Category: jazz

Throwback: Black History Month: Thelonious Monk

Today is February 24, 2021. It’s the 24th day of Black History Month. And as I’ve mentioned throughout this series, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles — with the hopes that it’ll be a bit of a primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Thelonious Monk is arguably one of the most beloved and eccentric personalities in the history of jazz. He had a unique improvisational style centered around an unorthodox piano playing style — and was known for an idiosyncratic habit during shows: while the other musicians continued playing, Monk would stop what he was doing, stand up and start dancing before returning to play. On occasion, it would look as though he were simultaneously absentminded and possessed.

Among jazz composers, Monk is the second-most-recorded after some guy named Duke Ellington and was one of five jazz musicians to ever be featured on the cover of Time Magazine. Some of his compositions are among the most beloved, jazz standards — “Ruby, My Dear” is one of my favorite Monk tunes, ever.

Throwback: Black History Month: Nina Simone

Today is February 21, 2021. It’s the 21at day of Black History Month. And as I’ve mentioned throughout this series, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles — with the hopes that it’ll be a bit of a primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Nina Simone is arguably one of the most uncompromising and important artists of the past century. She did it her way, while being bold, brash and defiantly black.

Throwback: Black History Month: Billie Holiday

Today is the eighth day of Black History Month. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few days of this month, you’d see that I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards understanding the Black experience.

Black culture is American culture
Black music is American music.
Black history is American history.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
You can’t love black art and black artists without loving black people.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Arguably one of the most expressive and haunting voices ever recorded, Billie Holiday’s vocals could express yearning, longing, heartbreak and despair within the turn of a single phase. Of course, it shouldn’t be surprising that most of her life was filled with tragedy and heartbreak — with the result being her tragic death at 44.

Throwback: Black History Month: Roy Ayers

Today is the eighth day of Black History Month. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few days of this month, you’d see that I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards understanding the Black experience.

Through the month — and throughout the year, I hope that you’ll come to understand and appreciate the following:

Black culture is American culture
Black music is American music.
Black history is American history.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
You can’t love black art and black artists without loving black people.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

If James Brown and Parliament Funkddelic are among the most sampled artists ever, Roy Ayers is likely the third most ever. His work automatically creates nostalgia for summer afternoon picnics with your family — but perhaps even more important, for being cool, groovy and defiantly and jubilantly Black.

Throwback: Black History Month: Ella Fitzgerald

Today is the third day of Black History Month. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few days of this month, you’d see that I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards understanding the Black experience.

Through the month — and throughout the year, I hope that you’ll come to understand and appreciate the following:

Black culture is American culture
Black music is American music.
Black history is American history.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
You can’t love black art and black artists without loving black people.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Ella Fitzgerald is one of the greatest vocalists to ever live. ‘Nuff said, folks. Also, the internet is a wonderful place: I didn’t know that she was in an Abbot and Costello film — and I watched a lot of them as a kid.