Jazz Inspired is a radio show that WAMU 88.5 FM in Washington, DC broadcasts at 11 pm Saturdays. It’s mostly chit-chat between host Judy Carmichael and her guest – so intimate, that it doesn’t draw listeners in.
I was listening to Jazz Inspired last Saturday, and Judy Carmichael’s guest was Irish-American singer-songwriter Tara O’Grady. Wow! You mean they still make distinctive voices like this??!!
Here is Tara O’Grady singing Nora, which was inspired by her grandmother:
Combining Billie Holiday’s gift for meticulous but effortlessly poetic phrasing with Anita O’Day’s swingin’ sassiness, June Christy’s cocktail coolness, Patsy Cline’s rural romanticism, and Sarah Vaughn’s sophisticated sultriness, she is indeed a musical force of nature to reckon with. Tara’s music is as eclectic, authentic, timeless and nostalgic as the American landscape itself.”
And that fits! The instrumentation (sax, guitar) is jazzy, but her voice is more country than jazz. She also has a penchant for vintage style, as you can see.
I call Sunday afternoon “Radio Sunday” as WPFW 89.3 PM has 6 hours of great programming, starting with Miyuki Williams’ Sunday Kind of Love from Noon to 2:00 PM, continuing with Donnie McKethan’s American Songbook from 2:00 to 4:00 PM, and winding up with Larry Applebaum’s The Sound of Surprise from 4:00 to 6:00 PM.
Donny McKethan often plays different renditions of the same song back to back. Today he had renditions of George & Ira Gershwin’s A Foggy Day (in London Town) by Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra. The beauty of standards such as A Foggy Day is that different singers, with different styles, can perform them and be equally persuasive.
I had not heard A Foggy Day before, but I smiled when I heard the lyric:
A foggy day in London Town
Had me low and had me down
I viewed the morning with alarm
The British Museum had lost its charm
It reminded me of the weekend that I spent in London, in a hotel room no larger than a closet. Restaurants were so expensive, that I bought a grab’n’go sandwich at Boots to eat for dinner. The serendipitous discovery was that the British Museum was just around the corner from the hotel. I have more to say about the British Museum, but enough for now.
Here is another rendition of A Foggy Day, this time featuring Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald:
Speaking of AbFab, its theme song was “This Wheel’s on Fire” by Bob Dylan, as sung by Julie Driscoll. Here’s a version that Julie Driscoll did in 1968 with organist Brian Auger:
I’m going through a major Julie moment. She was a great singer and she’s amazing to look at. We last saw Julie wearing a dark wig on I Feel Alright, in which she held her own against Eric Burdon, Steve Winwood, Long John Baldry, and Rod Stewart.
In order of appearance: Eric Burdon, Steve Winwood, Long John Baldry (you’ll understand why he was called “Long John” when you watch the video), Julie Driscoll, and Rod Stewart, before a bird’s nest landed on his head. Check out Rod’s moves! Lots of great R&B shouting and energy all around.
One Reginald Dwight took half of his stage name after Long John Baldry; the other half he took from saxophonist Elton Dean. He, of course, became Elton John.
Julie Driscoll is probably best known for singing Ab Fab’s theme song This Wheel’s on Fire.
The US Postal Service issued the Sarah Vaughan Forever® Stamp on March 29, 2016:
The musically inclined Sarah Vaughan (1924-1990) played piano, then organ, and finally realized her vocal talent singing in the church choir. Her voice ranged over three octaves, and she exercised control over it; swooping from high to low and back. Early in Vaughan’s career she toured with many of the great jazz musicians of the day, and incorporated some of their styles into her own. Later, she recorded both jazz and pop songs as a solo artist. Remarkably, her voice did not diminish with time; she sang with her signature interpretive power for the whole of her five-decade career.
It was 25 January 1960 that a dream duet took flight. ‘Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)’ made its debut on both the Billboard pop and R&B charts on on this date for one of the hot new male singers of the era, Brook Benton, and a female vocalist who had been popular since World War II, Dinah Washington.
Here is Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes) for your Monday listening pleasure: