Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch”series, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music and musicians from the 60’s to today. Enjoy the trip!

Jazz Legend John Coltrane

Few dispute that John Coltrane was the greatest jazz saxophonist that the world has seen. He was known for his lush tone and masterful control of the upper register. His incredible coordination allowed him to play the tones of chords in such rapid succession that they were referred to as “Coltrane’s sheets of sound.” Coltrane was innovative in his use of improvisation and arrhythmic music. There was no doubt that his childhood in High Point allowed his creative spirit to thrive.

John Coltrane was born in Hamlet, North Carolina, on September 23, 1926. His family moved to High Point when he was only 3 months old. Coltrane spent the first 17 years of his life in High Point at 118 Underhill Street. While at William Penn High School, he began playing the saxophone.

Coltrane moved to Philadelphia in 1943, where he studied music and made his professional debut. He moved from band to band, appearing with jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Bostic, and Thelonious Monk.

Although he gained recognition while playing with Miles Davis from 1955 to 1960, Coltrane quickly developed a devoted following when he formed his own quartet in 1960. Named “Jazzman of the Year” in 1965 by local and international critics, John Coltrane was just reaching his prime when he died July 17, 1967, at age 40, in Huntington, New York.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Jazz Week,” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Sarah Vaughan, in full Sarah Lois Vaughan, byname Sassy or the Divine One, (born March 27, 1924, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.—died April 3, 1990, Hidden Hills, California), American jazz vocalist and pianist known for her rich voice, with an unusually wide range, and for the inventiveness and virtuosity of her improvisations.

Vaughan was the daughter of amateur musicians. She began studying piano and organ at age seven and sang in the church choir. After winning an amateur contest at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater in 1942, she was hired as a singer and second pianist by the Earl Hines Orchestra. A year later she joined the singer Billy Eckstine’s band, where she met Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Vaughan’s singing style was influenced by their instruments—“I always wanted to imitate the horns.” Gillespie, Parker, and Vaughan recorded “Lover Man” together in 1945.

By the mid-1940s Vaughan began singing with John Kirby and appearing on television variety shows. During the 1950s her audience grew as she toured both the United States and Europe, and she signed with Mercury Record Corporation and EmArcy, Mercury’s jazz label, in 1953 to sing both pop and jazz. She also appeared in three movies in that period—Jazz Festival (1956), Disc Jockey (1951), and Basin Street Revue (1956).

A contralto with a range of three octaves, she came to be regarded as one of the greatest of all jazz singers. Among her best-known songs were “It’s Magic,” “Make Yourself Comfortable,” “Broken-Hearted Melody,” “Misty,” and “Send in the Clowns.” Vaughan died in 1990, the same year in which she was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Jazz Week,” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!


October 21, 1917
Cheraw, South Carolina


January 6, 1993 (aged 75)

Englewood, New Jersey


Big Band Style



Polar Music Prize (1993)

Grammy Award (1991)

Kennedy Center Honors (1990)

Grammy Award (1975)

Dizzy Gillespie, byname of John Birks Gillespie, (born October 21, 1917, Cheraw, South Carolina, U.S.—died January 6, 1993, Englewood, New Jersey), American jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader who was one of the seminal figures of the bebop movement.

Gillespie’s father was a bricklayer and amateur bandleader who introduced his son to the basics of several instruments. After his father died in 1927, Gillespie taught himself the trumpet and trombone; for two years he attended the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina, where he played in the band and took music classes. His first professional job was in Frankie Fairfax’s band in Philadelphia; his early style showed the strong influences of his idol, trumpeter Roy Eldridge. Gillespie’s penchant for clowning and capriciousness earned him the nickname Dizzy. In 1937 he was hired for Eldridge’s former position in the Teddy Hill Orchestra and made his recording debut on Hill’s version of “King Porter Stomp.”

In the late 1930s and early ’40s, Gillespie played in a number of bands, including those led by Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, and Billy Eckstine. He also took part in many late-night jam sessions at Minton’s Playhouse, a New York City nightclub, and was among the club’s regulars who pioneered the bebop sound and style (others included Charlie Parker, Charlie Christian, Thelonious Monk, and Max Roach). In 1944 the first bebop recording session included Gillespie’s “Woody ’n’ You” and featured Gillespie and Coleman Hawkins. Ultimately, Charlie Parker and Gillespie were regarded as cofounders of the bebop movement; the two worked together in several small groups in the 1940s and early ’50s. Although Parker was easily irritated by Gillespie’s onstage antics, their musical relationship seemed to benefit from their personal friction and their competitive solos were inventive, even inspired.

