Wilmoth Houdini, (calypso) vocals/songwriter
b. Port Of Spain, BWI- vocals with Gerald Clark's Night Owlsand 
other orchestras. Wilmoth Houdini was the most recorded calypsonian of his  generation. His songs covered a variety of styles and topics  including prostitution, murder, satire, Carnival, social equality, and male-female relationships. Historic Calypsos from 1928 - 1940.
Wilmoth Houdini earned his moniker as the Calypso King of New York in the 1930s and 1940s, due in part to the many calypso events he organized in the Big Apple, but his own personal history is a bit harder to pin down. Most sources claim he was born November 25, 1895 (some have placed the birth date a year later) in Port of Spain, Trinidad, although in a profile written by New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell in 1939, Houdini claims to have been born in 1902 in Brooklyn and states that his family didn't move to Trinidad until he was two years old. Even his birth name is somewhat unclear, although it appears to have been Frederick Wilmoth Hendricks, although Mitchell states in his New Yorker profile that the name on Houdini's passport read Edgar Leon Sinclair.
What is clear, however, is that he grew up mostly in Trinidad, eventually taking Houdini as a performing name. That was the name he was going by in 1916 when he became a chantwell (lead singer) for the African Millionaires, a 25-person street carnival group in Trinidad. In the mid-'20s he worked aboard ocean freighters, visiting North and South America, Europe, and Africa, finally landing in New York around 1927, where he seemingly immediately began recording calypso pieces with local jazz and string bands like Gerald Clark's Night Owls, including the interesting LP Harlem Seen Through Calypso Eyes, which was released by Decca Records in 1940.
Houdini was incredibly prolific, composing reportedly thousands of songs, many of them brilliant, spur-of-the-moment constructions, and he released well over a hundred different 78s between 1928 and 1940. A song Houdini had recorded in 1939, "He Had It Coming," was covered by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan as "Stone Cold Dead in the Market" in 1946 and shot to the top of the R&B charts, where it remained for five weeks, even crossing over to reach number seven on the pop charts. The success of the song brought Houdini a great deal of attention, and he used his high-profile situation to promote and organize a series of calypso concerts and festivals in the city, and he was greatly respected within New York's Caribbean community for his efforts (although in Trinidad he was often targeted in local calypso songs as an outsider -- leading to Houdini's 1934 retort called "Declaration of War").
Houdini died on August 6, 1977, in New York, and if it turns out he wasn't actually born in the city, he certainly spent most of his life there. Both Brunswick and Folklyric released roughly the same set of Houdini 78s recorded between 1928 and 1940 as an LP (called Songs of Trinidad by the former label and Calypso Classics from Trinidad by the latter), and the Folklyric set was reissued on LP in 1984 by Arhoolie Records, then re-released by Arhoolie on CD under the title Poor But Ambitious in 1993 with an additional eight tracks that Houdini recorded in the mid-'40s added.
~ Steve Leggett
Wilmoth Houdini

