- 1913 - 1989-11-16
Showing 9 resultsAuthority record
- 1904-08-21 - 1984-04-26
William James "Count" Basie is one of America's best-known jazz musicians. He was a pianist, bandleader, and composer. As a teenager and young adult in the 1920s, Basie met and performed with a variety of recognized names in Harlem: Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Fats Waller, among others. In 1929 he joined up with Bennie Moten in Kansas City, acting as both pianist and co-arranger for the band. When Moten died in 1936, Basie formed his own band, largely from its former members. It was this core group that ended up improvising their way into one of Basie's early hits, "One O'Clock Jump," and brought them to the attention of record producers.
After an extended engagement in Chicago that allowed "Count Basie and His Barons of Rhythm" to refine their sound, Basie moved the band back to Harlem. They played at the Woodside Hotel, the Roseland Ballroom, and eventually the Savoy. Although Basie hired arrangers for the band, the group often worked out their numbers in rehearsals and then performed the partially improvised pieces from memory. In 1939, the band did a cross-country tour and performed on the West Coast for the first time. Although World War II caused a lot of member turnover, Basie remained famous for keeping an enthusiastic band that played with infectious good cheer and featured a continuous string of talented jazz instrumentalists and singers. However, declining interest in swing and traditional big band sound led him to disband the group after the war ended.
But Basie continued to perform with other groups, and in 1952 he ended up reforming his group with new members, working strains of bebop, rhythm and blues, and early rock'n'roll into his arrangements and working as a more organized ensemble than he had previously. In 1958, Basie headed to Europe with the new band. Post-war Europe loved jazz and had already welcomed a number of American expatriates who were happy to perform with Basie's band. The 1960s were filled with tours, television appearances, and recording with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Tony Bennett. Basie maintained the classic big band sound into the 1980s despite music trends and more changes in personnel. He died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 79. The band, led by former members, continues to record and perform today.
- 1899-11-22 - 1981-12-27
Hoagland Howard Carmichael was an American jazz singer-songwriter. Born and raised mostly in central Indiana, Carmichael's only real musical training were piano and voice lessons from his mother when he was a child. He attended high school and college in Bloomington, Indiana, playing piano and travelling around Indiana with his friend Bix Beiderbecke. Carmichael would eventually earn a law degree in 1926. He passed the Indiana bar exam but devoted most of his time to writing music. He recorded his first major song, "Star Dust," in late 1927, playing the piano himself and accompanied by Bix and members of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. By 1929, with some limited success with other songs like "Washboard Blues," Carmichael gave up trying to be a lawyer and moved to New York City. There he met sheet music producer Irving Mills. Mills published "Star Dust" as "Stardust", with lyrics by Mitchell Parish added, as well as "Rockin' Chair". The latter was recorded by Louis Armstrong and quickly became a hit; the former finally saw commercial success when it was recorded by Isham Jones the next year in 1930. "Stardust" would be recorded again and again by a number of other famous artists for the next several decades.
Carmichael followed up his successes with another jazz standard, "Georgia on My Mind." Then, in 1933, he met up-and-coming lyricist Johnny Mercer. The pair went on to write several dozen songs, the most popular of which were "Lazybones," "Moon Country," and "In the Cool, Cool, Cool, of the Evening." Carmichael also began performing professionally. In 1936 he moved cross-country to Hollywood, working as a contracted songwriter for Paramount Pictures and occasionally acting as a character actor while continuing to write individual songs. In 1941 his continuing collaboration with Johnny Mercer produced another instant hit: "Skylark." The 1940s were arguably the peak of Carmichael's career, with numerous recordings, acting roles, and radio programs; the 1950s were filled with appearances in television variety shows. Aside from Ray Charles' 1960 hit recording of "Georgia On My Mind," however, Carmichael's songwriting career waned in the era of rock'n'roll and never recovered. He died of heart failure at the age of 82.
- 1919-03-17 - 1965-02-15
Nat "King" Cole was an American jazz pianist and singer noted for his small jazz ensembles. Born in Alabama and raised in Chicago, Cole learned to play organ and piano, and after only a few years of formal training, dropped out of school at 15 to be a jazz pianist. He recorded a few singles with his brother, Eddie, and played in a revival of the musical "Shuffle Along". In the late 1930s he played in clubs; upon the request of a club owner, he hired bassist Wesley Prince and guitarist Oscar Moore to form the King Cole Trio. Cole had his first hit performing "Sweet Lorraine" in 1940 for Capitol Records, for whom he would record for almost his entire career.
By the end of World War II, Cole paid for his own 15-minute radio program, the first ever sponsored by a black musician, and continued to record. His popularity kept growing. At the end of 1956, NBC debuted "The Nat King Cole Show," a television variety show. It was the first television program ever hosted by an African American. Despite Cole's immense popularity, the show failed to attract a national sponsor and only lasted a year on air. Despite this, and changing tastes in music going into the 1960s, Cole was still a huge music star and continued recording hits. He was particularly well-known for a series of Spanish-language albums in 1958, '59, and '62 that extended his popularity into Latin American as well as the United States. He also continued to appear onscreen in television shows and short films.
Cole died of lung cancer at the age of 45.
