Posts tagged ‘Jazz’
In the late 1930′s, the Count Basie Orchestra featured two tenor saxophonists: Lester Young and Herschel Evans of Denton. Books, movies and thousands of words have, rightfully, been dedicated to the former. Only a true jazz geek knows of the latter. Herschel was born in Denton on March 9, 1909, and is found at our Ancestry.com database in the 1930 Census where he appears to be living with an aunt in Bexar County, Texas (San Antonio) while working in the Troy Floyd Orchestra. Click on image below for larger size:
In the census record you can see three important pieces of information that prove this is the same Mr. Evans: 21 years of age, Negro, and musician employed in an orchestra. Here is an early recording with Floyd from 1929, Dreamland Blues. His solo starts @ 1:58.
There is a storied Texas Tenor saxophonist tradition going back to Herschel and on through to Buddy Tate, Illinois Jacquet, Arnett Cobb, David “Fathead” Newman, King Curtis, Donald Wilkerson, Booker Ervin, James Clay, Marchel Ivery, on up to UNT alum Shelley Carrol who performs regularly in Dallas. The thread that runs through all of them is a full-bodied tone that always has a blues flavor.
By the mid-’30s, he was working in Kansas City and landed a seat in the Count Basie Orchestra when they expanded their size after being signed to Decca Records in 1936. In the Basie band, he finally achieved fame through the following recordings (with time his solos start): One O’ Clock Jump 00:45, Doggin’ Around 00:40, Texas Shuffle 1:56 and his most famous solo performance, Blue and Sentimental.
Herschel died at age 29 in 1939 of a heart attack and was replaced in the Basie band by fellow Texan, Buddy Tate. It was said that Lester mourned his section mate, paid his funeral expenses, and Evans’ passing may have helped precipitate his leaving Basie the next year. Here is footage of the Count Basie Orchestra at Randall’s Island in New York City in 1938. The music on the video is overdubbed but, at 1:41, you can see him sitting down with his sax to the right of singer Jimmy Rushing who is standing.
posted by Chuck.
One of the great things about this job is that we get to meet interesting people, learn things from them and then pass it on to you! About two months ago I received a request from a researcher in California looking for any local information about a nonagenarian female jazz singer from Aubrey, Texas. Naturally, being a jazz junkie, my ears perked up. Texas has been the home and genesis of many greats but this one had me intrigued. It didn’t take me long to find alot of information about Mary Louise Tobin and her website.
The Newspaper Archives database available from our Special Collections/Genealogy page has the Denton Record-Chronicle from 1909-1977 searchable by keyword. You can read her biography at her homepage linked above and there are other articles here and here. But, for those who want to dig a little deeper, she shows up frequently in the DRC in the early-to-mid ’30s:
She was on the honor roll for the North Ward School in January of 1931 (DRC, 1/30/31).
Sang “Nobody Cares If I’m Blue” at a Junior High fundraiser (DRC, 4/28/31).
Recovering from an attack of diptheria (!) (DRC 2/29/32).
Elected officer of the 1934 Denton High School “Justimere” (?) Club (DRC, 1/29/34).
Performed as part of a dance program at DHS in Feb. 1934 (DRC, 2/13/34).
But, finally we see when she makes the jump from semi-pro to professional (and eventually drops “Mary” from her name)-
One of the most fascinating, perhaps even startling, things to read was that she was described as a “blues singer” when she began her professional career. Pretty cool for a 16-17 year old. In fact, when she resumed her career in the late 1950′s, noted jazz critic Whitney Balliett compared her to Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald. YouTube goodness here.
Ah, the joys of reading a small town newspaper where everyone knew everyone else’s business, and then published it!
Happy Ides of March, y’all. Next week, jazz flautist Galen Abdur-Razzaq will be performing at each of our three library locations on March 22. Here is his schedule:
2:00 pm at South Branch Library, 3228 Teasley Lane
5:00 pm at Emily Fowler Central Library, 502 Oakland St.
7:00 pm at North Branch Library, 3020 N. Locust St.
For more information about Galen visit: www.flutejuice.com This program is a gift to the community and offered free of charge.
Here and here are some YouTube clips. His program for the Denton Public Library celebrates Women’s History Month with emphasis on female jazz musicians, their role in jazz history and styles. Audience members are invited to participate in this unique learning opportunity.
posted by Chuck
I’m digging the CD “Two Men With The Blues” featuring Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis. Back in 1930, Louis Armstrong recorded with Jimmie Rodgers on the latter’s “Blue Yodel, No. 9“. I like to think this recording was inspired by that pairing of 80 years ago. Sadly they don’t do that tune, but there is plenty of goodness for the ear anyway.
Bet you didn’t think of Willie as a jazz musician, did you? Well, his vocal phrasing and guitar style exhibit his affection for Django, Bob Wills and Hoagy Carmichael.
Here’s Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash paying tribute Jimmie Rodgers in 1970 on the Johnny Cash show. Johnny was deep.
Well, I’m a little late with this post, I guess. I was trying to think of a way to kill three crows with one stone (blog post):
1. Something having to do with our music collection.
2. Something having to do with Miles Davis.
3. Something having to do with current Denton events.
I think I may be able to tie them all together now. This past weekend as many of you know, the 20th Annual Denton Arts and Jazz Fest was held in Quakertown Park. Headlining on Friday night was The Chick Corea Trio. If you were there, as I was, you know how they threw down. We have several CDs by him in solo format, back in the day and with his former employer, Miles Davis.
That’s the simple version. It seems like every other year, the Arts and Jazz Fest has a former member of one of the many Miles Davis groups as a headliner. In the recent past they have had Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Bill Evans and now Chick. There are many good reasons for this but one I would like to point out is that, besides being a master himself, Miles knew talent, how to find it, mix it up in a musical stew and bring it forth. Maybe not every last musician in his groups became a (jazz) household name but far too many did to make it mere coincidence.
We have, of course, mucho Miles to listen to and read about from the ’40s to the ’90s. From Bebop to hip showtunes to “FreeBop” to fusion to the late period. Think of him as a Picasso of the trumpet-as cliche as that may seem.
Posted by Chuck, 4.29.10