duke davis


10 great Jazz albums released in 1963  

Charles Mingus - The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady

Thelonious Monk - Monks Dream

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

Joe Henderson - Page One

Miles Davis - Seven Steps To Heaven

Kenny Burrell - Midnight Blue

Bill Evans - Conversations With Myself

Donald Byrd - A New Perspective

Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach - Money Jungle

John Coltrane - Impressions 10 great jazz albums


My Favorite New (ish) Films of 2016 - If I saw it in 2016 and it was less than five years old, it counts for this list.

1. Bone Tomahawk (2015) - ‘Great performances from a terrific cast highlight this terse, tense, slow burn weird western that explodes into Fulci-esque violence by the end.’

2. Dredd (2012) - ‘It’s briskly paced, constantly tense, features disturbing explosions of gore and a simple but propulsive score. And it’s very engaging on a purely visual level, juxtaposing grimy, dystopian greyness with splashes of vivid day-glo color.’

3. The Duke of Burgundy (2014) - ‘A beautifully rendered, twisty, and compelling relationship drama that examines what happens when one half of a couple has intense fetishistic needs and the other half can’t sustain the enthusiasm for it all… Aesthetically, everything here is simply lovely, from the actresses to the costumes to the furniture to the music. Every artistic detail contributes to the melancholy, autumnal fragility of the piece. It’s a haunting, alluring experience.’

4. Green Room (2015) - ‘An unrelentingly tense and carefully constructed thriller… This one boasts strong characters and world-building, shocking gore, and chillingly business-like and indifferent Nazi baddies. Feels way more relevant and important now than it did even six months ago.’

5. The Hateful Eight (2015) - ‘Every time I see a new Tarantino movie, I think ‘this is his masterpiece,’ and this one continues the trend. Even though the movie riffs heavily on The Thing and spaghetti westerns, it feels like the QT movie least about other movies. I’ve always loved his stuff, but this film feels substantive and challenging and disturbing in a way he hasn’t really achieved before.’

6. High-Rise (2015) - ‘…equally cartoonish, surreal, horrifying, and colorful…  undercurrents of eerie, stylish menace help to create what is overall a rather bewitching experience.’

7. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) - ‘Oscar Isaac is terrific in the title role and the script communicates so much so deftly, allowing us to know Llewyn deeply without ever getting bogged down in exposition. It’s quietly moving and subtly humorous throughout, with lovely music and a great period NYC feel that doesn’t overplay the typical bohemian signifiers.’

8. The Invitation (2015) - ‘one of those movies where you know something terrible is about to happen and anxiety builds and builds until things finally hit the tipping point. The Invitation is an intense, weirdly moving, and physically chilling experience.’

9. The Neon Demon (2016) -  ‘It’s draped in neon and synth music and moves at a crawl before erupting into witchery, cannibalism, and necrophilia in the final act. The movie is more than a bit ridiculous and full of itself, but so is all good artsploitation.’

10. Queen of Earth (2015) - ‘A chilling and subtly stylish examination of grief, privilege, depression, and most interestingly, the way in which friendships can become toxic and competitive over time.’

11. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016) - ‘The script takes a sharp look at the Afghan conflict and the complicated sexual politics of the situation, with men and women on both sides of the East/West divide coming under scrutiny. It’s also about what people do to cope with living under extreme conditions, and it’s raunchy, exciting and ultimately rather moving experience on the whole.’

12. The Witch (2015)  - ‘a beautifully shot and superbly acted piece of historical horror… I also like the way the script characterizes religious zealotry as it’s own sort of prison. A gripping and authentic recreation of primitive American folklore.’


“William P. Gottlieb was an American photographer and newspaper columnist who is best known for his classic photographs of the leading performers of the ‘Golden Age’ of American Jazz in the 1930s and 1940s. Gottlieb’s photographs are among the best known and widely reproduced images of this era of jazz.” (x)

Photographed are: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, 52nd Street, Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Howard McGhee, Roy Eldridge, Teddy Hill, and Lena Horne.

In 1964, tongue firmly in puffed out cheeks,  Dizzy Gillespie put himself forward as an independent write-in candidate. He promised that if he were elected, the White House would be renamed “The Blues House,” and a cabinet composed of Duke Ellington (Secretary of State), Miles Davis (Director of the CIA), Max Roach(Secretary of Defense), Charles Mingus (Secretary of Peace), Ray Charles (Librarian of Congress), Louis Armstrong (Secretary of Agriculture), Mary Lou Williams (Ambassador to the Vatican), Thelonious Monk (Travelling Ambassador) and Malcolm X (Attorney General). He said his running mate would be Phyllis Diller.

He has my vote.

Movie Review: Undrafted

This movie has been sitting on my TiVo for a while, and since it’s baseball based I figured the hubby would watch it with me.  I checked first and he said yes, which is why it took us so long to get to it.  Movies are secondary when we have tv shows to watch.

Now that I’ve seen it, I have to report that I loved it.  I will say I have a soft spot for movies where is a huge amount of banter between characters that have a long relationship.   I also love characters that are frustrated and other characters pick on them.  *g*  So this movie delivers in spades.

