BLUES ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Koko Taylor (1928) - Popularly referred to as the "Queen of the Blues", Koko Taylor was a Chicago blues musician, known primarily for her rough, powerful vocals and traditional blues stylings.  Born Cora Walton in Shelby County, Tennessee, Taylor was the daughter of a sharecropper. She left Memphis for Chicago, Illinois in 1952 with her husband, truck driver Robert "Pops" Taylor. In the late 1950s, she began singing in Chicago blues clubs. She was spotted by Willie Dixon in 1962, and this led to wider performances and her first recording contract. In 1965, Taylor was signed by Chess Records where she recorded "Wang Dang Doodle," a song written by Dixon and recorded by Howlin' Wolf five years earlier. The song became a hit, reaching number four on the R&B charts in 1966, and selling a million copies. Taylor recorded several versions of "Wang Dang Doodle" over the years, including a live version at the 1967 American Folk Blues Festival with harmonica player Little Walter and guitarist Hound Dog Taylor. Taylor subsequently recorded more material, both original and covers, but never repeated that initial chart success.  National touring in the late 1960s and early 1970s improved her fan base, and she became accessible to a wider record-buying public when she signed with Alligator Records in 1975. She recorded nine albums for Alligator, 8 of which were Grammy-nominated, and came to dominate the female blues singer ranks, winning twenty five W. C. Handy Awards (more than any other artist). After her recovery from a near-fatal car crash in 1989, the 1990s found Taylor in films such as Blues Brothers 2000 and Wild at Heart, and she opened a blues club on Division Street in Chicago in 1994, which relocated to Wabash Ave in Chicago's South Loop in 2000. Taylor influenced musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, Shemekia Copeland, Janis Joplin, Shannon Curfman, and Susan Tedeschi. In the years prior to her death, she performed over 70 concerts a year and resided just south of Chicago in Country Club Hills, Illinois.  Her final performance was at the Blues Music Awards, on May 7, 2009.  Koko Taylor died on June 3, 2009, after complications from surgery for gastrointestinal bleeding on May 19, 2009.

JAZZ ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

John Gilmore (1935) - John Gilmore was an avant-garde jazz saxophonist best known for his tenure with Sun Ra and his Arkestra.  He grew up in Chicago and played clarinet from the age of 14. He took up the tenor saxophone while serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1948–1952, then pursued a musical career, playing briefly with pianist Earl Hines. In 1953, he joined Ra and 40 years later, when the bandleader died, Gilmore was still there. His decision to play almost exclusively within the realm of Sun Ra's Arkestra long frustrated jazz observers who believed he could have made a bigger impact if he had had a solo career.  His playing in the 1950s was an influence on the developing John Coltrane and Gilmore, who teamed up with Clifford Jordan for a 1957 Blue Note session, did spend 1964-1965 with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. However, other than a few sideman recordings in the 1960s (including with Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Andrew Hill, and Pete LaRoca), Gilmore stuck with Ra, being well-featured both on hard bop and free-form material.  He briefly headed the Arkestra after Ra's death.  John Gilmore died on August 20, 1995.

JAZZ ALBUM RECORDED:

Frank Lowe – Decision in Paradise (1985)
Track Listing:
1. Decision in Paradise
2. I’ll Whistle Your Name
3. Cherryco
4. Lowe-Ologie
5. You Dig!
6. Dues and Don’ts

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
The all-star lineup (tenor-saxophonist Frank Lowe, trumpeter Don Cherry, trombonist Grachan Moncur III, pianist Geri Allen, bassist Charnette Moffett and drummer Charles Moffett) practically guarantees that this music will be worth hearing. Although a touch more conservative than one might expect (more of an open-minded straight-ahead set than music emphasizing sound explorations), all six group originals are of interest including Lowe's unaccompanied performance on Butch Morris's "I'll Whistle Your Name" and Moncur's whimsical "You Dig."
 


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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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