Goodnight everyone, and have a softhearted, upbeat weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Here’s a portion of a review about a Michael Buble concert in Birmingham, England last May:

“Quite what elevated the 43-year-old Canadian above thousands of other such singers is a moot point. Perhaps the winning formula lies in songs that pack nostalgic and feelgood appeal, are delivered in honeyed, note-perfect vocals and come with the sort of boyish good looks that lead one woman in the front row to hold up a huge heart sign reading: ‘Hug me.’ Bublé doesn’t oblige, but signs it for her so she can put it down, ‘so the fella behind won’t think you’re an asshole for blocking his view’.”

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Just not now.

Almost everything in America is canceled.

Michael Bublé has announced the postponement of 15 arena shows slated for March and into April due to threat of the spreading coronavirus. “I was looking forward to getting back on the road but the safety of my fans and my touring family of course take priority under the current circumstances. We will be coming back soon with new dates and everyone will be safe to enjoy a great night out. Stay well everyone,” Bublé said in a release.

That’s too bad because…

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OK, not the same, but this week we’re repeating a Buble blog from October of 2018.

Enjoy!

Goodnight everyone, and have a color (or black and white) weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

“If I could be doing anything, I’d be laying on the floor in my birthday suit eating junk food and watching something dumb on TV.”
Singer Anita Baker

America has shut down. You can’t go anywhere, and you can’t do much. Maybe read (thank you by the way). Watch some TV. Ah, your television set.

A few years ago the Hollywood Reporter asked more than 2,800 industry people — including 779 actors, 365 producers and 268 directors, among others — to pick their favorite TV series of all time (excluding talk shows and news programs).

Tonight, music from some shows that made their top 100.

We begin with a memorable program with a theme that turned into a hit record.

The late James Garner starred as detective Jim Rockford in the NBC series, “The Rockford Files.” Mike Post and Pete Carpenter wrote the theme that featured a synthesizer, blues harmonica, dobro and electric guitar, and what Post called  “a chamber group on steroids” – two flutes, two French horns, two trombones. Carpenter didn’t want his name placed on the label of the recording, thinking he was too old at the time (60) to be associated publicly with the single.

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Mike Post is considered the most famous and prolific composer of television music. He also wrote the scores Hill Street Blues, Magnum, P.I., L.A. Law, and The Phil Donahue Show.

James Garner briefly attended Hollywood High School but never graduated. He stopped going to class so he take a job as a model for Jantzen bathing suits. “I made 25 bucks an hour! That’s why I quit school. I was making more money than the teachers.”

Then he was drafted into the United States Army during the Korean War and was awarded two Purple Hearts.

Garner died in July of 201419, 2014 at the age of 86.

I always watched this ABC show, week after week.

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Former fashion model Maddie Hayes goes broke. She learns that the only asset she has is her ownership in the Blue Moon Detective agency. Despite wanting to get rid of the business she hangs on. With David Addison she tackles some very unusual cases.

 

Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis starred. The yummy Shepherd sings two great standards here.

 

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The series ran from March 1985 to May 1989, won seven Emmy Awards and three Golden Globes.

This next program lasted for 5 years and 120 episodes, had two spin offs and there were several movies as well.

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Just about every big star at the time appeared as a guest.

 

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Jim Henson, the creative genius behind the Muppets,  died of pneumonia in 1990. He was 53.

Next up, real classic TV. From TV.com:

Cuban-born bandleader, Ricky Ricardo, and his wife, Lucy, live in a Brownstone apartment building on East 68th Street in New York City. The beautiful but daffy Lucy has the nasty habit of getting into jams, scrapes, and predicaments of all kinds. The Ricardos’ best friends and landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz, frequently find themselves in the middle of Lucy’s outlandish escapades, whether she’s plotting to land a part in her husband’s nightclub act, determined to write her first novel, or concocting yet another sure-fire “get-rich-quick” scheme.

You remember the theme song? It became more modern in the 1970’s thanks to a certain dance craze.

 

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Of course, you couldn’t possibly forget the Wilson Place Street Band. One hit wonder? You guessed correctly.

That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

Here’s the complete Top 100 list from the Hollywood Reporter.

We close with…

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This franchise is considered intimidating to some because there’s just so much: five live-action TV shows, an animated series, and 13 feature films. The brainchild of  writer and former Air Force pilot Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek debuted in September of 1966, and though the original series last but three seasons it had a major cultural impact.

