Amoeblog

Remembering Hazel Scott on her 90th birthday

Posted by Whitmore, June 12, 2010 02:40pm | Post a Comment
hazel scott, jazz, piano. 20th century icon, huac, charles mingus, paris, harlem
This past week would have been Hazel Scott’s 90th birthday. She’s probably not as well known today as she was in her lifetime, which is a shame, because Hazel Scott was not only a brilliant and audacious pianist but a woman who spent most of her life bucking the system.
 
A child prodigy, she was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, June 11th, 1920, the only child of R. Thomas Scott, a West African scholar from England and Alma Long Scott, a classically-trained pianist and music teacher. Hazel began playing piano at the age of two. In 1924 her parents divorced, and she and her mother moved to the States, settling in Harlem, where her musical guidance continued with support from local jazz greats like Art Tatum, Lester Young and Fats Waller. Two years later Scott made her formal American performing debut at New York’s Town Hall. In 1929 Scott received several scholarships to Julliard School of Music, but still being too young to attend, the school’s director, Walter Damrosch, offered to teach her privately. At sixteen Hazel Scott had her own radio show on WOR, the Mutual Broadcasting System, and at night she’d perform at the Roseland Dance Hall with the legendary Count Basie Orchestra. She was dubbed the hazel scott, jazz, piano. 20th century icon, huac, charles mingus, paris, harlem, Darling of Café Society.”

In the late 1930’s, she appeared on Broadway in the musical Singing Out the News, followed by Priorities of 1942. In 1943 Hollywood came knocking, and she appeared in the several films over the next few years including Something to Shout About, Tropicana, The Heat’s On, Broadway Rhythm and Rhapsody in Blue.
 
With the advent of television she became the first African American woman to have her own TV show. The Hazel Scott Show debuted on the DuMont Television Network in 1950. But Scott’s interests, especially her relentless campaign for civil rights, women's rights, and the rights of artists made her an easy target for the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the McCarthy Era. Her television show was canceled after just a few months on the air, due to accusations of her being a communist sympathizer.
 
There is an excellent biography, published in 2008, by Karen Chilton -- Hazel Scott: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist from Cafe Society to Hollywood to HUAC. It tells the story of how by the age of twenty-five Hazel Scott was an international star, but before reaching her mid thirties, she considered hazel scott, jazz, piano. 20th century icon, huac, charles mingus, paris, harlem, soul, 1940's, televisionherself a failure, twice attempting suicide. The book also goes into detail about her conflicts with HUAC and Hollywood and her failed marriage to the controversial Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
 
Subsequent to being blacklisted and divorced after eleven years of marriage, Scott left the States. Along with her son, she joined the burgeoning black expatriate community settling in Paris. She wouldn’t return to America until 1967. Her apartment on the Right Bank would become a popular hangout for other Americans including the likes of James Baldwin, Mary Lou Williams, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie, and Max Roach.
 
But most significantly, Hazel Scott was an incredible, world class musician. One of her greatest abilities -- she was brilliantly adept at combining jazz improvisations into classical pieces. Few could come close to her imaginative re-interpretations of pieces by Bach or Chopin or Rachmaninoff. Scott’s recording career lasted some four decades, releasing albums on several labels including Decca, Signature, Tioch, and Columbia. She hit her stride in January 1955 when she went into the Debut recording studios with a rhythm section consisting of two of jazz’s greatest icons -- Charles Mingus on bass and Max Roach, drums. In Relaxed Piano Moods, Scott handles her own compositions and standards, especially J.J. Johnson’s ballad “Lament,” with such incredible depth and confidence, her perfectly gem-like touch swings with incredible sophistication and guile; it is a 20th century masterwork of jazz.
 
Hazel Scott continued to perform until her death, passing away from pancreatic cancer on October 2, 1981 at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
 
 
 
 

Howlin’ Wolf’s 100th birthday

Posted by Whitmore, June 10, 2010 02:07pm | Post a Comment
howlin wolf, chester burnett, blues, guitar, harmonica, killing floor, smokestsck lighten', spoonful, back door man, eric clapton, soul on fire,

He was named after Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President of the United States, and as a kid Chester Arthur Burnett was nicknamed Big Foot Chester or Bull Cow as he grew to stand 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weigh in close to 300 pounds. That was a big man. But we know him as Howlin' Wolf, legendary and incredibly influential blues singer, guitarist, harmonica player and composer, whose songs are as standard today as anything written by Gershwin, Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Carmichael, Leiber and Stoller or McCartney and Lennon. Howlin' Wolf’s compositions include “Killing Floor,” “Sikilling floor, smokestsck lighten', spoonful, rock, rawk, back door man, eric clapton, soul on fire,tting on Top of the World,” “Who's Been Talking?,” “Moanin’ at Midnight,” and “Smokestack Lightnin'.”
 
