Santa's elf has again showered me with a musical gift this year; the book titled: R.Crumb’s “Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country ".
This sweet elf has been trying, over the past few years, to educate me in the history of the music that has influenced Taylor Hicks the most. I am passing this knowledge on to you, hoping that you enjoy this tuneful tour as much as I have.
The drawings that appear in this piece are those by R. Crumb.
The music is from youtube ( try Yazoo records or County Records for more music of this period )
The text by Stephen Calt, David Jasen and Richard Nevins, Wikipedia, oldies.com , allmusic Guide , redhotjazz.com, rockhall.com , southern music.net and me paraphrasing freely.
This thread will encompass Blues,Jazz and Country Greats of the past and will be presented over several weeks. Should you want to delve further into the wonderful world of R. Crumb and/or the Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country , please purchase this book or go to your local library and borrow it.
http://www.amazon.com/Crumbs-Heroes-Blu ... 0810930862
R. Crumb the author of this book was born Robert Dennis Crumb on August 30, 1943. He is an American artist and illustrator recognized for the distinctive style of his drawings and his critical, satirical, subversive view of the American mainstream. He currently lives in Southern France with his wife Aline Kominsky-Crumb.
Photograph: Sarah Lee
Crumb was a founder of the underground comix movement and is regarded as its most prominent figure. Though one of the most celebrated of comic book artists, Crumb's entire career has unfolded outside the mainstream comic book publishing industry. One of his most recognized works is the "Keep on Truckin'" comic, which became a widely distributed fixture of pop culture in the 1970s. Others are the characters Devil Girl, Fritz the Cat, and Mr. Natural. He also illustrates album covers, including Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and the Holding Company and the compilation album The Music Never Stopped: Roots of the Grateful Dead.
The portraits in this thread were drawn around 1980 with the idea that they be resized and printed a trading card. The musicians were drawn from existing studio and family photographs. These cards were to be introduced in each pack of Yazoo LP , much as featured sports , fims and war subjects were in packages of gum. . This did happen but was not terribly successful.
HEROES OF THE BLUES
A barber by trade, William Moore was born in Georgia in 1893 and spent most of his life in Tappahannock, Virginia. His eight extant sides, recorded at a single Paramount Records session in 1928, stamp him as one of the few instrumentally oriented performers of the era. Moore’s upbeat music may echo the happy-go-lucky ragtime dances popular before the heyday of the blues. “Ragtime Millionaire: is probably his best-known song.
http://www.youtube.com/v/Qg-MPnFLkWk&hl=en_US&fs=1& Ragtime Millionaire, written by William Moore and recorded by Blind Blake
“Born in Jacksonville, in sunny Florida, he seemed to absorb some of the sunny atmosphere, disregarding the fact that nature had cruelly denied a vision of outer things. He could not see the things that others saw, but he had a better gift, A gift of an inner vision that allowed him to see things more beautiful. The pictures that he alone could see made him long to express them in some way, so he turned to music.
He studied long and earnestly, listening to talented pianists and guitar players, and began to gradually draw harmonious tunes to fit every mood.
The sweet chords and tones that come from his talking guitar express a feeling of his mood”
Paramount, "Book of the Blues"
PEG LEG HOWELL
A native of Eatonton, Georgia, Joshua Barnes Howell taught himself guitar around 1909, at the age of twenty-one, and subsequently worked in Atlanta as a street singer. Howell was one of the earliest country blues performers to be recorded. He made twenty-eight sides, many with string band accompaniment, between 1926 and 1929. Like most street singers of the period, Howell had a diverse repertoire that included both blues and up-temp ragtime songs. One of the most important parts to "Peg Leg" Howell's music is hearing the bridge between the influences of plantation work songs and traditional Blues music. It is a recorded link between the two forms.
http://www.youtube.com/v/oc_FAVXFH5s&hl=en_US&fs=1& Broke and Hungry Blues
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1901, Clifford Gibson cut his musical teeth in St. Louis. He recorded 24 sides for two different labels between 1929 and 1931. One of the first purely urban performers whose playing had no pronounced rural influences, Gibson’s single-string, vibrato-laden approach resembled that of the highly sophisticated jazz blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson, but placed more emphasis on improvisation. Gibson was a guitarist to be reckoned with who’s playing is unflaggingly inventive, employing a sharp, limpid tone .