Also it was on my radar because I like Tyler Hoechlin and Aaron Tveit.  :)

It was a fun movie, totally recommend as it’s high on the “feel good” spectrum, there is some sweet moments between brothers, friends and also fathers and sons which might bring some tearful thoughts.

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Stuart Davis made American Painting in 1932 for the Whitney’s first annual painting survey exhibition (the series of shows that went on to become the Biennials). The work pays homage to Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, and John Graham, along with Duke Ellington. Davis altered the painting in 1942 and 1954, adding color and a number of other elements. 

Stuart Davis (1892–1964), American Painting, 1932/42–54. Oil on canvas, 40 × 50 ¼ in. (101.6 × 127.7 cm). Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha; on extended loan from the University of Nebraska at Omaha Collection. © Estate of Stuart Davis/Licensed by VAGA, New York

Kay Davis, circa 1945

Kay Davis (5 December 1920 – 27 January 2012) was a classically trained coloratura soprano who majored in voice and piano at Northwestern University in Illinois, USA, one of only six African American students there at the time. She joined Duke Ellington’s orchestra as a vocalist in 1944 and appeared with them in a number of (short) films, amongst which Symphony in Swing (1949) and Salute to Duke Ellington (1950).

During a concert in Carnegie Hall on November 13, 1948, Kay Davis was the first person ever to sing, for an audience, the legendary melancholy jazz ballad Lush Life, though the song had already been written more than a decade earlier by Ellington’s musical arranger and pianist Billy Strayhorn when he was only 16 years old.

Although she did sing conventional jazz songs with lyrics in a non-operatic style, she’s best known for weaving haunting wordless soprano tones through elaborate, sometimes filmlike Ellington arrangements. Jazz scholar Richard A. Wang, associate professor emeritus of music at the University of Illinois in Chicago, said of Ms. Davis’ singing: “She had a purity of tone and accuracy of intonation that added another instrumental voice to the Ellington palette. If one made a classical reference, it would be the sounds in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise – also a wordless vocal.”

In the early 1950s, after two European tours with Ellington, Davis got married and retired from singing. She and her husband moved to Florida, where she became a trained Cordon Bleu cook and had one son. Kay Davis’ best known recordings with Duke Ellington are the wordless vocal numbers Transblucency, On A Turquoise Cloud, Minnehaha, and Violet Blue.

serafino-finasero – 20160315 – [more Ellington singers here]

Kay Davis and Duke Ellington, late 1940s | photo William P. Gottlieb / Library of Congress


On this day in music history: April 2, 1982 - “Straight From The Heart”, the seventh studio album by Patrice Rushen is released. Produced by Patrice Rushen and Charles Mims, Jr., it is recorded at Conway Studios in Hollywood, CA from Mid - Late 1981. Following the muted commercial response to her sixth release “Posh” in 1980, Patrice Rushen focuses intently on producing a stronger effort the next time out. Taking more time to write and develop new material, Rushen works with her main core of musicians including “Ready” Freddie Washington (bass), Paul Jackson, Jr., Wali Ali, Marlo Henderson (guitars), Melvin Webb, James Gadson (drums), as well as background vocalists Jeanette Hawes (The Emotions), Lynn Davis (George Duke), Karen Evans, Roy Galloway and Brenda Russell. When Rushen and Mims meet with executives to play them the album, they are taken aback by their response. Instead of being enthusiastic, they bluntly tell them, “we don’t know what to do with this record.” They also tell Rushen that she shouldn’t produce herself and feel that “Luther Vandross was the only artist that could successfully produce himself as well as write and perform their own material.” Later, Rushen calls her friend, producer Quincy Jones to seek his advice about how to handle the situation. He advises her to hire promo people outside of the label to work her record at radio, and if they’re successful, “the record company will pick up on it.” She then goes to the bank and draws out her life savings, hiring indie radio promotion people to work the albums first single. The single in question is the instant classic “Forget Me Nots” (#4 R&B, #23 Pop), which not only becomes a hit faster than any of her previous records. It achieves crossover pop radio success at a time when many black musicians have been shut out from top 40 pop airplay in the post-disco era. Then Elektra president Joe Smith requests another meeting Patrice to not only apologize for being wrong about her records commercial potential, but also gives her back all of the money spent promoting her own record! The album becomes the best seller of Rushen’s career, spinning off two other singles including “Breakout!” (#46 R&B), and “I Was Tired Of Being Alone” (#79 R&B). “Forget Me Nots” also earns Rushen a Grammy Nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female in 1983. The track “Remind Me” (co-written with background vocalist Karen Evans), though not released as a single, becomes a major Quiet Storm radio mainstay, as well as being widely sampled and interpolated by artists such as Mary J. Blige and Junior M.A.F.I.A.. The album is reissued on CD in 1996, and features five bonus tracks including 12" single mixes and single edits previously available only on vinyl. “Straight From The Heart” peaks at number four on the Billboard R&B album chart, number fourteen on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.