Today is Feb. 27.
Tenor saxophonist Ben Webster was born this day in 1909 in Kansas City. He only stayed in Duke Ellington's band for three years after arriving in 1940, but Webster had a profound impact beyond his key solos on classic Ellington tunes of the day, including "All Too Soon" and "Cottontail." He brought new life to the band's saxophone section with his blustery and breathy approach to the horn.
Tenor saxophonist, and late-blooming actor, Dexter Gordon was born this day in 1923. Gordon was a popular tenor player throughout his career. He found unexpected fame for his role in the 1986 film "Round Midnight" which won him an Oscar nomination.
Gordon played the lead role of an expatriate jazz musician living in Europe in the 1950s. While "Round Midnight" was based loosely on the life of Lester Young, it was a story Gordon also lived, for 14 years in Copenhagen. Gordon died in 1990.
Cornet player Freddie Keppard was born this day in 1890 in New Orleans. He started his own group, the Olympia Orchestra, in 1906, moved to Los Angeles in 1914 to join the Original Creole Band, then settled in Chicago where he was a prominent bandleader throughout the 1920s. Keppard died in 1933.
Singer Mildred Bailey was born this day in 1907 in Tekoa, Wash. She was the first prominent female band singer in the 1930s, and Bing Crosby once said she had "a heart as big as Yankee Stadium." She died penniless in 1951.
Guitarist Chuck Wayne was born this date in 1923 in New York.
On this night in 2002... jazz winners in the 44th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles included Marcus Miller, Dianne Reeves, Michael Brecker, Sonny Rollins, the Bob Mintzer Big Band and Charlie Haden. "Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday On Columbia 1933-1944" was voted best historical album release by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene... Maynard Ferguson and His Big Bop Nouveau Band are at The Blue Note. The Joe Lovano quartet is at the Village Vanguard through Sunday. Drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts' quintet is at Iridium this week. The Terri Lyne Carrington group is at The Jazz Standard tonight. The Laurent Coq quartet is at the Jazz Gallery tonight. Chris Washburne's SYOTOS Latin jazz band is at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe tonight.
The Marsalis family band is at Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady tonight.
The Michael Musillami-Mario Pavone quintet and George Schuller and The Schulldogs are at Real Art Ways in Hartford, Conn., tonight.
In and around Boston... there's a Guitar Summit at Scullers jazz club with Bucky Pizzarelli, Howard Alden and John Wheatley tonight. The Mark Shilansky Ensemble with special guest Luciana Souza is at The Regattabar in Cambridge. Avery Sharpe is at Ryles in Cambridge. The a cappella group Take 6 is at the Berklee Performance Center.
In Philadelphia... singer Lou Lanza is at Chris's Jazz Café tonight.
The David Chevan and Warren Byrd duo, Avadim Hayinu, is at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta tonight.
Guitarist Gene Bertoncini is at Nighttown in Cleveland tonight.
In Chicago... David "Fathead" Newman's quartet is at the Jazz Showcase through Sunday. The Mike Smith quintet is at Andy's. Carlos Cannon is at the Backroom. Judy Roberts is at The Chicago Firehouse. The John Mose trio is at The Foundry at Fox Valley Mall. Alan Gresik's Swing Shift Orchestra is at the Green Mill.
Tim Tobias and Erwin Helfer and the Chicago Boogie Ensemble are at Joe's BeBop Cafe and Jazz Emporium. The John Brumbach quartet with Selina Baker is at Katerina's. Alphonse Ponticelli and Swing Gitan are at Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston. John Wright is at Philander's in Oak Park. Steve Ditzell is at Pops of Highwood.
In New Orleans... the Improvisational Arts Council is at the Blue Nile. Earl Brown's trio is at Cafe Sbisa. Evan Christopher and Tom McDermott are at Donna's. John Boutte is at El Matador. Jeremy Davenport is at the Ritz Carlton's French Quarter Bar. Ryan Burrage and the Rhythm Makers are at Fritzel's. The Evan Howard Band and the Joe Krown Organ Combo are at the Funky Butt. Johnny Vidacovich, Brian Jordan, Chris Chew and Mark Mullins are at Howlin' Wolf. Lloyd Washington and the Crescent City Joymakers are at the Palm Court. Dave Bartholomew leads tonight's band at Preservation Hall. David Ellington and the Chevere Trio are at Snug Harbor. The funky Meters and the ReBirth Brass Band are at Tipitina's. Otra is at d.b.a.
On the California jazz scene... pianist Benny Green and guitarist Russell Malone bring their duo project to the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles through Sunday. The Dewey Erney-Ron Eschete quartet is at Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton. The Larry Steen World Jazz Ensemble is at Spazio in Sherman Oaks tonight. The Scott Amendola band is at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz tonight.
Spyro Gyra is at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle through Sunday.
Omar Sosa's trio is at Espace Senghor in Brussels.
The Jamie Baum quartet is at St. Stephen's College in New Delhi tonight.
On the recording front...
Evidence Music has released three albums being issued for the first time on CD. They are saxophonist Pharoah Sanders' "Live," his fourth session for Theresa Records, a California-based label. It includes a 21-minute bonus track, "Doktor Pitt." Also included are, "John Hicks," a session the pianist made for Theresa in 1984, and "Great Friends," a mid-1980s session by Sonny Fortune, Billy Harper, Stanley Cowell, Reggie Workman and Billy Hart recorded for the French label Black & Blue.
Tenor saxophonist Doug Lawrence is just out with "Street Wise," his latest release on Alltribe Records. This is a classic tenor and organ combo, featuring organist Dan Trudell, along with guitarist Macchiarola and drummer George Fludas. Their material ranges from gutbucket soul jazz of Brother Jack McDuff's "Mellow Gravy" to a Coltrane-esque harmonic exploration of "Hello Young Lovers."
Trombonist Steve Turre has deep respect for the masters who paved the way on his chosen instrument -- and now has gathered a number of his peers to pay tribute to one of the greats. "One 4 J" on the Telarc label celebrates the legacy of late trombonist J.J. Johnson. Turre and fellow trombonists Robin Eubanks, Joe Alessi, Steve Davis, Andre Hayward and Douglas Purviance are supported by pianist Stephen Scott, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Victor Lewis.
As Turre explains, "None of us playing trombone today would be playing on this level if it weren't for the innovations that J.J. left for us to learn. He was a dream for the modern trombonist."
Alto saxophonist Jesse Davis is just out with "The Setup" on the Alltribe label. Guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Donald back the New Orleans native Edwards.
Alltribe also is out with singer-pianist Jay Klum's label debut, "Home Cookin.'" She's backed by her husband, bassist Ted Klum, guitarist Ken Tubbs and drummers Jeff Ballard and Eric Halvorson, and bassist Bill Moring. The Klums formed the Alltribe label and run it from their Alltribe Studios in Little Falls, N.J.