Gillespie formed his own orchestra in the late 1940s, and it was considered to be one of the finest large jazz ensembles. Noted for complex arrangements and instrumental virtuosity, its repertoire was divided between the bop approach—from such arrangers as Tadd Dameron, John Lewis, George Russell, and Gillespie himself—and Afro-Cuban jazz (or, as Gillespie called it, “Cubop”)—in such numbers as “Manteca,” “Cubano Be,” and “Cubano Bop,” featuring conga drummer Chano Pozo. Gillespie formed other bands sporadically throughout the remainder of his career, but he played mostly in small groups from the 1950s onward.

To many, Gillespie ranks as the greatest jazz trumpeter of all time, with the possible exception of Louis Armstrong. He took the saxophone-influenced lines of Roy Eldridge and executed them faster, with greater ease and harmonic daring, playing his jagged melodies with abandon, reaching into the highest registers of the trumpet range, and improvising into precarious situations from which he seemed always to extricate himself. Gillespie helped popularize the interval of the augmented eleventh (flat fifth) as a characteristic sound in modern jazz, and he used certain stock phrases in his improvisations that became clichés when two generations of jazz musicians incorporated them into their own solos. His late 1940s look—beret, hornrim glasses, and goatee—became the unofficial “bebop uniform” and a precursor to the beatnik styles of the 1950s. Other personal trademarks included his bent-bell trumpet and his enormous puffy cheeks that ballooned when playing. Gillespie was also a noted composer whose songbook is a list of bebop’s greatest hits; “Salt Peanuts,” “Woody ’n’ You,” “Con Alma,” “Groovin’ High,” “Blue ’n’ Boogie,” and “A Night in Tunisia” all became jazz standards.

Although his most innovative period was over by the end of the 1950s, Gillespie continued to perform at the highest level. During the 1970s he made several big band, small-group, and duet recordings (with such players as Oscar Peterson and Count Basie) that rank among his best work. As an active musical ambassador, Gillespie led several overseas tours sponsored by the U.S. State Department and traveled the world extensively, sharing his knowledge with younger players. During his last few years, he was the leader of the United Nations Orchestra, which featured such Gillespie protégés as Paquito D’Rivera and Arturo Sandoval. Gillespie’s memoirs, To Be, or Not…to Bop, were published in 1979.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Jazz Week,” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Charlie “Bird” Parker was a highly influential saxophonist that contributed to the growth of the bebop style of jazz music during the demise of the Big-Band era, alongside other notable artists such as Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. Bebop is synonymous with fast improvisation and complicated chord structures.

Parker married for the first time when he was 15, and had a succession of four marriages throughout his short life.

Charlie Parker’s nickname “Bird” (also “Yardbird”) has many stories associated with it, but two are more convincing than others. One story recounted by Jazz trombonist Clyde Berhardt in his autobiography I Remember (1986) said that “[Charlie] Told me he got the name Yardbird because he was crazy about eating chicken: fried, baked, boiled, stewed, anything. He liked it. Down there in the South, all chickens are called yardbirds.”

Another interpretation given by fellow Bebop saxophonist Buddy Collette is that he got the name because used to practice all the time in the local park, since that was the only place far enough from the residential areas to play without being bothered by the police.

Songs reflecting his avian nickname include “Ornithology,” “Bird of Paradise,” and “Yardbird suite,” all of which were composed by Parker, even though he is recorded to have found his nickname extremely annoying.

Dizzy Gillespie said that “Charlie Parker’s contribution to our music was mostly melody, accents and bluesy interpretation.” Parker’s highly coveted musical style consisted of extremely fast improvisations played in an extremely free manner, captivating melodies. The blues was a fundamental part of his musical style.

Charlie Parker was a heroin addict. Unlike Ray Charles, who managed his addiction well, Parker was impulsive and missed gigs. In one circumstance Parker moved cities because of his need for heroin, after cashing in his return ticket from California to New York after a gig. This turned out to be a positive move, because heroin was not readily available in California.

In 1951, Parker’s cabaret card, which performers during the prohibition era needed in order to work in nightclubs, was suspended by the authorities because of his drug charges.

In 1949, the original Broadway club Birdland was opened in honor of Charlie Parker, and he was the headlining act on opening night. However, at one point, due to his excessive drinking and trouble-making, Parker was banned from the club that beared his name. Other than Parker, in the first years of the club, Miles Davis, Erroll Garner, Theolnious Monk and John Coltrane graced Birdland’s stage.

