May 13, 2015
When the write the history of popular music composers of the late 20th century, only a handful of names will appear repeatedly. Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Lennon & McCartney, and Laura Nyro will surely be there. Cases can be made for Smokey Robinson and Randy Newman, and perhaps Tom Waits. And in my humble opinion, above them all, there is Stevie Wonder.
In one very complete package you can find someone who excelled in a wide variety of musical writing styles, performed with the incredible musicianship of a one-man band, wrote memorable melodies, complex harmonies and groundbreaking rhythms, and sang in a variety of moving vocal styles. Can any of the singer-songwriters above claim to have done all of this? I think not.
So Happy 65th Birthday Stevie, and thanks for all the years of memorable music. This “Wonder-ful” Podcast 482 of more than 70 minutes features jazz tributes to Stevie on tunes like:
Johnny “Hammond” Smith – “Higher Ground”
Ramsey Lewis – “Living for the City”
Ronnie Foster – “Superwoman”
Lee Ritenour – “You Haven’t Done Nothin’”
Grover Washington Jr. – “Overjoyed”
Keiko Lee – “Too Shy to Say”
Najee – “Black Man”
Joshua Redman – “Make Sure You’re Sure”
Roy Ayers – “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”
Alicia Olatuja featuring Gregoire Maret – “Stay Gold”
SFJazz Collective – “My Cherie Amour”