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Shorty Rogers: Portrait of Shorty

Images-2ImageAs modern as Stan Kenton was in 1950, he wasn't modern enough for Shorty Rogers. Rogers, like many members of Kenton's band at the time, was a big fan of Count Basie and his orchestra's dynamic ability to swing hard. While Kenton was obsessed with modern classical music in 1950, Rogers and others like Bud Shank, Art Pepper, Shelly Manne and Bob Cooper wanted a hipper sound that merged the blues feel and swing of the East Coast with the cool, linear harmony of the West Coast.

Clarence Johnson: Low Down Papa

51I2zKLBiqL._SL500_AA300_Before radio, before the phonograph and before the jukebox,  there was the piano roll. An ingenious invention dating back to the 1890s, the piano roll was the first way in which the public could hear recorded music. Many of the major piano roll companies were in Chicago, and by the early 1920s, some of these companies were recording black musicians who had relocated to the city from the South to play in speakeasies. One of these musicians was Clarence "Jelly" Johnson, whose piano rolls from the mid-to-late 1920s appear on a new release from Delmark Records.

Stan Getz on Clef and Norgran

ImagesImageOn Friday, November 14, 1952, tenor saxophonist Stan Getz caught a break. The demand for tickets to a Carnegie Hall concert celebrating Duke Ellington's 25 years in the music business was so strong that a second midnight show had to be added. Fortunately for Getz, he was given a 40-minute slot on stage in each of the two shows, ensuring maximum exposure for him and his quintet.

Interview: Marjorie Hyams


The George Shearing Quintet's "sound" was hugely dependent  on the musical hand-holding of the piano and vibes. All of the instruments in the late pianist's quintet were vital, of course. But it was the block chords of the piano tempered by the daintiness of the vibes that both excited and charmed listeners. In the original George Shearing Quintet of 1949, those vibes belonged to Marjorie Hyams.

Interview: B.B. King

Images-2ImageProud of your vast CD collection? Think your iTunes library isbursting with great stuff? Trust me, B.B. King has you beat. Two weeks ago, when I was in Missouri to interview the 85-year-old blues legend while he was touring on the road, I spent time with "the Boss" in the back of his cozy bus. My interview appears in today's Wall Street Journal (go here). Like a kid eager to show off a cool toy, B.B. was only too happy to walk me through his stereo system and his large digital collection.

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