Jazz Birthday

Irving Fazola

Irving Fazola

Irving Henry Prestopnik (Irving Fazola) was born in New Orleans on December 10, 1912. He started on piano, but as he switched to reed instruments—first

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Buck Clayton

Buck Clayton

Wilbur Dorsey “Buck” Clayton was born November 12, 1911, in Parsons, Kansas. Buck learned piano at an early age, then studied trumpet with his father

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Max Morath by Joe Busam

Max Morath

We are delighted to extend birthday greetings to ragtime scholar, polymath, and entertainer Max Morath, who turns 95 on October 1st. Max was born on

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Raymond Scott by Joe Busam

Raymond Scott

Harry Warnow, known to us as Raymond Scott, was born in Brooklyn, New York, on September 10, 1908. Warnow grew up with parallel interests in

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Helen Kane by Joe Busam

Helen Kane

Helen Kane was born Helen Claire Schroeder in New York City on August 4, 1904. Her first stage experience was in school theatricals, but by

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Seger Ellis

Seger Ellis

Seger Pillot Ellis was born July 4, 1904, in Houston, Texas. As a teenager, Seger much admired the local pianists in the city, Jack Sharpe,

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Don Murray

Don Murray

Don Murray was born in Joliet, Illinois, on June 7, 1904, and attended high school in Chicago. In his teens he earned a reputation as

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Red Nichols

Red Nichols

Ernest Loring “Red” Nichols was born May 8, 1905, in Ogden, Utah. He began playing cornet when he was five, played with his father’s brass

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Jimmie Noone by Joe Busam

Jimmie Noone

Jimmie Noone was born April 23, 1895, in Cut Off, Louisiana. Noone started playing clarinet after his family moved to New Orleans in 1910. By

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Jean Goldkette by Joe Busam

Jean Goldkette

Jean Goldkette’s date and place of birth remain a matter of conjecture. According to Wikipedia, he was born March 18, 1893, though May 18 of

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Lil Hardin Armstrong

Lil Hardin Armstrong

Lillian Hardin was born February 3, 1898, in Memphis, Tennessee. Lillian received piano tutelage first from her third-grade teacher, eventually matriculating at a more formal

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Lew Shaw

Lew Shaw

This month we celebrate one of our own: Lew Shaw, who turns 95 on January 14, and whose latest installment of Jazz Jottings may be

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Jabbo Smith

Jabbo Smith

Jabbo Smith was born Cladys Smith in Pembroke, Georgia, on December 24, 1908. After the death of his father, his mother found it increasingly difficult

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Joe Sullivan Piano

Joe Sullivan

Joe Sullivan was born Joseph Michael O’Sullivan in Chicago on November 4, 1906. The last of nine children, Joe demonstrated serious musical ability at an

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Eddie Lang by Joe Busam

Eddie Lang

Eddie Lang was born Salvatore Massaro in Philadelphia on October 25, 1902. His personal and musical history is inextricably linked with that of Joe Venuti,

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Vaughn De Leath

Vaughn De Leath

Vaughn De Leath was born Leonore Vonderlieth in Mount Pulaski, Illinois, on September 26, 1894. At age 12, Leonore relocated to Los Angeles with her

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Abe Lyman

Abe Lyman

Abe Lyman was born Abraham Simon on August 4, 1897, in Chicago, Illinois. He and his brother Mike changed their last name to Lyman because

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Noble Sissle

Noble Sissle

Noble Sissle was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on July 10, 1889. While still a teenager, he toured in vaudeville in the Midwest with a male

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Punch Miller

Punch Miller

Ernest “Punch” Miller was born in Raceland, Louisiana, on June 10, 1894. Since his twin sister was named Ernestine Judy, it was natural that he

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Sidney Bechet

Sidney Bechet

Sidney Joseph Bechet was born in New Orleans on May 14, 1897. Sidney grew up in a middle-class Creole household, and learned several musical instruments

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Zez Confrey by Joe Busam

Zez Confrey

Edward Elzear “Zez” Confrey was born in Peru, Illinois, on April 3, 1895. Zez grew up in a musical household in which his older brother,

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Ben Selvin

Ben Selvin

Benjamin Bernard Selvin was born March 5, 1898, in New York. He began playing violin before age seven and studied to be a concert violinist.

