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Monday, 12 November 2018

Buck Clayton born 12 November 1911

Buck Clayton (born Wilbur Dorsey Clayton in Parsons, Kansas on November 12, 1911-died in New York City on December 8, 1991) was an American jazz trumpet player, fondly remembered for being a leading member of Count Basie’s 'Old Testament' orchestra and leader of mainstream orientated jam session recordings in the 1950s. His principal influence was Louis Armstrong.

Buck Clayton first rose to national fame as the lead soloist with the first great Count Basie band that roared out of Kansas City in late fall, 1936. Ironically, while Clayton’s understated, bell-like sound is associated with the hard swinging Kansas City style, he actually spent little time in Kansas City. By the time he arrived at the famed Reno Club, a small dive on 12th Street, Clayton had already led a colourful career as a band leader, ranging from Los Angeles to Shanghai.

Born in Parsons, Kansas, Clayton grew up in a musical family. Clayton’s father, a minister, taught him the basics of music. Picking up the trumpet as a teenager, Clayton performed with the church band, featuring his mother on organ. He first heard the clarion call of jazz during a stopover by the George E. Lee band in Parsons. After high school, Clayton followed his muse to California, where he began his professional career.

In Los Angeles, Clayton joined Charlie Echols' 14-piece band, playing taxi dances and ballrooms. Clayton and other band members soon left Echols to join forces with Broadway producer Earl Dancer and work in movies. When Dancer, a chronic gambler, disappeared with the payroll, Clayton took over leadership of the group. Just 23 years old, Clayton led his new band to China.

In 1934, the Clayton band opened at the palatial Canidrome Ballroom in Shanghai, China, becoming one of the first bands to play the Orient. Madame Chiang Kai- Shek and other celebrities flocked to the Canidrome nightly to sway to a potent mixture of hot jazz and classical music performed by the band, decked out in tails.

The Clayton band spent the next two years at the Canidrome, with ashort jaunt to Japan. A melee with a former Marine that turned the dance floor into a roiling free-for-all cost Clayton the job at the Canidrome. Unable to find steady work in Shanghai, Clayton and what remained of the band returned to the United States.

Back in the Los Angeles, Clayton reformed the big band and played several seasons at Sebastian’s Cotton Club and Club Araby. In the summer of 1936, Clayton left for New York to join Willie Bryant’s band at the original Cotton Club. On his way east, Clayton stopped off in Kansas City and joined the Basie Band at the Reno Club, replacing Hot Lips Page as star soloist. Clayton’s solo excellence, arrangements and compositions bolstered the national rise of the Basie band. Clayton remained with the Basie band until he was drafted in 1943.

                 Here's "Love Me Or Leave me" from above album.


After his honourable discharge in 1946 he prepared arrangements for Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Harry James and became a member of Norman Granz’s 'Jazz at the Philharmonic' package, appearing in April in a concert with Young, Coleman Hawkins and 
Charlie Parker, and in October participated in JATPs first national tour of the United States. He also recorded at this time for the H.R.S. label. In 1947 he was back in New York, and had a residency at the Café Society, Downtown, and the following year had a reunion with Jimmy Rushing, his fellow Basie alumnus, at the Savoy Ballroom. Clayton and Rushing worked together occasionally into the 1960s.

From September 1949 Clayton was in Europe for nine months, leading his own band in France. Clayton recorded intermittently over the next few years for the French Vogue label, under his own name, that of clarinetist Mezz Mezzrow and for one session, with pianist Earl Hines. In 1953, he was again 
in Europe, touring with Mezzrow; in Italy, the group was joined by Frank Sinatra.

Sidelined by lip surgery in 1967, Clayton focused on composing and arranging for other groups. He returned to playing in the early 1970s and toured internationally with his own group. When his lip gave out for good in the late 1970s, Clayton returned to directing, composing and arranging, while teaching at Hunter College in New York. 

In 1987, Clayton formed a big band to perform his compositions. Clayton continued creating and leading his “Swinging Dream Band” until his death in 1991. 

(Info from All about & Wikipedia)

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Mose Allison born 11 November 1927

Mose John Allison Jr. (November 11, 1927 – November 15, 2016) was an American jazz and blues pianist, singer, and songwriter. He became notable for playing a unique mix of blues and modern jazz, both singing and playing piano.

He was born outside Tippo, Mississippi on his grandfather's farm, which was known as The Island "because Tippo Bayou encircles it." He took piano lessons from age five. His father, a piano stride player himself, encouraged the young Mose in his playing but also taught him the meaning of “work on the farm.” Mose picked cotton, played piano in grammar school and trumpet in high school, and wrote his first song at age thirteen.

