Saxophonist, singer and bandleader Tex Beneke was born this day in 1914 in Fort Worth, Texas. He soared in popularity after joining Glenn Miller's 1938 orchestra. His was the voice heard on Miller's big hits "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and "I Got A Gal in Kalamazoo." He died in 2000.
Pianist and composer Mel Powell was born this day in 1923 in New York City. He had a bright but brief jazz career, primarily with Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller, before setting it aside to concentrate on serial composition in the tradition of Paul Hindemith and Milton Babbitt. Powell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1990. He died in 1998.
On this day in 1924, the Paul Whiteman band introduced the world to George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." The piece made its debut at a Whiteman appearance at Aeolian Hall in New York City.
The jazz world is mourning another loss...
Baritone saxophonist Nick Brignola died Friday at the Albany, N.Y., Medical Center Hospital after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 65. The Grammy nominee was a multiple winner of critics' polls on his instrument. Brignola recorded more than 20 albums as a leader.
He played with guitarist Sal Salvador and Woody Herman in the early 1960s and had a 10-year association with trumpeter Ted Curson beginning in 1967. He began playing his uncommon horn at age 20 when he was loaned a baritone while his alto sax was being repaired. Brignola was the Berklee College of Music's first scholarship student. Brignola is survived by his wife, Yvonne, three children and one granddaughter.
His newest CD, "Tour De Force," will be released Feb. 26 by Reservoir Music. It features Brignola with guitarist Chuck D'Aloia, bassist Eddie Gomez, drummer Bill Stewart and percussionist Café.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene, Cassandra Wilson's band is at the Blue Note this week. Trumpeter Clark Terry's quintet is scheduled at the Village Vanguard through Sunday. Singer Kendra Shank and her trio are at Iridium tonight. Trumpeter Brian Lynch's quintet is at the Zinc Bar tonight and Wednesday. David Ostwald's Louis Armstrong Centennial Band and the Duke Ellington Orchestra led by Jack Jeffers are at Birdland tonight. Gary Morgan's 20-piece Latin jazz orchestra, Panamericana, is at Makor tonight.
Author, critic and columnist Stanley Crouch hosts a "Jazz Talk" program on the John Coltrane legacy tonight at Lincoln Center's Kaplan Penthouse. Former Coltrane drummer Rashied Ali and tenor saxophonist Antoine Roney will join him in a discussion of Coltrane's life, musical development and influence on subsequent generations of players.
In and around Boston, pianist Bruce Barth's trio is at the Regattabar in Cambridge tonight. Maggie Scott, Cheryl Bentyne, Lisa Thorson and Kevin Mahogany perform tonight at the Berklee Performance Center as part of the school's jazz vocal series. Gene Bertoncini at New England Conservatory's Williams Hall tonight. Italian saxophonist Carlo Actis Dato performs with Eric Zinman's trio at the Tremont Theatre. Singer Terry Blaine and pianist Mark Shane revisit the music of Ethel Waters tonight at the Sherborn Inn.
Tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton's quartet is at Casa Vecchia in Salem, N.H., tonight.
Tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman's quartet is scheduled at Nighttown in Cleveland tonight and Wednesday.
Pianist Lynne Arriale's trio performs tonight at Indiana University in Bloomington.
On the Chicago jazz scene, the Men of Note are at Andy's tonight. The Vandermark Five are at the Empty Bottle. Franz Jackson and His Jazz Entertainers are at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium. The Steven Hashimoto quartet is at the Leopard Lounge. Von Freeman is at the New Apartment Lounge. The Dave Specter band is at Pops for Champagne.
In New Orleans, the Soul Rebels Brass Band is featured in tonight's Fat Tuesday Throwdown at the Dragon's Den. The Jazz Vipers are at El Matador. Drummer James Alsanders' Jazz Project is at the Funky Butt tonight. The ReBirth Brass Band is at the Maple Leaf. Trumpeter Gregg Stafford leads the band at Preservation Hall. The Mahogany Brass Band and the Treme Brass Band are at the Storyville District Jazz Parlor.
On the California jazz scene, saxophonist Chris Potter's quartet at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles through Sunday. Trumpeter Roy Hargrove's quintet is at the Catalina Bar and Grill in North Hollywood this week. The Chris Williams quintet is at Steamer's Jazz Café in Fullerton tonight.
Singer Nancy Wilson is at Yoshi's in Oakland this week. The Terry Becker band is at Café Caracas in Berkeley tonight. Vince Lateano, Al Plank and Michael Zisman team up tonight at the Hotel De Anza's Hedley Club in San Jose. Mal Sharpe and Big Money in Jazz are at The Ivy Room in Albany. Singer Marigold Hill joins the Benny Barth trio tonight at Main Street Station in Russian River.
In San Francisco, Ricardo Scales is at the Top of the Mark. Reilly Bandy is at Enrico's and Wanda Stafford and Shaynee Rainbolt are at The Plush Room. The Ron Marabuto trio is at Jazz at Pearl's.
Bassist Marcus Miller's band is at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle tonight through Sunday.
The Jim Galloway-Doug Riley quartet with Reg Schwager and Don Vickery is at the Montreal Jazz Club and Bistro in Toronto tonight through Saturday.
Trumpeter Irvin Mayfield's quintet is at the Widderbar in Zurich, Switzerland, tonight.
On the recording front...
-- Blue Note is out with several new releases today. They include singer Bobby McFerrin's first jazz project in a year. "Beyond Words" teams him with pianist Chick Corea, accordion and keyboard wiz Gil Goldstein, bassist Richard Bona, percussionist Cyro Baptists and drummer Omar Hakim. Keith Underwood plays flute and McFerrin's son Taylor joins in on beatbox.
Blue Note has also released in the United States singer Henri Salvador "Room With A View". The session by the 84-year-old French singer is filled with bossa nova, swing and romance. Harmonica player Toots Thielemans and Swedish singer Lisa Ekdahl are collaborators. The CD has sold more than a million copies in Europe since its 2000 release in France.
-- Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, guitarist Robben and bassist Jimmy Haslip's fusion collaboration "Jing Chi" Is out on Tone Center records today. The Dreyfus label has released a new Richard Galliano-Eddy Louis project called "Face to Face."
-- Singer Ann Hampton Callaway's latest recording "Signature" is out today on N-Coded Music. Her bandmates include Freddy Cole, New York Voices, Kenny Barron, Rodney Jones, Wynton Marsalis and Frank Wess.
-- Singer Natalie Cole has signed a recording contract with Verve, reuniting her with producer Tommy LiPuma, who helped craft her "Unforgettable" 1991 comeback recording that sold 14 million copies and reaped six Grammys. Cole's Verve debut is due in the fall.