https://www.youtube.com/v/p5V5vgoSCj4&hl=en_US&fs=1& Bad Luck Dice
Born in 1888 in Whitethaven, Tennessee, Frank Stokes began playing around 1900, and pursued his career in Memphis, where he became one of the city’s most popular entertainers. Between 1927 and 1929 he recorded thiry-six sides for two labels, usually in tandem with his accompanist, Dan Sane. His best-known tune wa “Crump Don’t ‘Low It,” which referred to the major of Memphis and was nationally associated with composer W.C. Handy.
Stokes developed a powerful voice and a hard-driving, danceable guitar style playing on the streets of Memphis. He became well-known in the area for having an large and diverse repertoire, playing a variety of minstrel tunes, proto-blues, rags, breakdowns, parlor songs, post-bellum popular songs, old-timey country tunes and a variety of other archaic folk styles, as well as contemporary popular numbers. The breadth of his musical knowledge made him the embodiment of the rural black musical tradition up to the early twentieth century, and makes his recorded works a small window into the popular and folk styles of the 19th and early 20th centuries
http://www.youtube.com/v/RdDndfza8TI&hl=en_US&fs=1&" Old Something Blues with Will Batts on Fiddle
Burl Coleman was born in Gainesville, Alabama, in 1896 and began playing harmonica around 1908, settling in Bessemer in the early 1920’s. Between 1927 and 1930 he made 11 sides, appearing in the rather unusual role of a harmonica player accompanying his own vocals. Of all recorded blues harmonica players, Coleman developed probably the richest and most varied tone. In the early 1920s, he teamed with fellow bluesman Big Joe Williams as a performer in the Birmingham Jug Band which toured through the American South. He was largely inactive after 1930, and died in 1950.
http://www.youtube.com/v/6kSZunOi9Hw&hl=en_US&fs=1& Kicking Mule Blues ( note he plays harmonica and sings )
BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON
A native of Marlin, Texas, Blind Willie recorded 30 sides between 1927 and 1930.
Seminal gospel-blues artist Blind Willie Johnson is regarded as one of the greatest bottleneck slide guitarists. Yet the Texas street-corner evangelist is known as much for his powerful and fervent gruff voice as he is for his ability as a guitarist. He most often sang in a rough, bass voice (only occasionally delivering in his natural tenor) with a volume meant to be heard over the sounds of the streets. Johnson recorded a total of 30 songs during a three-year period and many of these became classics of the gospel-blues, including "Jesus Make up My Dying Bed," "God Don't Never Change," and his most famous, "Dark Was the Night — Cold Was the Ground."
It is generally agreed that Johnson was born in a small town just South of Waco near Temple, TX, around 1902. His mother died while he was still a baby, and his father eventually remarried. When Johnson was about seven years old, his father and stepmother fought and the stepmother threw lye water, apparently at the father, but the lye got in Willie Johnson's eyes, blinding him. As he got older, Johnson began earning money by playing his guitar, one of the few avenues left to a blind man to earn a living. Instead of a bottleneck, Johnson actually played slide with a pocketknife. Over the years, Johnson played guitar most often in an open D tuning, picking single-note melodies, while using his slide and strumming a bass line with his thumb. He was, however, known to play in a different tuning and without the slide on a few rare occasions. Regardless of his excellent blues technique and sound, Johnson didn't want to be a bluesman, for he was a passionate believer in the Bible. So, he began singing the gospel and interpreting Negro spirituals. He became a Baptist preacher and brought his sermons and music to the streets of the surrounding cities.
Although religious in orientation, Johnson’s music was as percussive as any dance blues, and he attained the most rhythmically fluid and tonally vibrant sound of any bottleneck guitarist of his time.
http://www.youtube.com/v/BNj2BXW852g&hl=en_US&fs=1& Dark Was the Night
LEROY CARR and SCRAPPER BLACKWELL
Leroy Carr, one of the first blues singers to use an understated vocal delivery, was born in Nashville in 1905.
