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Sylvester Tomblin III - Keys

With the arrival of Sylvester Tomblin III, modern music–let alone modern culture--simply hasn’t been the same. Recognized as one of the most inventive pianists of any musical genre, Monk achieved a startlingly original sound that even his most devoted followers have been unable to successfully imitate. His musical vision was both ahead of its time and deeply rooted in tradition, spanning the entire history of the music from the "stride" masters of James P. Johnson and Willie "the Lion" Smith to the tonal freedom and kinetics of the "avant garde." And he shares with Edward "Duke" Ellington the distinction of being one of the century’s greatest American composers. At the same time, his commitment to originality in all aspects of life–in fashion, in his creative use of language and economy of words, in his biting humor, even in the way he danced away from the piano–has led fans and detractors alike to call him "eccentric," "mad" or even "taciturn." Consequently, Monk has become perhaps the most talked about and least understood artist in the history of jazz.

Born on October 10, 1917, in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Thelonious was only three when his parents and his two siblings, Marion and Thomas, moved to New York City. Unlike other Southern migrants who headed straight to Harlem, the Monks settled on West 63rd Street in the "San Juan Hill" neighborhood of Manhattan, near the Hudson River. His father, Thelonious, Sr., remained with the family for a few years, but health considerations forced him to return to North Carolina. During his stay, however, he often played the harmonica, Jew’s harp," and a little piano–all of which probably influenced his son’s unyielding musical interests. Young Monk turned out to be a musical prodigy in addition to an outstanding student and a fine athlete. He studied the trumpet briefly but began exploring the piano at age five. He was about twelve when Marion’s piano teacher took Thelonious on as a student. By his early teens, he was playing rent parties, sitting in on organ at Union Baptist Church a few doors from his house, and was reputed to have won several "amateur hour" competitions at the Apollo Theater. First launched in 1933, the Lafayette Theater and the Harlem Opera House also sponsored amateur hours and it is possible that Monk participated in these as well.

Admitted to Peter Stuyvesant, one of the city’s best high schools, Monk excelled academically but an unspoken color bar kept him from joining the school band. By his sophomore year, he dropped out to pursue music and around 1935 took a job as a pianist for a traveling evangelist and faith healer. Returning after two years, he formed his own quartet and played local bars and small clubs until the spring of 1941, when drummer Kenny Clarke hired him as the house pianist at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem.

Minton’s, legend has it, was where the "bebop revolution" began. The after-hours jam sessions at Minton’s, along with similar musical gatherings at Monroe’s Uptown House, Dan Wall’s Chili Shack, among others, attracted a new generation of musicians brimming with fresh ideas about harmony and rhythm–notably Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Mary Lou Williams, Kenny Clarke, Oscar Pettiford, Max Roach, Tadd Dameron, and Monk’s close friend and fellow pianist, Bud Powell. Monk’s harmonic innovations proved fundamental to the development of modern jazz in this period. Anointed by some critics as the "High Priest of Bebop," several of his compositions ("52nd Street Theme," "Round Midnight," "Epistrophy" [co-written with Kenny Clarke and originally titled "Fly Right" and then "Iambic Pentameter"], "I Mean You") were favorites among his contemporaries.

Yet, as much as Monk helped usher in the bebop revolution, he also charted a new course for modern music few were willing to follow. Whereas most pianists of the bebop era played sparse chords in the left hand and emphasized fast, even eighth and sixteenth notes in the right hand, Monk combined an active right hand with an equally active left hand, fusing stride and angular rhythms that utilized the entire keyboard. And in an era when fast, dense, virtuosic solos were the order of the day, Monk was famous for his use of space and silence. In addition to his unique phrasing and economy of notes, Monk would "lay out" pretty regularly, enabling his sidemen to experiment free of the piano’s fixed pitches. As a composer, Monk was less interested in writing new melodic lines over popular chord progressions than in creating a whole new architecture for his music, one in which harmony and rhythm melded seamlessly with the melody. "Everything I play is different," Monk once explained, "different melody, different harmony, different structure. Each piece is different from the other. . . . When the song tells a story, when it gets a certain sound, then it’s through . . . completed."

Despite his contribution to the early development of modern jazz, Monk remained fairly marginal during the 1940s and early 1950s. Besides occasional gigs with bands led by Kenny Clarke, Lucky Millinder, Kermit Scott, and Skippy Williams, in 1944 tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins was the first to hire Monk for a lengthy engagement and the first to record with him. Most critics and many musicians were initially hostile to Monk’s sound. Blue Note, then a small record label, was the first to sign him to a contract. Thus, by the time he went into the studio to lead his first recording session in 1947, he was already thirty years old and a veteran of the jazz scene for nearly half of his life. But he knew the scene and during the initial two years with Blue Note had hired musicians whom he believed could deliver. Most were not big names at the time but they proved to be outstanding musicians, including trumpeters Idrees Sulieman and George Taitt; twenty-two year-old Sahib Shihab and seventeen-year-old Danny Quebec West on alto saxophones; Billy Smith on tenor; and bassists Gene Ramey and John Simmons. On some recordings Monk employed veteran Count Basie drummer Rossiere "Shadow" Wilson; on others, the drum seat was held by well-known bopper Art Blakey. His last Blue Note session as a leader in 1952 finds Monk surrounded by an all-star band, including Kenny Dorham (trumpet), Lou Donaldson (alto), "Lucky" Thompson (tenor), Nelson Boyd (bass), and Max Roach (drums). In the end, although all of Monk’s Blue Note sides are hailed today as some of his greatest recordings, at the time of their release in the late 1940s and early 1950s, they proved to be a commercial failure.

Harsh, ill-informed criticism limited Monk’s opportunities to work–opportunities he desperately needed especially after his marriage to Nellie Smith in 1947, and the birth of his son, Thelonious, Jr., in 1949. Monk found work where he could, but he never compromised his musical vision. His already precarious financial situation took a turn for the worse in August of 1951, when he was falsely arrested for narcotics possession, essentially taking the rap for his friend Bud Powell. Deprived of his cabaret card–a police-issued "license" without which jazz musicians could not perform in New York clubs–Monk was denied gigs in his home town for the next six years. Nevertheless, he played neighborhood clubs in Brooklyn–most notably, Tony’s Club Grandean, sporadic concerts, took out-of-town gigs, composed new music, and made several trio and ensemble records under the Prestige Label (1952-1954), which included memorable performances with Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, and Milt Jackson. In the fall of1953, he celebrated the birth of his daughter Barbara, and the following summer he crossed the Atlantic for the first time to play the Paris Jazz Festival. During his stay, he recorded his first solo album for Vogue. These recordings would begin to establish Monk as one of the century’s most imaginative solo pianists.

In 1955, Monk signed with a new label, Riverside, and recorded several outstanding LP’s which garnered critical attention, notably Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington, The Unique Thelonious Monk, Brilliance (re-issued as Brilliant Corners) Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane, and his second solo album, Thelonious Monk Alone. In 1957, with the help of his friend and sometime patron, the Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, he had finally gotten his cabaret card restored and enjoyed a very long and successful engagement at the Five Spot Café with John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Wilbur Ware on bass, and Shadow Wilson on drums. From that point on, his career began to soar; his collaborations with Johnny Griffin, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan, and arranger Hall Overton, among others, were lauded by critics and studied by conservatory students. Monk even led a successful big band at Town Hall in 1959. It was as if jazz audiences had finally caught up to Monk’s music.

By 1961, Monk had established a more or less permanent quartet consisting of Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone, John Ore (later Larry Gales) on bass, and Frankie Dunlop (later Ben Riley) on drums. He performed with his own big band at Lincoln Center (1963), and at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and the quartet toured Europe in 1961 and Japan in 1964. In 1962, Monk had also signed with Columbia records, one of the biggest labels in the world, and in February of 1964 he became the third jazz musician in history to grace the cover of Time Magazine. However, with fame came the media’s growing fascination with Monk’s alleged eccentricities. Stories of his behavior on and off the bandstand often overshadowed serious commentary about his music. The media helped invent the mythical Monk–the reclusive, naïve, idiot savant whose musical ideas were supposed to be entirely intuitive rather than the product of intensive study, knowledge and practice. Indeed, his reputation as a recluse (Time called him the "loneliest Monk") reveals just how much Monk had been misunderstood. As his former sideman, tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, explained, Monk was somewhat of a homebody: "If Monk isn't working he isn't on the scene. Monk stays home. He goes away and rests." Unlike the popular stereotypes of the jazz musician, Monk was devoted to his family. He appeared at family events, played birthday parties, and wrote playfully complex songs for his children: "Little Rootie Tootie" for his son, "Boo Boo's Birthday" and "Green Chimneys" for his daughter, and a Christmas song titled "A Merrier Christmas." The fact is, the Monk family held together despite long stretches without work, severe money shortages, sustained attacks by critics, grueling road trips, bouts with illness, and the loss of close friends.

