Chris Connor didn’t just sing a song, she made it her own! Her easy going manner and distinctive ability to get ‘inside’ a lyric defined her performances. Although she worked with popular big bands, and even became June Christy’s replacement with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Chris preferred to work with smaller groups and established her lasting reputation touring internationally as a solo performer leading her own trio. She was one of only a handful of white vocalists considered to be, incontestably, pure jazz singers.
Musician, composer, teacher and all around jazz ambassador, Dr. Billy Taylor’s musical career is legendary. More than just an avid spokesman for “America’s Classical Music”, he fought for the recognition of Black musicians as key contributors to the American music scene … promoting jazz as a commentary against racial prejudice. Despite being one of the most remarkable jazz pianists of all time, the recipient of honors and awards worldwide, Billy always managed to remain a true gentleman of honor and humility.
Time Out With Billy Taylor
Illinois Jacquet was an innovative jazz saxophonist, possibly best remembered for his soaring high note technique and passionate performance on Lionel Hampton’s 1942 recording of “Flying Home”. Although he was a jazz musician from head to toe, that performance is regarded to be the first R&B sax solo ever recorded and was a forerunner of the distinctive saxophone sounds of early Rock ‘N Roll. When I interviewed him on the phone, I engaged an open friendly voice that pulled you in, much the same way he played his horn.