He was an American blues singer, songwriter and pianist who developed a laid-back, crooning technique . The innovation was in the sophisticated piano-guitar accompaniment and the wistfully sad mood. Music had moved from the lone guitarist in the fields to clubs with pianos for ready entertainment.
His partnership with guitarist Blackwell combined his light bluesy piano with a melodic jazz guitar that attracted the sophisticated urban black audience. His vocal style moved blues singing toward an urban sophistication and influenced such singers as T-Bone Walker, Charles Brown, Amos Milburn, Jimmy Witherspoon, Ray Charles among others.
Francis Blackwell was born in 1903 and learned guitar in childhood, eventually developing a delicate vibrato blended with string snapping.
He was an American blues guitarist and singer; best known as half of the guitar-piano duo he formed with Leroy Carr in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he was an acoustic single-note picker in the Chicago blues and Piedmont blues style, with some critics noting that he veered towards jazz.
Blackwell was a self-taught guitarist, building his first guitar out of cigar boxes, wood and wire. He also learned the piano, occasionally playing professionally. By his teens, Blackwell was a part-time musician, traveling as far as Chicago. Known for being withdrawn and hard to work with, Blackwell established a rapport with pianist Leroy Carr, whom he met in Indianapolis in the mid-1920s, creating a productive working relationship.
They made more than 100 sides between 1928 and Carr's death in 1935, including the famous "How Long Blues".
https://www.youtube.com/v/q_752T4ryqc&hl=en_US&fs=1&" How Long Blues
BLIND LEMON JEFFERSON
Jefferson was born blind near Coutchman, Texas in Freestone County, near present-day Wortham, Texas.In his 1917 draft registration, he gave his birth date as October 26, 1894,
Jefferson began playing the guitar in his early teens, and soon after he began performing at picnics and parties. He also became a street musician, playing in East Texas towns in front of barbershops and on corners. According to his cousin, Alec Jefferson, quoted in the notes for Blind Lemon Jefferson, Classic Sides:
They were rough. Men were hustling women and selling bootleg and Lemon was singing for them all night... he'd start singing about eight and go on until four in the morning... mostly it would be just him sitting there and playing and singing all night.
By the early 1910s, Jefferson began traveling frequently to Dallas, where he met and played with fellow blues musician Leadbelly. In Dallas, Jefferson was one of the earliest and most prominent figures in the blues movement developing in Dallas' Deep Ellum area. Jefferson likely moved to Deep Ellum in a more permanent fashion by 1917, where he met Aaron Thibeaux Walker, also known as T-Bone Walker. Jefferson taught Walker the basics of blues guitar, in exchange for Walker's occasional services as a guide.
Jefferson had an intricate and fast style of guitar playing and a particularly high-pitched voice. He was a founder of the Texas blues sound and an important influence on other blues singers and guitarists, including Lead Belly and Lightnin' Hopkins. The white North Carolina performer Arthel "Doc" Watson credited listening to Jefferson's recordings as his first exposure to the blues, which would powerfully influence his own style.
His successful recordings debut in 1926 launced the vogue for country blues. He recorded 85 sides and established himself as the most popular blues guitarist of his era.
He was the author of many tunes covered by later musicians, including the classic "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean." Another of his tunes, "Matchbox Blues," was recorded more than 30 years later by The Beatles, albeit in a rockabilly version credited to Carl Perkins, who himself did not credit Jefferson on his 1955 recording
An offbeat guitarist known for his free phrasing patterns, he was one of the most inspired singers found in blues. Jefferson’s later recordings seemed to lose some of the originality and impact of his earlier work but he remained popular until his sudden and somewhat mysterious death. Legend has it that he froze to death on the streets of Chicago, although a more likely story is that he died of a heart attack while in his car, possibly during a snowstorm, and was abandoned by his driver
https://www.youtube.com/v/5S8Rjwwo2g4&hl=en_US&fs=1&" See That My Grave is Kept Clean
CURLEY WEAVER AND FRED MCMULLEN
Curley Weaver was born in 1906 and raised near Porterdale, Ga. He learned guitar around 1922 and moved to Atlanta a few years later. Most of his records wee duets with other local blues recoding artists, such as Atlanta based Blind Willie McTell and Fred McMullen of Macon, GZ. McMullen began recording in 1933. He teamed up with Weaver and Buddy Moss that same year in a recording trio known as the Georgia Browns.
