BLUES ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Charles Brown (1922) - How many blues artists remained at the absolute top of their game after more than a half-century of performing? One immediately leaps to mind: Charles Brown. His incredible piano skills and laid-back vocal delivery remained every bit as mesmerizing at the end of his life as they were way back in 1945, when his groundbreaking waxing of "Drifting Blues" with guitarist Johnny Moore's Three Blazers invented an entirely new blues genre for sophisticated postwar revelers: an ultra-mellow, jazz-inflected sound perfect for sipping a late-night libation in some hip after-hours joint. Brown's smooth trio format was tremendously influential to a host of high-profile disciples -- Ray Charles, Amos Milburn, and Floyd Dixon, for starters.   Classically trained on the ivories, Brown earned a degree in chemistry before moving to Los Angeles in 1943. He soon hooked up with the Blazers (Moore and bassist Eddie Williams), who modeled themselves after Nat King Cole's trio but retained a bluesier tone within their ballad-heavy repertoire. With Brown installed as their vocalist and pianist, the Blazers' "Drifting Blues" for Philo Records remained on Billboard's R&B charts for 23 weeks, peaking at number two. Follow-ups for Exclusive and Modern (including "Sunny Road," "So Long," "New Orleans Blues," and their immortal 1947 Yuletide classic "Merry Christmas Baby") kept the Blazers around the top of the R&B listings from 1946 through 1948, until Brown opted to go solo to even greater success.  In his last years, Brown finally received at least a portion of the recognition he deserved for so long as a genuine rhythm and blues pioneer. But the suave, elegant Brown was by no means a relic, as anyone who witnessed his thundering boogie piano style will gladly attest; he returned in 1998 with So Goes Love before dying on January 21, 1999.

JAZZ ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Chu Berry (1908) - Leon Brown “Chu” Berry was considered one of the top tenor saxophonists of the 1930s, just below Coleman Hawkins (his main influence), Lester Young, and Ben Webster. Particularly strong on up-tempo numbers (although his ballad statements could be overly sentimental), Berry might have become an influential force if he had not died prematurely. After playing alto in college, he switched to tenor in 1929 when he joined Sammy Stewart's band. In 1930, he moved to New York, playing with Benny Carter's band and Charlie Johnson's orchestra. He was prominently featured in Spike Hughes' 1933 recording sessions, was a star with the bands of Teddy Hill (1933-1935) and Fletcher Henderson (1936; to whom he contributed his song "Christopher Columbus"), and then found a permanent home with Cab Calloway in 1937. Berry was used on many sessions including with his friend Roy Eldridge, Lionel Hampton (a classic version of "Sweethearts on Parade"), Teddy Wilson, and Calloway (his version of "Ghost of a Chance" became well-known); in addition he led a couple of his own fine dates. Chu Berry died from the effects of a car crash on October 30, 1941 when he was just 33 years old.

JAZZ ALBUM RECORDED:

Paul Desmond – Desmond Blue (1961)
Track Listing:
1. My Funny Valentine
2. Desmond Blue
3. Then I’ll Be Tired of You
4. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
5. Late Lament
6. I Should Care
7. Like Someone in Love
8. Ill Wind
9. Body and Soul

Review by Shawn M. Haney at Allmusic:
As intended, this album presents alto sax specialist Paul Desmond as never featured before, with the backing of a string orchestra. The record, filled with such beautiful jazz standards as "My Funny Valentine," "I've Got You Under My Skin," and "Body and Soul," is very rich in texture, yet subtle and mellow overall in mood. It's unyielding purpose: to soothe the souls of its listeners. Desmond's style and tone shine with an alluring quality, and the record is filled with melodies that don't fail to stimulate the sophisticated jazz listener. Desmond's melodies are eloquently detailed and charmingly spun in the midst of the string orchestra arranged and conducted by Bob Prince. The legendary Jim Hall is featured as guest guitarist, playing yet another scintillating role and using his classic comping style. Hall is perhaps the most highly respected of all jazz guitarists for his good taste and witty inventiveness. Desmond has always been most familiar to the jazz public for his sweeping scale passages and his seemingly effortless spontaneity during periods of improvisation, although here he is often featured in a more lyrical ballad style on such romantic tunes as "My Funny Valentine," "Late Lament," and "Then I'll Be Tired of You." This album is a highly innovative and meticulously crafted work, reflecting the ongoing success of both Desmond and Hall within the 1960s and the cool jazz period. Both of these musicians spent time working with Dave Brubeck and later lent themselves to many of Antonio Carlos Jobim's bossa nova projects. The arrangements are extraordinary throughout this collection, including the charming "Valentine," which begins with a fantastic Elizabethan flavor. The intro sets up the mood to carry Desmond into the first chorus, which then glides into a 20th century style. The tune "I Should Care" is "a shimmering debt to Ibert and one of the most imaginative blendings you will ever hear of strings, reeds, French horn and harp," according to the liner notes. The tone of the album: lush, reflective, thought-provoking, and soul-stirring. This work is quite a plus for any listener and especially those who consider themselves avid fans of Paul Desmond.
 


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    BLUES BITS & JAZZ JOTS 
    is a historical timeline for birthdays of blues and jazz artists and jazz album recording dates.  As our research progresses, we'll add more categories.  Look for updates each week, normally Mondays through Fridays, when we find something to share.

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