Jimmie Lunceford [ above ] died in 1947, but his music lives on thanks to several current endeavors. First is a resurrected Jimmie Lunceford Legacy Orchestra; surprisingly, it's not in the United States, but, rather, in Holland. Another is a new CD by the Orchestra, "Rhythm Is Our Business," made up of 16 tracks. And third is a plan to hold a yearly Lunceford celebration in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.
According to publicity, "It was only a chance discovery of the original Lunceford band book with charts and notations in 1999, gathering dust in the Smithsonian library, that inspired Dutch saxophonist and band-leader Robert Veen to embark on an epic 8 year journey to resurrect the JLO, to record and release the first 'new' Lunceford recordings in 60 years."
Though the reformed band first appeared two years ago at the North Sea Jazz Festival held in The Netherlands, their activity is just now taking off. For example, in February 2007, they performed at the Paradiso Club in Amsterdam, and, last month, presented a three-hour show, "A Night At the Cotton Club," at the 10th annual Jazz Op Tilt Festival in Giessenburg. Additional details are at the webpage myspace.com/jimmieluncefordlegacyorchestra.
Meanwhile, in Memphis, sponsors were being sought for a three-day celebration, "The Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival," to take place October 19th through the 21st at various locations around the city.
According to organizer Ronald Herd II, planned events include an opening symposium at Manassas High School, discussing Lunceford's life and career; a tribute concert; and a wreath-laying ceremony at Lunceford's gravesite in Elmwood Cemetery. For more information, view the website jimmieluncefordjam.blogspot.com.
It was stated that the purpose of the Festival is "To Honor And Bring Awareness To The Forgotten And Impressive Legacy And Achievements Of Jimmie Lunceford," credited, among other things, for being "The First High School Band Orchestra Leader/Conductor In The History Of The Memphis City Schools."
Author Eddy Determeyer, in his recent Lunceford biography, Rhythm Is Our Business (Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2006), wrote that "In 1927, Lunceford was one of the world's first, if not the first to teach jazz at a school."
Lunceford had been hired that year to teach English, Spanish, music, and athletics at Manassas High School in Memphis. He organized a student band there, called The Chickasaw Syncopators, which took its name from the African-American neighborhood where most of the students lived.
"Jimmie Lunceford taught his students jazz history, dance band harmony, dynamics and blending, the use of mutes, how to build a solo, and rhythm," Determeyer explained. "He used a Victrola to have them analyze how other, well-established dance orchestras performed."
Under Lunceford's leadership, The Chickasaw Syncopators turned professional and, by 1933, were billed as his own orchestra.
Another Honor for Benny Carter
The centenary year of Benny Carter's birth continues to be observed, with concerts by The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra October 19th and 20th in New York City.
Publicity stated, "You're no 'count.' No 'duke.' You're the King. King of the alto sax and the trumpet (and the piano, trombone and clarinet—have mercy!). King of Swing Era composers and arrangers. King of the Hollywood soundtrack, bequeathing swing unto An American in Paris, Stormy Weather and others. King of playing so much music—'When Lights are Low,' 'All of Me'—that Dizzy trumpeted 'when I grow up I want to be just like Benny!' The JLCO with Wynton Marsalis escort the Kennedy Center Award and Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY®-winning King Carter onto his rightful throne with this concert marking his induction into the Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame. It'll swing with all the stomp and circumstance due jazz royalty."
Cab Calloway Day
The late Cab Calloway was remembered in his hometown, Baltimore, MD, as Mayor Sheila Dixon proclaimed October 10th as "Cab Calloway Day in Baltimore."
"He's an example to all of us that we can achieve even our biggest dreams if we work hard enough," she stated.
A gathering of musicians, artists, prominent city leaders, and dignitaries watched as a photographic exhibit was unveiled in City Hall, tracing Calloway's life through memorabilia, photographs, personal letters, original paintings, and video.
"I think they have done an amazing job of articulating key moments in my granddad's life, from his early days in Baltimore to his sharing the stages of New York with Duke Ellington to his appearances with Sesame Street and the Blues Brothers movie," Calloway's grandson, C. Calloway Brooks, observed. "Its all here for everyone to see, enjoy and reflect upon."
