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Bert Williams Born Egbert Austin Williams on the island of Antigua and moved to Los Angeles in (1888). Became one of the Vaudeville’s top artist as part of the successful double-act “Williams and Walker” with his partner George Walker. Together they popularized the Cakewalk. Became the first black American to take a lead role on the Broadway stage Most of his songs such as “Nobody” were popular among all races Become the first African American to gain complete creative control as a filmmaker.
Al Jolson Born Asa Yoelson in Lithuania 1886 and later migrated to the United States. Called The World’s Greatest Entertainer. Achieved success when he won a part in the 1911 Broadway production La Belle Paree. The leading light of the Broadway musical stage from 1911 to 1941. Starred in the first “talking picture” The Jazz Singer in 1927.
Hank Jones Born to a family rich with musical talent, Jones was actively encouraged to play music by his parents in which he played classic quartet. Jones was one of the first pianists to take on the language of bebop. During the 1950’s, Jones kept busy as a freelancing accompanist, recording with Ella Fitzgerald and playing on the jazz at the Philharmonic tour with Parker and Roy Eldridge.
Louis Armstrong Nicknamed Satchmo, for satchel-mouth American jazz musician. Armstrong was charismatic, innovative performer whose musical skills and bright personality transformed jazz from a rough regional dance into a popular art form. First achieved fame as a trumpeter but towards the end of his career he was best known as a vocalist.
Mills Brothers The Mills Brothers were a major African American jazz and pop vocal quartet of the 20 th century. They produced more than 2, 000 recordings that sold more than 50 million copies and garnered at least 3 dozen gold records The group was originally composed of four brothers: John Jr. , bassist and guitarist Herbert, tenor Harry, baritone Donald, lead tenor
W. C. Handy Very talented musician and composer whose family opposed his playing of musical instruments. Joined a minstrel group called ”Mahara’s Minstrels, ”, due to lack of employment opportunities. Most famous compositions were “Memphis Blues” and “St. Louis” Blues. Known as the “Father of the Blues”. Handy did not invent the ‘blues’, but transcribed them and presented to a worldwide audience.
Irving Berlin Russian-American Jewish composer and lyricist. Famous for “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” (1911)and “White Christmas”. Composed over 3, 000 songs, many of which were patriotic songs (e. g. , “God Bless America” Heaven Watch the Phillipines), 17 film scores and 21 Broadway scores). Did not study music formally. Played music only in one key. (F#/D Minor). One of the great composers of Tin Pan Alley.
Spencer Williams was a USA jazz and popular music composer, pianist and singer. Williams was performing in Chicago by 1907 and moved to New York City by 1916. He co-wrote several songs with Anton Lada one of which was Arkansas Blues, one of his most popular songs He was inducted into The Songwriter’s Hall of Fame
Ethel Waters Oscar nominated American blues vocalist and actress She was the second African-American to ever be nominated for an Academy Award. Frequently performed jazz, big band, gospel and popular music, on the Broadway stage. Her best known recording was her version of the spiritual song “His eye is on the Sparrow”
Bunk Johnson A prominent early New Orleans jazz trumpet player. Regarded as one of the top trumpeters in New Orleans during 1905 -1915. Center of controversy surrounding revivalists vs. modernists in Jazz History.
George Lewis A jazz clarinetist who achieved his greatest fame and influence in his later decades of life. Played clarinet professionally by 1917. Starting in 1949 he was a regular on the French Quarter’s Bourbon Street entertainment clubs, and had regular broadcasts over radio station WDSU. In 1952 he took his band to San Francisco for a residency at the Hangover Club, then began to tour around the United States
Jelly Roll Morton A gifted pianist, bandleader and composer who some call the first true composer of jazz music. In 1926, Morton succeeded in getting a contract to make recordings for the US’s largest and most prestigious company, Victor. These recordings by Jelly Roll Morton & His Red Hot Peppers are regarded as classics of 1920 s jazz. Legend is that Ferndinand Joseph La. Mothe (a. k. a. Jelly Roll Morton claims) to have invented Jazz Music.
