Friday, February 9, 2018
A recent animated show on T.V. and my own need to get out of a winter funk led to my thinking of this song today. Enjoy, and remember...If you have your joy you can continue no matter what is going on in your life.
Monday, January 15, 2018
In the Talmud, that ancient Hebrew book, it says that ‘a dream
that is not understood
is like a letter not opened.’
Today it is time to open that letter we put off reading…
it is the letter of hope
and love in all its forms.
Fifty years ago I remember hearing and seeing this speech on T.V.
It moves me as much now as it did then.
When I think of Martin Luther King Jr. I feel love in my heart
which no one can take away.
No one can kill love.
Hatred you can burn to the ground
with a cool glass of water.
- Evelyn M. Wallace
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Monday, August 21, 2017
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
For the 40th anniversary of the passing of Elvis I thought I'd put up a video of one of his lesser known songs which just went platinum. I found that out from Priscilla Presley when she was being interviewed today early in the morning on T.V. Now this is a song befitting the great talent he was truly. R.I.P. dear and know you were well loved. -The Castle Lady
There are additional entries on Elvis on this blog. Check the archives.
Sunday, August 13, 2017
I make the most interesting musical talent discoveries on Good Morning America than just about anywhere these days! Ms. Zsuzsanna Eva Ward- showed up on my television screen the last full week of July and I was very impressed with her music. She said that she had played for and with several big headline acts, including ZZ Top- not just as an opening act- and I loved the song (Help me Mama) she sang on the show which was from her latest studio LP The Storm. Have a look and listen and decide for yourself. –The Castle Lady
Known as ZZ Ward, she has been active as a professional singer since the age of 12 when she started out with her father’s band with her first song being Albert King’s ‘As the Years Go Passing By’. She is a relatively new artist since she had her official recording debut EP ‘Til the Casket Drops’ which came out in 2012. She has been compared to Tina Turner, Etta James and Aretha Franklin but what I hear is more original than that and she could vie with Sheryl Crow for rock sass. Her appearances include the 2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Bonnaroo Music Festival and even a short turn on tour with Eric Clapton. You can find out more at www.zzward.com
Saturday, June 24, 2017
The flute world lost a major star this year in March when Dave Valentin, a Grammy Award winner, passed away at the young age of 64 from complications of a stroke. He had been dealing with the effects of Parkinson’s disease for a number of years but had appeared to thrive despite the debilitating effects of this ailment. I first heard and saw him, in person, at a National Flute Association convention back in 1986 in New York City. I did not know at the time that nearly all of us flutists had invaded his turf but he quickly became a favorite, not only because he was a male in a female dominated instrumental world but also because we noticed he was the most handsome flutist we had ever seen. It was just a plus that he played like an angel in heaven. His only rival was Ransom Wilson but Dave’s niche was jazz and he did some amazing things with it, besides.
His manager, Richie Bonilla filled in the gaps in my knowledge about him shortly after he passed. Born in the South Bronx to parents who came from Puerto Rico, Dave started in music playing conga and timbales by the time he was five. As a teenager, he became attracted to a girl who played the flute and, to better court her, switched instruments and taught himself to play. He went on to become one of the pre-eminent flutists in Latin jazz. In 2003 his Grammy for best Latin jazz album The Gathering was in collaboration with the Caribbean Jazz Project, which also featured vibraphonist Dave Samuels.
Lauded by Jon Pareles in a New York Times review back in 1984 he cited his sultry tone and amazing agility of technique on the instrument as his strength in solos and always hovered around Latin and funk rhythms or combinations of both. He’d played many instruments before mastering jazz so his beginning was, of course, on piano by the age of nine. He had already started to play professionally in real gigs by that time and was considered a wunderkind all the while only receiving instructions from public schools. He played in every collection he could- band, jazz band, orchestra and chorus and out of seven music teachers, one-Stuart Soffer, recommended him to the now famous High School of Music and Art in Manhattan. After graduating, he studied under the acclaimed jazz/classical fusion flutist Hubert Laws, who became his mentor. He also studied at Bronx Community College before becoming a music teacher and taught seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade music for three years in the South Bronx. He told NYT in 2014, “I had a jazz band and taught them how to play, so when they graduated they were ready.” His first album as a headliner Legends was released in 1979 on the GRP label, with which he had a long and fruitful relationship as both a leader and a sideman.
I own several recordings with the GRP label which include Jungle Garden, Flute Juice and the ground-breaking Light Struck which was inspired and promoted by Juan Novo who had invented the Fantasia flute- a hand-crafted flute which incorporated modern tech as well. One song on Light Struck “Can’t Change My Heart” included Angela Bofill’s vocals in a beautiful compliment. This album coincided with his strong appearance at the NYC flute convention in 1986 and put both of them in the All-Stars permanently.
In addition to releasing numerous albums under his own name, he also recorded with singers Patti Austin and Chris Connor, guitarist Lee Ritenour, McCoy Tyner’s Afro-Cuban All-Stars and many others. He also toured with the well-known jazz percussionist Tito Puente and was named music director of his Golden Latin Jazz All-Stars. After suffering a stroke in 2012, he convalesced in a rented bungalow in the Harding Park section of the Bronx for a time, surviving without savings or health insurance and mostly depended on donations, many handled by the Jazz Foundation of America.
