Thursday

MARCH 31ST


BIRTHDAYS


1913
Etta Baker, guitar
b. Caldwell, NC, USA.
Guitarist Etta Baker quietly enjoyed one of the blues' most enduring careers, working in almost total obscurity and recording only on the rarest of occasions while honing her craft throughout the greater part of the 20th century. Born in Caldwell County, NC, on March 31, 1913, she was the product of a musical family, taking up the guitar as a child and learning from her father and other relatives traditional blues and folk songs.
Over time, Baker emerged among the foremost practitioners of acoustic Piedmont guitar fingerpicking, an open-tuned style not far removed from bluegrass banjo picking; however, for decades only relatives and friends ever heard her play, as she confined her performances solely to family gatherings and parties. She finally made her initial recordings in 1956, joining her father and other family members on a field recording titled Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians; she again faded into willful obscurity, however, raising her nine children and toiling in a textile mill.
Finally, while in her sixties -- at an age at which most performers consider retirement -- Baker finally began pursuing music professionally, hitting the folk and blues festival circuit. In 1991 -- 35 years after her debut recording -- she issued the album One-Dime Blues and continued performing live throughout the decade to follow, returning in 1999 with Railroad Bill. Baker died on September 23, 2006, at the age of 93 just months before her final album was to be released.
~ Jason Ankeny

1911
Freddie Green, Guitar
b. Charleston, SC, USA.
d. March 1, 1987, USA.
Freddie Green was known throughout his long career as the definitive rhythm guitarist. He rarely soloed (briefly on a few records early on), he stuck to acoustic guitar, and was often more felt than heard. Although he had originally played banjo, Green was playing guitar in New York in early 1937 when producer John Hammond heard him and immediately recommended him to Count Basie. A quick audition and Green had the job, forming a classic rhythm section with Basie, Walter Page, and Jo Jones.
After 13 years with the orchestra, Green was not originally included in Basie's small group in 1950, but one night sat down uninvited on the bandstand and never left. He stayed with the band even after its leader's death, making a recording with Dianne Schuur and the Frank Foster-led orchestra in 1987, shortly before he passed on after nearly 50 years of service. Freddie Green also composed "Corner Pocket" (later renamed "Until I Met You" for the vocal version) and "Down for Double."
~ Scott Yanow

1906
David Henecker
Composer/lyricist


1926
Roy Holliday, drums
b. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, UK.
Roy was already playing professionally at age 16, and is still (happily) active today (2007). Roy is also a member of London's "Coda Club", an organization comprised of most of the surviving musicians from the Ted Heath Band and other players from the great British dance bands of the 1930's, '40's and '50s.



1878
Jack Johnson
Boxer & Jazz Club Owner
John Arthur "Jack" Johnson (March 31, 1878 – June 10, 1946), nicknamed the Galveston Giant was an American boxer, who—at the height of the Jim Crow era—became the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion (1908–1915). Johnson was faced with much controversy when he was charged with violating the Mann Act in 1912, even though there was an obvious lack of evidence and the charge was largely racially based. In a documentary about his life, Ken Burns notes that "for more than thirteen years, Jack Johnson was the most famous and the most notorious African-American on Earth".

In 1920, Johnson opened a night club in Harlem; he sold it three years later to a gangster, Owney Madden, who renamed it the Cotton Club.

