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Bach meets The Beatles Gershwin's music

Bach meets the Beatles – “Yesterday”

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Bach meets the Beatles – Variations in the style of Bach “Yesterday” – Improvised by John Bayless, piano.

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John Bayless is one of the top classical cross-over recording and concert performing artists, best known for his top-selling albums, “Bach Meets the Beatles,” “The Puccini Album” and “Circle of Life: Songs by Elton John in the Style of Bach.” 

He has appeared at Carnegie Hall in a performance of his own West Side Story Concert Variations for solo piano and orchestra, made his Tanglewood debut playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Boston Pops, opened the San Francisco Summer Pops season with the same work and appeared in three sold-out concerts at the Hollywood Bowl with John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

He performed his West Side Story Concert Variations and his Bach Meets the Beatles repertoire with the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Bayless is Artistic Director for the Waring International Piano Competition. For more information, visit http://www.vwipc.org/John-Bayless-Bio.

Show was directed by Stewart Schulman. Singer actress Jean Kauffman has a cameo. Bayless had a stroke in 2008 which left him paralyzed on his right side. Bayless shares his road to recovery, and his return to composing and performing with one hand. This story of resiliency and hope has something for everyone.

Yesterday

“I really reckon ‘Yesterday’ is probably my best song.” This humble statement from Paul McCartney typifies what many believe to be the truth as to his creative output throughout his career. Although when asked at different times through the years what his favorite original composition was, he came up with many answers.

“Your songs are like your babies, it’s difficult to have a favorite,” he said in 2007. “Here, There And Everywhere” has been stated regularly, although “Hey Jude,” “Blackbird” and “Here Today” have been cited. He also once included “Maybe I’m Amazed” as one of his favorites, saying “that’s a nice song, I like that one.”

the beatles yesterday handwritten lyrics

In 1980, Paul explained why “Yesterday” could be described as his best song. “I like it not only because it was a big success, but because it was one of the most instinctive songs I’ve ever written.” Concerning the song being a “success,” it has been described as the most successful song in history. According to Chris Ingham’s book “The Rough Guide To The Beatles,” “It holds the record as the most recorded song in history, with over 2500 versions, and has been broadcast on American radio over seven million times.”

As to the song being “instinctive,” Paul’s explanation of how it was written has passed into the category of legend, as we’ll investigate below.

The song was written at 57 Wimpole Street, London, the family home of Richard and Margaret Asher where Paul was living while dating their daughter Jane Asher. He slept in a small attic room of the house that was rather cramped without too much extra room for anything, although there was one thing that did manage to get squeezed in. “I eventually got a piano of my own up in the top garret,” remembers Paul. “Very artistic. That was the piano that I fell out of bed and got the chords to ‘Yesterday’ on. I dreamed it when I was staying there.”

Download The Beatles’ sheet music books from our Library.

Paul vividly remembers that morning: “I woke up with a lovely tune in my head. I thought, ‘That’s great, I wonder what that is?’ There was an upright piano next to me, to the right of the bed by the window. I got out of bed, sat at the piano, found G, found F sharp minor 7th – and that leads you through then to B to E minor, and finally back to E. It all leads forward logically. I liked the melody a lot but because I’d dreamed it I couldn’t believe I’d written it. I thought, ‘No, I’ve never written like this before.’

But I had the tune, which was the most magic thing. And you have to ask yourself, ‘Where did it come from?’ But you don’t ask yourself too much or it might go away…There are certain times when you get the essence, it’s all there. It’s like an egg being laid – not a crack or flaw in it.”

Speaking of eggs, so that his memory of the melody wouldn’t “go away,” he wrote some simple words to go along with the phrasing of the melody line. “It had no words. I used to call it ‘Scrambled Eggs.’ The lyrics used to go, ‘Scrambled eggs, oh, my baby, how I love your legs…

There was generally a laugh at that point – you didn’t need to do any more lyrics.” Jane Asher once replied: “Don’t believe that part about ‘How I loved your legs.’ That’s bunk! My legs are horrid!” (And to set the record straight, Paul did not write a second verse that started “Cottage fries, oh, my baby, how I love your thighs.” 

Since we know where the melody was first conceived, many wonder when exactly this morning occurred. Barry Miles, co-author of Paul McCartney’s book “Many Years From Now,” explains this morning as having occurred in May of 1965. While this seems to be the final word, there is evidence to suggest an earlier date. “The song was around for months and months before we finally completed it,” recalls John Lennon.

He continues: “Paul wrote nearly all of it, but we just couldn’t find the right title. Every time we got together to write songs or for a recording session, this would come up. We called it ‘Scrambled Eggs’ and it became a joke between us. We almost had it finished when we made up our minds that only a one word title would suit and, believe me, we just couldn’t find the right one. Then, one morning, Paul woke up, and the song and the title were both there. Completed! I know it sounds like a fairy tale, but it is the plain truth. I was sorry, in a way, because we had so many laughs about it.”

Since John relates that it was “around for months and months,” just how many months was it? Producer George Martin has a strong recollection that indicates a good amount of months indeed. “I first heard ‘Yesterday’ when it was known as ‘Scrambled Eggs’ – Paul’s working title – at the George V Hotel in Paris in January 1964.”

George Martin accompanied The Beatles during their residency in Paris as the group played a series of shows at the Olympia Theatre in the latter half of January, 1964. A piano was brought up to their hotel room for songwriting purposes and, if his remembrances are correct, Paul premiered an early version of “Yesterday” to him at this time. Since Paul began living at the Asher home in London in November of 1963, this story could be feasible.

A 1968 quote from Paul appears to tell a different story. “It was called ‘Scrambled Egg’ for a couple of months, until I thought of ‘Yesterday.’ And that’s it. True story.” However, the statement “a couple of months” seems to have been an understatement.

Chris Dreja, the rhythm guitarist for The Yardbirds, clearly remembers an event that occurred during the “Beatles Christmas Show” of late December 1964 when Chris’s group were one of the opening acts. As quoted in Andy Babiuk’s book “Beatles Gear,” he recalls how Paul asked to come into the dressing room of The Yardbirds to premier a new song he was writing. “He sat down with the guitar, and at that point hadn’t got the lyrics, just the melody. He said it was called ‘Scrambled Eggs.’ And of course it was ‘Yesterday.’ There we were witnessing the start of one of the most famous songs of all time, and Paul was just playing it for us on an acoustic.”

Keeping in mind that Paul held off on pushing the song on The Beatles, saying “we were a little embarrassed about it – we were a rock’n’roll band,” it appears that he may have indeed held it back for quite a long time –  through two entire British albums in fact.