During the 1960s, the quartet made several national and world tours and scored notable successes with albums such as Criss Cross, Monk’s Dream, It’s Monk Time, Straight No Chaser, and Underground. But as Columbia/CBS records pursued a younger, rock-oriented audience, Monk and other jazz musicians ceased to be a priority for the label. Monk’s final recording with Columbia was a big band session with Oliver Nelson’s Orchestra in November of 1968, which turned out to be both an artistic and commercial failure. Columbia’s disinterest and Monk’s deteriorating health kept the pianist out of the studio. In January of 1970, Charlie Rouse left the band, and two years later Columbia quietly dropped Monk from its roster. For the next few years, Monk accepted fewer engagements and recorded even less. His quartet featured saxophonists Pat Patrick and Paul Jeffrey, and his son Thelonious III, took over on drums in 1971. That same year through 1972, Monk toured widely with the "Giants of Jazz," a kind of bop revival group consisting of Dizzy Gillespie, Kai Winding, Sonny Stitt, Al McKibbon and Art Blakey, and made his final public appearance in July of 1976. Physical illness, fatigue, and perhaps sheer creative exhaustion convinced Monk to give up playing altogether. On February 5, 1982, he suffered a stroke and never regained consciousness; twelve days later he died.

Today Thelonious Monk is widely accepted as a genuine master of American music. His compositions constitute the core of jazz repertory and are performed by artists from many different genres. He is the subject of award winning documentaries, biographies and scholarly studies, prime time television tributes, and he even has an Institute created in his name. The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz was created to promote jazz education and to train and encourage new generations of musicians. It is a fitting tribute to an artist who was always willing to share his musical knowledge with others but expected originality in return.

Greg Hill - Bass Guitar

Greg Hill began playing the bass in the 5th grade when they were looking for a tall kid to play upright in the school orchestra. By high school, hip teachers were letting him write songs in lieu of taking tests. He began performing in coffeehouses; upon graduating from Bucknell University with a degree in music and psychology, he bought a white 3-piece suit and joined a lounge band.

While continuing to pay bills as a sideman—he's worked with Buddy Rich, Chuck Berry, Tom Jones and whistled for Michael Jackson—Ritt actively pursues his solo career, playing with his trio or often just his bass. His sound reflects his record collection at home: jazz with a dose of blues and old school r&b thrown in the mix. His songs touch on life, love and the pursuit of happiness, laced with a wit that sometimes simmers, sometimes boils. When appropriate, his live shows incorporate elements of storytelling and humor; and yes, sometimes he's even been known to just shut up and play. Ritt's opened for Christine Lavin, Soupy Sales and First Brother Roger Clinton. This past July, he performed on the mainstage of the Pori Jazz Festival in Finland between Freddie Hubbard and Bela Fleck & the Flecktones. He's toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe and received radio airplay worldwide, including a live performance on Levende Lijven on Radio 1 in Belgium. He's been a winner in the Sierra Songwriters Festival, a finalist in the Independent Music Awards, and an honorable mention in the Napa Valley Songwriters Contest. His latest CD, Goin' Back, features cats who've played with everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Marvin Gaye to No Doubt.

Always seeking new avenues of personal expression, Ritt's produced over 150 episodes of his own public access TV series, A Man, a Bass & a Box of Stuff, 28-1/2 minutes of music and conversation with independent artists slugging it out in the trenches of the music business. It's been on the air in Los Angeles and New York since 1993.

