Archive for Jazz Musicians

Sun Ra

Posted in Elmwood Cemetery with tags , on February 1, 2021 by Cade

May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993

 Le Sony’r Ra (born Herman Blount) was an avant-garde jazz musician, composer, artist, poet and bandleader who came up through the Chicago Jazz scene of the 1940s. He fronted the cosmic and experimental music collective, The Arkestra, for nearly 4 decades. He often shortened his stage name to simply “Sun Ra” and held a deep connection to the Egyptian god of the sun. In addition to music, he dabbled in philosophy (though he rejected the term, claiming philosophy was based on “theory” and his thoughts were based on “logic”).

He also may have been an alien.

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Jeff Healey

Posted in Park Lawn Cemetery (ON) with tags , , on August 5, 2019 by Cade

healey2March 25, 1966 – March 2, 2008

Jeff Healey’s place in pop-culture extends well beyond the fact that he was a talented blues-rock guitarist and singer who had one really great year. His eponymous trio, The Jeff Healey Band, had a monster hit in Canada and the U.S. with 1989’s “Angel Eyes” and he dominated the Toronto club scene in the mid-to-late 1980s. After the success of their first single and album, The JHB went on to record four more albums over the ensuing dozen or so years. But, Jeff didn’t just front his blues-rock band. Continue reading

Al Jarreau

Posted in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills with tags , , on December 10, 2018 by Cade

March 12, 1940 – February 12, 2017

Jazz singer Al Jarreau walked by night. And he flew by day. Nothing could change him. Set and sure of the way. Originally from Wisconsin, Jarreau got his professional start in night clubs in the San Francisco area. L.A. would soon call and with it came TV appearances, recording contracts, Grammys and acclaim. With hits like “We’re in This Love Together” and “After All”, Jarreau’s smooth vocals resonated with audiences. Later in his career he focused on live shows and even appeared on Broadway in the 1996 revival of Grease. His biggest hit (at least in my house) was the theme song to the late-80s television show, Moonlighting. Continue reading

Scatman Crothers

Posted in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills with tags , , on October 26, 2018 by Cade

May 23, 1910 – November 22, 1986

Benjamin Sherman “Scatman” Crothers was a multi-instrumentalist jazz musician whose extensive filmography would be the envy of any aspiring actor. Crothers began his performance career as a teenager when he played drums in a speakeasy in his home state of Indiana. He eventually moved west with his own band before landing in Los Angeles and falling into the whole Hollywood thing. He went on to appear in more than 50 films and nearly as many television shows. His distinctive voice and cadence made him a popular pick for guest spots and voice over roles. Continue reading

Patty Andrews

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags , , , on October 24, 2018 by Cade

February 16, 1918 – January 30, 2013

Along with big sisters LaVerne and Maxene, Patty Andrews was one of the most recognizable and famous swing and boogie-woogie performers of all time. The Andrews Sisters were enormously popular during World War II when they performed for the U.S. Troops at home and abroad. They racked up hits like “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” and appeared in more than a dozen films at the height of their career. Their classic harmonies inspired countless performers that followed. They worked with all the classic Big Band outfits from Tommy Dorsey to Benny Goodman and everyone in between. Continue reading

Charlie “Bird” Parker

Posted in Lincoln Cemetery (MO) with tags , on April 24, 2015 by Cade

August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955

“You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.” – Miles Davis

Charlie Parker, known throughout the musical world simply as “Bird,” was an influential jazz musician whose style and creativity helped pioneer the Bebop movement. Born in Kansas City, KS, Parker left school at an early age to pursue music – specifically, the saxophone. He moved to New York where he played with the likes of greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. Continue reading

W.C. Handy

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (Bronx) with tags , , on March 11, 2014 by Cade

handy1November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958

William Christopher Handy was a legendary blues man who is often cited as the “Father of the Blues.” Handy was notable for drawing on folk and dixie jazz stylings and for his prolific publishing. The latter is especially important since he was one of the first African Americans to have success in music publishing. His scores such as “Memphis Blues,” “Yellow Dog Rag” and “Saint Louis Blues” would become standards of the genre’s early popularity. Continue reading

Buddy Rich

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags , , on February 14, 2014 by Cade

rich1September 30, 1917 – April 2, 1987

Bernard “Buddy” Rich played the drums. He played the drums really, really well. He had a temper. He (allegedly) liked to fire musicians in the middle of sets if the need arose. He played with all the big names like Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. He also led his own bands. And he had a bit of a temper.

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Duke Ellington

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (Bronx) with tags , , on October 1, 2013 by Cade

ellington1April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington began playing piano at the age of 7 and never looked back. He wrote his first song at 15 and went on to become one of the most influential and prolific artists in American music at large, let alone within the genre with which he was most closely associated: Jazz. Nicknamed “Duke” because of his swagger and the way he dressed – even at a young age – Ellington led his orchestra for nearly a half century. He gained national exposure while playing on the radio from Harlem’s famed Cotton Club in the late 1920s. He wrote and recorded songs at a near unprecedented pace. He worked with greats in all genres from Frank Sinatra (Francis A. & Edward K.) to Louis Armstrong  and constantly stretched himself into new musical territory. Continue reading

Miles Davis

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (Bronx) with tags , on September 23, 2013 by Cade

mdavis1May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991

I could go on and on about the impact that Miles Dewey Davis III had on not only jazz, but popular music in general.  I could list his accolades and triumphant successes like Milestones, Bitches Brew, On the Corner and his magnum opus, Kind of Blue.  I could talk about the Grammys. I could talk about the cocaine use, short temper and contentious relationships with the press, critics and fellow musicians (like fellow Hard-Bopper, Thelonious Monk).  But, why bother when we can both just sit and spend the next 9 1/2 minutes listening to this: Continue reading