Captain James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner, commands the crew of the starship Enterprise on their five-year mission of scientific exploration and intergalactic diplomacy in the 23rd Century.

The late Canadian jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson lets loose here, with a flute solo by Bobby Militello in this track from a 1977 album.

 

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Goodnight everyone, and Sláinte to your weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Next Tuesday is one of the biggest days of the year! No worldwide virus can stop it! No pandemic can put a damper on the immeasurable spirit that is St. Patrick’s Day!

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And of course we have music to get you in the mood!

Let’s get started with a rousing and appropriate opening. Go to any St. Patrick’s Parade (if you can find one this year) and you’re bound to hear this beauty, even though it’s a Scottish patriotic anthem. Why so perfectly Irish then?  It’s those bagpipes. The bagpipes. They just sound…Irish. Ah, such  glorious, majestic music they make.

That’s why I was stunned to stumble across an old 2015 Chicago Tribune column by Elizabeth Greiwe who my view engaged in absolute blasphemy when she wrote:

“…they let free the sound of a dying sheep being squeezed by a very angry elbow. Please. Ban bagpipes on St. Patrick’s Day. The world would be a better place without them. Imagine, no more requests for the umpteenth rendition of ‘Amazing Grace.’ No one asking what bagpipers wear under their kilts. No bizarre news stories about a man losing his pipes after a late night at the pub.

“They’re rarely in tune — but the casual listener can’t tell anyway because their sound is so god awful.”

I’ll bet she’s an absolute riot at parties.

Enough of that poppycock. I love bagpipes, and here they come! Getting closer, and closer…

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Along with the violin, the bagpipes are considered one of the most difficult instruments to learn. As one person noted online, “One thing the pipes and the violin have in common: it’s really, really easy to sound bad on them.”

“Celtic Woman” debuted in 2005 and became a worldwide phenomenon blending traditional Irish music and contemporary songs celebrating Ireland’s history along with  modern Ireland’s spirit. The personnel has changed over the years, but signature sound is consistent, and the ladies are lovely and talented.  From the Round Room at the Mansion House, Dublin, founding member of the group Máiréad Nesbit takes center stage.

Celtic Women will appear at the PAC in Appleton, WI on May 30.

This next award-winning quartet is from Galway and combines Irish with Old-Time American and Bluegrass music. And here’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

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BTW…

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The above scheduled concert has been canceled BUT We Banjo 3 will be at this summer’s Milwaukee Irish fest.

Formed in Texas in 1996, “The Killdares” specialize in hard-driving, alternative Celtic rock.

“I love the idea of combining something as beautiful and melodic as a traditional fiddle or bagpipe with crunchy American rock n’ roll guitar, and having it work,” says founding member Tim Smith.

This is a classic where the lyrics change slightly depending on the performers.

As I was goin’ over
The Cork and Kerry Mountains
I saw Captain Farrell
And his money, he was countin’

I first produced my pistol
And then produced my rapier
I said, “Stand and deliver or the devil he may take ya”I took all of his money
And it was a pretty penny

I took all of his money,
Yeah, and I brought it home to Molly
She swore that she loved me,
No, never would she leave me

But the devil take that woman,
Yeah, for you know she tricked me easy
Musha rain dum a doo, dum a da
Whack for my daddy, oh
Whack for my daddy, oh
There’s whiskey in the jar

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That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We opened with the Boston Pops. As a prelude to our close here’s another snippet from that album.

Last Sunday CBS aired this special feature.

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Please be advised that the following Riverdance performances scheduled to take place at Radio City Music Hall have been postponed:

Friday, March 13, 2020 at 2pm
Friday, March 13, 2020 at 8pm
Saturday, March 14, 2020 at 2pm
Saturday, March 14, 2020 at 8pm
Sunday, March 15, 2020 at 2pm

You will be advised when new dates have been determined. Your tickets will be valid for the newly rescheduled dates.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary Riverdance is coming to Cinemas for the first time! The Riverdance 25th Anniversary Gala performance in Dublin was filmed and has been released in Cinemas. Take a look where you can see it this weekend. 

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Goodnight everyone, and have a weekend that will stand the test of time!

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This week, some great smooth compositions redone by other outstanding artists. We do this every week to demonstrate that despite what’s being passed off as art today, there’s still plenty of really good stuff to be found.

Quality music lies straight ahead. Let’s go!

