History of Jazz – Timeline

Jazz – Timeline


Though jazz and classic blues are really early twentieth-century black music innovations, certain characteristics found in jazz do have their roots in much earlier musical traditions. Call and response, improvisation, the appropriation and reinvention of elements from Western art music: black music in the twentieth-century has never held a monopoly on these musical practices. For instance, the era American historians call „antebellum“ (roughly 1815-1861) holds much of interest to researchers looking for the deep roots of jazz.

There was one condition that had to be met for a black tradition unique to North America to develop. There had to be a creole population in place, i.e. a population of blacks born not in Africa but in America. Historically, and for various complicated reasons, slaves in the United States began reproducing their numbers after the closing of the African slave trade in 1808. The creole birthrate actually climbed in the United States, as opposed to most Latin and Caribbean American colonies. Unlike in Brazil or Cuba direct African infusions into black American culture were much less pronounced in the early and middle nineteenth-century. After 1808, blacks in North America began remembering–as well as forgetting–African musical traditions, reinventing them to fit their needs in an entirely different American context. This is an important thing to remember, especially if you hold with Amiri Baraka that „Blues People“ have always been curiously American „Negroes.“

But the North American variation and reinvention of African tradition in the early nineteenth-century was not monolithic. That is to say, depending on the region and the demands of the musical audience–whether it be fellow slaves or plantation-owners–the music varied from place to place. Perhaps the difference between ‚downtown‘ and ‚uptown‘ black style even began during this era. On the one hand there were the plaintive call-and-response hollers and ’sperchils‘ to be found in the tobacco fields, cotton plantations, and sugar marshes that stretched from Virginia to Texas. These instances of black music-making were largely produced by and for a black slave community that understood the significance of the music in ways that whites never could. Scholars have often noted the hidden meaning of field hollers and the significance of the drums to communication between various slave groups. The drums were even banned in the British Caribbean. Meanwhile, ‚uptown‘, there were the slaves that played for planter functions. Think here of Solomon Northup, abducted from New York and sold into slavery in the New Orleans area. He would play his violin with other slaves to entertain plantation misters and mistresses at quadrilles and fancy balls. Others slave musicians would play at the so-called quadroon balls, New Orleans galas where light-skinned slave women were auctioned off to the highest bidder. There were striking similarities between these balls and the Storyville milieu where Jelly Roll Morton learned to entertain prostitutes and their patrons.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of blacks lived in the South, there were some freemen and women in the North. Indeed, they even had their own autonomous cultural venues, like the African Grove theater in New York City. But perhaps an even more important agent in spreading black musical style to the North during the first half of the nineteenth century was minstrelsy. The minstrel show was born in the same year as William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator, 1831, when Dan Rice-for the first time in American history-„blacked up“ for a variety show in New York’s Bowery district. The show became increasingly formalized after the Christie Minstrels devised a much-imitated structure for it in the 1840s and 50s. Two ubiquitous components of this structure were the Stephen Foster songs and a generic instrumentation including banjoes, „bones“ (jawbones scraped together for percussive effect), fiddle, and tambourine. Minstresly had of course a more spurious connection to black musical traditions than did, say, the spirituals. But it should be remembered that most Northern minstrels did go to great lengths to acknowledge the black stevedores or plantation slaves from whom they had stolen their material. This sort of Love and Theft, according to Eric Lott, set a precedent for a whole tradition of blackface in America where white performers would borrow lovingly, profitably, and heavily from black musical styles, from Dan Rice to Elvis.

Though the minstrel show declined in popularity during the 1860s, blackface has retained a unique place in American culture. When the Fisk Jubilee Singers–a black gospel group from the first all-black university–showed up in New York in the 1860s to try and raise money for their troubled institution some audience members were disappointed, expecting them to sing a bit more like the minstrels did. Indeed, blacks entering show business from the 1860s on often had no choice but to enter it as minstrels. As it turned out, white audiences after the Civil War preferred black minstrels–or blacks in blackface–considering them the „genuine“ article. The irony is, of course, that blacks in blackface had to perform a stereotype of themselves contributing to the construction of pervasive stereotypes of black people based on apocryphal happy-go-lucky „Jim Crow“ and „dandy“ plantation types. Despite the more troubling aspects of minstrelsy, it was another place where European and African traditions met and mingled in a heady, racist, and decidedly American stew. It is also the place where many jazz performers including, for one, Bessie Smith got their start.

Some form of music shaped by the black experience in the United States had appeared in both the South and the North by the time of the Civil War. Likewise, New Orleans–being the center of the American slave trade–had already taken on special significance in the history of black music-making in America. The most interesting reference to antebellum black music is found in the abolitionist Benjamin Lundy’s diary. Near the New Orleans slave market, the hub of the interstate slave exchange, blacks continued to meet on or around Congo square, under the supervision of their masters to sell their wares, exchange information, and dance to drums that Lundy sketched in his diary and claimed were straight from Africa. Another white observer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk–Americas foremost composer, inter-American cultural diplomat, and piano virtuoso of the 1850s-claimed that he grew up in the shadow of Congo Square. In what is probably his most famous composition, Gottschalk sketches for us an interpretation of another African instrument retained and reinvented by blacks in America. He called this composition „The Banjo.“



Ragtime composer and pianist Scott Joplin is born in Texarkana, TX on November 24, 1868.
Hot cornet player Buddy Bolden is born in uptown New Orleans, La. in 1868. Buddy is considered by many to be the first person to play the Blues form of New Orleans Jazz.
The handcranked phonograph is demonstrated by Thomas Edison on November 29, 1877. The phonograph will eventually allow the spread of popular music.
Pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton (Ferdinand La Menthe) is born in Gulfport, LA. on September 20, 1885. Jelly Roll learns harmonica at age 5 and is proficient on guitar at age 7.
Blues singer Ma Rainey (Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett) is born on April 26, 1886 in Columbus, Ga.
Thomas Edison invents the first motor-driven phonograph. Phonographs are improving but are still a long way away from being commercial.
Stride piano player Willie „The Lion“ Smith is born in 1893.
Stride piano great James P. Johnson is born on February 1, 1891 in New Brunswick, N.J.
Blues singer Mamie Smith (believed to be the first black to make a record) is born on September 16, 1890 in Cincinnati, OH.
First use of the word Ragtime appears in the song title „Ma Ragtime Baby“ by Fred Stone in 1893.
Blues singer Bessie Smith is born on April 15, 1894 in Chattanooga, TN.
Band leader Benny Moten is born on November, 13, 1894 in Kansas City, MO.
Boogie Woogie piano player Jimmy Yancey is born in 1894.
Stride piano player Luckyeth „Lucky“ Roberts is born on August 7, 1895 in Philadelphia, PA.
Clarinetist Jimmie Noone born in New Orleans, LA.


In the Supreme Court, Plessy vs. Ferguson establishes the „separate but equal“ concept that will allow segregation and „Jim Crow“ to flourish.

Pioneer Boogie piano player Lloyd Glenn born in Texas in 1896.


Buddy Bolden organizes the first band to play the instrumental Blues (the fore-runner of Jazz). The band’s repertoire consists of Polkas, Quadrilles, Ragtime and Blues. 

Buddy Bolden

Storyville (the famed red light district of New Orleans) opens. It was named after New Orleans alderman Sidney Story.

The Ragtime craze is at full tilt.

Soprano saxophone and clarinet virtuoso Sidney Bechet born in New Orleans on May 14.

Stride piano great Willie „The Lion“ Smith born in Goshen, NY on November 23.


Scat singer Leo Watson born in Kansas City, MO on February 27.


Piano player, band leader and Jazz composer Edward Kennedy „Duke“ Ellington is born on April 29 in Washington, D.C. to a moderately well-to-do butler/navy blueprint man.

Thomas E. „Georgia Tom“ Dorsey is born in Georgia.

A publisher buys the rights to several Scott Joplin rags, but turns down „Maple Leaf Rag“. Shortly thereafter, (farmer, ice cream salesman, and piano peddler) John Stark hears the song, likes it, and publishes it for Joplin. „Maple Leaf Rag“ sells over 100,000 copies.


July 4, 1900 is the day that Louis Armstrong always claims as his birthday. Armstrong’s nickname will be Satchmo. He will receive this nickname in England in the early 1930’s when the British hear his original nickname, Satchelmouth, incorrectly. Armstrong will be recognized as the first genius of Jazz because the entire concept of swinging will be attributed to him.

Blues become a standard feature of honky tonks and dancehalls. Horn players imitate the human voice with mutes and growls.

New Orleans players are playing a mix of Blues, Ragtime, brass band music, marches, Pop songs and dances. The Jazz stew is brewing. Some musicians are beginning to improvise the Pop songs.

The end of the Spanish-American war has brought a surplus of used military band instruments into the port of New Orleans.

Jelly Roll Morton is a youth working the „high class sporting houses“ or more bluntly, brothels, as a Ragtime piano player. His wages come from tips from wealthy patrons.

Migrations from the south into Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, etc. are beginning.

Trombonist James Henry „Jimmy“ Harrison is born in Louisville, KY on October 17. Harrison will invent an important style of Swing trombone.

Trumpeter Tommy Ladnier is born in Mandeville, LA on May 28. Ladnier will become one of the important early Jazz trumpeters.


Daniel Louis Armstrong is born on August 4 in New Orleans.

New Orleans clarinet player Edmund Hall is born on May 15. Hall was one of the few New Orleans players to become a Dixieland player in the 1940’s and beyond.

Multi-instrumentalist Frank Trumbauer is born in Carbondale, Illinois. Trumbauer is a descendent of Charles Dickens. Trumbauer’s primary instrument will be the saxophone.


Jelly Roll Morton is now seventeen years old. He is beginning to attract attention in the New Orleans area as a brothel piano player. At this point he is playing primarily Ragtime and a little Blues. He is one of the first to play this mix that is a forerunner of Jazz. Jelly Roll will later claim to have invented Jazz in this year by combining Ragtime, Quadrilles and Blues.

The phonograph has been drastically improved. Victor and Columbia emerge as leaders in the phonograph field (at that time phonograph companies made records and vice versa). People have finally started to buy phonographs and records (cylinders) for home use. This will enable the rapid spread of popular music.

W.C. Handy has started a saxophone quartet. The saxophone was a novelty in 1902.

Trumpeter Joe Smith is born in Ripley, Ohio on June 28. Joe will become Bessie Smith’s favorite accompanist.

Clarinetist Buster Bailey is born in Memphis. Buster will be raised on the music of W.C. Handy.


W.C. Handy hears the Rural Blues played on a slide guitar (knife blade used as a slide) by an itinerant Blues guitarist in a railroad station in Tutwiler, Mississippi. It sparks a career for him and it is an important event in Amercan popular music history.

Sidney Bechet borrows his brother’s clarinet. The rest is history.

Leon „Bix“ Beiderbecke is born in Davenport, Iowa on March 10. Bix’s family is a proper Victorian type family and they do not approve of popular music as a career.

Jimmy Rushing (Mr. Five-by Five) is born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on August 26. Jimmy will be the primary male singer for the Count Basie band.

Valve trombonist/arranger Brad Gowans born in Billerica, MA.


Trombonist Glenn Miller is born in Clarinda, Iowa. Miller was one of several star sideman in the 1920’s trend-setting Ben Pollack Orchestra. He roomed with fellow band-mate Benny Goodman. Young trumpeter Harry James drove the bus.

Stride piano player and composer Thomas „Fats“ Waller is born on May 21 in Harlem as one of twelve children born to Edward Murtin Waller.

Tenor saxophone giant Coleman Hawkins is born in St. Joseph, Missouri on November 21.

Eddie Lang is born in Philadelphia, PA as Salvatore Massaro. Lang will become the first jazz guitarist and will thus influence all to come.

Alto saxophone and clarinet player Henry „Buster“ Smith is born on August 26 in Ellis County, Texas. Buster became a favorite of Charlie Parker and is credited with teaching Charlie quite a bit.

Boogie Woogie piano pioneer Clarence „Pinetop“ Smith is born.

Boogie Woogie piano pioneer Pete Johnson is born in Kansas City, MO.

Bass saxophonist Adrian Rollini is born in New York City on June 28.


Trombonist Tommy Dorsey born, Shenandoah, PA. Dorsey recorded with Bix Beiderbeck in the 1920’s and was in demand as a studio musician. He became the leader of the „General Motors“ of the big band era, when his band featured arrangments by Sy Oliver, singers Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford and the Pied Pipers, drummer Buddy Rich and trumpeter Ziggy Elman.

Sidney Bechet becomes virtuoso clarinetist George Baquet’s protege and he sits in with trumpeter Freddie Keppard’s band as a 8 year old child.

Earl „Fatha“ Hines, one of the most important Jazz piano players of all times, is born in Duquesne, PA on December 28.

Twelve string guitarist and Rural Blues man Huddie „Leadbelly“ Ledbetter meets Blues man Blind Lemon Jefferson in a Dallas saloon. A partnership is formed.

Boogie piano player Meade Lux Lewis is born in Louisville, KY.


Duke Ellington begins studying piano at age seven. Duke’s piano teacher is somewhat appropriately named Mrs. Clinkscales.

