This Week In Music

Share:  Twitter Myspace

Béla Anton Leoš Fleck was probably predestined for a career in music, having been named after European composers Béla Bartók, Anton Webern, and Leoš Janácek.

The New York-born Fleck relates that as a kid his interest in the banjo was ignited by exposure to Flatt & Scruggs' theme for The Beverly Hillbillies TV show. From the day his grandfather gave him his first banjo for his 15th birthday, Fleck has been expanding the instrument's sonic territory.

The same week that Fleck received his banjo, he entered New York City's High School of Music and Art where he was deemed to lack aptitude for the French horn.

Homespun Bela Fleck's The Bluegrass Sessions Banjo Tab Songbook With no academic outlet for his love of the banjo, Fleck turned to outside mentors, getting encouragement from banjo iconoclast Tony Trischka and others to play bebop and other non-traditional types of music on the instrument. While still in high school, Fleck started his first band, Wicker's Creek. Shortly thereafter he moved to Boston and made two albums with Jack Tottle's Tasty Licks. His first solo album, Crossing the Tracks, was released when Fleck was 19. Fleck joined the progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival in 1981 and spent nine years with them bending the rules of bluegrass music by blending it with rock and country themes.

Fame came to Fleck with the formation in the late '80s of the genre-jumping band Béla Fleck and the Flecktones—whose members included the Wooten brothers Victor and Roy, Howard Levy, and Jeff Coffin—all highly talented performers eager to experiment musically.

Nominations for Grammy awards in more categories than any other artist attest to banjo wizard Fleck's sheer musical inventiveness. With a dozen Grammys to his name by 2011, and 25 nominations since 1986, many consider Fleck the world's pre-eminent banjo picker—though even a mild acquaintance with any of his recordings will reveal that he's a whole lot more than that.


One of the most instantly recognizable and beloved company logos of all time is the picture of the little dog listening to a gramophone under the words, "His Master's Voice" used by Victor and later RCA in the United States.

The fascinating story of this brand identifier starts with a real dog of unknown parentage named Nipper—for his habit of trying to bite visitors' ankles. In 1884, the little stray befriended Mark Barraud of Bristol, England. Three years later Mark died and Nipper went to Liverpool with Mark's artist brother, Francis. Francis would catch Nipper looking into the horn of a phonograph he owned while it played as if to determine where the sound was coming from.

The sight must have impressed Barraud, because it wasn't until three years after Nipper died that the artist painted his first version of the scene in 1899. This first version, which Barraud copyrighted on February 11, 1899, was titled "Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph." Barraud later shortened the name to "His Master's Voice." The work was rejected from a showing at the Royal Academy, and had no better luck when Barraud tried to sell it as a commercial illustration. Magazine editors said that no one would understand what the dog was doing, and the Edison Bell Company—makers of phonographs—told him, "dogs don't listen to phonographs."

Thinking a brass horn would make the picture more attractive and sellable, Barraud showed Gramophone Company manager Gary Owen a photo of his work asking if he could borrow one of their gramophones as a prop. Owen liked the painting and offered to buy it if Barraud replaced the original's phonograph with a Berliner Gramophone. Barraud's modified version arrived in Owen's office on October 17, 1899.

In another twist, Emile Berliner—inventor of both the flat record and the gramophone—visited Owen's London office in 1900, saw the painting and commissioned his own copy of it from Barraud. Berliner, who was based in Washington, D.C., returned to the U.S. and obtained trademark number 34, 690 for the "His Master's Voice" slogan and art work on July 10, 1900.

Berliner passed the trademark to Eldridge R. Johnson, whose Victor Talking Machine Company extended it to Central and South America, Asia, and Japan. At the same time the image became the brand logo of the Gramophone Company in England. In Germany, Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft used the logo, translating the slogan to "Die Stimme des Herrn." The iconic trademark persisted beyond the 1929 merger of Victor with RCA in the U.S.

By the time artist Francis Barraud died in 1924, he had painted more than two dozen copies of the Nipper painting for the Gramophone and Victor Companies' branch offices throughout the world. In return he received payment of 50 British Pounds to sell the reproduction rights, and an additional £50 to transfer his copyright for the painting to the Gramophone Company Ltd.


Week of June 27, 2011
Event: Benny Goodman and his band record "Sing, Sing, Sing"

Birthday: Pinetop Perkins Born July 7, 1913

Week of June 27, 2011
Event: Cab Calloway and His Orchestra Record "St. James Infirmary""

Birthday: Pete Fountain Born July 3, 1930

Week of June 20, 2011
Event: 19 Year-Old Arturo Toscanini Conducts the Rio de Janeiro Orchestra in a Performance of "Aida"

Birthday: Lalo Schifrin Born June 21, 1932

Week of June 13, 2011
Event: New York Jazz Museum Opens

Birthday: Marcus Miller Born June 14, 1959

Week of June 06, 2011
Event: Jelly Roll Morton Records "Jelly Roll Blues" As a Piano Solo

Birthday: Bill Watrous Born June 08, 1939

Week of May 30, 2011
Event: 1962 Bandleader Benny Goodman Leads The First American Jazz Band to Play In The Soviet Union

Birthday: Benny Goodman Born May 30, 1909

Week of May 23, 2011
Event: "In a Precursor to Outdoor Rock Festivals, Ray Charles and B.B. King Perform For 9,000 Fans in Atlanta

Birthday: Miles Davis Born May 26, 1926

Week of May 16, 2011
Event: "When The Saints Go Marching In" Recorded by Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra

Birthday: Woody Herman Born May 16, 1913

Week of May 2, 2011
Event: New York's Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center Announces Addition of Rock, Pop, and Jazz Concerts

Birthday: Maynard Ferguson Born May 4, 1928

Week of April 25, 2011
Event: At Decca Studios Charlie Parker Made His First Commercial Recording April 30, 1941

Birthday: Duke Ellington Born April 29, 1899

Week of April 18, 2011
Event: Pipeless Organ Patented by Laurens Hammond April 24, 1934

Birthday: Tito Puente Born April 20, 1923

Week of April 4, 2011
Event: Herp Alpert Born April 4, 1939

Birthday: Freddie Hubbard Born April 7, 1938

Week of March 28, 2011
Birthday: Michael Brecker Born March 29, 1949

Birthday: Herp Alpert Born March 31, 1935

Week of March 14, 2011
Event: Joseph Haydn's Surprise Symphony Is Performed for the First Time March 23, 1792

Birthday: Johann Sebastian Bach Born March 21, 1685

Week of March 7, 2011
Event: Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians Recorded Auld Lang Syne March 7, 1939

Birthday: Leon Bismark (Bix) Beiderbecke March 10, 1903

Week of February 28, 2011
Event: Miles Davis Records "Kind of Blue" on Columbia Records March 2, 1959
Birthday: Frédéric Chopin Marc 1, 1810

Week of February 21, 2011
Event: Duke Ellington Records "The Queen's Suite"
Birthday: Dexter Gordon February 27, 1923

Week of February 14, 2011
Event: Sonny Rollins Records his Title Track "The Bridge" February 14, 1962
Birthday: Buddy DeFranco February 17, 1923

Week of February 7, 2011
Event: Rhapsody in Blue is Performed for the First Time February 12, 1924
Birthday: Marion "Buddy" Childers February 12, 1926

Week of January 31, 2011
Event: Frank Sinatra Debuts on Radio's "Your Hit Parade" February 6, 1943
Birthday: Stanley "Stan" Getz February 2, 1927

Week of January 24, 2011
Event: Original Dixieland Jazz Band Makes the First Jazz Record January 30, 1917
Birthday: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart January 27, 1756