Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 12:12 pm
Hank Williams was a great singer-songwriter who forged his own brand of honky-tonk music from a variety of influences: country, folk, blues, gospel and jazz. Yes, jazz.
If you haven't listened to his music in a while you might not recall — Williams had swing. And even if some jazz listeners have forgotten that fact, many jazz players haven't. Here then are five jazz artists out of many who have taken Williams' music and put their own spins on it.
Today jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal celebrates his 82nd birthday, presumably near Montauban, France, where he will play a gig tomorrow. In fact, he'll spend most of the month in France, The Netherlands, Greece, Switzerland and Turkey doing what he does best: pouring himself into his enchanting music.
In the first generation of bebop musicians, Ray Brown was king of the jazz bass. Today, the "go-to" jazz bassist is Christian McBride, so we were delighted to have McBride stop by the KPLU studios for a performance with pianist Peter Martin.
It's turning out to be a great year for jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette.
In January, he was named an NEA Jazz Master for lifetime achievement. He began celebrating his 70th birthday early — it's August 9 — by going on a short performance tour this month with his old friends, Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke. The celebration continues this summer, as he tours Europe with the Keith Jarrett trio. As if that's not enough, he also released one of the best albums of the year in any genre, Sound Travels.
Drummer Jack DeJohnette was 23 when he made his first recording with The Charles Lloyd Quartet in 1966. Since that time, he's been a driving force in the world of jazz. This year, DeJohnette will celebrate his birthday all year long — the big day is actually August 9 — with special events, including his current tour with his old friends Chick Corea (piano) and Stanley Clarke (bass).
During his 84 years on the planet, Yip Harburg contributed brilliant lyrics to some of the finest melodies of the American popular song canon.
Most of his songs were originally written for Broadway shows or Hollywood musicals. Finian's Rainbow is probably his most popular stage work, but he's best known for working with composer Harold Arlen on music for The Wizard of Oz, a collaboration which won them an Oscar for "Over the Rainbow."
What follows is the work of five singers, each putting his or her own stamp on the lyrics of Yip Harburg.