Today marks 100 years since Sun Ra was born — or, as the musician might have put it, since he arrived on Earth. An influential jazz composer, keyboardist and bandleader, Sun Ra always insisted he was just visiting this planet.
Jazz composer and trumpeter Theo Croker opens his new album, AfroPhysicist, with an ode to his grandfather: New Orleans jazz great Doc Cheatham. The thing is, Croker didn't grow up in New Orleans or any other jazz hub. He's from Jacksonville, Fla., and he was just a child when his grandfather died in 1997. It wasn't until his grandfather's memorial services — attended by jazz legends — that he decided to join the legacy.
For such a good-natured duo, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent can sound darker and more dangerous than you might imagine. As Shovels & Rope, they play gritty, boot-stomping roots-rock that spans rousing sing-alongs, heartwarming ballads and harrowing tales of vengeance.
Here's the starting point for the story of Seun Kuti: He's the youngest son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. He began playing with his father's band Egypt 80 at age 8 — and took it over upon his father's death just six years later.
This weekend, you will hear another installment in our ongoing series featuring performers you thought you didn't know...but you do!
Bea Wain (now 97 years young) was a featured singer with the popular Larry Clinton big band for years. Her hits include: "Heart and Soul", "Dipsy Doodle" and an early version of "You Go to My Head". Enjoy her songs, her story and many other surprises on Big Band Saturday Night!