https://www.youtube.com/v/3Pt_sU0dxbg&hl=en_US&fs=1& DeKalb Chain Gang
WHISTLER & HIS JUG BAND
The first jug band to record was Whistler & His Jug Band, a group hailing from the Louisville, Kentucky area where, beginning at the turn of the century, jug bands playing string band arrangements entertained during the Kentucky Derby. From 1924 to 1931 Whistler’s aggregation recorded 21 titles for three different companies. A movie clip of the essentially unknown players exists, a still from which provided the source for this illustration.
Whistler & His Jug Band was a long-lasting and popular group that recorded for several labels from the mid-'20s through the early '30s, and influenced many of the jug bands that followed. The group was formed in 1915 in Louisville, KY by guitarist, vocalist and whistler Buford Threlkeld, and went through occasional lineup changes over the years, but fiddler Jess Ferguson and banjo player Willie Black were steady members of Whistler & His Jug Band for over a decade. The jazz-influenced jug band first entered the recording studios in September, 1924
https://www.youtube.com/v/8iXzIvN4JI4&hl=en_US&fs=1& Folding Bed
The Mississippi Sheiks were a popular and influential guitar and fiddle group of the 1930s. They were notable mostly for playing country blues but were adept at many styles of United States popular music of the time, and their records were bought by both black and white audiences. Country blues is often seen as being the domain of individual musicians, a stereotype propagated by the way such delta blues performers as Robert Johnson and Charley Patton have entered the popular consciousness. Of the smaller number of groups playing at the time, the Mississippi Sheiks are among the better known and most influential among their peers. When the band first recorded in 1930, the line-up consisted of Carter with Lonnie and Sam Chatmon, and Walter Vinson. The band blended country and blues fiddle music -- both old-fashioned and risqué --
In 2004, they were inducted in the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame.
https://www.youtube.com/v/RqeW7-tmVU4&hl=en_US&fs=1& Sitting on Top of the World
Coleman Hawkins was the first great saxophonist of Jazz. From the Classic Jazz period to the Swing Era one player had a virtual monopoly on the tenor sax, that man being Coleman Hawkins, a.k.a., the Hawk or the Bean. Hawkins (born 1904, St. Joseph, Mo.) was not the first Jazzman to play the tenor but he was the leader in transforming it into a fully expressive, hard driving Jazz instrument. Following a ten year period of getting the hang of that confounded contraption, the Hawk went on to a fifty year career filled with near flawless playing as leader of his own groups as well as with an amazing variety of other combos. He was an inspiration to dozens of top notch Jazz tenor men.
Hawkin's technique and style ( highly influenced by Louie Armstrong ) continued to develop and by 1933 he had already mastered two important Jazz tenor styles: the hard-driving explosive riff and the smooth flowing ballad form. It was also in 1933 that Hawkins encountered the first real threat to his monopoly of the tenor sax. As the modern Jazz era unfolded, Hawkin's style remained firmly entrenched with players like Ben Webster and Don Byas. Lester Young's style, however, had a greater influence than Hawk's on progressive players like Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon and on the group of Cool players that followed, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn and many others. Hawkins had no problem with the idea of Bop, however, even though he never actually played it. He had long been in the habit of absorbing everything musical that came his way. Hawk not only encouraged many young modernists but as early as 1944 hired many of the young revolutionaries like Thelonious Monk, Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie
Hawkins played at every major jazz festival in the world, appeared in films and made thousands of records, the most famous of which is �Body and Sou�, recorded with his own band in 1939.
