Thursday, February 26, 2015

Country Bluesman Robert Belfour Passes Away

Last year, I published a post about one of the great remaining original country blues musicians, Robert Belfour.

Sadly, it was announced on the 24th of February that he had passed away at age 74. He was not insured apparently, which is a sad reality for musicians who aren't popular with massive audiences. The Memphis Blues Society is taking donations to help his family at this time. Truly a blues story being lived.

He dedicated most of his life performing the deep roots blues, and wasn't recognized until the early 2000's when he released his major recordings. He will be missed; RIP Robert.

Here's Pushing My Luck:

Paris Named Host City For 2015 International Jazz Day

UNESCO Goodwill ambassador Herbie Hancock has announced that this years International Jazz Day host city will be Paris, France. Last Year, it was Osaka, Japan.

April 30 has been officially announced as International Jazz Day, where a massive concert and other jazz related events take place to celebrate the contributions of this great music.

The concert will feature:

The 2015 All-Star Global Concert will feature a cast of internationally renowned jazz artists including pianists John Beasley (Music Director), A Bu, Antonio Faraò and Herbie Hancock; trumpeters Till Brönner, Ibrahim Maalouf, Hugh Masekela and Claudio Roditi; vocalists Dee Dee Bridgewater, Al Jarreau, Rudy Pérez and Dianne Reeves; saxophonists Igor Butman, Ravi Coltrane, Femi Kuti, Guillaume Perret and Wayne Shorter; bassists James Genus and Marcus Miller; guitarist Lee Ritenour; drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and harmonica player Grégoire Maret.

For more info click [here].

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Whiplash Wins, Jazz Loses

The Huffington Post published an article discussing the realism of the Oscar winning film Whiplash, drawing how the film portrayed jazz musicians and teachers in a wrong way. In the film, an aspiring jazz drumming student gets in a heated rivalry with his instructor at a music conservatory. The film won 3 Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Film Editing, and Sound Mixing.

I do agree that the film overdid what real jazz players and instructors do; instructors don't call students names or be violent, and students have rarely (if ever) bled while practicing their instruments.

One jazz professor at Julliard, Mark Sherman, says:

"If Wynton Marsalis, who's my boss here at Juilliard, did that, called kids "cocksuckers" and badgered kids like that -- he'd be thrown out."

The good thing about the film is that is brings jazz into the big screen, something missing from today's media. And although the film went overboard with the drama for the sake of pulling in the audience, it might not have portrayed it in a way that might let people actually go out to listen or buy jazz records.

The full article is [here], what do you think?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Standard of the Week: 'Good Morning Little Schoolgirl'

In 1937, Sonnyboy Williamson I recorded 'Good Morning Little Schoolgirl' and it immediately became a standard.

Uptempo, with a sweet story of innocence, it quickly became popular. 

Dozens of bluesmen and other rock musicians covered it, such as:

Muddy Waters

Junior Wells

Lightnin' Hopkins 

Grateful Dead

The Yardbirds

Government Mule

Sunday, February 22, 2015

New 5CD Collection of Lead Belly to be Released

Celebrating his 125th year, The Smithsonian Folkways label has announced a massive collection of music by folk blues legend Lead Belly, due on Tuesday the 24th of February.

The collection will also come with a 140 page book. If you pre-order, a poster and a t-shirt are available as bonuses.

Lead Belly has been a huge influence on many blues and folk musicians, with his famous songs 'Goodbye Irene, Bourgeois Blues, and many more.

Here's 'Midnight Special':

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Inductees to the 2015 Blues Hall of Fame Announced

The Blues Foundation has announced the newest inductees for the 2015 Blues Hall of Fame:




The inductees will be awarded at The Blues Music Awards in May. 
Congrats to each of these deserving musicians!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

'Stir It Up' Video From Last Night's Bob Marley Tribute Concert

Last night a tribute concert to Bob Marley took place in Bayt Lothan (Kuwait). Three performing acts each performed a selection of covers and originals. We got together for one big jam of Marley's classic hit 'Stir It Up'.

The performers are: Amin AKA Mr. Fari, Fabrice, and Karrouhat Band (Basel Hadi, Hashim Al-Nasser, Abdulrahman Essa, Alex Abdalian, Ali Sleeq (me), and Fredrico Del Melo). Sound and audio by Sarj.

Thanks to Nour from Get Out Blog for the video!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Blues Brothers Return to SNL

Saturday Night Live's 40th Anniversary was on Sunday, and while everyone was checking out the other acts, I was waiting for The Blues Brothers, who did show up to sing "Everybody Needs Somebody".

Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi's brother, Jim came on stage to sing. John Belushi was the original 'Jake Blues' character who died in 1982.

Obviously they put on some weight, and Dan was showing his age, but it's always great to see the black suits and glasses on stage again.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

50 Years On... 'A Love Supreme' Reigns Supreme

by Edward Shin
In February 1965, John Coltrane released his ultimate album, 'A Love Supreme' and the music world was never the same again. 

I have covered this album extensively on the blog, so instead of repeating myself and telling you how it's rated 47 in Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums of All Time, how it's one of the top selling (probably second best after Miles Davis' Kind of Blue) jazz album of all time, and how it's not just jazz but a transcendence to a higher space etc etc.

