Danilo Perez is a pianist and composer. He was born Dec. 29th, 1965 in Panama. Perez was a member of the Dizzy Gillespie United Nations Orchestra from 1989-1992. He joined the Wayne Shorter Quartet in 2010 and is also a member of the jazz group Global Messengers. Some of his albums include Central Avenue, Panamonk, and Emanon. Perez is an UNESCO Artist for Peace and a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
Author Archives: Valerie Rice
On December 23rd, 1938 the concert From Spirituals to Swing was held at Carnegie Hall. Record Producer John Hammond organized the concert as a memorial to Bessie Smith. The concert was significant for the time because it was rare for there to be a formal jazz or blues concert and because it gave equal prominence to the African American artists who performed.
Fletcher Henderson was a pianist, band leader, and music arranger born on December 18th, 1897 in Cuthbert, Georgia. Henderson worked for Black Swan Records, putting together backing groups for artists such as Ethel Waters. He formed his own Orchestra in 1923. Henderson pioneered the instrumentation of jazz big bands. His Orchestra was one of the first to feature a rhythm section consisting of piano, bass, guitar, and drums. His Orchestra was also one of the first to have the brass and reed sections participate in call and response sessions. Henderson’s Orchestra disbanded in the 1930s due to financial difficulties. He then worked as one of Benny Goodman’s main music arrangers, orchestrating King Porter Stomp, Down South Camp Meetin’, and Bugle Call Rag, among others. Henderson died in 1952.
On December 8th, 1957 The Sound of Jazz aired live on CBS. It was an episode in the program The Seven Lively Arts. Producer Robert Herridge convinced Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Thelonius Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Billie Holiday, Henry Allen, Jimmy Giuffre, Roy Eldridge, Dicky Wells, Vic Dickenson, Pee Wee Russell, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Danny Barker, Milt Hinton, and Jo Jones to appear together for an hour long live jazz performance. The Sound of Jazz was one of the first programs featuring jazz made for television and is still considered one of the best.
Jaco Pastorius was an influential bass guitarist who was born December 1st, 1951 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He is best known for his work with Weather Report, Pat Metheny, and Joni Mitchell. Pastorius died in 1987.
Bessie Smith made her last recording session on November 24th, 1933. She recorded “Gimme A Pigfoot”, “Do Your Duty”, and “Down In the Dumps”. Among the musicians backing her for these numbers are Jack Teagarden, Chu Berry, Frankie Newton, and Benny Goodman.
Scott Joplin was born November 24th, 1868. He was a composer and pianist who popularized the ragtime genre through his music. Two of his best known compositions are “The Maple Leaf Rag” and “The Entertainer”. Joplin was raised in Texarkana, Texas. He played his music at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, setting off a national ragtime craze. While Joplin’s ragtime compositions made him famous he also wanted to be recognized as a classical composer. He wrote a ballet and two operas which combined his knowledge of classical music and his innovative usage of syncopated rhythm. Joplin spent the last years of his life attempting to get his second opera Treemonisha performed publicly. He suffered a nervous breakdown in 1916 and had to be institutionalized. He died in 1917. Scott’s work regained widespread popularity in the 1970’s after the release of the film “The Sting” which used his ragtime compositions as the basis for the film’s score.
Hoagy Carmichael was born November 22nd, 1899 in Bloomington, Indiana. He was a pianist, actor, and composer best known for writing the jazz standards Stardust, written in 1927, and Georgia on My Mind, written in 1930. Carmichael moved to Los Angeles in 1936 and began composing for films and acting in supporting roles. He won an Oscar in 1951 in the Best Song category for In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening. Carmichael died in 1981.
John Coltrane recorded “Alabama” in 1963 in response to Birmingham Church bombing. On September 15th, 1963 members of the Ku Klux Klan placed sticks of dynamite under the front steps of the church. The dynamite ignited during the church service, killing four young women and injuring many members of the congregation. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said the eulogy for the victims at their funeral later that week. Coltrane composed “Alabama” as his response to the bombing, and he patterned the music on the speech inflections in King’s eulogy. The piece was released on the album Live In Birdland in 1964.
Diana Krall was born November 16th, 1964 in Nanaimo, British Columbia. She is a jazz pianist and vocalist. Some of her better known albums include All For You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio (1996) and Live in Paris (2002). Her most recent album is Love is Here to Stay (2018), with Tony Bennett. Krall has won three Grammy awards. She is married to British musician Elvis Costello and has two children.