Alto saxophone great and Ellington band member Johnny Hodges is born in Cambridge, Massachesetts on July 25.

Clarinetist and Ellington band member Barney Bigard is born in New Orleans, Lousiania on March 3. Bigard and Sidney Bechet will eventually introduce the Duke to true Jazz.

Saxophonist Bud Freeman is born on April 13.

Cornetist and key Dixieland figure Wild Bill Davison is born in Defiance, Ohio on January 5.

Trumpeter Frankie Newton born in Emory, VA.


New Orleans Blues trumpet pioneer Buddy Bolden runs amok and is committed to the state hospital at Angola on June 5. Buddy will spend the rest of his life there and will, sadly, never be recorded.

Trumpet player Rex Stewart of the Ellington orchestra is born in Philadelphia, Pa on February 22.

Trombone player Benny Morton of the Basie band is born in New York City on January 31.

Alto sax man Benny Carter is born in New York City on August 8.

Popular band leader Cab Calloway is born on December 24 in Rochester, N.Y.

Piano player Joe Turner (not Big Joe) is born in Baltimore, Md. on November 3.

Boogie Woogie piano player Albert Ammons is born in Chicago, Ill.


Vibraphone pioneer Lionel Hampton born in Birmingham, Al. Raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin. During a stint with Les Hite’s band on Central Avenue in Los Angeles, he joined the Benny Goodman Quartet, which, along with pianist Teddy Wilson and drummer Gene Krupa, became the first integrated, commercially accepted jazz group. He has fronted his own Big Bands since Sept. 1940. Biggest hits: „Flying Home“ and „Midnight Sun“. Many early Bop stars began in his band.

Trumpeter Freddie Keppard and his Creoles were playing more powerful Jazz in New Orleans than the Original Dixieland Jazz Band will play in 1917. Keppard was not recorded until many years later because he was afraid of having his style stolen.

Trumpeter Cootie Williams of the Ellington band is born in Mobil, Alabama on July 24.

Dixieland trumpeter Max Kaminsky is born in Brockton, Mass. on September 7.

Boogie Woogie piano player Sammy Price is born in Texas.

Columbia produces the first two-sided disc.


Tenor saxophone innovator Coleman Hawkins begins playing the piano at age five.

Tenor saxophone innovator Lester Young is born in Woodville, Mississippi on August 27. Lester’s family moved to New Orleans and Lester toured the midwest as a child with his father Billy’s barnstorming band.

Tenor saxophone great Ben Webster is born in Kansas City, MO on February 27. At some future date, Ben will save his rival Lester Young from drowning.

Benny Goodman is born in the Maxwell street ghetto in Chicago to Russian immigrant parents on May 30.

Drummer Gene Krupa is born in Chicago. He is the first to use and record with a full drumset in the 1920’s with Eddie Condon. He will become a wild, flashy Swing Era icon who leads his own popular big band after skyrocketing to fame with Benny Goodman. He will be the drummer on „Sing, Sing, Sing“ at Carnegie Hall in 1938. He will feature Roy Eldridge, Anita O’Day and Gerry Mulligan in his big band in 1940’s. He will lead small groups and tour with JATP through 1950’s. He will co-own a drum school in NYC with Cozy Cole.

Blues publishing pioneer W.C. Handy brings saxophones into his dance band.

Trombone player Dickie Wells of the Basie band is born in Tennessee on June 10.

Progressive Swing band leader Claude Thornhill is born in Terra Haute, IN on August 10.

Trumpeter Roland Bernard „Bunny“ Berigan is born in Fox Lake, Wisconsin.

Trumpeter Jonah Jones born in Louisville, KY.


Ragtime is still popular, but it is dying.

The first non-American Ragtime sheet music appears in London, England. English musician Vic Filmer begins playing Rags. American black music begins to gain appeal in Europe.

Dance craze starts. Foxtrot, etc.

Leadbelly hears New Orleans Jazz and is not intrigued or impressed.

Saxophonist Leon „Chu“ Berry is born in Wheeling, W. Va. on September 13.

Jean Baptiste „Django“ Reinhardt is born in Liberchies, Belgium on January 23 to a gypsy family. Django will become the first European to have a major influence on American Jazz players.

Piano virtuoso Art Tatum is born in Toledo, Ohio on October 13.

Clarinetist and bandleader Artie Shaw (Arthur Jacob Arshawsky) is born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He will grow up in New Haven, Connecticut.

Jazz and Blues proponent John Henry Hammond is born in New York City.


Blues shouter Big Joe Turner is born in Kansas City, Mo. on May 18.

Trumpeter Roy Eldridge is born in Pittsburgh, Pa. on January 30. Eldridge was an excellent player and is viewed, maybe unfairly, as the link between Armstrong and the Boppers. Roy will eventually get the nickname Little Jazz because of his diminutive size.

Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson is born in New Orleans on October 26.


W.C. Handy writes Memphis Blues. It becomes a big hit and begins the publishing of the Blues.

Classic Blues singer Bessie Smith begins work as a dancer in a vaudeville show.

Trumpeter Freddie Keppard’s band leaves New Orleans for parts unknown.

Louis Armstrong forms a vocal quartet with some of his boyhood friends in New Orleans.

Pianist Teddy Wilson is born in Austin, Texas on November 24.

Band leader Stan Kenton is born in Wichita, Kansas on February 19.

Arranger Gil Evans is born in Toronto, Canada on May 13.


Thirteen year old Louis Armstrong is sent to a waif’s home after he fires a pistol in celebration. This is where he learns to play cornet. The rest is history.

Louis Armstrong is proud when he leads the waif’s home band through his neighborhood.

Fourteen year old Duke Ellington visits pool halls and burlesque theatres. He is introduced to the entertainment world that he will soon be a part of.

According to stride pianist James P. Johnson, Luckyeth Roberts is the best stride piano player in New York City at this time.

The stride pianists are still playing Ragtime as the New Orleans players did a generation before. So we will see an interesting evolution in their playing over the next few years that parallels the beginning of Jazz in New Orleans.

Boogie Woogie piano player Jimmy Yancey quits vaudeville to work as a Chicago White Sox groundskeeper.

On November 21, Coleman Hawkins‚ parents give him a C-Melody saxophone for his ninth birthday.

British musician Vic Filmer brings Ragtime to Paris.

Art Tatum is three years old and is already picking out hymns on the piano in Toledo.

Future bandleader Woody Herman is born in Milwaukee, WI. on May 16.


W.C. Handy writes St Louis Blues. This will be his biggest hit. The Blues is going full tilt.

There is a major impetus around this time for the Europeanization of the Blues. Up till now the Blues form varied between 13.5 and 15 bars to suit the lyrics or the mood of the performer. Eventually a 12 bar form based on the 1-4-5 chord progression (what we know as the Blues today) will become standard. This occurred for three reasons: 1) appealled to whites, 2) solved problems understanding, playing and notating the Blues 3) established harmonies and a form for band members to work with.

Sidney Bechet is now playing in the Eagle Band with Jack Carey and Buddy Petit.

Duke Ellington hears piano player Harvey Brooks in Philadelphia and is inspired to learn Ragtime.

The Freddie Keppard band turns up in Los Angeles.

Louis Armstrong is released from the waif’s home where he learned his life’s trade.

Innovative drummer Kenny Clarke is born in Pittsburgh, Pa. on January 9. Clarke will become the first Bop drummer.

Bass player Leroy „Slam“ Stewart is born in Englewood, N.J. on September 21.

Ralph Ellison is born in Oklahoma City on March 1. He will achieve critical acclaim with his novel, Invisible Man, in 1952. Ellison, who attended Tusegee Institute with the intention of pursuing a career in music, will write influential essays on jazz music and on African American folk culture.

Tin Pan Alley publishers establish the American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)


Arranger and pianist Billy Strayhorn of the Ellington band is born in Dayton, Ohio on November 29. Billy will be raised in North Carolina and will be schooled in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Jazz singer Billie „Lady Day“ Holiday is born in Baltimore, MD on July 7.

Ragtime composer Scott Joplin produces Treemonisha (a Ragtime opera which he previously wrote) in Harlem. Public reaction is indifferent and it breaks Joplin.

Pop/Jazz singing idol Frank Sinatra is born in Hoboken, N.J. on December 12.

RCA offers to record Freddie Keppard. He turns them down and misses the chance to be the first Jazz performer to record because he is afraid that his style will be copied.

Trumpeter Freddie Keppard’s band turns up in Coney Island.

Dixieland trumpeter Bobby Hackett is born in Providence, Rhode Island on January 31.

At this point, Jean Goldkette dislikes pre-Jazz music so much that he quits Lamb’s Cafe in Chicago rather than share the stage with Tom Brown’s Band from Dixieland.


Louis Armstrong begins playing the bars in Storyville for $1.25 a night.

Bechet is in Joseph „King“ Oliver’s Olympia Band, but will soon leave for Chicago. He will work with Tony Jackson and then Freddie Keppard there.

Coleman Hawkins has learned the saxophone and is already playing dances at the age of twelve.

Guitarist, pianist and vibrophonist Bulee „Slim“ Gaillard is born in Detroit, Michigan on Jan 4. Slim became popular as half of the famed duo Slim and Slam with Slam Stewart on bass.

Trumpeter Harry James born, Albany, GA. 3/15. Played with Ben Pollack mid-30’s. Rose to fame with Benny Goodman’s band in late 30’s. Started own band 1939. Discovered and developed young vocalist Frank Sinatra. Led big bands off and on until his death on 7/5/83. Married to actress Betty Grable. Biggest Hits: „You Made Me Love You“, „Two O’Clock Jump“,“Ciribiribin“. Louis Armstrong believed James was one of the best trumpeters who ever blew.


Scott Joplin dies from syphilis related complications in a mental institution in New York City.

The history of recorded Jazz begins on February 26 when the white band the Original Dixieland Jazz Band (originally, Original Dixieland Jass Band ) records Livery Stable Blues at Victor Studios in New York City. The ODJB was from New Orleans and consisted of Nick LaRocca on cornet, Larry Shields on clarinet, Eddie „Daddy“ Edwards on trombone, Henry Ragas on piano and Tony Sbarbaro on drums. Many black bands of the time were probably producing far more authentic and better music. Never the less, the Jazz Age begins. Trumpeter Freddie Keppard had refused the chance to make the first Jazz record because he feared that his style would be copied.

New Orleans Jazz is a melting pot for the Blues, Ragtime, Marching Band music, etc. It can be thought of as an impressionistic view of these forms, just as Impressionistic painting gives a novel view of what we normally see.

Sidney Bechet leaves New Orleans for good and will shortly make his way to New York and Europe.

Duke Ellington leaves high school short of graduation and is earning a reputation as a piano player around Washington, D.C.

Fifteen year old Bix Beiderbecke hears the ODJB records and becomes enamored.

Thelonious Monk is born on October 10 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. His family will move to New York City when he is still an infant.

Future Bop trumpet innovator John Birks „Dizzy“ Gillespie is born on October 21 in Cheraw, South Carolina.

Stride pianist James P. Johnson makes the piano roll After Tonight. From this it is obvious that J.P. is still playing Ragtime at this time.

Pianist and singer Nat „King“ Cole is born in Montgomery, Alabama on March 17. Nat will become an innovator by forming the first piano-guitar-bass trio.

Drummer Buddy Rich born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on September 30. One of the highest paid child stars of the 1920’s, he was known as „Traps The Drum Wonder“, and began playing the vaudeville circuits with his parent’s act. During the Swing Era, he was featured in the bands of Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, and Harry James. He led his own first big band in the late 1940’s, and played on and off with JATP and again with Harry James until 1966. It was then that he formed his most famous big band, which he led until his death at age 69 on April 2, 1987.

Future Bob Crosby Bearcat trumpeter Billy Butterfield is born in Middleton, Ohio on Jan 14.

Eddie „Cleanhead“ Vinson is born in Houston, Texas on December 18. Even at this age, the „Cleanhead“ nickname probably applies.

Future Bop composer and arranger Tadd Dameron is born.

When he is seven years old, Artie Shaw’s family moves to New Haven, Connecticut. Here, Artie is tormented mercilessly for being Jewish.

John Lee Hooker is born to a Baptist minister and sharecropper in Clarksdale, Miss. He will be one of 11 children. His father will discourage his musical career.

After Freddie Keppard declines to be recorded, Jazz gains first national exposure with Victor’s release of the Original Dixieland Band’s „Livery Stable Blues“. This release outsells by many times over any 78s by the days recording stars like Enrico Caruso, John Phillip Sousa or the US Marine Military Band. Sales estimates are around 500K in the first year. The group consisted of cornetist Nick LaRocca, clarinetist Larry Shields, trombonist Eddie Edwards, pianist Harry Ragas, and drummer Tony Sbarbaro.


Joe „King“ Oliver leaves Kid Ory’s band to front his own band in Chicago.

Clarinetist Jimmy Noone leaves New Orleans for Chicago.

Louis Armstrong is hired by Kid Ory to replace Joe „King“ Oliver on cornet.

Armstrong is also hired by Fate Marable to work the showboats.

Armstrong learns to read music while working for Fate Marable.