Eddie Boyd, piano
b. Stovall, MS, USA.
d. July 13, 1994
Few postwar blues standards have retained the universal appeal of Eddie Boyd's "Five Long Years." Cut in 1951, Boyd's masterpiece has attracted faithful covers by B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Buddy Guy, and too many other bluesmen to recount here. But Boyd's discography is filled with evocative compositions, often full of after-hours ambience.
Like so many Chicago blues stalwarts, Boyd hailed from the fertile Mississippi Delta. The segregationist policies that had a stranglehold on much of the South didn't appeal to the youngster, so he migrated up to Memphis (where he began to play the piano, influenced by Roosevelt Sykes and Leroy Carr). In 1941, Boyd settled in Chicago, falling in with the "Bluebird beat" crowd that recorded for producer Lester Melrose. He backed harp legend Sonny Boy Williamson on his 1945 classic "Elevator Woman," also accompanying Bluebird stars Jazz Gillum, Tampa Red, and Jazz Gillum on wax. Melrose produced Boyd's own 1947 recording debut for RCA as well; the pianist stayed with Victor through 1949.
Boyd reportedly paid for the date that produced "Five Long Years" himself, peddling the track to JOB Records (where the stolid blues topped the R&B charts during 1952). Powerful DJ Al Benson signed Boyd to a contract with his Parrot imprint and promptly sold the pact to Chess, inaugurating a stormy few years with Chicago's top blues outlet. There he waxed "24 Hours" and "Third Degree," both huge R&B hits in 1953, and a host of other Chicago blues gems. But Boyd and Leonard Chess were often at loggerheads, so it was on to Narvel "Cadillac Baby" Eatmon's Bea & Baby imprint in 1959 for eight solid sides with Robert Jr. Lockwood on guitar, and a slew of lesser labels after that. A serious auto wreck in 1957 had stalled his career for a spell.
Sick of the discrimination he perceived toward African Americans in this country, Boyd became enamored of Europe during his tour with the 1965 American Folk Blues Festival, so he moved to Belgium. The recording opportunities long denied him in his native land were plentiful overseas; Boyd cut prolifically during the late '60s, including two LPs for producer Mike Vernon. In the early '70s, he settled in Helsinki, Finland, where he played often and lived comfortably until his death.
~ Bill Dahl, Rovi
Eddie Boyd - Wikipedia

Harlan Lattimore
Harlan Lattimore, was a popular African-American singer with several jazz orchestras of the 1930s, most notably Don Redman's. He was known as "The Colored Bing Crosby". Wikipedia
Born: November 25, 1908, Cincinnati, OH
Died: July 1980, Brooklyn, New York City, NY
Lattimore was born in 1908 in Cincinnati, where he built his reputation as a singer on that city's WLW radio station. By March 1932, he had arrived on the New York City music scene, and began his recording career with Fletcher Henderson's band. Not long afterwards, Lattimore was signed by Don Redman as his vocalist. This association lasted throughout the 1930s.
His style of singing, as well as the timber of his beautiful voice, closely resembling that of Bing Crosby, earned him recording dates with some of the top studio and dance bands of the era, most notably those of Victor Young, Abe Lyman and Isham Jones, as well a number of dates as vocalist for a number of generic dance records for ARC (on Melotone, Banner, Oriole, Romeo, and Perfect).

With the exposure of Lattimore to the public through radio broadcasts (with Don Redman), recordings and an appearance in a Vitaphone short subject film (with Redman), it seemed a foregone conclusion that he was headed for stardom. This was not to be.

Lattimore's behavior became unreliable and erratic in the mid-1930s, and he made his last recordings with Redman in 1936. After service in World War II, he dropped out of the music scene. On November 11, 1949, he appeared at Carnegie Hall in what was billed as a comeback. The performance was produced by Don Redman.
Although the name Harlan Lattimore is now looked upon as a mere footnote in American popular music, there can be no denying his role as a pioneering African-American singer who established a style and role later filled by such musical luminaries as Billy Eckstine and Nat King Cole.
The 1933 Vitaphone short, Don Redman and his Orchestra is included on the Warner Brothers DVD of Dames, where he sings a beautiful rendition of Harold Arlen's "Ill Wind", which the Redman band never recorded

