Saturday, July 03, 2010

Jazz Profiles: Louis Jordan and Milt Hinton

Since I do a lot of walking here in Guadalajara, I have the chance to listen intently to my iPod for long stretches of time. It's a great way to pass the time on a 45-50 minute walk, which is about how long it takes me to walk to the CEPE (where I teach and where my students take classes) from my apartment room. Just enough time to listen to an entire episode of NPR's Jazz Profiles, a wonderful series hosted by Jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson.

I've heard all of the released Jazz Profiles podcasts at least once. And many of them I've listened to multiple times. For Jazz enthusiasts, it's a great treasure-trove of information and musical selections from the best performers in the history of Jazz. From the likes of such greats as Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, etc., to some of the equally good, but lesser-known performers like Fletcher Henderson, Red Norvo, Jackie McClean, Gene Ammons, Benny Waters, etc. Perhaps my two all-time favorite Jazz Profiles broadcasts are the ones on Louis Jordan and Milt Hinton.

You can listen to most of the Jazz Profiles recordings online at NPR. If you do, you'll get a sense of the history of Jazz in a very entertaining way. Let me help you get started with giving you the links to my two favorites mentioned above:

(1) Louis Jordan - a great alto saxophonist in his own right, but best known for his pathbreaking singing and performing in what is known as "Jump" jazz. I think Rock-n-Roll was pioneered by Louis Jordan, whose influence on the likes of Chuck Berry and Little Richard are undeniable.

(2) Milt Hinton - a bassist loved by all and affectionately known as "The Judge" who originated and perfected the style known as "slap" bass playing.

Every single episode of the Jazz Profile series is fantastic. And I have a feeling that once you listen to one of the episodes above, you'll be hooked. Give it a go, and welcome to the wonderful world that is Jazz.

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