Jazz History Quiz #51

September 15th, 2014

The correct answer is Joe Bushkin

 

 

Pianist Joe Bushkin lent his unmistakably light, spirited style to classic swing-era dates headlined by Bunny Berigan and Tommy Dorsey, later moving into pop, cabaret, and even Broadway. The son of a cellist father, he was born in New York City on November 7, 1916 — although reputedly a student of the great Polish pianist Leopold Godowsky, he in fact began his musical studies at the age of ten with lessons from a neighbor who was, in turn, a student of their landlord’s son and the Godowsky pupil in question. The teenaged Bushkin also studied the trumpet after a bicycle accident injured his hand and put his piano career in jeopardy, but he quickly recovered and soon joined a jazz group formed by classmates at DeWitt Clinton high school; his friendship with Benny Goodman’s brother Irving earned him an invitation to fill in for absent pianist Teddy Wilson on a 1931 Goodman session, and although Wilson appeared just minutes before recording commenced, Bushkin nevertheless made invaluable contacts that landed him gigs with dance bands up and down the Eastern seaboard, making his professional debut at New York’s famed Roseland Ballroom. He signed on with Berigan at the age of 19, soon after joining him and Artie Shaw on one of Billie Holiday’s earliest recording dates, a session that yielded the landmark “Summertime” and “Billie’s Blues.” From 1936 to 1938, Bushkin also backed Eddie Condon, and was in fact the last surviving member of the guitarist’s famous gang.

After gracing cornetist Muggsy Spanier’s 1939 classic “Relaxing at the Touro” with his elegant, ethereal touch, Bushkin joined Dorsey’s orchestra, with whom he would make in excess of 100 records, many of them featuring bandmates Frank Sinatra and drummer Buddy Rich. He also wrote the lovely “Oh, Look at Me Now,” which topped the Hit Parade in early 1941 on its way to becoming Sinatra’s first blockbuster. Bushkin left Dorsey in 1942, spending the next four years playing trumpet in the U.S. Army Air Corps band. Upon returning to New York he worked with composer David Rose, and in 1946 he replaced Mel Powell in Goodman’s new band. Creative differences with Goodman drove him out of the lineup a few months later, however, and in 1947 Bushkin signed on with tenorist Bud Freeman for a tour of Brazil. Over the years he made several contacts in Broadway circles, and in 1949 he was hired to score Garson Kanin’s The Rat Race, eventually joining the cast full-time (playing a bandleader, a role he’d yet to assume in real life). The following year Bushkin also mounted the first of several extended engagements at the midtown jazz club the Embers, where he played alongside Milt Hinton, Buck Clayton, and Jo Jones. In 1950 he recorded his first solo LP, the Atlantic release I Love a Piano, and the year following he reunited with Sinatra, leading the singer’s band during a run at New York’s Paramount Theater. In 1953 he traveled to England on a planned three-week vacation that instead lasted all of five months, returning to the U.S. only to join Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars, with whom he also recorded.

With “Midnight Rhapsody,” the title song from his 1955 solo LP, Bushkin scored a minor hit — over the years he authored a handful of original songs, including the novelties “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Town of Berlin” and “Ain’t Been the Same Since the Beatles,” but would remain far better known as a performer than as a composer. His bands were a staple of the Manhattan nightclub circuit throughout the ’50s and ’60s, and he became something of a socialite, eventually amassing enough money to enter semi-retirement. Bushkin and his family relocated to London in 1969, and upon returning stateside two years later settled in Santa Barbara; in 1975, Bing Crosby lured him back out on the road, and he served as the featured soloist on the legendary crooner’s final world tour, a series of dates that culminated in a late 1976 run on Broadway. Bushkin spent his final decades picking and choosing his gigs with the utmost care, heading New York piano bars including Michael’s Pub, the St. Regis, and the Carlyle; he also scored and performed in the revue Swinging on a Star, and mentored a new generation of jazz musicians including cornetist Warren Vaché, Jr. He died of pneumonia on November 3, 2004, just four days shy of his 88th birthday.

– Jason Ankeny, for All Music Guide

 

Joe Bushkin plays “I Love a Piano”

 

Play another Jazz History Quiz!

 

Share this:

One comments on “Jazz History Quiz #51”

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

"Nina" by Marsha Hammel
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition...One-third of the Winter, 2024 collection of jazz poetry is made up of poets who have only come to my attention since the publication of the Summer, 2023 collection. What this says about jazz music and jazz poetry – and this community – is that the connection between the two art forms is inspirational and enduring, and that poets are finding a place for their voice within the pages of this website. (Featuring the art of Marsha Hammel)

The Sunday Poem

photo via RawPixel
“Crossing Over” by CJ Muchhala

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem

Poetry

Proceeding From Behind: A collection of poems grounded in the rhythmic, relating to the remarkable, by Terrance Underwood...A relaxed, familiar comfort emerges from the poet Terrance Underwood’s language of intellectual acuity, wit, and space – a feeling similar to one gets while listening to Monk, or Jamal, or Miles. I have long wanted to share his gifts as a poet on an expanded platform, and this 33-poem collection – woven among his audio readings, music he considers significant to his story, and brief personal comments – fulfills my desire to do so.

