“Folk Music in America” is a series of 15 LP records published by the Library of Congress between 1976 and 1978 to celebrate the bicentennial of the American Revolution. It was curated by librarian/collector-cum-discographer Richard K. Spottswood, and funded by a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts. The music, pulled primarily from the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Song (now Archive of Folk Culture), spans nearly a century (1890-1976) and virtually every form that can be considered American music. This includes native American songs and instrumental music, music of immigrant cultures from all over the world, and uniquely American forms like blues, jazz and country.Folk Music in America [more inside]
The album cover is a picture of two middle-aged black people, seated on folding chairs. The woman is in her late thirties, the man in his mid-fifties. She wears a plain print housedress and a wry expression; the man’s white socks are rolled at the ankles. A trumpet is on his lap, supporting his folded arms. There is no written information on the cover other than the name of the record label: “Verve,” it says. “A Panoramic True High Fidelity Record.” On the spine is the album’s title: "Ella and Louis.”
"Polish jazz, which was celebrating its triumphs in the 1950s and 60s, gradually became bogged down under the power of omnipresent and omnipotent institutions" ... "The 1990s saw the birth of a musical trend that wanted nothing less than to turn the established order of things to ash by the most drastic of means. This new trend was called yass." Though the headiest and most experimental days are behind them, "yass" is still used to indicate Polish jazz that's more than traditional jazz, and has been used to describe Skalpel, Jazzpospolita, and Pink Freud, who have performed Autechre live for Boiler Room and RBMA.
Paul Slade tackles the story behind the American blues/folk song Frankie and Johnny, tracing the lyrics back to an 1899 St. Louis murder, and exploring the history of the song, its subjects, and its variations. [more inside]
Coltrane in "A love supreme" sessions. "Whenever photographer Chuck Stewart was hired by a record company to document a recording session, he would shoot during the rehearsal takes. Recently, his son David was browsing through his archives when he found six undeveloped rolls of film from December 1964, 50 years ago.. They portrayed saxophonist John Coltrane . . . with his quartet, making a work that would soon be hailed as a masterpiece and a landmark of 20th-century music: A Love Supreme." [more inside]
Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile (full album stream) is the second instalment in Matana Roberts's projected 12 part Coin Coin series of albums, "using the language of acoustic jazz to look at ideas of race, class and gender politics in American society". Coin Coin was the nickname of a totemic figure from African-American history, Marie Thérèse Metoyer – a freed slave who founded a community along the Cane River in Louisiana in the late 18th century where people of colour enjoyed greater freedoms and opportunities than they could in most other places in the South. [more inside]
The Black Classical History Of Spiritual Jazz 1955-2012: a 12-hour music mix [via Aquarium Drunkard]
"But maybe the single most remarkable example of 20th-century totalitarian invective against jazz that Skvorecky ever relayed was here in the intro to The Bass Saxophone, where he recalls -- faithfully, he assures us ("they had engraved themselves deeply on my mind") -- a set of regulations, issued by a Gauleiter -- a regional official for the Reich -- as binding on all local dance orchestras during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia." (via)
A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
American Sabor: Latinos in US Popular Music is a currently traveling Smithsonian exhibition exploring the wide range of Latino artists and influences which have shaped American pop music genres since WWII, from Alice Bag to Flaco Jimenez to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass to Joan Baez. The website is rich with maps, interviews, videos, and music samples.
