Singer-actor Bing Crosby was born this day in Tacoma, Wash., in 1904. He made some terrific straight-ahead swing jazz recordings in the early 1930s with Bix Beiderbecke, the Rhythm Boys and other small groups produced by Paul Whiteman.
The great jazz drummer Billy Higgins, known for his touch and tasty playing, his effervescent smile and his ardent work as an educator and mentor to younger musicians in the Los Angeles inner city, died this day in 2001 in a California hospital. He had been awaiting a second liver transplant operation.
This was the day, in 1938, when singer Ella Fitzgerald recorded her breakthrough song "A Tisket, A Tasket" with the Chick Webb Band. The dressed-up nursery rhyme rearrangement was the biggest hit Webb's band ever had.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene, the Lou Donaldson quartet is at the Village Vanguard through Sunday. The Danilo Perez trio is at the Jazz Standard all week. The Michel Camilo and Kenny Werner trios are at the Blue Note through Sunday. Kenny Garrett is at Iridium this week. Jack Kleinsinger's Highlights in Jazz series at the Pace Downtown Theater features the Heath Brothers and Jackie and Roy.
Jazz at Lincoln Center features The Music of Pixinguinha with Romero Lubambo, Cyro Baptista, Paula Robison, Mauro Senise, Duduka da Fonseca and Nilson Matta tonight through Saturday at the Kaplan Penthouse, Trumpeter Valery Ponomarev's All-Star Quintet is at Birdland tonight. Naftule's Dream is at Tonic. The Greg Tardy quartet is at the Jazz Gallery tonight.
Spyro Gyra is at Scullers jazz club in Boston tonight and Friday. Dave Douglas is at The Regattabar in Cambridge tonight.
In New Orleans, JazzFest performances resume today at the Fair Grounds Race Course heading into the 2002 event's final weekend. This is Kid's Day, where performers include Kermit Ruffins, Delbert McClinton, Gov't Mule, John Boutte, Banu Gibson, the Blind Boys of Alabama and many more.
Elsewhere on the Crescent City jazz scene, where the music is bubbling year-round, the George French Band featuring Germaine Bazzle and Davell Crawford is at Donna's tonight. David Dunbar and Ingrid Lucia are at El Matador.
Rebecca Barry is at Dos Jefes. "Ponderosa Stomp -- 'The Monkey Speaks His Mind' with Dave Bartholomew, Earl Palmer, Earl King and Eddie Bo is at the Fine Art Center. Jason Marsalis is at the Funky Butt. Charlie Hunter is at the House of Blues' Parish Room, along with Karl Denson's Tiny Universe and a battle of the bands between Kermit Ruffins and Irvin Mayfield.
The Hyatt Regency features singer Banu Gibson, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and the Fayared Nichols Big Band. Wanda Rouzan and Thais Clark are at Le Chat Noir for the Jazz and Blues Chantuse Series. There's an Armstrong Jazz Camp Benefit featuring Donald Harrison, Larry Coryell and Christian Scott tonight at the Mahalia Jackson Performing Arts Center.
The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and Johnny Vidacovich with Chris Wood and special guests are at the Old Point. Dave Bartholomew leads the band at Preservation Hall. The New Birth Brass Band is at the Storyville District Jazz Parlor. Davell Crawford is at Sweet Lorraine's. There's a Brass Band Throw-Down with ReBirth, Hot 8, Pin Stripe, Coolbone, Trombone Shorty, Li'l Stooges and the Soul Rebels Brass Bands tonight at the TwiRoPa Arts Center. Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers are at Vaughn's. Tricia 'Sista Teedy' Boutte is at the Windsor Court tonight.
On the California jazz scene, Kenny Barron, Stefon Harris, Javon Jackson, Rufus Reid and Lewis Nash are featured in a tribute to the late Joe Henderson at Yoshi's in Oakland. Benny Green is at the Catalina in North Hollywood through Sunday. Jason Moran's trio is at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles through Sunday.
Nils Molin is at Main Street Station in Guerneville. Wanda Stafford and the Si Perkoff Band are at the Panama Hotel and Restaurant in San Rafael. In San Francisco, Bill Henderson, Eric Comstock and Dena deRose bring their Hollywood Songbook show to The Plush Room. Drummer Vince Lateano's trio is at Jazz at Pearl's.
On the recording front...
-- Bassist Brian Bromberg has released "Wood," his debut on the A440 label. He performs on a 300-year-old upright bass that he used while touring with Stan Getz as a teenager in 1979. Bromberg's Jaco Pastorious tribute with Eric Marienthal and Bob Mintzer is due this fall.
-- Pianist Larry Vuckovich is out with a jazz and world music project called "Blue Balkan: Then and Now." There are 30 minutes of new material added to his original 1980 "Blue Balkan" LP made with Bobby Hutcherson. It's on the Tetrachord Music label.