The next job was to verify that he did indeed write the song. “It came too easy,” Paul relates, “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe that I had written it. I thought that maybe I had heard it somewhere before, it was some other tune. I went around for weeks playing the chords of the song for people, asking them, ‘Is this like something? I think I’ve written it,’ and people would say, ‘No. It’s not like anything else, but it’s good.’”

One person he auditioned the song for was British singer Alma Cogan, at her flat in Kensington. “Alma was a bit of a song buff,” Paul relates, “and she said, ‘I don’t know what it is, but it’s beautiful.’” Director Richard Lester remembers Paul bothering everyone with the song on the set of their movie “Help!” “At some time during that period, we had a piano on one of the stages and he was playing this ‘Scrambled Eggs’ all the time,” Lester remembers. “It got to the point where I said to him, ‘If you play that bloody song any longer I’ll have the piano taken off stage. Either finish it or give it up!’”

At some point, Paul was convinced that the melody did in fact come from him. “Eventually it became like handing something in to the police. I thought that if no-one claimed it after a few weeks then I would have it.”

The only thing left was writing proper lyrics. After filming for “Help!” was complete, Paul and Jane arranged for a vacation in Albufeira, on the southern coast of Portugal, using a villa borrowed from his friend Bruce Welch, guitarist with Cliff Richard and The Shadows.

After flying from London to Lisbon on May 27th, 1965, Paul and Jane needed to drive 180 miles from Lisbon to get to the villa. “It was a long hot, dusty drive,” Paul remembers. “Jane was sleeping but I couldn’t, and when I’m sitting that long in a car I either manage to get to sleep or my brain starts going. I remember mulling over the tune ‘Yesterday,’ and suddenly getting these little one-word openings to the verse.”

Paul continues, “I started to develop the idea: Scram-ble-d eggs, da-da da. I knew the syllables had to match the melody, obviously: da-da da, yes-ter-day, sud-den-ly, fun-il-ly, mer-il-ly, and ‘Yes-ter-day,’ that’s good. ‘All my troubles seemed so far away.’ It’s easy to rhyme those ‘s’s: say, nay, today, away, play, stay, there’s a lot of rhymes and those fall in quite easily, so I gradually pieced it together from that journey. ‘Sud-den-ly,’ and ‘b’ again, another easy rhyme: e, me, tree, flea, we, and I had the basis of it.”

Then, when he arrived at the villa, he met up with Bruce. “I was packing to leave and Paul asked me if I had a guitar,” remembers Welch. “He’d apparently been working on the lyrics as he drove to Albufeira from the airport at Lisbon. He borrowed my guitar and started playing the song we all now know as ‘Yesterday.’”

“I think I finished the lyrics about two weeks later, which was quite a long time for me,” Paul adds. “Generally, John and I would sit down and finish within three hours, but this was more organic. I put in the words over the next couple of weeks.” This would take it right up to the recording date of the song – June 14th, 1965.

Although John had intimated in 1966 that he had played a part in writing the song, saying “We just helped finish off the ribbons ‘round it, you know – tying it up,” this appears to be an isolated case. For instance, in 1980 he remembered it differently. “That’s Paul’s song, and Paul’s baby. Well done. Beautiful – and I never wished I’d written it.” In a 2001 interview in Readers’ Digest, Paul interestingly states: “John always said he had nothing to do with that song.” Even Ringo concurs: “Paul, of course, had written his ‘Yesterday,’ the most recorded song in history – What a guy!”

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APPROACHING PIAZZOLLA’S MUSIC: an analysis of his music and composition styles (2/2)

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APPROACHING PIAZZOLLA’S MUSIC: an analysis of his music and composition styles (2/2)

Milonga del ángel

As for Soledad, Milonga del ángel has the milonga rhythm as a basis more or less throughout the entire piece. Except for the middle section, the primary melody is repeatedly presented.

Consequently, the element that is processed is not the melody; instead, it is of more interest to study the contexts of which the melody is placed.

piazzolla sheet music

The articulations between the sections are characterised by a continuous flow, and there is no dominant chord that prepare for their arrival; however, the sections are still smoothly merged.

The first primary section (P) establishes the harmonic environment and presents the primary melody twice. Furthermore, the secondary section (S) starts with modulating sequences and then continues with a part that is reminiscent of P. The last section is more or less a recurrence of the first section, although with a more refined environment. As with Soledad, it
is possible to read the large scale structure as an ABA structure. In fact, these two milongas are rather similar in large and middle scales respectively.

In the introduction (O), the motivic chord gesture that opens every subsection, except for T and 2T, is presented. Letting this gesture end the O subsection smoothly merges the O and P subsections; thus, the subsections overlap each other.

The changes of key areas between subsections enter without fifth motions in the bass line. Instead, the changes are characterized by ascending chromatic motion. Either it is only the melody that is moving, or it is both the melody and the bass line. The bass line’s gesture is probably derived from the arrastre gesture and therefore I define this kind of key change for as ‘change of key area by arrastre’.

With a single bar gesture as basis, the primary melody is present almost the entire piece through. While preparing for the melody’s arrival by establishing an atmosphere, the introduction also presents a motivic gesture that is frequently recurrent throughout the piece.

In P and P2, the same process continues, though in different keys, and in P1 and P3 it is slightly accustomed. Remains of the primary melody is also to be found in the S(P) subsection. Just like in Soledad, there is a large amount of ‘jazzy’ II-V-I chord progressions in minor mode; altered fifths and ninths are used frequently. Except for T and 2T, the bass line is pending, moving in fifths or moving in descending motion. In the following illustration, notice how the usage of reinterpretation of the chord in bar four (C#7b9/B to E13b9no1/B) enables an immediate transfer to Am.

Just as in Libertango, the melody is moving in triads when the bass line is pending; it seems like the melody is active when the bass line is passive, and the melody is passive when the bass line is active. As the illustration shows, the melody is a descending motion from the second to the fifth note in the scale. Linked together with an arppegio, the structural motive
(D B A G F#) is presented at the beginning and at the end.

Unlike the other subsections, T is a more rhythmical passage where two tresillo rhythms and the mordent rhythm confront each other in sequences. P1 and S(P) may be smoothly merged without T though, especially since they end with the same note. Perhaps it is not satisfying defining this passage as a transition; hence, it might rather be defined as an excursion or as sequenced tonicizations (to make it more graphically, I have excluded the chords in the illustration).

The similiarities between Soledad and Milonga del ángel are quite recognisable: e.g. the ‘jazzy’ chords; frequent mordents; accompaniment gestures; lyrical melody; and naturally the milonga rhythm that saturates them. A major disparity though, is the way the change of key areas are realised; in Soledad by descending chromatic motion with pedal, and in Milonga del ángel by ascending chromatic motion. In the latter case though, the gesture is implemented just before the new key arrives; in the former case, there is a preparation that lasts for several bars and it is not that clear where the new key enters.

