Blog Archives

Listen: Cary Ginell on Inside Art

Cary Ginell spent a half-hour with Dave Drexler on “Inside Art” on KSDS in San Diego talking about The Evolution of Mann. Cary never lets us down with his great interviews. Give it a listen!

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>>LISTEN HERE<<

More than any other musician, Herbie Mann was responsible for establishing the flute as an accepted jazz instrument. Prior to his arrival, the flute was a secondary instrument for saxophonists, but Mann found a unique voice for the flute, presenting it in different musical contexts, beginning with Afro-Cuban, and then continuing with music from Brazil, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Japan, and Eastern Europe. As Mann once said, “People would say to me, ‘I don’t know where you are right now,’ and I would respond, ‘And you’re not going to know where I’m going to be tomorrow.’” A self-described restless spirit, Herbie Mann also was a master at marketing himself. His insatiable curiosity about the world led him to experiment with different kinds of sounds, becoming a virtual Pied Piper of jazz. He attracted thousands to his concerts while alienating purists and critics alike. His career lasted for five decades, from his beginnings in a tiny Brooklyn nightclub to appearances on international stages. “I want to be as synonymous with the flute as Benny Goodman is for the clarinet,” he was fond of saying. By the time he died of prostate cancer in 2003, he had fulfilled his desire.

Happy Birthday, Mr. B!

Today would have been the legendary Billy Eckstine’s 100th birthday! Yesterday, Tom Vitale of All Things Considered did a great segment on the talented and suave musician in which Cary Ginell, author of Mr. B: The Music and Life of Billy Eckstine, is featured. Please enjoy the slideshow below!

 

 

 

Audio courtesy of NPR

Images featured from Mr. B

Listen: Cary Ginell on Inquiry – The Evolution of Mann

Cary Ginell, author of Mr. B: The Music and Life of Billy Eckstine and Walk Tallrecently met up with the folks at Inquiry (again) to discuss his The Evolution of Mann!

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00333476More than any other musician, Herbie Mann was responsible for establishing the flute as an accepted jazz instrument. Prior to his arrival, the flute was a secondary instrument for saxophonists, but Mann found a unique voice for the flute, presenting it in different musical contexts, beginning with Afro-Cuban, and then continuing with music from Brazil, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Japan, and Eastern Europe. As Mann once said, “People would say to me, ‘I don’t know where you are right now,’ and I would respond, ‘And you’re not going to know where I’m going to be tomorrow.’” A self-described restless spirit, Herbie Mann also was a master at marketing himself. His insatiable curiosity about the world led him to experiment with different kinds of sounds, becoming a virtual Pied Piper of jazz. He attracted thousands to his concerts while alienating purists and critics alike. His career lasted for five decades, from his beginnings in a tiny Brooklyn nightclub to appearances on international stages. “I want to be as synonymous with the flute as Benny Goodman is for the clarinet,” he was fond of saying. By the time he died of prostate cancer in 2003, he had fulfilled his desire.

Listen: Cary Ginell on Inquiry

Cary Ginell, author of The Evolution of Mann and Walk Tallrecently met up with the folks at Inquiry to discuss his latest, Mr. B: The Music and Life of Billy Eckstine!

>>LISTEN HERE<<

I00333475n 1950, Billy Eckstine was the most popular singer in America. Movie-star handsome with an elegant pencil-thin mustache and a wide vibrato, Eckstine possessed one of the most magnificent voices in popular music history. Born in Pittsburgh, Eckstine won a talent contest by imitating Cab Calloway and started leading jazz orchestras under the name Baron Billy. In 1939, he joined Earl Hines’ orchestra, composing and performing the hits “Jelly, Jelly” and “Stormy Monday Blues.” In 1944, he formed what is now considered the first bebop orchestra that included, during its brief three-year run, legendary figures such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Sarah Vaughan. Signing with MGM, he rose to superstar status, sold millions of records, marketed his own line of “Mr. B.” shirt collars, and inspired an army of female admirers, known as “Billy-soxers.” Eckstine fought all his life for recognition and respect in his quest to become America’s first black romantic singing idol, but he faced hardships in the segregated music world of the ’40s and ’50s. Despite this, he went on to influence many singers who followed, including Arthur Prysock, Johnny Hartman, Johnny Mathis, Kevin Mahogany, Barry White, and even Elvis Presley. In this book, Cary Ginell traces, for the first time, the life of one of the twentieth century’s most amazing success stories, the man known simply as “Mr. B.”

