We talk to three soul singers from the formative era of the mid 1950s through Motown of the late 60s, and an all-female New Orleans brass band. Justine “Baby” Washington talks about growing up in Harlem and her hits such as “That’s How Heartaches Are Made.” Maxine Brown started as a teenager in NYC singing with gospel groups. By 1960 she penned the hit, “All in My Mind,” and would later have hits with “Oh No Not My Baby” and a duet with Chuck Jackson on “Something You Got.” Chris Clark is a rare white soul singer who recorded for Detroit’s Motown Records. Finally, the Original Pinettes Brass Band is a young, ten-member, all-women’s New Orleans jazz band who have received major recognition in a field dominated by men.
Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock has made a career of being a musical explorer, playing across genres from soul and funk to folk and rock and breaking down musical barriers along the way. Then we visit with mandolin virtuoso Rhonda Vincent, who shares tales of traveling with the family bluegrass band and now playing at the Grand Ol Opry with her own band, the Rage. Plus music from Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Hugh Masekela and Waylon Jennings.
ELLIS MARSALIS REMEMBERED: FAMILY MEMORIES & MUSIC WITH BRANFORD, WYNTON, DELFEAYO AND JASON MARSALIS
There is no more recognizable family name in jazz from New Orleans and beyond than: Marsalis. We’re paying tribute to the late pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr. who passed of Covid-19 in April 2020, and to his musical sons Branford (saxophone), Wynton (trumpet), Delfeayo (trombone) and Jason (drums and vibraphone). The conversation ranges from coming of age in a family of musicians, with expectations of performing at the highest level, to the interplay of traditional and modern jazz in New Orleans. Previously unheard are Wynton’s remarkable memorial oration and a live set with youngest son Jason Marsalis playing the music of his late father. It’s the enduring and thriving musical legacy of the Marsalis family this week on American Routes.
We explore eclectic excellence with African American jazz guitar elder George Benson, who started with guitar/organ trios and has a signature sound for the ages. Then young clarinet/sax virtuoso Aurora Nealand plays traditional and modern jazz, and more, crediting Stravinsky, New Orleans Sidney Bechet and “hippie parents” for inspiration. Plus music from BB King, Louis Prima, Ella Fitzgerald and Chet Atkins.