He is survived by his brother, George and many fans who will never forget his sound, his infectious verve and smile but most of all his unflagging faith in Jesus who he always referred to as his Lord and Creator in his liner notes when he dedicated his LPs. On Light Struck he wrote, “In my moments of solitude, His light fills my spirit.”
Amen, brother !
The Castle Lady
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Even though Ella Fitzgerald has been gone from our presence for a little over two decades, her voice and music continue in tribute albums and performances of some of the finest jazz talent around the world! Just a sampling of those are Aretha Franklin, Victoria Wyndham, Jane Monheit, Dianne Reeves and Natalie Cole! Her tribute albums are numerous and contain quite a roster of very talented folk. Ella's talent alone was legendary and her signature sound was so unique that if you heard her on the radio- five notes and three words were enough to identify her. She was purely an original and I remember the first time I heard scat was on a Fitzgerald platter.
The past week marked the 100th anniversary of her birth on April 25, 1917 at Newport News, Virginia. On the day, a lecture was given by Larry Applebaum on her life and career at the Whittall Pavilion at the Library of Congress. On the same day there was a tribute concert at Birdland in NYC with musical artists recreating her tunes. She began singing in her teens with the Chick Webb Orchestra making her first and most popular early hit A-Tisket, A-Tasket and went on to sing with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, The Ink Spots and Dizzy Gillespie. It's important to note that her amateur singing debut was officially at the age of seventeen when she took the stage on November 21st of 1934 on Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater. Doing a tribute herself of Connee Boswell, she sang Judy and The Object of My Affection and won first prize ! A few months later she was singing with a band at the Harlem Opera House and met Chick Webb there. Fitzgerald recorded nearly 150 songs with Webb's orchestra between 1935 and its final end in 1942, when she went solo. After that she sang with many different bands but always headlined with popular artists. She made the transition to bebop seamlessly and became an integral part of the Dizzy Gillespie band making it definitive with what today would be called vocal stylings. By 1945 she'd made a record called Flying Home with arranger Vic Schoen and received glowing reviews, amongst them the New York Times said it was "the most influential jazz record of the decade".
Ella's discography and collaborations are so numerous that I would direct you to visit her web site to get everything you would want to know. There will be a full schedule this year of the tribute performances in and around Washington, D.C. and I urge everyone to get out and attend some of these if you are a true jazz fan. The above mentioned artists have done very well with her work but, of course, there ain't nothing like the real thing baby ! By the 50s Ella was covering just about every jazz song worth listening to in such composers as Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Gershwin, A.C. Jobim and went international with Norman Granz in the 60s. At that time she made Ella in Berlin which became her all-time best selling album for which she won a Grammy with her performance of "Mack the Knife." It vies with Louis Armstrong's version which is also world famous. She even made four albums with Joe Pass in the 70s and 80s which rarely get attention but are quite poignant. A zenith year came in 1975 when Ella and Frank Sinatra appeared on Broadway along with the Count Basie Orchestra in September in which the shows grossed $1,000,000 for a two week run!
Even though she looked the picture of health through most of her years Ella was diagnosed with diabetes type 2 in her later years and had several hospitalizations because of illnesses brought on by her condition. She passed away in June of 1996 at the age of 79 in Los Angeles and was interred there.
Her awards are numerous and include thirteen Grammy Awards plus the Lifetime Achievement Award she garnered in 1967. In 1958 she was the first black female to win at the inaugural show. In 1990 she received an honorary doctorate in Music from Harvard University !
If you are blessed to live in the vicinity of her hometown at Newport News, VA you may want to check out a music festival which is celebrated every year (since 1997) to honor her and her music for an entire week. The roster of Jazz musicians and singers who participate have grown exponentially over the years and you'll have a chance to hear what an impact this fantastic singer has had over the years and continues to exert even though her residence is now on high. Please do avail yourself of her musical influence and sound. There is no other like it in the world and there may never be again !
The Castle Lady
Monday, December 19, 2016
David Bowie may have been the most versatile and changeable rock star the world has ever had the chance to experience. I saw this on national T.V. when it first aired in 1977 and it is still a blockbuster to me because I knew he had a great voice, I knew he could act but with Bing Crosby he became another creature. Have a listen:
This was nearly forty years ago and it still sends chills up and down my spine. What a world this would be if they could only listen well and then decide to change...
Peace on Earth- can it be ???
Peace on Earth- can it be ???
It's time to have a...
Saturday, July 2, 2016
What's the best type of song to skate to and why are they always repetitious but fun? I think I just asked and answered myself in the same sentence. The best way to illustrate what I just wrote is to show you with a couple of videos:
One of my favs from way back.
and a new one...
Watch all the way to the end. I think some other Marilyn lookalike took the skating spill but it says everything right there. This song is just meant to be skated to and that's it ! Go ahead- life's too short not to have some fun !
and a new one...