Today is May 21.
Pianist Thomas "Fats" Waller was born this day in 1904 in New York City. He came out of the stride style of piano playing to enrich the jazz repertoire with both speed and delicacy. And he had a way of making sparkling gems out of the silliest popular songs.
Waller even added a few of his own, like "You're Not the Only Oyster in the Stew." His biggest contributions to the standard American songbook included "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Honeysuckle Rose." He died in December 1943 on a train heading from Los Angeles to New York.
Bill Holman was born this day in 1927 in Olive, Calif. This veteran of the Charlie Barnet, Stan Kenton and Shorty Rogers bands stopped playing tenor saxophone in 1966 to devote his full time to composing and arranging for his Los Angeles-based big band.
Drummer Larence Marable was born this day in 1929 in Los Angeles. A busy player on the West Coast bebop scene throughout the 1950s, he's now a mainstay in bass player Charlie Haden's Quartet West.
Bass player Tommy Bryant, brother of pianist Ray Bryant, was born this day in 1930 in Philadelphia. In the 10 years prior to his death in 1982, he worked as a bass player and singer in the popular vocal group, the Ink Spots.
This was also the day, in 1942, when the Freddie Sack band first recorded the pop western song "Cow Cow Boogie." Benny Carter wrote the tune, with lyrics by Gene DePaul and Don Ray. Benny Carter's only recording of "Cow Cow Boogie" is on his Musicmasters Jazz recording, "Songbook," with vocal help from Jon Hendricks.
On this day in 2002, Verve released the "Footprints, Live" quartet recording from saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter. It was his first all-acoustic album since 1967 was recorded on tour the prior summer with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
Congratulations to Seattle's Garfield High School Jazz Ensemble, which took top honors Monday night in the finale of Jazz at Lincoln Center's eighth annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition. The New World School of the Arts High School Jazz Ensemble from Miami finished second. Third place went to the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Orchestra.
Fifteen finalist bands from the United States and Canada participated in the competition and festival on May 17-19.
At Monday night's final concert, each of the three top-placing bands performed two Ellington compositions, one alone and one with Wynton Marsalis as guest trumpet soloist. The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra then performed a set of Ellington compositions that will distribute to high schools for Essentially Ellington 2004.
Elsewhere on the New York jazz scene... jazz guitarist and vocalist Doug Wamble's band is at the Jazz Standard tonight. Taj Mahal is at the Blue Note this week. The Uri Caine trio with Drew Gress and Ben Perowsky is at the Village Vanguard tonight through Sunday. The McCoy Tyner trio with special guest Bobby Hutcherson is at Iridium this week.
Nora York and Charlie Giordano are at The Cutting Room tonight, along with Marni Rice with Paul Fernandez and David Plakke, and The Main Squeeze Orchestra -- New York's only 17-piece all-female accordion ensemble. Trumpeter Erik Truffaz's quartet is at the Knitting Factory, along with the Paul Dunmall, Kevin Norton, Paul Rogers trio and the Jim Campilongo trio. Barbara Carroll is at Birdland. Trumpeter Russell Gunn and Ethnomusicology are at the Zinc Bar tonight.
The eighth annual Vision Festival opens today and runs through Monday at the Center at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral. It will feature some 150 artists in 30 different performing groups over six days. Tonight's lineup features Joseph Jarman, the Joe Maneri trio with Christine Coppola, the Billy Bang sextet, and Patty Waters, Burton Greene and Mark Dresser.
In and around Boston... The Rippingtons are at Scullers jazz club in Boston tonight through Friday. Natraj with special guest Steve Gorn is at The Regattabar in Cambridge. Saxophonist Robin Kenyatta is at Ryles in Cambridge tonight.
The Neil Podgurski trio is at The Kimmel Center's Commonwealth Plaza in Philadelphia this evening.
Buster Williams and his quartet Something More are at Nighttown in Cleveland tonight.
In Chicago... Jack DeJohnette is at The Jazz Showcase this week with Danilo Perez and Jerome Harris. Singer Barbara Morrison and the Burgess Gardner Orchestra at WBEE's Big Band Jazz Cabaret and Dance at the Harambee House on the south side tonight. Guitarist Henry Johnson's Organ Express with Chris Forman is at Andy's tonight. Natalie Yoakley is at the Backroom.
Mike Finnerty and the Jazz Hippies are at Cafe Ennui. Design Flaw featuring Brian Dibblee, Jon Doyle and Frank Rosaly is at the Empty Bottle tonight. Rob Parton's Jazz Tech Big Band and the New Trier and Hershey High School Jazz Bands are at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn. The Bill Porter Orchestra with Rich Fudoli is at Green Dolphin Street. The Kurt Elling quartet is at the Green Mill tonight. The Brass Tracks Big Band is at Hackney's.
Ken Saydak is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium. The Sketches in Blue trio is at the 100 South Chop House in Elmhurst tonight. The Bobby Broom trio is at Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston. Jackie Allen and Judy Roberts are at Philander's in Oak Park. The Steve Evans trio is at Pops for Champagne tonight. Dave Flippo and Donn De Santo are at Pops of Highwood tonight.
In New Orleans... the Freesome 5, the Jazz Vipers and the Panorama jazz band are at the Blue Nile. Earl Brown is at Cafe Sbisa. Leigh "Little Queenie" Harris is at Dos Jefes. The Soul Rebels Brass Band is at El Matador. Another Monday is at the Funky Butt tonight. Topsy Chapman is at Harrah's.
Los Hombres Calientes are at Lafayette Square this evening. Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers are at Le Bon Temps Roule. The Royal Rounders are at Lounge Lizards. The Johnny Vidacovich trio is at the Maple Leaf. John Brunious leads tonight's band at Preservation Hall. The John Mahoney Big Band is at Snug Harbor tonight.
On the California jazz scene... the Heath Brothers are at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles through Sunday. Drummer Steve Smith and Vital Information with special guest Bill Evans on sax are at Catalina¹s Bar and Grill in Hollywood this week. The BBC trio with Ramon Banda, Joe Bagg and Steve Cotter is at Steamers Jazz Café in Fullerton tonight.
The David Arnay trio is at Spazio in Sherman Oaks tonight. Singer John Fio Rito, pianist Ron Kalina, bassist Harvey Newmark and drummer Jack LeCompte are at Charlie O's in Valley Glen tonight with jazz funnyman Tony Russell. Nicholas Payton and Sonic Trance are at Yoshi's in Oakland tonight through Sunday.
Keiko Matsui is at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle this week.
On the recording front...
Kendrick Oliver's New Life Jazz Orchestra is an outfit of some of the finest younger jazz musicians working in New York and Boston. Their swinging, soulful sound can best be described as the Basie Band goes to church. Their debut recording, "Welcome to New Life" is just out from Sphere Entertainment. Its top tracks include "Wade in the Water," "Kid From Nazareth" and "Wade in the Water." Bassist Christian McBride loves this group and is aboard as a guest soloist. The band will perform this summer at the JVC Newport Jazz Festival, Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz and Tanglewood Jazz Festival.