Thursday, August 31, 2006

Outras músicas - Herbie Hancock & Pat Metheny

Peppermint Harris

Peppermint Harris was born Harrison D. Nelson in Texarcana, TX, on 1925. Pep, as his friends called him, beat the odds and had a string of national hits the late 40s and early 50s.

It was a common practice for record company agents to travel from the music capitals of New York and Los Angeles to Houston to record talent on portable equipment. Pep was captured on disc this way in 1949. By that time Pep had as mentor Lightnin' Hopkins who accompanied him to Houston. Bob Shad's Sittin' in With label was the vehicle that supplied Harris' early work to the masses - especially his first major hit, "Raining in My Heart", in 1950. These weren't exactly formal sessions - legend has it one took place in a Houston bordello! Nor was Shad too cognizant of Pep's surname - when he couldn't recall it, he simply renamed our man Harris.

Harris moved over to Eddie Mesner's Aladdin Records in 1951, cutting far tighter sides for the firm in Los Angeles (often with the ubiquitous Maxwell Davis serving as bandleader and saxist). After "I Got Loaded" lit up the charts in 1951, Harris indulged in one booze ode after another: "Have Another Drink and Talk to Me", "Right Back On It", "Three Sheets in the Wind". But try as they might, the bottle let Harris down as a lyrical launching pad after that.

Later, Harris worked various day jobs around Houston, including one at a record pressing plant, before moving to Sacramento, CA, and then to New Jersey to be with his daughter. He died in 1999. MP3: Ain't No Business We Can Do

Mamie Smith

Mamie Smith was born as Mamie Robinson, on may 1883, in Cincinnati, Ohio. She toured with african-american vaudeville and minstrel shows until settling in New York City in 1913, where she worked as a cabaret singer. She appeared in songwriter Perry Bradford's musical "Made in Harlem" in 1918.

In early 1920, Okeh Records planned to record popular singer Sophie Tucker performing a pair of songs by Perry Bradford. Tucker was ill and could not make it to the session; Bradford persuaded Okeh to allow Mamie Smith to record in Tucker's place. Smith's record sold moderately well, so she and Bradford were invited back to make additional recordings. On august 1920, Smith recorded the Bradford-penned "Crazy Blues" and "It's Right Here For You, If You Don't Get It, 'Tain't No Fault of Mine". These were the first recordings of vocal blues by an african-american singer, and the record became an explosive best seller, selling a million copies in one year. To the surprise of record companies, large numbers of the record were purchased by african-americans, a market the record industry had hitherto neglected. Although other african-americans had been recorded earlier (George W. Johnson in the 1890s), they were all black artists who had a substantial following with white audiences. The success of Smith's record prompted record companies to seek to record other female blues singers and started the era of what is now known as classic female blues.

Mamie Smith continued to make a series of popular recordings for Okeh throughout the 1920s. She toured the United States and Europe with her band "Mamie Smith & Her Jazz Hounds" as part of "Mamie Smith's Struttin' Along Review".

Mamie Smith appeared in an early soundie, Jail House Blues, in 1929. She retired from recording and performing in 1931 and returned in 1939 to appear in the motion picture Paradise in Harlem. She appeared in further films, including Mystery in Swing, Sunday Sinners (1940), Stolen Paradise, Murder on Lenox Avenue (1941), and Because I Love You (1943). Smith died in 1949. MP3: Crazy Blues

Outras músicas - Elis Regina

Friday, August 25, 2006

Blind Lemon Jefferson

Blind Lemon Jefferson is indisputably one of the main figures in country blues. He was of the highest in many regards, being one of the founders of Texas blues (along with Texas Alexander), one of the most influential country bluesmen of all time, one of the most popular bluesmen of the 1920s, and the first truly commercially successful male blues performer.

His birth has long been placed in July of 1897, though some insist it is September of 1893. Despite that uncertainty a few things are certain: Jefferson was born on a farm in Couchman, TX, outside of Wortham, and, blind from the time of birth, he grew up as one of seven children. Around 1912, he began playing guitar and singing at picnics and parties in his home area. Sometime around 1915, Jefferson also began playing in Dallas and, by 1917, was a resident of the city. He was most often found playing in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas where he eventually met another bluesman who would one day be famous, Leadbelly. Although Leadbelly was the senior bluesman of the two, it is generally recognized that Jefferson was the better guitarist.

From the late teens into the early '20s, Blind Lemon Jefferson traveled and performed his blues, hitting the Mississippi Delta and Memphis regions, although it is likely that his travels took him further. Jefferson was soon brought to Chicago to record for the first time. In all, he recorded almost 100 songs in just a few years.

In december of 1929 he was found dead following a particularly cold snowstorm. There are several stories regarding his death: It has been said that he got lost in the storm after leaving a friend's party at a late hour, or that he was abandoned by his chauffeur, or was killed in a car accident, while yet another version claims Jefferson had a heart attack and froze in the snow. He was still in his thirties when he died and no death certificate was issued, so the date of his passing is only known to be toward the end of december. Pianist Will Ezell escorted Jefferson's body back to Wortham, where he was laid to rest. Ironically, the author of "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean," was buried in an unmarked one. MP3: See That my Grave is Kept Clean

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Robert Johnson

The legend of his life - which by now, even folks who don't know anything about the blues can cite to you chapter and verse - goes something like this: Robert Johnson was a young black man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi. Branded with a burning desire to become great blues musician, he was instructed to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery's plantation at midnight. There he was met by a large black man (the Devil) who took the guitar from Johnson, tuned it, and handed it back to him. Within less than a year's time, in exchange for his everlasting soul, Robert Johnson became the king of the Delta blues singers, able to play, sing, and create the greatest blues anyone had ever heard.

As success came with live performances and phonograph recordings, Johnson remained tormented, constantly haunted by nightmares of hellhounds on his trail, his pain and mental anguish finding release only in the writing and performing of his music. Just as he was to be brought to Carnegie Hall to perform in John Hammond's first Spirituals to Swing concert, the news had come from Mississippi; Robert Johnson was dead, poisoned by a jealous girlfriend while playing a jook joint. Those who were there swear he was last seen alive foaming at the mouth, crawling around on all fours, hissing and snapping at onlookers like a mad dog. His dying words (either spoken or written on a piece of scrap paper) were, "I pray that my redeemer will come and take me from my grave." He was buried in a pine box in an unmarked grave, his deal with the Devil at an end. MP3: Phonograph Blues/Love in Vain