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.
Bessie Smith’s Last Set
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.
Jazz History In October
The Jazz Singer
The Jazz Singer premiered on October 6th, 1927. The film, starring Al Jolson, tells the story of a second generation Russian American who wants to become a popular jazz singer. His father wants him to become a cantor in the local synagogue and believes being in show business is sinful. Jolson’s character must choose between his parents’ Russian-Jewish culture and pursuing his dream. The film is controversial today because of Jolson’s use of blackface throughout the film. However, the film is undeniably an important part of American culture because it was the first successful “talking” picture with synchronized dialogue and sound effects. The success of The Jazz Singer pushed all of the American motion picture studios into “the talkies” and effectively ended the age of silent pictures.
The October Revolution In Jazz
The first Free Jazz music festival took place from October 1st to October 4th in 1964. Organized by musician Bill Dixon, the four day festival had over twenty artists and ensembles performing and discussing their work. Headliners included Sun Ra, Paul Bley, and Cecil Taylor. The festival helped introduce the general public to the free jazz style.
Source: Anderson, Iain. This Is Our Music : Free Jazz, the Sixties, and American Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007. Accessed October 8, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central, p. 122