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IKEY ROBINSON

Daily Dose Of Jazz…

Ikey Robinson also known as Banjo Ikey was born Isaac L. Robinson on July 28, 1904 in Dublin, Virginia. He moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1926, playing and recording with Jelly Roll Morton, Clarence Williams, and Jabbo Smith during 1928-1929.

He went on to put together groups that included Ikey Robinson and his Band with Jabbo Smith, The Hokum Trio, The Pods of Pepper, Windy City Five, and Sloke & Ike.

His jazz style influenced many subsequent players, and his 1929 recording Rock Me Mama is often cited as an early use of the term “rock” as it evolved from black gospel into rock and roll.

Robinson reunited in the 1970s with Jabbo Smith for a global tour and appeared in the 1985 film Louie Bluie, a documentary about fellow musician Howard Armstrong. Having never previously met Armstrong he was initially hesitant to meet him because of their differing musical styles. However, the two got on well and perform together in the documentary. Banjoist and vocalist Ikey Robinson passed away on October 25, 1990.


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MARGARET WHITING

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Margaret Eleanor Whiting was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 22, 1924 and her father Richard wrote popular  hits such as Hooray for Hollywood, Ain’t We Got Fun? and On the Good Ship Lollipop. In 1929 when she was five years old, her family moved to Los Angeles.

In her childhood, Whiting’s singing ability had already been noticed, and at the age of only seven she sang for singer-lyricist Johnny Mercer, with whom her father had collaborated on Too Marvelous for Words. In 1942, Mercer co-founded Capitol Records and signed her to one of Capitol’s first recording contracts.

In the early years of her career Margaret would work with Freddie Slack and His Orchestra, Billy Butterfield’s Orchestra and  Paul Weston and His Orchestra. By 1945 she began to record under her own name with songs like All Through The Day, In Love In Vain, Baby It’s Cold Outside and A Tree In The Meadow. She would work with Jimmy Wakely, Johnny Mercer, Bob Hope and Strange Sounding Names. Through to the mid-1950s she recorded for Capitol, but as hits waned she switched to Dot Records, then Verve Records, returned to Capitol in the early 1960s and finally signing with London Records by 1966. Her final solo albums were made for Audiophile in the Eighties and DRG Records in 1991. Her distinguished conductors and musical arrangers through the years included Buddy Bregman, Frank DeVol, Russell Garcia, Johnny Mandel, Billy May, Marty Paich, Nelson Riddle, Pete Rugolo, and Paul Weston.

Whiting would go on to co-star on the 15-minute radio musical programs The Jack Smith Show and Club Fifteen. She was a vocalist on The Eddie Cantor Show, was in the cast of The Philip Morris Follies of 1946 and The Railroad Hour. She was hostess on the Spotlight Revue and a featured singer on the transcribed Barry Wood Show and was casted as a young Sophie Tucker, in the Lux Radio Theater production No Time For Heartaches.

With her sister Barbara they starred as themselves in the CBS sitcom Those Whiting Girls produced by Desilu Productions, and was a regular over the years on tv variety shows The Big Record, The Bob Hope Show, The Colgate Comedy Hour, The David Frost Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, The George Jessel Show, The Jonathan Winters Show, The Merv Griffin Show, The Mike Douglas Show, The Nat King Cole Show, The Patti Page Show, The Red Skelton Hour, The Steve Allen Show, The Ford Show Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, among numerous others.

In the 2000s, Whiting was cast in several documentaries about singers and songwriters of her era, including Judy Garland: By Myself, Fever: The Music of Peggy Lee, Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer, Johnny Mercer: The Dream’s on Me, The Andrews Sisters: Queens of the Music Machines and Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook.

Vocalist Margaret Whiting, who made her reputation during the 1940s & 50s,  passed away of natural causes on January 10, 2011.


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SEGER ELLIS

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Seger Ellis was born on July 4, 1904 in Houston, Texas. He began his career as pianist playing live for a local Houston radio station KPRC in the early 1920s. In 1925 he was added to the orchestra of Lloyd Finlay for a “field trip” recording session for Victor Records and was also allowed to cut two piano solos.

The recordings led to Ellis being invited to Victor’s regular recording studio in Camden, New Jersey to cut a number of piano solos, all or most of them compositions of his own. These were among the earliest records Victor made using the new electric microphone and recording equipment, a technique that was yet not perfected which probably explains why only four of the titles were eventually issued. Of these the coupling Prairie Blues and Sentimental Blues became a minor hit.

After his first recording experiences Seger returned to Houston and radio work as well as playing in vaudeville theaters. During this period he started adding singing to his piano playing and was well received by audiences. In 1927 he was invited to New York to make vocal test recordings, his first issued vocal record was Sunday on the Columbia label. This was followed by a string of records for Okeh Records and he chose the best musicians to play with him such as Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Andy Sannella and Louis Armstrong.

His first recording career ended in 1931, however towards the end of the decade he returned with a big band of his own, the Choirs of Brass Orchestra with himself conducting and taking occasional vocals and featuring his wife, Irene Taylor as a vocalist. In 1939 Ellis reorganized and his new band featured the conventional four-man reed section but disbanded in 1941 and enlisted in the Army-Air Force in 1942.

