Sidetracks

Remembering Amy Duncan

Former Jazz History Online contributor Amy Duncan passed away in June 2018. With the exception of a single Facebook post by jazz critic Chip Deffaa, no obituaries or memorials have appeared in print or online since Amy’s passing. In this special edition of Sidetracks, Thomas Cunniffe curates a tribute to our friend and colleague, Amy Hildreth Duncan.

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The Dave Frishberg Songbook

When someone says they don’t write good songs anymore, they must not referring to Dave Frishberg. Since the early Sixties, Frishberg has created witty, off-beat songs which have the repertoire of many singers. Thomas Cunniffe offers his own salute to this superb musician with a selection of Frishberg’s best songs, some performed by the composer himself.

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Camille Bertault: The Girl on the Internet

Since the summer of 2015, when she uploaded her remarkable scat version of John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, French jazz vocalist Camille Bertault has been an internet sensation. In this edition of Sidetracks, Bertault tells Thomas Cunniffe about the inspiration for that video, and her unique and varied background. The article includes four embedded videos (and links to several more) plus a review of Bertault’s new CD, En Vie.

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Ella Fitzgerald at 100

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth, and the occasion is being marked with a plethora of reissues, compilations and tributes. In this special Sidetracks article, Thomas Cunniffe pays homage to the First Lady of Song with an appreciation of her art, and an overview of this spring’s salutes.

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The Essence of Billie

For many jazz fans and historians, there are two categories of jazz singers: Billie Holiday and everyone else. Thomas Cunniffe has a similar rating system for Billie Holiday tribute albums: there’s Carmen McRae’s and everyone else’s. However, two new Holiday tributes by José James and Cassandra Wilson stand up well to comparisons with McRae’s classic LP. The similarities and differences are discussed in this month’s Sidetracks.

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Jazz and Standup Comedy

Standup comedians like Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen and Bill Cosby have readily acknowledged the influence of jazz in their work but few comedians talked about the music in their acts. There were a few exceptions, and Thomas Cunniffe shares them in this month’s Sidetracks.

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We…Are…The 2.3 Percent!

As if January wasn’t depressing enough, jazz fans were told once again that their music represents only 2.3% of the US music market. To make things worse, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival announced this year’s lineup–with a preponderance of rock and pop acts. Thomas Cunniffe considers the implications of these events in this month’s Sidetracks.

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The Enigma of Jeri Southern

One of the most revered vocalists of the 1950s, Jeri Southern created a series of acclaimed LPs and then abruptly stopped performing and recording. Thomas Cunniffe explores her minimalist style and her recorded legacy in this month’s edition of Sidetracks.

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Summation 2018

As 2018 comes to a close, Jazz History Online recognizes the best new and reissued CDs, DVDs and books that have appeared in our pages over the past 12 months. We also pay tribute to the great musicians and historians who left us in 2018.

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Remembering Susannah

Few singers could discover the inner meaning of a lyric like Susannah McCorkle. A self-described hopeless romantic, she thoroughly researched the songs she performed, and sometimes added long-forgotten lyrics to her arrangements. McCorkle committed suicide in 2001, but her memory lives on through a newly-released live recording from Berlin. Thomas Cunniffe, who once interviewed McCorkle, discusses her life and artistry in this Sidetracks article.

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