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Posts Tagged ‘Fletcher Henderson’

Died On This Date (July 6, 1971) Louis Armstrong / Jazz Icon

Posted by themusicsover on July 6, 2010

Louis Armstrong
August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971

Nicknamed “Satchmo,” Louis Armstrong was arguably the greatest performer jazz has ever known.  Born into poverty in New Orleans, Armstrong’s young life was as tough as one could imagine – a father who abandoned the family and a mother who was forced to turn to prostitution.  To get away, Armstrong hung out at the local dance halls of the city’s red light district, taking in the music of such greats as Joe “King” Oliver and Bunk Johnson who claimed he taught the young boy how to play the cornet.  He would later take up the more familiar trumpet.  When he became proficient on the cornet, Armstrong got gigs playing on riverboats and in parade brass bands.  It was only a matter of time before Armstrong was playing alongside the likes of Kid Ory, Fletcher Henderson, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ella Fitzgerald and future wife, Lil Hardin.  Throughout his career, Armstrong made countless recordings, appeared in film and on television, and made the cover of Time magazine in February of 1949.  But it wasn’t until the world was caught up in Beatlemania, that he released his unlikely 1964 hit, “Hello Dolly.”  The song had the distinct honor of not only making him the oldest artist (63) to reach the #1 slot on the pop charts, but also of knocking the Beatles out of the top slot for the first time in 14 weeks.  Louis Armstrong died shortly after a heart attack at the age of 69.

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Died On This Date (May 19, 1969) Coleman “The Hawk” Hawkins / Jazz Sax Great

Posted by themusicsover on May 19, 2010

Coleman Hawkins
November 21, 1904 – May 19, 1969

Coleman Hawkins was one of jazz’s first influential saxophonists. Just out of high school, Hawkins hit the road as part of Mamie Smith’s band, and just a couple of years later he teamed up with Fletcher Henderson. By 1937 he found himself in Europe touring with the likes of Django Reinhardt and Benny Carter. Hawkins’ recording of “Body And Soul” in 1939 became the definitive version of a song that has since been recorded hundreds of times, and his solo is considered one of the finest performances ever in popular music. Hawkins died of pneumonia on May 19, 1969 at the age of 64.

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Died On This Date (December 28, 1952) Fletcher Henderson / Jazz Great

Posted by themusicsover on December 28, 2009

Fletcher Henderson
December 18, 1897 – December 28, 1952

Fletcher Henderson was a respected big band and swing jazz pianist, composer and band leader.  During a career that began in the early ’20s, Henderson lead bands that included the likes of Coleman Hawkins, Louis Armstrong, Sun Ra and Benny Carter.  As a composer, his most famous song was “Gin House Blues,” which found itself recorded by Bessie Smith and Nina Simone among others.  As an arranger, he was responsible for key recordings by Benny Goodman and others.  In 1950, Fletcher Henderson suffered a stroke that left him unable to play the piano.  He passed away two years later.



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Died On This Date (December 22, 1939) Ma Rainey / Blues Icon

Posted by themusicsover on December 22, 2009

Gertrude “Ma” Rainey
September, 1882 or April 26, 1886 – December 22, 1939

Called the Mother of the Blues, Ma Rainey was one of it’s earliest stars as well as one of it’s first generation to record.  She was a direct influence on Bessie Smith and no doubt, countless more.   She began her music career as a vaudeville performer at just 14.  Several years later, Smith joined that same troupe as a dancer and soon learned to sing the blues from Rainey.  In 1923, Rainey made her first recording, and over the next five years, she recorded more than 100 songs, including “C.C. Rider” (better known as “See See Rider”), “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” and “Bo Weevil Blues.”  Over the years, she was backed by such musicians as Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, and Fletcher Henderson.   With the music of blues’ first generation falling out of favor by the early ’30s, Rainey retired to run a couple of theaters in her hometown in 1932.  On December 22, 1939, Ma Rainey died of a heart attack.

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Ma Rainey

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Died On This Date (November 5, 1956) Art Tatum / Jazz Great

Posted by themusicsover on November 5, 2009

Art Tatum
October 13, 1909 – November 5, 1956

ART TATUMEven though he was mostly blind, Art Tatum was one of jazz’s greatest pianists.  Tatum was considered a child prodigy and was able to pick up the fine art of piano playing by copying what he heard on the radio or player-piano rolls.  As a child with perfect pitch, he could instantly tell if a piano was out of tune.  In the mid ’20s, he studied piano at a Toledo music school.  Word of his prowess began to spread through jazz circles, and before long, jazz greats like Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson and Louis Armstrong were looking him up when they passed through Toledo.  Tatum later spent time in New York, playing local clubs and making records.  As one of the premier jazz pianists of the ’30s, Tatum was able to tour Europe and play the top venues Los Angeles and New York.  He made numerous solo albums throughout his career, as well as recordings with the likes of Lionel Hampton, Roy Eldridge, and Ben Webster.  Art Tatum was just 47 when he died of uremia on November 5, 1956.

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20th Century Piano Genius - Art Tatum

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