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Posts Tagged ‘Miles Davis

“Ain’t you heard/ The boogie-woogie rumble/Of a dream deferred?”*…

 

Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library just acquired this original pen-and-brush version of E. Simms Campbell’s nightlife map of Harlem, from 1932. The map, drawn by an illustrator who frequented many of the establishments he depicted, exudes an insider’s pride in the robust music scene in full swing during the Harlem Renaissance.

When he made this map, cartoonist Elmer Simms Campbell was at the beginning of a decades-long career in illustration and commercial art. (Here’s some of his other work, for advertisers and magazines.) Campbell was “one of first commercially successful African-American cartoonists,” writes Rebecca Rego Barry. “He steadily produced artwork for Esquire upon its launch in 1933, and his work was also published in Cosmopolitan, The New Yorker, and Playboy.” This map first appeared in Manhattan magazine, as a centerfold, and later showed up in Esquire.

Campbell was friends with Cab Calloway, whose band appears at the bottom left-hand corner of this map. Swann Auction Galleries’ Kir Jordan links to this clip from a 2012 PBS documentary, in which Calloway walks viewers through Campbell’s map, remembering how he “bombed” with his first band at the Savoy Ballroom, and how much he always liked to say the name of the club that called itself “The Yeah, Man.”

More– and a zoomable version of the map– at “An Affectionate 1932 Illustrated Map of Harlem Nightlife.”

* Langston Hughes

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As we tap our toes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1945 that Miles Davis made his first studio recording. Working with his then-boss Charlie Parker and the other members of his octet, Davis backed singer Rubberlegs Williams.  Two years later Davis led the same group of musicians in recording music released as from the “Miles Davis All-Stars.”

The young Miles Davis

source

 

 

Written by LW

April 24, 2016 at 1:01 am

Please, Please, Please…

He was “the Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” “the Godfather of Soul”– James Brown.  Immensely popular with audiences from the mid-Fifties (when “Please, Please, Please,” above, was a hit), he was a tremendous influence on popular music, with admirers who included jazz greats like Miles Davis, and emulators like Sly and the Family Stone, Booker T & the MGs and “soul shouters” like King Curtis, Edwin Starr, and David Ruffin (of The Temptations).  He was a famously-tough task master as a band leader; but it served his musicians well, as their education at his hands laid the foundation for several successful solo careers (e.g., Bobby Byrd, Lyn Collins, Vicki Anderson, Hank Ballard, Bootsy Collins, and Carlos Alomar).  And he was the ur-source of Funk (e.g., admirer George Clinton cast Brown alumni Fred Wesley and Bootsy Collins centrally in the seminal Parliament-Funkadelic).

But Brown made what was arguably his most influential contribution with his feet: he was, as anyone who saw him perform can attest, an astonishing dancer.  As a child, he’d earned pocket money buck dancing to entertain troops headed to Europe at the outset of WWII.  Over the years he made that traditional form uniquely his own– inspiring performers like Michael Jackson and Prince, who modeled their moves on his, and prefiguring the current vogue of dance-centric pop performances.

James Brown died on Christmas Day, 2006.  But happily, he left behind a guide to the moves that made him famous.  The holiday party season, with its fraught occasions to dance, looms; but there’s no reason to fear, Dear Readers– just watch and learn.  Michael Jackson did…

 

As we trip the light fantastic, we might recall that it was on this date in 1946 (when James Brown was 13 years old) that Walt Disney released Song of the South, a feature film based on the Uncle Remus stories of Joel Chandler Harris, in which live actors frame animated enactments of the adventures of Br’er Rabbit– like the story of “The Tar Baby.”  The film won the Best Song Oscar for “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”; but, while the film was re-released theatrically in 1972, 1981, and 1986, and has been released to home video in Europe and Asia, it has never been released to home video in the U.S.— perhaps because Disney executives feel that it might be construed as racist.

James Baskett, who played Uncle Remus, was the first black actor hired by Disney to play a live role.  He was unable to attend the film’s premiere in Atlanta, the event hotels there would not have him. (source)

 

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