Jazz Birthday of the Month

  • Coleman Randolph Hawkins Coleman Randolph HawkinsColeman Randolph Hawkins was born in St. Joseph, Missouri on November 21, 1904. He played cello and piano from childhood but at the age of nine received a tenor saxophone for his birthday. The tenor sax in 1913 was not highly regarded, being primarily used in marching bands and as a novelty instrument in Vaudeville. Coleman ...
  • Connee Boswell Connee BoswellConstance Foore Boswell was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on December 3, 1907. Raised in New Orleans, Connie (who later changed the spelling of her name to “Connee”) performed with her sisters Martha and Helvetia (“Vet”) when all were in their teens, appearing in New Orleans theaters and on radio. They made their first record, ...
  • Cab Calloway Cab CallowayCabell 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 a teacher and church organist, his father Cabell Calloway, Jr. was a lawyer and worked in real estate. Shortly after Cab was born, the family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where ...
  • Gene Krupa Gene KrupaEugene 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 (being devout Roman Catholics) had groomed him for the priesthood from an early age, music proved more alluring to Gene than the call of the Church. At age eleven, Gene ...
  • Roland Bernard “Bunny” Berigan Roland Bernard “Bunny” BeriganRoland Bernard “Bunny” Berigan was born in Hilbert, Wisconsin, on November 2, 1908, and grew up in Fox Lake. Bunny had learned enough trumpet and violin by his early teens to find work in local bands. As a student at the University of Wisconsin he played with the student jazz band and is credited on ...
  • James Hubert “Eubie” Blake James Hubert "Eubie" BlakeJames Hubert Blake was born February 7, 1887 in Baltimore, Maryland. Eubie was the sole surviving child of former slaves, and showed musical aptitude in his early childhood. He remembered “ragging the hell out of” Schumann’s “Träumerei” on the family reed organ. His mother said, “Take that ragtime out of my house.” He’d heard syncopation ...
  • Red Norvo Red NorvoJoseph Kenneth Norville, aka Red Norvo, was born March 31, 1908 in Beardstown, Illinois. Young Kenneth had piano instruction in childhood, but his deep interest in music lay dormant until he chanced to hear a marimba player, Wentworth Woodworth. Woodworth, who belonged to the same college fraternity as one of Kenneth’s brothers, allowed him to ...
  • Ella Fitzgerald Ella FitzgeraldElla Jane Fitzgerald was born one hundred years ago this month on April 25, 1917 in Newport News, Virginia. Ella moved with her mother and stepfather to Yonkers, New York in the early 1920s. She was a good student, somewhat musically inclined—and enjoyed hearing records by Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby in her early teens. ...