Musical Afterlife

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

2010 was a year of great loss for the music community with the passing of vocalists Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Shirley Verett and pianist Dr. Billy Taylor. This week on All Ears, Terrance McKnight remembers them.

Lena Horne’s far-reaching oeuvre spanned radio performances, MGM Broadway films, and civil rights activism. During her career, she refused to perform for segregated audiences, worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to establish anti-lynching laws, and was even blacklisted from films because of her outspokenness on civil rights issues.

She was described by President Obama as a woman who "worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality."
 
In addition to Lena Horne, we also hear jazz artist Abbey Lincoln, whose vocal performance on Max Roach’s Freedom Suite, became an important album during the civil rights movement. Her unique performing style and dramatic presence made her one of the most charismatic figures of the Jazz-era. Also an accomplished actress, Lincoln appeared in films alongside Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, and received a Golden Globe nomination in 1969.
 
Pianist Dr. Billy Taylor is not only known to the world as a protégé of Art Tatum, performing with artists such as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, but is known equally as an arts educator, too. Taylor was the founder of Jazzmobile, a summer outreach program providing free concerts and workshops featuring artist of the highest caliber. He also served as Artistic Director for Jazz at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC for sixteen years.
 
Also an advocate for arts education was soprano Shirley Verrett, who held the position of James Earl Jones University Professor of Music at the University of Michigan. Ms. Verrett’s career was launched after her 1961 win at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She went on to perform at the Met, La Scala, and Opera Bastille to name a few.  
 
This week we'll hear Shirley Verrett via Verdi and Donizetti, Abbey Lincoln and Dr. Billy Taylor performing original compositions, and Lena Horne performing songs by Duke Ellington and Cole Porter.

Playlist:

Freedom Now Suite: Freedom Day
Max Roach
We Insist!
Abbey Lincoln, voice
Coleman Hawkins, tenor saxophone
James Schenk, bass
Max Roach, drums
Candid

Freedom Now Suite: Driva'man
Max Roach
We Insist!
Abbey Lincoln, voice; Booker Little, trumpet
Walter Benton, tenor saxophone
Julian Priester, trombone
James Schenk, bass
Max Roach, drums
Candid

Un Ballo in Maschera: Re dell'abisso affrettati

Giuseppe Verdi
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor
RCA Italiana Opera Orhcestra and Chorus
Shirley Verrett, mezzo-soprano
BMG

Hope and Hostility
Billy Taylor
Turtle Island String Quartet
Homage
GRP

My Blue Heaven
G. Whiting
Lena Horne, Deluxe Anthology
Lena Horne, voice
Masters Classics


I Wish I Was Back In My Baby's Arms
Duke Ellington
Lena Horne, Deluxe Anthology
Lena Horne, voice
Masters Classics

Homage
Billy Taylor
Turtle Island String Quartet
Billy Taylor, piano
Chip Jackson, bass
Steve Johns, drums
GRP

Symphony No. 4, Op. 34, "Requiem"
Howard Hanson
Gerard Schwarz, conductor
Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Delos


"Lucrezia Borgia": Brindisi

Gaetano Donizetti
Jonel Perlea, conductor
RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Shirley Verrett, mezzo-soprano
Alfredo Kraus, tenor
RCA

Cantata: Sermon, Narrative, & Prayer

Igor Stravinsky
CBC Orchestra
Igor Stravinsky, conductor
Shirley Verrett, mezzo-soprano
Loren Driscoll, tenor
John Horton, speaker
CBS/Sony

It Happens All The Time
Billy Taylor
Homage
Billy Taylor, piano
Chip Jackson, bass
Steve Johns, drums
GRP

Second Essay
Samuel Barber
Leonard Bernstein, conductor
New York Philharmonic
Bernstein Live
NY Philharmonic

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Comments [4]

Y.D. Jordan from Montclair, NJ

Mr. McKnight, I listened last night, Feb. 23, 2011 to your program Handelmania. To my horror, when the Juilliard played and a wonderful soprano sang a piece from Rinaldo, called "lascia chi'o piangga" you butchered the beautiful Italian language. all other hosts, esp. Midge has perfect pronunciation, even in German. Shame on you! What is it, too proud to ask around??

Feb. 24 2011 12:40 PM
rochelle busch

Mr. McKnight--I so much enjoy your WQXR program. Trying to determine which Dr. Billy Taylor piece you aired on Saturday night, 2/19
about 10:40PM--would like to buy it. Was it IT Happens All The Time--or Homage--Hope
And Hostility?

Thank you.
Rochelle Busch

Feb. 21 2011 03:50 PM
James Wallin from San Francisco

Thank you, Mr. McKnight for such intelligent and entertaining programs! I also learn new and exciting music listening to your shows!

Feb. 19 2011 11:05 PM
Michael Meltzer

There is nothing more impressive a pop or jazz singer can do than get up before a microphone like Lena Horne with nothing to back you up but a string bass and sing a tune like "Love Me or Leave Me." Probably nothing scarier, either.
Incidentally, that tune provided the harmonic structure ("the changes") for the late George Shearing's "Lullaby of Birdland." That was common practice in the 1950's, as Charlie Parker did with "Ornithology" based on "How High the Moon."

Feb. 19 2011 12:30 AM

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