Make sure to tune in to Jazz at 100 every Thursday night from 7-9! These are the two hours that aired on January 18.
Pianist Lennie Tristano was a very visible participant in the modern jazz innovations of the mid-1940s through the early 1950s, winning polls and participating in all-star jam sessions. Yet his music was always a little outside the mainstream and was increasingly so as he began to experiment with fully improvised performances by 1947. While his focus on low dynamics and long flowing lines has been seen as a precursor of the cool school that arose early in the 1950s, the better argument may be made that Tristano created an intellectual setting for the free jazz to come.
The torrid pace of bebop improvisations reached a point in the late 1940s that prompted a musical reconsideration and Miles Davis was there at the conception. Davis had been with the Charlie Parker Quintet since 1945, when he began to woodshed with composer/arrangers John Lewis, Gerry Mulligan and Gil Evans, all of whom would become major long-time contributors to the music. In three recording sessions starting in January 1949, this arrangers’ super-group created a body of music which, when rereleased at the beginning of the LP era, was known as the “Birth of the Cool.”
Make sure to tune in to Jazz at 100 every Thursday night from 7-9! These are the two hours that aired on January 11.
Duke Ellington was the well-spring that flowed through many decades of jazz. In 1938, Ellington found his soul-mate in composer/arranger Billy Strayhorn. By the early 1940s, Strayhorn combined with bassist Jimmy Blanton and tenor saxophonist Ben Webster to reinvigorate both Ellington and his band. In the next hour, we will feature the compositions and arrangements of Ellington’s most important collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, from Take the A Train and Chelsea Bridge through Satin Doll and Lush Life to his dying lament – Blood Count – from 1967.
In the 1940’s, some twenty-five to thirty years into the history of recorded jazz, the sometimes violent reaction against the bebop revolution caused a hard look into the rear view and the jazz world focused on its own history. Many of the players who led the first jazz revolution were still alive, ready for prime time, and welcoming of another chance at center stage. The outside forces that led the small ensembles of bebop and R&B into prominence, also supported the resurgence of quintets and sextets playing New Orleans-style jazz.
Make sure to tune in to Jazz at 100 every Thursday night from 7-9! These are the two hours that aired on January 4.
In this hour, we will continue to present bebop innovators – pianist/composer Tadd Dameron and his frequent (but short-lived) collaborator Fats Navarro, the next great bebop trumpeter after Dizzy Gillespie, and two of the greatest and longest-lived bebop soloists, Bird’s rival – alto saxophonist Sonny Stitt who recorded until 1982 and the first significant bebop trombonist JJ Johnson, who was active in music until 1996.
Most of the pioneering bebop musicians we have featured in the past several programs were centered in New York – Bird, Dizzy, Monk, Bud Powell, Coleman Hawkins, Fats Navarro, JJ Johnson, Max Roach. While New York may have dominated the modern music scene, it wasn’t the only scene. The wartime economy in southern California brought an influx of African-American workers, not dissimilar to Chicago in the 1920s, and with them musicians, nightclubs and dance halls
Make sure to tune in to Jazz at 100 every Thursday night from 7-9! Here are the two hours that aired on December 28.
Mentored by Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell became the first great piano innovator of bebop. “It would be hard to overstate Powell’s impact. His ingenious technique and originality as an improviser and composer established the foundation for all pianists to follow. Long after bop had faded, Powell remained a source of inspiration for pianists as varied as the harmonically engrossed Bill Evans and the rhythmically unfettered Cecil Taylor. In other words there is jazz piano Before Powell and After Powell.” – Gary Giddens & Scott DeVeaux
In 1940, Minton’s Playhouse on West 118th Street hired drummer Kenny Clarke as a bandleader. For the house band, Clarke hired trumpeter Joe Guy, bassist Nick Fenton, and an eccentric pianist named Thelonious Monk. Although Monk recorded with Coleman Hawkins in 1944, he didn’t record with his own group until 1947. Despite these kind of gaps that occur throughout his discography, he is competitive with Duke Ellington for the most recorded composer in jazz. The Blue Note recordings of 1947 – 1952 include many of the most recognized of his compositions.
We will be posting the recent episodes of Jazz at 100 which aired on KJEM over the holidays. Here are the two hours that aired on December 21.
Emerging from the Jay McShann Orchestra from Kansas City and relentlessly curious about how to play the new music he heard in his head, Charlie Parker found sympathetic players in New York, especially Dizzy Gillespie. In November of 1945, Bird, as he was universally known, began to record with his own quintets and sextets in a legendary series of recordings for Dial in Hollywood and Savoy in Newark. By the end of 1948, when he began to record for Normal Granz and his Clef, Mercury and Verve labels, Bird’s reputation was forever secure.