Louis Armstrong marries New Orleans prostitute Daisy Parker.

Although not a prolific songwriter, Louis Armstrong writes the well known song „I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate.“

Duke Ellington marries Edna Thompson. The Duke is currently doing very well supplying bands for dances and parties. Duke’s sidemen at this point are Toby Hardwicke on bass and saxes, Arthur Whetsol on trumpet, Sonny Greer on drums and Elmer Snowden on banjo.

Bix Beiderbecke has just begun to play the cornet.

Earl „Fatha“ Hines is hired by Lois Deppe (a man) in Pittsburgh to play piano. This is Earl’s first job.

Coleman Hawkins attends school in Chicago and gets to hear early Jazz players such as Jimmy Noone there.

Ella Fitzgerald is born in Newport News, Virginia on April 25.

The so-called „Lost Generation“ of white American youths is ripe for a new kind of music.

On January 1, James Reese Europe arrives in France.

On March 18, James Reese Europe’s 369th Infantry Regiment (The Hellfighters) Band begins a six week tour of twenty-five French cities. Bill „Bojangles“ Robinson is the drum major.

On April 20, James Reese Europe accompanies a french combat unit into battle and becomes the first black to face combat during WWI.

Will Marion Cook’s Southern Syncopated Orchestra is formed. Will Cook will shortly become a great influence on Duke Ellington’s composing skills.

Pianist Hank Jones is born in Detroit.

Vocalese singer Eddie Jefferson is born in Pittsburgh, PA on August 3.


After years of lynching and other mistreatment of blacks by whites, the NAACP promotes the slogan „The new Negro has no fear“. This type of thinking will further the cause of Jazz.

In this year, 70 blacks are killed by KKK mobs. More than 10 of these are soldiers still in uniform.

Sidney Bechet moves to New York City and joins Will Marion Cook’s Southern Syncopated Orchestra. Bechet travels to Europe with the orchestra where he will gain accolades from Classical musicians as a distinguished musician. It is at this time that Bechet discovers the soprano saxophone.

Accolades (mentioned above) given to Sidney Bechet by Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet appear in Revue Romande. This article is the first serious article on Jazz to appear anywhere.

In February, James Reese Europe and his Hellfighters return home. They go on a tour of the U.S. in the Spring.

On May 9, in Boston, James Reese Europe is confronted in his dressing room by Herbert Wright (one of his men). They have words because Wright thinks that Europe is treating him unfairly. Wright plunges a penknife into Europes neck. Europe bleeds to death.

It is probable that young Bix Beiderbecke heard Louis Armstrong play on the riverboats that stopped in Davenport, Iowa during this year.

Innovative guitarist Charlie Christian is born in Dallas, Texas. His father is a blind guitarist. Christian will be influenced by Lonnie Johnson, Eddie Lang and Django Reinhardt.

Hard Bop drummer Art Blakey is born in Pittsburgh, Pa on October 11. Art will become one of the major Hard Bop leaders along with Horace Silver in the late 1950’s.

Innovative pianist Lenny Tristano is born in Chicago on March 19 during a major flu epidemic. His eyes are affected and he will eventually be completely blind.

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band visits England and triggers an interest in the new music.

Free Jazz pianist Herbie Nichols is born New York City on January 3.

The Southern Syncopated Orchestra is in Europe with Sidney Bechet. On November 15, conductor Ernest Ansermet hears Bechet in London and believes that he is a genius.

The Scrap Iron Jazz Band (from the Hellfighters) makes a series of records in Paris.

Pianist George Shearing is born in London on August 13.

Singer Anita O’Day is born in Chicago on December 18.

Bandleader Paul Whiteman leaves San Francisco for Atlantic City.

Bassist Al McKibbon born in Chicago, IL.


Prohibition of alcohol begins. In many respects, prohibition has the opposite of its intended effect. For example, before prohibition, few, if any women drank in bars. However, women were very likely to drink in speakeasys. Prohibition indirectly furthers the cause of Jazz.

Armstrong drops in on a St. Louis dance and the band he is with blows away the most popular band in town with New Orleans Jazz.

Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker (a.k.a. Bird or Yardbird) is born on August 29 in Kansas City, Kansas.

Ellington has developed into a decent and fairly successful band leader earning about $10,000 a year to support wife Edna and one year old Mercer.

The first recorded Blues appears when Mamie Smith records Crazy Blues. This kicks off the Classic Blues craze of the 1920’s.

Over forty prominent New Orleans Jazzmen have moved to Chicago.

Somebody discovers that the New York brownstone basement (being narrow and running from mainstreet to back alley) is well suited to use as an speakeasy. In time, the cellars of New York City will become riddled with speakeasys providing numerous opportunities for Jazz musicians.

The cabaret business begins in New York. This will eventually be the cause of the shift of Jazz from Chicago to New York.

This year marks the beginning of an age of great interest in black arts and music (Jazz). The young future Bop players are being born. They will be raised in an era which will allow them to want to rebel. Thus, Bop will begin in about twenty years.

Future MJQ pianist John Lewis is born in LaGrange, Ilinois on May 3. Lewis will grow up in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The New Orleans Rhythm Kings are playing in Chicago at Friar’s Inn.

Adrian Rollini begins playing bass saxophone with the California Ramblers (a popular New York City dance band). Rollini was one of the top Jazz saxophonist’s in the 1920’s. He will later play with Bix Beiderbecke.

Scat singer and composer Babs Gonzalez is born Newark, N.J. on July 12.

Paul Whiteman and his Band record the classic Whispering in New York City. Whiteman’s band does not play true Jazz but the so-called symphonic Jazz.

After Sophie Tucker fails to attend a recording session, Okeh records Mamie Smith performing „Crazy Blues.“ This release would be the first „race“ or blues recording and would sell over 250,000 copies, averaging 7500 sales a week in the early stages of its release.


Future Ellington trumpeter Bubber Miley sees King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band at the Dreamland Cafe in Chicago and becomes interested in Jazz. Bubber will learn to play blue notes and growls in imitation of Oliver. These growls and slurs will later become a trademark of Ellington which are passed down to Cootie Williams and other future trumpeters.

Bix Beiderbecke begins attending the Lake Forest Academy near Chicago. He will get the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of New Orleans and Chicago Jazz.

Frankie Trumbauer works briefly for Isham Jones at the College Inn in Chicago. He says that he is happy when the black waiters smile when he plays because that tells him that he is doing it right.

Sidney Bechet returns from his trip to Europe. Musicians such as Duke Ellington become more impressed with Bechet’s abilities. Sidney will eventually play for Duke for a short while.

Fletcher Henderson is on the road with Ethel Waters. He hears Armstrong for the first time and immediately offers him a job. Armstrong turns him down.

James P. Johnson’s „Worried and Lonesome Blues“ and „Carolina Shout“ begin to approach Jazz. At any rate, Johnson becomes the pioneer of stride piano with these recordings.

Saxophone player Coleman Hawkins joins Mamie Smith’s Jazz Hounds.

Young Lenny Tristano (age 2) takes an interest in piano.

Saxophonist Eddie „Lockjaw“ Davis born.

Pop Jazz pianist Errol Garner is born in Pittsburgh, Pa on June 15.

Gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe is born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas on March 20.


Joe „King“ Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band is in Chicago at the Lincoln Gardens. Oliver sends for Armstrong who is still in New Orleans.

Armstrong goes to Chicago on August 8 to join King Oliver’s band. Armstrong is afraid to play because Oliver sounds so good.

Duke Ellington goes to New York City with Sonny Greer and banjo player Elmer Snowden. Duke meets his idol James P. Johnson as well as Fats Waller and Willie „The Lion“ Smith.

Bix Beiderbecke is expelled from the Lake Forest Academy.

The original Austin High Gang begins to frequent the Friar’s Inn in Chicago. Currently, gang members include Frank Teschemacher (clarinet), Jimmy McPartland (cornet), Richard McPartland (guitar and banjo) and Lawrence „Bud“ Freeman (sax). Others such as Gene Krupa (drums) will join later.

At this point, Coleman Hawkins is a well schooled musician, perhaps the best in Jazz. He is asked to join Mamie Smith’s Jazz Hounds. This group will take him to New York where Fletcher Henderson will eventually hire him.

Alto saxophonist Benny Carter hears Frank Trumbauer on a recording by Chicago’s Benson Orchestra. Carter will later claim Trumbauer as a major influence. Since Lester Young also does this, that makes two major Jazz sax players who claim to owe a lot to Trumbauer.

Django Reinhardt’s mother gives him a banjo, teaches him the rudiments and within weeks, he is playing cafes with his father Jean Vees.

Fats Waller makes his first of hundreds of piano rolls.

Innovative bassist, composer and bandleader Charles Mingus is born in Nogales, Arizona on April 22. Charles will grow up in Watts and will be the most well-rounded musician in Jazz by the Modal and Free Jazz phases.

Woody Herman is currently nine years old and a child vaudeville star who sings and dances. He begins playing alto and soprano saxophones (he took up the clarinet later).

Carmen McRae is born in New York, N.Y. on April 8.

Vocalese singer King Pleasure is born in Oakdale, Tennessee on March 24.

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band is now playing commercial music such as Fox Trots. They’ve sold out.

Paul Whiteman controls twenty-eight bands on the east coast. In this year, he will gross over $1,000,000 (a tidy sum for producing pseudo-Jazz in the early 20’s).


King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band with Louis Armstrong on second cornet makes their first recordings. Armstrong is first recorded on March 31 on the Gennet recording of Chimes Blues. Other members of the band were Warren „Baby“ Dodds on drums, Honore Dutrey on trombone, Bill Johnson on bass, Johnny Dodds on clarinet, and Lil Hardin on piano. The most notable recording was the legendary Dippermouth Blues which was written by Oliver.

Jelly Roll Morton moves to Chicago. By now, Jelly is more interested in his music than he is in pimping and conning. Morton will record his first piano solos during this year. The list of songs includes Grandpa’s Spells, Kansas City Stomps, Milenburg Joys, Wolverine Blues and The Pearls. Morton is at the frontline of Jazz with Bechet and Oliver at this point.

Early occurance of the „color barrier“ being broken when Jelly Roll Morton sits in with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings.

In late January, Duke Ellington pays his way into the segregated section of the Howard Theatre in Washington D.C. to hear soprano saxophone master Sidney Bechet. This is Ellington’s first encounter with authentic New Orleans Jazz.

Duke Ellington returns to New York City after being persuaded by Fats Waller. His first stay had been a disaster. He works for Ada „Bricktop“ Smith. His first job is at the Hollywood Club (later the Kentucky Club). He also works at Barron’s in Harlem. The Duke finally becomes the official band leader. Snowden, the original band leader, leaves and is replaced by Fred Guy.

Ellington makes his first recording (on a cylinder – acoustic recording still most used). It is a stride piano piece called Jig Walk.

On June 30, Sidney Bechet cuts his first two sides „Wild Cat Blues“ and „Kansas City Blues“ with Clarence Williams‘ Blue Five.

Tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins joins the Fletcher Henderson band. It is with this band that Coleman will develop his first reasonable tenor sax style. This style will be based on the trumpet style of Louis Armstrong.

The Fletcher Henderson band opens at the Club Alabam on 44th Street just off Broadway with Coleman Hawkins on tenor sax.

By now, Bix Beiderbecke is occasionally playing on the riverboats.

Benny Moten Band cuts their first records. These records are marred by some obnoxious clarinet effects by Herman „Woody“ Walder.

Bessie Smith records „Downhearted Blues“ and „Gulf Coast Blues.“ „Downhearted Blues“ sells 780,000 copies in less than six months. Bessie is an instant star. Bessie marries Jack Gee, a Philadelphia policeman, who is primarily interested in her money.

Gertrude „Ma Rainey“ Pridgett is recorded for the first time this year.

The Lois Deppe band with Earl Hines on piano cuts a few records. Hines winds up in Chicago as a result of the popularity gained. He plays as a single using a portable piano in a cafe. At this time, the combination Stride/Blues piano style which Hines pioneered was already well formed. Hines will become the most influential early pianist in Jazz.

Future Bop trumpeter extraordinare Fats Navarro is born in Key West, Florida.

Hard Bop pianist Elmo Hope is born.

Vibraphonist Milt Jackson born 1923 in Detroit, Michigan.

March 12, 1923: Gennett begins to record the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. They would release the soon to be jazz standards, „Tin Roof Blues,“ „Bugle Call Blues,“ and „Farewell Blues.“ Members of NORK include Paul Mares, coronet, George Brunies, trombone, Leon Rappolo, clarinet, Mel Stitzel, piano, & Ben Pollock, banjo.

April 6, 1923 – Gennett records and releases King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band. This would be the first recordings to feature Louis Armstrong and the incredible two coronet leads. Recordings from this session include „Canal Street Blues,‘ „Chimes Blues,“ „Weather Bird Rag,“ „Dippermouth Blues,“ „Froggie More,“ „Just Gone“ and a few others. Member of King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band include: King Oliver & Louis Armstrong on coronet, Honore Dutrey on trombone, Johnny Dodds on clarinet, Lil Hardin Armstrong on piano, Bill Johnson on piano and Baby Dodds on drums.

