“The blues is like this. You lay down some night and you turn from one side of the bed to the other all night long. It’s not too cold in that bed, and it ain’t too hot. But what’s the matter The blues has got you.”
I heard Leadbelly somewhere and that’s what got me into folk music, which was exploding.
~Bob Dylan (Joe Smith interview 1988)
” Lead Belly was not an influence, he was the influence. If it wasn’t for him, I may never have been here. I don’t think he’s really dead. A lot of people’s bodies die but I don’t think their spirits die with them.
”Sang the blues wonderfully,but he was much bigger than that. He encompassed the whole black era, from square dance calls to the blues of the 30’s and 40’s”
Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter 1998 Folk Alliance International Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient:
The Midnight Special:
Huddie William Ledbetter
Also known as
Mooringsport, Louisiana, United States
December 6, 1949 (aged 61)
New York, New York, United States
Delta blues, songster, country blues
Vocals, guitar, accordion, piano, lap steel guitar
Huddie William Ledbetter (January 20, 1888 – December 6, 1949) was an iconic American folk and blues musician, and multi-instrumentalist, notable for his strong vocals, his virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced.
He is best known as Lead Belly. Though many releases list him as “Leadbelly“, he spelled it “Lead Belly”. This is also the usage on his tombstone, as well as of the Lead Belly Foundation. In 1994 the Lead Belly Foundation contacted an authority on the history of popular music, Colin Larkin, editor of the Encyclopedia of Popular Music, to ask if the name “Leadbelly” could be altered to “Lead Belly” in the hope that other authors would follow suit and use the artist’s correct appellation.
Although Lead Belly most commonly played the twelve-string, he could also play the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, and accordion. In some of his recordings, such as in one of his versions of the folk ballad “John Hardy”, he performs on the accordion instead of the guitar. In other recordings he just sings while clapping his hands or stomping his foot.
John Hardy (Accordion):
The topics of Lead Belly’s music covered a wide range of subjects, including gospel songs; blues songs about women, liquor, prison life, and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding, and dancing. He also wrote songs concerning the newsmakers of the day, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, the Scottsboro Boys, and Howard Hughes.
In 2008, Lead Belly was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991) was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century,Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz fusion.
On October 7, 2008, his 1959 album Kind of Blue received its fourth platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipments of at least four million copies in the United States.Miles Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.Davis was noted as “one of the key figures in the history of jazz”.On December 15, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a symbolic resolution recognizing and commemorating the album Kind of Blue on its 50th anniversary, “honoring the masterpiece and reaffirming jazz as a national treasure.”
From allmusic.com – William Ruhlmann:
Throughout a professional career lasting 50 years, Miles Davis played the trumpet in a lyrical, introspective, and melodic style, often employing a stemless Harmon mute to make his sound more personal and intimate. But if his approach to his instrument was constant, his approach to jazz was dazzlingly protean. To examine his career is to examine the history of jazz from the mid-’40s to the early ’90s, since he was in the thick of almost every important innovation and stylistic development in the music during that period, and he often led the way in those changes, both with his own performances and recordings and by choosing sidemen and collaborators who forged new directions. It can even be argued that jazz stopped evolving when Davis wasn’t there to push it forward. … read more over @ allmusic.com
Legacy, influence & awards:
Miles Davis is regarded as one of the most innovative, influential and respected figures in the history of music. He has been described as “one of the great innovators in jazz”.The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll noted “Miles Davis played a crucial and inevitably controversial role in every major development in jazz since the mid-’40s, and no other jazz musician has had so profound an effect on rock. Miles Davis was the most widely recognized jazz musician of his era, an outspoken social critic and an arbiter of style—in attitude and fashion—as well as music”.His album Kind of Blue is the best-selling album in the history of jazz music. On November 5, 2009, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan sponsored a measure in the United States House of Representatives to recognize and commemorate the album on its 50th anniversary. The measure also affirms jazz as a national treasure and “encourages the United States government to preserve and advance the art form of jazz music.”It passed, unanimously, with a vote of 409–0 on December 15, 2009.
His approach, owing largely to the African American performance tradition that focused on individual expression, emphatic interaction, and creative response to shifting contents, had a profound impact on generations of jazz musicians.
In 1986, the New England Conservatory awarded Miles Davis an Honorary Doctorate for his extraordinary contributions to music.Since 1960 the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) has honored him with eight Grammy Awards, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and three Grammy Hall of Fame Awards. In 2010, Moldejazz premiered a play called Driving Miles, which focused on a landmark concert Davis performed in Molde, Norway, in 1984.
All Blues – 1964:
Winner; Down Beat Reader’s Poll Best Trumpet Player 1955
Winner; Down Beat Reader’s Poll Best Trumpet Player 1957
Winner; Down Beat Reader’s Poll Best Trumpet Player 1961
Grammy Award for Best Jazz Composition Of More Than Five Minutes Duration for Sketches of Spain (1960)
Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance, Large Group Or Soloist With Large Group for Bitches Brew (1970)
Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist for We Want Miles (1982)
Sonning Award for Lifetime Achievement In Music (1984; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Doctor of Music, honoris causa (1986; New England Conservatory)
Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist for Tutu (1986)
Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist for Aura (1989)
Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Big Band for Aura (1989)
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1990)
Australian Film Institute Award for Best Original Music Score for Dingo, shared with Michel Legrand (1991)
Knight of the Legion of Honor (July 16, 1991; Paris)
Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance for Doo-Bop (1992)
Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance for Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux (1993)
Hollywood Walk of Fame Star (February 19, 1998)
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction (March 13, 2006)
Though precise figures have been disputed, Kind of Blue has been described by many music writers not only as Davis’s best-selling album, but as the best-selling jazz record of all time. On October 7, 2008, it was certified quadruple platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It has been regarded by many critics as the greatest jazz album of all time and Davis’s masterpiece.
The album’s influence on music, including jazz, rock, and classical music, has led music writers to acknowledge it as one of the most influential albums ever made. In 2002, it was one of fifty recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. In 2003, the album was ranked number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Kind of Blue isn’t merely an artistic highlight for Miles Davis, it’s an album that towers above its peers, a record generally considered as the definitive jazz album, a universally acknowledged standard of excellence. Why does Kind of Blue posses such a mystique? Perhaps because this music never flaunts its genius… It’s the pinnacle of modal jazz — tonality and solos build from the overall key, not chord changes, giving the music a subtly shifting quality… It may be a stretch to say that if you don’t like Kind of Blue, you don’t like jazz — but it’s hard to imagine it as anything other than a cornerstone of any jazz collection.
—Stephen T. Erlewine
Track listing: All songs written and composed by Miles Davis except where noted
1. “So What”
2. “Freddie Freeloader”
3. “Blue in Green” (Miles Davis and Bill Evans)
4. “All Blues”
5. “Flamenco Sketches” (Miles Davis and Bill Evans)