Pianist Ahmad Jamal was born this day in 1930 in Pittsburgh, Pa. His distinctive musical voicings, particularly his spare melodic style, had a profound influence on Miles Davis. The trumpeter credited Jamal for his stylistic preferences, and recorded many of Jamal's favorite tunes.
Pianist Richard Wyands was born this day in 1928 in Oakland, Calif. He remains in strong demand as an accompanist and ensemble player.
On this day in 1944, promoter Norman Granz produced the first in his historic series of Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts. It took place in Los Angeles at Philharmonic Auditorium. By the early 1950s, the all-star tour lasted seven months a year and included some 150 performances around the world.
This was also the day, in 1941, when drummer Gene Krupa's band recorded "Rockin' Chair" for the Okeh label with special guest Roy Eldridge.
Blues singer Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson died this day in 1988 at age 70.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
Musicologist Wolfram Knauer, director of Germany's Jazz-Institut Darmstadt, has been named as the recipient of the Hesse Jazz Award 2002 for his achievements in establishing an international jazz information and documentation center. In addition to serving music lovers and fans, the Darmstadt institute has become an efficient source for researchers, journalists, musicians and the music business in general. The annual award is presented to those who have distinguished themselves musically in the Hessen area of Germany, which includes Frankfurt and some of the more active jazz regions of the country. The archive of late jazz critic and producer Joachim Ernst Berendt was the basis of the institute's holdings.
On the New York jazz scene...guitarist Mark Whitfield's organ trio is at Iridium this week. The Count Basie Orchestra is at the Blue Note through Sunday. The Gary Bartz quintet with pianist Barney McCall, guitarist Paul Bollenback, bassist James King and drummer Greg Bandy is at the Village Vanguard this week. The Jazz Standard presents a "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" Birthday Tribute to Louis Armstrong & the U.S.A through Sunday. Tonight's lineup features trumpeter Marcus Printup's septet.
In and around Chicago... tenor saxophonist Tenor Saxophonist Eric Alexander is at the Jazz Showcase through Sunday with Harold Mabern, Dennis Carroll, and George Fludas. Jimmy Sutton's Four Charms are at the Green Mill tonight. Ken Cheney is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium tonight. Von Freeman and Friends are at the New Apartment Lounge. Nadine Baxter is at Philander's in Oak Park tonight.
In New Orleans... Tom Hook is at Dos Jefes. Ingrid Lucia is at the Ritz Carlton's French Quarter Bar. Drummer James Alsanders' Jazz Project is at the Funky Butt. Trombonist Brian O'Neill is at Satchmo's jazz room at Harrah's casino. Darrell Levigne and Jesse McBride are at Le Salon at Windsor Court. The ReBirth Brass Band is at the Maple Leaf. Gregg Stafford leads the band tonight at Preservation Hall. The Olivier Bou Trio is at Snug Harbor. The Ian McPhail Quintet is at the Spotted Cat. The Dukes of Dixieland play for the dinner crowd aboard the Steamboat Natchez.
Saxophonist Lou Donaldson and organist Lonnie Smith bring their quartet into the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles starting tonight. The Ron Kobayashi/Steve Hommel duo is at Steamers Jazz Café in Fullerton tonight. The Benny Barth Jazz Trio is at Main Street Station in Guerneville tonight. There's a Night with the Young Musicians Program featuring Amina Figarova, Dave Ellis and Dmitri Matheny tonight at Yoshi's in Oakland. Alan Steger is at the Bix Restaurant and Supper Club in San Francisco tonight.
Singer Claudia Acuna is at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle tonight.
The Pat Metheny Group is in Barcelona, Spain, tonight.
On the recording front...
Singer Norah Jones' debut album, "Come Away With Me," has gone gold. It was released in February on Blue Note, and recently was certified by the Recording Industry Association of America as having sold more than 500,000 copies in the United States.
Mosaic Records has released "The Classic Columbia and Okeh Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang Sessions," the first collection in 40 years dedicated to these often overlooked pioneers. This 8-CD set sheds new light on violinist Venuti and guitarist Lang, two boyhood friends who became the first full-fledged stars in jazz on their respective instruments.
Although they grew up only blocks apart in South Philadelphia, the orchestra at James Campbell High School established their inseparable musical relationship. They were a study in personal contrasts. Venuti was aggressive, rambunctious, unpredictable and had a penchant for outlandishly bizarre humor. Lang was quiet, humble, sensible and extremely reliable in every way. But their commonalities made them an extraordinary musical duo. Aside from their mutual love of sports and their first generation Italian-American heritage (Lang¹s real name was Salvatore Massaro, taking his stage name from a boyhood basketball idol), their musical tastes and virtuoso artistry cemented the relationship. It lasted until Eddie¹s tragic death at 31 in 1933, from complications of an unnecessary tonsil operation.
"The Classic Columbia and Okeh Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang Sessions" begin with their 1926 duet classics, "Black and Blue Bottom and Stringing the Blues" and includes all of their delightful duo recordings. The set includes a vast collection of 194 tracks in various settings, featuring Venuti and Lang together and separately, with many rare recordings, six of which are previously unissued.
In addition to the aforementioned duos and Lang¹s dates with Bessie Smith and Lonnie Johnson, the set includes all of Lang¹s solo performances; various big band dates under Lang¹s and/or Venuti¹s leadership; the Venuti Blue Four/Five/Six sessions; sidemen dates with small groups led by Louis Armstrong, Frank Trumbauer, Red Nichols and Tommy Dorsey; big band dates with Jack Pettis, Fred Rich and Paul Whiteman; and back-up sessions for popular singers like Red McKenzie, Cliff Edwards, Annette Hanshaw, Ruth Etting; and a previously unissued date with Big Crosby (who is also on all of the Whiteman tracks, and for whom Lang was personal accompanist).
Also included are Lang¹s seminal guitar duets with Carl Kress, and all of his blues sessions with Smith, Johnson, Clarence Williams, Victoria Spivey, Gladys Bentley, Sonny Porter, Texas Alexander and others. There are even a few novelty records that feature Venuti¹s strange humor.
All recordings are available solely through Mosaic Records; 35 Melrose Place; Stamford, CT. 06902; (203) 327-7111. Check the Web site at mosaicrecords.com for more information or to place an order.