Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Today in Music History ~ 10/7

• 1746 ~ William Billings, American composer

• 1898 ~ Alfred Wallenstein, American cellist and conductor

• 1911 ~ Jo (Jonathan) Jones, Drummer, piano, reeds, trumpet. The first to minimize use of base drum, keeping time on top cymbal. He played with Count Basie, Benny Goodman sextet.

• 1911 ~ Vaughn Monroe, Bandleader, singer

• 1922 ~ Martha Stewart (Haworth), Singer

• 1927 ~ Al Martino (Cini), Singer

• 1936 ~ Charles Dutoit, Symphony orchestra conductor

• 1940 ~ Artie Shaw's orchestra recorded Hoagy Carmichael's standard, Stardust, for Victor Records.

• 1942 ~ TIME magazine described Command Performance, which debuted this day, as "...the best wartime program in radio." The show was originally produced by the U.S. War Department in cooperation with Armed Forces Radio Services specifically for those in the military overseas. It continued until 1949 and was reprised for more than three decades in syndication. Command Performance was hosted by Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Don Wilson and Harry Von Zell and featured just about every major Hollywood and Broadway star.

• 1945 ~ Kevin Godley, Drummer, singer with 10cc

• 1949 ~ David Hope, Bass with Kansas

• 1950 ~ The Frank Sinatra Show debuted. It was the crooner’s first plunge into TV, the beginning of a $250,000 per year, five-year contract. Ben Blue, The Blue Family, the Whippoorwills and Axel Stordahl’s orchestra were regulars on the show.

• 1951 ~ John Cougar Mellencamp, Singer

• 1953 ~ Tico Torres, Drummer with Bon Jovi

• 1955 ~ Yo-Yo Ma, Chinese-born American cello virtuoso was born in Paris, France. He started playing the cello under the guidance of his father when he was 4 years old. Now, Yo-Yo Ma is one of the most prolific cellist of our time. He is also known for his well-received collaborations with musicians from varying genres.

• 1968 ~ Toni Braxton, Grammy Award-winning singer

• 1969 ~ Put on your headband, love beads, surfer’s cross and give the peace sign. It was on this day that The Youngbloods hit, Get Together, passed the million- selling mark to achieve gold record status.

• 1982 ~ "Cats", another musical hit by Andrew Lloyd Webber, began a long Broadway run. It's most memorable for its song, Memories. Cats ended on September 10, 2000.

• 1999 ~ New Beethoven work got it's first public performance.

• 2000 ~ Dennis Sandole, a jazz guitarist and mentor to John Coltrane, died at 87. Beginning in the early 1940s, Sandole played with some of the major swing-era bands of the time, including those led by Charlie Barnet, Boyd Raeburn, Tommy Dorsey and Ray McKinley. He also recorded film soundtracks and played at recording sessions for Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday. Sandole was mentor to jazz giant John Coltrane from 1946 to the early 1950s, teaching him music theory and exposing him to music from other cultures. He recorded some of his own music, including "Modern Music From Philadelphia" in 1956. In 1999 Cadence Jazz released "The Dennis Sandole Project," which contained parts of a jazz ballet/opera he wrote in the 1960s and 70s called "Evenin' Is Cryin'". Sandole published a book, "Guitar Lore," in 1981.

• 2003 ~ Arthur Berger, a composer, critic and teacher who was an influential analyst of contemporary music, died of heart failure. He was 91. In 1943, Berger began a decade as a music critic for the New York Herald Tribune. Later, he was one of the founders of the periodical Perspectives of New Music. In 1953, he published the first book-length study of composer Aaron Copland. Berger's "Ideas of Order" premiered with the New York Philharmonic in 1952. His primary interest as a composer, however, was in chamber music and in music for the piano. His neoclassical Quartet for Winds is probably his most performed work. Igor Stravinsky admired Berger's music, and Copland wrote of its distinction, craftsmanship, individuality and idiosyncrasy. Over his career, Berger taught at Mills College in California, Brandeis University and the New England Conservatory of Music. Berger celebrated his 90th birthday last year by publishing a collection of essays, "Reflections of an American Composer."

• 2003 ~ William Bennett, whose Manhattan music studio gave hope to those with aspirations of escaping the corporate world to become rock stars, Oct. 7 from injuries he received in a car accident. He was 49. Bennett bought Off Wall Street Jam in 1997. The TriBeCa studio became a place where he mentored other musicians and helped to arrange music engagements at city clubs. Bennett grew up on the Upper East Side in a show business family. He majored in music in college and played guitar in bands like the Immortal Primitives, which had opened for the Ramones. But he eventually wound up working at a photography agency and did not play guitar for years. A friend advised him to purchase the studio, which grew to more than 400 dues-paying members.

• 2003 ~ John Pagaard "Johnnie" Jessen, a former vaudeville saxophone player and University of Washington instructor who inspired pop musician Kenny G, died at the age of 94. At Jessen's retirement from the university in 1989, Kenny Gorelick, who shortened his name to Kenny G for performing and recording, said 12 years of working with Jessen were crucial to his success. "I made a breakthrough after I started studying with Johnnie," he said. "One morning I woke up and I could play twice as fast. He had this great tone on flute, and got me to the point where I was doubling on clarinet and flute." The son of Danish immigrants, Jessen was playing the violin at parties by age 9 and soon afterward formed his first band, the Rinky Dinks. He went on to play on cruise ships crisscrossing the Pacific Ocean in the 1920s and on the RKO vaudeville circuit behind stars such as Betty Grable, Judy Garland and Sammy Davis, Jr. in the 1930s.

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