In his youth, he had easy access, via the radio, to the music of Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons, and
Meade "Lux" Lewis. Allison also credited the songwriter Percy Mayfield, "the Poet Laureate of the Blues," as being a major inspiration on his songwriting. In high school he listened to the music of Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, and another of his prime inspirations, Nat Cole of the King Cole Trio. He went to college at the University of Mississippi for a while and then enlisted in the U.S. Army for two years. Shortly after mustering out, he enrolled at Louisiana State University, from which he was graduated in 1952 with a BA in English with a minor in Philosophy.

He worked in nightclubs throughout the Southeast and West, blending the raw blues of his childhood with the modern pianistic influences of John Lewis, Thelonius Monk and Al Haig. In 1956 he moved to New York City and launched his jazz career as a piano accompanist with artists such as Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, and Phil Woods. His debut album, "Back Country Suite", was issued on the Prestige label in 1957. His keyboard playing retained a delightful eccentricity throughout his career, an uncategorisable style of whirling runs and marching left-hand countermelodies that was his alone. He formed his own trio in 1958.

It was not until 1963 that his record label allowed him to release an album entirely of vocals. Entitled "Mose Allison Sings", it was a collection of songs that paid tribute to artists of the Mojo Triangle: Sonny Boy Williamson (2) ("Eyesight to the Blind"), Jimmy Rogers ("That's All Right") and Willie Dixon ("The Seventh Son"). However, it was an original composition in the album that brought him the most attention – "Parchman Farm". This was his most requested song for more than two decades, but he dropped it from his playlist in the 1980's because some critics felt it was politically incorrect.


Allison’s best songs surfaced ever more prolifically in the period between 1960 and 1964, with I Don’t Worry About a Thing, Your Mind Is on Vacation and Don’t Forget to Smile appearing on an impeccable series of albums for Atlantic. He began to tour 
internationally through the 60s and 70s, and his bluesy vocals and the enthusiasm of such influential fans as Morrison helped him avoid the effects of the rock-driven downturn in jazz’s fortunes in that period.

Allison wrote some 150 songs. His own performances have been described as "delivered in a casual conversational way with a melodic southern accented tone that has a pitch and range ideally suited to his idiosyncratic phrasing, laconic approach and ironic sense of humour."

His 1987 recorded album "Ever Since The World Ended" - Blue Note 48015 received the highest rating (5 starts) in Down Beat February 1988. Prestige Records tried to market Allison as a pop star, but Columbia and later Atlantic tried to market him as a blues artist. Because he sang blues, Jet magazine thought that he was black and wanted to interview him.

Allison was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006. Allison's March 2010 album, "The Way of the World", "marked his return to the recording studio after a 12-year absence."

In 2012, Allison was honoured with a blues marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail in his hometown of Tippo. On January 14, 2013, Allison was honoured as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts at a ceremony at Lincoln Centre in New York. The NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship is the nation's highest honour in jazz.

Allison died of natural causes on November 15, 2016, four days after his 89th birthday, at his home in Hilton Head, South Carolina.  (Compiled and edited from Wikipedia, & The Guardian)

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Natalie Lamb born 10 November 1932

Natalie Paine (née Natalie Elston, born November 10, 1932 in New York - October 7, 2016 ) was an American blues and jazz singer who performed as Natalie Lamb. During the late '60s and '70s, Lamb was one of the top singers in trad jazz and classic blues, styles of music that were very much out of vogue. 

Natalie Elston was born in New York City, USA, on November 10th 1932. She attended Hunter College, eventually graduating with a doctorate from Columbia University. For the next thirty years, she worked in the city's public school system, also appearing from time to time as a 'folk' singer in halls and clubs, before settling down to sing classic 'blues' after hearing an album of 'Odetta' songs.

In 1965, going on-stage under the pseudonym 'Natalie Lamb', she joined with pianist Sammy Price in forming a duo. A recording that she made that year with Price for Columbia may have given her some fame, but it was never released. In the following years, she also worked with various 'blues' and old-time 'jazz' ensembles, such as with the 'Red Onion Jazz Band' (even appearing on a 'live' recording with them from the New York Town Hall in 1969) and with the 'Peruna Jazzmen'.

             Here's "Some Of These days" from above album.


