Today is Feb. 1.
James P. Johnson, the father of stride piano, was born this date in 1894 in New Brunswick, N.J. Through the 1920s, Johnson recorded with a stream of stars ranging from Jabbo Smith to Bessie Smith. He also directed the music for Bessie Smith's 1929 film "St. Louis Blues." His best known tunes included "Carolina Shout" and "If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight." James P. Johnson died in 1955.
Ellington band trombonist Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton was born this day in 1904. Nobody ever played the plunger mute better on trombone. Bandmate Rex Stewart once described Nanton's sound as "the wail of a newborn baby, the raucous hoot of an owl, the bloodcurdling scream of an enraged tiger, or the eerie cooing of a mournful dove." Nanton died in 1946.
Saxophonist Sadao Watanabe, one of Japan's most popular and most enduring jazz players, was born in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, on this date in 1933.
Saxophonist Joshua Redman was born this day in 1969 in Berkeley, Calif. He's the son of tenor player Dewey Redman. After graduating from Harvard in 1991, he took time out to check out the New York jazz scene, foregoing plans to enter Yale Law School. Redman won the Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition and has been churning out music ever since.
On this day in 1940, Frank Sinatra cut his first record with the Tommy Dorsey Band. The song was "The Sky Fell Down."
Looking at today's hip happenings...
Hank O'Neill has had a diverse career -- or perhaps to put it more accurately, several of them. A CIA agent for a time, a longtime jazz record producer and label owner, and a festival producer who fine-tuned and expanded the idea of holding jazz festivals at sea aboard large cruise ships for a week at a time. Along the way, he has also had the opportunity to photograph jazz artists in performance and in their own home environments.
A major exhibition of his work, "Hank O'Neal's Jazz People: Posed Portraits and Artists in Action," opens tonight at The Jazz Gallery in New York and runs through April 14. The 50 black and white photographs on display include images of Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter, Doc Cheatham, Dexter Gordon and Milt Hinton. The entire collection of 50 images was donated to The Jazz Gallery by Chiaroscuro Records. Their sale will benefit the gallery's various projects.
On the New York jazz performance scene, pianist Kenny Drew Jr.'s trio is at the Village Vanguard. Singer Tania Maria is at the Blue Note. Pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba's trio is at Iridium. Cleo Laine and John Dankworth are at Feinstein's at The Regency for two more nights. The Three Jazz Tenors band with saxophonists Joe Lovano, Michael Brecker and Dave Liebman is at Birdland through Saturday. Violinist Mark O'Connor, guitarist Frank Vignola and bassist Jon Burr perform the music of the late Stephane Grappelli tonight and Saturday at Lincoln Center's Kaplan Penthouse.
Joe McPhee's Trio X and Amon Tobin are at the Knitting Factory tonight. Pianist Mike Pohjola's band is at the Cornelia Street Café tonight for a CD release concert celebrating his new recording "Landmark." Percussionist Renato Thoms is featured at tonight's Latin Jazz Night jam at the LaGuardia Community College Performing Arts Center's Little Theatre.
Norman Hedman's Tropique performs this evening at the American Museum of Natural History's Rose Center for Earth and Space as part of its "Starry Nights: Friday Under the Sphere" series. The John Pizzarelli trio is at The Van Dyck in Schenectady tonight and Saturday.
Singer Carrie Jackson and the Jazzin' All Stars are at the Renaissance Café tonight in Newark, N.J.
In and around Boston, singer Carol Sloane is at Scullers jazz club tonight and Saturday. The Bruce Katz Band is at The Regattabar in Cambridge. Blues singer Toni Lynn Washington is at Ryles in Cambridge tonight.
Pianist Brad Mehldau's trio is at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Mass., tonight.
The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra performs the compositions and arrangements of Willie Smith tonight at Cuyahoga Community College's West Campus.
Bassist Mark Dresser's trio performs live music to the silent film "Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" tonight at the Erie, Pa., Art Museum Annex.
On the Chicago jazz scene, guitarist Larry Coryell's trio is at the Jazz Showcase through Sunday.
In New Orleans tonight, the Mighty Muddy Jazz band is at the Blue Nile. Samirah Evans is at Cobalt. The Treme Brass Band is at Donna's. Dr. Bone and the Hepcats are at Dos Jefes Uptown Cigar Bar. The Egg Yolk Jubilee Brass Band is at the Dragon's Den. Devin Phillips' quartet is at the Funky Butt. Idris Muhammed, Willie Turbinton, Steve Masakowski, Donald Harrison and Juanita Brooks team up tonight at Sweet Lorraine's. Michael Ray and the Cosmic Krewe plus Brotherhood of Groove are at the Mermaid Lounge tonight.
Johnny Vidacovich, George Porter Jr., and Tab Benoit team up tonight at the Old Point. Thais Clark and her New Orleans Jazzmen are at the Palm Court tonight. Trumpeter Leroy Jones leads the band at Preservation Hall. Pianist Ellis Marsalis is at Snug Harbor. Humphrey Davis is at the Storyville District Jazz Parlor. Bleu Orleans is at the Bottom Line. Guitarist Anders Osborne is featured with Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers at tonight. Bassist Bill Huntington is at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park this afternoon.
Wynton Marsalis brings the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra into the Cowan Fine Arts Center in Tyler, Texas, tonight.
On the California jazz scene, saxophonist James Carter's organ trio is at The Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles. Trumpeter Wallace Roney's quintet is at The Catalina Bar and Grill in North Hollywood. Pianist McCoy Tyner is at Yoshi's in Oakland with Ron Carter and Harvey Mason.
The Orange County Performing Arts Center's Jazz Club Series features singer Jane Monheit, tonight and Saturday at Founder's Hall in Costa Mesa. The Steve Smith/Michael Zilber quartet is at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz tonight.
Jazz guitarist and singer Ed Johnson celebrates the release of his sixth CD "Over the Wave" with performances tonight at the Lairmont Manor in Bellingham, Wash., and on Saturday at the Pacific Crest School in Seattle.