Sam Phillips is famous for saying that if he could find a white boy with the authentic Negro sound and feel, he'd make a billion dollars. Seeing Phillips in his striped sport coat and tie in 1950, you might well wonder if he'd know that sound and feel if it came up and bit him. But he'd been a fan of blues and country music since childhood, and he bet that his technical knowledge and feeling for this music could make him money.
Flugelhorn player Chuck Mangione is widely known for the crossover success of his catchy mid-1970s tunes. But his jazz credentials are rock-solid: His mentor Dizzy Gillespie once recommended him for a spot in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Mangione and bassist Gary Mazzaroppi team up with host Marian McPartland for some dynamic trio work in a session from 1999, including his famous tune "Feels So Good" and a few beloved standards.
Originally published on Sat September 7, 2013 9:23 pm
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the helpful slips from FedEx reminding us that we have to be at home to receive their package even though most people work during the day, for pete's sake is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a request for ideas for how to play music in the office without irritating people.
In this installment of our Latin Roots series, The Latin Alternative co-host Ernesto Lechner discusses his favorite singer, an influential Colombian musician named Joe Arroyo.
Arroyo began singing at age 10 in the whorehouses of Cartagena. He was discovered by Fruko (a.k.a. Julio Ernesto Estrada) when he was a teenager and soon joined the salsa player's band, Fruko Y Sus Tesos.
Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 2:30 pm
Harmonica master James Cotton is a giant of the blues. Born in 1935 on a cotton plantation in Tunica, Miss., he learned the instrument from Sonny Boy Williamson, who had a radio program right across the river in West Helena, Ark. After listening to the show and imitating him on a harmonica, Cotton met Williamson, who took him under his wing.
At 15, Cotton met and played with Howlin' Wolf, who took him to record at Sun Studios in Memphis. Later, while on tour, Muddy Waters asked Cotton to replace Junior Wells in his band; Cotton stayed on the road with Waters for a dozen years.
Onstage at Nashville's tiny Station Inn, the multiplatinum-selling country veteran Alan Jackson announced that he was nervous. He had reason to be, considering that the music-bizzers who'd scored one of the night's 150 tickets were sitting cheek-to-jowl with regulars, all diehard bluegrass fans. He was there to celebrate his first-ever bluegrass album (out September 24), and right away he made a point of proclaiming that he's really not very fond of dirt roads.