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Perfect Album: Louisiana Slim

Perfect Album: Louisiana Slim

One of my favorite 1970s Hammond organists is Leon Spencer Jr. Along with Melvin Sparks (g) Idris Muhammad (d) and Buddy Caldwell (cga), Spencer was a virtual house organist for Prestige during that decade. In addition to recording behind Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons, Spencer was on several Blue Note albums by Lou Donaldson. In between, ...

Meredith D'Ambrosio in 1981

Meredith D'Ambrosio in 1981

One of my regrets about my college years in Boston during the 1970s is not going to see Meredith D'Ambrosio perform around town. Back then, I was either at the Harvard “Coop" buying jazz LPs, at Paul's Mall and the Jazz Workshop at night during the week and at discos on the weekends. Soon after I ...

Peterson + Dandridge, 1958

Peterson + Dandridge, 1958

Cast in the 1954 film Carmen Jones, Dorothy Dandridge became the first African-American actress to be nominated for an Oscar in a leading role. The attention was both a blessing and a curse. She earned a fortune from the film and was suddenly the toast of Hollywood. But her relationships with men ended in disaster, Confidential ...

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: The eclectic artistry of Oliver Lake

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: The eclectic artistry of Oliver Lake

This week, StLJN's video spotlight shines on musician, painter, poet, and former St. Louisan Oliver Lake, who's coming to town to perform in a concert sponsored by the Nu-Art Series and St. Louis University next Friday, March 22 at Xavier Hall on the SLU campus. Lake will joined for the performance by pianist Greg Mills, trumpeter ...

Bossa Nova in 1960s Film

Bossa Nova in 1960s Film

It's Friday. I hope you packed your bags. To fully feel the beauty of the bossa nova, you must see the following three films—Rio de Janeiro, Bossa Nova do Brasil and Saravah. Each is sensual and enlightening for different reasons and each stars great Brazilian musicians of the day: Here's an edited Rio de Janeiro (1962). ...

Nat King Cole: Top 10 Albums

Nat King Cole: Top 10 Albums

The 100th anniversary of Nat King Cole's birth is on March 17. Cole was one of America's most remarkable entertainers. His first jazz-pop career was with his celebrated trio in the 78-era of the 1940s. Then he triumphed in the 10-inch era from 1950 to 1954 with hits that included Unforgettable and Penthouse Serenade. Then came ...

Clarke-Boland Big Band: 1967

Clarke-Boland Big Band: 1967

The Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band was started in Europe in 1961 by American drummer Kenny Clarke, Belgian pianist Francy Boland and American bassist Jimmy Woode. It recorded more than 15 albums and was on par with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. Some think it was earthier and better. You can decide. In October 1967, the ...

10 Videos of Bossa Nova Trios

10 Videos of Bossa Nova Trios

I was in Rio de Janeiro yesterday. Not the real Rio but the Rio of YouTube and my imagination. With temperatures still frigid in New York, my mind drifted off to South America and the many great bossa trios that have emerged from Brazil over the years. Here are 10 clips of trios, seven of which ...

Don Fagerquist: Eight By Eight

Don Fagerquist: Eight By Eight

The octet plays a special role in the evolution of jazz, especially on the West Coast in the 1950s. Record labels loved octets because they saved them money without compromising much on sound. Jazz fans loved them because eight instruments seemed to be the maximum number the ear could hear distinctly. Octets also meant a lower ...

Maurice Vander: Piano Jazz

Maurice Vander: Piano Jazz

Paris after World War II was awash in jazz pianists. Many of them were raised in musical families. Others studied music in school. The reason they were in Paris was for the steady club work. Paris also was where the French record companies were based. The list of French jazz pianists in the late 1940s and ...