June 1923 – Jelly Roll Morton begins to record with Gennett, including a session with New Orleans Rhythm Kings („Mr. Jelly Lord“), often considered the first inter-racial jazz recording.


Louis Armstrong marries piano player and composer Lil Hardin on February 5.

Armstrong, now big news, accompanies the now supreme Classic Blues singers Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith (notably „St Louis Blues“) and others.

Armstrong reluctantly quits the Oliver band in June at Lil’s request.

Armstrong attempts to get a job with Sammy Stewart but is turned down flat. Armstrong says that he „wasn’t dicty enough“ for Stewart.

Armstrong arrives in New York City on September 30.

Armstrong joins the Fletcher Henderson band in October at Lil’s insistence. During Armstrong’s year with Henderson, this band will become the most important early big band. This is the band that will be the model for the swing bands of the next decade.

Ellington writes first revue score for Chocolate Kiddies and records the novelty song „Choo Choo“ for Blue Disc label. Ellington is still not doing Jazz at this time.

Sidney Bechet takes a summer job playing dances in New England with Ellington.

In October, Ellington and his Washingtonians are at the Hollywood Club on 49th street and Broadway.

Earl Hines forms a group in Chicago. His apartment is next to Armstrong’s.

Bix Beiderbecke (cornet), Min Lelbrook (tuba), Jimmy Hartwell (clarinet), George Johnson (tenor sax), Bob Gilette (banjo), Vic Moore (drums), Dick Voynow(piano) and Al Gandee (trombone) form the Wolverines (named after Jelly Roll Morton’s song „Wolverine Blues“).

On February 18, Bix Beiderbecke and the Wolverines record at the Gennett studios in Richmond, Indiana. Their first record is „Fidgety Feet“. Bix is still banging down heavily on the beat.

Jean Goldkette lures Bix Beiderbecke from the Wolverines only to fire him a few weeks later when he finds that he can’t read music.

In October, Bix Beiderbecke and the Wolverines (now called the Personality Kids) are at the Cinderella Ballroom on 41st street and Broadway.

Hoagy Carmichael first hears Bix Beiderbecke with the Wolverines and is quite impressed. Says years later, „I could feel my hands trying to shake and getting cold when I saw Bix getting out his horn. Just four notes…But he didn’t blow them — he hit ‚em like a mallet hits a chime…“

At twenty-one, Bix Beiderbecke has already become a recognizable figure among Jazz musicians. His playing represents one of the few styles which oppose rather than imitate Armstrong. He will be influential to Lester Young on tenor sax as well as the future Boppers via Young and directly.

Coleman Hawkins joins Fletcher Henderson’s band.

Fletcher Henderson is invited to play the Roseland Ballroom on 51st street and Broadway in Manhattan during the summer of this year.

In October, the Fletcher Henderson band with Louis Armstrong is at the Roseland Ballroom on 51st street and Broadway in Manhattan.

Coleman Hawkins is inspired by Louis Armstrong to develop a distinctive saxophone style.

Kansas City bands are beginning to play a style with a four even beat ground beat (New Orleans Jazz had a distinct two beat ground beat behind a 4/4 melody). This paved the way for more modern forms of Jazz. Charlie Parker as a child growing up in K.C. heard this music. Count Basie is later quoted as saying „I can’t dig that two-beat jive the New Orleans cats play; cause my boys and I got to have four heavy beats to a bar and no cheating.“

Bessie Smith, most famous of the Classic Blues singers, begins her period of greatest fame. She will be recorded with Armstrong, trumpeter Joe Smith, Don Redman, James P. Johnson, Charlie Green, Fletcher Henderson and others over the next few years.

Fats Waller is now twenty and is playing rent parties in New York City.

Trumpeter Tommy Ladnier is playing in Joe Oliver’s band in Chicago. Ladnier was brought to Chicago as a child.

Django Reinhardt switches to guitar and is now playing the clubs of Paris.

Art Tatum (only in his early teens) is already playing rent parties.

Benny Moten band is moving towards the New Orleans style. The song „South“ has breaks which could have been played by Oliver or Armstrong.

Clarence Williams from New Orleans opens a record store in Chicago.

George Gershwin writes „Rhapsody in Blue“.

Earl „Bud“ Powell is born in New York City.

Future Bop trombone innovator J.J. Johnson is born in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Bop singer Sarah Vaughan is born in Newark, N.J.

Singer Dinah Washington is born.

Mahalia Jackson’s idols are Bessie Smith and Italian opera singer Enrico Caruso.

Paul Whiteman makes Jazz „respectable“ with his February 21 concert at Aeolian Hall in New York City. The first song is an authentic version of ODJB’s „Livery Stable Blues“ which is merely meant to show how crude the real thing is, but most fans like it better than the „Symphonic Jazz“ which follows.

May 1924 – Bix Biederbecke’s Wolverine’s records college student, Hoagy Carmichael’s song „Riverboat Shuffle,‘ for Gennett.


Armstrong starts to work with Erskine Tate, Carol Dickerson and others.

Armstrong returns to Chicago in November and plays the Dreamland Cafe.

On November 12, Armstrong records the first of the classic hot fives with Lil Hardin on piano, Johnny Dodds on clarinet, Kid Ory on trombone and Johnny St. Cyr on banjo and guitar. First tune was the Lil Hardin composition „My Heart“. First scat solo was on the song „Heebie Jeebies“ allegedly when Armstrong accidently dropped the sheet music. The recordings were originally issued on Okeh and can be found on Columbia/Sony Hot Fives and Sevens series CD’s as well as on JSP.

New Orleans giants Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet are now playing together in the Red Onion Jazz Babies with Blues singer Alberta Hunter. At this point, Bechet is the superior Jazz player. Recordings can be found on Classic CD – The Chronological Sidney Bechet 1923-1926 and EPM Musique CD – The Complete 1923-1926 Clarence Williams Sessions.

Sidney Bechet is Armstrong’s only serious musical rival.

Sidney Bechet is also playing with the Clarence Williams Blue Five at this time.

Sidney Bechet opens his own cabaret on Seventh Avenue in Harlem. It is called the Club Basha (most New Yorker’s pronounce his name that way). The house band is led by Bechet and includes Johnny Hodges.

Sidney Bechet sails to Paris in Seprember.

La Revue Negre introduces Sidney Bechet and Josephine Baker to Paris.

In February, Bix Beiderbecke attempts to „straighten up and fly right“ when he continues his formal studies at Iowa State University. The effort lasts only eighteen days, however, and Bix is off on the road again playing Jazz.

C-Melody Sax player Frankie Trumbauer hires Bix Beiderbecke to play cornet in his new nine piece orchestra.

The Ellington band is still not a Jazz band, but a commercial orchestra playing Pop tunes and dance numbers. However, the addition of New Orleans players Sidney Bechet on clarinet and Bubber Miley on trumpet begin to turn the band around. Miley’s signature mutes and growls (borrowed from Oliver) become Ellington’s signature passed on to a number of horn players in the band throughout the decades.

Bassist Walter Page forms the first version of the Blue Devils.

Benny Moten’s band is now a solid New Orleans style group even though they are from Kansas City. The trumpeter Lammar Wright is now playing with a fast terminal vibrato. 18th Street Strut uses Oliver-style phrases.

Twelve-string guitarist and Folk and Blues singer Huddie „Leadbelly“ Ledbetter is released from a Texas Penitentiary where he was serving time for killing a man in a fight.

Lyrical trumpeter Joe Smith begins to play with the Fletcher Henderson band. Joe is one of the most underrated trumpeters in early Jazz. Joe is often compared to Bix.

Ma Rainey’s piano player Thomas A. Dorsey is celebrated for his risque tunes. He will soon, however, become the father of modern gospel music.

Red Norvo who is the first important mallet instrument player in Jazz begins on the xylophone.

Bud Freeman switches from C-Melody to Tenor sax.

Saxophonist Art Pepper is born on September 1.

Pianist Oscar Peterson is born in Montreal.

Mel Torme the Velvet Fog is born.


On February 26, Armstrong, Kid Ory (trombone), Johnny Dodds (clarinet), Johnny St. Cyr (guitar) and Lil Armstrong (piano) record the second set of Hot Fives for Okeh.

Armstrong leaves Dreamland (Chicago) in the spring to join Carroll Dickerson’s band at the Sunset Cafe (Chicago’s brightest pleasure spot). The Sunset is Chicago’s most succesful black and tan. Joe Glaser is the Sunset’s manager. His mother is the Sunset’s owner.

Armstrong is playing for Erskine Tate’s Orchestra and Carol Dickerson’s Orchestra. This is the year that Armstrong and Earl Hines meet.

King Oliver and his Dixie Syncopators are playing at the Plantation Cafe in Chicago.

Joe „King“ Oliver will do his last eventful music this year with his Dixie Syncopators group. Joe does a remake of his landmark „Dippermouth Blues“. It is called „Sugarfoot Strut“.

In September, Jelly Roll Morton cuts his first band recordings with his Red Hot Peppers group. Jelly Roll had acquired Lester and Walter Montrose as publishers. Notable songs are „Deep Creek“, „The Pearls“, „Wolverine Blues“, „Dead Man Blues“ and King Oliver’s „Doctor Jazz“.

On an autumn day on Chicago’s south side, Jelly Roll Morton rides a big gray mule with a sign that advertises the Victor Recording Company’s recording of his „Sidewalk Blues“.

The Ellington band has finally taken shape. They are now playing bonafide New York Jazz. Joe „Tricky Sam“ Nanton on trombone and Harry Carney on clarinet join Ellington. Ellington forms a significant partnership with music publisher and band booker Irving Mills.

Duke Ellington and his band record „East St Louis Toodle-o“ on November 29. This is Ellington’s first signature song and his first important original composition.

Kansas City, Missouri becomes the wildest city in America (a perfect match for Jazz) when Tom „Boss“ Pendergast (the Democratic boss of Jackson county) begins his reign over the city.

Bix Beiderbecke is working in a Frankie Trumbauer band with Pee Wee Russell on Clarinet.

In May, Jean Goldkette offers Trumbauer a job as musical director of one of his bands (we’ll call them the Goldkette band, but the real name is the Victor Recording Orchestra). Trumbauer accepts on the condition that Bix Beiderbecke can also join the band.

The Goldkette band with Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer start playing the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan in early October.

The Goldkette band and the Fletcher Henderson band do battle at the Roseland on October 13. Henderson is caught by surprise and is defeated by the likes of Beiderbecke and Trumbauer.

Sidney Bechet visits Berlin. On learning that American reedman Gavin Bushell is there and has a Great Dane, Sidney insists that his Doberman-Bulldog mix and Bushell’s Great Dane fight to prove which is the toughest.

Sidney Bechet visits Moscow.

Until now, Bechet was the only black saxophonist of importance. Coleman Hawkins is beginning to change that. Currently, most Jazz saxophonist’s are white (not many used saxophones, only whites could afford them). Hawkins admires Adrian Rollini.

Lester Young is meanwhile being influenced by Frankie Trumbauer and trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke.

Benny Goodman joins the Ben Pollack band.

On December 9, the Ben Pollack Band with Benny Goodman on clarinet records „Deed I Do“/“He’s the Last Word“ for Victor. It is Benny Goodman’s recording debut.

On the evening of December 9, Benny Goodman’s father dies at the corner of Madison and Kostner streets in Chicago after being struck by a speeding auto. He never got to hear Benny’s first recording done that very same day.

John Coltrane is born on September 23 in Hamlet, North Carolina.

Thelonious Monk, aged six, becomes interested in piano.

Jimmy Harrison is playing saxophone for Fletcher Henderson. Jimmy is beginning to create an influential Jazz trombone style that will rule for awhile.

Tommy Ladnier is playing trumpet for Fletcher Henderson. Tommy is one of the most underrated trumpeters of early Jazz.

Miles Davis is born in Alton, Illinois. Shortly after, the Davis family moves to East St. Louis, Illinois.

Hammond B-3 master Jimmy Smith is born in Norristown, PA.

Lenny Tristano begins to take piano lessons.

Swedish Jazz group called the Paramount Orchestra is formed.


Americans will buy more than 100 million phonograph records this year.

It seems as if the music of Oliver and Morton will capture the world but.

Armstrong makes the greatest of the hot fives and sevens. He is now setting whole phrases ahead or behind the beat, not just pulling single notes. This will set the stage for Swing. Armstrong is now a star and because of him, New Orleans style ensemble playing is disappearing and is being replaced by Chicago and New York style solos. In short Jazz is becoming a soloist art primarily because of Armstrong. A few songs of significance include „Struttin‘ with Some Barbecue“, „Big Butter and Egg Man“ and „Hotter than That“. In May, Warren „Baby“ Dodds on drums and Pete Briggs on tuba are added to hot fives to make hot sevens.

Joe Oliver’s band is offered a job as house band at the new Cotton Club in Harlem. Joe turns down the job or loses it because he wants too much money. It was a fatal mistake for Joe.

Barney Bigard joins Ellington band.

Irving Mills gets Ellington a recording contract with Columbia. Resulting sides can be found on the set The Okeh Ellington on the Columbia label. Notable selections include „Black and Tan Fantasy“ and „East St. Louis Toodle-oo“. People like Ellington’s music at this time primarily for Bubber Miley’s freaky trumpet style.

