Jimmie Lunceford Was The Real Thing

Early jazz era bandleader Jimmie Lunceford was mentioned in an earlier piece about the Cotton Club but I thought we should dig a little deeper into his story. After all, he was one of the best, even if his star has dimmed a little in the many years since his heyday. Born on a Mississippi … Continue reading Jimmie Lunceford Was The Real Thing

Barney Bigard Chose The Clarinet

Regular visitors to the GMC might remember that I once played the clarinet myself, and that probably contributes to my fondness for spotlighting clarinetists from the past. (The real thing, not hapless amateurs like me.) One of the best was Barney Bigard, whose career began in the 1920s and stretched for a half-century -- even … Continue reading Barney Bigard Chose The Clarinet

Fantastic Foursome – Happy New Year

Along the lines of our recent Christmas post, I'm combining the New Year's post with another one of our Special Features, in this case Fantastic Foursome. You might remember that it's the one that offers up four different versions of the same song and then allows you to vote for your favorite. This isn't the … Continue reading Fantastic Foursome – Happy New Year

Cat Anderson Soared Above The Rest

In the world of jazz, high-note trumpeters are much admired -- not just for their skill, but for their audacity. It takes a lot of courage to specialize in a type of playing that is very appealing to most listeners but is reminiscent of fingernails on a blackboard to others. One of the best at … Continue reading Cat Anderson Soared Above The Rest

Did Betty Roché Miss The Duke’s A-Train?

Although the legendary Duke Ellington is remembered for a number of his own compositions, Billy Strayhorn's "Take The A-Train" is considered by many to be the Duke's signature song. But it's a piece with an interesting history, one that includes a young singer who seems to have mis-timed the train's biggest moments. When Wilmington-born Mary … Continue reading Did Betty Roché Miss The Duke’s A-Train?

The Sweet Sound Of Johnny Hodges

Although I don't think of myself as a serious music critic, during the first few years of this blog I did review over two hundred new albums. During that period I learned that what I liked was not always in tune with the cutting-edge crowd, especially when it came to jazz. While many modern critics … Continue reading The Sweet Sound Of Johnny Hodges

Buddy DeFranco Deserves Some Love

I've been on a kind of clarinet thing lately, reminiscing about my childhood and my own lack of talent while also restating my admiration for some of the greats. With the latter thought in mind, it occurred to me that a few of the great jazz clarinetists have never received the recognition they deserve, and … Continue reading Buddy DeFranco Deserves Some Love

Ivie And The Duke Hit The Road

Lately I've been digging a little deeper into the history of a place that's always intrigued me, New York's historic jazz spot known as the Cotton Club. At the height of its popularity in the late 1920s and early 1930s, it provided a showcase for many future legends. One of the biggest was Edward Kennedy … Continue reading Ivie And The Duke Hit The Road