Fw: [Dixielandjazz] PBS' "Blues"

Jim Beebe jbeebe at centurytel.net
Sun Sep 28 21:22:27 PDT 2003

I think that I should clarify my statements on Louis Armstrong and Jack
Teagarden as great 'blues' singers and players.  I did not mean to imply
that I was prejudging or condemning the 'Blues' series coming up on Public

Listen to Louis & Tea on the "Back 'O' Town Bues on the Town Hall Concert.

Jim Beebe

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Marty Nichols" <trombone19 at netzero.net>
To: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Sunday, September 28, 2003 4:56 PM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] PBS' "Blues"

> Jim Beebe wrote:
> "I'll bet good money that these shows don't mention the greatest blues
singer of all, Louis Armstrong. Nor will they mention Jack Teagarden.
Delmark records in Chicago had a meeting once of it's Jazz and Blues
artists. Delmark puts out a good line of both Jazz and Blues recordings and
is regarded as a top smaller record label and one of the very top Blues
labels. I have some recordings out on this label and so I was at this
meeting. Bob Koester, the owner, had this idea of bringing Jazz and Blues
artists closer together. There is absolutely no interaction between these
two groups of musicians. At one point in the general discussion going on I
said, rather prominently, "Well, Louis Armstrong was the greatest blues
singer and player." Whoa! That got the 'Blues' guys right up off of their
rather large asses. Armstrong, a blues singer! They wouldn't hear of it. The
fact is , though, that Louis was the greatest blues singer and player. One
listen to any blues he ever recorded sho!
>  uld verify that. Try his "Beale <snip by accident>
> Jim, we must be on the same "wave length" because before I saw your post I
had seen two articles in my local paper on the PBS shot and when I saw the
paper welcomed comments i sent them an e-mail message.
> Herewith the articles and my e-mail to the paper:
> My e-mail to the paper:FLATODAY'S article about the PBS program about
blues was interesting.
> Apparently PBS and the programs writers are re-writing the history of the
> blues and leaving out huge segments of authentic blues elements, along
> dozens of great blues players; e.g., Jack Teagarden, Louis Armstrong, and
> myriad others from the '20s to the '50s.
> Signed,
> Marty Nichols
> The articles:
> Episode guide to 'The Blues'
> "The Blues," begins 8 tonight on PBS and continues each night through
Saturday, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m.; rerun air dates are also included for each
> Episode 1. Martin Scorsese's "Feel Like Going Home," tonight and rerunning
11:30 p.m. Monday (check local listings). The top-dog director kicks off the
series by digging into the West African roots of the blues. Young bluesman
Corey Harris, who evokes the acoustic-rural origins of the genre along with
some modern influences, travels to Mali and strums guitar with Africa blues
star Ali Farka Toure.
> Episode 2. Wim Wenders' "The Soul of a Man," 8 p.m. Monday, and 11:30 p.m.
Tuesday (check local listings). The most cinematic episode of the series
chronicles the lives of Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson and J.B. Lenoir,
with expertly crafted faux-silent film footage. It also features some of the
best performances of old blues songs by modern artists of every stripe,
including Lou Reed, Nick Cave, Lucinda Williams, Shemekia Copeland and Los
> Episode 3. Richard Pearce's "The Road to Memphis," 8 p.m. Tuesday, and
11:30 p.m. Wednesday (check local listings). This installment tells the
story of legendary bluesman B.B. King while also chronicling the rise (and
decline, some say) of the blues scene in Memphis. King and many of his
contemporaries are shown performing at the annual W.C. Handy Awards in
Memphis (the blues equivalent of the Grammys). Although seasoned bluesman
Bobby Rush, 62, steals the show with his funky, sexed-up gigs in the black
Southern nightclubs that make up the "chitlin' circuit."
> Episode 4. Charles Burnett's "Warming By the Devil's Fire," 8 p.m.
Wednesdayand 11:30 p.m. Thursday (check local listings). The most poignant
episode of the series delves into blues history through the fictional tale
of a young boy who is introduced to the blues while visiting his uncle in
1955 in Mississippi.
> Episode 5. Marc Levin's "Godfathers & Sons," 8 p.m. Thursday and 11:30
p.m. Friday (check local listings). The story of the influential Chess
Records label in Chicago, home to everybody from Chuck Berry to Muddy Waters
to Howlin' Wolf, is recounted by Marshall Chess. He also collaborates with
rappers Chuck D and Common on a recording session with veteran blues
musicians to illustrate the music's link to the hip-hop of today.
> Episode 6. Mike Figgis' "Red, White & Blues," 8 p.m. Friday and 11:30 p.m.
Saturday (check local listings). This episode opens with a jolt: What's
cheesy Welsh pop singer Tom Jones doing in a blues documentary? But he
eventually proves his salt, and plenty of other key British rockers (Eric
Clapton, Van Morrison, Steve Winwood, etc.) have their say about how their