Ellington records „Black and Tan Fantasy“ for Columbia on October 26 in New York City.

Ellington band starts at the Cotton Club in Harlem on December 4 after the job is turned down by Joe Oliver. The Cotton Club broadcasts Ellington’s performances from coast to coast. Ellington uses Adelaide Hall’s raspy voice as an instrument (not scat). The Cotton Club job will last until 1932.

Jelly Roll Morton and the Red Hot Peppers issue their classic sides.

Goldkette band featuring Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer (Bix and Tram) will collapse financially and then Bix and Tram will join the Paul Whiteman Band.

Bix, who is now at his peak, is also working with various pickup groups and producing lasting music such as „Singin‘ the Blues“ and „I’m Comin‘ Virginia“ with these groups. See the Columbia collection Singin‘ the Blues. Even black players are copying Bix at this time.

Bix is now spending time playing piano and composing for it. Writes „In a Mist“, „Flashes“, „Candlelight“ and „In the Dark“.

Bix Beiderbecke records „In a Mist“ on September 9.

Art Tatum at seventeen is hired as staff pianist for station WSPD in Toledo, Ohio. His talent is so evident that the show goes national. He begins to become an influence on the future Boppers via Coleman Hawkins.

Coleman Hawkins drops his „slap tongue“ style of playing tenor saxophone and begins improvising by playing the notes of the chords of a song. He’d heard a teenaged Art Tatum do this and was quite impressed. Up to this time all improvisation had been based on a song’s melody. At first, this new style seemed somewhat incoherent but it will eventually lead to modern forms of Jazz.

Bootlegger Joe Helbock (a friend of Jimmy Dorsey) opens a speakeasy called The Onyx on 52nd street. It becomes a musicians‘ hangout featuring such attractions as Art Tatum.

Lester Young is now eighteen and is a competent musician. His main influence is the white saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer. Young likes the way Tram introduces the melody and then plays around it.

James P. Johnson is now playing Jazz with his release of „Snowy Morning Blues“. The stride style at this point is analogous to the former rag players swinging the rags like Jelly Roll did about a decade earlier.

John Birks „Dizzy“ Gillespie is sent on a scholarship to Laurinburg Institute. He studies trumpet, trombone and theory.

Benny Goodman makes first record using his own name.

The first talking movie is released. It is The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson in black face. It opens on October 6.

Billie Holiday’s mother brings her to New York.

Chick Webb’s band is playing the Savoy Ballroom.

Mahalia Jackson opens a cosmetics shop in Chicago. She turns down an offer from the now famous Earl Hines.

Meade Lux Lewis records „Honky Tonk Train Blues“.

Trumpeter Wild Bill Davison is playing in Chicago.

Saxophonist and composer Gigi Gryce is born in Hartford, Connecticut.

Bing Crosby joins the Paul Whiteman band.

October 1927 – Hoagy Carmichael records two versions of his composition „Star Dust,“ one with lyrics (which get edited a year later), one instrumental – Gennett releases the instrumental version which is a poor seller, when Gennett is approached to release the vocal version, Fred Wiggins head of Gennett writes on the master: „Reject. Already on Gennett. Poor Seller.“ „Star Dust“ would soon become one of the most recorded songs in pop and jazz.


On February 7, federal agents raid a dozen of Chicago’s North Side nightclubs. They take names of everybody that is caught with alcohol. They had already closed a number of the South Side black-and-tans. This is all part of a „get tough on booze“ policy of the new Republican mayor William Dever (Big Bill Thompson’s successor). Chicago will soon fall as the Jazz capital.

The last of the Hot Fives and Sevens are recorded by Armstrong and the rest. As hard as this may be to believe, in many respects, it’s all downhill from here for Armstrong.

Armstrong drops the New Orleans style completely and with it, he drops the New Orleans players except for Zutty Singleton. Landmark recordings are made by Armstrong with Earl Hines on piano. Hines is almost the equal of Armstrong in terms of Jazz talent and the result is such memorable recordings as „West End Blues“ (many believe this to be the top Jazz recording of all times) and „Weather Bird Rag“, both Joe Oliver tunes. These and others can be found on Columbia CD Louis Armstrong Vol 4. – Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines or the Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1928-1929.

In contrast, Jelly Roll Morton’s and Joe Oliver’s music is already on the way out, soon to be replaced by Swing.

On November 30, in Cleveland with the Whiteman Band, Bix Beiderbecke passes out in the middle of a tune. Another band member (Charles Margulis) steadies Bix to keep him from falling over. Bix wakes up and in his confusion, takes a poke at Margulis. Whiteman witnesses this and sends Bix back to the Palace Hotel where he becomes violent due to delirium tremens and is put under a nurse’s care.

Earl Hines records with Armstrong and then with clarinetist Jimmy Noone’s Apex Club Orchestra. Then Earl begins work as a soloist for Q.R.S. (a piano roll company). All of Earl’s recordings during this year are landmark recordings which will establish his reputation.

Earl Hines forms his own big band. Earl will be a big bandleader until 1947.

The Benny Moten Band is now a Swing band and is acknowledged by most to be the best in the southwest. Some, however, considered Walter Page’s Blue Devils to be better. It was reported that the Blue Devils cut the Moten band in one memorable Kansas City band battle. This is not surprising considering that the Blue Devil’s were Walter Page on bass, Buster Smith (Charlie Parker’s early idol) on alto sax, Eddie Durham on trombone, Hot Lips Page (no relation to Walter) on trumpet, Bill „Count“ Basie on piano and vocalist Jimmy „Mr. Five-by-Five“ Rushing to round it out (no pun intended).

Important bandleader Fletcher Henderson suffers a concussion in an automobile accident. After this, Fletcher’s interest in and tolerance for business matters declines from previous low levels. This might account in part for other bands coming to the forefront.

Sidney Bechet is now with the Noble Sissle band.

Twenty year old clarinetist Benny Goodman is still with Ben Pollack as is trombonist Jack Teagarden.

Johnny Hodges joins the Duke Ellington band on alto sax.

Armstrong records „West End Blues“ on June 8.

Teenager Billie Holiday hears Armstrong’s West End Blues and is inspired.

Bessie Smith records „Poor Man’s Blues.“ This is a harbinger of things to come. By next year, most people will be poor as a result of the depression.

Bessie Smith begins her downhill slide. Classic Blues is on the way out.

Ma Rainey records Blame it on the Blues and Leavin‘ this Morning with Tampa Red on guitar.

The word bop appears in the song Four or Five Times by Mckinney’s Cotton Pickers.

Django meets violinist Stephane Grapelli and makes his first records which have no Jazz value.

Django Reinhardt is married at eighteen. He lives in a caravan near a cemetary. His wife sells silk flowers to support them. One night, Django is trying to remove a rat and he catches the flowers on fire with a candle. He burns his legs and his left hand badly saving his wife. His left hand never completely healed with two fingers partially paralyzed. He, nevertheless became a great guitarist in months. Stephane Grapelli says that the injury probably improved Django’s playing because it slowed him down causing him to be more thoughtful. If you’ve ever listened to the speed of Django, it is hard to imagine him playing faster.

Stan Kenton is now writing arrangements for Los Angeles bands.

Lenny Tristano is by now eight years old and is completely blind.

Dancer George „Shorty“ Snowden comes up with a new dance that is filled with „breakaways.“ The dance will be named the Lindy Hop after Charles Lindbergh.

Future Hard Bop pianist and bandleader Horace Silver is born in Norwalk, Connecticut on September 2.

Trumpeter and Flugelhorn player Art Farmer and his twin brother Addison are born in Phoenix, Arizona.

Trumpeter Wild Bill Davison is currently playing like Bix on Smiling Skies with the Benny Meroff band.

Spanish/Fillipino, Fred Elizade persuades the Savoy Hotel management in England to let him bring in a Jazz band with American trumpeter Chelsea Qualey, sax players Bobby Davis and Adrian Rollini, and an English rhythm section.

Bing Crosby, an early Jazz fan, visits Harlem to hear Ellington and other authentic Jazz players.


On March 4, Armstrong has traveled from Chicago to New York to play a one night stand in Harlem at a banquet that is given in his honor. Many friends from Chicago are there and many musicians are there.

On March 5, in the early morning, Eddie Condon suggests to Tommy Rockwell (producer of the Hot Fives and Sevens) that he take the opportunity to record Armstrong with some of the superb musicians who have gathered to honor Armstrong. Rockwell is concerned about a mixed group, but goes ahead anyway. As a result, Armstrong, Jack Teagarden (trombone), Eddie Lang (guitar), Happy Cauldwell (saxophone), Kaiser Marshall and Joe Sullivan record the classic „Knockin‘ a Jug“ in the Okeh studios after knockin‘ back a bottle of whiskey.

Armstrong shifts base from Chicago to New York. This coincides with a general shift of the Jazz mainstream from Chicago to New York. Bigger Swing type orchestras will begin to dominate.

Armstrong begins fronting big Swing bands such as Les Hite and Luis Russell. He is becoming more commercial. This will cause later Jazz artists to say that he sold out.

Armstrong does Fats Waller’s tune „Ain’t Misbehavin'“ from the show Hot Chocolates. His version becomes far more popular than the show’s original. This is the first Pop song that he records and it represents a pivotal point in his carreer. He does his first big band recordings. Recordings can be found on Columbia CD Louis in New York – Vol 5, Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1928-1929 or Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1929-1930.

Dave Peyton of the Chicago Defender reports that Louis Armstrong is the current rage in New York City.

Ben Pollack formally presents an engraved gold watch to Armstrong at Connie’s Inn where he performed in Hot Chocolates. The watch had been bought by a group of white musicians who went to see Armstrong perform and to honor him. The engraving says „Good Luck Always to Louis Armstrong from the Musicians on Broadway.“

Jelly Roll Morton and the Red Hot Peppers record again. These recordings are not as good as the first ones and in fact represent a style that is rapidly becoming defunct.

New Orleans style is moribund. Big band Swing is overtaking it.

Earl Hines and his big band begin a stay at the Grand Terrace Ballroom in Chicago that will last until 1948.

Bix Beiderbecke is now a hopeless alcoholic. After suffering a complete mental collapse, he is sent back to Davenport by Paul Whiteman early this year.

In Davenport, Iowa, in February, Bix Beiderbecke writes the following to Frankie Trumbauer: „I guess I am A minus quality. I haven’t had a drink for so long I’d pass on one.“ Then he complained of knee pain and added, „I’ll be back as soon as my knees will work. If Paul will have me.“

Bix Beiderbecke returns to the Whiteman band in March and spends the summer in Hollywood with the band. They are there to film a biography of Whiteman. At some point, Bix begins drinking again. He remarks to a friend that drinking is the path of least resistance since he is afraid of a return bout with delirium tremens.

Bix Beiderbecke returns to New York with the Whiteman band in September. He is unable to perform at Columbia Studios where the band is recording „Waiting at the End of the Road“/“When You’re Counting the Stars Alone.“

On October 14, Bix Beiderbecke checks into an alcoholism treatment center as requested by Whiteman. Bix will not stop drinking permanently though and will be dead within two years.

Jimmy Rushing does „Blue Devil Blues“ with Walter Page’s Blue Devils.

Cootie Williams replaces Bubber Miley on trumpet in the Duke Ellington band. Cootie has to learn to use mutes and growls like Bubber and these effects become Duke’s signature. Ellington does his first recording of the „The Mooche“.

Duke Ellington appears in a short called Black and Tan. Ellington is portrayed as a handsome, elegant, hard working composer even though the subject matter is degrading.

Boogie Woogie piano player Clarence „Pine Top“ Smith dies shortly after recording the influential „Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie“.

Trumpeter Jabbo Smith records „Take Me to the River“.

Lionel Hampton is currently playing drums in, among others, the Les Hite band.

Future piano innovator Bill Evans is born in Plainfield, New Jersey on August 16.

Drummer Dave Tough and clarinetist Mezz Mezzrow get together a Jazz band in Place Pigalle in Paris. The music is spreading. Dave Tough will later become one of the few players to successfully switch from Swing to Bop – most could not.

Clarinetist Edmund Hall moves to New York City. He works with Claude Hopkins and Lucky Millinder big bands.

Mary Lou Williams is playing piano for Andy Kirk’s Clouds of Joy.

Juan Tizol joins Ellington.

Pianist Barry Harris is born in Detroit.

On Friday, October 24 (Black Friday), the stock market crashes, the Great Depression begins and for the most part, the big party that was most of the 1920’s ends.

Herbert Hoover announces in December that „conditions are fundamentally sound“.

Drummer Jimmy Cobb born in Washington, DC.


Armstrong is by now enunciating no more than one beat per measure. His music swings like nothing before. Swing is under way. Louie is recording more excellent big band Swing sides such as St Louis Blues, Dallas Blues, Confessin, If I Could Be With You, and others. Listen to Columbia CD St Louis Blues – Louis Armstrong – Vol 6, JSP CD Big Band – Vol 1, Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1929-1930 or Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1930-1931.

