At The Landing on the River Walk in San Antonio, TX, you never know who's going to stop by to sit in with The Jim Cullum Jazz Band. On this edition of Riverwalk Jazz, it's a star-studded jam session with some of our most popular guests from the Riverwalk Jazz radio series.
Harry "Sweets" Edison (1915-1999) was known for his distinctive jazz trumpet style. After coming to national attention as a soloist with the “Old Testament” Count Basie Orchestra of the 1930s, Sweets later found himself in demand for recording sessions with Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday in the 1950s. Here he plays one of his signature tunes, the Harry Warren/Mack Gordon hit “I Wish I Knew” written for the 1945 musical film Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe.
Mike Walbridge and Leon Oakley are two veteran exponents of the ongoing traditional jazz revival. Chicago native and tuba player Walbridge will forever be identified with the revered traditional jazz ensemble, the Original Salty Dogs, a Midwestern band that actively performs at concerts and festivals across North America and Europe. San Franciscan and trumpet/cornet master Leon Oakley was a long-time member of Turk Murphy's bands the 1960s and '70s. When Oakley and Walbridge join forces with The Jim Cullum Jazz Band, the resulting 8-piece configuration—with tuba bass and 2-cornet front line—produces a sound reminiscent of the popular Lu Watters Yerba Buena Jazz Band of San Francisco in the 1940s. The augmented band plays classic tunes from the 1920s: "Terrible Blues," "New Orleans Stomp" and the whimsically titled but intuitively correct "Of All The Wrongs You've Done To Me They're Bound To Come Back To You."
Trumpet master Clark Terry (a veteran of both Count Basie and Duke Ellington) always delights with his astounding virtuosity and wry wit. On this broadcast, he gives us two examples: A 12-bar blues first recorded in 1938 by Basie with singer Jimmy Rushing, "Sent For You Yesterday," and a duet with bassist Don Mopsick on a 1941 tune co-written and made famous by Billie Holiday, "God Bless the Child."
No Riverwalk Jazz jam session would be complete without an appearance by pianist Dick Hyman. Teamed up here with piano man John Sheridan, Hyman performs a two-piano interpretation of a hit from the 1925 musical No, No, Nanette by Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar, "I Want to Be Happy." The most notable jazz-oriented covers of this tune were by Red Nichols and later Benny Goodman.
There is no more authentic voice in the classic blues genre than Linda Hopkins, famous for her 1974 one-woman Broadway show Me and Bessie evoking the spirit of the "Empress of the Blues" Bessie Smith. On this program, Hopkins gives us the 1925 Smith classic "You've Been a Good Ol' Wagon (But You Done Broke Down)."
Benny Carter (1907-2003) was a pioneer in many areas of jazz from the 1920s and '30s to beyond. Carter had few peers as a composer/arranger and he practically invented writing arrangements for the big-band saxophone section. As an instrumentalist he was unusual in that he "doubled" on alto saxophone and trumpet, wind instruments of two different families, which at times require opposing technical skills. Benny Carter’s 1939 recording on trumpet of "More Than You Know," which he reprises this week on our show on saxophone, has long been prized for the magnificence of his sound, execution and depth of harmonic imagination.
Photo credit for Home Page image: Vernel Bagneris. Photo by Jamie Karutz.
Text based on Riverwalk Jazz script by Margaret Moos Pick © 1994