News & Updates

Arthur Russell / May 21, 1951 - April 4, 1992

Arthur Russell / May 21, 1951 - April 4, 1992

Long a cult figure, the legend and appreciation of Arthur Russell only increases with time as more of his music gets issued and reissued and re-examined. His ability to cross from disco to minimalism to orchestral to hiphop to singer/songwriter material of unique personality is testament to his creativity. A lot of his worked was unfinished at the time of his passing but clearly brilliant and much of it sees release in a seemingly never-ending stream of fascinating documents. From Iowa, he was a hick with serious artistic aspirations, taking up piano and cello at an early age. He studied...

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Fats Waller / May 21, 1904 - Dec 15, 1943

Fats Waller / May 21, 1904 - Dec 15, 1943

The Harlem-born entertainer, composer, vocalist and percussive stride pianist Thomas Fats Waller was the writer of great tunes like "Aint Misbehavin", "Honeysuckle Rose", "Squeeze Me", "Jitterbug Waltz", "What Did I Do (To Be So Black & Blue" and about four hundred others. He played piano, pipe organ and Hammond organ, and studied with James P. Johnson. He was a composer by 12 and cut his first records in '22 at the age of 18 after working early on in Vaudeville. He was a notable comic storyteller and composer of novelty tunes & piano rolls, and a playful presence on the...

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Rufus Harley / May 20, 1936 - Aug 1, 2006

Rufus Harley / May 20, 1936 - Aug 1, 2006

The cult jazz artist Rufus Harley started out like any other Philly kid, taking lessons from Dennis Sandole, playing saxophone and other reeds, jamming with Philly scenesters like John Coltrane and Philly Joe Jones and gigging as a professional tenor player in his teens. But hearing the Scottish bagpipes during JFK's funeral procession got him really obsessed and he became the first bagpiper of jazz. After months of practicing the instrument (he even held them "wrong") to the dismay of his neighbors who would call the pigs (to which he would say "Officer, do I look Scottish to you?"--Harley was...

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Joey Ramone / May 19, 1951 - April 15, 2001

Joey Ramone / May 19, 1951 - April 15, 2001

Today is the birthday of Jeffrey Hyman aka Joey Ramone, front man of The Ramones and pop-punk idol. He came out of Forest Hills, Queens with his love of '60s rock, girl groups and glam and joined Sniper in the early '70s playing shows with groups like the NY Dolls and Suicide. In '74 he formed the Ramones (the name a reference to a Paul McCartney pseudonym). Joey was originally the drummer of the band, but being an excellent self-taught singer it wasn't long before he was the frontman to one of the best punk bands in the world for...

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Big Joe Turner / May 18, 1911 - Nov 24, 1985

Big Joe Turner / May 18, 1911 - Nov 24, 1985

The Boss of the Blues, Big Joe Turner was one of the strongest voices one could ever hear. A great blues shouter, he could be heard and felt unamplified over the brass and beat. A Kansas City icon, he got his start as a singing bartender before ripping up that city's famed music scene, singing in jazz big bands and with boogie-woogie pianists, such as his successful partnership with Pete Johnson. He started making appearances in NYC in the mid '30s and recorded sessions all over the country. In the '40s he spent some time in LA singing on/for films...

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