Jack Johnson


1910
Bob McCoy, piano
b. Aliceville, AL, USA.
by Alex Henderson
Alabama bluesman Robert McCoy was far from a big name in the blues world; the obscure singer/barrelhouse pianist only recorded sporadically, and many blues enthusiasts have never even heard of him. Nonetheless, he was a deserving and likable artist along the lines of Leroy Carr. McCoy was born in the small town of Aliceville, AL, in 1910 but moved to Birmingham when he was only a baby and ended up spending the rest of his life there. McCoy, whose parents had been tenant farmers, had two older brothers who were both interested in barrelhouse piano. Johnny and Willie McCoy, the Alabaman's brothers, did a lot to encourage his interest in barrelhouse playing, and in the '20s, he was greatly influenced by the well-known Leroy Carr.
By the late '20s, McCoy was being hired to perform at dances and in African-American jook joints around Birmingham. McCoy's first recordings as a leader came in the '30s, a decade that found him working with Jaybird Coleman and Guitar Slim as well as James Sherell, aka Peanut the Kidnapper. But McCoy had a hard time earning a living as a singer/musician, and he ended up paying his bills and supporting his family with non-musical "day gigs" (including construction work). However, he continued to sing and play the piano on the side in the '40s and '50s. It wasn't until the early '60s that the Birmingham resident returned to professional recording.
Read More


1905
Major "Big Maceo" Merriweather
piano/songwriter, b. Newnan, GA, USA
d. 1946 (complications due to a Stroke).
The thundering 88s of Big Maceo Merriweather helped pave the way for the great Chicago blues pianists of the 1950s -- men like Johnny Jones, Otis Spann, and Henry Gray. Unfortunately, Merriweather wouldn't be around to enjoy their innovations -- he died a few years after suffering a debilitating stroke in 1946.
Major Merriweather was already a seasoned pianist when he arrived in Detroit in 1924. After working around the Motor City scene, he ventured to Chicago in 1941 to make his recording debut for producer Lester Melrose and RCA Victor's Bluebird subsidiary. His first day in the studio produced 14 tracks -- six of his own and eight more as accompanist to renowned Chicago guitarist Tampa Red. One of his initial efforts, "Worried Life Blues," has passed into blues standard status (Chuck Berry was hip to it, covering it for Chess). Merriweather remained Tampa Red's favorite pianistic accompanist after that, gigging extensively with him and Big Bill Broonzy on Chicago's South side.
The pianist cut a series of terrific sessions as a leader for Bluebird in 1941-42 and 1945 (the latter including his tour de force, "Chicago Breakdown") before the stroke paralyzed his right side. He tried to overcome it, cutting for Victor in 1947 with Eddie Boyd assuming piano duties and again for Specialty in 1949 with Johnny Jones, this time at the stool. His health fading steadily after that, Merriweather died in 1953.
~ Bill Dahl

1895
Lizzie Miles, Vocals
b. New Orleans, LA, USA.
d. 1963.
Lizzie Miles was a fine classic blues singer from the 1920s who survived to have a full comeback in the 1950s. She started out singing in New Orleans during 1909-1911 with such musicians as King Oliver, Kid Ory, and Bunk Johnson. Miles spent several years touring the South in minstrel shows and playing in theaters.
She was in Chicago during 1918-1920 and then moved to New York in 1921, making her recording debut the following year. Her recordings from the 1922-1930 period mostly used lesser-known players, but Louis Metcalf and King Oliver were on two songs apiece and she recorded a pair of duets with Jelly Roll Morton in 1929. 
Miles sang with A.J. Piron and Sam Wooding, toured Europe during 1924-1925, and was active in New York during 1926-1931. Illness knocked her out of action for a period, but by 1935, she was performing with Paul Barbarin, she sang with Fats Waller in 1938, and recorded a session in 1939. Lizzie Miles spent 1943-1949 outside of music, but in 1950 began a comeback, often performing with Bob Scobey or George Lewis during her final decade.
~ Scott Yanow
LISTEN:

1908
"Red" Norvo
Xylophone/Vibraphone
b. Beardstown, IL, USA.
d. April 6, 1999, Santa Monica, CA, USA.
Age 91.
né: Kenneth Norville.
Red Norvo was an unusual star during the swing era, playing jazz xylophone. After he switched to vibes in 1943, Norvo had a quieter yet no-less fluent style than Lionel Hampton. Although no match for Hampton popularity-wise, Norvo and his wife, singer Mildred Bailey, did become known as "Mr. and Mrs. Swing."
Red Norvo had a long and interesting career. He started on marimba when he was 14 and soon switched to xylophone. Active in vaudeville in the late '20s as a tap dancer, Norvo joined Paul Whiteman's orchestra in the early '30s (meeting and marrying Mildred Bailey). He recorded some extraordinary sides in the early to mid-'30s that showed off his virtuosity and imagination; two numbers (the atmospheric "Dance of the Octopus" and "In a Mist") had Benny Goodman playing bass clarinet, remarkably. Norvo led his own band during 1936-1944 which, with its Eddie Sauter arrangements (particularly in the early days), had a unique ensemble sound that made it possible for one to hear the leader's xylophone. In 1944, Norvo (who by then had switched permanently to vibes) broke up his band and joined Benny Goodman's Sextet.
Through recordings and appearances, he showed that his style was quite adaptable and open to bop. Norvo welcomed Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie to a 1945 record date, was part of Woody Herman's riotous first Herd in 1946, and recorded with Stan Hasselgard in 1948. At the beginning of the 1950s, Norvo put together an unusual trio with guitarist Tal Farlow (later Jimmy Raney) and bassist Charles Mingus (later Red Mitchell). The light yet often speedy unisons and telepathic interplay by the musicians was quite memorable. Norvo led larger groups later in the decade, had reunions with Benny Goodman, and made many fine recordings.
The 1960s found Red Norvo adopting a lower profile after he had a serious ear operation in 1961. He worked with the Newport All-Stars later in the decade, and from the mid-'70s to the mid-'80s was once again quite active, making several excellent recordings. However, his hearing eventually worsened and a serious stroke put Red Norvo out of action altogether after 55 years of music. He died on April 6, 1999, at the age of 91.
~ Scott Yanow


1902
Santo "Mr.Tailgate" Pecora, Trombone
b. New Orleans, LA, USA. d. 1984, USA.
The talented Santo Pecora accomplished a great deal during his career, including some versatile challenges that other players from the New Orleans jazz scene were either unable to meet, uninterested, or both. Nonetheless even the relatively small segment of society impressed by such achievements would probably find the situation regarding this artist's name more fascinating, certainly more amusing.
His real name was Santo Pecoraro--but so, however, was the name of his cousin who was born about four years later. Generously or maybe sensing an opportunity, the elder man trimmed his name slightly. The percussionist who got to keep the Santo Pecoraro monicker actually did work in a band with Pecora, the liason bearing discographical fruit in terms of several compilation tracks.
French horn was Pecora's first instrument, chosen as a child. In his teens he switched to trombone, an axe much more appropriate to the instrumental styles developing in New Orleans. Professionally he has said to have begun as a player in a the silent cinema orchestra pit, but he had already worked casually with bandleaders such as Johnny De Droit and Leon Roppolo. Vocalist Bea Palmer took the trombonist on a road tour in the early '20s and by the middle of that decade Pecora had teamed up with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. Chicago and its fervid interest in the new jazz styles became an important destination for him, like many players from his geographical background, with additional theatre music work filling in the schedule.
During the '30s his course of action regarding employment was again similar to his peers on the national jazz scene as opposed to New Orleans stylists: he headed for the big bands. He did not abandon his musical homeground, however, bringing the Crescent City sounds to New York City with Sharky Bonano's aggregation in the mid '30s. Subsequently the trombonist set himself up on the west coast, his skills honed and ready for studio assignments. Collaborators from the stylistic good old days included the one-armed trumpeter and bandleader Wingy Manone. Pecora returned to New Orleans in the '40s, having evolved into a bandleader in his own right. He also kept working with Bonano, gigged on riverboats and was solidly cemented into a series of epic club residencies. In the '60s his spot of choice was The Dream Room.
~ Eugene Chadbourne
Notable Events Occurring 
On This Date Include:


1950.
Ada Scott Brown, vocals
died in Kansas City, MO, USA.
Age: 59.
Perhaps best recalled for her work with Benny Moten.
1968.
Enos William "Skeets" McDonald
(honky tonk) Singer-Songwriter/Guitar
died in California.
Age: 52.