Back in Your Own Backyard
During this past summer, 600 visitors came to the Guy Lombardo Music Centre, a small museum in his hometown of London, Ontario, Canada. But it wasn't enough of a draw for the city, which has now closed the Centre.
In response, the editors of Macleans have voiced their objections, in a piece titled "A Canadian Musical Icon Deserves Better."
"He once owned New Year's Eve," they began. "Today even his memories are homeless. Canada owes Guy Lombardo better than this."
The city hopes to re-open the Centre in the summer of 2008; one proposal suggests broadening the focus to include other aspects of the local musical heritage, but a decision has not been finalized.
"It seems like a crime to let the legacy of Guy Lombardo drift away like a forgotten tune," the Macleans editors commented.
90 Candles On His Cake
Norman Leyden will come out of semi-retirement and celebrate his 90th birthday on
October 17th, by conducting a big band in concert at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts in Portland, Oregon.
Leyden was one of the arrangers with Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band in 1944-45 and the Glenn Miller Orchestra led by Tex Beneke from 1946-49. He also conducted for the 1959 Columbia LP "Once Upon a Time" with vocalist Johnny Desmond.
During his birthday concert, Leyden will present the music of Miller (including Rhapsody in Blue, Sunrise Serenade, I'll Never Smile Again, and I'll Be Seeing You), Artie Shaw (Begin the Beguine), Ray Noble (Harlem Nocturne), Benny Goodman (And the Angels Sing), Tommy Dorsey (Hawaiian War Chant and Swanee River), Jimmy Dorsey (Amapola), and others. Featured vocalists for the program are to be Renee Cleland, Aubrey Cleland, and Rod Lucich.
More Happy Birthday Wishes
Terry Gibbs, vibraphone (Rich '48; Herman '48-'49; T. Dorsey '50; Goodman '50-'52),
b. Oct. 13, 1924
Paul Tanner, trombonist (Miller '38-'42; Miller Orch.-Beneke '46-'51), b.October 15, 1917
Betty Bennett, vocalist (Thornhill '46; Rey '47-'48; Ventura '49, Herman '50; Barnet '52),
b. Oct. 23, 1921
Neal Hefti, bandleader ('51-'60s?) - trumpeter (Barnet '42 / '47 / '48 / '50; Herman '44-'45;
Ventura '46; James '48-'49) - arranger / composer (Basie '50-'60), b. Oct. 29, 1922
Howard Hedges, 52, trombonist (Kenton '78), d.Oct. 15, 2007, paralyzed and in a
wheelchair following a 1993 stroke, his wheelchair flipped going over a street curb and he
hit his head
Teresa Brewer, 76, singer ("The Songs of Bessie Smith" LP with Basie, 1973; "We Love
You, Fats" LP with Hines, 1978; "A Sophisticated Lady" LP with Carter, 1981; "I Dig Big
Band Singers" LP, 1982; "The Cotton Connection" LP with Mercer Ellington, 1984),
Oct. 17, 2007, progressive supranuclear palsy (a rare degenerative brain disease)
A Brand New Website
For the first time, drummer - bandleader Louie Bellson has an online presence, louiebellson.info (or louiebellson.net). Content is being created for the site, which already has
a biography of Bellson, a list of upcoming appearances, notable quotes about him, links, and contact information. Welcome to the web, Louie!
