“What is music to you? What would you be without music? Music is everything. Nature is music (cicadas in the tropical night). The sea is music, the wind is music. The rain drumming on the roof and the storm raging in the sky are music. Music is the oldest entity. The scope of music is immense and infinite. It is the ‘esperanto’ of the world.” –Duke Ellington
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born in 1899 in Washington DC. He was an American composer, pianist, and leader of jazz orchestras. Ellington’s career spanned over 50 years, leading his orchestra from 1923 until he died, influencing millions of people both around the world and at home. He gave American music its own sound for the first time. In his fifty-year career, he played over 20,000 performances in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East as well as Asia.
Duke Ellington is best remembered for the over 3000 songs that he composed during his lifetime. His popular compositions set the bar for generations of brilliant jazz, pop, theatre and soundtrack composers to come. While these compositions guarantee his greatness, what makes Duke an iconoclastic genius, and an unparalleled visionary, what has granted him immortality are his extended suites. From 1943’s Black, Brown and Beige to 1972’s The Uwis Suite, Duke used the suite format to give his jazz songs a far more empowering meaning, resonance and purpose: to exalt, mythologize and re-contextualize the African-American experience on a grand scale. Ellington was inspired by his players and his race and worked to capture their character and mood.
Duke Ellington was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966 and was later awarded several other prizes, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969, and the Legion of Honor by France in 1973, the highest civilian honors in each of those countries. He died of lung cancer and pneumonia on May 24, 1974, a month after his 75th birthday, and is buried in the Bronx, in New York City. At his funeral attended by over 12,000 people at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Ella Fitzgerald summed up the occasion, “It’s a very sad day…A genius has passed.”
The Medley for Orchestra contains the tunes “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”, “Do Nothin’ ‘Till You Hear From Me”, “Sophisticated Lady”, and “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).”
Vincent Anthony Guaraldi — who forever described himself as “a reformed boogie-woogie piano player” — was an American jazz pianist noted for his innovative compositions and arrangements and for composing music for animated television adaptations of the Peanuts comic strip, as well as his performances on piano as a member of Cal Tjader’s late 50s ensemble and his own solo career which included the radio hit “Cast Your Fate to the Wind.”
Guaraldi, eventually dubbed “Dr. Funk” by his compatriots, was born in San Francisco on July 17, 1928; he graduated from Lincoln High School and then San Francisco State College. Guaraldi began performing while in college, haunting sessions at the Black Hawk and Jackson’s Nook, sometimes with the Chubby Jackson/Bill Harris band, other times in combos with Sonny Criss and Bill Harris. He played weddings, high school concerts, and countless other small-potatoes gigs.
The jazz pianist’s association with Charles Schulz’s creations actually had begun in 1964, when Guaraldi was hired to score the first Peanuts television special, a documentary called “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” (not to be confused with the big- screen feature of the same title). The show brought together four remarkable talents: Schulz, writer/producer/director Lee Mendelson, artist Bill Melendez, and Guaraldi.
Guaraldi’s smooth trio compositions — piano, bass, and drums — perfectly balanced Charlie Brown’s kid-sized universe. Sprightly, puckish, and just as swiftly somber and poignant, these gentle jazz riffs established musical trademarks which, to this day, still prompt smiles of recognition.
They reflected the whimsical personality of a man affectionately known as a “pixie”, an image Guaraldi did not discourage. He would wear funny hats, wild mustaches, and display hairstyles from buzzed crewcuts to rock-star shags.
Unfortunately, with an irony that seemed appropriate for a documentary about Charlie Brown, Mendelson never was able to sell the show, which remains unseen to this day by the general public. Fortunately, the unaired program became an expensive calling card that attracted a sponsor (Coca-Cola) intrigued by the notion of a Peanuts Christmas TV special. Thus, when “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted in December 1965, it reunited Schulz, Mendelson, Melendez, and Guaraldi, all of whom quickly turned the Peanuts franchise into a television institution. That first special also shot Guaraldi to greater fame, and he became irreplaceable welded to all subsequent Peanuts shows. Many of his earliest Peanuts tunes — “Linus and Lucy”, “Red Baron” and “Great Pumpkin Waltz”, among others — became signature themes that turned up in later specials.
