This is the heart of the Delta, a brooding, magnificent plain in northwest Mississippi that runs south to Vicksburg, east to Mississippi’s central mountain range and spills over into Arkansas to the west and Tennessee to the north.
The blues were born around here at the turn of the century, and its ghosts still haunt the place. The markers are everywhere: gravestones standing in empty fields, a roofless, wooden shack at the side of the road, a weather-beaten barn, its paint peeling.
Henry Stone swivels in his chair as the music blares from the speakers. He is excited. Tito Puente Jr. is doing a Latin- techno-hip hop-disco version of his father’s classic “Oye Como Va,” and Stone wonders if this could be his next winner. If not, well, we have a great Japanese remix here. And did you know dance-oriented Italian remixes are very hot right now? They’re doing great in the clubs, he says. Kids go crazy with that. Then he shrugs.
He listens intently but never taps his foot.
At 70, after 50 years of making and selling records, Henry Stone is still trying to figure out what makes a hit — while hyping his latest release, of course.
Gil Evans’ career, like his music, defies convention. Most great creators in jazz made an impact early in their lives, then settled for a steady, gentle decline — or died young. Evans, a self-taught pianist and arranger, was 45 years old when he first recorded an album under his own name. He had is debut as a solo piano player when he was 67. Now, in his 70s, he leads one of the most daring, powerful bands in jazz.