Today is Dec. 18.
Bandleader Fletcher Henderson was born this day in 1897 in Cuthbert, Ga. His transformation of his popular 1920's dance band into a swing orchestra was the role model for the big bands America came to love. During his lifetime, Henderson got little of the recognition he deserved for his many musical innovations and contributions.
Some amends were made in 1994 when Columbia Records released an important and well-researched boxed set of recordings. It was aptly titled "A Study in Frustration, The Fletcher Henderson Story."
Singer Anita O'Day was born this day in 1919 in Chicago. Her national reputation came in the early 1940s in the Gene Krupa band, and was solidified with her "Jazz on a Summer's Day" performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958.
Alto saxophonist Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, a player equally at home in jazz and rhythm-and-blues settings, was born this day in 1917 in Houston.
Tenor saxophonist Harold Land was born this day in 1928 in Houston. He first toured nationally in 1954 and 1955 with the Max Roach-Clifford Brown Quintet.
Singer Chris Murrell, vocalist with the Count Basie Orchestra for several years, was born this day in 1956.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
Five members of the First Family of jazz are going to tour as a group starting in February. Pianist Ellis Marsalis and sons Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason will hit the road for a short tour to promote their forthcoming album, "The Marsalis Family: A Jazz Celebration."
The disc is being released on Branford's new label, Marsalis Music. In addition to the album and the tour, a DVD and a PBS special are expected from the Marsalis clan in the coming months.
Tour dates announced so far are Feb. 23 at Ottawa's National Arts Center, Feb. 24 at Toronto's Massey Hall, Feb. 25 at Montreal's Place des Arts, Feb. 27 at Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady, N.Y., Feb. 28 at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, N.Y., March 1 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, March 2 at Philadelphia's Verizon Hall in the Kimmel Center and March 3 at Symphony Hall in Boston.
On the New York jazz scene... a Lee Morgan retrospective tribute opens tonight at Birdland and runs through Saturday. It features Eddie Henderson, Joe Lovano, Benny Green, Steve Kirby and Winard Harper. Jackie McLean and the Cedar Walton trio are at the Village Vanguard this week. Singers Jane Monheit and Andy Bey are at the Blue Note. The Ahmad Jamal trio is at Iridium. The Charene Dawn quintet is at the Zinc Bar tonight. Bobby Sanabria and Quarteto Ache are at the Arka Lounge tonight.
The Jazz Journalists Association's Jazz Matters series features a Critics' Jukebox-Listeners' Test tonight at the New School Jazz and Contemporary Music Program's 5th floor performance space. It's free.
In Philadelphia... saxophonist Dave Koz brings the sixth annual "Smooth Jazz Christmas Tour" with David Benoit, Rick Braun, Brenda Russell and Peter White to the Tower Theatre. The Jimmy Bruno trio is at Chris's Jazz Cafe tonight.
Pianist George Colligan is at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., tonight.
Pianist Kenny Barron and his Canta Brasil project are at Jazz at the Bistro in St. Louis tonight through Saturday.
On the Chicago jazz scene... saxophonist Benny Golson is featured with the Mike Kocour trio through Sunday at the Jazz Showcase. Henry Johnson's Organ Express is at Andy's tonight. Mike Finnerty and the Jazz Hippies are at Cafe Ennui.
The JazzTech Big Band with John Fedchock is at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn. Bill Porter's Orchestra with Rich Fudoli is at Green Dolphin Street. There's a "Guitar Madness" Toys for Tots benefit at the Green Mill tonight featuring John McLean, Dave Onderdonk, Neal Alger, John Moulder and Ernie Denov.
The Brass Tracks Big Band is at Hackney's. Ken Saydak is at Joe's BeBop Cafe and Jazz Emporium. Jazz Vertigo is at Michael's Jazz Bistro in Glen Ellyn. Jackie Allen and Judy Roberts are at Philander's in Oak Park. The Erin MacDougal tro is at Pops for Champagne. The Keith Scott trio is at Pops of Highwood.
On the New Orleans jazz scene... Brian Prunka is at the Blue Nile. Earl Brown is at Cafe Sbisa. Ballyhoo is at the Circle Bar. Lenny McDaniel is at Cobalt. Leigh "Little Queenie" Harris is at Dos Jefes. The Soul Rebels Brass Band is at El Matador. Ingrid Lucia is at the Ritz Carlton's French Quarter Bar. Jack Maheu and Friends are at Fritzel's.
Topsy Chapman is at Satchmo's jazz room in Harrah's. Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers are at Le Bon Temps Roule. Stanton Moore is at the Maple Leaf tonight. John Brunious leads the band tonight at Preservation Hall. Davell Crawford is at Snug Harbor. A.J. Loria and Otra are the Spotted Cat tonight. 3 Now 4 is at d.b.a.
On the California jazz scene... singer Kevin Mahogany is at The Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles through Sunday. The Banda Brothers are at Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton tonight and Thursday. The Marilyn King quartet is at Spazio in Sherman Oaks tonight.
Jazz funnyman Tony Russell is at Charlie O's in Valley Glen with Jane Getz, piano, John Heard, bass, Jack LeCompte, drums, and featured vocalist John Fio Rito. The Charlie Hunter Group is at Yoshi's in Oakland through Christmas Eve.