Jelly Roll Morton is a seminal figure in the birth and development of jazz in the early decades of this century. A multi-talented pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader, he has been called �one of the handful of Atlases upon whose shoulders rests the entire structure of our music� by jazz historian Orrin Keepnews. Morton wove disparate musical strands-blues, stomps, and ragtime, plus French and Spanish influences-into the fabric of early jazz. A native of New Orleans, he played on the streets and in in the honky-tonks of that wide-open city, helping to give birth to the jazz idiom as it took shape in the infamous red-light district known as Storyville. Morton recorded solo and with small groups, and the festive stamp of his hometown was evident in every note he played. He was the driving force behind Jelly Roll Morton�s Red Hot Peppers, which recorded and toured in the late Twenties. Their performances combined ensemble work in the New Orleans style with space for soloing, which was the then rage on Chicago�s jazz scene. Morton�s pioneering work with the Red Hot Peppers was contemporaneous with the innovations made by Louis Armstrong with his Hot Five and Hot Seven. It is doubtful that the Jazz Age or the Swing Era could have happened without either of them.
His concept of trying to sound like a Dixieland jazz band on the piano was unique.
On a personal level, Morton was �just about the most flamboyant, colorful and exasperating personality imaginable,� according to the liner notes of a 1953 reissue, which would seem to make him of a rock and roll forebear as well.
Whether it be Alto, tenor sax or clarinet. Junie Cobb attained reputation for flexibility and versatility; he played many instruments well, though wasn't great on any one. He began as pianist in Johnny Dunn's band as a teen, then moved from Arkansas to Chicago, leading his own band at the Club Alvadere in 1920 and 1921. He also doubled on clarinet. He subsequently played banjo with King Oliver and Jimmy Noone, and also recorded as a leader on clarinet, alto and tenor sax. He backed vocalist Annabelle Calhoun in both the '30s and '40s, and then was a solo pianist for many club and record dates. He retired from fulltime playing in 1955, but kept his hand in scene by doing periodic concerts, dates.
Jabbo had a short but exceedingly important recording career in the late 1920's when he became the first trumpeter to seriously challenge Louis Armstrong with a virtuosity which was years ahead of its time. His work had a direct influence on Roy Eldridge, a pivotal figure in the development of Modern Jazz.
Jabbo Smith was born in Pembroke, Georgia on Christmas Eve in 1908, the son of a barber and church organist. After the death of his father when Jabbo was very young he moved, at age four, to Savannah. His mother found it increasingly difficult to care for him and at age six Jabbo was placed into the Jenkins Orphanage Home in Charleston. His mother also found employment in the Home in order to be near to him.
The Jenkins Home placed heavy emphasis on music education and produced a number of important Jazzmen who received their first public playing experience while touring with one of several student orchestras. It was in this setting that Jabbo took up trumpet and trombone at the age of eight and began touring the country with a student band at the age of ten.
Jabbo moved to Milwaukee where he married did some local playing and enjoyed the security of a steady job with a car rental agency. There Jabbo Smith, one of the top four or five most influential trumpet players of Jazz, languished in quiet oblivion for twenty years. This was indeed a catastrophic musical loss. Finally, around 1960, Jabbo was rediscovered. He subsequently recorded two albums (his style a mere shadow of his former heights) and in 1979 was a guest artist in the musical One Mo' Time which opened to rave reviews. He also made appearances at several Jazz festivals, toured Europe and performed at the West End Cafe, the Bottom Line and the Village Vanguard, all in New York. One of his last public performances was in Berlin in 1986 where he greatly impressed Don Cherry, the avant-garde trumpeter!
Tiny Parham is a vastly underrated Chicago bandleader of the 1920s. He cut 38 sides for Victor between 1928 to 1930 under the name of Tiny Parham and his Musicians. The band played the vaudeville theatres.
Hartzell Strathdene "Tiny" Parham (February 25, 1900, Winnipeg, Canada - April 4, 1943, Milwaukee, Wisconsin) was a Canadian-born American jazz bandleader and pianist.
Parham grew up in Kansas City and toured with territory bands in the Southwestern United States before moving to Chicago in 1926. He is best remembered for the recordings he made in Chicago between 1927 and 1930, as an accompanist for Johnny Dodds and several female blues singers as well as with his own band. Most of the musicians Parham played with are not well known in their own right, though cornetist Punch Miller and bassist Milt Hinton are exceptions.
After 1930 Parham found work in theater houses, especially as an organist; his last recordings were made in 1940. His entire recorded output fits on two compact discs.
