Jazz

Great Album Covers: Mingus Ah Um

From the buoyant gospel of ‘Better Git It In Your Soul’ and the mournful grace of ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’ to ‘Fables of Faubus’, a caustic protest song inspired by the Little Rock Nine and the ongoing effort to right the wrongs of segregation, Mingus Ah Um is one of Charles Mingus’s most diverse and accessible albums. It was recorded…

In Performance: Nina Simone – ‘I Loves You, Porgy’

Of all the standards comprising the Great American Songbook, few can have inspired such vital and diverse renderings as ‘I Loves You, Porgy’. From its embrace by jazz singers numbering Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, the piece went on to spur Nina Simone’s career in 1958. It played a prominent role in the music of Bill Evans: with an acclaimed performance at the…

Daily Visual 11.06.15: The Death of Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman died today, at the age of 85. The cause of his death was reportedly cardiac arrest. Coleman was born on 9 March 1930 in Fort Worth, Texas. His formative years were spent playing the alto and tenor saxophone touring across his home state with a series of rhythm and blues groups. His breakthrough came in 1958, when he recorded…

Behind the Song: Van Morrison – ‘Crazy Love’

‘Crazy Love’ is the third track from Moondance, Van Morrison’s second proper solo release. Astral Weeks had appeared on Warner Bros. in November 1968; with Blowin’ Your Mind! a compilation of recordings Morrison had made for Bang Records, originally intended for release as four singles, but put out as an album in September 1967 by label head Bert Berns without Morrison’s consent. Morrison’s dispute…

Christmas Music: Five Popular Songs & Five Alternative Albums

Elvis Presley leers atop my list of the five best popular Christmas recordings. ‘Blue Christmas’, written in 1948 by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson, is ostensibly a rejoinder to ‘White Christmas’, with its lines ‘You’ll be doing all right, with your Christmas of white / But I’ll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas’ – even though the Irving Berlin-penned song, first…