Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks

On this date in 1975, Bob Dylan’s raw and painful Blood on the Tracks, released six weeks earlier, became the number-one album on the chart compiled by Billboard magazine. It would remain at the top spot until March 15. Ranked number 16 on Rolling Stone magazine’s “definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time,” Blood on the Tracks featured […]

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Isaac Rice’s Gambits

Isaac Rice, a music teacher, innovator in the game of chess, and businessman who developed the U.S. Navy’s first modern submarines and helped found the company today known as General Dynamics, was born in Bavaria on this date in 1850. He emigrated to the U.S. at age 6, studied music in Paris, returned to America as […]

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Three Electric Guitarists

Three late, great electric guitarists were born on this date: John Geils in 1946, Walter Becker in 1950, and Randy California in 1951. Geils was the leader and only non-Jewish member of the J. Geils Band, which early on was dubbed “The Jewish Rolling Stones,” due to its sound and high-energy live shows. The band members often […]

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Harold Arlen

Harold Arlen (Hyman Arluck), the son of a cantor and a key contributor to the Great American Songbook, was born in Buffalo, NY, on this date in 1905. In addition to composing the score for The Wizard of Oz — including “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (lyrics by Yip Harburg), which was voted the best song of the […]

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Eddy Duchin’s Sweet Music

Pianist and bandleader Eddy Duchin, famous for his work with the Leo Reisman orchestra at the Central Park Casino, died of leukemia at 40 on this date in 1951. Duchin, who had no formal training, called his sound “sweet music” instead of jazz and presaged the floral, expressive style of Liberace. He was fond of using soft-voiced […]

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A Jew’s Blues: Mike Bloomfield

by Sparrow Discussed in this essay: Michael Bloomfield: The Rise and Fall of an American Guitar Hero by Ed Ward. Chicago Review Press, 2016, 224 pages.   IN THE 1960S musicians broke through the invisible barrier of the three-minute pop song. The single that did it, which rose to number 2, in fact, was Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling […]

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“The Sound” of Jazz

Jazz tenor saxophonist Stan Getz (Stanley Gayetsky), whose warm, smooth tones would earn him the nickname “The Sound,” was born in Philadelphia on this date in 1927. His parents, Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, bought him a sax (and a clarinet) when he was 13, and he began to practice obsessively. He attended Julliard briefly before going professional […]

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Roy Nathanson and Radical Jewish Culture

by Marty Roth   There is a life of tradition that is not just about conservative preservation, about the constant continuation of the spiritual and cultural goods of a community. There is also something like a treasure hunt in the tradition that establishes a living relationship with tradition and that is committed to much of […]

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Yehudi Menuhin

Violinist Yehudi Menuhin played a public performance for the first time in his hometown of New York at the age of 9 on this date in 1926, at the Manhattan Opera House. This came two years after his debut concert in San Francisco, where he played Bériot’s ”Scene de Ballet” with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and […]

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