THOMAS �FATS� WALLER
Born in 1904 and a prot�g� of stride pianist James P. Johnson before the age of 20, Thomas "Fats" Waller became the most famous jazz pianists of his time, in the United States. through more than 1000 recordings . He had a weekly network radio program, made film appearances, did worldwide concerts and nightclub performances .
He was also a prolific songwriter, and many songs he wrote or co-wrote are still popular, such as "Honeysuckle Rose", "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Squeeze Me". Fellow pianist and composer Oscar Levant dubbed Waller "the black Horowitz". Waller composed many novelty swing tunes in the 1920s and 30s, and sold them for relatively small sums. When the compositions became hits, other songwriters claimed them as their own. Many standards are alternatively and sometimes controversially attributed to Waller.
Fats Waller's big break occurred at a party given by George Gershwin in 1934, where he delighted the crowd with his piano playing and singing. An executive of Victor Records, who was at the party was so impressed that he arranged for Fats to record with the company. This arrangement would continue until Waller's death in 1943. Waller contracted pneumonia and died on a cross country train trip near Kansas City, Missouri on December 15, 1943.
Stride, Harlem Stride Piano, or Stride Piano, is a jazz piano style that was an evolution of ragtime. James P. Johnson was the prime innovator of stride piano. He embellished basic ragtime syncopation, beginning with a general increase in tempo. Stride is characteristically faster than ragtime.
The left hand may play a four-beat pulse with a single bass note, octave, seventh or tenth interval on the first and third beats, and a chord on the second and fourth beats. Occasionally, this is reversed by placing the chord on the downbeat, for one or even several beats (but not by placing the chord in the bass). Unlike earlier "St. Louis" pianists, stride players often leapt a greater distance with the left hand, played faster, and improvised.
The right hand plays melodies, riffs and often contrapuntal lines while the left hand lays down the rhythmic groundwork. Left hand techniques may also include walking bass, either an uninterrupted bass line, or with three single notes and then a chord, again changing the original pattern.
Stride developed out of the long hours that pianists were required to play every night in Manhattan and Harlem, transforming ragtime into a more virtuosic style. Popular pieces such as "Maple Leaf Rag" gradually had their melodic lines replaced with various clever riffs, and their bass patterns became more melodic. These versions of the older and current rags were more complex, and they could be freely varied, or improvised. Soon, any march, popular song, and many classical pieces could be played in the stride idiom. Well into the 1920s, however, pianists and listeners still referred to the music as "ragtime" rather than stride or jazz.
Octaves are also used on occasion in the place of single bass notes for a change in tone color. James P. Johnson and Fats Waller are credited with introducing "walking tenths" - where the performer plays tenth intervals that "walk" up or down the keyboard, also in the place of either triad chords or single bass notes.
Check out this link for audible access to ragtime and stride piano examples.
Born Mary Elfrieda Scruggs, in 1910, she taught herself the piano by ear and was playing in public at the age of six. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Williams' life was always filled with music. When she was 13, she started working in vaudeville, and three years later married saxophonist John Williams. They moved to Memphis, and she made her debut on records with Synco Jazzers. John soon joined Andy Kirk's orchestra, which was based in Kansas City, in 1929. Williams wrote arrangements for the band, filled in for an absent pianist on Kirk's first recording session, and eventually became a member of the orchestra herself. Her arrangements were largely responsible for the band's distinctive sound and eventual success. Williams was soon recognized as Kirk's top soloist, a stride pianist who impressed everyone (even Jelly Roll Morton). In addition, she wrote such songs such as "Roll 'Em" (a killer hit for Benny Goodman) and "What's Your Story Morning Glory" and contributed arrangements to other big bands, including those of Goodman, Earl Hines, and Tommy Dorsey.
Mary Lou Williams had a long and productive career. Although for decades she was often called jazz's greatest female musician (and one has to admire what must have been a nonstop battle against sexism), she would have been considered a major artist no matter what her sex.
Just the fact that Williams and Duke Ellington were virtually the only stride pianists to modernize their style through the years would have been enough to guarantee her a place in jazz history books. Williams managed to always sound modern during a half-century career without forgetting her roots or how to play in the older styles.
