…..The Grenada-born trumpeter Arthur Briggs was among the first to introduce and popularize jazz music, and did so from Europe, where he permanently settled after arriving from Harlem in 1919, and where he eventually grew to be considered “the Louis Armstrong of Paris.” Little-known in America, his musical biography features his befriending and performing with the likes of Sidney Bechet (who Briggs was with when he bought his first soprano saxophone), Josephine Baker, Coleman Hawkins, and Django Reinhardt.
“Liner Notes for ‘Stardust’ — In Seven Choruses” is a cycle of short poems framed as imaginary liner notes and prompted by poet Doug Fowler’s favorite musical covers of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.” In essence, according to Fowler, they are “imaginary liner notes for a real song about an imaginary song about love.”
The cycle is also partially a tribute to Chu Berry, who died as the result of a car accident in Conneaut, Ohio, in 1941, not far from where Fowler lives.
If Benny Goodman was the “King of Swing,” then Fletcher Henderson was the power behind the throne. Not only did Henderson arrange the music that powered Goodman’s meteoric rise, he also helped launch the careers of Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins, among others. In Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz: The Uncrowned King of Swing, Jeffrey Magee offers a fascinating account of this pivotal bandleader, throwing new light on the emergence of modern jazz and the world that created it.
Excerpted from Lester Leaps In: The Life and Times of Lester “Pres” Young, by Douglas Henry Daniels
(Lester) Young earned recognition for being not only a stylist but a saxophone “freak” – not a pejorative term at all but rather a comment on his unparalleled virtuosity. He “could make a note anywhere” on his instrument. Certain notes were usually produced by depressing specific keys or combinations of keys on the saxophone (or valves on the trumpet and cornet), but “freaks” found ways to defy convention and orthodoxy by means of “false fingerings” and adjustments of the mouth and lips, or embouchure. The trombonist-guitarist Eddie Durham explained that “Coleman Hawkins and Chu Berry and those guys, they fingered it correctly with what they were doing.
More than half a century after his bebop debut, and more than eleven years after his death, Miles Davis lives on. His music is used to pitch jeans, shape films, and personify an era. To this day, he is revered as the archetype of cool.
While several books have been written about Davis, including his own autobiography, due to his passion for reinvention and his extreme reticence the real story of Miles Davis has been obscured by the legend and widely misunderstood.
In Stardust Melodies: A Biography of Twelve of America’s Most Popular Songs, author Will Friedwald takes these legendary songs apart and puts them together again, with unprecedented detail and understanding. Each song’s history is explored — the circumstances under which it was written and first performed — and then its musical and lyric content.