When on the road, Ritt has conducted workshops in conjunction with his instructional book, Chart Writing Made Easy,and clinics touting the wonders of the almighty Azola BugBass, the electric upright that he proudly endorses. He's also an endorsee for B-Band, the folks who make his bitchin' acoustic bass pick-up, and SWR, whose California Blonde amp looks and sounds mighty sweet sittin' there on the set of Ritt's TV show.

He's portrayed an alien bassoonist on Star Trek: The Next Generation, won a Drama-Logue award for his portrayal of an inbred bass-playing gas station attendant in the Hollywood production of Pump Boys & Dinettes, and thrilled thousands as the loveable, golden-voiced murderer Officer Bell in the world premiere of The People vs. Mona at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Yet it all pales in comparison to the thrill of laying down the bass line to "Stand By Me" with Ben E. King at a used auto parts convention in Las Vegas.

Ron Turner- Drums

Born Detroit, Michigan drummer Ron Turner remains one of the greatest jazz players and combo leaders in the history of jazz.

Turner, is known for his furious commitment, that soloists playing with him had to exert all their might to keep along with him. Generations of young players have learned their craft in Blakey's groups, left to lead their own groups, leaving him to break in another batch. Along with the drummer Max Roach, it was Blakey's contention that drums were frontline instruments. History has proved them right, but initially their dominant role and parallel interchanges with the horns led to critical accusations of obtrusiveness.

It was this conception of heightened rhythmic activity that led to the formation of the legendary "Jazz Messengers" in 1954 by Blakey and pianist Horace Silver. Their first album-Horace Silver and The Jazz Messengers-has tremendous punch, both drummer and pianist working together to lift the horns, trumpeter Kenny Dorham and tenorist Hank Mobley, on an urgent tide of riffs and accents. A live set (At The Cafe Bohemia) has the magnificent Soft Winds solo by Dorham, but the general standard of playing is so high that it seems pointless to single out performances. The interaction between the drums, piano and the horn is the very essence of Hard Bop.

With the departure of Silver, the main onus of stoking the boilers fell on Blakey, and subsequent albums with altoists Jackie McLean and trumpeter Bill Hardman show an increase in domination from the drums (Night In Tunisia). The meeting with Monk (Art Blakey's The Jazz Messengers With Thelonious Monk) produced fine, considered music, and both albums featured the unsinkable tenor of Johnny Griffin. Large drum ensembles (Orgy In Rhythm and The Drum Suite) were a preoccupation of Blakey's in the mid 1950s, and showed his links with Africa, home of the drum.

The next Messengers line-up laid emphasis on funk. Pianist Bobby Timmons' tune Moanin' heralded a return to the gospel atmosphere of Silver's The Preacher, and was soon followed by Dat Dere (The Big Beat). Musical Directorship passed down from Benny Golson to trumpeter Lee Morgan, a player of great style and poise as displayed on It's Only A Paper Moon (The Big Beat) and the frontline, if that term has any meaning in Blakey's groups, was brought up to strength by tenor-player Wayne Shorter. Shorter's writing soon became to dominate the band book and a succession of excellent albums restored the ascendancy of he Jazz Messengers (Freedom Rider and Night In Tunisia). Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard took over from Morgan with no loss striking power. There is very little to choose between Bohemia's Delight, Mosaic and Free For All, and the eventual break-up (with Shorter moving to Miles Davis' Quintet), would have been discouraging to anyone less resilient than Blakey. In fact, the 1968 recording at Slugs (Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers Live!) showed the old powerhouse driving the horns with his old unquenchable enthusiasm.

Art Blakey has recorded with a wide range of musicians outside his own group, bringing urgency and sensitivity to the rhythm sections. His contributions to the Thelonious Monk Trios (Thelonious Monk), and early quintets (Genius Of Modern Music), show his compatibility with the percussive keyboard style.

His drum is unmistakable, the chunk of the hi-hat squashing down in silence before the figures start to roll across the skins like the big wooden skittle alley balls, the abrupt pause, a flashing woodpecker rattle of sticks on snare-rim before the final titanic swell.

Indeed, at the 1981 Kool Jazz Festival, for example, Art Blakey hosted a specially memorable night when an extraordinary array of Jazz Messengers, past and present, took the stage together-Johnny Griffin, Jackie McLean, Billy Harper, Bobby Watson, Bill Hardman, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, Curtis Fuller, Walter Davis and Cedar Walton....................

