Today is May 11.
Cornet player and bandleader Joe "King" Oliver was born this day in 1885 in Louisiana. A young Louis Armstrong was his protege in Oliver's Chicago-based Creole Jazz Band from 1922 to 1924.
Trombonist J.C. Higginbotham was born this day in 1906 near Atlanta. His huge sound and confident range blessed the bands of Luis Russell, Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, Lucky Millinder and Red Allen.
Composer, bandleader and pianist Carla Bley was born this day in 1938 in Oakland, Calif., daughter of a piano teacher and church organist.
On this day in 1970, longtime Duke Ellington Orchestra member Johnny Hodges, one of the most distinctive voices ever heard on alto saxophone, died of a heart attack while visiting the dentist. He joined the band in 1928 and stayed for all but seven of the next 42 years.
This was also the day, in 1937, when the Benny Goodman and Chick Webb orchestras went head to head in a classic battle of the bands at New York's Savoy Ballroom.
Goodman's drummer Gene Krupa declared Webb's band the winner. Krupa said drumming/bandleader Webb, in his words, "just cut me to ribbons." According to eyewitness George Simon, 4,000 people were inside the Savoy that night and 5,000 others were turned away.
On this night in 2001, saxophonist and vocalist Vi Redd, who toured in the 1960s with Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie and led her own bop quintet, was honored with the 2001 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival Award for her lifetime of service to jazz as a performer and educator.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene... saxophonist Frank Morgan is at the Jazz Standard tonight. The Barry Harris trio is at the Village Vanguard Flora Purim and Airto are at Iridium. Marcus Miller and his band are at the Blue Note. The Chico O'Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Big Band is at Birdland.
Trombonist Chris Washburne's SYOTOS Latin jazz band is at Smoke on Sunday nights. Frank Vignola and Hot Club USA open their Sunday night "Shades of Django" series at Sweet Rhythm tonight. Guitarist Peter Leitch is at Walker's tonight with alto saxophonist Steve Wilson. DJ Logic and Project Logic are at Southpaw in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn tonight as part of the Ropeadope label's "What is Jazz?" series.
In the Chicago area... trumpeter Bobby Shew is at the Jazz Showcase with Bob Lark and the DePaul University Big Band. Detour is at the Backroom. Judy Roberts and Greg Fishman are at The Chambers in Niles this evening. The Kimberly Gordon trio is at the Green Mill tonight. David Boykin, Karl Seigfried and Mike Reed with Keefe Jackson, Frank Rosaly and Jim Baker are at the Hungry Brain.
The Sonny Turner quintet is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium. The Tim Green and Tim McNamara trio is at Katerina's this noon. Kara Kesselring is at Philander's in Oak Park. The Russell Alan Rowe trio is at Pops for Champagne. Jim Clark's Jazz People are at Seul's Tavern and Grill tonight.
Orquesta Aragon is at the Oscar Mayer Theatre in Madison, Wis., tonight.
In New Orleans... Earl Brown is at Cafe Sbisa. The Hot Club of New Orleans swing band is at the Circle Bar. Shannon Powell's quartet is at Donna's. Rob Wagner's New Thing is at the Dragon's Den. Warren Battiste and Friends are at El Matador. Ryan Burrage and His Rhythmakers are at Fritzel's.
Big Sam's Funky Nation and Evan Howard are at the Funky Butt tonight. Lucien Barbarin and the Sunday Night Swingsters are at the Palm Court tonight. The Olympia Brass Band is at Preservation Hall tonight. The Dixie Trio is at the Seaport Café tonight. Rob Block is at the Spotted Cat tonight.
On the California jazz scene... violinist Regina Carter and her band are at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles tonight, closing out a weeklong run. The Golden Eagle Dixieland jazz band is at Steamers Jazz Café in Fullerton this afternoon. The Howlett Smith trio is at Spazio in Sherman Oaks this afternoon with the Beryl Davis quartet in the spotlight tonight. The Sunday Jazz Band at Charlie O's in Valley Glen features saxophonist Zane Musa. Guitarist Bill Frisell's trio is at Yoshi's in Oakland tonight.
Bill Bruford's Earthworks featuring Tim Garland are at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle tonight.
On the Toronto jazz scene... Lisa's Café features Julie Michels and Kevin Barrett today at its Mother's Day Brunch. Kid Welzel and his band are at Gate 403.