This Week In Music

SaxophoneSaxophonist Coleman Hawkins made the tenor sax an important jazz instrument, was one of the first improvisational jazz saxophone players, and while dominating jazz saxophone for 40 years, influenced many of the greatest saxophonists of the swing era and beyond.

Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, on November 21, 1904, Hawkins was studying piano by age four, cello by seven, and tenor sax by age nine. By the time he was 12, Hawkins was performing at school dances, and he was already a professional musician in his teens.

Hawkins was discovered by Mamie Smith 1922 when she heard him performing in a theater orchestra and invited him to join her group, the Jazz Hounds. Hawkins traveled to New York with Smith, where he made his first recordings. Hawkins departed from Mamie Smith's band in 1923 and was freelancing when he joined the Fletcher Henderson big band in 1924. Hawkins left the Henderson band—in which he a top performer—to tour Europe in 1934. One famous European session in 1937 included Django Reinhardt, Benny Carter, Stephane Grappelli and other musicians in a grouping that yielded classic recordings of "Crazy Rhythm" and "Honeysuckle Rose."

After returning to the States, Hawkins recorded his most famous hit, 1939's masterful jazz rendition of "Body and Soul." In it he poured out irregular, double-timed melodies to create one of the most imitated jazz solos ever. The performance helped net Hawkins the honor DownBeat magazine's Tenor Sax of the Year.

Hawkins went on to the formidable accomplishment of dominating the jazz saxophone for four decades—weathering style changes from traditional jazz, to swing, to bebop. During that time he performed with musicians as diverse as Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Dizzie Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Max Roach, Roy Eldridge, Fats Navarro, J.J. Johnson, Milt Jackson, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and many others.

Hawkins' deep knowledge of chord progressions made him an influence on swing era saxophonists like Ben Webster, as well as the leading lights of modern jazz including John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. Combined with his gift for improvisation, Hawkins talent allowed him to open a range of expression few others had reached. Before Hawkins, the tenor saxophone was little more than a novelty. In the process of becoming the first major saxophonist in jazz history, Hawkins also elevated the tenor sax to a role as a popular jazz instrument. Hawkins' full tone, quick vibrato, and aggressive attack, and harmonically complex lines became the style to imitate. But Hawkins was equally capable of phrasing a ballad tenderly, and late in his career he even demonstrated that he could excel at improvising the blues.

Toward the end of his life, Hawkins was beset by ill health, though he continued performing until shortly before his death. His last concert was on April 20, 1969 at the North Park Hotel in Chicago, and he died in New York on May 19 of that year.


The jukebox is considered to have been the brainchild of inventor Louis Glass of the Pacific Phonograph Company. He added coin slots to an oak cabinet on which he had fastened a cylinder-playing Edison Class M electric phonograph. Anticipating sufficient traffic to make it profitable, Glass chose to install his invention in a gin joint—the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco.

Early popular hits on the music player included recordings of John Philip Sousa's band and of individual performers like artistic whistler John Y. Atlee. After depositing a coin, multiple listeners could hear each tune at the same time by putting on one of four available stethoscope-like earpieces. The saloonkeeper was expected to supply towels to wipe off the earpieces after each use.

The musical contraption became an instant hit and it wasn't long before it was adopted throughout the world. Inventor Glass originally called his machine the "Nickel-in-the-Slot Player." Adjusted for inflation, that price was more than a dollar per song in today's money.

Coin-eating music players only later came to be called jukeboxes, but the origin of that name is obscure. One suggestion is that it derived from the "juke house" a saloon and dance hall in which a music player was often installed.

An interesting consequence of the jukebox's popularity was the demise of the player piano in bars—forced out by the less expensive music-making machine.


Week of November 14, 2011
Event: Leonard Bernstein Makes his Conducting Debut with the New York Philharmonic, November 14, 1943

Birthday: Pianist Ellis Marsalis, November 14, 1934

Week of November 07, 2011
Event: Birth of Composer John Philip Sousa, November 6, 1854

Birthday: Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, November 6, 1949

Week of October 31, 2011
Event: Billboard Started Publishing as Billboard Advertising, November 1, 1894

Birthday: Trumpeter Clifford Brown, October30, 1930

Week of October 24, 2011
Event: James Brown records Live at the Apollo, Volume I, October 24, 1962

Birthday: Trombonist Robin Eubanks, October 25, 1955

Week of October 17, 2011
Event: Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra record "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," October 18, 1935

Birthday: Trumpeter Roy Hargrove, October 16, 1969

Week of October 10, 2011
Event: October 11, 1939 CBS Vibraphone Performer Dave Samuels Records "Body and Soul"

Birthday: Vibraphone Performer Dave Samuels, October 9, 1948

Week of October 3, 2011
Event: CBS Radio broadcasts The New York Philharmonic Orchestra live from Carnegie Hall for the first time, October 5, 1930

Birthday: Blues Guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn, October 3, 1954

Week of September 26, 2011
Event: Composer Leonard Bernstein's musical West Side Story opens at New York's Winter Garden Theater, September 26, 1957

Birthday: Violinist and composer Jean-Luc Ponty, September 29, 1942

Week of September 19, 2011
Event: Fiddler on the Roof Open on Broadway Starting a Run that Extends to 3,242 Performances

Birthday: Cornetist Jim Cullum, Jr, September 20, 1941

Week of September 12, 2011
Event: The Metropolitan Opera Opens its New Opera House at New York's Lincoln Center
for the Performing Arts

Birthday: Trumpeter Brian Lynch, September 12, 1956

Week of September 5, 2011
Event: Singer Songwriter, and Record Producer Otis Redding,
Records His Hit "(Sitting on) The Dock of the Bay"

Birthday: Sonny Rollins, September 7, 1930

Week of August 29, 2011
Event: George Gershwin Completes the Orchestral Score for His Opera Porgy and Bess

Birthday: Charlie Parker, August 29, 1920

Week of August 22, 2011
Event: Charles G. Conn Receives a Patent for the Metal Clarinet

Birthday: Leonard Bernstein, August 25, 1918

Week of August 15, 2011
Event: The New York Times Reports that Dolby had Developed a Noise Reduction System for Album and Tape Recording

Birthday: Marc O'Connor, August 15, 1961

Week of August 08, 2011
Event: 14-Year-Old Benny Goodman Works as a Clarinet Player on a Lake Michigan Excursion Boat

Birthday: Pat Metheny, August 12, 1954

Week of August 01, 2011
Event: The Army of France Adds Saxophonesto its Military Bands

Birthday: Tony Bennett, August 3, 1926

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