Corky Siegel

Corky Siegel, one of the most prominent blues harmonica players in the world, is also a renowned composer, blues pianist and singer. He is also a songwriter, band leader, author, and a songwriter. He is a recipient of the Meet the Composer/Reader’s Digest Commissioning Program For New American Music grant. This funding allowed him to compose chamber music for his Chamber Blues group’s beloved Aunt Lila’s Suite. He has also been awarded the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Award in Music Composition, the Chicago Music Awards’ lifetime achievement award, and induction into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame. Corky was born Mark Paul Siegel in Chicago, 1943. His professional music career started when he created the legendary Siegel-Schwall Band, Chicago’s first jazz band. He also played guitar with Jim Schwall. This group was a key component of the new generation of white-blues artists, which also included Barry Goldberg and Harvey Mandel, Barry Goldberg and Nick Gravenites, and Corky Bloomfield. They learned the Chicago blues style from the likes of Buddy Guy, Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon and Little Walter. Corky was a part of all the greats at SiegelSchwall’s first permanent engagement in 1965 at Peppers. This is Chicago’s most renowned blues club. Soon after their debut, they were signed to Vanguard Records. Samuel Charters, a blues legend, produced. The Siegel-Schwall band’s first album, The Siegelschwall Band, was released in 1966. It made San Francisco a second home. The band released Three Pieces for Blues Band in 1973 and Symphony Orchestra on the highly regarded classical music label Deutsche Grammophon. The titletrack was composed by William Russo, a jazz trombonist. It combines classical music performed by the San Francisco Symphony with blues music played in a four-piece band (Siegel-Schwall), led by Seiji Ozawa. Ozawa was a big fan of SiegelSchwall from 1966, when he was first music director at the Ravinia Festival, the summer home of Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Ozawa used to frequent Chicago’s blues clubs and suggested that they collaborate on a blues-classical project. Corky was close to Russo and they performed Three Pieces for Blues Band, Symphony Orchestra with Ozawa, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1968. Their success led to Siegel-Schwall performing with Arthur Fiedler, the Boston Pops Orchestra, on an Evening At Pops Program for PBS. In 1979, Deutsche Grammophon released Russo’s Street Music, a Blues Concerto. This album won the Grand Prix du Disque award from the French Government as well as the Recording of Special Merit for Stereo Review. Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues was formed after he released three solo albums. He also featured vocals, harmonica, and piano, along with the West End String Quartet, which features top-flight Chicago classical string players and Frank Donaldson, who plays world percussion instruments. In 1994, Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues was released by Chicago’s Alligator Records. It received rave reviews from magazines like Stereophile and Billboard, and was followed by two additional albums. Corky also wrote and performed works for the Grant Park Symphony, Chicago (most recently Blues for a Green Planet -Opus 10) as well as the National Symphony Orchestra at Kennedy Center. Alwin Nikolais, Murray Louis and Corky co-wrote the music for Continuum. His music has been performed by five international ballet companies, has been featured in numerous TV specials and used for the Olympic men’s figure skate competition as well as the World Championship skating competition with Olympic gold medalists Torvill, Dean, and many other motion pictures. The Symphonic Blues Suite, his latest commission from Lancaster Symphony Orchestra has been performed numerous times all over the globe. Corky continues to perform internationally as a guest soloist with symphony orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Many of his symphonic collaborations have been with Doc Severinsen. He also tours with Dr. L. Subramaniam in India, India’s most celebrated Eastern classical violin virtuoso. These “global fusion” tours have featured many top jazz musicians, including Larry Coryell and Ernie Watts. Corky continues to perform with SiegelSchwall. This includes Schwall and Rollo Radford, the long-serving bassist. It also features Sam Lay, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member of The Paul Buttefield Blas Band. The acclaimed documentary Born in Chicago features him prominently. It tells the story of Chicago’s 1960s rock-blues boom and stars Bob Dylan, Jack White and Keith Richards of Rolling Stones. Also, it stars Steve Miller, Barry Goldberg and Harvey Mandel. Lay has also recorded and toured as part of the Chicago Blues Reunion. Corky co-authored the 2007 music guide book Let Your Music Soar. The Emotional Connection. His harmonica playing is accompanied by the story of Pam Munoz Ryan, an award-winning Mexican American young adult writer. From

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