There are certain figures in jazz history whose iconic status can be telegraphed by a single name: Miles. Billie. Bix. Coltrane. Though there is a deity-like ring to the stand-alone moniker, there's also a suggestion of the intense connection that these artists inspired in fans, and a notion that their messages remain relevant today.
Even those who didn't live through Nina Simone's heyday can recognize her songs, or at least her voice. Born Eunice Waymon, the passionate performer and activist died in 2003, and today her recordings still loom larger than the rest of her story.
Pat Thomas, a singer and bandleader from Ghana, is nearly 70. He's lived in England, Germany, Canada and the U.S. But these days he's back home, once again making the music that enshrined him in the hearts of his countrymen: highlife.
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