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Suzanne Flandreau

[CBMR]

The Center for Black Music Research (CBMR) was founded in 1983 at Columbia College Chicago by Samuel A. Floyd, Jr. Its mission has remained the same since its inception: to document, preserve, and promote the music of the African Diaspora. This mission is accomplished through publications, conferences and symposia, performances, research fellowships, and the Library and Archives, housing books and research collections.

The Center’s flagship publication, Black Music Research Journal (1980–), antedates Floyd’s move to Columbia College. The Center has also published Lenox Avenue (1995–1999), the scholarly journal for a grant-funded project which explored music’s role in the arts of the African Diaspora. Various newsletters, including Black Music Research Newsletter/CBMR Bulletin (1977–1990), and CBMR Digest (1990–) informed members about the Center’s activities. Kalinda! (1994–1997), Stop-Time (1998–2000), and Cariso! (2003–2006) were published for specific grant-funded projects. The Center’s publications also include a bibliographic and reference series consisting of five CBMR monographs, ...

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Joe C. Clark

Record company founded by Houston-based African American entrepreneur Don Robey in 1949. It focused primarily on rhythm-and-blues and gospel music. Robey’s initial label, Peacock Records, was created to record bluesman Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. The label also recorded Big Mama Thornton’s rendition of “Hound Dog,” which was later covered and made famous by Elvis Presley. Gospel artists including the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, the Dixie Hummingbirds, and the Bells of Joy joined the label and provided much of its success during the early 1950s.

In 1952 Peacock acquired the Memphis-based rhythm-and-blues label Duke from WDIA DJ David James Mattis. Its roster included Rosco Gordon, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and Johnny Ace. Robey later formed additional subsidiary labels: Sure Shot; Song Bird, which featured gospel music; Back Beat, formed in 1957 to meet the growing teen market; and Peacock’s Progressive Jazz label.

In 1973 Robey retired and sold the Duke/Peacock label, affiliated labels, and publishing companies to ABC-Dunhill Records. Its catalog consisted of nearly 2700 songs and approximately ...

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Excello  

Joe C. Clark

Record company. Excello was founded in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1952 by Ernie Young, owner of a chain of jukeboxes and record stores. The label was a subsidiary of Young’s Nashboro Records, established a year earlier, which focused on gospel music. Excello initially featured some R&B and hillbilly music but was primarily a blues label. Notable artists included Arthur Gunter, Ted Garrett, Earl Gaines, Roscoe Shelton, the Crescendos, the Gladiolas, and the Marigolds.

In 1956 Jay Miller of Crowley, Louisiana, began producing a number of important swamp blues releases for Excello, including recordings by Lightnin’ Slim, Lazy Lester, and Slim Harpo. Young founded Nasco Records, another subsidiary that centered on pop music, in 1957. Young sold Excello and Nashboro in 1966 to Crescent Amusement Company; Miller’s association with Excello ended soon thereafter. The label issued releases through the mid-1970s featuring a number of southern soul artists, including Maceo and the King’s Men, Z.Z. Hill, Freddie North, and Kip Anderson. In ...

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Paul Oliver

[Allen, Fulton ]

(b Wadesboro, NC, July 10, 1907; d Durham, NC, Feb 13, 1941). American blues singer and guitarist. He began to lose his sight as a teenager and was completely blind by 1928. He was the outstanding exponent, though not an innovator, of the eastern or Piedmont style of blues. Influenced by Blind Blake, Blind Gary Davis, and Buddy Moss, he formulated an eclectic style, playing fast runs and swinging rag rhythms on guitar (often against cross-rhythms on a washboard) to accompany his gritty singing. Davis played for him on the traditional “Rag Mama Rag” (1935, Voc.), one of his earliest successes. Fuller adapted old songs such as the British ballad “Our Goodman,” which became “Cat Man Blues” (1936, Voc.). Although he was probably at his best with fast ragtime themes like “Step it up and go” (1940, Voc.), he was also a master of slow blues such as “Weeping Willow” (...

