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ANITA WARDELL

Daily Dose Of Jazz…

Anita Wardell, born August 23, 1961 is an English jazz singer born in Guildford, Surrey, England and from age 12 was raised in Australia. In due time she completed a four-year performance course in jazz and improvised music at Adelaide University. She began singing professionally and appeared at jazz festivals with Richie Cole, James Morrison and Don Burrows, with whom she later sang on tracks on two albums.

1989 saw Anita returning to the UK where she studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In the early 90s Wardell worked extensively in Europe and also visited the USA, singing at festivals in San José, Edinburgh and in Finland. She formed a close working relationship with John Stevens, performing drums/voice duos, and recording together in 1994.

Her debut album as a leader was a duet project titled Notes with pianist Liam Noble that allows her to exhibit her rich expressive and agile voice on standards but also her scat skills on bebop classics. Her sophomore project Kinda Blue came in 2008 and her third, The Road, was released in 2013 on the Specific Jazz label.

Wardell has won the BBC Best Jazz Award, and is noted for her vocalized rendition of Lee Morgan’s solo from Moanin’. An educator at heart, she teaches annual jazz course in Loire, France and continues to perform, record and tour.

 


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GOING PLACES

Hollywood On 52nd Street

The familiar standard, Jeepers Creepers is a collaborative effort between Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer for the 1938 musical comedy film Going Places. In the film Louis Armstrong sings the song to a horse by the name of Jeepers Creepers. Dick Powell and Anita Louise are the film’s stars and it received a nomination for an Oscar for Best Original Song when it premiered in the movie.

The Story: A sporting goods salesman is forced to pose as a famous horseman as part of his scheme to boost sales and gets entangled in his lies.

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FUNNY FACE

Hollywood On 52nd Street

George and Ira Gershwin composed S’Wonderful and How Long Has This Been Going On were composed for the 1927 Broadway musical Funny Face by George and Ira Gershwin. S’Wonderful was used in the 1951 musical movie An American In Paris before making its appearance in this film. How Long Has this Been Going On was dropped from the Broadway musical and makes its introduction when Audrey Hepburn sing it in this 1957 movie musical of Funny Face that also starred Fred Astaire in a reprisal of his Broadway role. Although having the same title as the Broadway musical, the plot is totally different and only four of the songs in the stage musical are included. Kay Thompson also stars in a supporting role as Astaire portrays still photographer Dick Avery, loosely based on photographer Richard Avedon.

The Story: Maggie Prescott (Thompson) is a fashion magazine publisher and editor for Quality magazine, looking for the next big fashion trend. She wants a new look to be both “beautiful” and “intellectual”. She and famous fashion photographer Dick Avery want models that can “think as well as they look.” The two brainstorm and come up with the idea to find a “sinister-looking” bookstore in Greenwich Village and discover “Embryo Concepts.”

They put Jo Stockton (Hepburn) in the first shot and toss her out of the store until the shoot ends. Jo wants to go to Paris to hear famed philosopher Emile Flostre speak on empathicalism. Dispatched on an assignment, New York City-based fashion photographer Avery is struck by Jo’s beauty, a shy bookstore employee he’s photographed and he believes has the potential to become a successful model. He gets Jo to go with him to France, where he snaps more pictures of her against iconic Parisian backdrops. In the process, they fall for one another, only to find hurdles in their way.

Joao Gilberto & Lonette McKee/Dexter Gordon 

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THE SCARLET HOUR

Hollywood On 52nd Street

The song Never Let Me Go was composed by Jay Livingston (music) and Ray Evans (lyrics) and introduced by Nat King Cole in the 1956 crime drama film titled The Scarlet Hour.

The movie was a relatively bold experiment for a mid-1950s Paramount release. The studio expended a great deal of money on the project and enlisted the services of top-flight director Michael Curtiz and populated with a cast of young unknowns. Carol Ohmart and Tom Tryon (future novelist) star with supporting cast including Jody Lawrence, Elaine Stritch, James Gregory and Edward Binns.

The Story: Ohmart and Tryon portray Paulie and Marsh, respectively the film’s villainess and protagonist. Knowing that Marsh is hopelessly in love with her, Paulie uses him as a dupe in an upcoming jewelry heist. Only after a killing has occurred does Marsh come to his senses. Lawrence is good girl to whom Marsh eventually retreats.

