This Week In Music

Share:  Twitter Myspace

Belgium's Antoine-Joseph Adolphe Sax, a flute and clarinet graduate of the Brussels Conservatory and son of an instrument maker made some of the best-crafted clarinets, flutes, and other musical instruments of his day. Etude EAS-100 Student Alto Saxophone By age 20, Sax created a new clarinet fingering system and modernized the bass clarinet. Some even credit Sax with inventing the modern trumpet, as he was the first to successfully add piston valves to a bugle. A master instrumental musician as well, Sax was an accomplished performer on every wind instrument of his time.

Inspired at age 20 to create an instrument that could bridge the sonic gap between string instruments and woodwinds and not be overpowered by brass instruments, Sax fitted a bass clarinet mouthpiece to an ophicleide—a horn with keys instead of valves. Sax called this 1841 invention the C bass horn. It was first named a saxophone in an 1846 review in a French newspaper.

An 1845 battle of the bands really popularized the saxophone as an instrument for marching bands. Sax' original idea involved two kinds of saxophones, one for orchestra and one for marching band. To popularize the marching version, Sax thought of pitting a French army band in a public competition against a smaller ensemble equipped with saxophones. Effective publicity resulted in a huge crowd that enthusiastically acclaimed that Sax' group of 28 musicians had soundly defeated the army band's contingent of 35. That very day the French Army Band accepted the saxophone into its ranks and awarded Sax a manufacturing contract. Saxophone use eventually spread to military bands throughout the world, to orchestras, to jazz musicians, and dance bands as well.


Anthony Dominick Benedetto is better known by his show business name Tony Bennett. He began his show business career to help support his impoverished family while still in high school as a singing waiter. Having served in heavy combat as an infantryman during World War II, Bennett took advantage of the GI Bill to study music and acting in New York. Two crucial decisions later helped Bennett sustain a musical career for more than 50 years: First, he studied bel canto operatic techniques and gained the control that helped maintain his voice and phrasing for an impressive span of time. Second, his voice coach advised him not to imitate other singers but rather to base his singing on instrumental performances. This made Bennett's singing uniquely appealing. No less a crooner than Frank Sinatra said of him, "For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business . . . He's the singer who gets across what the composer has in mind, and probably a little more."

Discovered by Pearl Bailey and hired by Bob Hope in 1949, he was signed by Columbia Records in 1950. Early hits included "Rags To Riches," and "Stranger in Paradise," and his first number-one seller "Because of You." Bennett's artistic peak may have been with the late '50s albums The Beat of My Heart and Basie Swings, Bennett Sings. Bennett's signature tune "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," was a 1962 B-side single that earned him his first Grammys—for Record of the Year and Best Male Solo Vocal Performance.

The '60s and '70s were tough on Bennett as rock was supplanting the Great American Songbook and music publishers catered to a younger audience. With the assistance of his oldest son, Bennett staged a remarkable comeback in the '80s and '90s. Bennett appeared on the Leno and Letterman late night shows, The Simpsons, and MTV Unplugged. The MTV Unplugged appearance resulted in a new album by the same name, a new audience, and yet another Grammy for Bennett.

Bennett has sold more than 50 million albums and won 15 Grammys. He was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1997; received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, and an American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. Also in 2002, Q Magazine included Bennett on their list of "50 Bands To See Before You Die," and he received the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Humanitarian Award. In 2006 Bennett was given the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award, America's highest honor for jazz musicians. Bennett is also an accomplished painter under his real name, and he is the author of three books.


Week of July 25, 2011
Event: Georgetown University Awards its First Music

Birthday: Trumpeter John Faddis July 18, 1928

Week of July 18, 2011
Event: First Newport Jazz Festival

Birthday: Carl Fontana Born July 18, 1928

Week of July 11, 2011
Event: "His Masters Voice" Trademark Registered

Birthday: Bélla Fleck Born July 10, 1958

Week of July 5, 2011
Event: Benny Goodman and His Band Record "Sing, Sing, Sing"

Birthday: Pinetop Perkins Born July 7, 1913

Week of June 27, 2011
Event: Cab Calloway and His Orchestra Record "St. James Infirmary""

Birthday: Pete Fountain Born July 3, 1930

Week of June 20, 2011
Event: 19 Year-Old Arturo Toscanini Conducts the Rio de Janeiro Orchestra in a Performance of "Aida"

Birthday: Lalo Schifrin Born June 21, 1932

Week of June 13, 2011
Event: New York Jazz Museum Opens

Birthday: Marcus Miller Born June 14, 1959

Week of June 06, 2011
Event: Jelly Roll Morton Records "Jelly Roll Blues" As a Piano Solo

Birthday: Bill Watrous Born June 08, 1939

Week of May 30, 2011
Event: 1962 Bandleader Benny Goodman Leads The First American Jazz Band to Play In The Soviet Union

Birthday: Benny Goodman Born May 30, 1909

Week of May 23, 2011
Event: "In a Precursor to Outdoor Rock Festivals, Ray Charles and B.B. King Perform For 9,000 Fans in Atlanta

Birthday: Miles Davis Born May 26, 1926

Week of May 16, 2011
Event: "When The Saints Go Marching In" Recorded by Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra

Birthday: Woody Herman Born May 16, 1913

Week of May 2, 2011
Event: New York's Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center Announces Addition of Rock, Pop, and Jazz Concerts

Birthday: Maynard Ferguson Born May 4, 1928

Week of April 25, 2011
Event: At Decca Studios Charlie Parker Made His First Commercial Recording April 30, 1941

Birthday: Duke Ellington Born April 29, 1899

Week of April 18, 2011
Event: Pipeless Organ Patented by Laurens Hammond April 24, 1934

Birthday: Tito Puente Born April 20, 1923

Week of April 4, 2011
Event: Herp Alpert Born April 4, 1939

Birthday: Freddie Hubbard Born April 7, 1938

Week of March 28, 2011
Birthday: Michael Brecker Born March 29, 1949

Birthday: Herp Alpert Born March 31, 1935

Week of March 14, 2011
Event: Joseph Haydn's Surprise Symphony Is Performed for the First Time March 23, 1792

Birthday: Johann Sebastian Bach Born March 21, 1685

Week of March 7, 2011
Event: Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians Recorded Auld Lang Syne March 7, 1939

Birthday: Leon Bismark (Bix) Beiderbecke March 10, 1903

Week of February 28, 2011
Event: Miles Davis Records "Kind of Blue" on Columbia Records March 2, 1959
Birthday: Frédéric Chopin Marc 1, 1810

Week of February 21, 2011
Event: Duke Ellington Records "The Queen's Suite"
Birthday: Dexter Gordon February 27, 1923

Week of February 14, 2011
Event: Sonny Rollins Records his Title Track "The Bridge" February 14, 1962
Birthday: Buddy DeFranco February 17, 1923

Week of February 7, 2011
Event: Rhapsody in Blue is Performed for the First Time February 12, 1924
Birthday: Marion "Buddy" Childers February 12, 1926

Week of January 31, 2011
Event: Frank Sinatra Debuts on Radio's "Your Hit Parade" February 6, 1943
Birthday: Stanley "Stan" Getz February 2, 1927

Week of January 24, 2011
Event: Original Dixieland Jazz Band Makes the First Jazz Record January 30, 1917
Birthday: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart January 27, 1756