Listen: Cary Ginell on “Inquiry”

Cary Ginell recently was a guest on Inquiry on WICN radio in Worcester, Mass., and the subject was Julian “Cannonball” Adderly and Ginell’s book, Walk Tall.  (Keep an eye out for the next book from Cary Ginell in the Hal Leonard Jazz Biography Series, The Evolution of Mann: Herbie Mann and the Flute in Jazz!)

>>LISTEN HERE<<

Walk TallCannonball Adderley introduces his 1967 recording of “Walk Tall,” by saying, “There are times when things don’t lay the way they’re supposed to lay. But regardless, you’re supposed to hold your head up high and walk tall.”

This sums up the life of Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, a man who used a gargantuan technique on the alto saxophone, pride in heritage, devotion to educating youngsters, and insatiable musical curiosity to bridge gaps between jazz and popular music in the 1960s and ’70s. His career began in 1955 with a Cinderella-like cameo in a New York nightclub, resulting in the jazz world’s looking to him as “the New Bird,” the successor to the late Charlie Parker. But Adderley refused to be typecast. His work with Miles Davis on the landmark Kind of Blue album helped further his reputation as a unique stylist, but Adderley’s greatest fame came with his own quintet’s breakthrough engagement at San Francisco’s Jazz Workshop in 1959, which launched the popularization of soul jazz in the 1960s. With his loyal brother Nat by his side, along with stellar sidemen, such as keyboardist Joe Zawinul, Adderley used an engaging, erudite personality as only Duke Ellington had done before him.

All this and more are captured in this engaging read by author Cary Ginell.

Billy Eckstine 100th Birthday Celebration

The Jazzoo Concert Series in Palm Desert, Calif., is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Billy Eckstine with a concert on Jan. 26 that will feature Billy’s daughter Gina Eckstine.  Cary Ginell, author of Mr. B: The Music and Life of Billy Eckstine, will be on hand along with his book. For more information, click here.

In 1950, Billy Eckstine was the most popular singer in America. Movie-star handsome with an elegant pencil-thin mustache and a wide vibrato, Eckstine possessed one of the most magnificent voices in popular music history. Born in Pittsburgh, Eckstine won a talent contest by imitating Cab Calloway and started leading jazz orchestras under the name Baron Billy. In 1939, he joined Earl Hines’ orchestra, composing and performing the hits “Jelly, Jelly” and “Stormy Monday Blues.” In 1944, he formed what is now considered the first bebop orchestra that included, during its brief three-year run, legendary figures such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Sarah Vaughan. Signing with MGM, he rose to superstar status, sold millions of records, marketed his own line of “Mr. B.” shirt collars, and inspired an army of female admirers, known as “Billy-soxers.” Eckstine fought all his life for recognition and respect in his quest to become America’s first black romantic singing idol, but he faced hardships in the segregated music world of the ’40s and ’50s. Despite this, he went on to influence many singers who followed, including Arthur Prysock, Johnny Hartman, Johnny Mathis, Kevin Mahogany, Barry White, and even Elvis Presley. In this book, Cary Ginell traces, for the first time, the life of one of the twentieth century’s most amazing success stories, the man known simply as “Mr. B.”

Cannonball Adderley’s Birthday

Cary Ginell 11-15-12Guest Blogger: Cary Ginell, author of Walk Tall: The Music and Life of Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, sketches a brief overview of Cannonball’s life for his birthday. Also for your reading pleasure: an excerpt from Walk Tall.

“Walk Tall” is the first in the new Jazz Biography series published by Hal Leonard Books, which is designed to present biographies of jazz pioneers whose careers have not yet been fully documented. “Walk Tall” concerns saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, who changed not only the face of jazz in the 1950s and ’60s, but how musicians related to audiences. Beginning as a bebop alto man in the mold of the late Charlie “Bird” Parker, Adderley spent the early part of his career trying to establish his own sound by leading his own quintet, which included his talented brother Nat on cornet. In 1957 Adderley joined the Miles Davis Sextet, recording the landmark “Kind of Blue” session with John Coltrane the following year. Reorganizing his quintet in 1959, Adderley recorded a live album at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco that stimulated the soul jazz era in the 1960s. 