Armstrong’s manager is now small time hood Joe Glaser. Glaser will make Louie rich but will lead him to commerciality.

Ellington records his first big hit in October, a masterpiece of tone color called Dreamy Blues (aka Mood Indigo).

Duke Ellington travels to Hollywood to appear in the movie Check and Double Check with Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll starring as Amos ’n Andy. Ellington retains his integrity even though the stars are middle-aged whites in blackface and the plot is demeaning to blacks. The story revolves around two dimwitted fellows from Georgia who move to Chicago and start the Fresh Air Taxi Company of America Incorpulated with only one topless taxicab.

Young people begin to revolt against the standard of „niceness“. „Express your true feelings“ becomes a catch phrase (much like the 60’s).

Tenor saxophonist Ben Webster debuts with the Gene Coy band and then joins the Jug Allen band.

With Coleman Hawkins and his followers Ben Webster and the young Chu Berry and his only competitor at the time Lester Young, the saxophone, in general, and the tenor saxophone, in particular, becomes a major competitor of the trumpet/cornet in Jazz. Recall that the cornet was king in New Orleans Jazz. The faster changes which a sax allows begins to push the trombone out of Jazz.

Walter Page and Buster Smith of the Blue Devils walk past a little club in Minneapolis and hear a tenor sax playing „After You’ve Gone.“ The tenor style is new and spare compared to Coleman Hawkins‘ style. The tenor player is Lester Young who is immediately hired by Page.

Alto saxophonist Benny Carter leads a group called the Chocolate Dandies drawn from the Fletcher Henderson band. Coleman Hawkins on tenor and Jimmy Harrison on trombone play excellent solos on recordings by the group.

Django Reinhardt is listening to and learning from Ellington, Armstrong, Beiderbecke and last but not least Eddie Lang.

Joe Oliver puts together a touring band with the help of his nephew Dave Nelson a trumpet player and arranger who once played in Ma Rainey’s backup band. The band is not a success. The King is in deep decline.

Teenager Billie Holiday performas at a small club in Brooklyn.

Bessie Smith is virtually washed up. Classic Blues has run its course.

Lionel Hampton begins to play the vibraphone.

Earl „Bud“ Powell (age 6) begins to study piano. He is currently learning classical music and European theory.

Scotsman Tommy McQuater is the leading British Jazz trumpeter.

Future alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman (Free Jazz) is born in Fort Worth, Texas. He will be reared in poverty.

Future trumpet great Clifford Brown is born in Wilmington, Delaware.

Future tenor saxophone colosus Sonny Rollins is born in New York City.

Future Rock and Roll singer Ray Charles is born in Albany, Georgia.

Singer Betty Carter is born.

Helen Merrill is born.


Armstrong gets a record contract with Victor this year. This will end his Okeh recording career. Recordings can be found on Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1930-1931 and Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1931-1932.

Armstrong visits New Orleans for the first time since 1922.

Armstrong and his band are arrested in Memphis and thrown in jail. They are bailed out by the manager of the Palace Theatre where they are booked to play. They dedicate „I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You“ to the Memphis police.

Louis Armstrong and Vic Berton (drummer with Abe Lyman’s band and former drummer with Bix Beiderbecke and the Wolverines) are arrested at Frank Sebastion’s New Cotton Club in Culver City, CA. for possession of marijuana.

In September, posters begin to appear in Austin, Texas. These posters advertise the October 12 performance of „Louis Armstrong, King of the Trumpet, and His Orchestra“ at the Hotel Driskill in downtown Austin. Surprisingly, for this time and place, there is nothing degrading in this advertisement.

Armstrong records Hoagy Carmichael’s classic „Stardust“.

Duke Ellington writes „Dreamy Blues“ (aka „Mood Indigo„) in 15 minutes while waiting for his mother to cook dinner. When Duke recorded „Mood Indigo“, the melody was stated by muted trumpet, muted trombone and clarinet. Sam Nanton played the highest part on the trombone and Barney Bigard played the lowest part on the clarinet. This reversal of traditional roles sounded eerie and compeling. „Mood Indigo“ was Ellington’s first big hit.

Ellington records the first extended Jazz piece called Creole Rhapsody this piece covers two full 78 sides. He will also record Mood Indigo and Rockin‘ in Rhythm (there’s that word rock). Duke is by now very famous.

Duke Ellington decides to live apart from his wife after she slashes his face for having an affair with a Cotton Club dancer. He retains custody of his son and sends for his mother, father and sister to join them.

On November 4, cornet player Buddy Bolden (who many people think was the first person to play Jazz) dies in a Louisiana state hospital. He was never recorded.

Influential Swing trombone player Jimmy Harrison dies at an early age.

Bix Beiderbecke dies in Sunnyside Queens, New York City from pneumonia which was brought on by acute alcoholism. Jazz has lost a disproportionate number of artists to drug and alcohol addiction.

Fletcher Henderson’s drummer, Walter Johnson, moves the ground beat from the bass/snare combination to the bass/hi-hat combination on Radio Rhythm and Low Down on the Bayou. Basie’s drummer Jo Jones adopted this method and is usually given the credit for this important innovation which became necessary to quiet the drums for a small group.

Tenor saxophonist Ben Webster is in the Blanche Calloway Band (Cab’s sister), but he will soon join Benny Moten.

The Bennie Moten Band now contains most of the members of the now defunct Blue Devils who had run into financial troubles. Even Walter Page is with Moten. Walter is the first bass player to sound all four beats. Basie and Ben Webster are also with Moten. This band is on par with the best, the Fletcher Henderson band. Tunes like Toby, Blue Room and Prince of Wails show complicated writing but usually they revert to simpler riffing which is where this band shines.

Bandleader Zack Whyte has a Cincinnati based territory band call the Chocolate Beau Brummels.

Classic Blues singer Bessie Smith stops recording.

Young piano player Teddy Wilson is currently in Chicago working with Armstrong, Jimmy Noone, et al. Wilson will be the primary propogator of the Earl Hines style of piano.

Young Charlie Parker is given his first alto sax by his mother.

Lenny Tristano is playing music professionally at age twelve.

Pianist Oscar Peterson begins to study piano.

At the age of 7, Kenny Dorham moves from piano to trumpet.

Future Dixieland leader Bill Davison has a band.

Pianist Wynton Kelly is born in Jamaica.

Pianist Conrad Yeats „Sonny“ Clark is born in Herminie, Pa. (about 25 miles east of Pittsburgh).

The Mills Brothers group forms in New York City.

Future Gospel and Rock and Roll singer/songwriter Sam Cooke is born.


Armstrong is somewhat burned out. He leaves the U.S.A. to tour Europe. In London, at a concert, people hear his nickname Satchel Mouth incorrectly and dub him Satchmo, a nickname which he will take to his grave.

Armstrong records „Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea„, „Home“ and „Hobo, You Can’t Ride this Train“ with Chick Webb. Recordings can be found on Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1931-1932 and Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1932-1933.

Ellington is also getting a bit fed up with the music business. He records the classic It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing.

The Benny Moten Band swings in Kansas City, Missouri with five brass, four saxes and four rhythm pieces. This band is what defined the standard Swing band. Benny’s band does a famous recording session with Ben Webster on tenor sax. Ben’s reputation is secured.

Art Tatum comes to New York City and accepts a job accompanying Adelaide Hall. He will take New York by storm. His friend’s played a little game where they would take him to after hours clubs to spring him on unsuspecting musicians, particularly, the pianists. He awed other pianists who in some cases would not play in his presence. Piano great Fats Waller once said, „I play piano, but God is in the house tonight“ when Tatum was present.

The Hot Club of France is founded with Hugues Panassie as the first president. The club includes Charles Delaunay and Pierre Noury.

English trumpet player Nat Gonella establishes himself with the English by playing Jazz. He cuts I Can’t Believe that You’re in Love with Me and I Heard a Don Redman song.

Japanese trumpeter Fumio Nanri spends six months in America. Louis Armstrong calls him the Satchmo of Japan.

John Hammond (now an executive with Columbia) produces a session with Fletcher Henderson’s Band for British listeners. This establishs Hammond as a full-fledged record producer.

Pianist Tommy Flanagan is born in Detroit.

Tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks is born.


Armstrong cuts his last records (for this contract) for the Victor label. Sides can be found on the Bluebird CD Laughin‘ Louis 1932-1933 and Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1932-1933.

Armstrong travels to Europe. He is a sensation everywhere that he plays. He fills the Tivoli in Copenhagen eight nights in a row.

Bessie Smith records for the last time in a session which is arranged by John Hammond. Gimme a Pigfoot was recorded at this session.

On June 2, the morning of Duke Ellington’s departure for Europe on the SS Olympic, John Hammond takes a portable phonograph to Ellington as a bon voyage present. Ellington declines. He does not like Hammond and does not need his presents or advice.

The Ellington Band goes to Europe. Their reception in England is very good. The fans love Ellington and know most of the band members by name. Ellington discovers that he is considered a significant composer in London.

Ellington records Solitude and Sophisticated Lady.

Teddy Wilson is in New York City working with the Benny Carter band.

Billie Holiday is discovered in Monette’s in New York City by –guess who– John Hammond. Billie records with Benny Goodman.

On the morning of November 27, John Hammond records two tunes with Broadway star Ethel Waters. After this, he brings his new discovery Billie Holiday into the same studio for Waters to hear. Waters is not impressed, but that will not deter Hammond or Holiday.

Benny Goodman meets John Hammond. Hammond convinces him to hire heavy-handed drummer Gene Krupa and trombonist Jack Teagarden. In addition, Hammond persuades Goodman to hire black musicians, notably Billie Holiday and Teddy Wilson. This was a breakthrough. Goodman is ready. He is tired of following, he wants to lead. And lead he will.

Most musicians, even Benny Goodman, are having a tough time because of the depression. Goodman heads a pickup band that has been organized by John Hammond. The band includes Jack Teagarden, Gene Krupa and Joe Sullivan. They record „Ain’tcha Glad“/“I’ve Got a Right to Sing the Blues“ for British Columbia. It is Benny’s first record as a bandleader. It sells 5000 copies.

Coleman Hawkins, still with Henderson, is making his new style of improvising from the notes of the chords much more coherent and appealing.

Coleman Hawkins battles Kansas City tenor players Herschel Evans, Ben Webster and Lester Young at the Cherry Blossom at Twelfth Street and Vine in Kansas City, Mo. According to pianist Mary Lou Williams, Hawkins lost this battle because of Young’s unconventional style.

Ben Webster is now with the Fletcher Henderson band.

Eddie Lang dies at the height of his powers at twenty-nine from complications following a tonsillectomy. This was a great loss to Jazz.

Django Reinhardt on guitar and Stephane Grapelli on violin begin to play together in Louis Vola’s Hotel Claridge orchestra. This was the start of what might have been the greatest duo in Jazz. Django makes a recording of Si J’aime Suzy with L’Orchestra du Theatre Daunon. Lang’s influences are showing.

Art Tatum makes his first solo records including Tiger Rag and Tea for Two. The stride is very evident on Tea for Two. Art is currently the biggest draw on 52nd Street. Tatum who has a better grasp of harmony than anyone currently in Jazz claims Fats Waller as his inspiration.

In the spring, Sidney Bechet (soprano saxophone, clarinet) and Tommy Ladnier (trumpet) quit music and open the Southern Tailor Shop at 128th Street and Nicholas Avenue in Harlem. Ladnier shines shoes and Bechet presses and delivers.

Walter Page’s Blue Devils disband in West Virginia. Zack Whyte tries to get nine of the Blue Devils to join his band. They refuse telling him that it’s all of us or none of us.

Future Free Jazz pianist Cecil Taylor is born in Corona, Long Island, New York where he grew up.

Benny Carter is chosen by English composer and critic Spike Hughes to organize a group to record a set of Hughes compositions.

Pianist Errol Garner is now working professionally in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The Hot Club of France gives its first Jazz Concert with a group of lesser known black American musicians living in France at the time.

Wild Bill Davison moves to Milwaukee. He had been ostracized because a car that he was driving was hit by a cab killing the much beloved clarinet player Frank Teschemacher. The accident was not even Davison’s fault!

Prohibition is repealed. Jazz moves out of the speakeasys. Speakeasys become legal bars. Joe Helbock’s Onyx on 52nd Street in N.Y. becomes a very good draw. However, much competition moves in. 52nd Street will become legendary in Jazz annals.

The depression has taken its toll on most early Jazz musicians. A new breed is emerging. This new breed is the Swing musician.


Armstrong is in Europe. He begins and ends recording with French Polydor. Recordings can be found on Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1934-1936.

Armstrong’s lip splits on a London stage. He retires in Paris for eight months.

While in Europe, Armstrong fires his current manager Johnny Collins. Collins retaliates by taking Armstrong’s passport back to America leaving Louis „high and dry“ in Europe without a passport.

Trumpeter Rex Stewart joins the Duke Ellington band.

Large bands with five brass instruments (mostly trumpets and trombones), four reed instruments (mostly clarinets and saxophones which are increasing in popularity) and four rhythm instruments (usually piano, guitar, bass and drums) become the standard. The brass and reed sections normally play together as two voices which playoff against each other in „call and response“ form. Riffing (developed by Don Redman with Fletcher Henderson’s band) becomes increasingly popular.