Guaraldi became so busy that the ensuing decade saw only half a dozen album releases, three of them direct results of his Peanuts work: “A Boy Named Charlie Brown”, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Oh, Good Grief!”
Richard Charles Rodgers was an American composer of music for more than 900 songs and for 43 Broadway musicals. He also composed music for films and television. He is best known for his songwriting partnerships with the lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II. His compositions have had a significant impact on popular music up to the present day, and have an enduring broad appeal.
Oscar Greeley Clendenning Hammerstein II was an American librettist, theatrical producer, and theatre director of musicals for almost forty years. Hammerstein won eight Tony Awards and two Academy Awards for Best Original Song
The Sound of Music was one of famous Broadway musical writing team Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most loved works, and also their last collaboration.
The song, “My Favorite Things,” was first performed by Maria (played by Mary Martin) and Mother Abbess (Patricia Neway) in the original 1959 Broadway production. Julie Andrews performed the song for the first time on the Christmas special for The Garry Moore Show in 1961, and then in the 1965 film.
In “My Favorite Things,” Maria describes all the things that make her feel better when she is sad, like “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles, and warm woolen mittens.” However, it is not an essentially happy song and is written in a minor key.
The song ends with a borrowed line of lyric and notes from Rodgers’ earlier composition with Lorenz Hart, “Glad to Be Unhappy, “a standard about finding peace in the midst of unrequited love. Using the same two notes for the phrasing of “so sad” in the original song, Rodgers brings the gloom of the song to a similar upbeat ending – “and then I don’t feel so bad.”
Charles Frank Mangione was born in Rochester, New York, on November 29, 1940. His formal introduction to music began with piano lessons at age eight. Two years later he began trumpet lessons. During his early years, a major influence on his life and music was the love and warmth of his parents.
Mangione is a Grammy award winning American flugelhorn player, trumpeter, and composer.
After a stint with drummer Art Blakey’s band and co-leading the Jazz Brothers with his sibling Gap, Chuck achieved international success in 1977 with his jazz-pop single “Feels So Good.”
Chuck’s years with the Jazz Brothers overlapped with his attending the Eastman School of Music and eventually resulted in his solo album debut. Chuck left home to play with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, assuming the trumpet chair that had belonged to such great players as Clifford Brown, Kenny Dorham, Bill Hardman, Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard. Another important step in Mangione’s career development was his return to the Eastman School of Music as director of the school’s Jazz Ensemble. He would receive the Eastman School of Music Alumni Achievement Award in 2007. Chuck Mangione was also among the initial class of inductees into the brand new Rochester Music Hall of Fame in April 2012.
The Children of Sanchez is a 1961 book by the American anthropologist Oscar Lewis and tells the story of a Mexican family living in the slum of Tepito in Mexico City. Due to its criticisms’ of the ruling Partido Revolucionario Institucional government and the fact that the book was written by a foreigner, the book was banned in Mexico for many years until pressure from literary figures resulted in its publication in Mexico itself. The film based on the book was directed by Hall Bartlett and was released in 1979 and starred Anthony Quinn. It tells the story of an abusive womanizing widowed farmer trying to care for his family in Mexico City. Mangione won a Grammy for the Film Score and the film’s title song also won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.
From the liner notes of the 1978 album, “Children of Sanchez is not a typical soundtrack album but my personal selection of the 23 ½ hours of music that I composed and recorded for the Hall Bartlett motion picture based on the Oscar Lewis biography, The Children of Sanchez.” The song was recorded in one take.
The Latin-infused title track contains these lyrics sung by Don Potter:
Without dreams of hope and pride, a man will die
Though his flesh still moves his heart sleeps in the grave
Without land, a man never dreams ‘cause he’s not free
All men need a place to live with dignity.
Take the crumbs from starving soldiers, they won’t die
Lord said not by bread alone does man survive
Take the food from hungry children, they won’t cry
Food alone won’t ease the hunger in their eyes.Every child belongs to mankind’s family
Children are the fruit of all humanity
Let them feel the love of all the human race
Touch them with the warmth, the strength of that embrace.
Give me love and understanding, I will thrive
As my children grow my dreams come alive
Those who hear the cries of children. God will bless oh yes he will
I will always hear the children of Sánchez.