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Irving Kaufman

Irving Kaufman

Irving Kaufman was born on February 8, 1890, in Syracuse, New York. At an early age he entered vaudeville with his brothers Philip and Jack.

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Sophie Tucker

Sophie Tucker

Sophie Tucker was born Sofya Kalish on January 13, 1886, in what is now Vinnytsia Oblast, Ukraine. She arrived with her family in Boston in

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Bennie Moten by Joe Busam

Bennie Moten

Benjamin “Bennie” Moten was born on November 13, 1894. Moten grew up in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri’s dance hall district, and developed a

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Joe Venuti violin

Joe Venuti

Giuseppe “Joe” Venuti was born in Philadelphia on September 16, 1903. Joe was classically trained as a violinist from an early age. Salvatore Massaro, friend

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Nick Lucas

Nick Lucas

Nick Lucas was born Dominic Nicholas Anthony Lucinese on August 22, 1897, in Newark, New Jersey. When Nick was about nine years old, his older

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Don Redman

Don Redman

Don Redman was born July 29, 1900, in Piedmont, Mineral County, West Virginia. His parents were musical, so it was natural that he would take

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Adrian Rollini cartoon

Adrian Rollini

Adrian Rollini was born in New York on June 28, 1903. Growing up in Larchmont, New York, Adrian proved to be a musical wunderkind; at

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Irving Berlin Illustration by Artistgaryprice.com

Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin was born Israel Beilin on May 23, 1888, in Tyumen, Siberia. Israel’s family emigrated to the United States when he was five years

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Billie Holiday cartoon

Billie Holiday

Eleanora Fagan, better known as Billie Holiday, was born April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, the daughter of Sarah Julia “Sadie” Fagan and Clarence Holiday. Much

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Paul Whiteman by ArtistGaryPrice.com

Paul Whiteman

Paul Samuel Whiteman was born in Denver, Colorado, on March 28, 1890. His father Wilberforce was director of music for Denver School District #2. Paul

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Chick Webb by ArtistGaryPrice.com

Chick Webb

William Henry “Chick” Webb was born February 10, 1905, in Baltimore, Maryland. From early childhood he was afflicted with tuberculosis of the spine. Owing to

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Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt was born January 23, 1910, in Pont-à-Celles, Belgium, into a Belgian family of Manouche Romani descent. Django grew up in Romani encampments near

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Connee Boswell

Connee Boswell

Constance Foore Boswell was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on December 3, 1907. Raised in New Orleans, Connie (who later changed the spelling of her

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Bunny Berigan ArtistGaryPrice.com

Bunny Berigan

Roland Bernard “Bunny” Berigan was born in Hilbert, Wisconsin, on November 2, 1908, and grew up in Fox Lake. Bunny had learned enough trumpet and

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Lee Wiley ArtistGaryPrice.com

Lee Wiley

Lee Wiley was born October 9, 1908, in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. While still in grade school, she aspired to be a singer. Into her teens,

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Willard Robison by ArtistGaryPrice.com

Willard Robison

Willard Robison was born in Shelbina, Missouri, on September 18, 1894. His country upbringing and exposure to religion had a profound influence on his songwriting.

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Louis Armstrong

Louis Daniel Armstrong

Louis Daniel Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana, according to baptismal records discovered in the mid-1980s. (Armstrong himself maintained that

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Ivie Marie Anderson

Ivie Marie Anderson

Ivie Marie Anderson was born July 10, 1904, most likely in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, though she grew up in Gilroy, California. Ivie studied at St.Mary’s

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Gene Austin

Gene Austin

Lemuel Eugene Lucas was born in Gainesville, Texas, on June 24, 1900. Early on, his mother Belle, divorced Eugene’s father, Nova Lucas. She shortly thereafter

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Frankie Trumbauer Illustration by ArtistGaryPrice.com

Frank Trumbauer

Orie Frank Trumbauer was born on May 30, 1901, in Carbondale, Illinois. The family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where Frank’s mother directed theater orchestras.

