Monthly Archives: October 2011

Rockin’ Buddy Johnson

A favorite game of some music fans is picking the first rock ‘n’ roll record. Roy Brown’s 1947 record of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” is often cited. Others trace rock’s origins back to pianist Pinetop Smith’s 1928 classic, “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie.” … Continue reading

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Benny Goodman’s Sensational Sextet

The Benny Goodman Sextet was remarkable for several reasons. First, it gave Goodman the opportunity to stretch his musical muscles in the company of equally gifted musicians. Second, the group introduced the electric guitar as a front line solo instrument. … Continue reading

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The Passing of Pete Rugolo

Pete Rugolo has died at the age of 95. Rugolo was the arranger and composer for Stan Kenton’s late 40s “Progressive Jazz” orchestra. His work for the Kenton band included catchy jazz tunes like “Artistry in Boogie” and “Minor Riff” … Continue reading

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Swingin’ Sounds and Sights

If I could travel in time, I’d go back to the Swing Era. I’d stop by the Savoy Ballroom and witness the Count Basie orchestra challenging drummer Chick Webb’s group in a battle of the bands. Then I’d join the … Continue reading

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The Voices of Duke Ellington

“We have been extremely lucky with our singers,” Duke Ellington once wrote. “Each seemed to join us at the right time when what they were doing with songs was just right for the places we were playing.” Not every fan … Continue reading

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A Big Band Warrior’s Final Years

In 1960 Stan Kenton was pushing fifty and struggling in a cultural landscape that had little interest in big bands. The music business had changed dramatically with the rise of Elvis Presley; soon the Beatles would forever alter it in … Continue reading

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