Pete Townshend, The Who’s guitarist, and principal songwriter was born into a musical family in Chiswick, West London, on May 19, 1945. His father Cliff played the alto saxophone with the Squadronaires, the RAF dance band, and his mother Betty Dennis sang professionally. An aunt encouraged him to learn piano but after seeing the movie Rock Around The Clock in 1956 he became drawn to rock’n’roll, an interest his parents actively encouraged.
Pete soon found himself at the forefront of the British musical boom of the Sixties. As guitarist and composer of the band, he became the driving force behind one of the most powerful, inventive and articulate bodies of work in rock. From early classic three-minute singles like ‘My Generation’, ‘Substitute’ and ‘I Can See For Miles’, through to complete song cycles in the shape of Tommy, Lifehouse and Quadrophenia, Pete established himself as one of the most gifted and imaginative musicians working in the rock field.
The double album QUADROPHENIA was originally released by Track Records in November 1973. QUADROPHENIA was recorded at Ramport, The Whos own studio in Battersea, south London in May and June of 1973. The album title comes from the personalities of the four members of The Who, used to represent the four sides of Jimmy, the lead character. “The Rock” is the penultimate track of the album and the second instrumental.
In June 2015, Townshend released an orchestral version of the album entitled Classic Quadrophenia. The original album was orchestrated by his partner Rachel Fuller and conducted by Robert Ziegler, with music provided by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Tenor Alfie Boe sang the lead role, supported by the London Oriana Choir, Billy Idol, Daniels, and Townshend.
Stefan Kendal Gordy (born September 3, 1975), better known by his stage name Redfoo, is an American rapper, dancer, record producer, DJ and singer best known as part of the musical duo LMFAO. He formed the duo with his nephew Sky Blu in 2006. He is the youngest son of Motown Record Corporation founder Berry Gordy, Jr.
Skyler Austen Gordy, (born August 23, 1986) better known by his stage name Sky Blu (written 8ky 6lu), is an American rapper, singer, record producer, DJ and dancer best known as one-half of the musical duo LMFAO, along with his uncle Redfoo. Gordy is the grandson of Motown founder Berry Gordy. He is the son of Berry Gordy IV and Valerie Robeson. He is the brother of DJ and singer Mahogany “Lox” Cheyenne Gordy.
RedFoo and SkyBlu grew up in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, where they formed the group LMFAO in 2006 and later became part of the electro house scene. LMFAO have two albums together, 2009’s Party Rock and 2011’s Sorry for Party Rocking.
LMFAO was an American electronic dance music duo which consists of uncle and nephew Redfoo and SkyBlu. LMFAO’s members were descendants of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Jr.
“Party Rock Anthem,” is a 2011 hit LMFAO song featuring British singer Lauren Bennett and American music producer GoonRock. It was released as the first single from their second album Sorry for Party Rocking. The single went to number one in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Lennon–McCartney was the songwriting partnership between English musicians John Lennon (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) and Paul McCartney (born 18 June 1942) of the Beatles. It is one of the best-known and most successful musical collaborations in history, with the Beatles selling over 600 million records, tapes and CDs as of 2004. Between 1962 and 1969, the partnership published approximately 180 jointly credited songs, of which the vast majority were recorded by the Beatles, forming the bulk of their catalog.
Unlike many songwriting partnerships that comprise separate lyricist and composer, both Lennon and McCartney wrote words and music. Sometimes, especially early on, they would collaborate extensively when writing songs, working “eyeball to eyeball” as Lennon put it. Later, it became more common for one of the two credited authors to write all or most of a song with limited input from the other.
This medley includes the tunes Hello, Goodbye”, “Ticket to Ride”, “Penny Lane” and “Can’t Buy Me Love”
Released in the UK on 24 November 1967, and in the U.S. on 27 November. Reached No. 1 in the UK for seven weeks on 6 December 1967, and in the U.S. for three weeks on 30 December. First included on Magical Mystery Tour.
“Ticket to Ride”
Released in the UK on 9 April 1965, and in the U.S. on 19 April. Reached No. 1 in the UK for three weeks on 22 April 1965, and in the U.S. for one week on 22 May. First included on respective territorial versions of Help! (1965).