Dave Brubeck said his record company wasn’t too excited about his plans for a 1959 album, “Time Out.”

“I had a painting on the cover, and that hadn’t happened in jazz,” Brubeck said. “It may have happened in classical, I don’t know. And also, it was all originals, and they were against that. If you did all original compositions, you usually couldn’t do that. You just weren’t allowed to do that. They wanted you to do standard Broadway shows and standard tunes from the love songs of the day or the hits of the day.”

The album would be released in 1960 by Columbia whose president at the time, Goddard Lieberson wanted something different.

“I remember him saying, ‘We don’t need another copy of “Stardust” or “Body and Soul.” We’ve got so many. And it’s about time somebody did something like this,'” said Brubeck.

Included on the album is the greatest selling jazz single of all time, “Take Five.” Here’s Harvey Mason on the vibes, drums and percussion with a more contemporary version.

Next up, when Herbie Hancock recorded one of his biggest hits, it attracted fans of rock, pop, and R&B. But purists thought Hancock was abandoning his music principles and jazz roots for greater commercial recognition. Hancock had an answer.

“I always enjoy working with new forms, new idioms. I take them on as a learning experience, a challenge,” he said during a 1979 interview. “It’s just like learning to speak a few different languages. Someone might want to write a novel in French because French might be fitting for their concept of the novel. Or they might want to write in Spanish because of a certain concept they have. It’s the same type of thing. If you can use several means of expression, you can choose which one you want to use at any given moment. It’s not so much coming back to this or coming back to that, or leaving this or leaving that. It’s just that there are several choices available.”

Bob Baldwin and friends perform that Hancock classic.

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Traditionally our next selection that dates back to 1939 and was a staple during the Big Band era is dominated by a saxophone. In the 1980’s it was used for the TV series “Mike Hammer” and a related Hollywood film. The tune is timeless, perfect for a smoky nightclub scene.

“Harlem Nocturne” is performed by Martin Denny who had brief success in the 1950’s by combining lounge jazz, Hawaiian music, Latin rhythms, bird calls, and then-exotic ethnic instruments like, koto, gamelans, and Burmese temple bells into the sound known as exotica. No saxophone here.

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Now we set our time machine for 1894. That’s right. 1894. The composer is…

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Claude Debussy.

His famous piece, “Afternoon of a Faun” is based on a poem by Stéphane Mallarmé in which a faun (a mythological creature half man, half goat) awakes in the woods and tries to remember if he was visited by three lovely nymphs or is it all a dream, but he falls asleep again before he can remember.

Debussy’s original version began with a sinuous flute melody suggesting a graceful female form. Then come other instruments with the tempo slowly rising and falling. The flute later regains center stage.

Walter Murphy, best known for “A Fifth of Beethoven” in 1976 offers a lovely take.

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That’s it for this segment.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a good weekend.

We close with Henry Mancini’s interpretation of another Herbie Hancock gem, “Butterfly.”

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Goodnight everyone, and have a love to love weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

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It’s Valentine’s Day. This blog has done many VD segments in the past usually with very familiar and appropriate music for lovers. Tonight, something different. Not the usual suspects, but instead, selections that are slightly naughty. It’s all quality material.

Before the sultry, saucy stuff, we begin with a conventional, typical Valentine’s Day romantic melody from the 1932 film “Love me Tonight.” The music was composed by Richard Rodgers and the lyrics were written by Lorenz Hart. John Williams conducts the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Lover, when I’m near you, and I hear you, speak my name
Softly, in my ear you, breathe a flame
Lover, it’s immoral, but why quarrel, with our bliss
When, two lips of coral, want to kiss I say that the devil is in you, and to resist you I try
But if you didn’t continue, I would die
Lover, please be tender, when you’re tender, fears depart
Lover, I surrender, to my heart 

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Pictured above are two stars from “Love Me Tonight,” Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier. In the movie MacDonald sings the beautiful standard, not to Chevalier, but to a horse.

Now another orchestra led by the maestro of desire and passion. How about a sample?

Barry White formed  the 40-piece Love Unlimited Orchestra to back up his female trio protégés, Love Unlimited. It didn’t take long before White  began to employ them as well on his own recordings. Several successful solo albums by the ensemble followed. This track is from a 1975 LP.

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Barry White died on July 4, 2003 after battling  kidney failure brought on by high blood pressure. He was 58.