Arthur Schwartz, composer
b. New York (Brooklyn), NY, USA
d. 1984, Kintnersville, PA, USA. A songwriter for Broadway and Hollywood from the '20s to the '60s, Arthur Schwartz wrote most of his popular tunes with lyricist Howard Dietz. Though few of the shows and movies his songs were written for became famous, many of his compositions -- "Dancing in the Dark," "You and the Night and the Music," "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan," and "That's Entertainment" -- became standards. Schwartz taught himself harmonica and piano as a child and began playing for silent films at the age of 14. His father, an attorney, forced him to study law, but he first attended NYU (earning a B.A. in English) and then Columbia (earning an M.A. in English) before enrolling at NYU Law School, graduating, and being admitted to the bar in 1924. He worked on songwriting concurrently with his studies and had already published his first song ("Baltimore, Md., You're the Only Doctor for Me," lyrics by Eli Dawson) by 1923.
Encouraged by acquaintances like Lorenz Hart and George Gershwin, he stuck with composing and tried to convince Dietz, an MGM publicist who had collaborated with Jerome Kern, to work with him, but Dietz initially declined. Schwartz placed his first songs in a Broadway show, The New Yorkers (March 10, 1927). By 1928, he had closed his law office and convinced Dietz to write with him. Their first songs together were used in the Broadway revue The Little Show (April 30, 1929) and included "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan," which belatedly became a hit three years later when it was recorded by Rudy Vallée. Schwartz's career was launched, and in 1930 he contributed songs to six shows, three in London and three in New York, the most successful of which was Three's a Crowd (October 15, 1930), which featured the same cast as The Little Show and featured the hit "Something to Remember You By." Schwartz also started contributing songs to motion pictures, beginning with "I'm Afraid of You" (lyrics by Ralph Rainger and Edward Eliscu) in Queen High (1930).
Schwartz and Dietz's best Broadway revue was The Band Wagon (June 3, 1931), which marked the final appearance of Fred Astaire with his sister and dancing partner Adele Astaire before her marriage and retirement, and spawned "Dancing in the Dark," the most successful song Schwartz and Dietz ever wrote. Flying Colors (September 15, 1932) was another successful revue; among its popular songs was "Louisiana Hayride," recorded for a hit by bandleader Leo Reisman with the composer himself on vocals. The Depression reduced opportunities on Broadway, but Schwartz, with and without Dietz, also wrote music for radio, film, and Tin Pan Alley in the early and mid-'30s. The songwriting team returned to Broadway with their first book musical, Revenge With Music (November 28, 1934), which featured the hit "You and the Night and the Music," and followed with another successful revue, At Home Abroad (September 19, 1935), after which Schwartz began to collaborate more frequently with other lyricists.
He continued to work primarily in the theater with diminishing success until 1940, when he moved to Hollywood. His most successful movie work of the early '40s came with Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), for which he and Frank Loesser wrote 12 songs, among them the Oscar-nominated hit "They're Either Too Young or Too Old." Schwartz earned a second Academy Award nomination for the hit "A Gal in Calico" (lyrics by Leo Robin) from The Time, the Place, and the Girl (1946). He also moved into movie producing with Cover Girl (1944) and the Cole Porter biopic Night and Day (1946).
In 1946, Schwartz returned to New York and began again writing for Broadway, starting with the unsuccessful book musical Park Avenue (November 4, 1946), on which he collaborated with Ira Gershwin. Returning to familiar ground, he reunited with Dietz on a revue, Inside U.S.A. (April 30, 1948), which was a hit.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (April 19, 1951), a book musical for which he wrote songs with Dorothy Fields, did not turn a profit, but its cast album, featuring such songs as "He Had Refinement" and "Make the Man Love Me," reached the Top Ten. In 1953, MGM took the title of an old Schwartz/Dietz revue, The Band Wagon, its star, Fred Astaire, and a sheaf of the duo's old songs, and created a new movie for which the songwriters wrote one new number, the show-business standard "That's Entertainment." The result was considered one of the best movie musicals of the decade.
Though he continued to write for theater, film, and television, Schwartz found less work after the mid-'50s, with Dietz's retirement from MGM. The partnership was resumed full-time in the early '60s, however, resulting in the Broadway musicals The Gay Life (November 18, 1961) and Jennie (October 17, 1963), neither of which was successful. These were Schwartz's final productions, though he continued to work until his death from a stroke at 83. His son, Jonathan Schwartz, became a popular radio personality.
~ John Bush & William Ruhlmann
Arthur Schwartz - Wikipedia

