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'Fun-Loving' Jazz Master Dead at 85

Horace Silver helped pioneer hard bop and wrote infectious tunes

(Newser) - Jazz fans lost one of the greats this week—pianist, composer, and band leader Horace Silver. He died at his home in New Rochelle, NY, on Wednesday at age 85, the New York Times reports. In the 1950s, Silver helped pioneer hard bop, a driving, rhythmic music that critics considered... More »

Remembering Jazz Titan, Saturn 'Native' Sun Ra

Late artist's legacy lives on in his Arkestra

(Newser) - He was a jazz titan who achieved little mainstream success, a big band leader, a free spirit, a poet, the author of thousands of songs, and, as he sometimes claimed, a resident of the planet Saturn who dropped by our humble planet for a little musical interlude. NPR today takes... More »

What Louis Armstrong Really Thought About Race

Jazz giant had on-off affair with the Civil Rights movement

(Newser) - People still love Louis Armstrong's music and warm, colorful personality, but we forget about his mixed record during the Civil Rights years—when one critic slammed him as a "racial cop-out." There's something to it: He sang for white audiences in movies (with Barbra Streisand, no... More »

Sandy Hook Victim's Dad Turns Her Life Into Music

Saxophonist Jimmy Greene says he grieves for his daughter every day

(Newser) - Jazz musician Jimmy Greene said he couldn't touch his saxophone for a month—after his 6-year-old daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, was murdered in the Sandy Hook massacre , the New York Times reports. "I don’t know if we’ll ever feel whole again," said Green, who also... More »

Jazz Great Dave Brubeck Dead at 91

Pioneer of the genre attained pop-culture success

(Newser) - Jazz legend Dave Brubeck died this morning of heart failure in Norwalk, Conn., one day short of his 92nd birthday. Even those who are not aficionados will likely recognize hits such as "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk," which came out in 1959 on what... More »

NYC Jazz Finds New Home—in Qatar

Stay at the St. Regis, take in a show at Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha

(Newser) - Want to hear some top-notch jazz but can't make it to New York City? Try Qatar. Jazz at Lincoln Center is opening a new club in the capital city of Doha in April; it will be the nonprofit jazz organization's first permanent location abroad. And it won't... More »

Dead Jazzman Found in Trunk

Body of Stanley Wright found stashed in his Brooklyn home

(Newser) - The body of beloved Brooklyn jazz musician Stanley Wright was found stuffed inside a trunk in the basement of his home several days after he had last been seen. Police searched the Brownsville home of the 61-year-old, who performed under the name Suleiman-Hakim and was last heard from on Thursday,... More »

Jazz Great James Moody Dead at 85

Jazz world mourns veteran saxophonist

(Newser) - Beloved jazzman James Moody has died in San Diego at the age of 85. The saxophonist, flutist, band leader, and composer had a distinguished career in jazz that began in Dizzy Gillespie's band just after World War II and lasted well into the 21st century. Moody, famed for his versatility,... More »

Groundbreaking Lena Horne Dead at 92

'Stormy Weather' great broke ground for African Americans

(Newser) - Lena Horne, the legendary singer who broke new ground for African-Americans in Hollywood, has died at the age of 92. Best known for the song "Stormy Weather," the jazz vocalist won accolades as a cabaret and Broadway performer. Horne got her start in 1933 as a teenage chorus... More »

HBO's Treme Does Justice to New Orleans

'Wire" creator David Simon scores with new series set in Big Easy

(Newser) - Critics seem thrilled with Wire creator David Simon's new HBO series Treme, about post-Katrina New Orleans:
  • Dave Walker, New Orleans Times-Picayune : "This is the screen depiction that New Orleans deserves, has always desired, but has been denied."
  • Locals want to know two things: "Is it real? and
... More »

Beach Boy Wilson to Complete Gershwin Songs

Project a 'weird dream come true' for fans of 2 seminal American composers

(Newser) - Beach Boys songster Brian Wilson will put a gloss on unfinished tunes by revered Jazz Age composer George Gershwin. Gershwin’s estate tells the Los Angeles Times that dozens of fragments, from “a few bars to some almost finished songs and everything in between,” have been in limbo... More »

New Orleans Clinic Gives Jazz Musicians Free Care

Volunteer doctors eagerly treat musical idols

(Newser) - One New Orleans couple is so passionate about jazz that they give musicians free or low-cost health care, NBC News reports. The New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, founded 11 years ago, tries “to prevent death by lifestyle" for low-paid musicians who can’t afford treatment, says one founder. "We... More »

At 50, Kind of Blue Still Totally Awesome

(Newser) - In 1959, Miles Davis was looking to forge a path away from the bebop spearheaded by mentor Charlie Parker, Fred Kaplan writes on Slate. “Parker not only invented bebop, he perfected it,” Kaplan continues, leaving Davis nowhere else to go. So when Davis was introduced to so-called “... More »

Jazz Pioneer George Russell Dead at 86

His theory influenced Miles Davis, John Coltrane

(Newser) - Jazz innovator George Russell died at 86 yesterday in Boston of Alzheimer’s complications, the Globe reports. Russell developed a jazz theory that played a key role on landmark records like Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. Russell’s theory “gives you a... More »

1959: The Apex of Jazz

(Newser) - 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of jazz’s best year jazz ever, Martin Johnson writes for the Root. 1959 saw canonical discs from genre royalty: “Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come, Dave Brubeck’s Time Out... More »

Black Music Month Still Matters

Young musicians' education is priceless

(Newser) - Black Music Month, also known as June, used to celebrate visionaries like Duke Ellington and Billie Holliday. “In an age in which Auto-Tune and ringtone hits dominate, should we even be celebrating Black Music Month?” asks Erin Evans in The Root. “The answer, of course, is yes.”... More »

Hoops Star Wayman Tisdale Dead at 44

(Newser) - College basketball Hall of Famer Wayman Tisdale died today at 44, ESPN reports. Tisdale was diagnosed with bone cancer last year, and his right leg was amputated. The 6-foot-9 forward was an All-American all 3 years at Oklahoma, and went on to spend 12 years in the NBA. He was... More »

White House Jams to Spoken Word

Theater, jazz, poetry collide in East Room event

(Newser) - Spoken word, jazz, and theater took the White House by storm last night in what has been called the first presidential poetry jam, the Washington Post reports. “We're here to celebrate the power of words,” President Obama said, adding that his wife is his poet. The jam, Michelle... More »

Few Blacks Followed Anderson's Lead

(Newser) - Marian Anderson shattered a racial barrier when she sang at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, 1939—70 years ago this week—yet despite planned tributes, the power of the moment has faded, Alex Ross writes in the New Yorker. Most young people know nothing of Anderson, and "black... More »

Jazz Great Ellington Will Grace DC Quarter

Capital honors native son with commemorative coin

(Newser) - Late jazz legend Duke Ellington has been chosen to appear on the District of Columbia's commemorative quarter, CNN reports. The composer and performer, a DC native who died in 1975, beat out abolitionist Frederick Douglass and surveyor and astronomer Benjamin Banneker in a vote of the capital's residents. Ellington becomes... More »

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