- 1905-02-15 - 1986-04-23
Harold Arlen was an American composer, arranger, pianist, and vocalist who is considered one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. He wrote over 400 songs but is most famous for composing the songs for the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, particularly “Over the Rainbow,” which was voted the 20th century’s No. 1 song. Arlen wrote some of the greatest hits from the 1930’s and 40’s, such as “Get Happy,” “Stormy Weather,” “It's Only a Paper Moon,” “I've Got the World on a String,” and “Last Night When We Were Young.” He was most prolific from 1929 through the 1950s.
He was born as Hyman Arluck in Buffalo, New York in 1905 to Jewish parents. The son of a Jewish cantor (a trained song-leader for Jewish services) and pianist, Arlen showed exceptional musical talent in childhood. Hyman loved to sing, but was extremely shy. His mother hoped that he would become a music teacher, so she introduced a piano into the Arluck home. Hyman began studying around the age of nine and quickly outgrew the neighborhood piano teacher. He went on to study with the leading local teacher, who was also a conductor, organist and composer. Before long, Hyman left school as a teenager and achieved some local success working as a vocalist and pianist in different bands. He moved to New York City in the 1920s, where he worked as an accompanist in vaudeville and changed his name to Harold Arlen. Arlen composed several songs during that period, but published the first of his many well-known pieces in 1929, "Get Happy", with lyrics by Ted Koehler. "Get Happy” attracted attention to the new songwriting-lyricist duo identifying Arlen and Koehler as hit writers. With “Get Happy” and other rhythmic songs to their credit, the team developed the reputation as writers of "bluesy" rhythm numbers, which were much in demand in the flourishing cabarets. Throughout the early and mid-1930s, Arlen and Koehler produced songs for Harlem’s infamous Cotton Club, which was at the heart of the cabaret scene, as well as for Broadway musicals and Hollywood films, creating familiar pieces such as "Stormy Weather" and "Let's Fall in Love."
In the mid-1930s, Arlen married, and spent increasing time in California, writing for movie musicals. It was at this time that he began working with lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. In 1938, the team was hired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to compose songs for The Wizard of Oz, the most famous of which is "Over the Rainbow", which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song. They also wrote "Down with Love" (featured in the 1937 Broadway show Hooray for What!), "Lydia the Tattooed Lady", for Groucho Marx in At the Circus (1939), and "Happiness is a Thing Called Joe", for Ethel Waters in Cabin in the Sky (1943). Going into the 1940s, Arlen teamed up with Johnny Mercer to write a string of successful hits: "That Old Black Magic" (1942), "Accentuate the Positive" (1944), and "Come Rain or Come Shine" (1945), among others. From that point on he worked on various Broadway shows but became more reclusive as an illness in 1954 and the deaths of his parents in 1953 (his father) and 1958 (his mother), and later his wife (1970) caused him to lose interest in composing and music in general.
Arlen died of cancer at the age of 81.
- 1912 - 2008
Albert “Al” Vincent Glenn (1912-2008) was born and raised in Brockton, MA. He had his own orchestra called the Hotel Van Ness Orchestra that played at the Hotel Van Ness in Burlington, Vermont on Lake Champlain for about eighteen months in 1934-35. He also played at other hotels and resorts on the east coast and wrote many of his own arrangements. He moved to Berkley, California where he attended the University of California. There, he played with orchestras including Pete Dragon & His Orchestra in Oakland, CA. While in Oakland, he changed his last name from Getchie to Glenn. He graduated in 1941 as an optometrist and married Katharine (Kay) Wilson (a Berkley native); they had one daughter, Gay-Leigh Ann. During World War II he was stationed at Letterman Hospital at the Presidio in San Francisco.
- 1900 - 1944
- c. 1900 - September 15, 1944
- LC 94006657
- 1904-09-24 - 1976-01-17
Jan August was born Jan Augustoff in New York City, the youngest of five children. Jan’s parents, having paid for music lessons for the four older siblings who lacked any musical aptitude, chose not to repeat the mistake with their youngest. Jan learned to play the piano by ear as a child; as an adult he learned to read and arrange music. He mastered the xylophone, vibraphone and Solovox as well as the piano. In 1946, his instrumental recording of “Misirlou,” a Greek folk song, sold more than 1,000,000 records.
As a young man, Jan performed as a pianist with the Paul Specht Band in Greenwich Village nightclubs. In the 1930’s, Paul Whiteman invited him to play in his orchestra; Jan also performed with Ferde Grofé. With the musical shift from jazz to swing in the 1940’s, Jan returned to performing solo in clubs. His style attracted the attention of Irving Gwirtz of Diamond Records, who signed him to a recording contract. He received union scale wages of approximately $35 for his recording of “Bob-a-Loo” and “Misirlou”; the recording reached the Top Ten on the charts and launched his career.
Jan hosted and performed on radio, notably a 15-minute weekly broadcast on the Mutual Radio Network from 1947-1948. In 1948 and 1950, he appeared on "The Toast of the Town" and from 1949-1951 he accompanied singer Roberta Quinlan on her NBC variety show. Later he hosted "Jan August’s Revere Camera Show". In 1949, he served as the subject of a 9-minute film short entitled "Audition for August" with Kitty Kallen. In the 1950’s, Jan signed a recording contract with the Mercury label recording instrumental versions of popular hits laced with Latin rhythms. He also toured with his own orchestra in the United States and Canada. After arranging and recording more than 140 songs, Jan retired in 1967. He died of heart disease about a decade later.
Shortly before Jan's death, a musician performing under the name Jan August made the news in Florida, but it was an imposter.