On December 7, 1941 -– the day that indeed lives in infamy -– America’s “greatest generation,” who from that day forward had to muster up enormous courage and make heartbreaking and demanding sacrifice, was enamored with an innocent and “sweet” song written about a steam engine train ride from New York to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The #1 song in America was “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” the Glenn Miller recording of a Harry Warren/Mack Gordon song also popularized […] Continue reading »
I am heading to Santa Fe, New Mexico for the weekend, and did some very light “research” about famous jazz musicians who may have hailed from the nation’s 47th state. The most notable is the great trumpeter Bobby Shew, whose impressive resume includes early career stints with Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, and Buddy Rich.
Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.
— Charles Mingus
1. Savoy Blues
Mercies would have put blues on the menu if it could, but that was a province of the kitchen, where I worked four and a half months too many. I heard actual blues music and caught a gust of air conditioning whenever I snuck through the dining area early in my shift to use the guest bathroom before customers arrived, passing the line of booths next to the orange and black walls on which hung colorful modern paintings of jazz musicians and the […] Continue reading »
“Great Encounters” are book excerpts that chronicle famous encounters among twentieth-century cultural icons. This edition tells the story of how the singer Al Hibbler would entice audience members to throw coins on the floor during his time playing with the great pianist Art Tatum.
Excerpted from Too Marvelous for Words: The Life and Genius of Art Tatum by James Lester
The first time I met Art was here in New York. First time I met him I was working with [Jay] McShann, and there was a afterhours place — Clark Monroe, Monroe’s Uptown House, and — so I’m singing over at Monroe’s — […] Continue reading »