Hoagy Carmichael's Music This Week on Riverwalk Jazz


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This week, The Jim Cullum Jr. Jazz Band welcomes piano legend Dick Hyman and vocalist Stephanie Nakasian for a concert of Hoagy Carmichael's music, recorded live at the historic Filoli Gardens near San Francisco.

The program is distributed in the US by Public Radio International, on Sirius/XM sattelite radio and can be streamed on-demand from the Riverwalk Jazz website.

Hoagy Carmichael's songs have never fallen out of fashion. In the modern era, they've been widely recorded by artists including Barbra Streisand, Ray Charles and Norah Jones.

The Jazz Age had college students kicking up their heels to the Charleston and believing the world was theirs for a song. Hoagy Carmichael was a law student at Indiana U. when his friend, the legendary cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, asked him: “Why don't you try writing some music?"

Bix recorded Carmichael's “Riverboat Shuffle" and the popular bandleader Paul Whiteman championed his work. By 1930, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington were making hit records with Carmichael's “Georgia on My Mind," “Up a Lazy River" and “Rockin' Chair." Carmichael wrote dozens of tunes considered today as “standards"—"Skylark," “Star Dust," and his Oscar-winning “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening."

With his hat tilted back on his head and a cigarette dangling from his lips, he'd sit hunched over the piano keyboard and sing in a lazy Midwestern drawl. Hoagy Carmichael cultivated this folksy, laid-back persona in the movie To Have and Have Not with Lauren Bacall, and he translated it to the concert stage and on records. He was America's first songwriter to step out into the spotlight and make it as a star performer—leading the way for generations of singer-songwriters from Bob Dylan to Diana Krall.

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