Singer Sarah Vaughan, whose heavenly voice brought her the nickname "The Divine One," was born this day in 1924 in Newark, N.J. She merged the uncanny imagination of a jazz singer, the range of an opera singer, and the appeal of a pop star into a sound that was beloved all over the world.
Like so many other great singers of her time, Vaughan's success began after she won first prize at the Apollo Theatre amateur show in Harlem at age 16. She won $10 and a week-long engagement at the theater.
Singer Billy Eckstine, who would later become a collaborator, heard Vaughan that week and recommended her to Earl Hines. After a year in Hines' band, Vaughan joined Eckstine's band with Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Roy Eldridge, Charlie Parker and Gene Ammons. Sarah Vaughan died of cancer in 1990.
Clarinetist Pee Wee Russell was born this day in 1926 in Maplewood, Mo. He had a fractured, cliff-hanging style that revolutionized clarinet playing, and invigorated the traditional jazz scene. In the 1930s, bandleader Louis Prima called Russell the most fabulous musical mind he knew. Russell died in 1969.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene, guitarist John Abercrombie's quartet is at the Jazz Standard tonight tenor Saxophonist Mark Turner's quartet is at the Village Vanguard through Sunday. Albita is at the Blue Note this week with her band in week four of the club's Latin jazz festival. The Heath Brothers are at Iridium. The Quizamba Brazilian jazz quartet is at the Zinc Bar tonight.
Ralph Irizarry and his Latin band Timbalaye may be based in New York, but don't play there on a regular basis. But tonight is one of those rare nights, with Timbalaye at the Arka Lounge. Singer Napua Davoy is at Birdland tonight.
In and around Boston, guitarist Leni Stern is at Johnny D's in Somerville tonight. Josh Roseman of Groove Collective and Brooklyn Funk Essentials fame, brings a new ensemble into the House of Blues in Cambridge tonight.
Guitarist Jimmy Bruno's trio is at Chris's Jazz Café in Philadelphia tonight.
On the Chicago jazz scene, the Eddie Johnson quintet is at Andy's. Mike Finnerty and the Jazz Hippies are at Cafe Ennui tonight. Bill Porter Orchestra with Rich Fudoli is at Green Dolphin Street. The Brass Tacks Big Band is Hackney's. Charles McPherson is at the Jazz Showcase through Sunday. Ken Saydak is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium tonight. The Frank Catalano trio is at Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston. Andrew Blenderman is at Philander's in Oak Park. The Dave Flippo trio is at Pops of Highwood tonight.
In New Orleans tonight, Scott Thomas is at Cobalt. The Soul Rebels Brass band is at El Matador. Ingrid Lucia and the Flying Neutrinos are at the Ritz Carlton's French Quarter Bar. Robin Boudreaux's quintet is at the Funky Butt. Topsy Chapman is featured at Satchmo's jazz room in Harrah's Casino. Kermit Ruffins brings his Barbecue Swingers into Le Bon Temps Roule.
Johnmny Vidacovich and George Porter Jr. team up tonight at the Old Point. Trumpeter Wendell Brunious leads the band at Preservation Hall. Trumpeter Nicholas Payton is at Snug Harbor tonight and Thursday. Barbara Shorts is at the Storyville District Jazz Parlor.
On the California jazz scene, clarinetist Eddie Daniels and pianist Fred Hersch are at The Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles. Saxophonist Kenny Garrett's quartet is at the Catalina Bar and Grill in North Hollywood this week. Bassist Buster Williams and his band, Something More, are at Yoshi's in Oakland tonight. The Jill Deweese quintet is at Steamer's Jazz Café in Fullerton tonight.