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Mildred Bailey by ArtistGaryPrice.com

Mildred Bailey

Mildred Eleanor Rinker was born February 16, 1900 (according to researcher Albert Haim), in Tekoa, Washington. Her mother, Josephine, was a member of the Coeur

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Fletcher Henderson

FletcherHenderson

James Fletcher Hamilton Henderson, Jr., was born in Cuthbert, Georgia, on December 18, 1897. His parents were both educators, and his mother gave him and

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Eddie South

Eddie South

Edward Otha South was born in Louisiana, Missouri, on November 27, 1904. His family relocated to Chicago while Eddie was a child, and there his

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Annette Hanshaw artistgaryprice.com

Annette Hanshaw

Catherine Annette Hanshaw was born October 18, 1901, in New York City. Born into a relatively well-to-do family, she sang at hotels owned by her

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Cootie Williams Artistgaryprice.com

Cootie Williams

Charles Melvin “Cootie” Williams was born in Mobile, Alabama, on either July 24, 1908 (according to Encyclopedia Britannica) or July 10, 1911 (according to Wikipedia).

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Jimmy Lunceford

Jimmie Lunceford

James Melvin “Jimmie” Lunceford was born June 6, 1902 on a farm near Fulton, Mississippi. His family moved to Oklahoma City before Jimmie was a

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Artie Shaw

Artie Shaw

Arthur Jacob Arshawsky, better known as Artie Shaw, was born on May 23, 1910 in New York City, but grew up in New Haven, Connecticut.

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Red Norvo

Red Norvo

Joseph Kenneth Norville, aka Red Norvo, was born March 31, 1908 in Beardstown, Illinois. Young Kenneth had piano instruction in childhood, but his deep interest

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Gene Krupa

Gene Krupa

Eugene Bertram Krupa was born in Chicago on January 15, 1909, the youngest of Bartley (Bartłomiej) and Anna Oslowski Krupa’s nine children. Though Gene’s parents

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Cab Calloway

Cab Calloway

Cabell Calloway III was born in Rochester, New York on Christmas Day, 1907. Cab’s family was upper middle class: his mother, Martha Eulalia Reed was

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Art Tatum by Artistgaryprice.com

Art Tatum

Arthur Tatum, Jr. was born in Toledo, Ohio, on October 13, 1909. Art was severely visually impaired from birth; however, his parents were both accomplished

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George Gershwin by ArtistGaryPrice.com

George Gershwin

George Gershwin was born September 26, 1898 in Brooklyn, New York. Gershwin, whose name at birth was Jacob Gershwine, had a typically rough-and-tumble childhood, roughhousing

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Jack Teagarden

Jack Teagarden

Weldon Leo “Jack” Teagarden was born in Vernon, Texas on August 20, 1905. Jack grew up in a musical household; his mother taught piano and

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Charlie Christian

Charlie Christian

Charles Henry “Charlie” Christian was born in Bonham, Texas on July 29, 1916. After moving the family to Oklahoma City while Charlie was still a

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Lena Horne

Lena Horne

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born in Brooklyn, NY on June 30, 1917. Lena’s background was solidly middle-class, and her paternal grandparents, Edwin and Cora

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Fats Waller Ink Portrait

Fats Waller

Thomas Wright Waller, forever known to us as “Fats,” was born in New York City on May 21, 1904. The youngest child of a clergyman,

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Duke Ellington illustration

Duke Ellington

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C. “Duke” was a natural sobriquet for Ellington, whose dignified, easy grace reflected his

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Bix Beiderbecke by Gary Price

Bix Beiderbecke

This month we celebrate cornetist, pianist, and composer Leon Bix Beiderbecke, born March 10, 1903. Reams of biographical prose, criticism, hearsay, and speculation have been

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James P Johnson

James P. Johnson

This month we salute composer, teacher, arranger, and master of stride piano James Price Johnson, born February 1, 1894 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Johnson

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Ella Fitzgerald by Gary Price

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1917 in Newport News, Virginia. Ella moved with her mother and stepfather to Yonkers, New York in

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Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith was born April 15, 1894, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her father died shortly after Bessie was born, and her mother, who worked as a

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