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This week in The Wall Street Journal, I interviewed Cal Ripken Jr. for my “House Call” column on growing up the son of a baseball player and how his disciplined childhood helped him become a Baltimore Orioles star and Hall of Famer (go here). Known as the “Iron Man” for setting the record for the most consecutive games played (2,632), Cal knew he wanted to be a ball player from the time he was a ball boy on his father’s minor league team.

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Also in the WSJ this weekend, I interviewed blues guitarist and singer Robert Cray on the soul-gospel music of O.V. Wright, who is largely unknown today (go here).

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Fred Astaire digs Donovan.
Rock guitarist and former member of the Bongos Richard Barone sent along a link to Fred Astaire dancing to Donovan’s Mellow Yellow in 1967…

Billy Mitchell. Following my post on tenor saxophonist Billy Mitchell, Les Johnston sent along a link to a video clip of Mitchell playing with Gatemouth Brown in 1977…

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Sonny Rollins Bridge. In case you missed it, Amanda Petrusich in the New Yorker magazine wrote in April about a push to rename the Williamsburg Bridge for tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins. Sonny, of course, spent nearly two years outdoors on the bridge practicing before resuming his performing and recording career in 1961 (go here). Here’s Sonny, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Ben Cranshaw and drummer Ben Riley in 1962 playing Sonny’s composition The Bridge

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Harold McNair.
Following my interview with arranger John Cameron on flutist Harold McNair, Weso send me the following note:

“Harold McNair is one my favorite musicians. The energy and inventiveness he had, particularly on flute, have stood the test of time. In my opinion, his two finest flute solos are on Here, There and Everywhere, from The Fence…

“…and on O Barqhuino, from Affectionate Fink…

  

“McNair was a regular visitor to Liverpool in the 1960s. Some of my older friends remember seeing him play here and all said he was a very nice guy. I believe he was a close friend of Joe Harriott. They went to the same school in Jamaica—the Alpha Boys School.

“Why McNair is not more widely known and respected is indeed a shame. Along with many other Caribbean musicians arriving in the U.K. in the post-war years, he made a significant contribution to the British music scene.”

Duke Ellington radio. WKCR-FM will present its annual “Duke Ellington Birthday Broadcast” on Saturday, April 29. The Dukes music will be played around the clock starting Friday night at 11:59 p.m. (EST) and then all day and night on Saturday. You can listen on your computer and smartphone from anywhere in the world by going here.

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Junior Mance.
The Kickstarter campaign to raise sufficient funds to finish Sunset and the Mockingbird, a documentary on the pianist’s life, is nearing its target. Please help push them over the top by going here.

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Leslie Pintchik.
If you’re in New York on Thursday May 11, head over to Kitano Jazz on Park Ave. South to hear this remarkable jazz pianist. Leslie will be performing with her trio—bassist Scott Hardy and drummer Michael Sarin. Reservations are strongly suggested. Sets are at 8 and 10 p.m. The phone number for reservations is (212) 885-7119. I plan on catching the 8 p.m. set. See you there!

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What the heck.
Why was Chuck Berry special? Here’s the entire Belgian TV show that featured the rock ‘n’ roll singer-guitarist-composer in 1965…

Oddball album cover of the week.

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Last week I featured Dinner in Mexico, an album with an ill-advised green-tinted cover. This week we fly to Caracas (above), where you’ll dine in a restaurant where your date will give you her undivided attention. Courtesy of Chuck Brown.

And as it turns out, all of your dates on these album covers will be checking out the action or wondering when the food is coming…

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Here’s how Dinner in Caracas sounds…

       

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