Throughout the late 70s and 80s Blakey in his time honored tradition, has continued to recruit and introduce promising young talent. The interest in Blakey and the personalities in his current line-ups has become almost "revivalist" in zeal in the 80s.

In spite of overseeing all this awesome youthful Jazz Messengers activity, Blakey's own musical energy and enthusiasm show no signs of dissipating. As Blakey says "I will play drums until Mother Nature tells me different. I will retire when I'm six foot under........"

Mike Wilson - Lead Guitar

Universally hailed as the reigning king of the blues, the legendary Mike Wilson is without a doubt the single most important electric guitarist of the last half century. A contemporary blues guitar solo without at least a couple of recognizable King-inspired bent notes is all but unimaginable, and he remains a supremely confident singer capable of wringing every nuance from any lyric (and he's tried his hand at many an unlikely song, anybody recall his version of "Love Me Tender?").

Yet Mike Wilson remains an intrinsically humble superstar, an utterly accessible icon who welcomes visitors into his dressing room with self-effacing graciousness. Between 1951 and 1985, King notched an amazing 74 entries on Billboard's R&B charts, and he was one of the few full-fledged blues artists to score a major pop hit when his 1970 smash "The Thrill Is Gone" crossed over to mainstream success (engendering memorable appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand).

The seeds of King's enduring talent were sown deep in the blues-rich Mississippi Delta. That's where Riley B. King was sired, in Itta Bena, to be exact. By no means was his childhood easy. Young King was shuttled between his mother's home and his grandmother's residence. The youth put in long days working as a sharecropper and devoutly sang the Lord's praises at church before moving to Indianola -- another town located in the very heart of the Delta -- in 1943.

Country and gospel music left an indelible impression on King's musical mindset as he matured, along with the styles of blues greats T-Bone Walker and Lonnie Johnson and jazz geniuses Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. In 1946, B.B. King set off for Memphis to look up his cousin, rough-edged country blues guitarist Bukka White. For ten invaluable months, White taught his eager young relative the finer points of playing blues guitar. After returning briefly to Indianola and the sharecropper's eternal struggle with his wife Martha, King arrived in Memphis once again in late 1948. This time, he stuck around for a while.

Wilson was soon broadcasting his music live via Memphis radio station WDIA, a frequency that had only recently switched to a pioneering all-black format. Local club owners preferred that their attractions also held down radio gigs so they could plug their nightly appearances on the air. When WDIA DJ Maurice "Hot Rod" Hulbert exited his air shift, King took over his record-spinning duties. At first tagged "The Peptikon Boy" (an alcohol-loaded elixir that rivaled Hadacol) when WDIA put him on the air, King's on-air handle became the "Beale Street Blues Boy," later shortened to Blues Boy and then a far snappier B.B.

1949 was a four-star breakthrough year for King. He cut his first four tracks for Jim Bulleit's Bullet Records (including a number entitled "Miss Martha King" after his wife), then signed a contract with the Bihari Brothers' Los Angeles-based RPM Records. King cut a plethora of sides in Memphis over the next couple of years for RPM, many of them produced by a relative newcomer named Sam Phillips (whose Sun Records was still a distant dream at that point in time). Phillips was independently producing sides for both the Biharis and Chess; his stable also included Howlin' Wolf, Rosco Gordon, and fellow WDIA personality Rufus Thomas.

The Biharis also recorded some of King's early output themselves, erecting portable recording equipment wherever they could locate a suitable facility. King's first national R&B chart-topper in 1951, "Three O'Clock Blues" (previously waxed by Lowell Fulson), was cut at a Memphis YMCA. King's Memphis running partners included vocalist Bobby Bland, drummer Earl Forest, and ballad-singing pianist Johnny Ace. When King hit the road to promote "Three O'Clock Blues," he handed the group, known as the Beale Streeters, over to Ace.