New In-Print and / or Online
Cowan, Ron. "Norman Leyden turns 90 with style," [ Salem, OR ] Statesman Journal /
statesmanjournal.com, Oct. 18, 2007. [ Leyden continues to celebrate his 90th birthday,
with a concert at Willamette University in Salem, OR on October 23, 2007 ]
Darty, David. "Pneumonia launched musical career of Kay Starr," Norman [ OK ]
Transcript / normantranscript.com, Oct. 17, 2007. [ Starr (Crosby '39; Miller '39; Venuti
'39-'42; Barnet '43-'45) ]
"Entertainment: Sammy Kaye Orchestra coming to Festival Park," [ Nags Head, NC ]
Outer Banks Sentinel / obsentinel.womacknewspapers.com, Oct. 31, 2007. [ November
8th and 9th performances ]
Farmer, Colin. "Salden band triumphs in first trip to Tel Aviv," Moonlight Serenader,
Number 314 / 4th Edition 2007, p.1. [ The (European) Glenn Miller Orchestra directed
by pianist Wil Salden recently performed in Tel Aviv, believed to be the first time the
band has played that country ]
---. "Whatever Happened to Ilse Weinberger?," Moonlight Serenader, Number 314 /
4th Edition 2007, pp.8-9. [ seeking what became of the onetime German radio announcer
who worked on the "Wehrmacht Hour" propaganda series with Glenn Miller's AAF band ]
Harvey, Dennis. "Film: Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer (Documentary)," Variety,
Oct. 22, 2007. [ review ]
Helling, Dave. "Jazz museum benefit becomes a money-loser," Kansas City Star,
Oct. 10, 2007. [ it was hoped that The American Jazz Museum's 10th anniversary
celebration, held in September, would raise $150,000; despite an estimated 10,000
people visiting the Museum, expenses - according to the article - included $35,000 for
a concert by The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, and the event lost at least $30,000 ]
"Hotel Pennsylvania's Last Gasp," gothamist.com, Oct. 26, 2007. [ a meeting will be held
Oct. 30th to see if the Hotel, in New York City, merits landmark status ]
Jeffries, Jay. "Mike Berkowitz and the Gene Krupa Orchestra at the Reprise Room at
Dillon's," cabaretexchangce.com, Oct. 25, 2007. [ review of band's New York City
appearance on Oct. 24th ]
Levine, Doug. "Jazz Fans Remember Dizzy Gillespie on 90th Birthday," voa.com,
Oct. 24, 2007. [ Gillespie died at age 75 in 1993; his 90th birthday would have been
on October 21 ]
Maxymillian, Tony. "Pencilmarks: An Evening with Norman Leyden," pencilmarks.com,
Oct. 18, 2007. [ review of Leyden's 90th birthday concert on Octo. 17th ]
McCormick, Mike. "Historical Perspective: Claude Thornhill was a Terre Haute musical
prodigy," Terre Haute [ IN ] Tribune-Star, Oct. 13, 2007.
Miller, David. "Swingin' News: Gene Krupa Swings Again," Swingin' Down the Lane with
David Miller / bigband-era.com, Oct. 22, 2007. [ review of Michael Berkowitz and Gene
Krupa Orchestra's CD "Thinking of Gene" (Sea Breeze SEAB 2143) ]
Pamela Perkins, "Radio jamboree salutes famed band leader," [ Memphis, TN ]
commercialappeal.com, Oct. 21, 2007. [ re: Jimmie Lunceford ]
Rasmusseun, Cecilia. "Hollywood's Palladium has seen its share of glamour: The famed
dance hall and concert venue has kept up with changing tastes to stay viable. Now, it's
closing temporarily for renovations," Los Angeles Times / latimes.com, Oct. 7, 2007.
[ ". . . to undergo a massive, yearlong renovation. Plans are to reopen it under the same
name and with the same mission -- a storied venue for music and dancing . . ." /
". . . 'It remains the oldest and biggest dance venue in the city,' said preservationist Marc
Wanamaker, president of Hollywood Heritage Inc . . . " ]
Stansberry, Rhonda. "The Orpheum has 80 years of rich history," Omaha [ NE ]
World-Herald / omaha.com, Oct. 7, 2007. [ big bands were among the acts to perform
at the Orpheum Theater, which opened in 1927 ]
Tumpak, John. "Legh Knowles: From Glenn Miller to the Napa Valley," L.A. Jazz Scene,
Oct. 2007, pp.3-5. [ recalling the life and career of trumpeter Knowles (1919-1997) ]
"Two Miller Band Members Turn 90," Miller Notes, Oct. 2007, p.1+ [ Paul Tanner, Norman
"World's Ten Best Mysteries, The: Bestselling author Albert Jack has turned his detective
skills to solving the unexplained in his new book Albert Jack's Ten Minute Mysteries.