Now that we’ve established strings are pretty neat, a third consecutive orchestra number. This one’s by recording artists MFSB (Mother Father Sister Brother).

MFSB was a huge ensemble of over 30 studio musicians that backed various R & B and soul acts of the 70’s including the O’Jays, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, and the Spinners, all of whom were produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The orchestra also recorded their own instrumental albums.

Some of the key members including guitarists Norman Harris and Bobby Eli, bassist Ronnie Baker, and drummer Earl Young  were part of the recording of Cliff Nobles’ late 60’s hit, “The Horse.”

In 1973, Don Cornelius asked Gamble to write a theme for his new dance show. Gamble took MFSB into a studio to record TSOP and then persuaded Cornelius to release it as a single. It went to the top of the charts and won a Grammy.

70disco.com writes this about MFSB:

“Quality craftsmen were allowed to explore, expand a song’s inner meaning while galloping from a smokin’ jazz quintet to a 30-piece orchestra in a heartbeat. The group was velvet with a spine, a Love Unlimited Orchestra with grit. They consistently surprised with a theatrical flair.”

The album “Love is the Message” featured the gigantic smash, “TSOP.” Hard to believe it also generated this lush recording that features a nice vibes solo by Vince Montana.

“My One and Only Love” dates back to 1953, written by Guy Wood and Robert Mellin. Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald recorded the song. It’s actually the flip side of Sinatra’s “I’ve Got the World on a String.” Sting does a version on the “Leaving Las Vegas” soundtrack.

No, they don’t write them like they used to.

The very thought of you makes
My heart sing
Like an April breeze
On the wings of spring
And you appear in all your splendour
My one and only love

The shadows fall
And spread their mystic charms
In the hush of night
While you’re in my arms
I feel your lips so warm and tender
My one and only love

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MFSB’s “K-Jee” was a track on the mammoth selling soundtrack of “Saturday Night Fever.” Their last album was released in 1980 and the group folded in 1981.

Time to crank the sexuality level up.

Diana Ross was one of the biggest stars of Motown Records. After leaving the Supremes she launched a very successful solo career. In the mid 1970’s disco was king. But Ross wanted no part of it, and Motown didn’t do disco records. That would change.

Motown producer Hal Davis thought the time had come to give disco a try. In 1976 he crafted a song that segued from a slow, relaxed opening to a rapid uptempo groove. Davis assembled the musicians for a 2 a.m. recording session, and even served them Remy Martin.

To get Ross in the right mood (she didn’t want to sing disco) Davis purposely scheduled the late evening session. Ross preferred nighttime tapings. Flashing rights were set up in the studio. Instead of Remy Martin Ross drank vodka, her favorite. Ross so enjoyed herself that at one point she let out a laugh that you can hear on the record.

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The 5th Dimension also recorded “Love Hangover.” Their version was released the same week as Ross’. Motown promoted their single heavily. It hit #1 and Ross was a disco diva. The 5th Dimension single only made it to #80.

That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We close with Donna Summer, the queen of disco, who died in 2012 of lung cancer not related to smoking. She was 63.

Before our final exciting video a personal anecdote.

Summer was a hot commodity in the 1970’s. She appeared at Milwaukee’s Performing Arts Center (PAC) in November of 1978. By that time she already had recorded three #1 hits.

One of my many jobs during my college days was working as an usher at the PAC and the night Summer headlined I was assigned to work on the main floor for the front seats of the orchestra section. Naturally the place was packed.

Now the show starts and there are no empty seats.  Shortly after the concert began I’m in the hallway outside the main floor doors where I was supposed to be and I see a young couple coming towards me. The latecomers did have tickets…for the two end seats on the aisle on the right side in the very first row. Problem was I knew the seats were occupied.

I took the couple inside and told them to wait at the doors while I investigated. Down the steps to the first row I marched, knelt down so as not to block anyone’s view,  and kindly asked the gentleman on the aisle seat to see his tickets. He immediately  handed them over. Using my flashlight I  saw they were not first row seats. They weren’t even first floor seats. The tickets were for the balcony…on the PAC’s 5th (top) floor. I was ticked.

At this point there was suddenly more illumination than just my flashlight. The spotlight had followed Summer as she moved to the right end of the stage, directly above me. My reaction was to look up where I saw, slightly more than an arm’s length away, the sultry Summer, wearing high heels and a sequined gown, slit up to the ceiling with legs that could kill. Gulp.