Just as Soledad, Milonga del ángel has an ABA-structure and with the milonga rhythm as basis it is characterised by long note values, ‘jazzy’ chord progressions and change of key area by arrastre. Throughout the piece, the primary melody is located in different environments regarding harmony, tempo and instrumentation.

Fuga y misterio

In the same manner as for Fugata, I prefer to analyse Fuga y misterio as three sections: fugue exposition; middle section with melody and accompaniment; and a closing coda-section, which differs from the first two sections.

Covering half the piece, the first section (P) is a fugue exposition in four parts, which through a large-scale fifth motion changes key from E-minor to G-minor.

The secondary section (S) presents a contrasting theme that is accompanied by a chord progression that is derived from the fugue theme. Leading back to the primary theme, this section reveals the chord progression that has been hinted in the exposition. The last section (K) is a slow cantabile passage where a new melody theme is presented. While the fugue exposition (P) has a polyphonic texture, the other sections have a texture of ‘melody and accompaniment’. Though every section is in minor, the two first sections are a little ‘edgier’ due to the augmented fourth (or the jazz blue note) that is exposed already from the beginning. The large-scale structure can be read as an ABC-structure.

In the fugue exposition, which is characterized by a rhythmical contrapuntal texture, there are strong accented rhythms. Short note values are predominating. Just as in Fugata, the most frequent surface rhythm of the fugue theme is tresillo 1. The key change between these subsections is realized by transforming the tonic chord into a dominant (e.g Em E7 Am).

Thus, unlike the exposition in Fugata, there is no preparation of the new dominant. In the following illustration, notice how the last bar of the fugue theme is a diminished variation of the two first bars.

Reaching G-minor, the exposition is accomplished and the key of the secondary subsections (Em) is introduced without preparation; the only gesture that indicates E-minor is an ascending diatonic bass line (B C# D#). With the marcato base as a basis, the secondary subsection presents a contrasting melody that is characterized by mordents and harmonic
intervals such as the diminished 10th and the added 11th, which serves as top notes in chords.

The last secondary subsection is a recurrence of the fugue theme, presented in a homophonic environment though. As pointed out earlier, the last subsection (K) is a cantabile passage that differs quite a lot from the other passages. It is slower, have longer note values, and it is the
first time in the piece that there is a descending bass line in crotchets present.

The fugue exposition is rather similar to the one in Fugata, especially regarding the treatment of gestures, counterpoint and change of key areas; it is rather clear to see Piazzolla’s influences from the inventions of Bach. Notice also how the usage of instrumental rubato automatically implies that tresillo rhythms are accented.

The melody has typically stepwise motion or motion as skips, which reaches chord notes.

Similar to Fugata, this applies to all fugue parts. The most common intervals in parallel motion are thirds and sixths. In contrast to Fugata’s chord progression, which is based on a descending bass line, the chord progression in Fuga y misterio is instead based on II-V-I progressions. With a cycle of fifth as a basis, the II-V-I sequences implies tonicization; Bm-E7-Am Am-D7-G instead of E7-Am-D7-G.72 The first subsection of S is a more homophonic passage where the secondary melody is harmonized with block technique.

As pointed out earlier, the chord progressions are rather similar to the progressions in the exposition’s first eight bars, though with altered chords similar to the ‘jazzy’ one’s used in Soledad and Milonga del ángel. In the first four bars, which are rather static due to its harmony based on primary chords, the low notes in the bass line is reached through octave leaps. This implies an accentuation that enhances the static state. As in e.g. Fuga, there are also several percussive gestures produced by dissonant chords.

Due to its different style regarding tempo, harmony and melody, the last subsection has a completely different character. The most significant characteristics are the descending bass line and the 9-8 appoggiaturas that are exposed in the melody. Implemented as sequences, the chord progression is rather similar to the one that is to be found in the primary subsection of Soledad.

The very last bars are a descending chromatic gesture presented by diminished seventh chords, though with the tonic pedal as bass note. Ending with a B7b9 (without root note though), these last four bars functions as codetta. The gesture may be regarded as a T-DD-s progression, which is similar to the motivic chord gesture in Libertango.

Fuga y misterio has a structure similar to the one found in Fugata: A fugue exposition as a start; melody and accompaniment in the middle; and a closing section that is rather different than the other two. There is no key change between sections (but the key changes within sections though), and the harmony is characterized by chord progressions with primary chords
and fifth motions by tonicization sequences.

Summary

This chapter will give emphasize techniques and musical events that are, in a general perspective, mutual to the compositions that have been analysed. As suggested of LaRue, I have chosen to categorise the characteristics of Piazzolla’s music that I have found into four categories: harmony; melody; rhythm; and structure (I prefer using structure as a category instead of growth). The sketches and the tables are not exact rules of how Piazzolla’s music functions; they are rather to regard as suggestions how to relate to his composition style.

The change of key areas may be categorised into two main categories: maintaining the key or entering a new key. As pointed out in chapter 1.5, LaRue defines this as ornamental modulation and structural modulation respectively. The techniques, which are to be found in both categories above, I define as ‘tonicization’ and ‘descending chromatics with pedal’.
Thus, they are used for both purposes. The following illustration shows my suggestion on how to regard the tonicization technique.

The latter one is concerning the relation between a descending chromatic motion and its pedal accompaniment in the end of subsection. Unlike the tonicization technique, this procedure does not include any intermediate tonic states; there is either no change of key area at all, or the passage has the aim to modulate. It seems like when a new key is going to be established the pedal is fading out before the new dominant chord (this is not the case in the K-section of Fugata though). When the key is maintained the pedal keeps on going, and it seems like it frequently has a role of a dominant. In its simplicity, it may be illustrated as follows:

Additionally, Piazzolla also changes key without preparation by implementing the arrastre gesture74 (as described in Milonga del ángel). As pointed out in Soledad, two techniques are sometimes combined.
There are three characteristics regarding melody that I want to point out. The first one I define as ‘ostinato gestures’, which are rhythmical patterns based on tresillo rhythm 4 and 7.

Frequently subordinated the main melody though, they contribute to the melodic tension by exposing characteristic intervals (e.g chord notes like b9, #5 and 13).

The second one, which describes the relation between the top voice and the bass line, I have chosen to define as ‘uniform ambitus’. It seems like when the bass line is pending, the top voice has a more active role; it moves in arpeggios and repeatedly presents an immanent chord progression. Consequently, when the bass line is more active the melody’s ambitus decreases.

The third characteristic regarding melody is the melodic motion. Applicable in small dimensions, when descending, the melody tends to have a stepwise, often chromatic, motion.

Furthermore, when ascending it tends to move in leaps or in arpeggios; consequently, there are also neighbor notes implicated.

