Back in my radio days, Mercer Ellington and I sat down in his Manhattan apartment with a big pot of coffee and a New York size platter of Danish pasties. For two hours I received an intimate look at the father through the eyes of his son … many of The Duke’s opinions, foibles and philosophies. This is Part 3 of a 3 part visit with Mercer Ellington, one of the most fun and fascinating gentlemen of jazz I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
A few years ago, I was privileged to sit down for an extended interview with Mercer Ellington and was treated to a very personal perspective on his father, The Duke. We discussed everything from Mercer’s struggle for his own identity to the senior Ellington’s relationship with other musicians and his philosophy on musical composition. This is the second of a three part series that I hope you’ll enjoy hearing as much as I enjoyed creating it for you.
Ellington: Music Was Their Mistress Pt. 2
Duke Ellington was one of the most important and prolific composers of the 20th Century, not to mention his prowess as an arranger, musician and bandleader. His legacy was continued and enhanced by his son Mercer. I was privileged to sit down for an extended interview with Mercer Ellington and obtained a very candid view of the father through his son’s eyes. While their relationship was sometimes contentious, Mercer’s love and respect are evident, even as he struggles to emerge from a giant shadow and establish his own identity. This is the first of three parts that I hope you’ll find as fascinating as I have.
Ellington: Music Was Their Mistress Pt. 1
Ever wonder what Auld Lang Syne means and where the song came from? My New Years Show answers those questions, takes a look back at dance bands and movies a few generations ago, plus features an interview with Fay Wray, the lady who did all that screaming in the classic movie King Kong. Come on in, as we monkey around with the calendar, have some fun and maybe even learn a few things!
Days Of Auld Lang Syne
Christmas is a very special time of year and therefore calls for something special in the way of our Jazzcast. This is my musical Christmas card to you … featuring songs for the season by Maynard Ferguson, Tony Bennett, The Swingle Singers, Mel Torme, Count Basie, The Gene Harris Quartet, Lou Rawls, The Manhattan Transfer, Kenny G, Billy Taylor, Carol Sloan, plus a few of my own thoughts about the magic of Christmas. I wish you Christmas rainbows the whole year through!
The Christmas Show
Muhal Richard Abrams was an American educator, administrator, composer, arranger, clarinetist, cellist, and pianist in the free jazz idiom. In other words, he does it all! While his background is more traditional, with influences from Art Tatum, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell and many others, he concentrated on Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson for composition. He started an Experimental Band in 1962 and became known for his far reaching harmonies and dissonance. Muhal has been critically acclaimed for the breadth, depth and originality of his music. He was a man with vision.
Discovering Muhal Richard Abrams
Sherry Winston is a jazz flutist, composer and successful businesswoman … a well-rounded musician that has taken quite a different approach to utilizing her talent. In addition to her own band, and performances from Carnegie Hall to the White House, she has promoted and worked with other top performers like Herbie Mann, Chaka Khan, Harry Connick Jr., Stevie Wonder and Ramsey Lewis to name only a few. Sherry never met a stereotype she couldn’t break, and is one of the few female African-American jazz recording artists AND former record company executives you’ll ever meet!
Sharing With Sherry Winston
Originally trained as a classical pianist, Sergio Mendes eventually felt the lure of other musical genres. As a young man he abandoned his classical roots in favor of jazz and Brazilian music. In the early 60s Sergio made his way to New York and found himself performing with the likes of Art Farmer and Cannonball Adderley, but it was to be his native Bossa Nova beat and soft pop melodies, blended with a touch of lite jazz, that would dominate his musical life.
Say Hello To Sergio Mendes
Charlie Elgart is an accomplished composer, producer and arranger … not to mention his talent as a keyboardist and skills at the mixing console. He does it all and constantly strives to do more. While his primary influences range from Oscar Peterson to Michel Legrand, he tends to lean more toward contemporary sounds when expressing his own music. The result is a melodic form of what is generally referred to as ‘lite jazz’.
A Chat With Charlie Elgart
Marlene VerPlanck was once called “The finest canary in captivity” by Downbeat Magazine. She has done it all, from singing with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Tony Bennett and (believe it or not) Kiss … to studio singing including “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should” and “Mmm-mmm good, mmm-mmm good, that’s what Campbell’s Soups are mmm-mmm- good!” Whether singing background, cabaret, or Carnegie Hall, her career is a long string of successes. With her gorgeous, versatile voice, she has always known just how to tell the story.