"Young Bert Stern was already one of the leading fashion photographers of the 1950's when he resolved to shoot his first film before he was thirty. He made it, with two years to spare. The result, Jazz on a Summer's Day, is a luminously breezy film that brings the rich color palette of Vogue or Harper's Bazaar of those years into the world of the documentary cinema." [more inside]
Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans premieres Thursday, January 29 on PBS. Faubourg Tremé is considered the oldest black neighborhood in America, the origin of the southern civil rights movement and the birthplace of jazz. Trailer for Faubourg Tremé
"...A Fourth of July picnic, a Sunday Best church revival, an urban rock concert and a rural civil rights rally"
There was a historic music festival in the summer of 1969. But it's not the one that took place in Bethel, NY. The Harlem Cultural Festival ran from June 29 to August 24 that summer, presenting a concert every Sunday afternoon in Mount Morris Park (known today as Marcus Garvey Park). Three hundred thousand people turned out for the six free concerts, hearing acts like Nina Simone , Sly & the Family Stone (the only act to play both Woodstock and the "black Woodstock"), Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, The 5th Dimension, Moms Mabley and. Speakers included Jesse Jackson and "blue-eyed soul brother" Mayor John Lindsay. Security was courtesy of the Black Panthers, since the NYC police refused to provide it. Filmmaker Hal Tulchin recorded over 50 hours of concert footage, which has remained unreleased. Historic Films seems to hold the footage; it was supposed to be made into a movie to premiere at Sundance 2007, but its release seems to be continually delayed for reasons unclear. [more inside]
NEA Jazz in the Schools takes a step-by-step journey through the history of jazz, integrating that story with the sweep of American social, economic, and political developments. This multi-media curriculum is designed to be as useful to high school history and social studies teachers as it is to music teachers. Start with the introductory video to get a feel for the place. The education outline contains five lessons. If you just want to listen, all the music samples are on one page. Perhaps you're more interested in individual artist biographies, or a jazz history timeline. [more inside]
Wynton Marsalis waxes poetic (and music) at the Kennedy Center about art, freedom, jazz, the minstrel shows of yesterday and today, Walt Whitman, American history, the similarities between the Battle Hymn of the Republic and the Mickey Mouse Club March, rock and roll, and how it all ties together. [more inside]
Phil Schaap has hosted a jazz program for the past twenty-seven years on WKCR, Columbia University’s radio station with unapologetic passion and a depth of familiarity that comes, in part, from the personal relationships he had with the musicians themselves.
Sounds of America is a new monthly streaming audio program, a collaboration between the National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Global Sound. Up now are 3 episodes: African-American music in New Orleans, Women in American Music, and Freedom Songs of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
Atomic Platters :: Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security
Here is Naomia Wise from The Max Hunter Folksong Collection. Folk songs, more or less, sung by real folks, collected in Arkansas by Max Hunter between 1956 and 1976. On a related tip, here is Historic Music--recorded popular music from the 1920s, with a large selection devoted to music from the First World War. And here, from Manufacturing Memory: American Popular Music in the 1930's, are the Popular Music Jukebox 1930-1934 and the Popular Music Jukebox 1935-1939 to complete this day's vintage musical Americana experience.
The Max Hunter songs are in RealAudio. Realplayer haters can use Real Alternative aka Media Player Classic.
The Max Hunter songs are in RealAudio. Realplayer haters can use Real Alternative aka Media Player Classic.
A Life With Jazz is a collection of the wonderful photographs of Herman Leonard, focusing on the iconic figures of 20th century jazz music.
He's got Rhythm (single-link YouTube)
Billy Tipton (1914-1989) was a moderately popular jazz musician who happened to have been born a girl and lived as a man. In retrospect, some see Billy as a woman pragmatically trying to make it in a male dominated field, others see Billy as clearly transexual. If you like jazz of the 30's and 40's, forget Billy's gender for a moment and take a listen to Billy's playing! For more backstory, biographer Diane Middlebrook has posted a timeline of Tipton's life. More recently, Tipton has inspired jazz ensemble The Tiptons launches sound, a novel, a few plays and butch/punk/queer director Silas Howard is working on a film. Oh, and here's WP.
Music from Morrisania: Dr. Mark Naison, urban historian at Fordham University and principal investigator of the Bronx African-American history project, leads a musical tour of one South Bronx neighborhood from the 1950s to the present, describing how hot summers, open windows and a fertile mixing of ethnic groups influenced landmarks in American musical history -- from Tito Puente to "Watermelon Man" to KRS-One.
A Great Day in Harlem. Jazz history through one photograph.
Post-War Jazz: An Arbitrary Road Map In this two-part Village Voice piece, Gary Giddins presents a personal road map to post-war jazz, introducing 57 of his most cherished tracks from 1945 to 2001. Any glaring ommissions? I'd add Witchitai-To by Jim Pepper. In addition to being one of the first jazz-rock fusion proponents, Pepper, a Native American, also blended the music of his people into his compositions.
One Defining Jazz Track Per Year, From 1945 To 2001? An Impossible Task! Well, not for Gary Giddins, arguably our greatest contemporary jazz critic. He's just spent five months going through his record collection to come up with a terrific and deliciously debatable list for The Village Voice. Yeah, how could he leave out...*insert your particular obsession here*...?[Here's a 74-page 1996 interview with him(in pdf format) that's practically a mini-history of jazz.]