Two common large-scale structures that the analysed pieces share are the ABA-structure and the ABC-structure; ABA in the milongas, and ABC in the fugues.

As pointed out earlier, Piazzolla freely uses the tresillo rhythm and its shifts. In addition to the original rhythm, which is the most common, it seems like the second, the fourth and the seventh shift are the most common rhythms that are based on the tresillo. Particularly clear in
Fugata, the tresillo rhythm is also to be found in large-scale patterns. In this piece, the tresillo rhythm is carefully distributed which makes the ABC-structure mathematically equal to 3:3:2.

Piazzolla’s sheet music available for download from our Library.

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Libertango (Piano solo) – Astor Piazzolla con partitura (sheet music)

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Jazz Music Gershwin's music

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Summertime

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  • “Summertime” is an aria composed in 1934 by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward, the author of the novel Porgy on which the opera was based, although the song is also co-credited to Ira Gershwin by ASCAP.
  • Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong sing Summertime
  • Porgy and Bess
    • Musicologist K. J. McElrath wrote of the song:
  • Sheet music available from our Library.
    • (*) To learn more about about Blues scales, please read this article: “How To Play the Blues Scale And Use It In Your Music” by Bebinner Guitar HQ.

Summertime” is an aria composed in 1934 by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward, the author of the novel Porgy on which the opera was based, although the song is also co-credited to Ira Gershwin by ASCAP.

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong sing Summertime

Lyrics

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, Don’t you cry

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ bySummertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, Don’t you cry

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ by

The song soon became a popular and much-recorded jazz standard, described as “without doubt … one of the finest songs the composer ever wrote … Gershwin’s highly evocative writing brilliantly mixes elements of jazz and the song styles of blacks in the southeast United States from the early twentieth century”. Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim has characterized Heyward’s lyrics for “Summertime” and “My Man’s Gone Now” as “the best lyrics in the musical theater”.

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong sing Summertime free sheet music & scores pdf

Porgy and Bess

Gershwin began composing the song in December 1933, attempting to create his own spiritual in the style of the African American folk music of the period. Gershwin had completed setting DuBose Heyward’s poem to music by February 1934, and spent the next 20 months completing and orchestrating the score of the opera.

The song is sung several times throughout Porgy and Bess. Its lyrics are the first words heard in act 1 of the opera, following the communal “wa-do-wa”. It is sung by Clara as a lullaby. The song theme is reprised soon after as counterpoint to the craps game scene, in act 2 in a reprise by Clara, and in act 3 by Bess, singing to Clara’s now-orphaned baby after both its parents died in the storm. It was recorded for the first time by Abbie Mitchell on July 19, 1935, with George Gershwin playing the piano and conducting the orchestra (on: George Gershwin Conducts Excerpts from Porgy & Bess, Mark 56 667).

The 1959 movie version of the musical featured Loulie Jean Norman singing the song. That rendition finished at #52 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.

Musicologist K. J. McElrath wrote of the song:

Gershwin was remarkably successful in his intent to have this sound like a folk song. This is reinforced by his extensive use of the pentatonic scale (C–D–E–G–A)(*) in the context of the A minor tonality and a slow-moving harmonic progression that suggests a “blues“. Because of these factors, this tune has been a favorite of jazz performers for decades and can be done in a variety of tempos and styles.

The 1959 screen adaptation of Porgy and Bess starred Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey, Brock Peters, and Diahann Carroll, with everybody dubbed except Davis and Bailey. Directed by Otto Preminger and produced by Samuel Goldwyn, the film won the 1959 Golden Globe Award for Best Picture -Musical and the 1959 Academy Award for Best Musical Score (Andre Previn and Ken Darby). Despite, or possibly because of, the lavish production values and the handsome cast, a common critical opinion is that the Broadway musical did not translate well to film.

Sheet music available from our Library.

(*) To learn more about about Blues scales, please read this article: “How To Play the Blues Scale And Use It In Your Music” by Bebinner Guitar HQ.

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Jazz Music

A HISTORY OF THE BLUES – Memphis Slim (Piano) & Willie Dixon Sittin’ And Cryin’ The Blues

A HISTORY OF THE BLUES – Memphis Slim (Piano) & Willie Dixon – Sittin’ And Cryin’ The Blues

Whoa, there’s no one
To have fun with
Since my baby’s love
Has been done with
All I do is think of you
I sit and cry and sing the blues

Oh, there’s no one
To depend on
Since my baby’s love
Has been gone
Broken-hearted and lonesome, too
I sit and cry and sing the blues

Blues all in my bloodstream
Blues all in my heart
Blues all in my so-oul
I got blues all in my bones

Oh, there’s no one
To talk to
And my love is so true
Lord, I don’t know
What to do
I sit and cry and sing the blues

I sit and cry and sing the blues

I sit and cry and sing the blues.

Jazz & Blues sheet music download.

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Willie Dixon biography

Willie Dixon has been called “the poet laureate of the blues” and “the father of modern Chicago Blues.” He was indisputably the pre-eminent blues songwriter of his era, credited with writing more than 500 songs by the end of his life. Moreover, Dixon is a towering figure in the history and creation of Chicago Blues on other fronts. While on staff at Chess Records, Dixon produced, arranged, and played bass on sessions for Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Litter Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and others. In no small way, he served as a crucial link between the blues and rock ‘n roll.

Born in 1915 in Vicksburg, MS, Dixon began rhyming, singing and writing songs in his youth. He was exposed to a varity of music – gospel, blues, country & western – which served as the seeds for the symbiotic music he would later make in Chicago. Moving to the city in 1936, he had a bried career as a boxer and then skirmished with the U.S. Army, refusing induction on the grounds he was a conscientious objector. 

His early forays on the Chicago music scene included stints with The Five Breezes, The Four Jumps of Jive and The Big Three Trio, all of which made records. The Big Three Trio, in particular, are noteworthy for having brought harmony singing to the blues. Dixon really found his niche at Chess, where he was allowed to develop as a recording artist, session musician, in-house songwriter and staff musician beginning in 1951.

Some of the now classic songs he wrote for other during his lengthy tenure at Chess include “Hoochie Coochie Man”, “I’m Ready” and “I Just Want to Make Love to You” (Muddy Waters); “Back Door Man”, “Spoonful” and “I Ain’t Superstitious” (Howlin’ Wolf); “My Babe” (Little Walter); and “Wang Dang Doodle” (Koko Taylor). Though he didn’t write for Chuck Berry, Dixon played bass on most of his early records. For a few years in the late 50’s, he also wrote for and worked with artists on the crosstown Cobra label, including such fledgling bluesmen as Otis Rush, Buddy Guy and Magic Sam.

