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New Sound Clash Feature: "The Cities of Soul" Friday at 10pm

New Orleans the birthplace of Jazz. That rare city, where for years the French port combined with the Caribbean to make a mixing of cultures and people in North America. Thus began an African exploration of European music and White Southerners adopting Black American styles that would be at the heart of all American music for the last century. Jazz music at it's root is the blues on horns, at times indistinguishable from soul. So where is the difference? After Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie's Be-Bop made the sound of Jazz esoteric and un-danceable. The swing orchestras (which were already fronted by singers) now were influenced by the new and emerging Rock and Roll. In New York on city steps Black and Italian neighborhood kids formed Doo-Wop groups in a contest of vocal mastery. Black American's hottest Gospel singer's start singing outside the church in bars, juke joints, and legendary theaters like The Apollo. Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and Ray Charles create a blend of Gospel music and Rock and Roll that becomes so popular it rivaled Beatlemania.

For the next two months the Sound-Clash explores the cities that created Soul music, Friday nights at 10. New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago, New York, the Bay Area, Miami, Detroit and Philadelphia all had their own style and stamp on the formation of Soul.

We start off in New Orleans where Jazz musicians already created soul before there was a word for it. Lee Dorsey, Allen Toussaint, James Booker, The Meters, and Clifton Chenier all made music that would become the template of Soul music in the late 60's and 70's a decade before. Their sound was driven by rhythm and drums with the vocals improvised like a Jazz musician. The grittiness and inherent darkness of the crescent city gave the music an edge that made it impossible to cross over. Some New Orleans musicians would eventually find mainstream success later on in their careers. Dr. John and The Neville Brothers, even Allen Toussaint had an album with Elvis Costello a little over a year ago. The Blues created by musicians from New Orleans was brash and dynamic and would become hard to define in any genre. Bo Diddley credits his family's roots in Louisiana for his sound that will encompass most of the last 50 years of popular music. You would hear echos of Bo Diddley in The Beatles, Link Wray, Modern Lovers, The Sex Pistols and Hip-Hop. The Meters would be the studio band for the bulk of Soul music from the city. At The Meter's core are The Neville Brothers who have gone on to solo successes but as a unit backed Dr. John, Lee Dorsey, Allen Toussaint and many others in New Orleans studios. Slow and sweaty The Meters sound helps create Funk in the late 60's along with James Brown and George Clinton. James Booker, the city's favorite piano player, whose compositions along with Allen Toussaint's s would BE the New Orleans sound. His eye patch and in-n-out of prison lifestyle would cripple his chances of ever breaking through into mainstream acceptance. Eddie Bo and Lee Dorsey have remained underground Soul purist's favorite and the fodder for countless samples in Hip-Hop. The New Orleans sound continues to be ahead and constantly outside of the mainstream from Trombone Shorty and Wynton Marsalis to Lil Wayne, the gritty adventurous purity of Nawlin's keeps it's artists some of music's most adventurous and timeless.

Stacy is the WFPK Program Director. Email Stacy at sowen@lpm.org.

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