In 1973, she recorded her own 'live' album, "Natalie Lamb Wails the Blues", accompanied on this by Kenny Davern and Art Hodes. She then collaborated with Bill Davison, Slide Harris, Tommy Gwaltney and Dick Wellstood on the long-player "Jazz Hayloft Style, Volumes 1 & 2" (1974), and with Claude Hopkins on 
"Sophisticated Swing" (also 1974). In 1979, she was featured on the album "Natalie Lamb/Sammy Price and the Blues" (it also included performance by Doc Cheatham), followed by her input on the records "Jazz of The Connecticut Traditional Jazz Club" in 1982 and 1998's "Blues 'Round the Clock".

In addition to all this, she performed at many European 'trad jazz' festivals, and took part in a total of 20 recording sessions throughout her active career in 'jazz' from 1969 to 1999. Natalie Lamb died after a long illness in Annapolis on October 7th 2016, aged 83. Wedded twice (latterly to Bruce Paine), she is survived by him, as well as by her two daughters and one son from her first marriage to William M. Ludlam.

(Compiled and edited from Wikipedia, AllMusic, Capital Gazette & Legacy).

Friday, 9 November 2018

Kay Thompson born 9 November 1908

Kay Thompson (born Catherine Louise Fink; November 9, 1909 – July 2, 1998) was an American author, singer, vocal arranger, vocal coach, composer, musician, dancer and actress. She is best known as the creator of the Eloise children's books and for her role in the movie Funny Face.

Thompson was born Catherine Louise Fink in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1909, the second of the four children of Leo George Fink, a Jewish, Austrian-born pawnbroker and jeweller, and his American born, gentile wife Harriet Adelaide "Hattie" Tetrick..

Thompson began her career in the 1930s as a singer and choral director for radio. Her first big break was as a regular singer on the Bing Crosby-Woodbury Show Bing Crosby Entertains (CBS, 1933–34). This led to a regular spot on The Fred Waring-Ford Dealers Show (NBC, 1934–35) and then, with conductor Lennie 
Hayton, she co-founded The Lucky Strike Hit Parade (CBS, 1935) where she met (and later married) trombonist Jack Jenney. Thompson and Her Rhythm Singers joined André Kostelanetz and His Orchestra for the hit series The Chesterfield Radio Program (CBS, 1936), followed by It's Chesterfield Time (CBS, 1937) for which Thompson and her large choir were teamed with Hal Kemp and His Orchestra.

As a singer, Thompson made very few records, starting with one side, "Take a Number from One to Ten", on a 1934 session by the Tom Coakley band. In 1935, she recorded four sides for Brunswick ("You Hit The Spot", "You Let Me Down," "Don't Mention Love To Me," and "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"), and another four sides for Victor. The 4 Brunswick sides are excellent examples of mid-1930's sophisticated New York cabaret singing.

For her motion picture debut, Thompson and her choir performed two songs in the Republic Pictures musical Manhattan Merry-Go-Round (1937). In 1939, she reunited with André Kostelanetz for Tune-Up Time (CBS), a show that was produced by radio legend William Spier (who later married Thompson in 1942). On an instalment of Tune-Up Time in April 1939, 16-year-old Judy Garland was a guest. It was at this time 
that Thompson first met and worked with Garland, developing a close personal friendship and professional association that lasted the rest of Garland's life.

In 1943 Thompson signed an exclusive contract with MGM to become the studio's top vocal arranger, vocal coach, and choral director. She served as main vocal arranger for many of producer Arthur Freed's MGM musicals and as vocal coach to such stars as Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, and June Allyson. Some of the many MGM musicals Thompson was the vocal arranger for include Ziegfeld Follies (1946), The Harvey Girls (1946), Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), Good News (1947), and The Pirate (1948).

Thompson left MGM in 1947 after working on The Pirate to create the night club act "Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers", with the four Williams men as her backup singers and dancers. They made their debut in Las Vegas in 1947 and became an overnight sensation. Within a year, they were the highest paid nightclub act in the world, breaking records wherever they appeared. She wrote the songs and Robert Alton did the original choreography for the act.

Thompson, who lived at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, became most notable as the author of the Eloise series of children's books. The books have been speculated to be partly inspired by the antics of her goddaughter Liza Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli, though when asked if this was true, Thompson responded, "I am Eloise."


She later recorded for Capitol, Columbia, Decca, and, most importantly, for MGM Records, which issued her only complete album of songs, in 1954. In February 1956, Thompson wrote and recorded the song "Eloise" at Cadence Records with an orchestra 
conducted by Archie Bleyer. The song debuted on March 10, 1956, and became a Top 40 hit, selling over 100,000 copies.

As a film actress, Thompson played one major role only: that of fashion editor Maggie Prescott in the musical Funny Face (1957). Reunited with her colleagues from MGM, producer and songwriter Roger Edens and director Stanley Donen, Thompson garnered critical praise for her stylish turn as an editor based on real-life Harper's Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland, opening the film with her splashy "Think Pink!" and performing duets with Astaire and Hepburn.