Clint Eastwood directed a movie about Parker’s life called Bird in 1988, written by Joel Oliansky and starring Forest Whitaker as Parker and Samuel E. Wright as Dizzy Gillespie. This film stemmed from Eastwood’s enthusiasm for the Jazz genre of Bebop – Eastwood has been quoted saying that Jazz and Westerns are America’s only true art forms.

Parker died from pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer whilst watching The Dorsey Brothers’ Stage Show on television in 1955. He was 34 years old.

Charlie Parker’s heroin and alcohol addictions were so severe, that after his death at 34, the coroner mistakenly estimated him to be between 50 and 60 years old.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Cool Movie Soundtracks Edition,” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Mo’ Better Blues (1990)

It’s hard to go wrong with just about any soundtrack from just about any Spike Lee joint: the go-go heavy School Daze, the Public Enemy–anchored Do the Right Thing, Stevie Wonder’s Jungle Fever, Prince’s Girl 6, and so on.

But Mo’ Better Blues may be the score that’s closest to Lee’s heart. The movie is partially inspired by his own jazz musician father, Bill Lee (who composed the title track), and it’s set to a mix of original Branford Marsalis and Terence Blanchard numbers that run the gamut of jazz styles, from sultry vocal ballads to snazzy melodic pop to avant-garde dissonance.

The album’s most vital track may be Gang Starr’s “Jazz Thing,” a hip-hop history of the genre that many neophytes have used as a recommendation list for what to listen to: from Theolonious Monk (“a melodious thunk”) to Ornette Coleman (“another soul man”).


His 1972 song ‘Soul Makossa’ was loved by David Mancuso and sampled by Michael Jackson and Rihanna

Manu Dibango has passed away aged 86 in Paris after contracting COVID-19.

The legendary Cameroonian saxophone player is best known for his 1972 song ‘Soul Makossa’, which was a favourite at David Mancuso’s Loft parties, and also famously sampled by Michael Jackson in ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’’ and Rihanna in ‘Don’t Stop The Music’.

A statement on Dibango’s official Facebook page says: “It is with deep sadness that we announce [to] you the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove.

“His funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organized when possible. If you wish to express your condolences, please write to the following email:”

Listen to ‘Soul Makossa’ below.

A Great Day In Harlem

The young art director’s idea to photograph as many of the luminaries of the New York jazz scene as possible together for Esquire’s 1959 Golden Age of Jazz edition began his career as a photographer. Police closed the road to all but residential traffic, and 57 musicians duly assembled in Harlem between Fifth and Madison Avenues. The group included Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Thelonius Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan and Count Basie.

Guide to the New Orleans Jazz Revival, 1938-1966

New Orleans Jazz Revival, 1938-1966 – spotify playlist

Despite being the king of New Orleans and Chicago, King Oliver’s influence was waning by 1925. By the mid to late 20s, the modern sounds of Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Bix Beiderbecke, and Louis Armstrong were on the rise. 

Once all the rage, New Orleans Style was becoming rural and old-fashioned. Armstrong recorded his last small combo song, “Knockin’ a Jug,” in March 1929. The fall of Wall Street in Oct 1929 put the final nail in the coffin. New Orleans was dead, and Big Band was taking over.

During the Great Depression, New Orleans Style was almost completely forgotten. Louis Armstrong led a mediocre big band almost solely by the force of his own genius. King Oliver lost his life savings when his bank collapsed; he died penniless in 1938. Sidney Bechet & Tommy Ladnier ran a tailor shop which doubled as a hang-out spot for jazz musicians. Jelly Roll Morton struggled through hard times, trying unsuccessfully to get his royalties. Kid Ory retired to run a chicken farm. Meanwhile, white musicians were getting rich playing the music they learned at the feet of the New Orleanians. 

In 1938 French jazz critic Hugues Panassie came to America to produce some real jazz records with Mezz Mezzrow, and they enlisted the New Orleans greats Sidney Bechet and Tommy Ladnier. They recorded the timeless classic “Really the Blues”. 

A month later, John Hammond produced the first From Spirituals to Swing concert at Carnegie Hall, featuring Sidney Bechet & Tommy Ladnier representing New Orleans Style. Bechet got a deal with Blue Note and had a minor hit with “Summertime”. Amidst the Big Band craze, there was still some appetite for the original jazz. (The same day as “Summertime,” Bechet recorded “Blues for Tommy” for his friend Tommy Ladnier, who had just died earlier that week.)

A few months later in Sept 1939, Jelly Roll Morton got his first recording session in years with the instructions to play the old music. So he enlisted Bechet and played old New Orleans tunes such as “I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say” (which was a version of Bolden’s hit song “Funky Butt”) and “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”. Morton would have only a few more chances to record before dying in 1941.

