Happy Birthday, Ray Charles!
Monday, September 23, 2019 by Mary O'Connor | birthday
Ray Charles (Robinson) was a singer, pianist, composer who was born in Albany, Ga in 1930. He lost his sight (from glaucoma) when he was six and attended a school for the blind where he learned to read and write music in braille and play piano and organ.
Orphaned at age 15, he left school and began playing music to earn a living, moving to Seattle, Wash., in 1947. Dropping his last name, he performed at clubs in the smooth lounge-swing style of Nat "King" Cole.
After some hits on Swing Time Records, he switched to Atlantic Records in 1952 and began to develop a rougher blues and gospel style. For New Orleans bluesman, Guitar Slim, he arranged and played piano on "The Things I Used To Do" (1953); the record sold a million copies. He went on to record his own "I've Got a Woman" in 1955 with an arrangement of horns, gospel-style piano, and impassioned vocals that led to the gospel-pop and soul music of the 1960s and to his hit "What'd I Say" (1959).
Possessing a multifaceted talent, he recorded with jazz vibist Milt Jackson, made a country and western album that sold 3 million copies (1962), and continued to release a variety of pop hits, Broadway standards, and blues, gospel, and jazz albums. A major influence on popular black music during his early years, he gradually reached out to influence both white musicians and audiences. And although he had been convicted of using drugs in the 1950s, he lived to see the day when he was so acceptable to mainstream Americans that he became virtually the chief image for promoting Pepsi-Cola and he was asked to perform at many national patriotic and political events.
Jelly Roll Morton’s Birthday
Friday, September 20, 2019 by Mary O'Connor | birthday
Jelly Roll Morton, born Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe in 1885, was one of the most influential composers of the jazz era, bridging an important gap between ragtime, blues, and jazz. In a sense, he was the first great jazz composer.
His career began in New Orleans, where he began to experiment with a unique blend of blues, ragtime, Creole, and Spanish music in bordellos as a piano player. Along with being a musician, he also worked as a gambler, pool shark, vaudeville comedian, and was known for his flamboyant personality and diamond front tooth.
Morton became successful when he started making what would be some of the first jazz recordings in 1923 with "the New Orleans Rhythm Kings". Whether he played on the West Coast, New Orleans, or in Chicago, his recordings were always very popular. He joined the group "the Red Hot Peppers" in 1924 and made several classic albums with the Victor label.
Nothing but success came to him until 1930, when "Hot Jazz" began to die out, and big bands began to take over. Morton died in 1941, claiming that a voodoo spell was the cause of his demise.
anniversary of Morton's death
Read quotes by and about Morton
What Gives a Piano its Voice?
Tuesday, September 17, 2019 by Mary O'Connor | piano
Picture a seven-foot grand piano in a studio. The lid’s missing, so you can see all the strings. Researchers suspend a rod embedded with 32 microphones over the piano’s body.
“We played this middle C at a very soft level, a medium level, and a very loud level,” says Agnieszka Roginska, a professor in NYU's music technology program. She says using a pianist to play middle C over and over wouldn’t be scientific. So they’re using a disklavier, a fancy player piano triggered by electronics. “So we could hit the same note, with the same velocity, thousands of times,” she says.
They’d record the piano in one spot. Then move the microphones eight inches. Record the note. Move the mics again. Record the note. Over and over and over, until they reach the back of the piano. At the end, they get “what is basically a very dense acoustical scan of the radiation pattern of the grand piano,” Roginska says.
Read the entire article here: http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-08-10/science-tries-understand-what-gives-piano-its-voice