Posts Tagged ‘Jazz’

Frank Sinatra Turns 100

Frank Sinatra Research Topic

Frank Sinatra Research Topic [via ProQuest’s eLibrary]

“Old Blue Eyes.” The “Chairman of the Board.” “The Voice.” If you do not recognize these nicknames, shame on you! This December marks the 100th birthday of Frances Albert Sinatra. Frank was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, the only child of Dolly and Marty Sinatra, both Sicilian immigrants. After seeing Bing Crosby perform, Sinatra knew in his teen years exactly what he wanted to do. He began singing in nightclubs and was noticed by band leader Harry James. He then worked for two years with Tommy Dorsey’s band, where he became an idol to the “Bobby Soxers” who would swoon at his appearances. Frank then went solo, signing with Johnny Mercer’s Capitol Records. It was with Capitol where Frank’s career really took off. He had one chart-topping hit after another. Some of his best recordings were done during this time, especially with arranger Nelson Riddle.

Frank on Armed Services Radio in the 1940s

Frank on the Radio in the 1940s [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

Sinatra in 1957

Sinatra in the Film “Pal Joey” (1957) [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]











Sinatra was also a very successful film actor, earning an Oscar for his turn in “From Here To Eternity” in 1953. He also starred in “The Man with the Golden Arm” (1955) and “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962). In Hollywood, he became the de facto leader of “The Rat Pack” after the death of Humphrey Bogart. He was part of legendary Las Vegas shows featuring Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin and Joey Bishop, among others. His marriages to Ava Gardner and Mia Farrow were headline fodder for the fan magazines. Sinatra was also the founder of Reprise Records.

After a brief career fade in the 1970s and early 80s, Sinatra made a comeback in the 1990s recording duets of many of his old standards with such artists as Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, U2’s Bono, Willie Nelson and Stevie Wonder. Frank died in 1998. Sinatra has been called the greatest singer of the 20th century. His popularity was matched only by Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and the Beatles.
With new solo and duet compilations coming out seemingly every other year or so, maybe Frank knew more than he knew when he had “The Best Is Yet To Come” carved on his tombstone.

Frank Sinatra's Grave

Frank Sinatra’s Grave [CC-BY-2.0 Liam Hughes Wikimedia Commons]


Way before The Who recorded “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia” and before Pink Foyd issued “The Wall,” so-called concept records were Frank’s bread and butter. Two notable ones were 1965’s “September of My Years,” where Frank wrestled poignantly with mortality, and “Watertown” (1970), a “song cycle” about a down-and-out divorcee in upstate New York.

Sinatra was a known hater of rock and roll, but he was a big fan of  George Harrison’sSomething.” The song became a staple in Frank’s live performances toward the end of his career.

Sinatra was scheduled to play Detective Harry Callahan in the film “Dirty Harry” (1971), but had to turn the role down because of a health issue. The part went to Clint Eastwood.

How about using ProQuest’s eLibrary to research “Old Blue Eyes” and other musical topics this December? And don’t forget to listen to Frank’s very fine Christmas Album while you are off during the holidays!

Research Topics:

Andy Williams                                   Billie Holiday

Diana Krall                                        Ella Fitzgerald

Harry Connick Jr.                             Michael Buble

Nat King Cole                                   Rosemary Clooney

Tony Bennett                                    BONUS!  MPI Video of Frank Sinatra & Louis Armstrong


International Jazz Day: Creative Lesson Ideas

"International Jazz Day -- UN Music Ensemble 2014." Photo credit: US Mission Geneva / Foter / CC BY-ND

“International Jazz Day — UN Music Ensemble 2014.”
Photo credit: US Mission Geneva / Foter / CC BY-ND

April 30 is designated International Jazz Day by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the first International Jazz Day held on April 30, 2012. Because of the rich influence jazz music has had on people and events throughout history, this is a day to celebrate how jazz has strengthened cultural and historical ties all over the world. Music is often said to be a universal language, and jazz music especially speaks to audiences from all different backgrounds. To foster jazz appreciation in the classroom, consider devoting a day or more to sharing the contributions of jazz musicians, how jazz music coincided with the Civil Rights Movement, the women of jazz or create an activity that students can do together to express themselves artistically.

Here are some ideas to start customizing a lesson focused around jazz!

1. Jazz-Themed Classroom Tools: ProQuest SIRS WebSelect contains multiple resources to influence classroom instruction and guide discussion. Some websites that can be found here can help you start planning for a jazz-themed lesson:

Jazz in America — Great resource for building a lesson or curating ideas for projects.

Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns — This PBS documentary transports viewers to earlier jazz days.

Smithsonian Jazz — Educational ideas for bringing jazz to the classroom. 112 Ways to Celebrate Jazz is a fun compilation of ideas to spread jazz appreciation.

NPR: Jazz — Packed with videos, interviews, sound clips, webcasts and more all about jazz.

2. Adventure: The International Jazz Day website suggests organizing a field trip to a local record store and then having students design their own jazz album covers or having the class create a jazz wall mural together.

3. Investigate: Maybe you live in a place where jazz has made a major impact on the community. Turn your students into investigative reporters and have them find out what jazz accomplishments make their hometown special. Older students can decipher public records to back their research. Share as a class.

4. Concert: If you’re a music teacher or librarian, encourage students to add some new jazz songs to their repertoire or organize a jazz concert. Any ticket sales can be donated to a charity of their choice.

5. Documentary Show & Share: Since jazz is such an interactive form of expression, share a jazz documentary with your students and challenge them to express how it made them feel. Let them show or tell their classmates through words, pictures or their own creative project. Ask them why it’s important to continue teaching and learning about it.

How do you support jazz appreciation? Tweet us at #ProQuest or let us know in the comments below!

Ella Fitzgerald Is Born, 1917

"Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947." Photo credit: The Library of Congress / Foter / No known copyright restrictions

“Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947.” Photo credit: The Library of Congress / Foter / No known copyright restrictions

The “First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald was a jazz gem. Her three octave vocal range made her music sound effortless and smooth. Overcoming hardship and discrimination in her life, Ella was able to make a name for herself in jazz. She worked with Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman to name a few. Born April 25, 1917, Ella is celebrated for both her contributions to music and her ability to penetrate a predominately male music scene. In the 1940s, she was considered one of the greatest scat singers in the world, and in her lifetime, won 13 Grammy awards. SIRS Renaissance and SIRS WebSelect include quality content about Ella’s life, her music, her struggles and her legacy. Biographical articles and websites about Ella included within these SIRS databases provide historical context and engaging visuals. The official www.ellafitzgerald.com, included in SIRS WebSelect, is a comprehensive collection of Ella’s most notable achievements. It puts a spotlight on not just Ella as a musician, but Ella as a person. As Ella Fitzgerald once said, “It isn’t where you came from, it’s where you’re going that counts.”