As Kansas City celebrates the legacy of jazz great Art Blakey, get in on the action with these examples of jazz on DVD available at The Kansas City Public Library.
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (DVD 781.65 B63ZA)
Blakey performs with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, among others, in this entry in the Jazz at the Smithsonian program.
Dexter Gordon: Live in ’63 & ’64 (DVD 781.65 G66L)
Gordon is captured performing in Holland, Switzerland, and Belgium in this entry in the Jazz Icons series.
Jazz Giants of the 20th Century (DVD 781.65 J4295)
The lineup includes: Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Count Basie, among others.
Louis Armstrong: Live in ’59 (DVD 781.65 A73L)
In another of the Jazz Icons series, the great trumpeter performs some signature pieces such as Basin Street Blues and Tiger Rag.
Anyone listening to the radio in the 1970s certainly heard a song or two by the Red-Headed Stranger. Anyone reading the local Kansas City daily newspaper anytime from 1880 to the present is familiar with the name of its founder, William Rockhill Nelson.
Lots of things are growing on the farm where I live. Strange things. Pumpkins make me think of Halloween monsters. They grow in all sizes and many colors: reddish and warty, orange and ribbed, or smooth grayish white. I've seen gourds that look like little blue-green aliens that just hopped off of a spaceship.
What are gourds, anyway? Botanists, or people who study plants, say that gourds are fruit, like melons, cucumbers, and pumpkins.
Gourds have been around for a long time. People eat the pulp and drink the juice. The outer shell, when it's dried, makes a good musical instrument, basket, birdfeeder, nest box, or cup. People from Asia, Africa, and the Americas have used gourds for fine art. (Never decorate a gourd without an adult; the mold and dust can be harmful.)
The drinking gourd has played an interesting part in American History. Some people believe that "Follow the Drinking Gourd" was a folk song that contained a secret code. The drinking gourd was really the constellation the Big Dipper, which "points" to the North Star. The song was like a map that guided slaves north to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
Other people feel that the real path to freedom was much more difficult. Just "going North," or hearing a song, was too simple. Escaping slaves had to be creative, secretive, and extremely brave.