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.
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
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.
A Visit With Marlene VerPlanck
Joe Pass is generally considered to be one of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time and has been compared to Paganini for his virtuosity. He started out with a $17 guitar his dad gave him for his 9th birthday, was playing gigs at 14, and went on to perform with a virtual who’s who of music. While his early influences were guitarist Django Reinhardt and saxophonist Charlie Parker, Joe eventually developed his own sound marked by a certain purity that made him stand out easily from other first-rate guitarists. New York Magazine once declared, “Joe Pass looks like somebody’s uncle and plays guitar like nobody’s business!”
After Hours With Joe Pass
One of the pioneers of bebop, Max Roach spent decades creating innovative jazz. Though he started out playing piano, Max moved over to drums at the age of ten, and at sixteen he filled in with The Duke Ellington Orchestra at the famous Paramount Theater! He was a composer as well as a musician, a college professor and recipient of many honors and awards. While he was also comfortable working with other musical styles, Max Roach’s first love was always jazz and he is generally considered among the most important drummers in history.
Reminiscing With Max Roach
Although Mel Torme spent most of his career as a singer, he was also a drummer, pianist, arranger, author and prolific song writer. Since the age of 4, when he made his first stage appearance, and for the next 60 years, he entertained worldwide audiences with a unique, finely tuned voice that earned him the nickname of “The Velvet Fog”.