Oh no, I thought. Surely she’s going to stop the show and do or say something that might embarrass me. Another gulp.

It was a brief encounter, but so memorable. Summer looked straight down at me, smiled without missing a lyric, then started to walk across the lip of the stage to the other side to divert all attention. What a pro.

Then it was time to rectify the seating mess. No usher seated the two that were supposed to be in the balcony. They had just plopped themselves down hoping to pull one over.

I promptly instructed them to follow me and put the proper folks in the front row. In the hallway I told the other couple how to get to their true seats. My parting words were, I believe, “Don’t ever try that again.”

This 1975 song, Summer’s first hit, was a bit shocking, and not just because of the lyrics and Summer’s singing style. She actually wrote it and that was surprise, given her Christian upbringing.  “I let go long enough to show all the things I’ve been told since childhood to keep secret” Summer told Time magazine. In another interview with the Telegraph Magazine  Summer said, “I took on this character and eventually it just fitted me.”

“Donna’s message is best conveyed in grunts and groans and languishing moans. Her goal is to make an album ‘for people to take home and fantasize in their minds'” Time magazine wrote.

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“SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical” is at the James M. Nederlander Theatre in Chicago for a short time. The musical that tells the story of Summer’s life is playing now through Feb. 23, and is one hour and 40 minutes with no intermission. Tickets start at $27. Visit BroadwayInChicago.com for more information.

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Goodnight everyone and have a weekend worth celebrating!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

History Month Logo Black

We’ve just begun Black History Month, a time to celebrate African American achievements. The idea began in 1915 by Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African American figures of his day.

Why February? Woodson and his group chose the second week in February in 1926 to celebrate “Negro History Week,” the same week of the birthdays of former President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and prominent abolitionist movement activist. The civil rights movement of the 1960’s helped transform the week into an entire month.

This week, music worth remembering. Let’s get started.

Diana Ross. Mary Wilson. Florence Ballard. The singing trio met in a Detroit housing project in the late 1950’s. Originally they were the Primettes (and had a fourth member, Barbara martin), but when they scored their first recording with Motown in 1961 the name was changed.

The Supremes left Detroit in the early summer of 1964 on a Dick Clark tour bus at the bottom of the bill, but with excitement mounting, they returned with their first No. 1 record of five in a row.  They earned six No. 1 pop singles, and they would achieve another six pop chart-toppers by the end of the decade.

Elaborately gowned and staged, the Supremes could really sing.

In honor of Motown’s 60th anniversary in 2019, Variety rated the label’s 60 all-time greatest songs. Two of them are in this medley:

1) “Stop! In the Name of Love” – “Lamont Dozier was arguing with his girlfriend when he told her — you guessed it — ‘Stop, in the name of love.’ ‘We both started laughing and stopped arguing,’ says the writer/producer, who turned the incident into the Supremes’ fourth consecutive No. 1 single.”

2) “It’s hard to imagine a song more synonymous with the Motown Sound than the Supremes’ ‘You Can’t Hurry Love.’ The classic soul/pop masterpiece, part of a remarkable string of hits for the girl group during their 1965-1967 heyday, was written and produced by Motown’s main production team, Holland–Dozier–Holland, and went on to top both the R&B and pop charts in America in 1966.”

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Ross left to pursue a solo career in 1970 and was replaced by Jean Terrell. The Supremes disbanded in 1977 after 18 years.

Since then the group has had a tremendous influence on others. One female ensemble got their start singing in their father’s church, The Church of God in West Oakland, California. Their father ran a tight ship.

“No jewelry, no makeup, no dancing, no movies, and certainly no rock music,” said Ruth Pointer. “Daddy wanted to protect us from what he called ‘the devil’s work,’ and he worked hard to make sure he did. We thought we were the poorest people in the world. ,” Most of our clothes came from the Salvation Army, Father Divine’s thrift store and church rummage sales.”

“Times were pretty tough,” said June Pointer.  “All we really had to make us happy was our voices.”

When the sisters’ parents were away the young girls would sing.

“Our folks would leave the house, and we’d get in the back room and beat pie pans with spoons, making that rhythm and jamming together,” said June Pointer. “When they’d come home, Grandpa would say, ‘Better whip their butts–they were in there popping their fingers and shaking their behinds, singing the blues! Terrible! Terrible!’ And we’d get a whipping, too–you’d better believe it.”