Here he gives us a list of his favourite ones from around the world," Times Online,
Oct. 11, 2007. [ disappearance of Glenn Miller chosen as #6: ". . . maybe he's even
still alive ( sic ) . . . ]
Zerschling, Lynn. "Sixou City sees stars: Sioux City attracts everyone from Amelia Earhart
to the Three Stooges," Sioux City [ IA ] Journal / siouxcityjournal.com, Oct. 23, 2007.
[ listing of performers who appeared in Sioux City, including Louis Armstrong (Skylon
Ballroom, 1942), Cab Calloway (Capitol Theatre, 1942), Duke Ellington (Orpheum, 1933),
Benny Goodman (Municipal Auditorium, 1952), Spike Jones (Orpheum, 1947), Chico
Marx (Capitol Theatre, 1942), Ozzie Nelson (Shore Acres Ballroom, 1935), The Artie
Shaw Orchestra (Municipal Auditorium, 1985), and Lawrence Welk (Orpheum, 1934 and
1941; Shore Acres, 1942; Skylon Ballroom, 1942).
Zweekhorst, Wim. "Norman's Big Band Birthday," Miller Notes, Oct. 2007, p.7+ [ about
the Oct. 17th concert presented by Norman Leyden ].
Has She "Pigued" Your Interest?
Desne Villepigue, the daughter of jazz arranger and composer Paul Villepigue (1919-1953), continues to seek information about her father by posting around the Internet, including at the Swingin' Down the Lane [ bigband-era.com ] forum "Big Band Talk" and the Big Bands Database Plus [ nfo.net/usa ] "Bulletin Board."
With the help of others, she has documented and discovered work that her father did for various big bands, including Charlie Barnet (famously, Eugipelliv, his name spelled
backwards), Harry James, and Stan Kenton.
After it was mis-spelled "Vugipelliy" for decades, she was able to get the performing rights organization BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) to correct the spelling of Eugipelliv in their title listings.
"And now I've just learned from them that I've been entitled to royalties all these years, but since they had no family heirs' names on file, they sent the money to the state," she revealed in the Big Band Talk forum.
Desne's research may be viewed at home.earthlink.net/~desne.
She may be happy to learn that Lone Hill Jazz, a Spanish CD reissue label, this month released a new Charlie Barnet double-disc collection, "Lonely Street & More" (LHJ10303), named after another of Villepigue's originals for him, and containing 20 Clef and Verve
recordings from the '50s.
More New Compact Discs
Ray Anthony: "Jam Session At the Tower," Jazz Beat 520 [ = 12" Capitol LPs T 749 "Jam
Session At the Tower" + T 476 "I Remember Glenn Miller" ]; "Young Ideas / Moments
Together," Lone Hill Jazz ( Sp ) LHJ10306 [ = 12" Capitol LPs T 866 + T 917 ]; "Ray
Anthony Plays Steve Allen / Like Wild," Lone Hill Jazz ( Sp ) LHJ10307 [ = 12" Capitol LPs
T 1086 + T/ST 1304 ]
Count Basie: "The Chronological 1953-1954," Classics ( Fr ) 1446 [ 18 Clef recordings ]
Carmen Cavallaro: "Cavallaro Plays Ellington," Fine and Mellow 603 [ = 12" Decca LPs
"Cavallaro Plays Ellington" DL7-4774 + "Cocktails with Cavallaro" DL7-8805 ]; "The Eddy
Duchin Story / Eddy Duchin Remembered," Fine and Mellow 604 [ = 12" Decca LPs
DL-8289 + DL7-4449 ]
Urbie Green: "The Complete Persuasive Trombone," Lone Hill Jazz ( Sp ) LHJ10308;
[ = 12" Command LPs "The Persuasive Trombone of Urbie Green" RS 815 SD + "The
Persuasive Trombone of Urbie Green Volume 2" RS 838 SD ]; "Complete 1956-1959
Recordings," Lone Hill Jazz ( Sp ) LHJ10309 [ = 12" LPs "All About Urbie Green and His
Big Band" ABC-Paramount ABC137 + "Let's Face the Music and Dance" RCA Victor
LPM/LSP-1667 + "Jimmy McHugh in Hi-Fi" RCA Victor LPM/LSP-1741 + "The
Message" RCA / Fresh Sound ( Sp ) NL46033 ]
Lionel Hampton: "Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series 17: Lionel Hampton Orchestra
