Happy Birthday To Johnny “Clyde” Copeland , Robert “Jr” Lockwood , Leroy Carr & A Woman Who , While More Of The Jazz World Than That Of The Blues , Was A True Giant Of Music , Ms Sarah Vaughan
First up is Johnny with “Honky Tonkin’ “
” Considering the amount of time he spent steadily rolling from gig to gig, Johnny “Clyde” Copeland‘s rise to prominence in the blues world in the early ’90s wasn’t all that surprising. A contract with the PolyGram/Verve label put his ’90s recordings into the hands of thousands of blues lovers around the world. It’s not that Copeland‘s talent changed all that much since he recorded for Rounder Records in the ’80s; it’s just that major companies began to see the potential of great, hardworking blues musicians like Copeland. Unfortunately, he was forced to slow down in 1995-1996 because of heart-related complications, yet he continued to perform shows until his death in July of 1997.
Johnny Copeland was born March 27, 1937, in Haynesville, Louisiana, about 15 miles south of Magnolia, Arkansas (formerly Texarkana, a hotbed of blues activity in the ’20s and ’30s). The son of sharecroppers, his father died when he was very young, but Copeland was given his father’s guitar. His first gig was with his friend Joe “Guitar” Hughes. Soon after, Hughes “took sick” for a week and the young Copeland discovered he could be a frontman and deliver vocals as well as anyone else around Houston at that time.
His music, by his own reasoning, fell somewhere between the funky R&B of New Orleans and the swing and jump blues of Kansas City. After his family (sans his father) moved to Houston, a teenage Copeland was exposed to musicians from both cities. While he was becoming interested in music, he also pursued boxing, mostly as an avocation, and it is from his days as a boxer that he got his nickname “Clyde.” ” Continue reading
Now Mr Lockwood has his turn at age 91 , mind you , with “Sweet Home Chicago”
” Robert Lockwood, Jr., learned his blues firsthand from an unimpeachable source: the immortal Robert Johnson. Lockwood was capable of conjuring up the bone-chilling Johnson sound whenever he desired, but he was never one to linger in the past for long — which accounts for the jazzy swing he often brought to the licks he played on his 12-string electric guitar.
Born in 1915, Lockwood was one of the last living links to the glorious Johnson legacy. When Lockwood‘s mother became romantically involved with the charismatic rambler in Helena, AR, the quiet teenager suddenly gained a role model and a close friend — so close that Lockwood considered himself Johnson‘s stepson. Robert Jr. learned how to play guitar very quickly with Johnson‘s expert help, assimilating Johnson‘s technique inside and out.
Following Johnson‘s tragic murder in 1938, Lockwood embarked on his own intriguing musical journey. He was among the first bluesmen to score an electric guitar in 1938 and eventually made his way to Chicago, where he cut four seminal tracks for Bluebird. Jazz elements steadily crept into Lockwood‘s dazzling fretwork, although his role as Sonny Boy Williamson‘s musical partner on the fabled KFFA King Biscuit Time radio broadcasts during the early ’40s out of Helena, AR, probably didn’t emphasize that side of his dexterity all that much.
Settling in Chicago in 1950, Lockwood swiftly gained a reputation as a versatile in-demand studio sideman, recording behind harp genius Little Walter, piano masters Sunnyland Slim and Eddie Boyd, and plenty more. Solo recording opportunities were scarce, though Lockwood did cut fine singles in 1951 for Mercury (“I’m Gonna Dig Myself a Hole” and a very early “Dust My Broom”) and in 1955 for JOB (“Sweet Woman from Maine”/”Aw Aw Baby”). “ Continue reading
Next up Leroy Carr Plays “In The Evening”
” The term “urban blues” is usually applied to post-World War II blues band music, but one of the forefathers of the genre in its pre-electric format was pianist Leroy Carr. Teamed with the exemplary guitarist Scrapper Blackwell in Indianapolis, Carr became one of the top blues stars of his day, composing and recording almost 200 sides during his short lifetime, including such classics as “How Long, How Long,” “Prison Bound Blues,” “When the Sun Goes Down,” and “Blues Before Sunrise.” His blues were expressive and evocative, recorded only with piano and guitar, yet as author Sam Charters has noted, Carr was “a city man” whose singing was never as rough or intense as that of the country bluesmen, and as reissue producer Francis Smith put it, “He, perhaps more than any other single artist, was responsible for transforming the rural blues patterns of the ’20s into the more city-oriented blues of the ’30s.”
Born in Nashville, Leroy Carr moved to Indianapolis as a child. While he was still in his teens, he taught himself how to play piano. Carr quit school in his mid-teens, heading out for a life on the road. For the next few years, he would play piano at various parties and dances in the Midwest and South. During this time, he held a number of odd jobs — he joined a circus, he was in the Army for a while, and he was briefly a bootlegger. In addition to his string of jobs, he was married for a short time.” Continue reading
Finally , happy birthday to one of the most beautiful voices to ever grace God’s green earth , Ms Sarah “Sassie” Vaughan while know for her jazz singing ” I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues”
” Possessor of one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century, Sarah Vaughan ranked with Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday in the very top echelon of female jazz singers. She often gave the impression that with her wide range, perfectly controlled vibrato, and wide expressive abilities, she could do anything she wanted with her voice. Although not all of her many recordings are essential (give Vaughan a weak song and she might strangle it to death), Sarah Vaughan‘s legacy as a performer and a recording artist will be very difficult to match in the future.
Vaughan sang in church as a child and had extensive piano lessons from 1931-39; she developed into a capable keyboardist. After she won an amateur contest at the Apollo Theater, she was hired for the Earl Hines big band as a singer and second vocalist. Unfortunately, the musicians’ recording strike kept her off record during this period (1943-44). When lifelong friend Billy Eckstine broke away to form his own orchestra, Vaughan joined him, making her recording debut. She loved being with Eckstine‘s orchestra, where she became influenced by a couple of his sidemen, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, both of whom had also been with Hines during her stint. Vaughan was one of the first singers to fully incorporate bop phrasing in her singing, and to have the vocal chops to pull it off on the level of a Parker and Gillespie.” Continue reading