As the sisters got older they sang in their parents’ church choir, and their love of music grew. Ruth Pointer bought her first record: Elvis’  “All Shook Up.”

“I think the reason it even got into the house was because ‘Crying in the Chapel’ was on the other side, and Mother liked that song,” said Anita Pointer. “That was one of the first non-gospel songs that we were allowed to play.”

Once out of high school a couple of the sisters  began singing in clubs, and then came a big break. A call was made to David Rubinson, a partner in Bill Graham’s record labels.

“I called him and said, ‘You don’t know us, and you’ve never heard us sing, but please trust us and help!”‘said Bonnie Pointer.

Rubinson agreed. The sisters sang backup in the studio for  Taj Mahal, Grace Slick, Boz Scaggs and others. In 1971, Atlantic Records vice-president Jerry Wexler heard them backing Elvin Bishop at the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles and offered them a record deal. When that deal was up in 1972 they joined Rubinson, who promised to release their debut album on his new Blue Thumb label. They went on to achieve world-wide fame. In 2017, Billboard listed them as one of the Top 5 female groups of all time.

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In 1975, a quartet at the time, The Pointer Sisters won their first Grammy Award for a country-western tune, “Fairytale,” written by Anita and Bonnie Pointer. As a result, the sisters became the first black female group to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.  Elvis Presley recorded their song on his last studio album. The group hit the big screen in 1976 in the film “Car Wash,” starring Richard Pryor.  The group has received many awards and accolades, including a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They’ve recorded sixteen albums, plus a cast album to highlight their 46 week tour of the musical “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” They were honored to take part in the recording of “We Are The World.”

Now, not one, but two stars.

Nat King Cole became the first African American performer to host a variety TV series in 1956. Keyboardist Billy Preston performed with the Beatles and Rolling Stones and also had a very successful solo career.

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Cole died of lung cancer in 1965. He was 45.

Preston died of kidney failure in 2006. He was 59.

Life is not fair. No matter the level of talent, death can come too soon.

Here’s a snippet of one of the greatest jazz melodies ever.

That 1961 album is considered a true classic.

Oliver Nelson was a saxophonist, band leader, writer, and arranger.

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Nelson’s “Skull Session” LP (above) was released in 1975, the same year he died of a heart attack at the age of 43.

That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

Normally we like to close with a humdinger, a real showstopper. A change of pace this week with a very interesting piece.

This, too, is from the “Life is Not Fair” category.

Tenor saxophonist John Coltrane was revered as one of the most gifted modern jazz musicians of the 1960’s. He developed the three-on-one chord approach, and a method that has been dubbed “sheets of sound,” where he played multiple notes at a time.

In July of 1967 Coltrane went to a hospital after enduring stomach pains for several weeks and refusing to see a doctor. Coltrane died a few days later of liver cancer. He was 40.

His biggest commercial success was a lengthy recording of  “My Favorite Things” from the musical “The Sound Of Music” in 1961. Here’s trumpeter Wynton Marsalis with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra along with the Sachal Jazz Ensemble from Pakistan. Walter Blanding is on saxophone. Dan Nimmer of Milwaukee is on the piano.

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Goodnight everyone, and have a really super weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

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This week’s theme: A musical tribute to the locations of this year’s Super Bowl teams. We found some good material. Let’s get started.

Back in the day when you wanted someone to compose and/or arrange the theme music for a TV show you picked up the phone and called Henry Mancini. After leaving the Army this legend got his entry into the music industry with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Not a bad start.

Mancini would go on to record more than 90 albums, and put his stamp on numerous television programs.

Actor Karl Malden reluctantly signed on to star with a very young Michael Douglas in the gritty crime drama “The Streets of San Francisco” playing Lt. Mike Stone. The show ran for five seasons in the 1970’s, during which Malden earned four consecutive Emmy nominations.

Mancini, with Artie Kane on the electric piano solo…

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My wife Jennifer mentioned this sounded a lot like the type of stuff used for NFL Films music.

There were 119 episodes of the SOS. Douglas left the show at the beginning of the final season after he had produced “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and his film career took over. Malden and Douglas had a very positive working relationship. Both expressed high respect for one another.

Mancini was  nominated for seventy-two Grammy Awards and won twenty.

Malden died in 2009. He was 97.

Michael Douglas has been in show biz for more than 50 years.

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Ah, Kansas City. Legendary big band leader Count Basie wasn’t born there but got his musical start there.