In 1940, Bechet and Armstrong were reunited for the first time in 15 years to record 4 songs. They did not get along, and the results were not as great as they should have been. “Perdido Street Blues” is interesting though. After this brief return to New Orleans Style, Armstrong went back to his mediocre big band.

Johnny Dodds (King Oliver and Hot Five alumni) got his first chance to record in over a decade and produced the tremendous “Red Onion Blues” (1940). He died of a heart attack that year at age 48.

After the meteoric rise of Swing in 1938, critics started chronicling the origins of the music. Jazzmen, the first book on the origins of jazz, was published in 1939. The book brought the broke trumpeter Bunk Johnson (b. 1879) out of retirement; a collection was made to buy him dentures so he could play again. Johnson made embellished claims about teaching Louis Armstrong everything he knew, which pissed off Armstrong. Johnson was no longer as great as he claimed, and was reportedly drunk all the time. He recorded quite a bit in the 40s, dying in 1949.

New Orleans clarinetist George Lewis (b. 1900) played in Johnson’s band and took over the band when Johnson retired. In the early 60s, Lewis’s band would form the original Preservation Hall Jazz Band. 

Trombonist Kid Ory (b. 1886) — the first African American to record New Orleans jazz (1922), who had played with both King Oliver and Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five — came out of retirement in 1944 and led one of the most popular New Orleans jazz bands for the next 15 years.

In 1944, jazz fan Orson Welles put together an all-star band to record on his radio show, consisting of Kid Ory, clarinetist Jimmie Noone, Mutt Carey, Zutty Singleton, and others. After a handful of popular broadcasts, Jimmie Noone died of a heart attack at age 48. Kid Ory and the band recorded “Blues for Jimmie” in his honor. 

Bechet recorded another timeless classic for Blue Note, “Blue Horizon” (1944). A tumultuous man who had trouble working with others, Bechet still occasionally showed off his genius. 

One of the most important aspects of the New Orleans Revival was that the drums could be recorded — drummers could not record in the 20s or they would throw the needle off. The New Orleans greats Baby Dodds and Zutty Singleton had to play with wood blocks when recording with King Oliver & Louis Armstrong. In 1945, Baby Dodds was recorded telling stories and playing unaccompanied drums, and it was later made into a documentary, Baby Dodds – New Orleans Drumming.

By 1947, the writing was on the wall: the Swing Era was over. Louis Armstrong was convinced to do a concert with a small combo before a packed house of 1,500 at Town Hall, and it became the turning point of his career. He reluctantly fired his big band and formed the All-Stars with Jack Teagarden, Earl Hines, and Barney Bigard. With Armstrong on board, the New Orleans Revival had officially arrived.

The New Orleans Revival coincided with the rise of Bebop, and there was a friendly rivalry between the camps that was played up in the media to sell more tickets. (Louis Armstrong & Dizzy Gillespie ended up becoming good friends and neighbors in Queens, smoking joints and playing cards together.)

Far from being a rehash of previous glories, Armstrong and Bechet were still playing their asses off — and now, unlike in the 20s, they had good recording quality and could record live shows.

Bechet went on to great fame in France in the 50s, and of course Armstrong skyrocketed to even further fame.

Jazz Lair

“So What” By Miles Davis, Album: Kinda Blue 1959

Who Was Miles Davis? 

Instrumental in the development of jazz, Miles Davis is considered one of the top musicians of his era. Born in Illinois in 1926, he traveled at age 18 to New York City to pursue music. 

Throughout his life, he was at the helm of a changing concept of jazz. Winner of eight Grammy awards, Miles Davis died in 1991 from respiratory distress in Santa Monica, California.

Kind of Blue

Davis recorded several albums with his sextet during the 1950s, including Porgy and Bess and Kind of Blue, his final album of the decade, released in 1959. Now considered one of the greatest jazz albums ever recorded, Kind of Blue is credited as the largest-selling jazz album of all time, selling more than 2 million copies.

Davis continued to be be successful throughout the 1960s. His band transformed over time, largely due to new band members and changes in style. The various members of his band went on to become some of the most influential musicians of the jazz fusion era. These included Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul (Weather Report), Chick Corea (Return to Forever), and John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra).

This was the opening track on Kind Of Blue, which is arguably the biggest-selling Jazz album of all time. It was recorded by Miles Davis in 2 days giving only brief instructions to a new band – yet all tracks were recorded in one take. It is also counted by many as the greatest Jazz album of all time and ranks at or near the top of many “best album” lists. Rolling Stone magazine, for instance, placed it 12th on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

In 2007 this was voted the best-ever Jazz record in a poll of listeners of the UK radio station Jazz FM.

