Archive for “Great Encounters”

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Great Encounters #24: When Peggy Lee joined Benny Goodman’s band

Excerpted from FEVER: The Life and Music of Miss Peggy Lee, by Peter Richmond

In CHICAGO in August 1941, preparing for an engagement at the College Inn, Benny Goodman was staying at Frank Bering’s Ambassador East. One night, Benny’s fiancee, Lady Alice Duckworth, suggested that he come next door to the Buttery and catch the new girl singer. The imperious, handsome granddaughter of Commodore Vanderbilt – founder of the New York Central Railroad – Lady Duckworth was also John Hammond’s sister.
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Features » Great Encounters

Great Encounters #23: When Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker Played 52nd Street

Excerpted from Chasin’ The Bird : The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker, by by Brian Priestley.

Early in 1945, Parker had begun his first live small-band gigs with Gillespie, after he too left Eckstine the previous December, working briefly with Boyd Radburn and then being booked on the Street. In the meantime, Charlie himself had played some Monday nights at the Spotlite (run by Clark Monroe of the Uptown House) and deputised in the Cootie Williams band, narrowly missing the young pianist Bud Powell, who had been invalided out of the band by a vicious beating from the police in Philadelphia. But, when Dizzy hired Charlie to complete the frontline of his new quintet at the Three Deuces in March,
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Features » Great Encounters

Great Encounters #22: Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, and Sam Cooke — the Clay/Sonny Liston fight, Miami, 1964

Excerpted from Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke, by Peter Guralnick

Jerry Brandt got them all tickets for the Clay-Liston fight in Miami on February 25. Allen brought his wife, Betty, Sam took Barbara, and J.W. came by himself, with Allen arranging for accommodations at Miami’s resplendent Fountainebleau Hotel. Allen had already registered and was in his room when Sam arrived, only to be told that there had been a mix-up about the reservations. It was not as blatant as Shreveport,
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Features » Great Encounters

Great Encounters #21: The influence of Tommy Dorsey on Frank Sinatra

Excerpted from Tommy Dorsey: Livin’ in a Great Big Way, by Peter Levinson.

With young men being drafted in profusion and some even volunteering for military service, big bands found new venues to work: Army and Air Force bases and Naval stations. With the pre-war and war period having nothing but a favorable effect on the band business, by 1940, dance bands were still big business. Altogether, big bands of every stripe earned one hundred ten million dollars that year.
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Features » Great Encounters

Great Encounters #20: When the Minneapolis Lakers played the Harlem Globetrotters; Chicago, 1948

Excerpted from Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters, by Ben Green

In 1948, George Mikan, the six-foot-ten center of the Minneapolis Lakers, was dominating the sport like no other big man ever had. When Mikan had first arrived at DePaul University in 1942, he was a clumsy, slow-footed freshman who was so blind (with 20/300 vision) that, even wearing Mr. Magoo glasses, he had to ask teammates to read the game clock. But first-year DePaul coach Ray Meyer recognized the youngster’s fierce competitiveness, and put him through a rigorous, unorthodox, training program: he made him shoot thousands of hook shots with either hand, hired a female dance instructor to improve his footwork,
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Features » Great Encounters

Great Encounters #19: Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong in Chicago, 1926

Excerpted from Jelly’s Blues: The Life, Music, and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton by Howard Reich and William Gaines.

For a kid who had been kicked out of his family’s house, Morton had reached a zenith in his life and his art. He crushed anyone who doubted his preeminence; he carried a roll of two thousand dollars or more in his pocket; and, most important, his tunes — the work of years plying the brothels of New Orleans and hoboeing about the Gulf Coast — helped form the sonic backdrop for life in big-city U.S.A.
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Great Encounters #17: The romance of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee

Excerpted from Roman Candle: The Life of Bobby Darin, by David Evanier.

AFTER CONCLUDING HIS TRIUMPHANT DEBUT at the Copa, Bobby was cast in his first major movie role in the summer of 1960. He was signed to appear with Rock Hudson, Gina Lollobrigida, and Sandra Dee in Come September. He would be playing the role of an American student vacationing in Rome who falls in love with another tourist, Sandra Dee.

When he arrived in Portofino, Bobby first became involved with an older woman: Sandra’s mother, Mary
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Features » Great Encounters

Great Encounters #16: When drummer Joe Morello joined the Dave Brubeck Quartet

Excerpted from Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond by Doug Ramsey

By the fall of 1956, Joe Dodge was worn down by the travel and the intense schedule and wanted to be with his family. He told Brubeck it was time to look for another drummer. In the Quartet’s New York stays, Desmond had heard Marian McPartland’s trio and was impressed with Joe Morello, the drummer who had been working with her since 1953. Morello, born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1928, played there with alto saxophonist Phil Woods and guitarist Sal Salvador before he moved to New York
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Great Encounters #15: The 1931 evening that Art Tatum dazzled Harlem pianists Fats Waller and James P. Johnson

Excerpted from Ain’t Misbehavin’: The Story of Fats Waller by Ed Kirkeby.

In 1931 a pretty definite pattern of jazz in New York had come into being. Big and small bands held sway at countless nightspots, and most of the big names were in the Big City to stay. Not a lot of new talent was coming along, though bandsmen such as Chick Webb, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and John Kirby — even if not yet in their full stride — were fast becoming known in and around New York music circles. The original crop of jazzmen who nursed the art from its swaddling clothes
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Great Encounters #14: The story of the first commercial recording session of the Quintette du Hot Club de France

Excerpted from Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend, by Michael Dregni.

Early on the foggy morning of December 27, 1934, Stephane, Chaput, and Vola climbed into Vola’s small car along with their violin, guitar, and string bass and made their way to the ensemble’s first commercial recording session. For the group to have gasoline for the journey, Delaunay had to lend Vola one hundred sous.

Ultraphone had scheduled the recording session for nine, running until midday; the studio was reserved for the label’s stars in the afternoon.
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