Adderley infused his performances with a mixture of driving hard bop and a gospel feel, influenced by his love for church music. His hit “African Waltz” was the first of many jazz instrumentals to crack Billboard’s best-selling singles list during the 1960s. Adderley’s most important contribution to jazz was as an educator. A former high school music teacher, Adderley gave brief, often humorous impromptu introductions to his songs during concerts, but more importantly, conducted clinics at schools and colleges on the history of jazz. His work in the civil rights movement also showed pride for his heritage. During the final years of his career, he explored other forms of jazz, including fusion, African high life, and Brazilian samba. 

In the fall of 1968 the Cannonball Adderley Quintet was invited to be artists-in-residence during Black Heritage Week at Georgia’s Albany State College, an all-black school. In the group’s frequent visits to high schools and colleges, Cannonball had become disturbed by ] how little black Americans knew about their own musical roots. “It’s amazing to find so many black people who are not interested in jazz at all,” he told the New York Times. “When college kids book a group, they don’t care whether it’s jazz, only whether it’s popular. What matters, is, are you on the charts?”

Cannonball used the group’s popularity to help educate young African Americans by offering a two-day program of lectures, seminars, and demonstrations on black music free to every college where the group was booked for a concert. On the first day Cannonball would lead a discussion with the students on the chronological evolution of black music. When the inevitable question “What is black music?” was asked, Cannonball’s simple answer was, “Music created by and oriented to black people.”

The second day would feature discussions of the sociocultural significance of black music and its effect on current popular musical trends. Qualified music students were able to participate in individual clinics conducted by the members of the Quintet. In 1969 the program was presented at a variety of schools, including Savannah State College in Georgia, Florida A&M University (Cannonball’s alma mater), Lanay College in Oakland, California, and West Virginia University.

The members of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet all joined their leader in assisting with the programs. Each was given a different topic to research and would then be asked to conduct individual seminars at the schools. Roy McCurdy, who studied percussion at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, gave lectures on African instruments and rhythm. Joe Zawinul, a graduate of the Vienna Conservatory, discussed the differences between European and African musical styles, explained the different kinds of scales used in each, and demonstrated the differences between Arab scales and the qualities of blue notes. As the only white person in the band, Zawinul came prepared for any probing and potentially embarrassing question, such as “Can a white person have soul?,” to which Zawinul would respond indignantly, “Are you kidding?”

Nat Adderley, who studied brass instruments at Florida A&M, covered the sociological aspects of black music, while Cannonball coordinated the entire series, handing out a bibliography of resources to study, a recommended list of recordings, and other instructional materials. In his inimitably breezy fashion, Cannonball crowed, “By the first of the year, we’ll have a syllabus in print and then we ought to be really swinging.” This remarkable educational series continued until the end of Cannonball’s life.

Walk Tall

Cannonball Adderley introduces his 1967 recording of “Walk Tall,” by saying, “There are times when things don’t lay the way they’re supposed to lay. But regardless, you’re supposed to hold your head up high and walk tall.” This sums up the life of Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, a man who used a gargantuan technique on the alto saxophone, pride in heritage, devotion to educating youngsters, and insatiable musical curiosity to bridge gaps between jazz and popular music in the 1960s and ’70s. His career began in 1955 with a Cinderella-like cameo in a New York nightclub, resulting in the jazz world’s looking to him as “the New Bird,” the successor to the late Charlie Parker. But Adderley refused to be typecast. His work with Miles Davis on the landmark Kind of Blue album helped further his reputation as a unique stylist, but Adderley’s greatest fame came with his own quintet’s breakthrough engagement at San Francisco’s Jazz Workshop in 1959, which launched the popularization of soul jazz in the 1960s. With his loyal brother Nat by his side, along with stellar sidemen, such as keyboardist Joe Zawinul, Adderley used an engaging, erudite personality as only Duke Ellington had done before him. All this and more are captured in this engaging read by author Cary Ginell.