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Henry Johnson

Gong of Japan. The face is usually flat, about 10 to 28 cm in diameter, with concentric grooves, and the rim is 3 to 6 cm deep, with three stub legs on which it rests. It is normally struck on the face with a large T-shaped beater. The term fusegane, which is especially Buddhist, refers both to the gong’s position when played and its material: fuse (lay down); gane/kane (metallophone). It is used in various contexts, including Buddhism, folk performing arts, and off-stage kabuki music. It resembles the atarigane and shōko, except that it rests on its legs. It is sometimes called by other names, including changiri, hiragane, hitotsugane, kane, kōshō, nenbutsugane, shōgo, and tatakigane.

A very small, geminate version of the fusegane is the matsumushi, also called kofusegane (small fusegane), a pair of gongs of different sizes and pitches, about 7 to 10 cm in diameter, with rims about 3 to 4 cm deep. It shares its name, because its sound is similar, with the pine-tree cricket, known for its bell-like call: ...

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Alessandro Bratus

(Zebedee )

(b ?Clarksdale, MS, c15 Jan 1929–30; d Chicago, IL, April 21, 1970). American blues singer and guitarist. He was raised in Chicago after his family settled there in 1930, and from the late 1940s he stood out as one of the city’s most innovative musicians for his virtuoso slide guitar playing and for his mastery of the wah wah pedal. A second cousin of John Lee Hooker, he was influenced by a wide range of musical styles, including the work of country guitarists Merle Travis, Les Paul, and Joe Maphis, as well as jazz and popular music. Although he was one of the most revered Chicago blues musicians on a local scale, he never acquired the stardom of Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf, because of his weak vocal abilities and his health problems due to the tuberculosis that affected him from his teens. His public recognition began in the late sixties when he released a few LPs and toured in Europe with his own group, shortly before his death in ...

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Dean Alger

[Alonzo ]

(b New Orleans, LA, Feb 8, 1894; d Toronto, ON, June 16, 1970). American blues and jazz guitarist and singer. Research indicates that Johnson was born in 1894 (Alger). He was influenced by the musical activities of his family and the rich musical environment in New Orleans of the early 1900s, including the early blues, jazz, and the lyrically expressive French and Spanish music traditions. He began playing violin, developed excellent guitar skill, and by the 1920s was also recording on piano, banjo, mandolin, and harmonium.

Johnson performed on violin with Charlie Creath’s band on the Mississippi riverboat St. Paul, and after winning a blues singing contest in St. Louis, he began his recording career with OKeh Records. His first recording featured “Mr. Johnson’s Blues” and “Falling Rain Blues” (OK, 1925) and was a two-sided hit. From 1925 through 1932 he made more recordings than any other bluesman. In late ...

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Marc Rice

[James Columbus; Hootie]

(b Muskogee, OK, Jan 12, 1916; d Kansas City, MO, Dec 7, 2006). American jazz and blues pianist and bandleader. He was self-taught and learned by listening to other players and radio broadcasts, in particular, those of the Earl Hines Orchestra. He briefly attended the Tuskegee Institute, but left around 1934 to perform in Oklahoma and Arkansas. In 1936 he took a bus ostensibly for Omaha, but during a layover in Kansas City, he discovered the Reno Club, where a band led by Buster Moten introduced him to the music and lifestyle of Kansas City jazz. Here he also encountered the boogie-woogie piano playing of Pete Johnson with Joe Turner. He remained in Kansas City, working with Buster Smith, among others, formed a sextet in 1937, and a big band in 1939 which featured Charlie Parker in one of his first professional jobs.

McShann took his band to the Savoy Ballroom in ...

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David Sanjek

(b Madison, WI, Dec 27, 1944). American singer. An underrated and insufficiently recognized artist, she is accomplished in country, blues, rhythm-and-blues, and rock. She began performing in college and released her first solo recording, Deep Are the Roots, in 1964. She joined the ensemble Mother Earth (named after a Memphis Slim song), who were signed to Mercury Records in 1968. Their first album, Living with the Animals, includes Nelson’s signature self-penned song, “Down So Low,” a grieving but never glum ballad. Mother Earth recorded three other albums on Mercury and one each for Reprise and Columbia, before breaking up in 1973. Nelson also released a splendid solo album of country songs in 1970. She has subsequently performed solo or as a member of star-studded ensembles. Her 1974 duet with Willie Nelson, “After the Fire Is Gone,” received a Grammy nomination in 1974. Owing to discomfort with the state of the music business, Nelson dropped out for the better part of the 1980s, although she sang back-up for Neil Young and appeared with him at Live Aid in ...