Benny Goodman has his own orchestra which supplies the Jazz portion of a popular radio show Let’s Dance sponsored by Nabisco to advertise the Ritz Cracker.

Benny Goodman acquires around 36 Fletcher Henderson arrangements dating back to the 1931 Connie’s Inn appearances.

Coleman Hawkins (now one of the premier Jazz players) leaves Fletcher Henderson and goes to Europe to work with Jack Hylton. He is replaced by Lester Young. The band members do not like Lester’s light style. They prefer the bigger sound of Coleman Hawkins or even Ben Webster. Lester soon leaves Henderson for Andy Kirk’s Clouds of Joy.

Fletcher Henderson’s band breaks up. Ben Webster goes to the Duke Ellington band.

Fats Waller, currently the most popular pianist in the country, forms his own group.

Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey change the Dorsey Brothers Band from a records-only band to a full-time unit.

Quintet of the Hot Club of Paris is formed with Django Reinhardt on guitar, Stephane Grapelli on violin, Louis Vola on bass, Joseph Reinhardt (Django’s brother) on guitar and Eugene Vees on guitar. This is the first non-American group to give the Americans serious competition. Their first recording is Dinah/Tiger Rag.

Sixteen year old Ella Fitzgerald wins first prize at a talent contest at the Harlem Opera House.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe (then Nubin) marries a Pittsburgh pastor named Thorpe. She will divorce shortly and change her name to Tharpe.

Soul Jazz saxophonist Stanley Turrentine is born in Pittsburgh, Pa.


Armstrong tours Italy.

On Armstrong’s return from Europe, he begins to record again, for Decca. See the GRP CD’s Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra – Vol 1 and Vol 2 and the Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1934-1936. Louie seems to be more relaxed, but his music is deteriorating.

Charlie Parker leaves school at fifteen. He had played baritone horn in the school band. He marries the nineteen year old Rebecca Ruffing.

Bennie Moten dies suddenly (from a botched tonsillectomy). His band scatters. Basie finds work in Kansas City and draws many former Moten band members into his new band. The best of all Swing bands has gotten its start.

Blues shouter Jimmy Rushing (formerly of Walter Page’s Blue Devils) joins Basie Band.

Ellington records In a Sentimental Mood and the extended piece Reminiscing in Tempo which covers four sides. Billy Taylor joins the Duke.

The Swing band era opens with the sudden rise of Benny Goodman. Benny’s band toured the U.S. from the east to the west with little success until August 21 when the band played the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles where much to his and his dejected band’s surprise, they were a huge success and their fortune was sealed. The band had played the late night Jazz portion of Nabisco’s radio show from New York and had developed a wide following among young adults on the west coast. But when they played elsewhere they flopped in front an older audience. They became confused and tried to play popular dance music. When they played this Pop music at the Palomar, they were flopping and Benny said, „If we’re going to flop, at least we’ll do it playing Jazz“. They switched to Jazz and the rest is history.

Benny Goodman records Jelly Roll Morton’s King Porter Stomp (same arrangement as Fletcher Henderson’s 1932 New King Porter Stomp). In retrospect, Henderson’s version is superior.

Teddy Wilson and Benny Goodman play together at a party. Benny is very impressed and later forms a trio with Teddy and Gene Krupa. This is the beginning of one of the first mixed race combos. Oddly enough, Jesse Stacy (a white pianist of the Hines style) comes to work with Benny’s big band at the same time.

Roy Eldridge is recognized as the coming trumpet player. With his style, at first influenced by Armstrong and Henry „Red“ Allen and by saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, he is thought to be the link between the Armstrong school of trumpet and the Bop or Gillespie school of trumpet. To view him as a link to Gillespie is to do a disservice to Roy.

During a concert at Glen Island Casino in May, the Dorsey brothers have a violent argument on stage over the tempo of a tune. Tommy walks off the stage and two new bands (The Tommy Dorsey Band and The Jimmy Dorsey Band) are formed.

Dizzy Gillespie drops out of school to go to Philadelphia with his mother. He begins to work in local bands.

Bunny Berigan becomes Goodman’s principle trumpet player for a few months.

Ella Fitzgerald becomes Chick Webb’s star.

Benny Carter goes to Europe.

There is a lot of Jazz action going on in England, more than in the rest of Europe.

Django and the Quintet of the Hot Club of Paris record Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust with Coleman Hawkins. It is clear the Django understands Jazz rhythm.

By now, a number of blacks have not only succeeded in Jazz, but some have become „legitimate“ actors and singers too. For instance, Paul Robeson has become a well-respected actor and Marion Anderson a well-respected opera singer. This will set the stage for the „Bop Rebellion“.

Acclaimed Jazz writer, arranger, composer, performer and critic Leonard Feather comes to the U.S. from England for the first time. Leonard will eventually settle here.

Jazz Hot is created in France by Charles Delaunay. This is the first Jazz journal in the world.

Swing has developed a language of its own. Some examples of Jazz related slang at this time follow:

  • Hot – a superlative meaning really good
  • Break it down – get hot, got to town
  • Freak Lip – a pair of lips that won’t quit no matter how long or hard the musician plays
  • My Chops is Beat – when a brass man’s lips give out
  • Wax a Disc – cut a record
  • Boogie Man – a critic
  • Joe Below – a musician who plays under scale
  • Chill ya – when an unusual hot passion gives you goose bumps


Armstrong is king of the trumpet. He is currently doing Pop songs such as Swing that Music for Decca. See GRP CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra – Vol 2 – Rhythm Saved the World or Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1934-1936.

Joe „King“ Oliver is out of music. He moves to Savannah, becomes a janitor and runs a fruit stand. He is basically destitute. His teeth gave out and he could no longer play the trumpet.

Ellington records Echoes of Harlem.

Teddy Wilson is featured with a Goodman small band at the Congress. The color barrier (at least in the North) is beginning to crumble.

Lionel Hampton is playing in the Benny Goodman quartet (formerly trio).

Goodman has the most popular Swing band, but.

John Hammond hears the Basie band on late night radio in Chicago and arranges for bookings, a record contract and a trip to New York for an engagement at the Famous Door.

The Basie band begins to accumulate a major amount of talent because he essentially absorbed the talent of the two major southwest bands, the Blue Devils and the Benny Moten band. He will continue to attract the best southwest talent until the 1940’s. A lot of people consider the Basie band the best Swing band with personnel such as Buck Clayton on trumpet, Benny Morton and Dicky Wells on trombone, Lester Young on tenor sax, Walter Page on bass, etc. The list goes on.

Basie’s band swings better than Goodman’s and some of the Basie band members are already beginning to plant the seeds of Bop. Basie’s 1936 record Lady be Good featured a very cool, behind the beat, sax by Lester Young in an era of very hot solos. Lester claims the white players Frankie Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke as his major influences.

Basie’s small band the K.C. Six records such songs as Dicky’s Dream which can be found on the Columbia CD The Essential Count Basie – Vol 1.

Lester Young makes his first recordings with a small group drawn from the Basie band. The band included Lester on tenor, Basie on piano, Jo Jones on drums, Walter Page on bass and Carl „Tatt“ Smith and was called Jones-Smith, Inc. Lester considers his solo on Shoe Shine Swing his finest.

Billie Holiday (Lester’s good friend) begins to record with various small bands (usually lead by Teddy Wilson and usually containing Lester Young). These recordings which will be done over the next six years until the recording ban of 1942 will be the work on which her reputation rests. She has already discovered the two secrets which will make her the greatest Jazz singer of all with Did I Remember?, No Regrets and Billies Blues. They are 1) lift the melody away from the beat like Armstrong and 2) employ great balance.

Django Reinhardt and the Hot Quintet make a recording of I Can’t Give You Anything but Love. Django is playing better than ever. His showers of 16th notes presage Charlie Christian and Charlie Parker. Over the next four years, he will record the songs that make up the heart of his work.

Charlie Parker buys a new saxophone after being awarded some money in an auto accident.

Important Free Jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler is born.

Important Free Jazz trumpeter Don Cherry is born.


Armstrong is still going strong and is still doing Pop songs. See Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1937-1938.

Charlie Parker joins piano player Jay McShann’s band in Kansas City. Parker will play in this band on and off until 1941.

Charlie spends the summer playing a grueling schedule at an Ozark Mountain resort. His playing improves considerably. He acquires the nickname Yardbird at this time. This, as we all know, will later become simply Bird.

Duke Ellington band records the classic Caravan.

Pittsburgh drum innovator Kenny Clarke moves the ground beat from the Bass/Hi-hat combination (previously innovated by Walter Johnson and Jo Jones) to the large ride cymbal. This moves the ground beat completely away from the bass drum and makes faster Bop-type rhythms possible. Clarke found that he could get pitch and timbre variations and produce an airy sound. He also was then free to use the bass drum in a new manner, to „drop bombs“. He said that he simply got tired of playing like Jo Jones, but this was an important innovation in the development of modern Jazz (maybe as important as later innovations by Parker and Gillespie).

Piano innovator and genius Thelonious Monk begins to scuffle for work.

Roy Eldridge’s playing is still showing the Armstrong/Red Allen influence. However, by now, the Coleman Hawkins influences are more dominant in his trumpet playing.

Dizzy Gillespie takes Roy Eldridge’s place in the Teddy Hill band at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem.

Billie Holiday joins the Count Basie band but does not record with them because of contract issues. Billie and Bill do not get along well.

Django Reinhardt records Ellington’s Solitude. Django also records Runnin‘ Wild and Swing.

Basie trombone player Dickie Wells goes to Europe with the Teddy Hill band.

Clarinetist Edmund Hall leaves the big band of Lucky Millinder to become an anomaly, a black Dixieland player. This is curious, because even though he was from the original New Orleans school and even though he made this move, he apparently did not like Dixieland music (which isn’t curious ).

Trumpeter Billy Butterfield joins Bob Crosby’s Bobcats (a Dixieland style big band).

Trumpeter Bunny Berigan is with Tommy Dorsey.

By now, „Swing is King“. There are dozens of Swing bands. The boom is really on. There are two different streams feeding the river. One is the Henderson/Goldkette stream using interesting scores and precise playing and the other is the Southwest school which emphasizes riffs and solos.

Jelly Roll Morton is rediscovered by Alan Lomax. The famous Library of Congress recordings result. The Dixieland movement begins.

Bessie Smith dies in a car accident in Clarksdale, Mississippi on September 26. The old is dying in Jazz and the new is coming on strong.

Mahalia Jackson cuts her first record.

Bassist Leroy „Slam“ Stewart meets guitarist Bulee „Slim“ Gaillard. They will form the popular duo „Slim and Slam“.

Archie Shepp (future Free Jazz giant) is born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He will grow up in Philadelphia, Pa.

Trumpeter Joe Smith dies in New York at the young age of 35.

At age twelve, Art Pepper receives an alto saxophone for Christmas.


Armstrong records such popular songs as Hoagy Carmichael’s Jubilee, a remake of his own Struttin‘ with some Barbecue and I Double Dare You. See Classics CD Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra 1938-1939.

Charlie Parker acquires a mentor. He is Henry „Buster“ or „Professor“ Smith, a Kansas City alto saxophonist and band leader formerly with Basie. Parker joins Smith’s band.

Charlie Parker is being heavily influenced by tenor saxophonist Lester Young and piano virtuoso Art Tatum. Charlie goes to Chicago and then New York. He picks up odd jobs to support his playing. One of these jobs is as a dishwasher in a club where Art Tatum is playing. Tatum plays fast with numerous chord changes. This style would be Charlie’s also.

Duke Ellington meets Billy Strayhorn. Strayhorn shows him Lush Life. Ellington is duly impressed.

Billie Holiday is currently with the Artie Shaw band. Basie had let her go because of her work habits.

Barney Josephson books Billy to work the Cafe‘ Society. The Cafe‘ Society was one of the first clubs to accept black customers.

Lester Young records a number of very influential sides for Commodore with the Kansas City Six. Young plays mostly clarinet here and produces excellent solos on Pagin‘ the Devil, I Want a Little Girl and Way Down Yonder in New Orleans.

The Basie band is booked at The Famous Door in New York City. This event will finally give the band the publicity that it needs to succeed. John Hammond is instrumental.

Trumpet virtuoso Roy Eldridge begins to work primarily in the small band format. He has developed excellent control of his ideas by now.

Saxophonist Louis Jordan leaves Chick Webb’s sax section to form his Tympani Five. This might well mark the beginnings of what we know as Rock and Roll.

The Artie Shaw Band has its first big hit with Begin the Beguine. A lot of Shaw’s fans claimed that he should have been the „King of Swing“ instead of Goodman because he had numerous big hits and Goodman had only one or two.

Saxophonist Benny Carter returns to the U.S. He organizes a Swing band which will enjoy modest success.

King Oliver dies on April 8.

Sidney Bechet is currently working as a tailor. Check out Sidney Bechet 1932-1943: The Bluebird Sessions on Bluebird CD.

Sidney Bechet records a version of Summertime that many people call the definitive version of Summertime.