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LOUIS ARMSTRONG

Daily Dose Of Jazz…

Louis Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901 in New Orleans, Louisiana and grew up in the poverty-stricken, rough neighborhood known as “The Battlefield”, which was part of the Storyville legal prostitution district. Abandoned by his father while still an infant, he and his sister lived with relatives for a period of years. He attended the Fisk School for Boys, getting his early exposure to music, worked as a paperboy, discarded food reseller, and hauled coal to the brothels and clubs and worked for a Jewish junk haulers who treated him like family.

Dropping out of school at age eleven, Louis joined a quartet of boys singing on the corner for money, and listened to the bands in Storyville. He developed his cornet playing skills by playing in the band of the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs under the tutelage of Professor Peter Davis who instilled discipline in and provided musical training to the otherwise self-taught Armstrong. He eventually became the bandleader, they played around New Orleans and by thirteen-year-old he began drawing attention by his cornet playing, starting him on a musical career. At fourteen he got his first dance hall job at Henry Ponce’s where Black Benny became his protector and guide. He hauled coal by day and played his cornet at night.

Over the next years he played in the city’s frequent brass band parades and listened to older musicians every chance he got, learning from Bunk Johnson, Buddy Petit, Kid Ory and Joe “King” Oliver, who acted as a mentor and father figure to the young musician. He toured with Fate Marable, replaced King Oliver in Kid Ory’s band, and was second trumpet in the Tuxedo Brass Band.

1922 saw Armstrong in Chicago joining King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band when the city was the center of the jazz universe. He was challenged to “cutting contests” by hornmen trying to displace the new phenomenon, which could blow two hundred high Cs in a row. He made his first recordings on the Gennett and Okeh labels, he met Hoagy Carmichael through his friend Bix Beiderbecke. Taking the advice of second wife Lil Harden Armstrong, he left Oliver and went to work with Fletcher Henderson in New York and developing his own style. By 1924 he switched to trumpet and his influence upon Henderson’s tenor sax soloist Coleman Hawkins, can be judged by listening to the records made by the band during this period.

During this time, Armstrong made many recordings on the side, arranged by Clarence Williams, with the Williams Blue Five pairing him with Sidney Bechet and backing Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Alberta Hunter. He began recording under his own name for Okeh with his famous Hot Five and Hot Seven groups Hot Five and Hot Seven  groups, producing hits Potato Head Blues, Muggles and West End Blues, the music of which set the standard and the agenda for jazz for many years to come. His recording of Heebie Jeebies turned on both black and white young musicians to his new type of jazz, including a young Bing Crosby.

Over the course of his career he appeared in musical, played clubs, added vocals to his repertoire covering most famously Carmichael’s Stardust that became one of the most successful renditions. His approach to melody and phrasing was radical and evolved into scat singing. As with his trumpet playing, Armstrong’s vocal innovations served as a foundation stone for the art of jazz vocal interpretation. The uniquely gritty coloration of his voice became a musical archetype that was much imitated and endlessly impersonated.

After spending many years on the road, in 1943 Louis settled permanently in Queens, New York in 1943 in contentment with his fourth wife, Lucille. During the subsequent thirty years, he played more than three hundred gigs a year, toured Africa, Europe, and Asia under sponsorship of the US State Department earning the nickname “Ambassador Satch” and inspiring Dave Brubeck to compose his jazz musical The Real Ambassadors.

He has been honored posthumously with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, won a Male Vocal Performance Grammy for Hello Dolly, has 11 recordings inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame list his West End Blues as one of the 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll, had a commemorative U.S. postage stamp issued, and has been inducted into six Halls of Fame, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, the US Open main stadium was renamed Louis Armstrong Stadium, and his Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings are now a part of the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress.

Trumpeter and vocalist Louis Armstrong, also known as Satchmo, Dipper, Pops and the King of Jazz, passed away in his sleep of a heart attack on July 6, 1971. His honorary pallbearers included Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Pearl Bailey, Count Basie, Harry James, Frank Sinatra, Ed Sullivan, Earl Wilson, Alan King, Johnny Carson and David Frost. Peggy Lee sand The Lords Prayer, Al Hibbler sang Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen and his long-time friend Fred Robbins gave the eulogy.


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