WYSO

Arts & Culture

Rock the Dock is a new music series in downtown Dayton happening the last Saturday of each month.  The inagural performance will be headlined by Brooks Daugherty and Alex Speller.  Speller and event organizer Tony Herdman visited the WYSO studios for a live, acoustic preview of the event.

The inagural Rock the Dock is Saturday, May 26, 3-11pm at 804 East Monument Ave in downtown Dayton. Learn more at: https://www.facebook.com/rockthedockdayton/

Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947
William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.

To mark the end of the first month of Ella 100, today we celebrate the first of only two feature film appearances made by Ella Fitzgerald.

The movie is 1955's Pete Kelly's Blues, a musical crime drama based on an NBC radio drama that ran in summer 1951. A pre-Dragnet Jack Webb starred in the series, and also produced, directed, and starred in the film.

In 1999 I had the pleasure of conducting another interview with Virginia Hamilton. The first time I had Virginia on the program it was a rather unique experience because Virginia had been joined in studio for a joint interview with her husband the poet Arnold Adoff. For this second interview Virginia traveled the half mile or so from her home in Yellow Springs to our studios and I had the opportunity to converse with her again about her incredible body of work.

Conrad's Corner: May 23, 2018

May 23, 2018

Conrad Balliet reads Gary Pacernick's poem, "Jahrzeit"

Leland Sklar and Judith Owen
via http://www.judithowen.net

Judith Owen and Leland Sklar visited the WYSO studios ahead of the May 25 release of Owen's new album, RedisCOVERed. Owen and Sklar talked with WYSO Music Director Niki Dakota and performed their interpretations of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water", Drake's "Hotline Bling", Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun", and the Beatles' "Blackbird".

Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947
William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.

Along with being one of the greatest voices of all time, Ella Fitzgerald was celebrated as one of the world's most talented scat singers - "scatting" being the art of wordless vocal improvisation, essentially an instrumental solo in vocal form.

This track, "Ella Hums the Blues," is the one I chose to play during my Ella 101 on-air promo that runs on WYSO FM. It was recorded in April 1955 for the movie Pete Kelly's Blues, in which Ella has a cameo as a jazz singer. (We'll come back to Pete Kelly's Blues, with more info, in tomorrow's post.)

Conrad's Corner: May 22, 2018

May 22, 2018

Conrad Balliet reads Myrna Stone's poem, "Plaintive for a Lost Poet"

Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947
William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.

No legendary musician's catalogue is complete without at least one winter holiday album, and Ella Fitzgerald's 1960 Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas is not only one of the classiest, well produced holiday albums the jazz genres has ever seen - one could also make a strong argument for it being the most fun LP Ella released in her entire career.

The brilliant Frank DeVol provided arranging and conducting duties, surrounding Ella with soft horns, a glowing vibraphone, and even (on some tracks) a small vocal chorus that actually manages to add fun to the proceedings without getting in the way or sounding cheesy - an extremely rare feat in jazz and pop.

Conrad's Corner: May 21, 2018

May 21, 2018

Julie Moore reads Maureen Fry's poem, "Night Music"

Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947
William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.

By the 1950s, Billie Holiday was known as a peerless blues singer among jazz musicians. However, in 1963, Ella Fitzgerald did something Billie never achieved - she recorded an entire album of only blues songs.

1963's These Are the Blues found a hard-swinging Ella in a mostly straightforward tilt at classic blues cuts, with a band led by Wild Bill Davis on organ and featuring Roy Eldridge on trumpet, Herb Ellis on guitar, Ray Brown on bass, and Gus Johnson on drums.

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