King Oliver played cornet in the New Orleans brass bands and dance bands. Mentor to Louis Armstrong. Achieved great popularity in New Orleans across economic and racial lines. In 1922 Oliver was the jazz “King” in Chicago. Also noted as a composer, having written Armstrong’s early hit “Dippermouth Blues”
Duke Ellington The most popular composer in the history of jazz Ellington used his band as a musical laboratory for his new composition and shaped his writing specifically to showcase the talents of his band members. Ellington also wrote film scores and stage musicals, and several of his instrumental works were adapted into songs that became standards. He began piano lessons at age seven and was writing music by his teens. He dropped out of high school in his junior year in 1917 to pursue a career in music. Ellington became a Grammy favorite in his later years.
Coleman Hawkins Nicknamed “Hawk”, was a prominent jazz tenor saxophonist. Regarded as “the father of the tenor saxophone” He joined Mamie Smith’s Jazz Hounds in 1921. He was the leader of the first ever bebop recording session with Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach.
Pee Wee Russell Born as Charles Ellsworth Russell was a jazz musician that played the clarinet and saxophone. The notes he played were somewhat unorthodox when compared to his contemporaries, he was often accused of playing out of tune. He played with Bobby Hackett’s big band began playing with Eddie Condon, who he would continue working regularly for most of his life
Chick Webb Born William Henry Webb, he was a jazz and swing music drummer as well as a band leader. In 1931 his band became the house band at the Savoy Ballroom. He became one of the best-regarded bandleaders and drummers of the new “Swing” Style.
Fats Waller Born Thomas Wright Waller, he was an American jazz pianist, organist, composer and comedic entertainer. Also known as prolific songwriter and wrote popular songs such as “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Squeeze Me”
Benny Goodman Born as Benjamin David Goodman, he was an American jazz musician, known as “King of Swing”, “Patriarch of the Clarinet”, “The Professor”, and “Swing’s Senior Statesman”. When he was 16, he joined the one of Chicago’s top bands the Ben Pollack Orchestra, with which he made his first recordings. He came to New York City in the late 1920 s and made a reputation as a solid player who was prepared and reliable.
Jimmie Lunceford Born as James Melvin Lunceford, he was an American jazz alto saxophonist and bandleader of the swing era. Lunceford’s orchestra reputation grew with their tight musicianship and often outrageous humor in their music and lyrics. He was the band’s comic veneer and during the apex of swing in the 1930 s, the orchestra was considered the equal of Duke Ellington’s and Count Basie’s.
Count Basie Born as William James Basie, he was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. Commonly regarded as one of the most important jazz leaders of his time, he lead his popular groups for almost fifty years. Basie was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. Being one of the greatest jazz musicians in musical history, he will be inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
Lester Young Born as Lester Willis Young, he was an American jazz tenor saxophonist and clarinetist. He was known as Prez (short for “The President of the Tenor Saxophone”), given to him by Billie Holiday. His solo on “Lester Leaps In” at Carnegie Hall stands as one of the greatest solos by any jazz musician ever.
Jimmy Rushing was a first class Singer. He was known as “Mister Five-by-Five”, reference to his height and girth. He had a booming voice that radiated sheer joy in whatever material he sang, he could swing with anyone and dominate even the loudest of big bands.
Ella Fitzgerald Celebrated as one of the greatest if not greatest Jazz singer of all time. Named, “the First Lady of Song. A-Tisket A-Tasket is her signature song. Known for her scat singing, and sometimes called “Queen of Scat. ”
Billie Holiday The first popular jazz singer to move audiences with the intense, personal feelings of classic blues. Born Elanora Fagan Gough, her father Clarence Holiday was a teenaged jazz guitarist and banjo player. By early 1935, she made her debut at the Apollo Theater and appeared in a one-reeler film with Duke Ellington Holiday recorded a series of obscure, forgettable songs straight from the gutters of Tin Pan Alley. Though her artistry was at its peak, Holiday was heavily into alcohol and marijuana and she began smoking opium early in the decade with her first husband Johnnie Monroe. Holiday made her last great appearance in 1957, on the CBS television special The sound of Jazz
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