Before his launch to stardom a young Basie did chores at a theater in New Jersey.  A projectionist taught him to rewind the reels, switch between projectors, and operate the spotlight for the vaudeville shows. When the theater’s house pianist didn’t show for work, Basie suggested he take his spot. The theater said no. So he waited for the film to start, snuck into the orchestra pit, and played piano along with the film anyway. The theater invited him back to play again that night.

After moving to New York City Basie toured as a pianist on the major vaudeville circuits. In 1927, a canceled tour left Basie stranded in Kansas City. He remained there and played in several bands in the area, eventually forming his own orchestra that recorded and performed a string of hits that featured the Kansas City sound. Here’s a brief clip of what it sounded like.

In 1961 Basie recorded the album “Kansas City Suite” that included “Vine Street Rumble,” done here by the Wynton Marsalis Big Band in concert at Lincoln Center. Located in a historic district, the intersection of 18th and Vine is internationally recognized as one of the cradles of American jazz.

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During his sixty-plus year career, Basie made significant historical contributions, establishing jazz as a serious art form played not just in clubs but in theaters and concert halls. Basie won nine Grammy Awards, two at the very first awards ceremony in 1959.

This next group has been around for 52 years and is considered one of the best horn bands to ever play. They’re from Oakland. Not San Francisco, but close enough. After all, the 49ers play their home games in Santa Clara.

During this group’s heyday in the 1970’s they’d usually reserve an album track for an instrumental, like this 1975 release with Chester Thompson on the organ solo.

No photo description available.Last week Tower of Power released a track from their forthcoming 27th album, due out in March.

That’s it for this week’s installment.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a super weekend.

Let’s see. We’ve had two California musical selections and one about KC. We need to fix that.

Here’s an all-star finale with Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Sting, Eric Clapton, Carl Perkins, Mark Knopfler and Elton John at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1997. “Music for Montserrat” was a benefit concert for the reconstruction of the small Caribbean island of Montserrat. The island had been devastated by hurricane Hugo in 1989. Then in 1997 the Soufrière Hills Volcano erupted and took the lives of twenty people. The ensuing concert was organized by Beatles producer George Martin who owned a house and studio at Montserrat. The show’s final number was reportedly unrehearsed.

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That’s Carl Perkins (“Blue Suede Shoes”) above in what would be his final live concert appearance. He died just a few months later.

Goodnight everyone, and have a prize of a weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

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To think there was a time I’d watch the Grammy Awards on TV religiously. Never missed a trophy presentation. Not anymore.

FOGEY ALERT? More like a lack of quality alert.

I’m proud to concede that I know absolutely nothing about most if not all of the major nominees like:

Song of the Year

“Norman F—ing Rockwell,” Jack Antonoff & Lana Del Rey, songwriters (Lana Del Rey)

I did look over the list of nominees and found a few I thought were noteworthy and wanted to share. Please enjoy. Let’s get started!

Ain’t Too Proud opened on Broadway last March. The musical follows The Temptations’ journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. With their signature dance moves and unmistakable harmonies, they compiled 42 Top Ten Hits with 14 reaching number one.

“AIN’T TOO PROUD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS” is nominated for Best Musical Theater Album. From the 2019 Tony Awards show…

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The show is scheduled in NY through November 29, 2020.

There aren’t too many female clarinetist-saxophonists from Tel Aviv that lead their own big bands. That’s Anat Cohen who fronts a tentet.

“Ms. Cohen on the clarinet was a revelation. Using the clarinet’s upper register, she could evoke infectious joy. In the lower register, her playing could conjure a deep, soulful melancholy. On up-tempo numbers, her improvisations weren’t just bebop fast; they had a clarity and deep intelligence that is really quite rare. She made it look effortless, even as she was playing the most technically difficult of all the reed instruments… she took my breath away.”
NY Times review

The group’s second album, “Double Helix” has been nominated for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. We stay upbeat with this track.

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Cohen has been named Clarinetist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association every year since 2007 and has also been named the top clarinetist in both the readers and critics polls in DownBeat Magazine for many years.

First R@B, then jazz. We switch gears again with Mexican acoustic rock guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. They’ve been together  for 20 years, and it took them three years to come up with their latest album, “Mettavolution,”  conceived and composed in their studio in Ixtapa on the Mexican Pacific Coast.

Watch and listen to the frenetic title track as the two attack their guitars. The nomination is for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.