In 1962 Kay served as creative consultant and vocal arranger for Judy Garland's legendary TV special with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and kept busy with various nightclub/TV performances of her own until she decided to leave the limelight. It was fashion icon Halston who lured Kay out of her self-imposed retirement for a time in the 1970s in order to stage his runway shows.

Thompson only acted in one additional feature film, 1970's Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, because, according to its star Liza Minnelli, Thompson disliked the slow speed of movie production.

She eventually moved into Minnelli's Upper East Side penthouse and, contrary to her larger-than-life persona, grew quiet and reclusive with the last decade pretty much confined to a wheelchair. She died at the penthouse on July 2, 1998 at age 88. (Edited mainly from Wikipedia)

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Johnny Rivers born 7 November 1942

Johnny Rivers (born John Henry Ramistella; November 7, 1942) is an American rock 'n' roll singer, songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. His repertoire includes pop, folk, blues, and old-time rock 'n' roll. Rivers charted during the 1960s and 1970s but remains best known for a string of hit singles between 1964 and 1968. 

He has lent his smooth, reedy and soulful voice to a diverse array of songs in such music genres as blues, folk, rhythm and blues and inspired covers of rock-and-roll oldies. Moreover, Rivers has recorded a slew of singles and albums that have sold over 30 million copies, and he has had nine Top 10 hits as well as 17 other songs in the Top 40 charts throughout his career.

Rivers was born as John Henry Ramistella in New York City, of Italian ancestry. His family moved from New York to Baton 
Rouge, Louisiana. Influenced by the distinctive Louisiana musical style, Rivers began playing guitar at age eight, taught by his father and uncle. While still in junior high school, he started sitting in with a band called the Rockets, led by Dick Holler, who later wrote a number of hit songs. He Ramistella formed his own band, the Spades, and made his first record at 14, while he was a student at Baton Rouge High School. Some of their music was recorded on the Suede label as early as 1956.


Following brief abortive stints in both New York -- where legendary rock'n'roll disc jockey Alan Freed suggested that Johnny change his last name to Rivers -- and Nashville, Johnny settled in Los Angeles. He returned to Baton Rouge in 1959, and began playing throughout the American South alongside comedian 
Brother Dave Gardner. One evening in Birmingham, Rivers met Audrey Williams, Hank Williams' first wife. She encouraged Rivers to move to Nashville, where he found work as a songwriter and demo singer. Rivers also worked alongside Roger Miller. By this time, Rivers had decided he would never make it as a singer, and song writing became his priority.

In 1958, Rivers met fellow Louisianan, James Burton, a guitarist in a band led by Ricky Nelson. Burton later recommended one of Rivers' songs, "I'll Make Believe", to Nelson who recorded it. They met in Los Angeles in 1961, where Rivers subsequently found work as a songwriter and studio musician. His 
big break came in 1963, when he filled in for a jazz combo at Gazzarri's, a nightclub in Hollywood, where his instant popularity drew large crowds.

He soon became a popular headliner at the famous nightclub The Whisky-a-Go-Go. His 1964 album "Johnny Rivers Live at the Whisky-a-Go-Go" peaked at #12 on the album charts and beget a #2 hit single with Rivers' cover of Chuck Berry's "Memphis."

Johnny followed with a steady succession of hit covers of "Maybelline," "Midnight Special," and "Seventh Son." Rivers scored his only #1 hit with the elegiac "Poor Side of Town" (he also co-wrote this particular song), which was followed by the exciting "Secret Agent Man." Johnny's covers of "Baby I Need Your Lovin'" and "The Tracks of My Tears" were likewise very successful. In addition, he started his own record company, Soul City Records; this label was instrumental in launching the career of the vocal group The 5th Dimension. He also gave then burgeoning songwriter Jimmy Webb a big break by recording the Webb composition "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" on his album "Changes."

Johnny continued to churn out hit singles in the '70s; his covers of "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu," "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Help Me Rhonda" all did well. Rivers' last top 10 hit was the soothing and sensuous "Swayin' to the Music (Slow Dancin')."

Rivers continued releasing material into the 1980s (e.g., 1980s Borrowed Time LP), although his recording career was winding down. He is still touring, however, performing 50 to 60 shows a year. Increasingly he has returned to the blues that inspired him initially. 
In 1998 Rivers reactivated his Soul City Records label and released Last Train to Memphis. In early 2000, Rivers recorded with Eric 
Clapton, Tom Petty and Paul McCartney on a tribute album dedicated to Buddy Holly's backup band, the Crickets

Johnny Rivers career total is 9 Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and 17 in the Top 40 from 1964 to 1977; he has sold well over 30 million records. On June 12, 2009, Johnny Rivers was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. 

