Sidetracks

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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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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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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Michelle Lordi & the Art of Storytelling

Philadelphia vocalist Michelle Lordi loves to tell stories in song. She has a deep abiding interest in the Great American Songbook, but has also found viable material from alternative country singer Ryan Adams and the 1980s pop group, The Cars. In this month’s Sidetracks feature, Thomas Cunniffe introduces us to Lordi through her recordings and a recent live performance in Denver.

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