The Kingfish Files

By host on 7/25/2010 3:00 AM
Sunday, July 25, 2010 Louis Armstrong - "If I Could Be With You" - 1930 The song "If I Could Be With You", written by James P. Johnson, was a popular hit long before Louis Armstrong recorded it in 1930. Yet, Louis' recording is just remarkable, not only for his usual musical brilliance, but also for the steamy introduction that only he could deliver. And check out the incredibly modernistic piano intro by Harvey Brooks. I hope you enjoy it. ...
By host on 7/18/2010 3:00 AM
Sunday, July 18, 2010 Mamie Smith - Crazy Blues Starting in the 1920s, record companies issued recordings of black artists on "race records", labels that recorded only black artists. You might think this was just an extension of Jim Crow but, in fact, it was the idea of black musician and promotor Perry Bradford who felt that race labels would give black performers opportunities to record that they would not otherwise have. And he was right, race records were a success not only among blacks but also among whites. Some contend that Bradford put the first brick in a wall separating black and white artists, a wall that would grow to encompass not only musical recordings but also movies well into the 1950s. Others insist that the wall was always there and that race records at least gave blacks a way to record. Bradford hit success on his first...
By host on 7/11/2010 3:00 AM
The Boswell Sisters This week the Kingfish Files offers a video/audio two-fer featuring The Boswell Sisters. The Boswell Sisters -- Connie, Helvetia and Martha -- were one of the most popular recording acts of the early 1930s. But more than that, they were an integral part of the hot jazz scene of the 1920s. Growing up in a musical family in New Orleans, each girl was trained in both classical and popular music. Connie played cello and saxophone, Vet played violin and banjo, and Martha played piano. They counted as friends Louis Prima, Leon Roppolo, Monk Hazel, Tony Parenti and Emmett Hardy. Connie recounted that as a girl she was equally influenced by Enrico Caruso and Mamie Smith -- such were the influences that formed early jazz. And the Boswell's in turn influenced their fellow musicians with their inventive and unconventional vocal arrangements. "An Evening in Caroline" ...
By host on 7/4/2010 3:00 AM
Sunday, July 4, 2010 Dan Levinson - "I Found a New Baby" - Paris, 2010 In some (if not most) jazz circles, traditional jazz is viewed as a quaint vestige of a bygone era, not as a vital and important voice in contemporary music. I would argue that just the opposite is true. Yes, the modernists hold sway in the minds of the critics and the elite jazz clubs, but the continuing popularity of traditional jazz serves as a firm reminder of how this music speaks to the soul. After all, have you ever seen a contemporary jazz player struttin' with some barbecue? I thought not. Among the best of the current traditional players is Dan Levinson whose virtuosity on the clarinet and depth of understanding of the early jazz styles is unmatched. This week's offering is a video taken from a jam session in Paris earlier this year featuring Dan and the Doc Scanlon Trio. Listen and enjoy! ...

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