growing up, Schaap’s babysitters were the members of Basie’s orchestra.