Billie Holiday Sings ‘Strange Fruit,’ Harlem, 1939 (audio)

Billie_HolidayStrange Fruit” is a song performed most famously by Billie Holiday (lived in Harlem during this time), who first sang and recorded it in 1939. Written by the teacher Abel Meeropol as a poem, it exposed American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans. Continue Reading →

The Jimmy Cobb Miles Davis Celebration & Record Release At Smoke

jimmycobb1Wow, Jimmy Cobb is playing with more vitality and purpose in his 80’s than drummers a fraction of his age. He is probably most famous as the drummer on Miles Davis’ classic Kind of Blue and his band will celebrate the iconic trumpeters May 26th birthday over these two nights, as well as the release of Jimmy’s new record on Smoke Sessions, The Original Mob. Continue Reading →

Leonard Harper, Harlem, New York 1925

leonard harper in harlem1Leonard Harper (born April 9, 1899 in Birmingham, Alabama- died February 4, 1943, Harlem, New York) was a producer /stager/ choreographer in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s. Continue Reading →

Harlem’s Ellsworth Raymond “Bumpy” Johnson

640px-BumpyJohnsonAlcatrazPrisonCroppedEllsworth Raymond Johnson (October 31, 1905 – July 7, 1968) — known as “Bumpy” Johnson — was an American mob boss and bookmaker in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. Continue Reading →