George Cole, who wrote The Last Miles: The Music of Miles Davis, 1980-1991, explains why Davis is so important: “Miles Davis is to jazz is what Mozart is to classical music or The Beatles are to popular music. He is by far the most influential jazz musician of all time and it’s unlikely that anyone will ever supplant this position. He started out as a teenager playing bebop (a frenetic style of jazz) with the saxophonist giant Charlie Parker, and ended almost 50 years later, combining jazz with hip-hop. He recorded the best known album in jazz (Kind of Blue) while still in his early 30s and it contains the best known jazz track: ‘So What.'” (For more on Miles Davis,read our interview with George Cole.)

This was one of three tracks on Kind Of Blue that was originally recorded in the wrong key later to be tidied up on re-releases (the other two were “Freddie Freeloader” and “Blue in Green”).

Miles Davis in 1958. Credit…Dennis Stock/Magnum Photos

Ogden Jazz Legend Joe McQueen Dies Saturday At The Age Of 100

OGDEN — An Ogden legend died Saturday.

Joe McQueen, pioneering jazz saxophonist and Northern Utah resident, died Saturday morning at the age of 100.

Fellow jazz musician Brad Wheeler said in a Facebook post Saturday afternoon that McQueen, his close personal friend and fellow musician, died at 10:20 a.m. Saturday.

“He has been living his whole life for this day,” Wheeler wrote in the post. “He told me to tell everyone not to cry for him, that when you think about him to think about all of the blessings he had received, and know that he had lived a full and meaningful life.”

Lars Yorgason, an Ogden resident and bass player, told the Standard-Examiner that McQueen was a wonderful person, and he’s considered himself lucky to call McQueen a friend.

“He was a very honest, honorable person,” Yorgason said. “I think the world should know that. I’m grateful I was his friend.”

Yorgason played with McQueen since 1977, when he moved back to Ogden. He described McQueen as a leader for desegregating Ogden establishments, telling club owners that he wouldn’t play at their establishments unless they allowed people of all colors inside.

“He was a force in getting establishments to reduce and eliminate segregation in Ogden,” Yorgason said. “He really enjoyed being in Ogden.”

McQueen was described as a tender, kind and strong man, according to Ryan Conger, an organist who played for years with Joe as part of his quartet.

Conger, who said he’s known McQueen for about eight or nine years, was always amazed at what the saxophonist could do, even in his older years. Conger recalled a piano teacher he had at Utah State University who would sit in on jam sessions where others could join in. It was competitive, and the teacher was always intimidated when trying to keep up with McQueen.

Conger would later share in that experience when he, too, would play with McQueen. His speed and expertise in music could be seen well into his later years.

“Mere mortals could hardly keep up with him back in the day,” Conger said. “It was one of those experiences that left you in awe.”

McQueen was much more than just a musician, said Conger, as he was known for his strength and passion for helping others. After McQueen retired in his 80s, Conger said McQueen would spend 40 hours a week driving seniors to doctor’s appointments, pharmacies and anywhere else they needed to go.

“It’s hard to imagine all he did for this community,” Conger said. “That was just Joe, he was tough as nails but always cared about others. He was the kind of guy you wanted to be.”

McQueen was born May 30, 1919, in Ponder, Texas, and was raised by his grandmother in Ardmore, Oklahoma, according to previous Standard-Examiner reporting.

He began playing the saxophone as a teenager, eventually touring the country with jazz bands. In late 1945 McQueen and his new bride, Thelma, were traveling with a band when they made a stop in Ogden. While here, another member of the band stole the group’s money and left town. The couple decided to stay and make a home here.

McQueen became a fixture in the local music scene, playing with many of the big jazz names coming through town — Charlie Parker, Chet Baker, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie. He also toured on and off throughout the West.

Through the years, McQueen toured across the country but always remained true to Ogden.

Earlier this year on June 1, dozens gathered at Ogden’s Second Baptist Church to celebrate McQueen’s 100th birthday.

Speaker after speaker noted McQueen is an inspiration for more than just his music. They praised McQueen for breaking barriers during segregation, playing in any clubs he could, and helping generations of younger musicians learn how to play and be good people.

In anticipation for his centennial birthday, the Utah Legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 12, which honored the jazz legend’s birthday. The musician also received a brand new saxophone from the Sandy-based company Cannonball Musical Instruments.

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