Also, his versions of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” and “Back Door Man” are about as perfect a three minutes as you’ll ever hear in any genre, anytime, anyplace. Rough-edged, fearsome and fearless, Howlin' Wolf's booming voice sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before -- like something in between grinding a knife on a whetstone or a sharpening steel or shears tearing into bone or a monster truck pulling donuts on a gravel road. As the adage goes -- Howlin' Wolf has often been imitated but never duplicated.
 
Chester Burnett died in Hines, Illinois on January 10, 1976 and is buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery, Hillside, Cook County in Illinois. His gravestone, etched with a guitar and harmonica, and allegedly purchased by Eric Clapton, can be found in Section 18 on the east side of the road.
 
Today would have been his 100th birthday.




Dr. Seuss meets Philip K. Dick.

Posted by Whitmore, March 2, 2010 09:06pm | Post a Comment
Not only is March 2nd the 106th Birthday of Dr. Seuss but it is also the anniversary of the death of Philip K. Dick, who died in 1982. So why not combine the two? And that is what we have here below. Yes, this is a simple minded and profoundly idiotic, ill conceived attempt to combine almost every title written by a Dr. Seuss meets Philip K. Dick.  couple of the greatest writers of the 20th century, and why? I don't know. This is how I spend my days, blathering and dicking around, no wonder I get headaches ... anyway enjoy Dr. Seuss meets Philip K. Dick.
 
Gather yourselves together
Whether puttering about in a small land
Or playing hunches in bunches
With Yertle the Turtle and the Game-Players of Titan,
The eye in the sky playing Cat's Quizzer
And the Ganymede takeover shivers and cries,
While banging and clanging
The Vulcan's hammer is dangling, above
Daisy-Head Mayzie standing by.
Turning the wheel, Mary and the Giant,
No doubt slyly defiant,
Churns the broken bubble
Where the butter battle boils and toils into trouble.
The Seven Lady Godivas rides on beyond the Zebras
As for the man in the high castle,
He’s allergic and wheezes.
A streaking goat from the street speaks
“Do androids dream of electric sheep?”
And to think that I saw it all on Mulberry Street.Dr. Seuss
I hope I shall arrive here soon
To run a circus or a zoo
Say boo to the clans of the Alphane Moon 
Next door to Solla Sollew.
Oh, the places you'll go! And how! But will you please go now,
I know the crack in space lies beyond the Wub and that is how
The five hundred hats rub ol’Bartholomew Cubbins
In his stubby bathtub scrubbin’,
The eye of the Sibyl, liberal fun sizzles with a zap gun, stunning the sun,
And since the divine invasion has begun, I have but a question, just one.
Oh, say can you say wet pet, dry pet, your pet, my pet
The world Jones made is only a sublet
“But look how we got along after the bomb,”
he gets the tones of Jones, but once alone
“Flow my tears,” the Policeman said to the ducks in the pond,
“Say hey to the Lorax and Nick and the Glimmung,
And Bartholomew and the Oobleck.”
Tick tock never stops in a counter-clock world where the dark haired girl
Hops on Pop, and dances with the fox in socks on a little black box.
The Father-Thing sings, a great day for up!
And the cosmic puppets read with their eyes shut,
Did I ever tell you how lucky you are by the light of the stars?
I Can! You’re as variable as the Golden Man
Or Humpty Dumpty living in Oakland, with a folding fan,Philip K. Dick.
Dining and wining on green eggs and ham, unteleport the man,
Or undo the minority report of Sam I am.
We can remember it, every bit of it
For you, Philip K. Dick and you Dr. Seuss
From wholesale robots, and androids with flutes
And Wockets in a pocket! And Grinch in Santa suits
Mechanical oddities and Dr. Futurity winning the solar lottery
Radio free Albemuth, valis, our friends from frolix, frolicking in the mix
 