William McLeish "Willie" Smith, Alto Sax
b. Charleston, SC, USA.
d. March 7. 1967,
Los Angeles, CA, USA. Do Not confuse with "Willie The Lion" Smith (a pianist). Started playing at age 10. Attended Fisk Univ. in Nashville, TN where he met Jimmy Lunceford, in whose band he later played.. Played With: Charlie Barnet; Duke Ellington; Harry James; Jimmie Lunceford; Billy May's Orchestra; Charlie Spivak.
In the 1930s, Willie Smith ranked third among alto saxophonists, just behind Johnny Hodges and Benny Carter. He had a distinctive sound and a swinging style that was a major asset to Jimmy Lunceford's orchestra. Smith also contributed occasional vocals ("Rhythm Is Our Business" was his best-known recording) and some effective clarinet solos during the era, in addition to writing some fine arrangements for Lunceford.
Willie Smith started on clarinet, gained a chemistry degree at Fisk University, and then became Lunceford's altoist in 1929. A superb lead player and the strongest soloist in the ensemble-oriented orchestra, Smith was one of the stars in the big band up until 1942. At that point, underpaid by Lunceford and weary of nonstop traveling, he departed. After a year with Charlie Spivak and a year in the Navy, Smith joined Harry James' big band, where he was paid properly and greatly appreciated. Well-featured with James, Smith stayed for seven years the first time, before joining Duke Ellington in 1951 (as part of "the great James robbery"). 

After helping Ellington make up for the departure of Johnny Hodges, Smith spent time with Billy May's orchestra at the time the arranger's big band was catching on, before returning to James in 1954, where he stayed for another decade. He took occasional time off for work with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic and was featured on some of Granz's Verve jam session records, including 1953's Apple Jam. After largely retiring, Willie Smith recorded his only full-length album for GNP Crescendo (1965) and recorded with Charlie Barnet before passing away from cancer.

Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:

Katie Crippen, vocals
died in New York, NY, USA.
Age: 34.

Bill"Bojangles" Robinson
died in New York, NY, USA.
Age: 71.
James Collins, vocals
died in Harvey, IL, USA.
Age: 57.
Worked with both Count Basie and Earl Hines bands.

Gertrude Wells, piano
died in Washington, DC, USA.
Age: 88.
Worked with Elmer Snowden

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Margaret Johnson accompanied
by Clarence Williams' Blue Five - Changeable Daddy Of Mine

Jean Goldkette and his Orchestra - Play Me Slow
  • Honest and Truly (Fred Rose / Leo Wood)

The Goofus Five - Everybody Loves My Baby


Clarence Williams' Washboard Four - Yama Yama Blues

  • Church Sobbin' Blues (Norfolk)

The Virginians
Ted Weems and his Orchestra - Cobble-Stones
Ted Weems and his Orchestra - Everybody Loves My Girl - Vocal refrain by Parker Gibbs

    Emil Seidel and his Orchestra
    • For My Baby

    Fred Hall and his Sugar Babies - Plenty Of Sunshine
    • Look In The Mirror And See Just Who I Love

    Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - Mary (What Are You Waiting For?)


    Clarence Williams' Novelty Four - In The Bottle Blues

    Boyd Senter and his Senterpedes
    The Rhythmic Eight

    Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra


    Dancing In the Dark
    Music and Lyrics by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz
    From The Band Wagon

    Dancing in the dark,
    Till the tune end
    Were dancing in the dark,
    And it soon ends.
    Were waltzing in the wonder
    Of why were here;
    Time hurries by,
    Were here and gone.
    Looking for the light
    Of a new love
    To brighten up the night.
    I have you to love,
    And we can face the music together;
    Dancing in the dark.

    What though love is old?
    What though song is old?
    Through them we can be young.
    Hear this heart of mine
    Make yours part of mine.
    Dear one, tell me that were one!
    Dancing in the dark!

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    Scott Yanow,
    And all who have provided content for this site.