Jim Gerard unearths those brilliant, influential musicians who've fallen through the cracks of jazz history
On December 13, 1932, in the eye of the Great Depression that was devastating the record industry, the Bennie Moten Orchestra shuffled on their uppers" into a converted church in Camden, N.J., and silently launched the Swing Era, three years before clarinetist Benny Goodman's formal inauguration as the King of Swing" at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles. While composer/bandleader Moten has vanished into the mists of history, his band boasted an assemblage of jazz legends: trumpeter Oran “Hot Lips" Page, pioneering bassist Walter Page, tenor saxophonist Ben Webster and pianist Bill Basie, before his appointment as Count. But the ...read more
As someone who came to jazz as a young man in the 1970s, I can attest that subsequent generations of both its chroniclers and, even sadder, its practitioners, have succumbed to the peculiarly and regrettable American disease of a-historicism.They've shoved jazz history through a sieve, reducing it from an epic tale of heroic evolution with a cast of hundreds--if not thousands--to a denuded sliver of text that could fit in a single tweet--one that might read like this: MilesTraneTraneTraneTranebirdsomeoldguysluvTraneisawesome!"This column was conceived to restore at least a fraction of the historical record and to enumerate and ...read more
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