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 Volas small car along with their violin, guitar, and string bass and made their way to the ensembles 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 labels stars in the afternoon.
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If Benny Goodman was the “King of Swing,” then Fletcher Henderson was the power behind the throne. Not only did Henderson arrange the music that powered Goodman’s meteoric rise, he also helped launch the careers of Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins, among others. In Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz: The Uncrowned King of Swing, Jeffrey Magee offers a fascinating account of this pivotal bandleader, throwing new light on the emergence of modern jazz and the world that created it. […] Continue reading »
Excerpted from The Uncrowned King of Swing: Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz by Jeffrey Magee.
By the fall of 1925, then, the musical synergy in Henderson’s band had reached unprecedented intensity. Henderson continued to hold court for dancers at the Roseland, reaching thousands of other listeners through its radio wire, and recording for a variety of record labels both with his full orchestra and with selected members of the band as accompanists for blues singers. And there were also continuous bookings in the summer between seasons at the Roseland, large crowds in venues up and down the East Coast, and consistently hyperbolic press coverage.
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John Leland’s Hip: The History is the story of an American obsession. Derived from the Wolof word hepi or hipi (“to see,” or “to open one’s eyes”), which came to America with West African Slaves, hip is the dance between black and white — or insider and outsider — that gives America its unique flavor and rhythm. It has created fortunes, destroyed lives and shaped the way millions of us talk, dress, dance, make love or see ourselves in the mirror. Everyone knows what hip is. […] Continue reading »
Excerpted from Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson by Geoffrey Ward
Johnson was back in Chicago in the summer of 1934, appearing in Dave Barry’s Garden of Champions, a sort of sideshow at the Century of Progress International Exposition organized by a veteran referee to compete with such attractions as the Midget Village, Sally Rand’s Balloon Dance, and the Aunt Jemima Cabin. For a dollar, children could throw punches at Jack Johnson while he ducked and laughed and popped his eyes. One evening, he fought an exhibition there against Tom Sharkey, whose sparring partner he had briefly been back in 1901. It was supposed to be a nonviolent sparring session, […] Continue reading »