Today is Jan. 26.
Violinist Stephane Grappelli was born this day in Paris in 1908. Grappelli was still a teenager in the 1920s when he met French gypsy and jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Their musical partnership was a sensation among European Hot Club jazz buffs. Grappelli died in 1997.
Singer Alice Babs was born this day in 1924 in Kalmar, Sweden. She was the first Swedish jazz singer to be recognized for her sense of swing. She performer and recorded with Duke Ellington's orchestra in Europe and New York starting in 1963 and made recordings as a leader from the 1940s through the 1970s.
Trombonist Dick Nash was born this day in 1928 in Somerville, Mass. He played with Glen Gray and Tex Beneke before becoming a busy free-lance musician on the West Coast in the 1950s.
Alto saxophonist Dick Meldonian was born this day in 1930 in Providence, R.I. He was a busy session musician in and around New York for many years, leading his own small groups, and doubling as a funny-faced character actor and model.
This was the day, in 1938, that ushered in the Swing Era. Fifty-two years ago tonight, Benny Goodman opened a stunning engagement at the Paramount Theatre in New York. Attendance during his band's run at the Paramount totaled 26,000.
This was also the day, in 1934, when the Apollo Theater first opened its doors in Harlem. It has had a major impact on jazz and popular music ever since. The Apollo's weekly amateur competitions were an important discovery spot for emerging musicians, including Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.
On this day in 1925, cornetist Bix Beiderbecke first recorded his classic "Davenport Blues", which was named after his Iowa hometown.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene, pianist Andrew Hill's Sextet plus 11 is at Birdland tonight. Don Byron's Music for Six Musicians project is at the Village Vanguard. Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross share the billing with New York Voices at the Blue Note. The Pat Martino trio with Joey DeFrancesco and Byron Landham is at Iridium. Jazz at Lincoln Center presents a second evening of concerts tonight featuring commissioned compositions by pianists Randy Weston and Danilo Perez tonight as part of its "As of Now" series at Alice Tully Hall. Weston wrote his work "Ancient Future" for violinist Regina Carter and his African Rhythms Orchestra. Perez wrote "Freedom of Colors" for his Motherland Project that is focusing on a Pan-American jazz synthesis.
Drummer William Hooker and Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo team up tonight at The Knitting Factory, where the lineup also features Andrew D'Angelo, Jaime Fennelly and Tim Keiper performing as Perception. Bassist Lonnie Plaxico's quintet with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, saxophonist Marcus Strickland, drummer Lionel Cordew and pianist Jason Moran is at the Jazz Gallery tonight. The Tony Lujan Bop Latino septet is at Kavehaz tonight. Upstate, pianist Cyrus Chestnut's trio is at the Van Dyck in Schenectady tonight.
On the Philadelphia jazz scene, tenor saxophonist Jimmy Oliver teams up with drummer Mickey Roker's quartet tonight at Ortlieb's Jazzhaus. The Relache Ensemble presents "Voluptuous Jazz Soars to Celestial harmony" tonight and Sunday at the Philadelphia Ethical Society. The band features Mark Lambert, Kyle Gann, Andrea Clearfield and Matthew Shipp.
In and around Boston, John Pizzarelli is at Scullers tonight. Saxophonist Ken Field's quintet and Joe Maneri's trio are at Zeitgeist in Cambridge. Harmonica ace Mike Turk is at the Center for the Arts in Natick.
Trumpeter Ray Vega performs tonight with special guest Dave Samuels on vibes tonight at the Duncan Theater at Palm Beach Community College's Central Campus in Lake Worth, Fla.
In Chicago tonight, Charlie Johnson is at the Backroom tonight. Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues band is at the Jazz Showcase for two more nights. Bopology is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium.
On the New Orleans jazz scene, Los Hombres Calientes and the Michael Ray funk quartet are at Tipitina's tonight. Kid Merve teams up with the Treme Brass Band tonight at Checkpoint Charlie. Trumpeter Leroy Jones brings his band into Donna's. Bassist Walter Payton is at Le Meridien Hotel. Lionel Ferbos and the Palm Court Jazz band are at the Palm Court. Pete Fountain is at his club tonight in the New Orleans Hilton. Pianist Jovino Santos Neto's trio is at Snug Harbor tonight. Trumpeter Wendell Brunious leads the band at Preservation Hall. For those who prefer their jazz earlier, Smitty Dee's Brass Band is at the French Market Complex and The Storyville Stompers are at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park this afternoon.
In California tonight, singer Barbara Morrison is at Steamers Jazz Café in Fullerton. Pianist McCoy Tyner's quartet with saxophonist Kenny Garrett, bassist George Mraz and drummer Al Foster is at Yoshi's in Oakland. Trombonist Curtis Fuller's quartet is at The Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles. Saxophonist James Moody's quintet is at the Catalina Bar and Grill in North Hollywood. Wesla Whitfield and Mike Greensill are at The Plush Room in San Francisco. Saxophonist Michael Zilber and drummer Steve Smith are at Jazz at Pearl's in San Francisco with their quartet.
Nancy Wilson is at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle for two more nights. Singer Kendra Shank is at the Lark at the Mountain Festival at Mt. Rainier, Wash., tonight.
Guitarists John Scofield and Charlie Hunter wind down their weeklong collaboration at the Blue Note in Tokyo tonight.