It Had To Be You- Vocalist Dick Haymes

When big band aficionados gather to discuss their favorite crooners of the Big Band period, inevitably three names come up. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Argentinian-born Dick Haymes. Haymes was perhaps one of the most popular vocalists of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Born to Irish and British parents in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1918, his … Continue reading It Had To Be You- Vocalist Dick Haymes

Arranger & Musical King Maker: The Jerry Gray Story

When musicians debate the question of which were the biggest hits to emerge from the big band era, inevitably two titles come to the forefront: Artie Shaw’s “Begin the Beguine” and Glenn Miller’s “A String of Pearls”.  Ironically, neither of these two songs, both of which became million sellers, might never have become hits were … Continue reading Arranger & Musical King Maker: The Jerry Gray Story

A Man With A Horn – Harry James

He was a driving force behind Benny Goodman’s success. He launched the career of singer Frank Sinatra. And during the 40’s he married the most famous “Pin-up Girl” of the Second World War. Trumpeter and Bandleader Harry James began his music career playing in a traveling circus with his father in Texas. Later, Harry joined … Continue reading A Man With A Horn – Harry James

That “Sentimental Gentleman” of Swing

Trombonist and band leader Tommy Dorsey (or simply “TD” as many of his friends called him) was arguably one of the most important musical ‘influencers’ of the Big Band Era. Known to many as the “Sentimental Gentleman of Swing”, he gave a start to many fine vocalists including Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes and the Pied … Continue reading That “Sentimental Gentleman” of Swing

Pearl Bailey- An American Treasure

Vocalist. Actress. Ambassador. An American Treasure. That, in part, describes the life and talent of singer Pearl Bailey. Born in Newport News, Virginia at the end of World War One, her father was a pastor and her brother Bill a professional tap dancer. From an early age, Pearl had a talent for singing and often … Continue reading Pearl Bailey- An American Treasure

African-American Jazz & Swing Artists during Black History Month

Surrounded by shelves containing vintage recordings and a desk filled with various radio broadcasting apparatus, Craig Roberts gestured toward a stack of 78RPM records, “there sits some rare Ella Fitzgerald recordings for our 100th birthday tribute to the Queen of Jazz!”, he said with obvious pride. Roberts, who says his age is “the same as … Continue reading African-American Jazz & Swing Artists during Black History Month

The Man With A Drum- Buddy Rich

He was a man with an explosive temper. He had no ability to read music. His tirades were infamous among the musicians who played with him. And yet, he is considered one of the most talented and prolific musicians of the 20th century, and is most cited as ‘inspiration’ for successful drummers today. Billed as … Continue reading The Man With A Drum- Buddy Rich

Lena Horne: The Lady & Her Music

American Jazz Singer. Film Actress. Dancer. Civil Rights Activist. Those are just a few of the titles attributed to the late Lena Horne. Born in Brooklyn, New York in June of 1917, by the age of sixteen she was hired as a chorus girl at Harlem’s Cotton Club, performing with Adelaide Hall in ‘Cotton Club … Continue reading Lena Horne: The Lady & Her Music

Benny Goodman: ‘The King of Swing’

The year was 1935. An enthusiastic crowd of young dancers gathered at the famous Palomar Ballroom on Vermont Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Two nights before, the young band and its leader, Benjamin “Benny” Goodman, had played to a sold-out crowd in Oakland’s McFadden Ballroom. In the Bay Area, Goodman … Continue reading Benny Goodman: ‘The King of Swing’

The ‘Queen of Jazz’ At One Hundred

Ella Fitzgerald had an exceptional vocal range that earned her titles like ‘The Queen of Jazz’, ‘The First Lady of Song’ and ‘Lady Ella’. She was held in high esteem by her fans all over the world at the peak of the Swing and Big Band era. Numerous times did she face discrimination because of … Continue reading The ‘Queen of Jazz’ At One Hundred