Dixon returned to Chess in 1959, and the 60’s saw the full flowering of his talents there. In addition to writing and producing some of his greatest works during that decade, he recorded a series of albums in a duet format with Memphis Slim on the Folkways, Verve and Battles labels. His first album as a solo artist, Willie’s Blues, appeared on the Bluesville label in 1960. In his capacity as a staff producer at Chess, he wouldn’t get around to releasing a follow-up album under his own name until I Am the Blues appeared on Columbia Records in 1970. Albums followed from him at more regular intervals in subsequent years, culminating in the 1988 release of Hidden Charms, which won Dixon a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Recording.


In his later years, Willie Dixon became a tireless ambassador of the blues and a vocal advocate for its practitioners, founding the Blues Heaven Foundation. The organization works to preserve the blues’ legacy and to secure copyrights and royalties for blues musicians who were exploited in the past. Speaking with the simple eloquence that was a hallmark of his songs, Dixon put it like this: “The blues are the roots and the other musics are the fruits. It’s better keeping the roots alive, because it means better fruits from now on. The blues are the roots of all American music. As long as American music survives, so will the blues.”

Willie Dixon published his autobiography, I Am the Blues, in 1989 – a year after Chess Records released Willie Dixon: The Chess Box, a two-disc set that included Dixon’s greatest songs as performed by the artists who made them famous – Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Bo Diddley, Lowell Fulson and Dixon, himself.
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Film Music

Disney music: When I See An Elephant Fly – Piano arrangement by Jim Brickman

Disney Music When I See An Elephant Fly (Disney sheet music) Piano arrangement by Jim Brickman

When I See An Elephant Fly (Disney) Piano arrangement by Jim Brickman with sheet music TO DOWNLOAD from our Library.

Jim Brickman (born November 20, 1961) is an American songwriter and pianist of pop music, as well as a radio show host. Brickman has earned six Gold and Platinum albums. He is known for his solo piano compositions, pop-style instrumentals, and vocal collaborations with artists such as Lady Antebellum, Johnny Mathis, Michael W. Smith, Martina McBride, Megan Hilty, Donny Osmond, Delta Goodrem, Olivia Newton-John, and many others.

He has earned two Grammy nominations for his albums Peace (2003) for Best Instrumental, and Faith (2009) for Best New Age Album; an SESAC “Songwriter of the Year” award; a Canadian Country Music Award for Best Vocal/Instrumental Collaboration; and a Dove Award presented by the Gospel Music Association.

Since 1997, he has hosted his own radio show, “The Jim Brickman Show”, which is carried on radio stations throughout the United States.Brickman has also released five PBS specials, and hosts an annual fan cruise or bash. He is founder of Brickhouse Direct, a company that provides strategic marketing and e-commerce solutions for clients in a variety of industries.

Jim’s career has spanned over 25 years.

He has transformed the popularity of solo piano playing his original, pop-style instrumentals and inviting star-studded vocal collaborators to join in. He has since become the most charted Adult Contemporary artist and best selling solo pianist to date.

Instead of listing every album over Jim’s entire career we’ll just start here.

Disney Music

From the founding of The Walt Disney Company in 1923, music has been key to the success of the organization. Both public-domain and original music were used for the initial cartoons, but, since neither Walt Disney nor Roy O. Disney had any music industry experience, the studio had to rely on outside music publishers.In 1928, Walt Disney released the first Mickey Mouse motion picture, Steamboat Willie, which became the first animated short-subject film with sound.

Two other unreleased Mickey Mouse shorts has been previously-produced and were subsequently given soundtracks prior to their eventual premieres. In 1929, Walt Disney and Carl Stalling wrote “Minnie’s Yoo-Hoo”, the first song from the Walt Disney Studios, for Mickey’s Follies. On December 16, 1929, the Disney Film Recording Company, Limited was incorporated as a subsidiary of Walt Disney Productions.

Saul Bourne at Irving Berlin Music approached the studio after seeing Three Little Pigs with interest in the publishing rights for its theme song, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?“. With Disney partnering with Bourne and Berlin, this partnership led to the song being recorded twice by the Don Bestor Orchestra (released by Victor Records) and Bill Scotti Orchestra (released by Bluebird Records). The song was a hit and a Depression era anthem.

Walt Disney Productions then began licensing out its music with the record company either selecting its own or Disney’s talent to record the music. Until 1936, no one had issued an actual song track recording on disc. RCA‘s HMV label released a selection of Disney short film music in England with the US release a year later. The Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs soundtrack album released by Victor was the first feature film soundtrack. Disney had sold its rights to the Snow White music to Bourne Co. Music as they needed more funds to complete the film.

In 1938, Fantasound—the first Surround sound system—was designed and tested by Walt Disney Productions for the release of Fantasia. In 1943, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated Walt Disney Productions for two Academy Award categories in recognition of Bambi; Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture and Music, Best Song for its song, “Love is a Song”.

In addition to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney also sold the music publishing rights to Pinocchio and Dumbo to Bourne. To date, all attempts to reacquire the music rights to the three films had failed. After Bambi, the effects of World War II reduced the production of new feature length animation, with Disney either making feature length live films with some animation or themed short film into anthology films like Make Mine Music. The latter films contain the bulk of the more commercial music which was done by recording stars thus released by their record company.

In April 1947, the Walt Disney Music Company (WDMC) was incorporated, with Fred Raphael putting the company together in late 1949 to publish and license songs from Cinderella. Cinderella records appeared in stores along with other merchandise in 1949 before the 1950 release of the movie. The original RCA 78 RPM multi-disc-album release was number 1 on the Billboard magazine pop charts and as a result, Disney Music was moving rapidly into the Big Business category. While WDMC did not produce the records, Raphael did handle the selection, performance and recording.

James Alexander “Jimmy” Johnson, Jr., a fired Disney publicity staff member who wanted to stay at Disney, moved through a series of jobs there in the traffic department, and then accounting. After a stint in the military, he became assistant to the corporate secretary, then handled merchandising issues among other additional duties. With Roy Disney’s split of the merchandising division from Walt Disney Productions, Johnson became head of the merchandising division’s publication department in 1950 and took on managing business affairs for the Walt Disney Music Company.

Raphael took the WDMC into creating original non-film music. WDMC had several successful songs outside of the films, including Mule Train by Frankie Laine, “Would I Love You (Love You, Love You)” by Patti Page and “Shrimp Boats” by Jo Stafford, however for every non-film hit there were a score more that flopped. While Alice in Wonderland was a first run failure, its songs became evergreen for the music company with multiple stars performing the music. Raphael moved his office off lot to Hollywood and opened a WDMC in New York.

Walt Disney Productions formed the Wonderland Music Company in 1951.