1977.
Lloyd Wilson Perryman
(b.January 29, 1917, Ruth, Arkansas, USA)
Tenor Vocals/Guitar with the
"Sons of the Pioneers (1936)," died.
Age: 60.
1993.
Mitchell Parish, composer
died in New York (Manhattan), NY, USA.
Age: 92.
Lyricist Mitchell Parish collaborated with great American composers, including Duke Ellington, and had a long list of hit songs spanning the 1920s through the 1950s. Although he was born in Shreveport, LA, on July 10, 1900, Parish grew up in N.Y.C. and later studied at Columbia and N.Y.U. He got a job as a staff writer for a music publisher and had his first song published by the time he was in his late twenties. His first big success came in 1928 with "Sweet Lorraine." Long interested in literature and poetry, Parish became a first-rate lyricist who followed up this hit with the words for Hoagy Carmichael's "Star Dust," which became one of the top American pop songs.
Parish went on to work with many other composers, including Duke Ellington and Oscar winner Sammy Fain, and collaborated with lyricist Irving Mills. His songs were used in such stage shows as Blackbirds of 1934, Blackbirds of 1939, Earl Carroll's Vanities (1940), and It Happens on Ice (1940), as well as in the 1953 film Ruby Gentry. Some of his most successful songs were "Mood Indigo" and "Corrine, Corrina" (1931), "Sophisticated Lady" (1933), "It's Wonderful" (1938), "Moonlight Serenade" (from Blackbirds of 1939), "Let Me Love You Tonight" (1944), and "All My Love" (1950).
Parish also added lyrics to existing songs, as with the Leroy Anderson songs "Blue Tango" and "Sleigh Ride," Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune" (which became "Moonlight Love" in 1956), and the Italian song "Volare" (1958). ~ Joslyn Layne
Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:



1919



Wilbur Sweatman's Jazz Orchestra

1920



Wiedoeft-Wadsworth Quartet - My Sahara Rose
  • Bow Wow Wow

1924


Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra

1925



Cotton Club Orchestra - Original Two-Time Man



1927



Phil Napoleon and his Orchestra - Go, Joe, Go - Blues Stomp
  • Take Your Finger Out Of Your Mouth (I Want A Kiss From You)

1928



The California Ramblers - Red Hot



Ben Selvin and his Orchestra - Ramona

1931


Isham Jones and his Orchestra - Goodnight, Sweet Dreams

1937



Victor Jam Band
  • Blues
  • Honeysuckle Rose

LYRICS:

Written for the film "Ramona" (1928)
(Mabel Wayne / L. Wolfe Gilbert)

I wander out yonder o'er the hills
Where the mountains high, seem to kiss the sky
Someone's up yonder o'er the hills
Waiting patiently, waiting just for me

Ramona, I hear the mission bells above
Ramona , they're ringing out our song of love
I press you, caress you
And bless the day you taught me to care
I'll always remember
The rambling rose you wore in your hair

Ramona, when the day is done you'll hear my call
Ramona, we'll meet beside the waterfall
I dread the dawn
When I awake to find you gone
Ramona, I need you, my own

Ramona, I hear the mission bells above
Ramona , they're ringing out our song of love
I press you, caress you
And bless the day you taught me to care
I'll always remember
The rambling rose you wore in your hair

Ramona, when the day is done you'll hear my call
Ramona, we'll meet beside the waterfall
I dread the dawn
When I awake to find you gone
Ramona, I need you, my own

TubaGirlFin
brought to you by... 
~confetta
Special Thanks To:
The Red Hot Jazz Archives,
The Big Band Database, Scott Yanow,
and all those who have provided content,
images and sound files for this site.

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