February 2: Stan Getz

Saxophonist Stan Getz (Stanley Gayetsky) was born on this day in 1927. His parents, Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, bought him a sax (and a clarinet) when he was 13 and he began to practice obsessively. He attended Julliard briefly before going professional at age 15. Getz went through many phases as a musician: as a young […]

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January 16: Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall

Benny Goodman blew the lid off Carnegie Hall on this date in 1938, in a legendary jazz concert that made the “uptown” (i.e., Black) music respectable among the midtown set. The “King of Swing” was joined onstage by Lionel Hampton, Lester Young, Johnny Hodges, Teddy Wilson and other Black musicians, marking the first time that […]

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January 14: Hail, Hail Rock and Roll

Alan Freed’s first landmark “Rock and Roll Ball” was staged in Harlem on this date in 1955, featuring Big Joe Turner, Fats Domino, the Moonglows, and the Drifters. Within a month, music industry trade papers were advertising “rock & roll” for the first time. Freed, the son of a Lithuanian Jewish father and a Welsh […]

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Leonard Bernstein's Radical Politics

by Eric A. Gordon Reviewed in this Essay: Leonard Bernstein, The Political Life of an American Musician, by Barry Seldes. University of California Press, 2009, 276 pages. Only with the recent availability of Leonard Bernstein’s FBI dossier, and with the opening of his archive at the Library of Congress after 1997, has it been possible […]

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