Mustermesse Basel 1953," TCB Music TCB 2172 [ incl. Frio, Mule Boogie,
Improvisation in Blues: Blue Boy, and Riff Beat ]
Peanuts Hucko: "Complete Big Band Recordings," Jazz Connections 1009 [ 2-CD set of
RCA Victor and Grand Award recordings; NOTE: RCA Victor selections largely
duplicated by 2007 BMG ( Japan ) CD BVCJ-38150 "With a Little Bit of Swing" and
1998 BMG ( Fr ) CD 74321611132 "The Mellow Moods of Jazz" ]
Sammy Kaye: "Yearning," Jasmine ( UK ) JASCD 464 [ 1950s Columbia recordings
incl. the 1958 LP CL 1173 / CS 8025 "Serenade of the Bells" in its entirety ]
Vaughn Monroe: "And the Band Swings," Montpellier ( UK ) 36 [ 18 Lang-Worth
transcriptions, similar to Swing Era LP-1014 "The Monroe Doctrine" / Big Band
Archives LP-1211 "Comin' On" / various Blue Heaven LPs ]
Buddy Rich: "Time Out," Capitol 54799 [ 11 live performances from the 1970s ]
Freddy Martin: "Tonight We Love," Audiophonic 70727 [ 2-CD set of 32 Standard
transcriptions from the mid-'40s ]
various artists. "Frank Sinatra: A Voice in Time (1939-1952)," Sony 716124
[ 4-CD set with 80 selections including Sinatra with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey;
"a dozen previously unreleased alternate takes and airchecks";120-page hardcover
After more than 25 years through the mail and online, Ray Anthony has now ended his entrepreneurial venture selling big band recordings.
"The Big Band CD Store is now closed for business," he stated in a notice posted to his website. "Thank you for your years of loyalty and patronage."
Around 1980, radio stations had begun to switch to nostalgia-oriented sounds, in particular a packaged format called "The Music of Your Life," created by former bassist Al Ham.
Anthony saw an opportunity, compiling a mailing list of such stations, while, at the same time, aggressively encouraging others to include at least some big band music in their programming. To service these stations, he created a clearinghouse for a large selection of record albums, "Big Bands '80s Record Library," including his own Aero Space label. His printed listing was proclaimed as "the world's largest big bands album catalog," eventually with over 1700 different albums by 200 different bands.
He also offered the discs by mail order to the general public, which no longer could find big band music in their local record stores.
Within a year, close to 1,000 radio stations had switched to swing, and, after CDs replaced LPs, he continued to sell big band music.
Mr. Anthony, thank you for your timely idea and hard work on behalf of big bands!
Ray Anthony: "Dream Dancing: Featuring the Mellow Music of Ray Anthony and His
Orchestra," TMG 17920 [ DVD has "extensive interviews and vintage footage"; with
3 CDs of Capitol recordings ]
Spike Jones: "Spike Jones: The Legend," SJ2 Entertainment / Infinity [ 3 DVDs with
bonus music CD; includes two "Colgate Comedy Hour" programs from 1951, two "All Star
Revue" shows from 1952, a 1961 "Ed Sullivan Show" appearance, etc. ]
Last month, Reelin' in the Years, a music footage archive based in San Diego, issued
seven DVDs as part of its ongoing "Jazz Icons" series. Among them was "Duke Ellington:
Live in '58," a performance of Ellington and his orchestra in Holland.
It was an Internet search which led company President David Peck to the material.
"When we start a project like this, and I want to find out information, I can type in 'Duke Ellington bootlegs' or 'Duke Ellington video,'" Peck told writer Aaron Cohen in Down Beat. "I'll find 25 fan sites saying what's floating around. That's how we found out about the show existing. Inronically enough, one of our European clients owned it, but didn't tell us about it."