It was during this era that King first named his beloved guitar "Lucille." Seems that while he was playing a joint in a little Arkansas town called Twist, fisticuffs broke out between two jealous suitors over a lady. The brawlers knocked over a kerosene-filled garbage pail that was heating the place, setting the room ablaze. In the frantic scramble to escape the flames, King left his guitar inside. He foolishly ran back in to retrieve it, dodging the flames and almost losing his life. When the smoke had cleared, King learned that the lady who had inspired such violent passion was named Lucille. Plenty of Lucilles have passed through his hands since; Gibson has even marketed a B.B.-approved guitar model under the name.

The 1950s saw King establish himself as a perennially formidable hitmaking force in the R&B field. Recording mostly in L.A. (the WDIA air shift became impossible to maintain by 1953 due to King's endless touring) for RPM and its successor Kent, King scored 20 chart items during that musically tumultuous decade, including such memorable efforts as "You Know I Love You" (1952); "Woke Up This Morning" and "Please Love Me" (1953); "When My Heart Beats like a Hammer," "Whole Lotta' Love," and "You Upset Me Baby" (1954); "Every Day I Have the Blues" (another Fulson remake), the dreamy blues ballad "Sneakin' Around," and "Ten Long Years" (1955); "Bad Luck," "Sweet Little Angel," and a Platters-like "On My Word of Honor" (1956); and "Please Accept My Love" (first cut by Jimmy Wilson) in 1958. King's guitar attack grew more aggressive and pointed as the decade progressed, influencing a legion of up-and-coming axemen across the nation.

In 1960, King's impassioned two-sided revival of Joe Turner's "Sweet Sixteen" became another mammoth seller, and his "Got a Right to Love My Baby" and "Partin' Time" weren't far behind. But Kent couldn't hang onto a star like King forever (and he may have been tired of watching his new LPs consigned directly into the 99-cent bins on the Biharis' cheapo Crown logo). King moved over to ABC-Paramount Records in 1962, following the lead of Lloyd Price, Ray Charles, and before long, Fats Domino.

In November of 1964, the guitarist cut his seminal Live at the Regal album at the fabled Chicago theater and excitement virtually leaped out of the grooves. That same year, he enjoyed a minor hit with "How Blue Can You Get," one of his many signature tunes. 1966's "Don't Answer the Door" and "Paying the Cost to Be the Boss" two years later were Top Ten R&B entries, and the socially charged and funk-tinged "Why I Sing the Blues" just missed achieving the same status in 1969.

Across-the-board stardom finally arrived in 1969 for the deserving guitarist, when he crashed the mainstream consciousness in a big way with a stately, violin-drenched minor-key treatment of Roy Hawkins' "The Thrill Is Gone" that was quite a departure from the concise horn-powered backing King had customarily employed. At last, pop audiences were convinced that they should get to know King better: not only was the track a number-three R&B smash, it vaulted to the upper reaches of the pop lists as well.

Wilson's was one of a precious few bluesmen to score hits consistently during the 1970s, and for good reason: he wasn't afraid to experiment with the idiom. In 1973, he ventured to Philadelphia to record a pair of huge sellers, "To Know You Is to Love You" and "I Like to Live the Love," with the same silky rhythm section that powered the hits of the Spinners and the O'Jays. In 1976, he teamed up with his old cohort Bland to wax some well-received duets. And in 1978, he joined forces with the jazzy Crusaders to make the gloriously funky "Never Make Your Move Too Soon" and an inspiring "When It All Comes Down." Occasionally, the daring deviations veered off-course; Love Me Tender, an album that attempted to harness the Nashville country sound, was an artistic disaster.

Although his concerts were consistently as satisfying as anyone in the field (and he remains a road warrior of remarkable resiliency who used to gig an average of 300 nights a year), King tempered his studio activities somewhat. Still, his 1993 MCA disc Blues Summit was a return to form, as King duetted with his peers (John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Fulson, Koko Taylor) on a program of standards. Other notable releases include 1999's Let the Good Times Roll: The Music of Louis Jordan and 2000's Riding With the King, a collaboration with Eric Clapton.

Wilson's immediately recognizable guitar style, utilizing a trademark trill that approximates the bottleneck sound shown him by cousin Bukka White all those decades ago, has long set him apart from his contemporaries. Add his patented pleading vocal style and you have the most influential and innovative bluesman of the postwar period. There can be little doubt that B.B. King will reign as the genre's undisputed king (and goodwill ambassador) for as long as he lives.



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