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No surprise here. One of Rodrigo and Gabriela’s biggest influences? Pink Floyd.

Change gears time? You bet.

Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing are the Okee Dokee Brothers. Are they country? Pop? Blues?

Their longtime passion for the outdoors inspired their Grammy-nominated album. According to their website, they “record and perform family music with a goal to inspire children and their parents to step outside and get creative. They believe this can motivate kids to gain a greater respect for the natural world, their communities and themselves…and have been called ‘two of family music’s best songwriters’.”

Here’s a track from “WINTERLAND” that’s nominated for Best Children’s Album.

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I like their style, their commitment to children, and this song, but the duo just had to go there.

“We’ve dedicated Winterland to our beloved and endangered winters, which are warming fast as a result of climate change,” said the Brothers.

It’s unfortunate more entertainers won’t follow Elvis’ classy lead.

It took more than 50 years but we finally got a sequel to the classic “Mary Poppins Returns.” The Practically Perfect in Every Way nanny arrives to save the day when bank teller Michael Banks finds out his house will be repossessed in five days unless he can pay back a loan. His only hope is to find a missing certificate that shows proof of valuable shares that his father left him years earlier.

“Mary Poppins Returns” is nominated for Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media. The award goes to a composer or composers for an original score created specifically for, or as a companion to, a current legitimate motion picture, television show or series, video games or other visual media.

It’s infectious. It’s catchy. It’s marvelous.

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Lady hyacinth Macaw brought all her treasures to a reef
Where she only wore a smile
Plus two feathers, and a leaf

So no one tried to rob her
‘Cause she barely wore a stitch
For when you’re in your birthday suit
There ain’t much there to show you’re rich!

Can’t argue with that!

That’s it for this week’s segment.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

Speaking of Elvis, ” Elvis is Back!” was his first album released (April 1960) after he served in the Army.

 

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That’s an ad for the album Elvis started working on immediately after his discharge from the service on March 5, 1960. Twelve songs were recorded between March 20 and April 4. As the ad proclaims, the finished album was Elvis’ first recorded in stereo.

There’s a connection to popular singer Michael Buble. During the past two years Buble suffered. His then three-year-old son was diagnosed with liver cancer and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Buble even hinted briefly that he would retire so he could spend more time with his family.

The singers tribulations led to “Love,” an album filled with themes of romance and fidelity that’s been nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

Among all the ballads on his album Buble also included his version of a song from “Elvis is Back!”

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Buble will perform at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on Sunday, March 29, 2020.

To see the complete list of Grammy nominees, go here.

Goodnight everyone, and have a winter wonderland weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Since we got that foot of snow last weekend I guess we can say winter has really kicked in. OK, couldn’t resist, and I’m not sorry.

March 19th is the first day of spring. Till then, two months of winter that will seem like triple that. I despise winter. Too long. Too cold. Too dreary. But I’ll admit the season has its moments.

A personal challenge putting together this week’s feature. Could I find nice wintry music and mix in with some not at all yucky images?

You be the judge on how we did. Let’s get started with a Christmas song that has nothing to do with Christmas. The holiday is never mentioned. This is a light, easy, whimsical instrumental by saxman Dave Koz with trumpeter Rick Braun and guitarist Peter White that is appropriate before and after December 25.

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Of course that’s a look from beautiful Door County, WI.

Richard Smith wrote “Winter Wonderland” in 1934. His inspiration: a snowy Central park in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, seen here last month.

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One of the best contemporary jazz bands is Fourplay. This is an original composition by the group in 2009.

No photo description available.A picture print by Currier and Ives. Their lithographs were very popular wall hangings in 19th-century America that portrayed the history and customs of American people.

When it comes to wintry music Grammy-nominated composer David Arkenstone might be the best. His is a distinctive sound, combining  global, cinematic, and rock into his style of new age. Arkenstone’s music has been featured in film, television, and video game scores as well as dozens of his own albums.

At the time this blog was posted the snow is snowing and the wind is blowing.

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Arkenstone’s music has been described as Cinematic new age rock. “It is sometimes difficult to categorize my music and this is a term I can live with,” he said.

I stumbled upon this next album but know nothing about the performers. I do know this material fits our theme this week. The group is called WordHarmonic.

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That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

So, that was all good stuff. Pretty. Smooth. Pleasant.

Y’know what? I still can’t stand winter.

But I do agree with Tony Bennett and his daughter Antonia.

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