Today is May 11th.
Cornet player and bandleader Joe "King" Oliver was born this day in 1885 in Louisiana. A young Louis Armstrong was his protege in Oliver's Chicago-based Creole Jazz Band from 1922 to 1924.
Trombonist J.C. Higginbotham was born this day in 1906 near Atlanta, Ga. His huge sound and confident range blessed the bands of Luis Russell, Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, Lucky Millinder and Red Allen.
Composer, bandleader and pianist Carla Bley was born this day in 1938 in Oakland, Calif., daughter of a piano teacher and church organist.
On this day in 1970, longtime Duke Ellington Orchestra member Johnny Hodges, one of the most distinctive voices ever heard on alto saxophone, died of a heart attack while visiting the dentist. He joined the band in 1928 and stayed for all but seven of the next 42 years.
This was also the day, in 1937, when the Benny Goodman and Chick Webb orchestras went head to head in a classic battle of the bands at New York's Savoy Ballroom.
Goodman's drummer Gene Krupa declared Webb's band the winner. Krupa said drumming/bandleader Webb, in his words, "just cut me to ribbons." According to eyewitness George Simon, 4,000 people were inside the Savoy that night and 5,000 others were turned away.
On this night in 2001, saxophonist and vocalist Vi Redd, who toured in the 1960s with Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie and led her own bop quintet, was honored with the 2001 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival Award for her lifetime of service to jazz as a performer and educator.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
The lineup is set for this year's JVC Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island. Tony Bennett headlines the Friday night gala concert at Newport Casino and sings again Saturday afternoon at Fort Adams State Park. Other Saturday performers include Bill Cosby's all-star Cos of Good Music band with Don Alias, Dwayne Burno, Ndugu Chancler, Robin Eubanks, Craig Handy, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Carlos Ward and James Williams, plus the Dave Holland quintet, Oleta Adams, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the Greg Osby quartet featuring Jason Moran, Sex Mob, Ballin' The Jack, and Yerba Buena. Sunday features Isaac Hayes. Arturo Sandoval, the Nicholas Payton quintet with special guest saxophonist James Carter, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Lea DeLaria, David S. Ware, Bullfrog featuring Kid Koala, the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra and the Holmes Brothers. The festival is August 9, 10 and 11.
Jazz at Lincoln Center begins its 7th annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival today in New York. Fifteen finalist bands from across the U.S. will compete for more than $11,000 in cash awards at the competition finals. Throughout April 2002, J@LC sent, free of charge, a professional musician to each of the 15 finalist schools to lead an intensive daylong workshop of rehearsals, lessons and master classes.
The 15 finalists for Essentially Ellington 2002 are:
-- Rio Americano High School, Sacramento, Calif.
-- SF Jazz All-Star High School Ensemble, San Francisco
-- Connecticut Youth Jazz Workshop, Middletown, Conn.
-- Hall High School, West Hartford, Conn.
-- New World School Of The Arts, Miami
-- Thornton Township High School, Harvey, Ill.
-- Foxboro High School, Foxboro, Mass.
-- King Philip Regional High School, Wrentham, Mass.
-- 315 All-Stars, Greater Syracuse, N.Y.
-- LaGuardia High School For The Performing Arts, New York, N.Y.
-- Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra, Columbus, Ohio
-- Mountlake Terrace High School, Mountlake Terrace, Wash.
-- Garfield High School, Seattle
-- Roosevelt High School, Seattle
-- Eau Claire Memorial High School, Eau Claire, Wis.
Elsewhere on the New York jazz scene... the Nicholas Payton quintet is at Iridium. Pianist Cedar Walton's band is at the Village Vanguard this week. Saxophonist David Sanborn is at the Blue Note. The Houston Person quartet is at the Jazz Standard this week. The Bruce Barth quartet is at Smoke tonight.
Organist Ron Levy's new band Spank! with Deep Banana Blackout's Fuzz and Eric Kalb is at Makor tonight. Bassist Robert Hurst's quartet is at the Jazz Gallery tonight. The Knitting Factory features 764-Hero, Matt Pond PA, Swearing At Motorists, Mario Pavone, Steven Bernstein, Tony Malaby, Craig Taborn and Michael Sarin, The Contingency Plan and Karwreck. The Ben Dixon Group is at the Lenox Lounge in Harlem tonight. The Arkadia Music Center presents TK Blue in its Saxophone Day program.
Sonny Rollins is at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill. N.Y., tonight with his band.
Trumpeter Ray Vega's sextet performs tonight at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J., before leaving Sunday for an extensive quintet tour of Spain that opens Monday in Javea. Marlene Verplanck is at Trumpets in Montclair, N.J. tonight.
In and around Boston...the Yellowjackets are at Scullers in Boston tonight. Gary Burton and Makoto Ozone are at the Regattabar in Cambridge tonight and Sunday.
The Oberlin Jazz Ensemble performs tonight at Finney Chapel at Ohio's Oberlin College. Mary Wilson sings music from Duke Ellington tonight with a "Sophisticated Ladies" concert at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown.
Pianist Benny Green is at the Bird of Paradise in Ann Arbor, Mich., tonight.
In and around Chicago... Jim McNeeley is featured at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago tonight and Sunday. The Jerry DeVivo quartet is at the California Clipper. The B3 Bombers with Clyde Stubblefield are at the Green Mill. Bopology is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium. Rankinfyle is at Philander's in Oak Park. Henry Johnson's Organ Express is at Pops for Champagne tonight.
On the New Orleans jazz scene... Don Vappie and the Creole Serenaders perform classic Creole music (early jazz, in this case) at the Pontchartrain Vineyards tonight north of New Orleans. Improvisational Arts Council is at the Blue Nile. Guitarist Bill Solley is at Cobalt. Leroy Jones is at Donna's. Wendell Brunious is at Dos Jefes. Jeremy Davenport is at the Ritz Carlton's French Quarter Bar. Louis Ford and Topsy Chapman are at Satchmo's jazz room in Harrah's. Devin Phillip is at the Funky Butt. Riccardo Crespo is at Le Meridien. Brice Winston and Ronald Markham are at Le Salon at the Windsor Court.
Johnny Vidacovich, Rich Vogel, Ben Ellman and Brian Seeger are at the Old Point. Lionel Ferbos leads the band at Palm Court. Pete Fountain is at his club in the Hilton. John Brunious leads the band at Preservation Hall. John Ellis is at Snug Harbor with Jason Marsalis, Roland Guerin and Peter Martin. Kiki Bonilla and Chucky C headline the Storyville District Jazz Parlor. Sharon Martin is at Sweet Lorraine. The Albert-Ankrum Project and the Panorama Jazz Band are at the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park today.
On the California jazz scene... On the California jazz scene... Gonzalo Rubalcaba is at the Catalina in North Hollywood tonight through Sunday. Guitarist Russell Malone's quartet is at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles through the weekend. The Banda Brothers are at Steamer's Jazz Café en Fullerton tonight.
Pianist Brad Mehldau's trio is at Yoshi's in Oakland tonight through Sunday. Bill Henderson, Eric Comstock and Dena deRose bring their Hollywood Songbook show to The Plush Room in San Francisco tonight. Mark Levine, Hal Stein and David Ewell are at the Downtown restaurant in Berkeley tonight. The Kokopelli Latin Jazz Quartet featuring Turiya Mareya, Ceasar Lozano, Lynn Copeland and David Millard performs this afternoon at the Pacific Beach Block Party. The 2002 Pacifica Jazz Festival opens its multi-weekend run tonight with the Greg Abate quartet and Three Tenors/No Opera.
The Pat Metheny Group is in Poole in the United Kingdom tonight.