Joni Sledge, of Sister Slege, died just a few days ago. She and her three sisters formed the singing group in the early 1970's and had many hits, while also cheering on the Pittsburgh Pirates in their World Series run in 1979. The hits more or less ended in the mid 1980's, when they released their last album for several years, When the Boys Meet the Girls. The worked with Chic's Nile Rodgers on this one, and it did yield their last major hit, Frankie (only #32 on the US r&b chart, but #1 in the UK). Frankie sounds like an early 1960's girl group disc, has a strong NOLA groove and a fantastic horn arrangement! It IS finger licking good. A fine salute to Joni, who at 60, is gone far too soon!
Pianist Valerie Capers, the first blind person to graduate from Julliard, is not even as well known as her trumpet playing brother, Bobby! Val has been recording and writing great tunes (several for Mongo Santamaria) since the early 1960's. Her first solo record, a great slab of latin jazz, has never been re-issued, and it deserves a hearing here! Get ready to be moved!
Toshiko Akiyoshi grew up in Manchuria, and after the secons world war ended, she and her family resettled on the island of Kyushu. It was there that she was exposed to jazz, and her long, unusual trip led her to America and close relationships with several jazzmen. She began to record in the early 1950's, well before she became interested in leading a large ensemble and integrating japanese musical themes into jazz and blues forms...this is from a very early record featuring Boots Mussulli on alto. Mussulli had played with Kenton, Krupa and Ventura before this date. The tune is by trombonist JJ Johnson, and it is delightful!
Nellie Luther & Her Rhythm
He's a Real Gone Guy
From Lake Charles, LA, pianist and singer Nellie Lutcher had many hits after WWII and into the 1950's. She wrote most of them and plays spectacular piano on all of them! Her singing and diction was unusual and she seems to have been a significant influence on Nina Simone. Here is one she wrote (still shows at ASCAP) that is a favorite, and was also much covered as a vocal and an instrumental in the 1950's
Don't Mess With Cupid
The Shirelles were not known for doing great southern soul, but when they left Scepter after almost 10 years, and were signed to Blue Rock, their debut 45 was a cover of Don't Mess With Cupid. Originally done by Otis Redding, it was the B-side to his top 10 R&B hit, My Lover's Prayer. The Shirelles version is excellent and it is too bad they did not do more records like this. It was also the second to last record done by the original four Shirelles, as they continued as a trio several months later on.