More on Alan Lomax…

January 31, 2007

From Writer’s Almanac this morning:

It’s the birthday of one of the most important folklorists in American history, Alan Lomax, born in Austin, Texas (1915). (Some sources give his birthday as January 15.) His father, John Lomax, was one of the first people ever to travel around the American South to write down the lyrics of folk songs sung by ordinary people in saloons and on back porches. It was John Lomax who discovered a folksong that became known as “Home on the Range.” By the time Alan Lomax was born, his father had taken a banking job to support the family. But he lost that job during the Great Depression, and in 1933, he applied for a grant to start collecting folk songs for the Library of Congress. Alan was 18 years old and the time, and he went along as an assistant.

Alan’s father would go on to become the first curator of the Archive of American Folk Song in the Library of Congress, but it was Alan would do most of the collecting. He traveled all over, recording everything from church singers to voodoo ceremonies. Unlike other musicologists, Lomax always tried to get the best recording equipment available. And even though he was recording on the fly in the field, he was careful about microphone placement and did everything he could to capture a high-quality sound.

Today, the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE) continues Alan’s work. ACE operates out of the Fine Arts Campus of New York City’s Hunter College. ACE was chartered by the State of New York in 1983 to preserve, study, and disseminate folk performance traditions from around the world, and to oversee Alan Lomax’s collected works and recordings. ACE serves audiences through a virtual archive of media holdings on the internet; a large catalog of publications; and through assistance to researchers, media projects, and members of the public. They “actively reach out to other archives and libraries, and to artists and their communities.”

Related links: Association for Cultural Equitythe American Folk Life Center (formerly the Archive of American Folk Song), The Writer’s Almanac Homepage.

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Roy Eldridge on Jazz Cafe

January 30, 2007

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Today’s the birthday of Jazz trumpeter Roy Eldridge.  Eldridge was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and originally played drums, trumpet and tuba. He led bands from his early years, moving to St. Louis, and then to New York.  Eldridge played in various bands in New York in the early 1930s, as well as making records and radio broadcasts under his own name. His rhythmic power to swing a band was a dynamic trademark of the jazz of the time. It has been said that “from the mid-Thirties onwards, he had superseded Louis Armstrong as the exemplar of modern ‘hot’ trumpet playing.”

Eldridge was very versatile on his horn, not only quick and articulate with the low to middle registers, but the high registers as well. The high register lines that Eldridge employed were one of many prominent features of his playing, another being blasts of rapid double time notes followed by a return to standard time. These stylistic points were heavy influences on Dizzy Gillespie.

In 1941 Eldridge joined Gene Krupa’s Orchestra. He also dueted with Anita O’Day on a song which became a novelty hit, then joined Artie Shaw’s band.

Although in the early 1940s Eldridge had taken a leading part in the jam sessions at Minton’s Playhouse in New York, which later developed into bebop, his music was considered old-fashioned. He moved to Paris in 1950 while on tour with Benny Goodman. During his year in Paris he made some of his finest recordings, including a version of Fireworks in a duo with Claude Bolling in which the two men reworked the ideas shared by Armstrong and Earl Hines in their recording of the same title (1928). After returning to the USA in April 1951 he joined the burgeoning mainstream jazz movement, performing in small groups with Benny Carter, Johnny Hodges, Ella Fitzgerald (1963-5), and, notably, Coleman Hawkins, with whom he made several outstanding albums for Verve.

From 1970 until 1980, when he was incapacitated by a stroke, he led a traditional group at Ryan’s in New York. Thereafter he performed occasionally as a singer, drummer, and pianist. Roy died in 1989.

Listen for a great Roy Eldridge solo tonight on Cafe Jazz!


Valentine’s Music Poll

January 29, 2007

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All Songs Considered wants to know your favorite love song for their annual Valentine’s Day Special. Let them know why it’s your favorite and listen for it on the All Songs Considered Online Music Show.


Chalked

January 26, 2007

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Seen on Fine Arts Hall, home of WKMS.


Big Questions about Little Things

January 26, 2007

Science Friday is getting in depth today with a lively discussion on the some of the littlest things in our universe.  The first part of today’s segment discussed the benefits of bacteria (pass the yogurt, please) with researcher and writer Gerald Callahan, the author of Infection: The Uninvited Universe.  From there things got even smaller as physics researchers spoke about looking to the smallest of particles to try to answer some big questions about the universe.  CERNhopes to prove the universe-forming String Theory using its newest piece of technology, the Large Hadron Collier (read more about the LHC here).

The idea is that with the LHC accelerator, researchers may observe the scattering of W bosons, an elementary particle that is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature and required in the proposed testing of the current string theory. CERN is confident that if the particles theorized exist, then the LHC can find them.  But what happens if they don’t? Slashdot picks up a lot of the discussion, while CERN’s newsletter has an explination of the string theory. Finally, Physorg.com has a good article explaining how to test the string theory.  None of it’s really a light read, but it’s a big question. 

Any local experts care to weigh in on the string-theory debate?


Crossing the Divide

January 26, 2007

This week Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and more have participated in “Crossing the Divide,” a series exploring the pros and cons of bipartisanship in Washington.  The stories have been collected on the Crossing the Divide website at NPR.org  Some highlights include examples of compromise and cooperation from politics, business and everyday life in America. One big question comes up time and again in the series: With the 2008 presidential election looming, opportunity exists for the White House and Congress to find common ground. But what’s the best way to do it?


Love Your Job?

January 25, 2007

Today’s Morning Edition quoted a survey taken by Careerbuilder.com and The Walt Disney Company which found that four out of five people say they are not in their dream job. On the positive side, police and firefighters are most likely to say they’ve got the ideal job, followed by teachers and real estate professionals.

Are you one of the lucky 1/5, or part of a dissatisfied majority?  What’s your job, and what do you think of it?