Today is April 12.
Clarinetist Johnny Dodds was born this day in Waverly, La., in 1892. He was an important member of King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band in Chicago, recording more than 40 songs with Oliver between 1921 and 1924, when he left the band in a pay disagreement. Dodds also recorded with Jelly Roll Morton, singer Lovie Austin and on all of Louis Armstrong's classic Hot Five and Hot Seven sessions.
As a bandleader, Dodds took music very seriously. He insisted on regular rehearsals and refused to tolerate slack behavior from his musicians. That high expectation extended to his troublesome younger brother, the drummer Warren "Baby" Dodds. Johnny Dodds died in 1950 after a stroke.
Big band singer Helen Forrest was born this day in 1918 in Atlantic City, N.J. She was one of the finest big band singers during the swing era, working in the Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman and Harry James bands.
Pianist Herbie Hancock was born this day in 1940 in Chicago. At age 11 he played Mozart's "D major piano concerto" with the Chicago Symphony. Ten years later, he followed trumpeter Donald Byrd to New York and began working with Phil Woods and Oliver Nelson.
Hancock's recording debut as a leader on the Blue Note label appropriately was called "Takin' Off." One song on the record "Watermelon Man" became a hit single when covered by Mongo Santamaria. Within two years Hancock held the piano chair in Miles Davis's band. His own mega-selling 1973 album "Headhunters" became an important part of electronic jazz history.
On this day in 1939, Woody Herman recorded his famous "Woodchoppers Ball" for the Decca label.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
The New Jersey Jazz Society and the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University have elected Terry Gibbs, Ahmad Jamal, Jimmy Smith, Claude "Fiddler" Williams, Gene Ammons, Bill Harris, Joe Mooney and Mel Torme to the American Jazz Hall of Fame. Since the AJHOF was established in 1982, nearly 200 jazz greats have been elected to the AJHOF.
On the New York jazz scene... the Buster Williams quartet is at the Village Vanguard. The Ray Barretto sextet and Benny Golson quartet share this week's billing at the Blue Note. The Drummonds with special guests Gary Bartz and Steve Wilson are at The Jazz Standard this week. Kenny Garrett's quartet is at Iridium through Sunday.
Trumpeter Clark Terry's quintet is at Birdland tonight. Danny Mixon's organ trio is the Lenox Lounge in Harlem tonight. The David Hazeltine-Eric Alexander quartet is at Smoke tonight. The Winard Harper sextet is at Sweet Rhythm through Sunday. Jesse Gelber and Aisha Hosley, The Swing Doctors, are at SWING46 tonight. The Greg Tardy quartet is at The Jazz Gallery tonight. Saxophonist David Murray and the Gwo-Ka Masters are at Aaron Davis Hall tonight.
Melissa Hamilton of The Ritz and Peter Eldridge of the New York Voices team up tonight in the vocal jazz greats series at The Triad. Singer-guitarist Diane Hubka is at Chez Suzette. The New York Brass Conference for Scholarships will induct Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros to its Hall of Fame tonight at the Park Central Hotel. The SUNY Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra will perform. The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music's Jazz at the Conservatory Series presents John Blake Jr. tonight.
In the Boston area... Sonny Rollins is at the Berklee Performance Center tonight. Pianist Cyrus Chestnut is at Scullers in Boston tonight.
The Bruce Katz band is at The Press Room in Portsmouth, N.H., tonight.
In Philadelphia... the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is at Tritone tonight. The Philadelphia Phenomenon with Elliott Levin, Rick Iannacone, Jamaladeen Tacuma and Calvin Weston is at Calvary Methodist Church. Jimmy Bruno is at Chris's Jazz Cafe with special guest Mark Kramer. Jimmy Oliver is at Ortlieb's Jazzhaus with the Mickey Roker quartet. Patricia Barber is at Zanzibar Blue tonight.
In greater Chicago... Benny Green and Russell Malone are at the Jazz Showcase this week. The Nu Band with Mark Whitecage on saxophones and clarinet, Roy Campbell Jr. on trumpet and flugelhorn, Joe Fonda on bass and Lou Grassi on drums is at the Chicago Cultural Center tonight. Judy Roberts is at The Chicago Firehouse. The Brian Lynch quartet is at the Green Mill.
The Tom Muellner trio is at Houston's Restaurant. Bopology is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium tonight. The Dick Sisto quartet is at Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston. Rankinfyle is at Philander's in Oak Park. The Jordan Baskin-Taki Akiyama quartet is at Pops for Champagne.
In New Orleans...the 20th French Quarter Festival is on this weekend at 12 stages in and around the Crescent City's most famous neighborhood. The dozens of groups performing today and tonight include Banu Gibson and the New Orleans Hot Jazz, Charmaine Neville, the New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Lillian Boutte, Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, the Donald Harrison quintet, Michael White's Liberty Brass Band, Jack Maheu and the Fire In the Pet Shop Callithumpian Jazz Band and the Washboard Chaz blues trio.
Elsewhere on the New Orleans jazz scene... the Blue Universe Quartet featuring Sheik Rasheed is at the Blue Nile. Earl Brown is at Cafe Sbisa. Ingrid Lucia is at Carrollton Station. The Leroy Jones quintet is at Donna's. Dave Ellington and Trio Chevere are at Dos Jefes. Devin Philips and Astral Project are at the Funky Butt.
Lionel Ferbos is at the Palm Court. John Brunious leads the band tonight at Preservation Hall. The Panorama Jazz Band is at the Seaport Cafe. Tom McDermott and His Jazz Helions featuring Evan Christopher are at Snug Harbor. The New Orleans Jazz Vipers are at the Spotted Cat.
There's a "Straight form the 6th Ward" CD Release party at Tipitina's tonight featuring the Li'l Rascals, ReBirth, New Birth, Treme and 6th Ward Allstars Brass Bands. The Steve Blailock trio featuring George French is at the Water's Edge in Slidell. The Tornado Brass Band is at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park this afternoon.
In San Antonio tonight... Zarabande is at Carmen's de la Calle Cafe. The Infidels are at the Dolores del Rio. The Jim Cullum Jazz Band is at The Landing. Henry Brun and the Latin Players are at Swig.
On the California jazz scene... pianist Randy Weston's trio is at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles through Sunday. The Brian Bromberg band is at the Huntington Beach Library Theatre tonight. Saxophonist George Harper is at Charlie O's in Valley Glen tonight with the John Heard trio. The Estrada Brothers Latin jazz band is at Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton.
The George Kahn quintet is at Spazio in Sherman Oaks. Bob DeSena's Latin jazz group is at The Deck in Palm Springs. Christian McBride's band is at Yoshi's in Oakland through Sunday. Singer Madeline Eastman is at Jazz at Pearl's in San Francisco tonight. San Francisco's SFJAZZ spring season presents the Charlie Haden quartet featuring Michael Brecker with Orchestra in its "American Dreams" project at Masonic Auditorium. Sekou Sundiata band and Daughters of Yam at the Yerba Buena Center Forum.
Guitarist Larry Carlton is at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle through Sunday. Pianist Jovino Santos Neto's trio with Evan Flory-Barnes on bass and Byron Vannoy on drums is at The Sorrento Hotel's Fireside Room in Seattle tonight.