| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
On February 8th, 2005, sideman, bandleader, composer, organist, arranger, producer, and hard bop/fusion/funk/jazz musician-Jimmy Smith (James Oscar Smith) passed away in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Norristown, PA native is one of the best Hammond B-3 organ players in the world (past, present, and it’s probably safe to say in the future). He taught himself piano at a very young age; and by the time he was nine, he’d won a Philly radio contest for his boogie-woogie piano style. He received formal music training at The Royal Hamilton College Of Music in Hamilton, Ontario in the late 1940s. In 1949, he started learning to play the Hammond Organ at the Leo Ornstein School Of Music in Philadelphia. In the early 1950s he took his skills to the streets, and started backing R&B artist Don Gardner.
Smith played piano during this stint, but heard Wild Bill Davis on the organ, and permanently switched to organ from that point on (1954). His reputation as a prolific jazz organist soon grew, and Blue Note label exec Alfred Lion signed him in 1956. He released his Blue Note debut-The Champ, and went on to record over 40 LPs for Blue Note between 1956 & 1993. He also recorded over 40 LPs for Verve Records between 1962 & 2001. Essentially, he released roughly two LPs every year from 1956 to 2001. Jimmy Smith has worked as a sideman, composer, producer, or arranger for a who's who of artists such as: Kenny Burrell, George Benson, Stanley Turrentine, Gardy Tate, Grant Green, Lee Morgan, Jackie McLean, Lou Donaldson, Wes Montgomery, Tina Brooks, Lalo Schifrin, Michael Jackson, Etta James, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Quincy Jones, B.B. King, & Frank Sinatra. The NEA Jazz Master & DownBeat Jazz Hall Of Famer was 75 when he passed away.
On February 8th, 2011, we lost singer songwriter, composer, arranger, self-produced Bluesman, and one of the forefathers of ‘suggestive’ lyrics-Marvin Sease. Sease got his start singing gospel in South Carolina. In his 20s, he moved to NYC and started singing Blues during the mid to late 1960s. He landed a reoccurring gig at Brooklyn’s Club Casablanca; and in the 80s, he moved back down south and released his self-titled debut. The album did well on the underground circuit, and led to him securing a deal with Polygram Records.
He’s known for having raunchy lyrics long before 2 Live Crew, Too Short, & N.W.A. Songs like Candy Licker and Ghetto Man became staple hits, and drew a large female fan base. Sease recorded for Jive Records in the early 1990s, and had a Top 100 hit with Tonight. Sease’s singing style, and overall persona, can be compared to Luther Ingram’s tone-with some Tyrone Davis and Johnnie Taylor thrown in. Marvin Sease passed away in Vicksburg, Mississippi when he was 64.
On February 8th, 1899, jazz musician, guitarist, singer, violinist, sideman, bandleader, songwriter, arranger, composer, producer, and the first jazz artist to record an electrified violin-(Alonzo) Lonnie Johnson (l) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lonnie learned violin and piano when he was a kid. He picked up the guitar in his early teens, and developed a style of single-string picking that would influence jazz, blues, and rock guitarists decades later. In 1917, he traveled to England, toured for two years, and returned to St. Louis with his trumpet-playing brother James 'Steady Roll' Johnson in 1919. They played together and built a local following.
In 1925, he married the blues singer Mary Johnson, won a record deal in a blues contest, and started recording with Okeh Records. Between 1925 & 1932, he recorded over 120 sides for the imprint. He also worked with Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. Lonnie made the violin a blues and jazz instrument-which paved the way for artists like Noel Pointer and Don 'Sugarcane' Harris. He penned substance-based songs that reflected the times (The Great Depression & Jim Crow), with blues rhythms and jazz improvisations. His impact on modern music can be heard in all the major genres. He was 71 years old when he died.
HONORABLE MENTION: On February 8th, 1960, the Feds started their hearings investigating Payola. Payola is the practice of taking cash, gifts, and/or preferential treatment for playing music by a particular label, artist, or business entity that is not a part of the original broadcast. To add, it includes the practice of corrupting the number of spins a song receives-which may spike its perceived popularity and subsequent record sales. At the time, the entire industry was ran by Payola. The FCC enacted a mandate that requires stations to list each song they play if spinning live (for charts and publishing royalties), or provide a list of all the songs to be played during a broadcasting block before going on the air (order isn’t necessary).
On February 8th, 1968, one of the best concerts of the late 1960s took place in London. Psychedelic Soul icon-Edwin Starr was headlining a show at the Marquee. His supporting band was The Band Of Joy, which featured Robert Plant and John Bonham. The Marquee is considered the center of England's psychedelic 60s counterculture. It's what CBGBs was for Punk, or The Loft for Deep House, or The Latin Quarter for Hip Hop. Prog Rock and Alternative acts performed like Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Move, Neat Change, The Syn, Arthur Brown, and The In Crowd all performed there.
On February 8th, 1938, singer, session musician, guitarist, and the man who was commonly mistaken for a White artist even though he’s Black-Ray Sharpe was born in Fort Worth, TX. Sharpe's sound is similar to Chuck Berry (his major influence) in that it’s swift, sharp, with an element of rockabilly and country. He’s been playing and recording since the late 1950s, started his own trio in 1956, and appeared on American Bandstand in 1959. He’s recorded with King Curtis (Jimi Hendrix on guitar), Duane Eddy, and Al Casey. Ray Sharpe turns 81 today.
On February 8th, 1993, Will Smith had a pop vocal icon Tom Jones as a guest on his TV sitcom-The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. The ‘Carlton Shuffle’ (Alfonso Ribero's dance) was well-known for Tom Jones’ hit song It’s Not Unusual. Every time Carlton would get hype, he’d sing the song and do his dance. Tom appeared live on the episode, and sings with him. Alfonso played Michael Jackson's young double in a classic Pepsi commercial, and played on all of the late 70s early 80s sitcoms of the day (at least making a cameo). He was a talented young actor, dancer, and singer.
On February 8th, 2004, Outkast achieved a feat, that up to that point, had not been accomplished by any hip hop group. They won the Album Of The Year Grammy Award for their Speakerboxxx/The Love Below Double-LP on LaFace-Arista Records. They were the second hip hop act to win the award (Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill was the first); but the first hip hop group. It’s certified Diamond and 11 times Platinum. Notable lesser-known cuts on the LP include Prototype, Church, Knowing (Da Art Of Storytellin’ Pt. 3), and Spread.
For more information on any musician or event reviewed in posts, or for additional information on The Wandering Eyes Blog overall, use the search bar and search the artist or event using keywords. It’s like a Google search for the site. A myriad of information, covering several topics exists on this site going back to 2013 when it was created. PEACE