|Birth name||Christiern Gunnar Albertson|
|Born||October 18, 1931|
|Died||April 24, 2019 87) (aged|
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
|Genres||Jazz and Blues|
|Occupation(s)||Writer, historian, record producer|
Christiern Gunnar Albertson (October 18, 1931 – April 24, 2019) was a New York City-based jazz journalist, writer and record producer.
Albertson was born in Reykjavík, but his father left the family before he was a year old. Yvonne, his mother, married three more times.He was educated in Iceland, Denmark and England before studying commercial art in Copenhagen.
In 1947, while living in Copenhagen, Albertson listened by chance to a Bessie Smith recording on radio; it led to an abiding interest in jazz and blues music. "We found magic in such names as Kid Ory, King Oliver, Johnny Dodds, Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey", he wrote on his Stomp Off blog in 2010.On his home tape machine, Albertson recorded visiting British New Orleans revivalists Ken Colyer, Chris Barber and Lonnie Donegan in 1953. These recordings were subsequently released on the Danish Storyville Records and British Tempo Records labels.
In 1957, after two years as a disc jockey for Armed Forces Radio at Keflavík Air Base, in Iceland, Albertson migrated to the United States, initially working for radio stations in Philadelphia.At WCAU (a CBS affiliate) and WHAT-FM, a 24-hour jazz station, he conducted interviews, including one with Lester Young, one of only two extant with the tenor saxophonist. He was naturalised as an American citizen in 1963.
In 1960–61 he was employed by Riverside Records' Bill Grauer as a producer. In this capacity, he arranged and recorded the last sessions of blues singer Ida Cox (whom he brought out of retirement)and boogie woogie pianist Meade Lux Lewis, and supervised the label's 'Living Legends' series of location recordings. The initial albums in this series were made in New Orleans and featured such early jazz musicians as pianist Sweet Emma Barrett, clarinetist Louis Cottrell, Jr., trumpeters Percy Humphrey and Kid Thomas, blues duo Billie and De de Pierce, and trombonist Jim Robinson. He continued the series in Chicago, with performances by Lil Armstrong, Alberta Hunter, Little Brother Montgomery, and Earl Hines.
Albertson subsequently worked as producer for Prestige Records, supervising sessions by, among others, guitarist/singer Lonnie Johnson,whom he had pulled from obscurity while working in Philadelphia. He also founded his own production company, supervising sessions with Howard McGhee, Roy Eldridge, Bud Freeman, Ray Bryant, and Elmer Snowden.
In the mid-sixties, he worked at NYC radio station WNEW, leaving there for Pacifica Radio's NY station WBAI, where he eventually became General Manager. In 1967, Albertson worked for the BBC in London, advising them on how to adapt their radio programs for sale in North America.
In 1971, Albertson co-produced and hosted The Jazz Set, a weekly television program that was aired from coast to coast by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Public television and featured such guests as Charles Mingus, Bill Evans, Randy Weston, Jimmy Heath, and Ray Bryant.
At this time, he was also producing reissues for Columbia Records, including the complete Bessie Smith LP sets. His work on these albums won Albertson 1971 two Grammy awards (one in the Best Album Notes category for "The World's Greatest Blues Singer" and a Grammy Trustees Award), a Billboard Trendsetter Award and the Montreux Jazz Festival's Grand Prix du Disque.
His standard work, Bessie, a biography of Bessie Smith, first appeared in 1972, with a revised and expanded version published by Yale University Press in 2003.The revised biography was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Blues Hall of Fame in the Classic of Blues Literature Hall of Fame category in May 2012. In 2015, HBO premiered a biopic, Bessie , starring Queen Latifah in the title role, but Albertson's book was not credited as its basis.
Albertson has written TV documentaries, including "The Story of Jazz"and "My Castle's Rocking" (a bio-documentary on Alberta Hunter), as well as articles and reviews for various publications, including Saturday Review and Down Beat . He was a contributing editor for Stereo Review magazine for twenty-eight years.
Albertson was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on April 24, 2019.
Bessie Smith was an American blues singer widely renowned during the Jazz Age. Nicknamed the Empress of the Blues, she was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and was a major influence on fellow blues singers, as well as jazz vocalists.
Eddie Lang is known as the father of jazz guitar. During the 1920s, he gave the guitar a prominence it previously lacked as a solo instrument, as part of a band or orchestra, and as accompaniment for vocalists. He recorded duets with guitarists Lonnie Johnson and Carl Kress and jazz violinist Joe Venuti, and played rhythm guitar in the big bands of Paul Whiteman and Bing Crosby.
