Cornet legend Buddy Bolden was born this day in 1877 in New Orleans. Some consider Bolden to have been the first true jazz horn player, though much information about him is more legend than fact, and no recordings exist of his music.
He grew up in the midst of brass bands, church music and ragtime, and had his own band by 1896 and a reputation as a powerful and crowd-pleasing cornet player whose sound was soon rivaled and surpassed by Freddie Keppard and Joe "King" Oliver. Bolden died in 1931 in an insane asylum outside New Orleans.
Jazz and blues singer Bertha "Chippie" Hill was born this day in 1905 in Charleston, S.C. She toured with Ma Rainey, recorded with Louis Armstrong and performed with King Oliver in Chicago in the 1920s. After retiring to marry and raise a family, she had a brief career revival in the late 1940s. It ended in 1950 after Hill was struck and killed in New York by a hit-and-run driver.
Trumpeter Johnny Letman was born this day in 1917 in McCormick, S.C. He worked steadily through the 1940s and '50s with a succession of fine big bands and combos.
On this day in 1946, trumpeter Fats Navarro first recorded "Boppin' a Riff."
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene... bassist Ben Allison's band Peace Pipe is at the Jazz Standard tonight through Sunday. Singer Mary Stallings is at the Village Vanguard this week with the Eric Reed trio. Soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett is at the Jazz Standard tonight with her Spirits of Havana band. There's an all-star tribute to late bassist Ray Brown at the Blue Note this week. Sphere is at Iridium through Sunday. Vincius Cantuaria is at Tonic tonight.
Trombonist Steve Davis's septet is at B.B. King's blues club at Foxwoods in Ledyard, Conn., tonight and Saturday.
The Convergence International Arts Festival 2002 opens tonight in Providence, R.I., at the Veteran's Memorial Auditorium Arts and Cultural Center with Les Yeux Noirs. This Paris-based sextet will perform a repertoire of Parisian Gypsy music that includes a melding of Klezmer and French gypsy jazz. It is the group's first appearance in New England.
Kendrick Oliver and The New Life Jazz Orchestra are at Scullers in Boston tonight with special guest Christian McBride. Saxophonist Ken Vandermark teams up tonight with drummers Paul Lytton and Paul Lovens at the Institute of Contemporary Art under sponsorship of the Boston Creative Music Alliance.
Pianist Peter Martin is at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' new KC Jazz Club tonight in Washington D.C.
In Chicago... the Heath Brothers are at the Jazz Showcase. Ken Saydak's Blues Show is at Andy's tonight. Skinny Williams is at Joe's BeBop Cafe and Jazz Emporium. The King Fleming trio is at Philander's in Oak Park.
On the New Orleans jazz scene... Fredy Omar con su Banda are at the Blue Nile. There's a Magic Mojo Medicine Show tonight at Checkpoint Charlie featuring Chief Smiley Ricks plus Dr. Bone and the Hepcats and the Basin Street Sheiks. David Torkanowsky is at Cobalt. The Treme Brass Band is at Donna's. Rickie Castrillo and Dreamland are at Dos Jefes. Domenic Fusca is at El Matador. The Devin Phillips quartet and Have Soul Will Travel are at the Funky Butt. Bass phenomenon Victor Wooten is at the House of Blues tonight with Regi Wooten, Joseph Wooten, J.D. Blair, MC Divinity and Speech from Arrested Development.
MVVP featuring Stanton Moore, Johnny Vidacovich, Rich Vogel and George Porter Jr. is at Howlin' Wolf. The U.S. Navy New Orleans Big Band is at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park this afternoon. The Chris Severin trio is at Le Salon at the Windsor Court tonight. Funky Beans plus the ReBirth Brass Band are at Mid-City Lanes Rock'n'Bowl. The Ernie Elly Slickshots are at the Palm Court with singer Thais Clark. The Panorama Jazz Band is at the Seaport Cafe. Ellis Marsalis is at Snug Harbor. The New Orleans Jazz Vipers are at the Spotted Cat.
In California... the Scott Hamilton quartet is at the Catalina Bar and Grill in North Hollywood tonight. The Jennifer York quartet is at Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton tonight. The band Oregon is at The Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles through Saturday. The Diane Witherspoon quartet is at Spazio in Sherman Oaks tonight. Bassist Robb Fisher's quintet with saxophonist Bob Kenmotsu is at Jazz at Pearl's in San Francisco, and the Vince Lateano trio featuring pianist Glen Pearsan. Dr. John is at Yoshi's in Oakland.