Meet C. Michael Bailey
I joined All About Jazz in: 1997
What made you decide to contribute to All About Jazz? In 1997, the Internet was such a new place. I saw a fledgling request from one Michael Ricci asking for jazz articles for his new website, All About Jazz. I had already been doing a bit of music writing for several years without an acceptable outlet and I hoped that All About Jazz would prove to be such. I put together and submitted my first review Art Pepper: San Francisco Samba (Contemporary, 1997)and 15-year later, I am penning this current note. All about Jazz turned out to be a very accommodating writing outlet from the very beginning and has only improved (by a matter of light-years, if that is even possible) since that time.
How do you contribute to All About Jazz? My job description is "senior contributor." That could just as well be writing "utility infielder." I have written a broad variety of articles that include reviews (CDs, books, DVDs, concerts), feature articles, musician bios, label bios, interviews and editorial pieces. The managing staff at All About Jazz somehow concluded that I was some type of expert on jazz vocals to which I have given much attention. To be fair, jazz vocals are often neglected by the media.
I have gratefully been allowed to stray far from jazz ( Johnny Cash: American VI: Ain't No Grave (American Recordings, 2010), Best Live Rock Recordings, Publisher Ricci and Editor Kelman have always indulged me.
What is your musical background? I am a self-taught guitarist with an interest in slide guitar. For having played 45 years, I should play better. While in graduate school at Ole Miss, I avoided my scholarly pursuits in chemistry for those offered by the Mississippi Delta and 80 years of its fractured social, political and musical history. There is no other place on earth like it. One becomes part of a place when one finally takes it for granted.
What was the first record you bought that you would still listen to today? Joe Cocker With A Little Help From My Friends (A&M Records, 1969). I purchased this LP for $2.69 at Osco Drug in the Little Rock Mall. Joe Cocker represents the true importance of the British Invasion, which re-introduced America to the best of Her own Music (blues, rhythm and blues, soul, country) after having transformed it uniquely, lacking the prejudice that existed (and still exists) stateside.
My previous exposure to popular music was from neighbors and what my parents (a generation older than those of my peers) thought was popular. This included Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Joe South, Tommy Roe, The Archies, The Cowsills and The Monkees (of course). It was not until I listened to music with an older cousin and my girlfriend's older brother, that I heard someone called The Rolling Stones and Allman Brothers Band. I was also fortunate enough to have experienced Astral Weeks, Led Zeppelin II, American Woman, Green River, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, Dark Side of the Moon and Machine Head right out of the shrink wrap.
What type of jazz do you enjoy listening to the most? I prefer acoustic jazz, organically rendered. My favorite period in jazz is when ensembles slimmed down to quartets and quintets after the twilight of the the big bands between 1945 and 1965...be bop, hard bop, post bop, from Charlie Parker to Miles Davis' second great quintet.
Aside from jazz, what styles of music do you enjoy? Really any blues-based music. I favor what is called "Classic Rock," though this term has been so thoroughly prostituted by what passes for radio today (shamelessly catering to Baby Boomers, playing a constant rotation of the same five songs, at least one of which is by Led Zeppelin). In the early 1980s, I grew bored with rock and moved onto jazz and "classical music" which I pursued together roughly at the same time. Both genre provided and continue to provide infinitely deep wells of music to which to listen and explore.