Today is July 4.
For decades, the world thought July 4 was the all-American birthday of jazz trumpet legend Louis Armstrong. Some believe Armstrong listed July 4, 1900 as his birth date when he registered for the draft in 1918 because he wanted a date everyone would remember. But 1980s research showed Armstrong was born Aug. 4, 1901 in a ramshackle house in New Orleans.
Tenor saxophone and clarinet player Aaron Sachs was born this day in 1923 in New York. This overlooked bebopper played with Red Norvo, Benny Goodman, Eddie Haywood, Charlie Ventura, Buddy Rich, Sarah Vaughan and Gene Krupa at various points in his career.
Drummer Butch Miles was born this day in 1944 in Ironton, Ohio. Heavily influenced by Buddy Rich, he is very active on the swing jazz scene from coast to coast and has been back on the road powering the Count Basie Orchestra for the past four and a half years.
Bassist Ray Brown, a giant in jazz who played with American legends Oscar Petersen, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughn, Peggy Lee and the Modern Jazz Quartet, died Tuesday before his second show at the Jazz Kitchen night club.
Brown, 75, was playing a two-night date in Indianapolis with his trio before flying to Berlin, Germany. He was found dead in bed at the Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites after he failed to arrive for the 9:15 p.m. show. His death was announced to the packed house, but no details were released.
Born Oct. 13, 1926 in Pittsburgh, Raymond Matthews Brown began formal music training at age 8 and was an accomplished pianist before he took up the string bass in the high school band. Brown learned to finger the bass by ear and was soon playing professionally around town with the Jimmy Hinsely Sextet and the Snookum Russell band.
He moved to New York City around age 20 and was asked to play at a rehearsal by bebop innovator Dizzy Gillespie, who hired him on the spot. Brown left Gillespie in 1948 to form a trio with Hank Jones and Charlie Smith and toured the world with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic for 18 years. He was a stalwart of the Oscar Peterson trio until it disbanded in 1966.
He composed "Gravy Waltz" a jazz tune that became the theme to the Steve Allen Show and won a Grammy Award. Brown married the Ella Fitzgerald in 1948 and remained her music director after their divorce in 1952.
He played on all of Sinatra's television specials and was director of the Monterey Jazz Festival for two years and music director for the Concord Summer Festival in 1976 and 1977.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
Tonight's Montreal International Jazz Festival features include the Lorraine Desmariais trio, Archie Shepp and Roswell Rudd, Medeski, Martin and Wood with Charlie Hunter and Trilok Gurtu, the James Carter organ trio, David Binney, Toots Thielemsns and Kenny Werner, and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes continues his four-night segment of the festival's acclaimed Invitation series at the Monument Nationale in a trio setting with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Idris Muhammad.
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.
Lynne Jackson and Mike Palter present a tribute to songwriter Irving Berlin's America tonight at the Payomet Center for the Performing Arts in North Truro, Mass.
In and around Chicago... tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander is at the Jazz Showcase through Sunday. Alan Gresik's Swing Shift Orchestra is at the Green Mill on Thursdays. Erwin Helfer and the Chicago Boogie Ensemble are at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium. The Tito Carrillo quartet is at Pops for Champagne tonight. There's a jam session with John Bany, Don Stille and Charles Braugham tonight at The Chambers in Niles, Ill. Temple Schultz is at Philander's in Oak Park, Ill.
In New Orleans... Dr. Bone and the Hepcats are at the Banks Street Bar and Grill. The Carl LeBlanc Quartet is at Donna's. The David Dunbar Trio is at El Matador. Trumpeter Jeremy Davenport Lucia is at the Ritz Carlton's French Quarter Bar tonight. The Matt Fricke Quintet is at the Funky Butt. Trombonist Brian O'Neill's band is at Satchmo's jazz room in Harrah's casino. The Soul Rebels Brass Band is at Le Bon Temps Roule tonight. Pianist Joe Schlesinger is at Le Meridien. The Olivier Bou trio and the Roland Guerin trio are at Le Salon at Windsor Court.
Dave Bartholomew leads tonight's band at Preservation Hall. The Hot Club of New Orleans Swing Band and the Panorama Jazz Band are at the Spotted Cat tonight. Willie Metcalf and the Academy of Black Arts with special guests Sharon Martin, Betty Shirley, Troi Bochet, Samirah Evans and Christian Scott are at Sweet Lorraine. Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers are at Vaughn's. The New Orleans Vintage Band is at the French Market's Dutch Alley Tent this afternoon.
Miguel Romero and his band perform today at the Colorado Springs, Colo., Jazz Festival. The full schedule is at coloradospringsjazzfestival.com.
In California... saxophonist Lou Donaldson and organist Lonnie Smith are at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles tonight. The Ron Eschete trio is at Steamers Jazz Café in Fullerton. The Susie Hansen Latin Band is at New Temple Park in South El Monte tonight. Robin White and Jazz Asylum are at Main Street Station in Guerneville. Mal Sharpe's Big Money In Jazz band is at Yoshi's in Oakland and Bryce Rohde is at the Bix Restaurant and Supper Club in San Francisco.
This is Brazil Night at France's Jazz a Vienne festival with Caetano Veloso and Tom Ze.
On the recording front...
French horn player Richard Todd's latest recording is "With A Twist" on the RCM label. Those joining him on this exploration of his music and tunes by David Raskin, Johnny Mandel, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk include Lenny Castro, Billy Childs, John Clayton, Alan Pasqua and Ralph Penland.
The Sunnyside label's new Confluences Series has begun with a two-compact disc set by Michel Petrucciani. It includes 15 tracks from the six albums the late young Frenchman recorded early in his career for France's Owl label. It's called "Days of Wine and Roses: the Owl Years, 1981-1985." The pianist died in 1999 at age 36.
Valve trombonist Mike Fahn is out with his new release, "Close Your Eyes... and Listen." It's on the Sparky1 Productions label. He's supported on the session by pianist Charles Blenzig, drummer Tim Horner, bassist Jay Anderson, tenor saxophonist Rick Margitza and guitarist Steve Cardenas.