Released in the U.S. on 13 February 1967, and in the UK on 17 February. Reached No. 1 in the U.S. for one week on 18 March 1967. First included on the U.S. release of Magical Mystery Tour (1967).
“Can’t Buy Me Love”
Released in the U.S. on 16 March 1964, and in the UK on 20 March. Reached No. 1 in the UK for three weeks on 2 April 1964, and in the U.S. for five weeks on 4 April. First included on respective territorial versions of A Hard Day’s Night (1964).
“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” is a song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966. The first recording of the song to be released was produced by Whitfield for Gladys Knight & the Pips and released as a single in September 1967; it went to number two on the Billboard chart.
The lyrics tell the story in the first person of the singer’s feelings of betrayal and disbelief when he hears of his girlfriend’s infidelity only indirectly “through the “grapevine.” the phrase is associated with black slaves during the Civil War, who had their form of telegraph: the human grapevine. Producer Norman Whitfield worked with Strong on the song, adding lyrics to Strong’s basic Ray Charles influenced gospel tune. This was to be the first of a number of successful collaborations between Strong and Whitfield
By 1966, Barrett Strong, the singer on Motown Records’ breakthrough hit, “Money (That’s What I Want)”, had the basics of a song he had started to write in Chicago, where the idea had come to him while walking down Michigan Avenue that people were always saying “I heard it through the grapevine.”
Producer Norman Whitfield recorded “I Heard It through the Grapevine” with various Motown artists. The first known recording is with the Miracles on August 6, 1966, though there may also have been a recording with the Isley Brothers, or at least Whitfield intended to record it with them; however a track has not turned up – some Motown historians believe that a session may have been scheduled but canceled. The Miracles’ version was not released as a single due to Berry Gordy’s veto during Motown’s weekly quality control meetings; Gordy advised Whitfield and Strong to create a stronger single. Marvin Gaye’s version was recorded in spring 1967, and is the second known recording, though was also rejected by Gordy as a single, and would also later go onto an album, In the Groove. The third recording was in 1967 with Gladys Knight and the Pips in a new, faster arrangement. Gordy accepted the new arrangement and the Gladys Knight version was released as a single in September 1967, reaching number 2 in the charts. When Gaye’s album with his version of Grapevine was released in August 1968 radio disc jockeys were playing the song, so Gordy had it released as a single in October, and it went to number one in December.
The Gaye recording has become an acclaimed soul classic. In 2004, it was placed at number 80 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, with the comment that Whitfield had produced the song with a number of artists using different arrangements, and that on the Marvin Gaye recording he had a “golden idea” when he set the song “in a slower, more mysterious tempo.”
“UpTown Funk!” is a song recorded by British record producer Mark Ronson and American singer and songwriter Bruno Mars, for Ronson’s fourth studio album, Uptown Special (2015). RCA Records released the song as the album’s lead single. Jeff Bhasker assisted the artists in co-writing and co-producing the track, with additional writing from Philip Lawrence. The song went through many different incarnations and was worked on for months. Ronson and Mars recorded it at multiple different locations worldwide, ranging from recording studios to dressing rooms. Ronson and Bhasker found time to record with Bruno Mars in Los Angeles, Toronto, London, Vancouver, Memphis and New York City. American bands Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Antibalas perform horn parts on the song, while the song’s lyrics interpolate a line from rapper Trinidad James’ song “All Gold Everything” (2012).
Several music critics noted its similarity with popular music from the 1980s. The song features heavy inspiration from the Minneapolis sound of 1980s-era funk music, having a spirit akin to works by Prince as well as Morris Day and The Time. Copyright controversies arose after the song’s release, with multiple lawsuits and amendments to its songwriting credits. Currently, the songwriting credits are:
Jeff Bhasker, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson, Nicholas Williams, Devon Gallaspy, Lonnie Simmons, Charlie Wilson, Robert Wilson, Ronnie Wilson, Rudolph Taylor
“Uptown Funk” spent 14 consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, seven non-consecutive weeks at number one on the UK Singles Chart, and topped the charts in several other countries including Australia, Canada, France, Ireland and New Zealand.