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BIG APPLE JAZZ TOURS
The Dead Musician Directory
BRAWLING / BEATING / MUGGING
|Little Walter||Jaco Pastorius||Sonny Boy Williamson I||Mia Zapata||Taswell Baird Jr.|
Required Reading List
Marion Walter Jacobs, b. 1 May 1930, Marksville, LA,
A major figure of post-war blues, Little Walter is credited for bringing the harmonica, or French harp, out from its rural setting and into an urban context. His career began at the age of 12 when he left home for New Orleans, but by 1946 Jacobs was working in Chicago's famed Maxwell Street. Early recordings for the Ora Nelle label were the prelude to his joining the Muddy Waters band where he helped forge what became the definitive electric Chicago blues group. The harmonica player emerged as a performer in his own right in 1952 when Juke, an instrumental recorded at the end of a Waters' session, topped the R&B chart where it remained for eight consecutive weeks. Little Walter And The Night CapsDavid Myers (guitar), Louis Myers (guitar) and Fred Below (drums)enjoyed further success when Sad Hours and Mean Old World reached the Top 10 in the same chart. The group then became known as Little Walter And The Jukes and although obliged to fulfil recording agreements with Waters, Jacobs actively pursued his own career. He enjoyed further R&B hits with Blues With A Feeling (1953), Last Night (1954) and the infectious My Babe (1955). The last song, patterned on a spiritual tune, This Train, was a second number 1 single and became much-covered during later years. Other notable releases included Mellow Down Easy and Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights) which were later recorded, respectively, by Paul Butterfield and the Blues Band. A haunting version of Key To The Highway (1958), previously recorded by Big Bill Broonzy, gave Walter his final Top 10 entry. He nonetheless remained a pivotal figure, undertaking several tours including one of Britain in 1964. His career, however, was undermined by personal problems. A pugnacious man with a quick temper and a reputation for heavy drinking, he died on 15 February 1968 as a result of injuries sustained in a street brawl. This ignominious end should not detract from Little Walter's status as an innovative figure. The first musician to amplify the harmonica, his heavy, swooping style became the lynchpin for all who followed him, including Norton Buffalo, Butterfield and Charlie Musselwhite.
John Francis Pastorius b.1 December 1951, Norristown, PA
Encouraged by his father, a drummer and vocalist, to pursue a career in music, Pastorius learned to play bass, drums, guitar, piano, and saxophone while in his teens. As a result of a football injury to his arm, his ambitions were mainly orientated towards the drums, but he soon found work playing bass for visiting pop and soul acts. After backing the Temptations and the Supremes, he developed a cult following, and his reputation spread. In 1975, Bobby Colomby, drummer with Blood, Sweat And Tears, was impressed enough to arrange the recording of Pastorius' first album, and a year later Pat Metheny asked him to play bass on his own first album for ECM Records. But the most important stage in Pastorius' career came in 1976: joining Weather Report to record the highly influential HEAVY WEATHER, his astonishing technique on the fretless bass and his flamboyant behaviour on stage consolidated the band's popularity and boosted his own image to star status. He established his own band, Word Of Mouth, in 1980, and they enjoyed three years of successful tours, while Pastorius himself recorded intermittently with some of the top musicians in jazz. However, Pastorius suffered from alcoholism and manic depression. In 1987, after increasing bouts of in activity, he suffered fatal injuries in a brawl outside the Midnight Club in his home town of Fort Lauderdale. Pastorius was one of the most influential bass players since Charles Mingus, and extended the possibilities of the electric bass as a melodic instrument in a way which has affected many bassists since.
