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    Marc Myers' JazzWax

    Chet Baker at the Moonlight


    Aging beauty is still beautiful. For many jazz greats who recorded well into their later years, their music continued to evolve despite physical limitations. Artistic integrity and sensitivity often remained intact as expressions grew more reflective and at times melancholy. There was a new-found elegance in the music and greater emotional transparency. This was especially true of trumpeter Chet Baker in his final years.

    Videos: Dorothy Dandridge

    Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge had parallel careers as African-American pop singers, dancers and Hollywood actors. While Horne in the mid-1950s abandoned Hollywood for nightclubs (largely a result of red-baiting, here), Dandridge was nominated for an Oscar for her 1954 role in Carmen Jones. But two failed marriages took their toll on Dandrige. Her first produced a child born with brain damage, which added enormous pressure on Dandridge after her divorce. Her second husband swindled her out of $150,000 ($1.3 million in today's dollars). By 1965, Dandridge was bankrupt and suffering from mental illness. She died that year in September at age 42. It's unclear if her death was a result of a drug overdose or an embolism. 

    Eddie Diehl: Well, Here It Is

    Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 8.33.15 PMIf you had the misfortune as a jazz musician to come up in the early 1960s, you were likely ill-prepared to cope with the seismic shift in the music landscape as rock and soul swept away an entire generation of potential listeners.

    Videos: Basie in the '30s & '40s

    No American big band had a bigger influence on swing and jazz than Count Basie's. Today, when we think of Basie, we most often associate him with his post-1952 "New Testament" band. But between 1937 and throughout the 1940s, Basie's band was electrifying for its sheer power, foot-tapping arrangements, infectious dance beats and swinging soloists. Here are a bunch of Basie videos from the period:


    Donald Fagen & the Nightflyers

    790e9e2836d341249cff542d64d549a6Donald Fagen loves jazz. Since 1972, his songs co-written with Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker have been laced with jazz instrumentals and chord voicings. The same goes for Donald's four solo albums. Jazz greats such as Wayne Shorter, Phil Woods and Pete Christlieb, to name just a few, have been featured on Steely Dan and Donald's solo recordings. And when he's at home with down time, Donald tells me he's often at the piano doing Red Garland imitations. "Have you heard Red's Soul Junction?" he asked me recently "Coltrane is so great it's like he was let out of a cage." Big time.

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