generation helped introduce the blues to America's white masses. B.B. King
even officially gives his blessing to his white, British brethren for how
they helped spread the blues across racial, cultural and national divides.
> Episode 7. Clint Eastwood's "Piano Blues," 8 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 5 (check local listings). The former Dirty Harry profiles key
pianists in blues history, including Fats Domino, Jelly Roll Morton,
Professor Longhair and Ray Charles.
> Companion CDs and DVDs to "The Blues" TV series
> There's a five-CD box set with more than 100 songs to accompany the
series, as well as a separate soundtrack CD for each of the seven episodes.
> Or choose the single-CD "The Best of the Blues" overview. And pick from a
dozen new "best of" compilations focusing on these individual artists: The
Allman Brothers Band, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Son House, Robert Johnson,
B.B. King, J.B. Lenoir, Taj Mahal, Keb' Mo', Bessie Smith, Stevie Ray
Vaughan and Muddy Waters. Price for entire CD box set is $69.98. It's
available on the Hip-O/Universal label.
> The entire "The Blues" series is also available as a DVD box set ($139.98,
Sony) on Oct. 7, or wait until 2004 to purchase episodes separately.
> Companion book
> "Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues -- A Musical Journey," by Peter
Guralnick, Robert Santelli, Christopher John Farley and Holly George-Warren
(Amistad/HarperCollins, $27.95)
> >>>> We want to hear from you <<<<
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> Sep 26, 1:15 PM
> PBS takes 'Blues' journey
> Scorsese produces musical epic
> By Kyle Munson
> Gannett News Service
> The blues has been spreading across continents and giving birth to jazz,
rock 'n' roll and hip-hop for the last century. The several years that it
took an army of filmmakers to create the documentary series "The Blues,"
starting tonight on PBS (check local listings) seems like peanuts by
> But don't say as much to Alex Gibney, the Emmy Award-winning producer who
earlier this month was still busy sweating the details. He was tweaking the
sound mix for the last of the series' seven episodes, the installment
directed by Clint Eastwood about blues pianists.
> Another film-director icon, Martin Scorsese, is executive producer for
"The Blues" and directed the series' debut episode tracing the music's roots
to West Africa. The series prefers a loose, inclusive approach to teaching
blues history. Seven different directors (including Scorsese and Eastwood)
have their say, all of them given broad creative license. This isn't a
stodgy documentary series with historical photos given the pan-and-scan
treatment while a narrator drones on.
> We're dealing with blues, after all.
> "The Blues" digs up live performance clips of vintage blues players, but
also showcases a range of today's musicians, many of whom have strayed far
beyond the blues, to revive the old songs and put a new twist on them. Nick
Cave and The Bad Seeds, for instance, sizzle through J.B. Lenoir's "I Feel
So Good."
> Gibney called this lively approach a "unique way of honoring this music,
which is also fiercely individualistic."
> It meant more work for Gibney, who had to coordinate the films with each
other as they developed to ensure they didn't overlap too much.
> Gibney called himself "the one who's ultimately responsible for making it
> When director Wim Wenders needed a vintage locomotive to shoot scenes in
rural Texas, it was Gibney who tracked one down on a tight budget.
> But Gibney has only himself to blame for all the work. Scorsese's original
plan, five years ago, called for a more modest, single feature film, until
Gibney signed on and proposed the grander seven-part series.
> "Even though the blues springs from a very simple form, it has various
interpretations and a vast influence," was his winning argument.
> So work began in earnest on "The Blues" nearly three years ago, about the
time that Ken Burns' 19-hour "Jazz" documentary series premiered in January
2001 on PBS. Burns set a precedent for "The Blues" that Gibney was quick to
> "We decided we were not going to make a series that was going to attempt
to be encyclopedic," he says. "This was not going to be the last word on the
blues. It was going to be a series of first words, personal and
> "You can go on the Internet and get more info on any of these (blues
musicians) and that serves you better," says director Charles Burnett, whose
episode of "The Blues," "Warming By the Devil's Fire," goes so far as to
focus on a fictional young boy and his uncle to more subtly evoke 1950s-era
blues. "I wanted to do a film that people will want to see again."
> It was the public's embrace of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", the 2000
feature film starring George Clooney, that excited "The Blues" crew. Its
old-timey soundtrack sold millions of CDs.
> "There was a certain buzz all over the country," Gibney says of "O
> And of course he hopes to stir a similar buzz with "The Blues."
> >>>> We want to hear from you <<<<"   END ARTICLE
> Marty Nichols
> Trombone
> Rockledge FL
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