His name has been suggested many times for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but he has never been selected. Rivers, however, was a nominee for 2015 induction into America's Pop Music Hall of Fame. 

He continues to both tour and record the occasional new album to this day.  (Compiled and edited from Wikipedia & IMDb)

Here's Johnny performing "Memphis" on American Bandstand
                                   July 11, 1964.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Stonewall Jackson born 6 November 1932

Stonewall Jackson (born November 6, 1932) is an American country singer, guitarist and musician who achieved his greatest fame during country's "golden" honky tonk era in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Jackson, born in Tabor City, North Carolina, is the youngest of three children. Stonewall is not a nickname; he was named after the Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Some publicity for the singer claimed he was a descendant of the general..

Stonewall's father died when he was two and his mother moved the family to South Georgia. Jackson grew up there working on his uncle's farm. When he was ten he traded his bike for a guitar and began making up songs. Some of his later hits, such as "Don't Be Angry," were written very early in his creative life.

Jackson enlisted in the Navy in 1950 and was discharged in 1954. He moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1956. Within a few days of his arrival he delivered an unsolicited demonstration recording to the offices of the Acuff-Rose publishing house, and executive Wesley Rose heard his recorded singing and set up an audition for Jackson at the Grand Ole Opry. He became the first entertainer to join the Opry without a recording contract, performing first on the Opry's Friday Night Frolics before his official debut. Backed by Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours, he 
proved so popular that the audience demanded four encores.

Eventually Jackson hit the road with Tubb, who became a mentor to the young singer and songwriter. By early 1957, Jackson had signed a recording contract with Columbia Records and cut his first record, "Don't Be Angry." Jackson followed up with a cover of George Jones' "Life to Go," which peaked at number two in early 1959.


The upbeat "Waterloo," with its mixture of novelty and melancholy, did even better, spending five weeks at the top of the country charts, hitting number four on the pop charts, and garnering Jackson some national television exposure. Through the early '60s 

Jackson was a consistent hitmaker with such country standards as "Why I'm Walkin'" (number six, 1960), "A Wound Time Can't Erase" (number three, 1962), and "I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water" (number eight, 1965).

In 1963, Jackson was the first artist to record a live album from the Grand Ole Opry with Old Showboat.
His next No. 1 hits came in 1964 with "Don't Be Angry" and "B.J. the D.J." (Jackson's foray into the teenage tragedy song trope, about an over-worked country music radio station disc jockey, who crashes his car in a rainstorm). During the second half of the '60s, he reached Top 40 less often, scoring only one Top Ten hit: 1967's "Stamp Out Loneliness". His Columbia albums of this period 
contained ornate wordplay from the pens of well-established Nashville writers like Vic McAlpin; songs such as "Ship in a Bottle" and "Nevermore Quote the Raven" applied literary virtuosity to traditional country themes

From 1958 to 1971, Jackson had 35 Top 40 country hits. Along with Ray Price, Webb Pierce, Carl Smith, Faron Young, Carl Butler, George Jones and Charlie Walker, Jackson is considered a cornerstone, after Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell, of the hard-driving honky tonk sound in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

By 1970, however, Jackson wasn't even hitting the Top 40. He bounced back briefly in 1971 with a cover of Lobo's "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo." In 1973, he had his last hit with "Herman Schwartz," which reached number 41. After that, Jackson continued to appear regularly on the Opry and to record occasionally, releasing albums like the inspirational Make Me Like a Child Again. He also re-recorded versions of his old hits, and he privately published his autobiography, From the Bottom Up, in 1991.

In 2006, Jackson sued the Grand Ole Opry for $10 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damage, claiming age discrimination. As a member of the Opry for over fifty years, Jackson believed that management was sidelining him in favor of younger artists. In his court filing, Jackson claimed that Opry general manager Pete Fisher stated that he did not "want any gray hairs on that stage or in the audience, and before I'm done there won't be any." Fisher is also alleged to have told Jackson that he was "too old and too country." The lawsuit was settled on October 3, 2008 for an undisclosed amount and Jackson returned to performing on the show. He has been a member of the Opry since 1956.

Jackson lives on a farm in Brentwood, Tennessee with his wife Juanita, who is also his personal manager and operates his song publishing company, Turp Tunes. He has a son, Stonewall Jackson, Jr.

Jackson was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame on October 11, 2012
(Compiled and edited from Wikipedia & AllMusic)