News & Updates

Larry Young / Oct 7, 1940 - March 30, 1978

Larry Young / Oct 7, 1940 - March 30, 1978

One of the greatest of jazz Hammond organists, Larry Young (aka Khalid Yasin Abdul Aziz) played with Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, Grant Green, Santana, Booker Ervin and others in a career that played bop, soul-jazz, blues, psych-rock, avant-garde jazz, modal and funk-rock. The Lawrence of Newark was born in Jersey and learned organ and piano from his father. He played R&B in the '50s before working with Kenny Dorham, Lou Donaldson, Hank Mobley and others. He recorded for Prestige and Blue Note in the '60s before hooking up with Hendrix on some well-circulated (and worthy) sessions. He played...

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Leon Thomas / Oct 4, 1937 - May 8, 1999

Leon Thomas / Oct 4, 1937 - May 8, 1999

One of the most unique vocalists of the jazz world, Brother Leon Thomas had an updated, yet ancient, style of scat-yodeling that was quite soulful and seemed to come from deep, not just from his inner being but also traveling folky songlines. He claimed to have discovered using that style after breaking his teeth before a concert. Most famous for his contributions to the great late '60s run of Pharoah Sanders albums on Impulse! followed by an early '70s run with the Santana band (including the amazing 1973 tour of Japan), he also cut records of his own including some...

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Violeta Parra / Oct 4, 1917 - Feb 5, 1967

Violeta Parra / Oct 4, 1917 - Feb 5, 1967

Here's a birthday honor to pioneering nueva-canción singer and folklorist from Chile, Violeta Parra aka "Violeta de Mayo". She was born into an educated family of poets, artists and singers, and she started playing and singing at 9. Her musician/farmer father died when she was 12, and the family started struggling financially. She started her music career in clubs playing boleros and Mexican styles before marrying a Communist in 1938. She started singing songs from all over Latin America. After her first marriage dissolved, she formed a duo with her sister and made some records, followed by some touring through...

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Brother Bones / Oct 4, 1902 - June 14, 1974

Brother Bones / Oct 4, 1902 - June 14, 1974

If you ever wondered who that was whistling that tune for the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team theme song, well it's Freeman Davis aka Brother Bones, who was born today in 1902. A fairly obscure guy, he was from Montgomery AL and worked as a shoeshine boy before he recorded an animal bones & whistling version of the "Sweet Georgia Brown" standard in 1949, which is the version I grew up loving in relation to the 'Trotters. (Notably, the tune also utilizes the Novachord, a very early synthesizer). Brother's tune "Black Eyed Susan Brown" was sampled by De La Soul ("Pease Porridge")....

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Von Freeman / Oct 3, 1923 - Aug 11, 2012

Von Freeman / Oct 3, 1923 - Aug 11, 2012

By comparison to some of his other fellow Chicagoan jazz brothers and sisters, the music of Von Freeman is fairly traditional sounding--that is to say blues, ballads, bossa, bop and a touch of soul-jazz, although his phrasing and mentoring was influential to a rising avant-garde in the city. He may have been less well-known than his funky guitarist brother George and son Chico (there was a less-well-known drummer brother Bruz as well), but he continued with his creative outlet until the end. He was born in Chicago, the son of a cop. Louis Armstrong was a good friend of the...

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