Minnie Riperton. Earth, Wind & Fire. Ramsey Lewis. The Dells. Rotary Connection. Marlena Shaw. Today is the 90th anniversary of the man who gave these artists aesthetic distinction: The one and only Charles Stepney. Integral to the Chess Records machine, producer, orchestrator, arranger, writer and prolific musician, Charles Stepney, was one of the brightest musical lights of the 60s and 70s, dying suddenly and tragically young in 1976 at the age of 45. Charles Stepney changed my life. I’m honored to pay him tribute. On this episode of MILESTONES, I’m joined by 7X GRAMMY winning musician and Newport Jazz Festival Artistic Director, Christian McBride, to discuss the legacy of Stepney, the profundity of his unmistakably mystical sound, and the absolute need to lift the names of black orchestrators, in particular, whose respective genius oft times remains in obscurity.

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