Night Lights Classic Jazz

Two For The Blues, Weekend Edition: Annie Ross And Basquiat

A program about the singer, a movie about the artist.

Two links of interest for the weekend:

  • Jazz singer Annie Ross celebrates her 80th birthday this Sunday. If you know of Ross only through her appearance in Robert Altman’s 1993 film Short Cuts, you’re missing out on her early hipster glory days and her voice when it was in its prime. Ross first caught the jazz world’s ear in the early 1950s with “Twisted” (her playful verbal take on the trendiness of psychoanalysis, married to a Wardell Gray melody). She went on to provide, in Will Friedwald’s words, the “vocal muscle” for the swinging-vocalese trio Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. You can check out that stretch of her career on the Ross birthday tribute I did this week for Afterglow: Singin’ and Swingin’ With Annie Ross.It highlights Ross’ 1950s recordings with Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, and Zoot Sims, as well as some of the sides she did with Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross.
  • NPR’s All Things Considered devoted a segment tonight to a new documentary about artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who rocketed to stardom in the New York City art world of the 1980s before dying of a drug overdose at the age of 27. Basquiat was a great admirer of jazz; in his personal mythology of heroes, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker both ranked high. (Several years ago Fantasy put out a single-CD compilation that includes some of Basquiat’s favorite artists, called Basquiat Salutes Jazz). Watch a trailer for the movie here. It features Dizzy Gillespie and Parker’s “Salt Peanuts” for a soundtrack.
David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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