Dizzy Gillespie grew up professionally playing in the big bands of Teddy Hill, Cab Calloway, Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine and writing for Woody Herman and Jimmy Dorsey. The wartime economy with its shortages and the musician’s strike of the early 1940s led Gillespie to focus on small combos for his own projects, including his seminal collaborations with Charlie Parker in 1945 – 1946. However Dizzy returned whenever he could to the big band format and by mid-1946, he was fronting the first of several financially challenging but musically groundbreaking big bands.
We will be posting the recent episodes of Jazz at 100 which aired on KJEM over the holidays. Here are the first two which aired on the 7th of December.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the very dance-oriented swinging music of the Big Bands was the most popular music around. Never had jazz been more central to mass culture. Just over the horizon were the draft of 1940 that eventually conscripted 10 million men, making it increasingly difficult to field top notch bands.
But in the late 1930s, it seemed like the swinging would never end.
Although Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Woody Herman soldiered on, mostly keeping bands on the road into the 1970s (Ellington) and 1980s (Basie and Herman), the era of the big band effectively ended with the AFM strike and World War Two shortages of gas, rubber and players. A leaner combo-oriented music emerged in night clubs after the war. Several band leaders sought to find common ground with the new music and the big band format, but as dance halls faded, the economics of the large ensemble no longer worked.
If you missed last week’s Jazz at 100, you can listen to both hours right here. You can find all the episodes leading up to the current week’s show on the site if you need to catch up on any of them. Make sure to tune in to Jazz at 100 Thursday nights from 7-9!
While the jazz of the thirties was predominantly remembered as coming from orchestras and big bands, seminal soloists continued to record memorable music in small group settings, setting the stage for disruptive industry transitions to come in the 1940s.
In the last hour we heard from prominent Swing Era soloists Chu Berry, Roy Eldridge, Johnny Hodges and Lester Young, featured in small group settings. Continuing in the small group vein, in this hour we’ll hear from the Benny Goodman Trio, Quartet and sextet, Django Reinhardt and le Quintette Du Hot Club de France avec Stephane Grappelli and the influential, but less well known sextet led by bassist John Kirby.
Catch up on last week’s show before the next two hours air tomorrow night from 7-9! Tune in to Jazz at 100 every Thursday night from 7-9!
Jazz has often been understood through the lens of the conflict between art and commerce. In the 1930s, several artists successfully blurred these distinctions. Louis Armstrong adopted popular song as his vehicle foe a successful career shift into the mainstream. Lionel Hampton, a key member of Benny Goodman’s courageous color-blind quartet and the leading vibraphone player of his generation, created a series of high-energy recordings that were foundational in the development of Rhythm and Blues.
By far the most commercially successful of the stride pianists, he made his reputation (and his living) through comedy. “He wasn’t witty, if that word is taken to imply a kind of humor too subtle to engender belly laughs – he was funny. He was also bigger than life, Rabelaisian in intake, energy, and output. His greatest joy was playing Bach on the organ, but he buttered his bread as a clown, complete with a mask as fixed as that of Bert Williams or Spike Jones. It consisted of a rakishly tilted derby, one size too small, and Edwardian mustache that fringed his upper lip, eyebrows as thick as paint and pliable as curtains, flirtatious eyes, a mouth alternately pursed or widened in a dimpled smile, and immense girth, draped in the expensive suits and ties of a dandy.” – Gary Giddens
If you missed the show a week before Thanksgiving, you can listen to the full two hours right here:
In the mid-1930s, jazz orchestras led by drummer Chick Webb and clarinetist Benny Goodman rose to prominence with the arrangements of Edgar Sampson and Fletcher Henderson. After launching the careers of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan, Webb succumbed to spinal tuberculosis in 1939, at age 34. Goodman launched the careers of Gene Krupa, Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton, Harry James and Charlie Christian over a storied run that earned him the controversial sobriquet “King of Swing”
Billie Holiday began recording at 18 years old in 1933 in a session with Bennie Goodman and was musically active until her death at 44 in 1959. Ella Fitzgerald also began recording at 18 (in 1935 as the singer with Chick Webb), but in her case, her career surged again in the mid-1950’s with the songbook series on Verve. They are perhaps the two most important female singers to come out of the Swing Era.
Catch up on last week’s show before tuning in on Thursday Night from 7-9!
In the eleventh hour of Jazz at 100, we followed Count Basie through the Benny Moten Band in Kansas City and heard his first recordings as a leader. In 1937, after Benny Moten’s death, he took the nation by storm with his driving band lead by the “All American Rhythm Section” and the dual tenor saxophones of Herschel Evans and Lester Young.
In the last hour, we heard Count Basie emerge as an exciting new voice from Kansas City. In this hour, we return to New York to follow Duke Ellington’s innovative path through the 1930s as he experiments with longer musical forms while building one of his greatest bands featuring tenor player Ben Webster and bassist Jimmy Blanton.