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Monday Notes

Les Baxter, Busy Port. Exotica, a precursor of New Age

[Monday Note No. 136] Les Baxter is one of the most important exponents of Exotica, a genre of music that was popular in the 1950s. Exotic music was vaguely inspired by the sounds of distant and fascinating places, such as the Pacific Islands, the Orient, and South America. Let’s listen to Busy Port, taken from…

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Monday Notes

Chick Webb, Blues in My Heart

[Monday Notes no. 131] Chick Webb was one of the first great jazz drummers, his career was short but many drummers were inspired by him. Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Sid Catlett, Jo Jones and others paid homage to Chick Webb and considered him a master. We listen to his orchestra playing Blues in My Heart,…

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Monday Notes

Boplicity, Gil Evans and cool jazz

[Monday’s Notes no. 29] It is rare in jazz for musicians to simply conduct without also being leading instrumentalists. Gil Evans is perhaps one of the most famous conductors, in the late 1940s he made a series of recordings published under the title Birth of the Cool, which created a sonic mixture never heard before.…

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Monday Notes

Benny Goodman & Pegge Lee, My Old Flame

[Monday Notes No. 16] In the 1930s, Benny Goodman was called by the press the ‘King of Swing’. To obtain this vague title, the clarinettist was certainly favoured by the colour of his skin. Nevertheless, the musician was of the highest calibre. Let us listen to and analyse one of his renditions of My Old…

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Monday Notes

Jelly Roll Morton, Hyena Stomp. Laughter is contagious

[Monday’s Note No. 3] Jelly Roll Morton boasted that he had invented jazz, he had a diamond in his tooth, and he often used to exhibit his gun to persuade his musicians to play his way. Eccentric and over-the-top, the character long overshadowed the musician. Let’s listen to his curious composition Hyena Stomp.

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Monday Notes

Bunny Berigan, I Can’t Get Started. The Chet Baker of the 1930s

[Monday Notes no. 76] Bunny Berigan was one of the greatest trumpet players of the 1930s, esteemed and requested by many musicians including Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey. In the song entitled I Can’t Get Started we can appreciate his prowess as a trumpeter, but also his personality and charisma as a singer.

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Monday Notes

Tommy Dorsey, I’m in a Dancing Mood. Jazz music for dance

[Monday Notes no. 74] The 1930s were the heyday of the great jazz dance orchestras. In the midst of the severe economic crisis, music had a consolatory function, providing cheap entertainment to forget the hardships of everyday life. Let us analyse a classic of the time, I’m In a Dancing Mood by Tommy Dorsey.

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Monday Notes

Don Redman, Chant of the Weed. Psychedelic music of the 1930s.

[Monday’s Notes no. 73] Chant of the Weed was composed by Don Redman in 1931 and is a curious anticipation of psychedelic music of the 1960s, since the song is dedicated to cannabis.

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Monday Notes

St. Louis Blues, Cab Calloway is always center stage.

[Monday Notes no. 70] Cab Calloway was an extraordinary singer, dancer and showman. After early successes at the Cotton Club where he filled in for none other than Duke Ellington’s orchestra, he continued to perform throughout his life until he was over eighty years of age.

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Monday Notes

Ella Fitzgerald, A Tisket a Tasket

[Monday Notes] Ella Fitzgerald is one of the most important jazz singers, her Song books are monumental and must-have works, her vocal improvisations a model for any aspiring jazz singer. However, it was not a song that launched her to success in 1938 but a simple nursery rhyme entitled A Tisket, a Tasket.

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