Interview

The Marvelettes/via Wikimedia Commons
Interview with Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz, authors of But Will You Love Me Tomorrow?: An Oral History of the 60’s Girl Groups...Little is known of the lives and challenges many of the young Black women who made up the Girl Groups of the ‘60’s faced while performing during an era rife with racism, sexism, and music industry corruption. The authors discuss their book’s mission to provide the artists an opportunity to voice their experiences so crucial to the evolution of popular music.

Short Fiction

pickpik.com
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #65 — “Ballad” by Lúcia Leão...The author’s award-winning story is about the power of connections – between father and child, music and art, and the past, present and future.

Click here to read more short fiction published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Interview

photo of Louis Jordan by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 – 1960...Richards makes the case that small group swing players like Illinois Jacquet, Louis Jordan (pictured) and Big Jay McNeely played a legitimate jazz that was a more pleasing listening experience to the Black community than the bebop of Parker, Dizzy, and Monk. It is a fascinating era, filled with major figures and events, and centered on a rigorous debate that continues to this day – is small group swing “real jazz?”

Playlist

Sonny Rollins' 1957 pianoless trio recording "Way Out West"
“The Pianoless Tradition in Modern Jazz” – a playlist by Bob Hecht...an extensive playlist built around examples of prominent pianoless modern jazz.

Poetry

The 1987 Mosaic Records collection of The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Herbie Nichols
“Thinking of Herbie” – a poem by Daniel W. Brown

Click here to read more poetry published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Feature

Excerpts from David Rife’s Jazz Fiction: Take Two – (Vol. 1)...A substantial number of novels and stories with jazz music as a component of the story have been published over the years, and the scholar David J. Rife has written short essay/reviews of them.  In this initial edition featuring his story essays/reviews, Rife writes about three novels that explore challenges of the mother/daughter relationship.

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

The cover of Wayne Shorter's 2018 Blue Note album "Emanon"
Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 20: “Notes on Genius...This edition of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film is written in response to the music of Wayne Shorter.

Click here to read previous editions of Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

Review

Jason Innocent, on “3”, Abdullah Ibrahim’s latest album... Album reviews are rarely published on Jerry Jazz Musician, but Jason Innocent’s experience with the pianist Abdullah Ibrahim’s new recording captures the essence of this artist’s creative brilliance.

Book Excerpt

Book excerpt from Jazz with a Beat: Small Group Swing 1940 – 1960, by Tad Richards

Click here to read more book excerpts published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Poetry

painting by Vaino Kunnas
Jazz…in eight poems...A myriad of styles and experiences displayed in eight thoughtful, provocative poems…

Jazz History Quiz #171

Dick Cavett/via Wikimedia Commons
In addition to being one of the greatest musicians of his generation, this Ohio native was an activist, leading “Jazz and People’s Movement,” a group formed in the late 1960’s who “adopted the tactic of interrupting tapings and broadcasts of television and radio programs (i.e. the shows of Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett [pictured] and Merv Griffin) in protest of the small number of Black musicians employed by networks and recording studios.” Who was he?

Click here to visit the Jazz History Quiz archive

Community

photo via Picryl.com
.“Community Bookshelf, #2"...a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share news about their recently authored books. This edition includes information about books published within the last six months or so…

Contributing Writers

Click the image to view the writers, poets and artists whose work has been published on Jerry Jazz Musician, and find links to their work

Coming Soon

A new collection of jazz poetry; a collection of jazz haiku; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction; poetry; photography; interviews; playlists; and lots more in the works...

Interview Archive

Eubie Blake
Click to view the complete 22 year archive of Jerry Jazz Musician interviews, including those recently published with Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom on Eubie Blake (pictured); Richard Brent Turner on jazz and Islam; Alyn Shipton on the art of jazz; Shawn Levy on the original queens of standup comedy; Travis Atria on the expatriate trumpeter Arthur Briggs; Kitt Shapiro on her life with her mother, Eartha Kitt; Will Friedwald on Nat King Cole; Wayne Enstice on the drummer Dottie Dodgion; the drummer Joe La Barbera on Bill Evans; Philip Clark on Dave Brubeck; Nicholas Buccola on James Baldwin and William F. Buckley; Ricky Riccardi on Louis Armstrong; Dan Morgenstern and Christian Sands on Erroll Garner; Maria Golia on Ornette Coleman.

Site Archive