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This Week In Music

Grover Washington Jr.Saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. is so closely associated with smooth jazz that he may as well have invented it. The crossover fusion artist—who recalled sneaking into jazz clubs as a boy—remarked that his professional career began at age 12 playing R&B, blues, and "gut-bucket."

During service in the U.S. Army, Washington met drummer Billie Cobham, who introduced him to prominent New York musicians, helping him establish himself as a freelance performer in New York and Philadelphia. Washington's performance on Johnny Hammond's 1971 bestselling album Breakout established him as a major voice on the saxophone.

Washington's big break came in 1971 with his first solo album, Inner City Blues. On it, Washington played soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones, earning him a place in mainstream jazz.

Commercial success came with Washington's fourth album, 1974's Mister Magic. The 1980 album Winelight helped define Washington's smooth, R&B influenced, easy-listening style. In 1982 the song "Just the Two of Us" earned Washington a Grammy for Best R&B song, while his single "Winelight" was honored with the Best Jazz Fusion Performance Grammy. Throughout his career, Washington continued to experiment and synthesize styles in his music. His 1996 album Soulful Strut, for example, ventured into hip-hop, acid jazz, and African rhythm.

Sadly, at age 56, Washington collapsed from an apparent heart attack while taping songs for a television show. He died before reaching a hospital in New York City in 1999.

 





One of the best-selling recording artists from 1939 to 1943, trombonist, bandleader, arranger, and composer Alton Glenn Miller was at the height of his career when he chose to offer his services to the allies during World War II. Miller was already 38, and too old to be drafted. He persuaded the U.S. Army to accept him and nurtured a personal goal of modernizing the Army band.

Miller was given the rank of captain—and later promoted to major—in the Army Air Force—the predecessor to today's Air Force. Miller's plan to modernize military music met with opposition from traditionalists, but when he created a weekly radio show "I Sustain the Wings," it was a great success. Buoyed by his popularity, Miller formed a 50-piece Army Air Force Band, which he took to England in 1944, giving over 800 performances. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle said of Miller and his band, "Next to a letter from home, that organization was the greatest morale builder in the European theater of operations."

On December 15, 1944 Miller took off in a single-engine Norseman C-64 aircraft from a Royal Air Force base in England, headed for Paris, France. His plane never arrived at its destination, and to this day he is listed as missing in action. No traces of the crew, passengers, or aircraft have ever been found.

The weather was cold, wet, and foggy when Miller's plane took off, and the aircraft may have gone down due to icing or engine trouble on its way across the English Channel. Other theories swirled around entertainer Miller's last moments, and fans and friends were suspicious about the Army's official explanation that the plane had encountered insurmountable problems over the English Channel. But until credible evidence is discovered to back an alternative theory, that explanation stands.

 




Week of November 28, 2011
Birthday: Trumpeter Randy Brecker, November 27, 1945

Event: Composer George Gershwin Plays the Piano for the World Premiere of his "Concerto in F" at Carnegie Hall, December 3, 1925

Week of November 21, 2011
Birthday: Saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, November 21, 1904

Event: The First Jukebox Debuts at San Francisco's Palais Royale Saloon, November 23, 1889

Week of November 14, 2011
Birthday: Pianist Ellis Marsalis, November 14, 1934

Event: Lenoard Bernstein Makes His Conducting Debut with the New York Philharmonic, November 14, 1943

Week of November 07, 2011
Birthday: Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, November 6, 1949

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

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

 



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