Ida Cox was an American singer and vaudeville performer, best known for her blues performances and recordings. She was billed as "The Uncrowned Queen of the Blues".
Albert Clifton Ammons was an American pianist and player of boogie-woogie, a bluesy jazz style popular from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s.
Alonzo "Lonnie" Johnson was an American blues and jazz singer, guitarist, violinist and songwriter. He was a pioneer of jazz guitar and jazz violin and is recognized as the first to play an electrically amplified violin.
Elmer Chester Snowden was a banjo player of the jazz age. He also played guitar and, in the early stages of his career, all the reed instruments. He contributed greatly to jazz in its early days as both a player and a bandleader, and is responsible for launching the careers of many top musicians. He has been largely overlooked in jazz history.
Riverside Records was an American jazz record company and label. Founded by Orrin Keepnews and Bill Grauer under his firm Bill Grauer Productions in 1953, the label played an important role in the jazz record industry for a decade. Riverside headquarters were located in New York City, at 553 West 51st Street.
Prestige Records is a jazz record company and label founded in 1949 by Bob Weinstock in New York City. The company recorded hundreds of albums by many of the leading jazz musicians of the day, sometimes issuing them under subsidiaries. In 1971, the company was sold to Fantasy, which was later absorbed by Concord.
Julian Priester is an American jazz trombonist. He is sometimes credited "Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto". He has played with Sun Ra, Max Roach, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, and Herbie Hancock.
Idrees Sulieman was an American bop and hard bop trumpeter.
From Spirituals to Swing was the title of two concerts presented by John Hammond in Carnegie Hall on 23 December 1938 and 24 December 1939. The concerts included performances by Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Big Joe Turner and Pete Johnson, Helen Humes, Meade Lux Lewis, Albert Ammons, Mitchell's Christian Singers, the Golden Gate Quartet, James P. Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy and Sonny Terry.
Albert J. "Budd" Johnson III was an American jazz saxophonist and clarinetist who worked extensively with, among others, Ben Webster, Benny Goodman, Big Joe Turner, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Count Basie, Billie Holiday and, especially, Earl Hines.
Melvin Sparks was an American soul jazz, hard bop and jazz blues guitarist. He recorded a number of albums for Prestige Records, later recording for Savant Records. He appeared on several recordings with musicians including Lou Donaldson, Sonny Stitt, Leon Spencer and Johnny Hammond Smith.
James Wesley "Red" Holloway was an American jazz saxophonist.
Louis Albert Cottrell Jr. was a Louisiana Creole jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist. He was the son of the influential drummer Louis Cottrell, Sr., and grandfather of New Orleans jazz drummer Louis Cottrell. As leader of the Heritage Hall Jazz Band, he performed at the famous Carnegie Hall in 1974.
Royal G. "Rusty" Bryant was an American jazz tenor and alto saxophonist.
Blues & Ballads is a 1960 recording featuring Lonnie Johnson on vocals and electric guitar accompanied by Elmer Snowden on acoustic guitar and Wendell Marshall on bass. This was the first commercial recording by Snowden in 26 years. The same ensemble, under the supervision of Chris Albertson recorded a second volume titled: Blues, Ballads, and Jumpin' Jazz which was released in 1990.
Ruby Smith was an American classic female blues singer. She was a niece, by marriage, of the better-known Bessie Smith, who discouraged Ruby from pursuing a recording career. Nevertheless, following Bessie's death in 1937, Ruby recorded twenty-one sides between 1938 and 1947. She is also known for her candid observations on her own and Bessie's lifestyle.
The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz is a six-LP box set released in 1973 by the Smithsonian Institution. Compiled by jazz critic, scholar, and historian Martin Williams, the album included tracks from over a dozen record labels spanning several decades and genres of American jazz, from ragtime and big band to post-bop and free jazz.
Leonard Louis "Lenny" McBrowne is an American jazz drummer. He was a prolific hard bop drummer with a recording career that started in the 1950s and ended in the mid 1970s. As a bandleader he fronted Lenny McBrowne and the Four Souls, which released two albums in 1960. A disciple of Max Roach, McBrowne was often compared to Chico Hamilton due to the "suavely exotic tendencies of his solo work". Among McBrowne's own disciples is avant-garde drummer Andrew Cyrille.