Disney’s next push into music came from The Mickey Mouse Club as eight 6-inch 78 RPM records for the show hit shelves the week it premiered on television. Normal 7-inch 45 RPM versions were cut and released later, both through manufacturing partners of the Walt Disney Music Company. After a year, Golden Records and Am-Par Records turned over production of the show’s music back to Disney, leading to the creation of the Disneyland Records label in 1956.

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Jazz Music LIVE Music Concerts

A HISTORY OF THE BLUES: Muddy Waters (LIVE 1960)

A HISTORY OF THE BLUES – Muddy Waters – Rollin’ Stone

“Rollin’ Stone” is a blues song recorded by Muddy Waters in 1950. It’s been recorded by many artists, and both Rolling Stone magazine and the rock group the Rolling Stones are named after the song.

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MUDDY WATERS sheet music pdf

Muddy Waters was the single most important artist to emerge in post-war American blues. A peerless singer, a gifted songwriter, an able guitarist, and leader of one of the strongest bands in the genre (which became a proving ground for a number of musicians who would become legends in their own right), Waters absorbed the influences of rural blues from the Deep South and moved them uptown, injecting his music with a fierce, electric energy and helping pioneer the Chicago Blues style that would come to dominate the music through the 1950s, ‘60s, and ’70s. The depth of Waters‘ influence on rock as well as blues is almost incalculable, and remarkably, he made some of his strongest and most vital recordings in the last five years of his life.

Waters was born McKinley Morganfield, and historians argue about some details of his early life; while he often told reporters he was born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi on April 4, 1915, researchers have uncovered census records and personal documents that would pin the year of his birth at 1913 or 1914, and others have cited the place of his birth as Jug’s Corner, a town in Mississippi’s Issaquena County. What is certain is that Morganfield’s mother died when he just three years old, and from then on he was raised on the Stovall Plantation in Clarksdale, Mississippi by his grandmother, Della Grant. Grant is said to have given young Morganfield the nickname “Muddy” because he liked to play in the mud as a boy, and the name stuck, with “Water” and “Waters” being tacked on a few years later. The rural South was a hotbed for the blues in the ’20s and ‘30s, and young Muddy became entranced with the music when he discovered a neighbor had a phonograph and records by the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, and Tampa Red.

As Muddy became more deeply immersed in the blues, he took up the harmonica; he was performing locally at parties and fish fries by the age of 13, sometimes with guitarist Scott Bohanner, who lived and worked in Stovall. In his early teens, Muddy was introduced to the sound of contemporary Delta blues artists, such as Son House, Robert Johnson, and Charley Patton; their music inspired Waters to switch instruments, and he bought a guitar when he was 17, learning to play in the bottleneck style. Within a few years, he was performing on his own and with a local string band, the Son Simms Four; he also opened a juke joint on the Stovall grounds, where fellow sharecroppers could listen to music, enjoy a drink or a snack, and gamble. Waters became a fixture in Mississippi, performing with the likes of Big Joe Williams and Robert Nighthawk, and in the late summer of 1941, musical archivists Alan Lomax and John Work III arrived in Mississippi with a portable recording rig, eager to document local blues talent for the Library of Congress (it’s said they were hoping to locate Robert Johnson, only to learn he had died three years earlier). Lomax and Work were strongly impressed with Waters, and recorded several sides of him performing in his juke joint; two of the songs were released as a 78, and when Waters received two copies of the single and $20 from Lomax, it encouraged him to seriously consider a professional career. In July 1943, Lomax returned to record more material with Waters; these early sessions with Lomax were collected on the album Down On Stovall’s Plantation in 1966, and a 1994 reissue of the material, The Complete Plantation Recordings, won a Grammy award.

In 1943, Waters decided to pull up stakes and relocate to Chicago, Illinois in hopes of making a living off his music. (He moved to St. Louis for a spell in 1940, but didn’t care for it.) Waters drove a truck and worked at a paper plant by day, and at night struggled to make a name for himself, playing house parties and any bar that would have him. Big Bill Broonzy reached out to Waters and helped him land better gigs; Muddy had recently switched to electric guitar to be better heard in noisy clubs, which added a new power to his cutting slide work. By 1946, Waters had come to the attention of Okeh Records, who took him into the studio to record but chose not to release the results. A session that same year for 20th Century Records resulted in just one tune being issued as the B-side of a James “Sweet Lucy” Carter release, but Waters fared better with Aristocrat Records, a Chicago-based label founded by brothers Leonard and Phil Chess. The Chess Brothers began recording Waters in 1947, and while a few early sides with Sunnyland Slim failed to make an impression, his second single for Aristocrat as a headliner, “I Can’t Be Satisfied” b/w “(I Feel Like) Goin’ Home,” became a significant hit and launched Waters as a star on the Chicago blues scene.

Initially, the Chess Brothers recorded Waters with trusted local musicians (including Earnest “Big” Crawford and Alex Atkins), but for his live work, Waters had recruited a band which included Little Walter on harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on guitar, and Baby Face Leroy Foster on drums (later replaced by Elgin Evans), and in person, Waters and his group earned their reputation as the most powerful blues band in town, with Waters‘ passionate vocals and guitar matched by the force of his combo. By the early ’50s, the Chess Brothers (who had changed the name of their label from Aristocrat to Chess Records in 1950) began using Waters‘ stage band in the studio, and Little Walter in particular became a favorite with blues fans and a superb foil for Waters. Otis Spann joined Waters‘ group on piano in 1953, and he would become the anchor for the band well into the ’60s, after Little Walter and Jimmy Rogers had left to pursue solo careers. In the ’50s, Waters released some of the most powerful and influential music in the history of electric blues, scoring hits with numbers like “Rollin’ and Tumblin,'” “I’m Ready,” “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Mannish Boy,” “Trouble No More,” “Got My Mojo Working,” and “I Just Want to Make Love to You” which made him a frequent presence on the R&B charts.

By the end of the ’50s, while Waters was still making fine music, his career was going into a slump. The rise of rock & roll had taken the spotlight away from more traditional blues acts in favor of younger and rowdier acts (ironically, Waters had headlined some of Alan Freed‘s early “Moondog” package shows), and Waters‘ first tour of England in 1958 was poorly received by many U.K. blues fans, who were expecting an acoustic set and were startled by the ferocity of Waters‘ electric guitar. Waters began playing more acoustic music informed by his Mississippi Delta heritage in the years that followed, even issuing an album titled Muddy Waters: Folk Singer in 1964. However, the jolly irony was that British blues fans would soon rekindle interest in Waters and electric Chicago blues; as the rise of the British Invasion made the world aware of the U.K. rock scene, the nascent British blues scene soon followed, and a number of Waters‘ U.K. acolytes became international stars, such as Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Alexis Korner, and a modestly successful London act who named themselves after Muddy‘s 1950 hit “Rollin’ Stone.” While Waters was still leading a fine band that delivered live (and included the likes of Pinetop Perkins on piano and James Cotton on harmonica), Chess Records was moving more toward the rock, soul, and R&B marketplace, and seemed eager to market him to white rock fans, a notion that reached its nadir in 1968 with Electric Mud, in which Waters was paired up with a psychedelic rock band (featuring guitarists Pete Cosey and Phil Upchurch) for rambling and aimless jams on Waters‘ blues classics. 1969’s Fathers and Sons was a more inspired variation on this theme, with Waters playing alongside reverential white blues rockers such as Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield; 1971’s The London Muddy Waters Sessions was less impressive, featuring fine guitar work from Rory Gallagher but uninspired contributions from Steve Winwood, Rick Grech, and Georgie Fame.