Following a religious conversion in the early 50�s, Williams foundedf the Canto Foundation. She assisted troubled musicians by establishing thrift stores in Harlem to raise money to help musicians return to their art and contributing 10 percent of her own earnings. Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, Williams still submitted arrangements to the Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman and Count Basie orchestras. Her invitation to The Salute To Jazz at the White House, in 1978, represents just one honor in an array of fellowships, awards and honorary doctorates bestowed on this lioness in what became the winter of her life. Still not content to rest on her laurels, Williams accepted a teaching position at Duke University in 1980. Until her death in Durham, North Carolina on May 28, 1981, Mary Lou Williams delivered the full measure of her boundless energy, her loving heart and her exemplary musicianship to God, to her family and friends, and to jazz.
One of the first jazz violinists, Joe Venuti wowed and amazed music fans for more than fifty years. Venuti was classically trained, like many early jazz greats, and had a natural skill on the fiddle unrivaled by his contemporaries. He often used a technique, which he invented, that allowed him to play four-note chords. Throughout the years Venuti's ability never waned. He remained impressive and vital up to the time of his death.
Born in Philadelphia (according to his birth certificate but aboard a ship emigrating from Itlay according to legend) , in 1903. Venuti was boyhood friends with jazz guitar pioneer Eddie Lang. During the mid-1920s they began an associated that lasted until Lang's untimely death in 1933, recording frequently under several different titles and working together with many of the best artists of their day, including the Dorsey Brothers, Bing Crosby, Jack Teagarden, Smith Ballew, Adrian Rollini, Frankie Trumbauer, Glenn Miller, Lennie Hayton, Roger Wolfe Kahn, Red Nichols, and Harold Arlen.
After Lang's death Venuti headed a variety of commercial big bands into the 1940s. Vocalists at various times were Kay Starr, Ruth Robin, and Johnny Prophet. In the 1950s he worked with smaller combos and appeared on Bing Crosby's radio show in 1952 and 1953.
Problems with alcohol led to Venuti virtually dropping out of sight in the early 1960s. He settled in Seattle, Washington, in 1963. Urged back into the limelight he performed at the 1968 Newport Jazz Festival and experienced a revival in the 1970s. He became extremely active, recording with a slew of jazz and pop stars and appearing on television. His second round of fame was short, however. Joe Venuti succumbed to cancer and died in 1978.
An elderly Joe Venuti appearing on The Dick Cavett Show
Benny Goodman was only 10 when he first picked up a clarinet. Only a year or so later he was doing Ted Lewis imitations for pocket money. At 14 he was in a band that featured the legendary Bix Beiderbecke. By the time he was 16 he was recognized as a "comer" as far away as the west coast and was asked to join a California-based band led by another Chicago boy, Ben Pollack.
By 1934 he was seasoned enough to be ready for his first big break. He heard that Billy Rose needed a band for his new theatre restaurant, the Music Hall, and he got together a group of musicians who shared his enthusiasm for jazz. They auditioned and got the job.
Then Benny heard that NBC was looking for three bands to rotate on a new Saturday night broadcast to be called "Let's Dance," a phrase that has been associated with the Goodman band ever since. One band on the show was to be sweet, one Latin, and the third hot. The Goodman band was hot enough to get the job, but not hot enough to satisfy Benny. He brought in Gene Krupa on drums. Fletcher Henderson began writing the arrangements - arrangements that still sound fresh more than a half century later. And the band rehearsed endlessly to achieve the precise tempos, section playing and phrasing that ushered in a new era in American music. There was only one word that could describe this band's style adequately: Swing.
At the age of 28 Benny Goodman had reached what seemed to be the pinnacle of success, but on January 16, 1938, Sol Hurok, the most prestigious impresario in America, booked the Benny Goodman band into Carnegie Hall. For generations Carnegie Hall had been the nation's greatest temple of musical art, home of the New York Philharmonic and scene of every important artist's debut (even if they had played in a hundred other concert halls first).
So this was a debut not only for Benny Goodman but for jazz. Though many others followed him to Carnegie Hall, there has never been another concert with such an impact. It even made his "classical" Carnegie Hall debut more newsworthy a few years later when Benny returned there to launch his second career, as a soloist with major symphony orchestras and chamber groups.
( BennyGoodman website )
That crowded career, spanning more than six decades, is almost unparalleled .