The footage is said to be "the earliest-known filmed full-length concert" of Ellington and his band, which, at the time, included Clark Terry, Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Paul Gonsalves, Quentin Jackson, and Ray Nance.
Whimsical Tribute to Cugie
The Luna Negra Dance Theater, a contemporary dance company in Chicago, will present a world premiere tribute to bandleader Xavier Cugat, "CUGAT!," October 19th and 20th. It was choreographed by Eduardo Vilaro, the Founder of Luna Negra, and will be accompanied by a live, 21-piece orchestra.
"I grew up with this music," Vilaro told Chicago Tribune Arts Critic Sid Smith. "This is the man who brought Latin culture into the American mainstream."
"CUGAT!," an abstract work, incorporates such classic musical styles as the mambo, cha-cha, and rhumba.
"I wanted to use the rhythms of the time to honor a great leader," Vilaro said.
Name Bands Now
Count Basie Orchestra directed by Bill Hughes: Oct. 20, Riley Center, Mississippi State
University, Meridian, MS
Louie Bellson: Oct. 14, Emmanuel Baptist Church, San Jose, CA [ performs at 11 am service
in celebration of the church's anniversary ]
Les Brown's Band of Renown directed by Les Brown, Jr.: Oct. 1-4 / 6 / 8-11 / 13 / 15-18
20 / 22-25 / 27 / 29-31, Mickey Gilley Theatre, Branson, MO
Cab Calloway Orchestra directed by C. Calloway Brooks: Oct. 13, Forest View High School,
Bob Crosby's Bob Cats directed by Ed Metz: Oct. 11, Pine View Acres, Pottsville, PA
Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Bill Tole: Oct. 5, Detroit Lake [ sic ], MI; Oct. 6, Grand
Rapids, MI; Oct. 26-27, Milwaukee, WI [ with The Pied Pipers ]
Tommy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Buddy Morrow: Oct. 6, Westin Resort, Hilton Head
Island, SC; Oct. 12, Victoria Theatre, Dayton, OH; Oct. 13, Arlee Theater, Mason City, IL
Les Elgart Orchestra directed by Russ Dorsey: Oct. 21, Dallas Hebrew Free Loan
Association, Dallas, TX
Harry James Orchestra directed by Fred Radke: Oct. 17, Munster, IN; Oct. 19, Mauston,
WI; Oct. 23, Lexington, MO; Oct. 25, Marshalltown, IA; Oct. 28, Bella Vista, AR; Oct. 30,
Tupelo Civic Auditorium, Tupelo, MS
Sammy Kaye Orchestra directed by Roger Thorpe: Oct. 19-20, Grand Hotel, Mackinac
Gene Krupa Orchestra directed by Michael Berkowitz: Oct. 24: Reprise Room, Dillon's,
New York, NY
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Larry O'Brien: Oct. 1, Tropicana Casino & Resort,
Atlantic City, NJ; Oct. 2, Whitaker Center, Harrisburg, PA; Oct. 3-4, Penn's Peak, Jim
Thorpe, PA; Oct. 5, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, Dover, DE; Oct. 6, Community Arts
Center, Williamsport, PA; Oct. 8, Smith Opera House, Geneva, NY; Oct. 11, Overture
Hall, Madison, WI; Pct. 12, Ruth A. Knoll Theatre, Hartford, WI; Oct. 13, McComb/Bruchs
Performing Arts Center, Wautoma, WI; Oct. 14, Lake Michigan College, Benton
Habor, MI; Oct. 18, T.B. Sheldon Auditorium, Red Wing, MN; Oct. 19, Al Ringling
Theatre, Baraboo, WI; Oct. 20, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts,
Bloomington, IL; Oct. 21, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL; Oct. 23, Yates
Auditorium, Dyersburg, TN; Oct. 26, Renfro Valley Entertainment Center, Renfro
Valley, KY; Oct. 27, Central Auditorium, Findlay, OH; Oct. 28, Macomb Center for the
Arts, Clinton Township, MI
Artie Shaw Orchestra directed by Dick Johnson: Oct. 7, Rich Forum, Stamford, CT
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