Curiously, while Chess Records helped Waters make some of the finest blues records of the ’50s and ‘60s, it was the label’s demise that led to his creative rebirth. In 1969, the Chess Brothers sold the label to General Recorded Tape, and the label went through a long, slow commercial decline, finally folding in 1975. (Waters would become one of several Chess artists who sued the label for unpaid royalties in its later years.) Johnny Winter, a longtime Waters fan, heard the blues legend was without a record deal, and was instrumental in getting Waters signed to Blue Sky Records, a CBS-distributed label that had become his recording home. Winter produced the sessions for Waters‘ first Blue Sky release, and sat in with a band comprised of members of Waters‘ road band (including Bob Margolin and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith) along with James Cotton on harp and Pinetop Perkins on piano. 1977’s Hard Again was a triumph, sounding as raw and forceful as Waters‘ classic Chess sides, with a couple extra decades of experience informing his performances, and it was rightly hailed as one of the finest albums Waters ever made while sparking new interest in his music. (It also earned him a Grammy award for Best Traditional or Ethnic Folk Recording.) Waters also dazzled music fans when he appeared at the Band‘s celebrated farewell concert on Thanksgiving 1976 at the invitation of Levon Helm, who had helped produce one of his last Chess releases, The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album. Muddy delivered a stunning performance of “Mannish Boy” that became one of the highlights of Martin Scorsese‘s 1978 concert film The Last Waltz. Between Hard Again and The Last Waltz, Waters enjoyed a major career boost, and he found himself touring again for large and enthusiastic crowds, sharing stages with the likes of Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones, and cutting two more well-received albums with Winter as producer, 1978’s I’m Ready and 1981’s King Bee, as well as a solid 1979 concert set, Muddy “Mississippi” Waters Live. Waters‘ health began to fail him in 1982, and his final live appearance came in the fall of that year, when he sang a few songs at an Eric Clapton show in Florida. Waters died quietly of heart failure at his home in Westmont, Illinois on April 30, 1983. Since then, both Chicago and Westmont have named streets in Muddy‘s honor, he’s appeared on a postage stamp, a marker commemorates the site of his childhood home in Clarksdale, and he appeared as a character in the 2008 film Cadillac Records, played by Jeffrey Wright.

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Film Music Beautiful Music

Disney Music – Mary Poppins Medley – Jim Brickman, piano (with sheet music)

Disney – Mary Poppins Medley – Jim Brickman, piano (with sheet music in our Library)

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Jazz Music

A History of the Blues – Howlin’ Wolf – Poor Boy

A History of the Blues – Howlin’ Wolf – Poor Boy

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), known as Howlin’ Wolf, was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist, and harmonica player. Originally from Mississippi, he moved to Chicago in adulthood and became successful, forming a rivalry with fellow bluesman Muddy Waters. With a booming voice and imposing physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists.

The musician and critic Cub Koda noted, “no one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.] Producer Sam Phillips recalled, “When I heard Howlin’ Wolf, I said, ‘This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.'” Several of his songs, including “Smokestack Lightnin'”, “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful”, have become blues and blues rock standards. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 54 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”
“Poor Boy Blues”, or “Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home”, is a traditional blues song of unknown origin.

As with most traditional blues songs, there is great variation in the melody and lyrical content as performed by different artists. However, there is often a core verse containing some variation of the line “I’m a poor boy a long way from home.” The song is often associated with a slide guitar accompaniment. Gus Cannon recalled hearing a slide guitarist named Alec or Alex Lee in Coahoma County around 1900, playing a version of the song. Cannon himself, under the pseudonym Banjo Joe, later recorded the song.

The song is often cited as one of the oldest in the blues genre. Bo Weavil Jackson (as “Sam Butler”) recorded the song in Chicago in 1926 for Vocalion Records.

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Jazz Music

A History of the Blues – Muddy Waters – I’m Ready

A History of the Blues – Muddy Waters – I’m Ready

I’m Ready is a studio album by Chicago blues veteran Muddy Waters. The second of his Johnny Winter-produced albums for the Blue Sky Records label, I’m Ready was issued one year after he found renewed commercial and critical success with Hard Again and earned him a Grammy Award in 1978. It was reissued in 2004 by the Epic/Legacy label with three additional songs.

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Muddy Waters

Introduction and Early Life:

Muddy Waters was inarguably one of the greatest and most influential blues musicians who ever lived. Often referred to as the “father of modern Chicago blues”, he took Delta blues and added amplified electric guitars – often backed with electric bass and drums – to create a new sound by arranging everything into a band format. An unrivaled singer of blues and a remarkable songwriter, his recordings and live performances proved to be immensely influential on a number of genres, including rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll, hard rock, jazz, and even folk.

Born “McKinley Morganfield” in Rolling Fork, Mississippi in 1915, he was raised by his grandmother after his mother died shortly following his birth. His nickname came from his childhood habit of mud play on the plantations. Waters developed an early interest in music and started playing harmonica in his early teens. He took up guitar at the age of seventeen and honed his skills under the apprenticeship of famed bluesmen on the southern circuit. His most important mentor was Son House, who taught him about the basics of blues singing, open tunings, and slide guitar.

Career and Musical Achievements:

Muddy Waters started playing guitar at the age of seventeen and made the acquaintance of several famous blues guitarists on the southern circuit within a few years. He relocated to Chicago in 1943 and became a major part of the city’s blues scene with his loud, crude and brash electric sound. His brilliant verbal imagery, sensual lyrics and frantic bottleneck slide guitar work produced hits such as “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man”, “I Just Want to Make Love to You”, “I’m Ready”, “Got My Mojo Working”, and “Rollin’ Stone”.

Waters is widely credited as the link between the gritty acoustic blues of Robert Johnson and the British rock scene of the 1960s and beyond. He took Delta blues and intensified it by cranking up the volume with electric guitars and amplifiers, while turning it into a band orchestration. Among those who were influenced by his guitar work were Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, John Lennon, Jimmy Page, John Lennon, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, and countless others. His thick voice and firm, appealing personality defined showmanship techniques of blues.

