Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Kublai Khan for Coleridge's Birthday; Dizzy Gillespie & Celia Cruz Born Today Too
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Born this day in 1722, Coleridge is best known these days for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kublai Khan, and his addiction to opium. His great friendship with the poet, William Wordsworth, ended in a rift that lasted 20 years before they reconciled. Although Kublai Khan came to him in an opium dream, he was unable to remember the complete vision when came out of it. In fact, his creative output fell significantly during his addiction, which he did eventually manage to control somewhat if not defeat entirely before the end of his life. If you have three minutes to spare, you will not be disappointed in this recitation of Kublai Khan by Benedict Cumberbatch, except perhaps to wish there were more of it.
The youngest of nine children, John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie was born this day in 1917 in Cheraw, North Carolina. Though this prodigy who began playing the piano at the age of four started out imitating the style of Roy Eldridge, he eventually created a style of his own. Along with Charlie "Bird" Parker, he helped originate the be-bop style of jazz. Also noted for his swollen cheeks and Afro-Cuban musical style, he is one of the greats without whom no history of jazz would be complete. Here he is at the 1977 Montreux Jazz Festival with bassist Ray Brown, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, drummer Jimmy Smith, and pianist Monty Alexander.
It's rather fitting that today is also the birthday of another Afro-Cuban musical great. Born in 1925, she was given the birth name of Ursula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, but we know her as the Queen of Salsa. Here she is with "La Negra Tiene Tumbao."
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