Here's a roundup of the articles related to this great recording, plus the whole album to listen to:

1 - A Love Supreme - Spiritual Guidance
2 - Rare: Live Footage of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme"
3 - John Coltrane's A Love Supreme : Deluxe Edition
4 - John Coltrane’s "A Love Supreme" among Titles Remastered for iTunes
5 - Read all about the Font on the Cover of Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme'
6 - John Coltrane's 'Love Supreme' in Graffiti Art
7 - New Photos Found from Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme' Session

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Got the Valentine Blues? Here's a Playlist!

People and websites will try and spread the love and the message of St. Valentine.

Obviously, I won't.

Here at Speakin' The Blues is where you come to wallow in your sorrow for your love leaving you, or seeing others happy together while you are all alone.

But fear not; for your blues angel (that would be me) has devised a list of songs that will uplift (or not) your spirit on this lonely, contrived, fake, commercialized day.

Gosh I'm bitter.

'That Woman Named Mary - Lightnin' Hopkins

Baby You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now - BB King

Long Distance Call - Muddy Waters

Evil Ways - Otis Spann w/ Robert Lockwood Jr.

Woman I Ain't Gonna Drink No More Whiskey - Sunnyland Slim

When My First Wife Left Me - John Lee Hooker

I'm a Lonely Man - Sonnyboy Williamson II

Mean Old World - T-Bone Walker 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Only Shade You Need is Blue

Some folks need 50 shades to get their satisfaction.

With the blues, you have only one shade. And that one shade can give you all the emotions you need... from sadness and empathy to joy and hope.

The blues is more than a feeling, and it's not just about being sad. “Feeling blue” is expressed in songs whose verses lament injustice or express longing for a better life and lost loves, jobs, and money. But blues is also a raucous dance music that celebrates pleasure and success. Central to the idea of blues performance is the concept that, by performing or listening to the blues, one is able to overcome sadness and lose the blues.

If only Christian Grey said the words of Little Walter!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hard-Bop Classic - 'Cool Struttin' / Sonny Clark

In 1958, Jazz pianist Sonny Clark released his hard-bop classic 'Cool Struttin' on Blue Note Records. The album features alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, trumpeter Art Farmer and two members of the (then) Miles Davis Quintet, drummer Philly Joe Jones and bassist Paul Chambers. 

 The album four tracks aside from 'Deep Night' are all rooted in the blues as harp-bop tends to sway, and remains one of the more hardcore jazz recordings of the era. 

 Here's the title track off the album:

Monday, February 9, 2015

And the The Blues Grammy Goes to Johnny Winter

I predicted that the late blues legend Johnny Winter would win the 57th Grammy Award. This is a great honor to the music and legacy of Winter, who passed away in July 2014.

His final album Step Back, which was released 2 months after his death, faced steep competition from Bobby Rush, Charlie Musselwhite, Dave & Phil Alvin, and Ruthie Foster.  However his album holds the most sentimental value, and more importantly, its kickass bluesy-rock-and-roll from start to finish, so it definitely earned the win.

A big salute to Johnny Winter and all the nominees this year. See you again in 2016!

Here's a track off the album, called 'Mojo Hand' (by Lightnin Hopkins):

Sunday, February 8, 2015

'No More Lonely Nights' - Charlie Musselwhite

Charlie Musselwhite is a living blues legend who's still at it today. His debut album Stand Back! Here Come's Charley Musselwhite's South Side Band was released in 1966 and is considered a classic, seminal blues album.

Alongside The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Johnny Winter, he set a new era of blues music that came from white heritage, sparking a new trend that became acceptable for non-blacks to play traditional blues.

Here's a slow blues from his debut album called 'No More Lonely Nights': 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Animated Short of B.B. King Talking About the Blues

A pretty neat animated short by PBS and Blank on Blank has been released, of a cartoon of a 1986 interview with blues legend B.B. King.

It's amazing! Check it out below:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Blue Note's Iconic Jazz Cover Designs

In the 1950's and 60's, Blue Note Records was at the forefront of jazz music in the United States and the world. 

Besides their great musical power, they also were known for their iconic album cover designs. The designer Reid Miles was the one who pioneered modern jazz covers; known for the sharp fonts and minimal design, these album covers have become works of art on their own. 

His work with Blue Note ended in 1967 after more than 10 years of design work.

Here are a few of his major covers: 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Honky Tonkin' - Johnny Copeland

Johnny Copeland saw late success in the 1980's, and was a brilliant Texas bluesman and guitarist.

Here's 'Honky Tonkin' from his 1983 album Texas Twister:

Buddy Guy to Receive Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

This is some big blues news! Current blues ambassador Buddy Guy is set to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the upcoming Grammy Awards. 

Buddy has been on a huge blues campaign in the last few years to bring it to the mainstream, with high profile concerts and a critically acclaimed album. Buddy has paid the cost with the blues, performing with everyone from Muddy Waters to Stevie Ray Vaughan, and has several Grammy awards under his belt; his contribution to the world of blues is immense.

Jeff Beck had the following to say about this occasion:

"I truly cannot think of another instrumental artist who has done so much after coming from such humble beginnings. Buddy's early experiences in the Chicago blues circles to his time at Chess Records sitting in with Muddy Waters all led him to the pinnacle of the blues 'n' rock genre."

For more Grammy information check out my previous blog post [here].