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    Interview: Berry Gordy Jr. (Part 3)


    Berry_gordyOver the past two days, some fans of Motown and Marvin Gaye have sent along emails insisting that Berry Gordy Jr., Motown's founder, was rewriting history. Their contention is that Mr. Gordy had blocked What's Going On in 1970 and 1971 and that he had heated arguments with Gaye over its release. Of course, we will never truly know what actually took place between them, since there are no documents, emails or video. For years Mr. Gordy has been vilified for being a whole range of things. Maybe some of those things are true. Maybe not. I have no idea.

    Interview: Berry Gordy Jr. (Part 2)


    81Zcnz-iAPL._SL600_Meeting Berry Gordy Jr. while on assignment for the Wall  Street Journal last week was quite a thrill. Having listened to Motown records since I'm a kid, it was quite something to spend an hour and a half with the person who built the label from scratch and developed the talent. And all of those skills Mr. Gordy learned on his own, without an apprenticeship or a relative in the business.

    Interview: Berry Gordy Jr. (Part 1)


    09_Berry-GordyMarvin Gaye's What's Going On (1971) is one of my favorite albums. As I've posted in this space in the past, the album has an unmatched sophisticated and sensitive tribal jazz-soul feel and a powerful socio-political message. For those unfamiliar with What's Going On, the album's vision and success changed soul music, giving artists greater latitude to express their opinons about injustice, poverty, war, pollution and other topics controversial at the time. In today's Wall Street Journal (go here), I interview Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. on Gaye and the making of What's Going On. [Photo of Berry Gordy Jr. by Matt Sayles/AP]

    Zoot Sims and Dick Nash


    Screen shot 2011-06-05 at 8.17.17 PMYou're in for a huge treat, but you don't know it yet. Back in the 10-inch LP days, on February 14, 1955, tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims was in Los Angeles cutting a four-track session for Jump Records, a Hollywood label founded by Clive Acker and Ed Kocher in 1944 just after the first AFM recording ban was settled. The leader of the Jump date was Hall Daniels, a top studio arranger who went on to score the Beach Party movies and space age pop for Les Baxter.

    Interview: Marty Napoleon (Part 3)


    50434_131925360184529_3354_nIt's hard enough to play jazz professionally. Now imagine you're  playing with Louis Armstrong and musicians like trombonist Trummy Young, clarinetist Barney Bigard, bassist Milt Hinton, drummer Cozy Cole and vocalist Velma Middleton. That's jazz of the highest order. Plus artists who know a thing or two about entertainment. Pianist Marty Napoleon did just that, both in the U.S. and on tour with Louis Armstrong's All Stars in the early '50s and late '60s. [Pictured: Marty Napoleon and Louis Armstrong]

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