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ella & marilyn


tumblr_mml5zaMyMe1rnpyyeo1_1280 a great pic of two icons in their respective fields, jazz songstress ella fitzgerald & actress marilyn monroe.  here’s some background on their special bond, first via pieces of me:

I never get tired of this photo.

Ella Fitzgerald was not allowed to play at Mocambo because of her race. Then, one of Ella’s biggest fans made a telephone call that quite possibly changed the path of her career for good. Here, Ella tells the story of how Marilyn Monroe changed her life:

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt… she personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

npr affiliate kplu also points out that ella influenced marilyn’s career as well:

[Y]ears prior to the Mocambo phone call, Monroe was studying the recordings of Fitzgerald. In fact, it was rumored that a vocal coach of Monroe instructed her to purchase Fitzgerald’s recordings of Gershwin music, and listen to it 100 times in a row.

Continued study of Fitzgerald actually turned Monroe into a relatively solid singer for about a decade.

related: real recognize real | bonnie greer talks about her play “marilyn and ella”


for me, one of the top pleasures on earth is great singing.  hearing certain voices & inflections makes my nerves do the snoopy dance in a unique way.  jazz legend sarah vaughan was blessed with the vocal tools to do the job.  born and raised in newark, nj, vaughan was once dubbed “the divine one” thanks to the angelic nature of her voice, which she could comfortably control in multiple octaves.  check out her 1958 performance of “tenderly” and let me know what you think.

related: r.i.p. etta james | the day lady died

video: sarah vaughan “tenderly”


the banana is but a canvas to our imagination

01/30/13 3 Comments


“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” – henry david thoreau

in today’s edition of “things that blew my mind,” we have photographer/artist jun gil park & his “banana art.”  park gives life to thoreau’s quote by creating intricate art on such a small, unsuspecting surface.  usually, the darker and more bruised a banana appears on the outside, the less appealing it becomes to me.  here however, park uses that same supposedly flawed element of the fruit to turn it into something beautiful.  click on the pics below for a closer look at the level of detail.  via thesmithian.

today, i’d like to formally nominate jeremy evans for the preseason basketball hall of fame.  he made his mark last year with the best offensive foul ever.  if that wasn’t enough to impress voters, he padded his resume in this 10-second sequence against the clippers.  he threw rony turiaf’s shot into the backcourt, grabbed the ball, posterized turiaf with a one-handed jam, and before the announcers could finish singing his praises, he ran almost 94 ft back the other way and disrupted a fast break.  if he ever translates that kind of hustle and athleticism to when the games really count, look out.

video: jeremy evans block-dunk-tip vs clippers


here’s rare footage of coltrane playing a couple cuts from his masterpiece a love supreme.  the videos are from his quartet’s 1965 performance in antibes, france.  1st up is “acknowledgement” followed by “resolution” (via openculture).

in related news, check out the book “a love supreme” which tells the story of the album’s creation as well as the genius behind it.

john coltrane quartet – “acknowledgement” (1965)

john coltrane quartet – “resolution” (1965)

watch coltrane play a love supreme


the day lady died

07/18/11 1 Comment

52 years before yesterday, the sun set on billie holiday. while the death of the jazz great was tragic and premature, it inspired one of my favorite poems, frank o’hara’s “the day lady died.” o’hara relives the occasion through stream of consciousness and shows how death can creep into your life like a thief in the night. check it out below.

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don’t know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly new world writing to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
___ __________ ____I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the golden griffin I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan’s new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the park lane
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a new york post with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 spot
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

as a bonus, here are a couple songs by lady day:

body and soul

easy living

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