After going through a roller coaster of career ups and downs, Muddy finally got the recognition he truly deserved in the late 1970s. He drew a whole new generation of fans after his legendary performances at the Newport Jazz Festival and ChicagoFest.

His health began to deteriorate in the early 1980s. Waters died aged 70 from heart failure at his Westmont residence in 1983. His funeral service funeral at Restvale Cemetery was attended by various prominent musicians and thousands of his grief-stricken fans.

Awards and Accolades:

Muddy Waters earned numerous awards and accolades in his lifetime, and has been posthumously awarded many more. A few of them include six Grammys, five Blues Foundation Awards, and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987), and into the Blues Hall of Fame (1980).

Personal Life:

Muddy Waters was married three times: to Mabel Berry (1932–1935), Geneva Morganfield (1940–1973), and Marva Jean Brooks (1979–1983). He had at least five children.

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Jazz Music

A History of Blues – John Lee Hooker – Tupelo Blues

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    A History of Blues – John Lee Hooker – Tupelo Blues

    John Lee Hooker BLUES SHEET MUSIC

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    John Lee Hooker

    (Clarksdale, 1917 – 2001) American blues singer and guitarist who was the creator and greatest exponent of boogie, a raw and forceful derivation of traditional blues whose influence on rock has been incalculable: from the Rolling Stones or The Doors to Carlos Santana They have performed their songs.

    John Lee Hooker was born on August 22, 1917, on a farm near Clarksdale, Mississippi. On several occasions he himself changed his date of birth, placing it between 1917 and 1923, and on his death his family had to confirm the authentic date.

    Son of William Hooker, sharecropper and pastor of the Baptist Church, and Minnie Ramsey, John grew up with six brothers and four sisters in an environment where only religious music was allowed.

    During his childhood, he lived on the move to another farm on a nearby plantation, where he met bluesmen Snooky Pryor and Jimmy Rogers (then Jimmy Lane). His parents separated in 1928 and John was the only brother left in the care of his mother. His stepfather was local blues musician William Moore, who taught him to play the guitar when he was thirteen. Hooker later related that thanks to him, he met, as a child, legends such as Blind Lemon Jefferson or Charlie Patton, who would visit his house.

    In 1931, he began a series of moves, often as a vagrant, to the industrial north, a common destination for black southerners of his generation. He first settled in Memphis, where he lived with an aunt, worked in local theaters, and played with Robert Lockwood.

    In 1935, he moved to Cincinnati, where he alternated jobs as a shoe shiner or usher in theaters with performances in gospel groups. After a stint in the Army, he settled in Detroit in 1943, where he married twice (by his second wife, Maude Mathis, he had six children).

    Beginning a musical career

    In Detroit, he cemented his musical career, becoming one of the attractions of the Hasting Street venues, in the heart of the city’s black neighborhood. Legend has it that guitarist T-Bone Walker gave him his first electric guitar, with which Hooker invented his unmistakable style, a blend of rural southern blues with electrified Chicago rhythm and blues popularized by Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf. .

    Elmer Barbee, his manager, arranged for him in 1948 to record his first single, Boogie Chillen, released on the West Coast by Modern Records. It was an immediate success and sold a million copies. Also in 1949 he released such classics as Hobo Blues and Crawling King Snake, and in 1951 the hit I’m in the Mood, with which he reached number one on the sales charts. He also published under different pseudonyms, such as John Lee Booker, Johnny Williams or John Lee.

    In his first recordings, he played alone with his guitar and marking the rhythm with his foot, or with the sporadic accompaniment of another guitarist. By then he was performing with a band, but experts presume that his peculiar sense of rhythm made him dispense with it in the studio. This did not prevent him from having notable success and touring throughout the country’s rhythm and blues circuit.

    Several generations of disciples

    Hooker’s rubbery boogie was a fundamental step towards Elvis Presley’s rock and roll. In 1955, he ended his contract with Modern Records and signed with Chicago’s Vee Jay Company, which released the classics Dimples and Boom Boom. By then he had already stopped recording alone, which was somewhat anachronistic for his time.

    However, by the end of the decade, with the rhythm and blues market stagnating, it found an enthusiastic audience among white traditional folk fans. From that time are the recordings of him again alone and with acoustic guitar, in which he recalled his rural origins in the Mississippi delta. With them, he achieved international repercussion and began to tour around the world.

    His inimitable style, which eschewed rhyme and sometimes even followed the beat, marked generations of musicians, from Bob Dylan, who opened for him in New York in 1960, to the noisy British rhythm and blues bands of the 1960s, like the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds or the Animals.

    Records like Black snake (1959), Wednesday evening blues (1960) o Birmingham blues (1963) asserted their prestige on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1970, he got back into the mainstream by recording the album Hooker ‘n’ Heat with Canned Heat, disciples of his like so many other southern bands like ZZ Top. In 1979, already a legendary figure, he made a brief appearance in the movie Blues Brothers.

    After spending most of the 1970s and 1980s touring, in 1989 he released The Healer, with collaborations from Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt and Los Lobos. That album was one of the key elements in the revival of interest in blues in the 1990s, thanks to a public increasingly interested in ‘roots’ music.

    Paradoxically, John Lee Hooker did not know millionaire sales or fame until the last decade of his life, which explains his unusual activity in those years. The healer, released when he was seventy-two years old, was his best-selling album, and since then he has released another five, the last of them The best of friends, released in 1998.

    With Chill out (1996) he won a Grammy, the same year in which he participated in the Festival for the Freedom of Tibet together with young figures such as Smashing Pumpkins, Fugees or Red Hot Chili Peppers. He also lent the venerable yet tough image of himself for various commercials in the United States. His face also appeared on stamps from Tanzania, and his music served as the soundtrack for countless movies and TV commercials from different countries.

    Death surprised Hooker a few days after his last concert, at a venue in Santa Rosa, California, confirming the old myth of the bluesman who says goodbye clutching his guitar and singing.

    “This has been totally unexpected. He had the audience at his feet three or four times last Saturday. He liked contact with the public, and despite his advanced age, he did not stop acting until the end, ‘his agent, Rick Bates, told the Rosebud agency. The desolation that his loss caused in the world of music was expressed like no one else by one of his most devoted admirers, the Irish singer Van Morrison: ‘It’s hard to get used to a world without him,’ he said.

    A few weeks before his death, his last recording had been released: a collaboration for the Doors’ tribute album Stoned Immaculate. In it, he superimposed his voice on the classic Roadhouse blues, in an unlikely meeting with another unrepeatable legend, Jim Morrison, achieved thanks to technology.

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