May 8, 2015 |
The music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn - alone or in collaboration, as they were for nearly 30 years - represents some of the most sophisticated and complex works in jazz. Together (though rarely in the same room) they penned eccentric yet commercial compositions such as "Tonk" and "Strange Feeling," in which arrangements added subtle classicism to ferociously masculine orchestration. Each had signature strengths. Ellington was capable of fascinating ethno-rhythmic interplay and romantic melodicism ("Chinoiserie," "Afrique")
August 1, 2014 |
Alita Moses has come a long way from singing tunes from The Little Mermaid (and songs of her own invention) in the bath as a child. But she grew up with a Broadway performer for a mother and a music professor/singer for a father, so it's not surprising that Moses, 20, found her way to the spotlight. "I've honestly been surrounded by music my entire life," said Moses, a senior at the University of the Arts majoring in vocal jazz studies. In Philadelphia, Moses has performed with UArts music school director Marc Dicciani's salsa ensemble and the Z Big Band, another group affiliated with the university.
December 15, 2013 |
Frank E. Jackson Sr., 89, a retired Philadelphia Police Department auto mechanic whose musical talents gave rise to the Frank Jackson Big Band, died Friday, Dec. 6, of cardiac arrest at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby Borough. Mr. Jackson, a longtime resident of West Philadelphia, retired after 29 years with the department in 1988. His true passion, though, was music. A gifted, self-taught performer on multiple instruments, he also composed and arranged music. After retiring, he formed a 15-piece band consisting of three trumpets, three trombones, five saxophones, a standing bass, drums, guitar and piano.
October 10, 2011 |
AS A KID growing up in Frankford, George Ballard liked to follow the American Legion parades through his neighborhood, and would march along with the drummers. Maybe it was then that George decided he wanted to pound those drums himself, because somehow he conveyed the ambition to his father, who gave him a set of drums he bought from a pawnbroker when George was only 10. That was how it started. George took drumming lessons for 75 cents a session, and by the time he was 16, was allowed to sit in on the Herb Thornton Band, which he heard playing at the Philadelphia Boys Club.
February 23, 2009 |
Harrison Ridley Jr., 70, Philadelphia's sagacious jazz musicologist and radio host who expressed approval for a song with his on-air trademark "Yes, indeedy," died Thursday of complications of a stroke. Mr. Ridley, who was born and raised in West Philadelphia, educated and entertained jazz devotees listening to Temple University radio on Sunday nights. A proud and discriminating collector of jazz, Mr. Ridley often played songs from his personal collection of more than 8,000 recordings (most of them vinyl)
February 21, 2008 |
Black history rolled into South Philadelphia on 18 wheels yesterday, allowing people young and old to take a cruise through the richness of African American culture. On a tractor trailer outfitted with interactive displays, schoolchildren and adults learned about black history, played games, viewed photo exhibits and traced their ancestry online. The American Legacy magazine "Know Your History" tour parked on a lot at Broad and Fitzwater Streets for the day, and dozens climbed aboard the sparkling black trailer with expanding side panels.
December 7, 2006 |
Dave Black, 78, a fiery jazz drummer who toured and recorded with Duke Ellington's orchestra in the mid-1950s and whose dazzling solo on "Gonna Tan Your Hide" - written for him by composer Billy Strayhorn - is considered a classic, died of pancreatic cancer Monday at home in Alameda, Calif. Born in the K&A section of Kensington, Mr. Black started banging on toy drums sent to him by his Scottish aunt when he was 3. He also beat on pots, pans, and anything else within reach of his drumsticks.
June 23, 2002
Longtime radio personality and jazz advocate Bob Perkins is the recipient of both this year's Mellon Jazz Community Award and the Public Service Award of Big Brothers and Big Sisters Association of Philadelphia. He is being honored during the four-day Mellon Jazz Festival that ends tonight. June is African American Music Month. Perkins, host of a popular jazz radio program on WRTI-FM (90.1), shared with The Inquirer a "jazz reminiscence" on some of the jazz artists he's highlighted over the decades.
January 25, 2002 |
Ricardo J. Martin, 49, of Philadelphia, a musical director, arranger and teacher who had a gift for reaching young people, died Monday of lung cancer at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Mr. Martin, who grew up in Harrisburg, was a resident of the Art Museum area of Philadelphia. In 1992, Mr. Martin founded the Rainbow Company at the Prince, the youth-performance arm of the Prince Music Theater, where he was music director. The program, which includes about 20 schools in Philadelphia and a few in South Jersey and Wilmington, teaches middle-school students how to stage one-act musicals and coaches them through the process, including writing lyrics and a story, composing, and working on sound and lighting.
January 7, 2001 |
Why bother with jazz? By most contemporary measurements, the American art form once called "the devil's music" is dust-speck insignificant. It accounts for less than 3 percent of total recorded music sales. Its artists rarely rate among the top-grossing live performers. Its grip on the popular consciousness gets looser by the year - jazz artists are rarely seen on television (even if we count Diana Krall and Kenny G) and only slightly more often heard on the radio. The nation's most prominent jazz-presenting organization, Jazz at Lincoln Center, is obsessed with the dead guys and the long musty shadows of tradition, and that orientation has helped make jazz an Oldsmobile of the music world - an aging relic with pedigree, offering valuable lessons for those few youngsters willing to sit still and listen to the wise elders.