Stevenson J. Palfi’s 1982 documentary Piano Players Rarely Ever Play Together (58:19) is a remarkable look at three generations of New Orleans keyboard masters, Isidore “Tuts” Washington, Henry “Professor Longhair” Byrd, and Allen Toussaint.
WMFU DJ Irwin Chusid has put together a tribute website to music producer Tom Wilson. Wilson was born in 1931 and died young at 47 in 1978. Among the musicians he worked with: Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Pete Seeger, The Mothers of Invention, The Velvet Underground, Nico, Gil-Scott Heron, and Professor Longhair. Some of his notable and more far-out productions, include the Bob Dylan "Like a Rolling Stone" session which was the subject of the much repeated Al Kooper organ riff anecdote. He had been president of Harvard's Young Republican club, graduated Harvard cum laude, and was African-American. He was also friends with Wally "Famous" Amos, and it was through Wilson, that Amos, at the time an agent at William Morris, came to represent Simon & Garfunkel.
Ahmet Ertegun was profiled by George W. S. Trow in The New Yorker in a classic piece back in 1978. Ertegun was the son of the Turkish ambassador to the US and he remained behind in D.C. studying medieval philosophy at Georgetown. Instead of devoting himself to his studies he founded Atlantic Records with his friend Herb Abramson. Trow charted how Ertegun moved from tramping through muddy, Louisiana fields in search of hot new sounds to the whirl of Studio 54. Below the cut are links to the songs mentioned in the article, as best as I could find, in the order in which they appear. [more inside]
"Picasso of keyboard funk" - Professor Longhair would be 84 today if he were still alive. His distinctive meld of boogie woogie, blues, funk and Latin makes for piano that is quintessentially New Orleans...Tipitinas, one of the more famous local music bars, took its name from his signature song. "Fess" was a seminal influence on such musical greats as James Booker, Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint, Art Neville, Doctor John and Marcia Ball, one of my current favorites. You can hear a few Fess samples from Crawfish Fiesta, arguably his best recording, issued just after he died in 1980. He was inducted in the R&R Hall of Fame as an early influencer in 1993. Happy birthday, Professor!