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Still The Big Man

Clarence Anicholas Clemons Jr. respectfully known as The Big Man was born on January 11 1942.

Born in Norfolk County, Virginia  his father gave him an alto sax as a Christmas present when he was nine years old. He later switched to baritone and then settled on a tenor. As a youth Clemons showed potential as a football player and attended Maryland State College on both music and football scholarships. He attracted the attention of the Cleveland Browns who offered him a trial. Clarence also tried out for the Dallas Cowboys; however the day before, he was involved in a serious car accident which effectively ended any dreams of a career in the NFL. He would be eventually posthumously inducted in the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

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At the age of 18 he started doing some studio session work, some of  which were eventually released in 2007 by Truth and Soul Records as ‘Let Me Be Your Man’. While at Maryland he joined his first band, The Vibratones, which played James Brown covers and stayed together from 1961 – 1965. While still playing with this band he moved to New Jersey where he worked as a counselor for emotionally disturbed children at the Jamesburg Training School for Boys between 1962 and 1970.

The story of how Clarence Clemons first met Bruce Springsteen has entered into E Street Band mythology. ‘The E Street Shuffle’ with a monologue about how they met and the event was also immortalized in ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out’. The story is they met for the first time in September 1971 and Clarence was playing with the Norman Seldin & the Joyful Noyze at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey. It was Karen Cassidy, lead vocalist with Joyful Noyze who encouraged Clemons to check out Springsteen at the nearby Student Prince. 

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This is how Clemons recalled their meeting:

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Duke Lives On At Ellington

‘Duke Ellington didn’t consider himself a jazz musician.

He said he was a musician who played jazz. And what a musician: pianist, bandleader, composer of more than 1,000 songs including standards like “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” “Satin Doll” and “Sophisticated Lady.”

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Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born 116 years ago today in Washington, D.C. And it may just be that Ellington lives on most profoundly, every day, at a public arts high school that bears his name. The goal of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts is to give a free arts education to very talented students in the D.C. area — young people who might never have the benefit of private lessons. The school celebrated its own 40th birthday last weekend.

We have a saying: If you have to be an artist, this is the place to be,” says Davey Yarborough, director of jazz studies at Ellington for 30 years.

Most of the students at Ellington are African-American. They had to pass rigorous auditions and interviews to get in — to study not just jazz, but also classical music, dance, drama and visual arts, along with a full academic program. The graduation rate is 99 percent, and 98 percent go to college, some on full scholarships.

Senior Angela Whittaker is attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston this year.

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“I knew if I went to this school, I’ll come out and be something incredible … and help me shape myself into something I’ve always wanted to be,” Whittaker says. “And I didn’t think I could achieve that. Duke Ellington gave me hope that I actually could.”

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The Zilis – Hamilton, Ontario

” Not since The White Stripes has a band lit us up quite like The Zilis. With a sound that is distinctly nostalgic and rocking full of fun, these guys are proof that good things do come north of the border.  ”  – Fresh Independence

Name: Zander Lamothe, Justin Bozzo and Sean Royle

Age: Zander is 24. Justin and Sean are 26.

 Where are you writing this: Sean’s home.

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How did The Zilis come to be?

We started playing together when we were in high school. We had a front man at first but we really started playing as a three-piece when we formed a cover band called the Led Hot Zili Peppers. We played three one-hour long sets a night to pay off the debts of our old band. When our front man left, we began writing originals as a trio and found that things were really clicking. Eventually, we decided to shorten the name to The Zilis for our original stuff.

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What A Wonderful World

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” What we play is life. ” – Louis Armstrong August 4 1901 – July 6 1971

People pass on from this earth, but for those remaining they can never be forgotten. Our world would never have been such a wonderful place with out the music of Band Leader, Singer & Trumpeter, Louis Armstrong. He would of been 114 years old today. His songs live on forever. What an amazing interview he would be today if one had the opportunity to gain his perspective on music and how it has evolved with time.

Only a few artists are truly memorable; one of them is Louis Armstrong.

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