Category: Swingscapes

“John Silver” grows up — Jimmy Dorsey 1938/1944

James Francis Dorsey was the older of the Dorsey brothers, and the smaller, in terms of both physical stature and ego. He was a master musician whose virtuosity on both clarinet and alto saxophone was a source of fascination and inspiration for reed players far and wide, including jazz titans Lester Young and Charlie Parker. […]

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Reads and Re-reads-Benny Goodman’s 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert

“Benny Goodman’s Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert” by Catherine Tackley I recently finished reading this wonderful book, which was published in 2012 as a part of Oxford University Press’s “Studies in Recorded Jazz” series. For those who have a serious interest in the music of the late-1930s Benny Goodman band, this book will be […]

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Swing and Swing Redux…”Dawn on the Desert”

  “Dawn on the Desert” Composed and arranged by Charlie Shavers Recorded by the John Kirby Sextet for Vocalion on January 9, 1939 in New York. John Kirby, bass, directing: Charlie Shavers, trumpet; William “Buster” Bailey, clarinet; Russell Procope, alto saxophone; Billy Kyle, piano; William “O’Neill” Spencer, drums. The story: One of the most interesting […]

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Reads and re-reads…Clark Terry and Larry Elgart

Some Thoughts on the Autobiography of Clark Terry, and Recollections of Larry Elgart. I have recently read two books about notable musicians, an autobiography by the great jazz trumpeter Clark Terry (1920-2015), and the other, a book of recollections by the leader of many excellent dance bands, saxophonist Larry Elgart (b.1922). Both men had successful […]

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Bud, Benny and the High Holidays

With the approach the High Holidays of the Jewish faith each year, I think of the pioneering jazz tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman. Although Bud was Jewish, I think it accurate to describe him as a secular or non-practicing Jew. However he practiced his faith, he was aware of the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah […]

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Mary Lou Williams…First Woman of Swing

I have recently been re-reading the wonderful biography of pianist/arranger/composer Mary Lou Williams entitled “Morning Glory,” by Linda Dahl, (1999) University of California Press. I have long been beguiled by Ms. Williams’s compositions and arrangements, especially those she wrote for Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy in the 1930s. These include:”Walkin’ and Swingin’,” “Lotta Sax […]

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Tales from the Kingdom of Swing

Tale Number One: “Hey Eugene, take the gum out of your mouth.” The swing era was not only a time when wonderful music was being made, it was a time when interesting personalities were very often at the center of the music making. One of the most interesting and colorful personalities of the swing era […]

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