Today is May 26.
Miles Davis was born this day in 1926 in Alton, Ill., the son of a wealthy, middle-class dentist who gave him a trumpet for his 13th birthday. Many jazz reference books incorrectly list Davis's birthday as May 25. Davis set things straight in his 1989 autobiography, and prior to that whenever anybody asked him.
Within five years of his arrival in New York at age 19, he was well on his way to becoming one of the pivotal figures in modern jazz. Davis's restless musical exploration, his use of space in a melody, and his comfort zone in the middle register had profound and indelible impacts on jazz and all players who have come along since.
He died in 1991 at age 65, only eight weeks after concerts in Switzerland and Paris in which he played his old, classic jazz tunes. Those concerts were unexpected from a man who had left mainstream jazz 20 years earlier to find a place in the world of pop/rock fusion.
Trumpeter Shorty Baker was born this day in 1914. The St. Louis native was an early influence on Miles Davis both in phrasing and tone.
Trumpeter Ziggy Elman was born this day in Philadelphia in 1914. He succeeded Pee Wee Erwin in the Benny Goodman band in 1936 as a featured soloist. He died in 1968.
Saxophonist and flute player Lew Tabackin was born this day in Philadelphia in 1940. He's a featured member of the jazz orchestra led by his wife Toshiko Akiyoshi and tours with the Newport Jazz Festival All-Stars and other bands.
On this day in 1942, the Lionel Hampton band first recorded "Flyin' Home," a jazz romp with a classic tenor saxophone solo that sparked the career of tenor player Illinois Jacquet.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
Bassist Henry Grimes, missing from and presumed dead by the music world since the late '6Os, was found living in a single-room occupancy hotel in South Central Los Angeles. A young social worker found him last year in good health and state of mind, though pretty much destitute. He'd been living in the same room for the past 2O years but had long ago sold his bass for survival needs. He contented himself with writing poetry, a bit of acting, doing construction work and odd jobs, and surviving on Social Security income.
Between the mid-'5Os and the mid-'6Os, the Juilliard-educated Grimes played on some 5O albums with an enormous range of musicians, including Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Haynes, Lee Konitz, Steve Lacy, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Sonny Rollins, Roswell Rudd, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor and McCoy Tyner. One day, for reasons largely having to do with the times in which he lived, Grimes simply walked away from the music world.
When word of his whereabouts and circumstances reached a small circle of musicians and fans late last year, efforts began to find him a bass so that he could start playing again. Before long a bass nicknamed Olive Oil (for its greenish finish) arrived at Henry Grimes's door, donated by New York bassist William Parker, who as a teenager had gone to Brooklyn to hear Grimes play. For the first month, Grimes practiced virtually around the clock -- and began to emerge from his room. Since then he's been practicing with several L.A. musicians and has played concerts at the Jazz Bakery, Billy Higgins' World Stage, and the Howling Monk. He also has been teaching improvisation part-time at a local high school. He will play tonight as special guest at New York's Vision Festival.
On the New York jazz scene... the eighth annual Vision Festival concludes tonight at the Center at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral with a Jeanne Lee Memorial concert. It features Steve Dalachinsky, the Gunter Hampel Galaxy Dream Band, Amina Claudine Myers. For the final set, William Parker leads Jeanne Lee Project, a band that includes bassist Henry Grimes.
The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra is the Village Vanguard. The John Patitucci group is at the Jazz Standard. Gene Ess is at the Blue Note. The Les Paul trio with is at Iridium. Gary Morgan's 'Panamericana' Big Band is at Birdland.
The Lynne Arriale trio is at the Spoleto Arts Festival in Charleston, S.C., tonight.
Today's finale at the 26th annual Atlanta Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park in Atlanta features Bernard Linnette Interactive Sextet, the Jacques Lesure quartet, drummer Sunny Jain's collective, Metalwood and Maysa.
Singer-pianist Yoel Sharr is at Nighttown in Cleveland tonight.
In Chicago... Bobby Lewis is at the Backroom. The William Garcia quartet is at Cafe Bolera. The Patricia Barber quintet is at the Green Mill tonight. Yoko Noge's Jazz Me Blues is at HotHouse on Mondays. David Boykin, Karl Seigfried and Mike Reed are at the Hotti Biscotti Café. Kelly Brand is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium.
The Long Count Quartet is at Joy Blue tonight. The Marc Pompe trio is at the 100 South Chop House in Elmhurst tonight and Tuesday. The Mike Kocur trio is at Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston tonight. Sami Scott is at Philander's in Oak Park. Typhanie Monique is at Pops for Champagne tonight.
In New Orleans... Earl Brown is at Cafe Sbisa. Bob French and Friends are at Donna's. Jacques Gauthe is at Fritzel's. Jeesok Kim and Maurice Brown are at the Funky Butt tonight. Papa Grows Funk is at the Maple Leaf. Reginald Koeller leads tonight's band at Preservation Hall. Charmaine Neville is at Snug Harbor tonight. The Jazz Vipers are at the Spotted Cat. The Rob Wagner trio is at d.b.a.
On the California jazz scene... the Tin Hat Trio is at Dizzy's in San Diego's East Village tonight. The Mike Barone big band is at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles tonight. Terry Federoff's Jazz Lite octette is at Steamers Jazz Café in Fullerton tonight.
The Ray Armando Latin jazz sextet is at Spazio in Sherman Oaks tonight. The Ralph Penland Polygon quintet is at Charlie O's in Valley Glen tonight. Rev. Matt Dunlap and The Band Of Deliverance are at Yoshi's in Oakland.