News & Updates

Mongo Santamaria / April 7, 1917 - Feb 1, 2003

Mongo Santamaria / April 7, 1917 - Feb 1, 2003

The great Cuban conguero and bandleader Mongo Santamaría brought some spice to the American popular music scene. He had been bandleader for the prestigious Tropicana house band in Havana in the '40s before coming to NYC in 1950. He was the composer of "Afro Blue" and had a huge hit with Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man". In addition to his own groovy ensembles, he played with Cal Tjader, Tito Puente, Perez Prado, Fania All Stars, Willie Bobo, Dizzy Gillespie and others. It's always a pleasure to hear his Afro-Cuban arrangements of popular soul tunes, as well as his Orisha-guided rumbas. He...

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Billie Holiday / April 7, 1915 - July 17, 1959

Billie Holiday / April 7, 1915 - July 17, 1959

Happy birthday to Lady Day, the most impactful American singer that ever lived. The most emotional and distinguishable voice in music, Billie Holiday was immensely popular. She was also a screaming example of how fucked up America is and exposed its mistreatment of those who come from the poorest sect of society. While she achieved wealth and fame due to her talent, the system failed her in so many ways. A victim of assault, racism, child poverty, prostitution, domestic abuse, jail time, theft, drugs and systematic legal bullshit (such as the revoking of her ability to perform in NYC), she...

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Freddie Hubbard / April 7, 1938 - Dec 29, 2008

Freddie Hubbard / April 7, 1938 - Dec 29, 2008

I want to give a shout-out to jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard on his date of birth. He may not have been an iconoclast himself but there he was on some of the most ground-breaking and important jazz records made in the '50s and '60s, such as Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz and John Coltrane's Ascension. You want more classics? How about this list of awesome LPs: Eric Dolphy Outward Bound, Max Roach Drums Unlimited, Wayne Shorter Speak No Evil, Oliver Nelson The Blues And The Abstract Truth, Art Blakey Ugetsu, Herbie Hancock Maiden Voyage, Tina Brooks True Blue, Sonny Rollins East Broadway...

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Noah Howard / April 6, 1943 - Sept 3, 2010

Noah Howard / April 6, 1943 - Sept 3, 2010

Noah Howard was underknown as a sax player to many, yet was a vital figure in the landscape of out-jazz, recording albums for ESP-Disk, America, Freedom, CIMP, Free Music Productions, Ayler Recordings and his own AltSax imprint, among others. Born in New Orleans, he was deeply inspired by John Coltrane and Albert Ayler and cut a couple of disks on the legendary underground NYC label ESP in the mid-'60s. In '68 he left the States, living most of the rest of his life in Europe (as well as some time in Kenya). He played on Archie Shepp's amazing Black Gypsy...

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Horace Tapscott / April 6, 1934 - Feb 27, 1999

Horace Tapscott / April 6, 1934 - Feb 27, 1999

Though never a household name, pianist, big-band leader, composer and community activist Horace Tapscott was a major figure on the Los Angeles jazz scene. As a teenager he, Don Cherry & Billy Higgins played together and took in the legendarily thriving Central Ave bop scene of the late '40s. Initially a trombonist, he got a call to work with Lionel Hampton before moving to piano (the Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols influence is evident). In '61 he formed the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, a progressive big band that included poets, dancers and a good amount of activist spirit. In '63 he...

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