Sonny Boy Williamson I:
b. 30 March 1914, Jackson, TN
Williamson learned harmonica as a child, and as a teenager in Tennessee was associated with the group of musicians around Sleepy John Estes. Sonny Boy had been in Chicago for three years when he came to record in 1937, but his early records retained the plaintive sound, and often the songs, of Estes’ circle. From the first, however, Williamson was an unmistakable musician, partly through his Tongue-tied singing style (probably a controlled version of his stammer), but chiefly for his harmonica playing. He worked almost invariably in ‘cross-note’ tuning, in which the key of the harmonica is a fourth above that of the music. This technique encourages drawn rather than blown notes, thus facilitating the vocalization, slurring and bent notes that are basic, in conjunction with intermittent hand muting, and various tonguing and breath control effects, to most blues harmonica playing. In his time, Williamson was the greatest master of these techniques, and of blending voice and harmonica into a continuous melodic line; he reached a peak of technical and emotional perfection that sets the standard and defines the aesthetic for blues harmonica players to this day. Williamson recorded prolifically, as both leader and accompanist. His music developed continuously, and by the end of his life featured a powerful ensemble sound with amplified guitar. Williamson was equally adept at the expression of emotional intensity and the provision of rocking, exuberant dance music; in the musically rather bland years of the '40s, he preserved these qualities in the blues of Chicago, as if to prophesy the changes that were taking place by the time of his death. Universally liked, despite his enthusiasm for fighting when drunk, Williamson was greatly respected by his fellow musicians; he was enormously influential on more than one generation of harmonica players, from his contemporaries like Walter Horton and Drifting Slim to youngsters like Junior Wells and Billy Boy Arnold, and a remarkable proportion of his songs became blues standards. In Forrest City Joe, he acquired a devoted imitator, but perhaps the best indication of John Lee Williamson's importance, notwithstanding the monetary considerations that were doubtless his initial motivation, was the stubborn insistence of Sonny Boy Williamson, a harmonica genius in his own right, that he was ‘the original Sonny Boy Williamson'. On 1 June 1948, Williamson's life came to a tragic end following a serious assault.
-- In 1948 upon leaving the Plantation Club in Chicago after playing a gig, he was mugged and beaten. He died of a fractured skull and other injuries on June 1, 1948 and is buried in Jackson, Tennessee.
b. 25 Aug 1965, KY
Mia fronted The Gits, who were
rising in popularity and recording a new record, when she was brutally
raped and strangled, left dead on the street while on her way home.
Her murderer has never been found....UNTIL NOW...
Late breaking news:
GITS - Man Found
Guilty in Rape, Death of Singer Mia Zapata
Saturday, January 11, 2003
Taswell Baird Jr.
b. June 24, 1922 St. Louis, MO
Jazzman dies after beating
Oakland -- Old age couldn't keep Taswell Baird Jr. from his music. When he could no longer play the trombone, the beloved instrument on which he had accompanied some of jazz's greatest stars, he took up piano at age 79.
But the music ended Friday when Baird, 80, succumbed to injuries suffered Nov. 5 when three attackers threw him from his wheelchair, beat him and robbed him of $80 outside his West Oakland retirement home.
Alameda County coroner's officials said Baird's death is being investigated by police as a homicide, which would make him the 100th victim in Oakland this year.
"These people preyed on old people. We've got to get these animals off the street," said Clifton Gibson, an employee at St. Mary's Gardens, the senior citizen complex on 10th Street where Baird had been a talkative and well-liked resident for 10 years.
Baird, who played on recordings by Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong, had been returning home from errands at a nearby supermarket in his motorized scooter around dusk when he was jumped by three men between 15 and 25 years old, his daughter, Meredith Baird, said she had been told by police.
Baird had been followed to and from the store, then one robber threw Baird on the ground and beat him until a passer-by chased the attackers off, his daughter said.
Coroner's officials referred calls on Baird's cause of death to Oakland police, who did not return calls for comment Saturday.
"I'm deeply saddened and angry because I don't know why these youngsters would do this," said Meredith Baird, who lives in East Oakland.
She said her father would not have tried to fight off his attackers but would have readily handed over his money.
"He valued his life more than that," said Baird, who had kept a bedside vigil at Summit Medical Center in Oakland for nearly three weeks as her father's condition worsened.
Baird was born in St. Louis in 1922. Also known as "Little Joe," after his middle name, Baird received his first trombone at age 12. Both he and his brother Bill went on to travel the country, playing gigs and recording albums with jazz greats from Dizzy Gillespie to Lena Horne, his daughter said.
Baird said her father didn't put down his trombone until 10 years ago and still loved listening to jazz and meeting with musician friends at clubs. While he used a motorized scooter to get around because of arthritis in his legs, her father was still active and often ran errands for other senior citizens, she said.
"He was a consummate jazz musician type. He dressed nicely and was well- spoken, just a real classy guy," said Barbara Land, a Richmond resident who met Baird in a Laney College jazz workshop.
Gibson said he loved to tell stories about his 50 years on the road or to teach other residents about musical instruments. He was well-known at St. Mary's Gardens for his great collection of jazz records.
"He was always a gentleman," said Esola DeJohnett, a fellow resident who took piano lessons with Baird last year.
Since the attack, many of the 103 residents are afraid to leave their complex.
Rose Arline, 87, used to go to the nearby shopping center for "little odds and ends."
Now, "I'm scared to go there myself," she said.
"Those kind of people," she said of the assailants, "only think about themselves. They don't have any sympathy."
"This is something we will never get past," added resident Mable Hall. "It could have been one of us."
E-mail Janine DeFao at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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