A move back to Texas saw him being less active as a performer and more involved in songwriting. Many of compositions were recorded by Harry James, Gene Krupa, Bing Crosby, Count Basie and the Mills Brothers. Pianist and vocalist Seger Ellis gradually retired and took up residence in Houston where he passed away in a retirement home on September 29, 1995.


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MAGNI

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Magni Wentzel was born on June 28, 1945 in Oslo, Norway, the daughter of musicians Odd Wentzel-Larsen and Åse Wentzel. She began her career at the tender age of 6 in 1951 in Totenlaget Barneteater. She trained under opera singers Erna Skaug, Almar Heggen and professor Paul Lohmann in Wiesbaden. She took guitar lessons from 1956 and released her debut jazz album That Old Feeling in 1959.

Instead of attending the first year of the newly established Statens Operahøgskole in Oslo, by 1963 Wentzel took another path, choosing to study classical guitar in Spain, Switzerland and England. She was also taught the art of jazz song under Tete Montoliu.

Strongly influenced by Aretha Franklin, she was a member of the Geir Wentzel Band playing Club 7 in Oslo. Magni collaborated extensively with a series of Oslo based musicians, such as the quartets and quintets including Einar Iversen and Egil Kapstad. Peter Gullin dedicated the album Far, Far Away Where Longing Live to her and later she worked for Opera Mobile, then portrayed the mother in The Tales of Hoffmann by Offenbach.

She has performed and recorded with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Roger Kellaway, Halvard Kausland, Ole Jacob Hansen, Carl Morten Iversen, Terje Venaas, Egil Johansen, Åse Wentzel, Art Farmer, Red Mitchell, Mads Vinding and many others.

Vocalist, guitarist and composer Magni Wentzel, the recipient of the Gammleng-prisen in 1988 and the Buddyprisen in 1998, continues to perform, compose and record at the age of 71.


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DOMINIQUE EADE

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Dominique Frances Eade (was born on June 16, 1958 in London, England. The daughter of an American Air Force officer and a Swiss mother, she grew up in a musical household and spent much of her childhood moving within the US and in Europe. She studied piano as a child and decided she was going to be a singer in the second grade. She picked up guitar in her teens, learning folk, pop and jazz songs and writing some of her own.

She played her first gigs in the coffee houses of Stuttgart while there in high school. Later, as an English major at Vassar, Eade sang for a time with a jazz group, Naima, which also included Poughkeepsie native Joe McPhee. Eade transferred briefly to Berklee College of Music, and then finished her degree at New England Conservatory (NEC), where pianist Ran Blake became an important mentor and performing colleague. Staying in Boston after graduation she soon began teaching at NEC.

Dominique was an active performer on the vibrant Boston jazz scene during the 80’s, forming groups with Boston-based artists including Mick Goodrick, Donald Brown and Bill Pierce. She toured the United States and Europe as a clinician and performer and in addition to her own groups, she performed contemporary classical music and was a featured soloist with Boston Musica Viva, Composers in Red Sneakers, NuClassix and jazz big bands Orange Then Blue and the Either/Orchestra.

By 1987 she became the first jazz artist to be accepted into the NEC Artist Diploma program, where she studied for two years with Dave Holland and Stanley Cowell, and in 1989 she became the first jazz performer to be awarded the New England Conservatory’s NEC Artist Diploma. In 1990, Dominique moved to New York City and released her first CD, The Ruby and the Pearl, featuring Alan Dawson and Stanley Cowell. During this time she maintained her teaching position at NEC, and performed in a variety of contexts including soloist roles in two Anthony Braxton operas, duo restaurant performances with Gene Bertoncini, and an adventurous trio with Ben Street and Kenny Wollesen.

She performed with various groups around the East Village with Mark Helias, Peter Leitch, Larry Goldings, John Medeski, Fred Hersch, Kevin Hays, James Genus, Gregory Hutchinson, and Tom Rainey. She recorded her second CD, My Resistance is Low with Bruce Barth, George Mraz, and Lewis Nash.

Prior to returning to Boston in 1996 she recorded two critically acclaimed CDs for RCA Victor, When the Wind Was Cool featuring Benny Golson, Fred Hersch, James Genus, Matt Wilson, and many others, and The Long Way Home with Dave Holland and Victor Lewis, highlighted her arranging and songwriting. She has toured the United States and Europe,  then focused on composing, recording and local performances around Boston.

Dominique eventually began to reemerge in New York, first with Ran Blake, then in duos and quartets with Jed Wilson, Ben Street, Matt Wilson and Brad Shepik, all receiving critical recognition. She continues to perform, record and compose, teach at the New England Conservatory and give private lessons to the likes of Luciana Souza, Kate McGarry, Sara Lazarus, Lisa Thorson, Julie Hardy, Patrice Williamson, Kris Adams, David Devoe, Aoife O’Donovan, Roberta Gambarini and many others.

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