The ABC’s of Dr. S and Mr. D
A is for A Scanner Darkly but only partly
B is for Birthdays to you and he, me and we
C is for a certain Cat in a hat, that’s a fact,
And D is for the Maze of Death, and quite a test,
A handful of darkness, oh what a mess, but you're only old once,
So let’s do lunch, bunches of lunches, munching,
Maybe even twice or thrice if you’re nice at night, okay!
Hey! We’ll throw a fishing pole into the cool,
of McElligot's Pool with Marvin K. Mooneys 
And Dr. Bloodmoney, who can moo, can you?
Here by the pool is where Horton heard a Who
We can wish for one fish, or two fish,
Lessons and confessions of a crap artist
How he pulled out a red fish, blue fish by the fist full,
And foolishly a ship full, filling a Martian time-slip and King's Stilts lists too,
Oh! The thinks you can think at will
Ubik and Sneetches and Thidwick, Big-Hearted Mooses Dr. Seuss meets Philip K. Dick.
The thrill of the three stigmata of Palmer Eldritches
The man whose teeth were all exactly alike
He liked to ride bikes and race tikes on trikes
I can lick thirty tigers today he’d say
And why not, let’s yell hooray today for it's Diffendoofer’s Day.
Now wait for last year time out of joint, a rhyme about zoinks,
And a preserving machine’s mean and lean is moist and broke
Oh the short life of a bloke, Mister Brown he spoke
Who says he’s going down like a boat,
Oh well, what the hell, here’s to you and the days of Perky Pat
When he sat like a Cat in the Hat.
But wait on that, he and we will be back.

Walter Fredrick Morrison 1920 – 2010

Posted by Whitmore, February 12, 2010 11:59am | Post a Comment
Frisbee inventor
The man credited with inventing the Frisbee, Walter Fredrick Morrison, died this past Tuesday. He was 90 years old and passed away at his home in Monroe, Utah. He had been battling cancer.

A former pilot during the Second World War, flying a P-47 Thunderbolt in Italy, where he was briefly a P.O.W., Morrison applied his knowledge of aerodynamics to tinker with the pie tins he was tossing on the beaches of Santa Monica with his future wife, Lu. In 1946 Morrison sketched out a design of a flying disc object he then called the Whirlo-Way. Two years later in 1948 Morrison found an investor, Warren Franscioni, who paid for molding the design in plastic, christening the new toy the Flyin-Saucer, (the previous year, 1947, was a big year for UFO sightings, with Roswell and Mt. Rainer/Maury Island incidents.) By 1954, Morrison found he could produce his own discs. With the help of his wife and further upgrades on the design they developed the Pluto Platter, the prototype of all modern flying discs. He would sell the discs at local fairs and dime stores, eventually the disc came to the attention of Wham-O Manufacturing. On January 23, 1957, Morrison sold the production and manufacturing rights for the Pluto Platter to Wham-O. Initially Wham-O marketed the disc as the Pluto Platter, but by 1958 they adopted the name Frisbee, the name college students in New England were calling the discs. The new official name referenced the Frisbie Pie Co., a local bakery whose empty pie tins were often tossed around like a Pluto Platter.

Five decades later, sales have surpassed 200 million discs, it is now a part of the landscape at beaches, parks, college campuses and rooftops world wide, spawning sports like Frisbee golf, and team sports like Goaltimate and Ultimate. An official disc golf course at Creekside Park in the Salt Lake City suburb of Holladay is named for Walter Morrison.

In 2001 Morrison co-wrote a book with Frisbee enthusiast and historian Phil Kennedy.

Walter Fredrick Morrison is survived by his three children and four grandchildren. The family is planning a service for Morrison's friends and relatives Saturday at the Cowboy Corral in Elsinore.

"It's the MOST... Blackhistorymonthy tiiime of the yeeear...!"

Posted by Job O Brother, January 31, 2010 10:45am | Post a Comment
bessie smithbeyonce

I know what you’re thinking: How can it be that it’s Black History Month again, already? It seems to come up faster with each passing year. No sooner do I finish cleaning up all the gift wrap and decorations from 2009’s BHM festivities when – BAM! – time to break ‘em out again for 2010.

But I am excited! I love draping my house in the traditional BHM crushed-velvet flour sacks, heated bear skins, and twinkling, sapphire, mailboxes. We gather together around the hot oil printing press and sing BHM carols, get tipsy on Pancake-Sausage Nog, and remind each other, with love in our hearts, not to forget to turn off the air conditioner before leaving the house. Oh, joy! Oh sweet, unmitigated joy!

Of all these rituals, my favorite is the singing of the carols. I thought I’d share some of them with you, and invite you to sing along with me! Just click on a song below and belt one out. If you’re at work, or reading this on your iPhone while standing in the check-out line at Trader Joe’s, or simultaneously looking at Internet porn (way to multi-task!) – no matter! Sing all the louder! Let everyone know: You’re Black and You’re Proud!

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