Music

Hazel Scott

Hazel Scott

Hazel Scott

1920-1981 - Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Hazel Scott mastered the piano and other instruments at an early age. In 1924 her family moved to the United States, where Scott’s talents were rewarded with a six-year scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music.

Her critically acclaimed debut at New York’s Town Hall and her trumpet and piano performance in her mother’s All Woman Orchestra paved the way for her role as saxophonist with Louis Armstrong’s All Girl Band. In 1945, Scott married Adam Clayton Powell Jr., firebrand preacher, congressman, and civil rights revolutionary.

Acutely aware of the injustice facing African American entertainers, Scott refused to perform for segregated audiences in any of her venues. Her premier nightclub acts, noteworthy Broadway shows, and successful films led in 1950 to the first nationally syndicated musical variety television program hosted by an African American woman, The Hazel Scott Show.

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones has had several very successful careers, largely leaving jazz altogether by the early ’70s to make his money out of producing pop, R&B and even rap records. His earlier years were much more significant to improvised music. He grew up in Seattle and his first important job was playing trumpet and arranging for Lionel Hampton’s Orchestra (1951-53), sitting in a trumpet section with Clifford Brown and Art Farmer.

During the 1950s he started freelancing as an arranger, writing memorable charts for sessions led by Oscar Pettiford, Brown, Farmer, Gigi Gryce, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Cannonball Adderley and Dinah Washington among others. He toured with Dizzy Gillespie’s big band (1956), started recording as a leader for ABC-Paramount in 1956 and worked in Paris (1957-58) for the Barclay label as an arranger and producer. In 1959 Jones toured Europe with his all-star big band which was originally put together to play for Harold Arlen’s show Free and Easy.  Continue reading

Miles Davis

Miles Davis

Miles Davis

What is cool? At its very essence, cool is all about what’s happening next. In popular culture, what’s happening next is a kaleidoscope encompassing past, present and future: that which is about to happen may be cool, and that which happened in the distant past may also be cool. This timeless quality, when it applies to music, allows minimalist debate with few exceptions, that which has been cool will always be cool.

For nearly six decades, Miles Davis has embodied all that is cool – in his music (and most especially jazz), in his art, fashion, romance, and in his international, if not intergalactic, presence that looms strong as ever today. Continue reading

W.C. Handy

W.C. Handy

W.C. Handy

1873-1958 b. Florence, Ala. William Christopher Handy was largely self-taught, Handy began his career as a cornet player in a minstrel show in 1896, and later organized various small bands.

He was among the first to set down the blues, and with his Memphis Blues (1912), originally entitled Mr. Crump (1909), he rose to prominence. His songs, such as St. Louis Blues (1914) and Beale Street Blues (1917), are the classic examples of their type.

In 1918 he moved from Memphis to New York City and remained active as a writer and publisher of music, in spite of growing blindness, until shortly before his death. Continue reading

Tupac Shakur

Tupac Amaru Shakur

Tupac Amaru Shakur

Tupac Amaru Shakur (June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), also known by his stage names 2Pac and briefly as Makaveli, was an American rapper and actor. Shakur has sold over 75 million albums worldwide as of 2010, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. MTV ranked him at number two on their list of The Greatest MCs of All Time and Rolling Stone named him the 86th Greatest Artist of All Time. His double disc album All Eyez on Me is one of the best selling hip hop albums of all time.

Shakur began his career as a roadie, backup dancer, and MC for the alternative hip hop group Digital Underground, eventually branching off as a solo artist. The themes of most of Shakur’s songs revolved around the violence and hardship in inner cities, racism and other social problems. Both of his parents and several other of his family were members of the Black Panther Party, whose ideals were reflected in his songs.  Continue reading

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