John Hammond brings Blues shouter Big Joe Turner to New York City for a Carnegie Hall concert.

Hammond’s famous „From Spirituals to Swing“ concert occurs at Carnegie Hall.

Benny Goodman does a concert at Carnegie Hall. The famous long version of Sing, Sing, Sing is introduced at this concert.

Boogie Woogie piano players Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis become the main Boogie piano players after their trio performance at the the „From Spirituals to Swing“ concert.

Django Reinhardt records Billets Doux, Swing from Paris, Them There Eyes and Three Little Words.

Hugues Panassie‚ comes to New York City and organizes a recording session with J. P. Johnson on piano, Tommy Ladnier, Teddy Bunn on guitar, Bechet and others.

Jump bands begin to form. These are small, Swing oriented bands featuring off color lyrics and commercial arrangements. Louis Jordan has the most famous Jump band. These bands will evolve into Rock and Roll bands, possibly in response to the later Bop revolution.

Vocalist Slim Gaillard and bassist Slam Stewart (affectionately known as „Slim and Slam“) become almost instantly famous with the catchy Flat Foot Floogie.

Robert Johnson makes his landmark recordings for Vocalion. Many believe that these represent the transition from Country Blues to City Blues. Johnson is strictly following the twelve bar Blues form. Johnson is murdered shortly thereafter when he is given poisoned whiskey in a Mississippi bar by the jealous boyfriend of a woman he had been flirting with.

Future piano player Cecil Taylor is taking piano lessons from the wife of a timpani player who played with Toscanini. She lived across the street. Taylor will become big in the Free Jazz movement.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe becomes the first Gospel singer to sing at a night club when she performs at the Cotton Club.

Trumpet virtuoso Lee Morgan is born on July 10 in Philadelphia, Pa.

Marvin Gaye is born.

1938 – John Hammond produces the ‚From Spirituals to Swing‘ concert at Carnegie Hall (then again in 1939). This would be the first time race music and an integrated band would be presented on a major US Stage. Vanguard would eventually release a multi-LP collection and then a CD boxset with these recordings. Hammond intends to answer „Where did jazz come from“ with his choice of styles and artists. Artists on the bill included: Count Basie (with Lips Page, Lester Young, Jo Jones and Walter Page) Helen Humes Kansas City Five, Six Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons Meade Lux Lewis/Albert Ammons/Pete Johnson/Walter Page/Jo Jones Joe Turner Sister Rosetta Tharpe New Orleans Feetwarmers Jimmy Rushing Benny Goodman Sextet (with Fletcher Henderson, Charlie Christian and Lionel Hampton) Ida Cox Sonny Terry Big Bill Broonzy


War breaks out in Europe.

At this point in time, we have the Swing players who are king and the Dixieland players who are trying to revive what they think of as „real“ Jazz but … what’s this up on the horizon? It’s Charlie Christian, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie who are sowing the seeds of what will take Jazz over in the next few years!

By now, there are hundreds of Swing bands, but the Bop rebellion is beginning because many excellent young black players are getting irritated that the whites are making most of the money in Jazz.

52nd Street is by now called „Swing Street“. It all started with The Onyx. Now, in the block between 5th and 6th Avenues, six Jazz clubs offer a high level of Jazz. Four of these are The Famous Door, Jimmy Ryan’s, The Onyx and The Three Dueces. Because of space limitations, the small house band with one major soloist like Coleman Hawkins is the thing at these clubs.

Clubs also flourish in Greenwich Village, Harlem and in Chicago’s south side, but 52nd Street is the symbolic headquarters of Jazz.

The first formal books on Jazz appear. They are Wilder Hobson’s American Jazz Music and Frederick Ramsey and Charles Edward Smith’s Jazzmen. These books tend to paint a storybook picture of New Orleans Jazz and help to promote the Dixieland Revival. It must be remembered that New Orleans Jazz and Dixieland Jazz have some fundamental differences.

Frederick Ramsey and William Russell locate and revive interest in the sixty year old New Orleans trumpeter Bunk Johnson. Bunk is as close as you could come to getting the legendary Buddy Bolden.

Alan Lomax does the famous Jelly Roll Morton recordings for the Library of Congress. This presents as close as we can get to a realistic view of the early days of Jazz.

Fletcher „Smack“ Henderson becomes the first black musician who is a regular member of a white big band when he becomes Goodman’s pianist. Fletcher is not, however, a featured artist in the band.

The Dixieland revival has two schools 1) Those committed to Armstrong, Oliver and Morton and 2) Those committed to Bix and the midwesterners. Dixieland is not really New Orleans music. It has a 4 beat ground beat instead of a 2 beat ground beat to give it a speedier feel. There are other differences. Dixieland is primarily a white movement.

Armstrong is going ever more commercial. Louie plays Bottom in a parody of William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream called Swingin‘ the Dream.

Charlie Parker is in New York City working at Clarke Monroe’s Uptown. He’ll be at Monroe’s for about a year. One night during this year, Charlie realizes that by using the high notes of the chords of a song, he can „play what’s inside of him“. The rest is the history of Bop. Charlie returns to Kansas City to play in Jay McShann’s band. It will be awhile before everyone realizes that he is a genius.

Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie is currently with Cab Calloway’s band which also included Coleman Hawkins style tenor sax man Chu Berry. Dizzy was occasionally doing some things musically which others found strange. He would slip briefly into a chord containing notes 1/2 step away from normal. This practice will become standard Bop.

The Ellington band begins a four year period of very high attainment. Many consider this period the best of Ellington. The Duke severs ties with Irving Mills and he leaves the Columbia label to record for RCA-Victor.

Pittsburgh pianist and composer Billy Strayhorn joins the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Teddy Wilson leaves the Benny Goodman small groups and Jess Stacy leaves the Benny Goodman big band. At this point the Earl Hines influenced Wilson is the most influential pianist in Jazz. Jess Stacy is also of the Hines school.

Ben Webster joins Duke on tenor sax after a short stint as a charter member of the short lived Teddy Wilson band.

Jimmy Blanton joins Duke on bass.

Coleman Hawkins returns to the U.S. to reclaim his title. The story goes that at three o’clock one morning, Coleman enters a club where Lester Young is playing behind Billie Holiday and a battle for tenor sax supremacy ensues. Holiday says that Lester is the clear winner, but Ellington trumpeter Rex Stewart says that Hawkins blew Young away. At any rate, Hawkins remains more popular in the short run, although Lester becomes a major force as an influence on the fledgling Bop movement.

Coleman Hawkins does a version of Body and Soul which many feel is among the finest masterpieces of Jazz. It is virtually an exercise in chromatic chord movement. This is a precursor to Bop harmonics. Coleman understands harmonics very well and he will have no problem with Bop harmonics. The Bop rhythm will however elude him.

Earl „Bud“ Powell quits high school at age fifteen and begins gigging around New York City as a professional pianist. Bud was influenced early by Hines, Teddy Wilson and Billy Kyle. He will later be influenced by Art Tatum.

Mary Lou Williams tells John Hammond of a bright young guitarist from Texas named Charlie Christian. Hammond tells Goodman. Goodman is not at first impressed, but some of the band members are. They arrange for Charlie to play while Benny is off on break. Benny comes back and this time likes what he hears so much that he lets Charlie play a version of Rose Room that lasts close to an hour.

Charlie Christian’s unique electric guitar phrasings allow the guitar to compete as a lead instrument head to head with the trumpet and the sax for the first time. Charlie probably learned of the electric from Floyd Smith whose Floyd’s Guitar Blues made with Andy Kirk’s Clouds of Joy is the first important use of the electric guitar. The electric guitar was almost unknown before this.

Woody Herman is leading a conventional swing orchestra and hits big with „Woodchopper’s Ball.“ He is known by band members as a great organizer, musical coach and spirited performer.

Django records Montemarte, Solid Old Man, Low Cotton and Finesse with the Duke Ellington band.

Young drummer Art Blakey is playing in a band of Pittsburghers which is formed by Fletcher Henderson. Art will eventually become a first rate Hard Bop drummer and bandleader.

Nat „King“ Cole arrives at the idea of a trio consisting of piano, guitar and bass in which all players share a prominent role. Believe it or not, this was a very important innovation of the time and it made Nat’s early carreer. He’ll soon give up the piano and become the popular singer who we all know.

Oscar Peterson is playing piano at a radio station in Canada at age fourteen.

Saxophonist Bud Freeman remakes a number of Bix Beiderbecke and the Wolverines tunes.

Mugsy Spanier, an Oliver style trumpeter, forms a Dixieland band called Spanier’s Ragtimers. Ragtimer records appear in the U.S. and travel to Europe.

Record companies begin to reissue the old music.

Trumpeter Tommy Ladnier dies in New York at the young age of 39.

John Coltrane’s father and grandfather die.

Pianist Albert Ammons records „Shout for Joy“.

Founding of Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) helps the wider exposure of independent labels and race and hillbilly music.


Charlie Parker goes on the road with Jay McShann to Wichita, Kansas. He is recorded by the local radio. His sound is thin and light and he is still basically a Swing player. On the other hand, the jagged phrasing, fast triplets and sixteenth are there.

Charlie Christian is edging into something new both rhythmically and harmonically. He is presaging Bop. Parker usually gets most of the credit and Gillespie the rest. The Christian solo on a recording of Stardust also is showing influence of Django.

Dizzy deliberately uses major thirds over minor changes in the song Pickin‘ the Cabbage recorded in May. In June, he uses a diminished 9th on Bye, Bye Blues. These things are new.

Kenny Clarke is fired from the Teddy Hill band for his „odd“ drumming.

Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Christian are occasionally beginning or ending phrases on 2nd and 4th beats. This is called „offbeat“. The usual practice is to use the 1st or 3rd.

Henry Minton asks Teddy Hill to take over the management of his place on 118th Street. Strangely enough, Hill asks the recently fired Kenny Clarke to organize and front the band. The band is Clarke on drums, Thelonious Monk on piano, Nick Fenton bass and Joe Guy on trumpet. Dizzy Gillespie begins showing up regularly. The music is mainstream except for Clarke’s „odd“ drumming and Monk’s unusual piano playing.

Bud Powell begins showing up at Minton’s. He is not readily accepted, but Monk realizes that he has potential and supports him. Ironically, Bud will become a much more sought after Bop pianist than Monk. The genius Monk nevertheless will write the 1947 song In Walked Bud in his honor. See Blue Note CD Genius of Modern Music – Vol 1, a compilation of Monk’s music. Powell’s influence is not Monk, but Charlie Parker.

Swing is at its peak, but the seeds of Bebop have been sown and the Dixielanders are digging up the old music. Swing is doomed to fall.

Big band Swing is about to be done in by the war and economics. Small band Jazz is evolving along two distinct and opposing movements. The first is the New Orleans Revival or Dixieland. This produced little that was new musically. It was a white movement to revive and exploit the black New Orleans music of the 1920’s. Some notable legends resurface including Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, Kid Ory and Bunk Johnson. Some memorable records result. The other movement is distinctly new musically and sociologically. This movement is called Bebop, Rebop or simply Bop.

In addition, the small band Swing is still there and a new big band trend is afoot. This trend is called Progressive. Its proponents are Stan Kenton, Boyd Raeburn and Earle Spencer. This will eventually influence what will become Cool Jazz.

Claude Thornhill organizes a Swing band that, while not successful, presages Cool Jazz.

Trumpeter Oran „Hot Lips“ Page becomes the first black musician who is a regular member and a featured artist in a white big band when he is hired by Artie Shaw.

Meanwhile, the most successful of the early Cuban bands is formed by a man named Machito. They are called Machito and his Afro-Cubans. They start as a completely Cuban band and slowly assimilate Jazz into their repertoire. They introduce more complex rhythms to the world of Jazz, however, they are primarily successful due to their trumpet player/arranger Mario Banza (Machito’s brother-in-law and former Cab Calloway trumpet player).

Saxophones have all but taken over, but trumpeters such as Frankie Newton with the Teddy Hill band, Oran „Hot Lips“ Page with Basie, Bill Coleman with Benny Carter and Teddy Hill and Charlie Shavers with Tommy Dorsey begin to strike back. Joe Thomas is excellent but will soon be forgotten.

There is a Trad Jazz revival in Europe. The Europeans discover Joe Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton.

All of Europe except England is under Hitler’s control and thus Europe will remain in the Dixieland revival and Trad Jazz phase.

Ben Webster has broken free of the Coleman Hawkins imitator image and has developed a style of his own. After the Teddy Wilson band breaks up, he is hired by Ellington. He benefits and he brings a strong tenor influence to Ellington for the first time.

Ellington records Cottontail, a good swinger. It is actually a rearrangement of George Gerschwin’s I’ve Got Rhythm. The feature player is tenor saxophonist Ben Webster who had recently come to the Ellington band. Cottontail anticipates Parker-style Bop.

Ellington records Ko-Ko which contains elements of modality, Jack the Bear, Morning Glory, Across the Track Blues and others.

According to Bluebird records and others, Ellington is beginning a peak era in his band’s career. See the three CD set Duke Ellington – The Blanton-Webster Years on, you guessed it, Bluebird.

Trumpeter Cootie Williams leaves Duke Ellington and joins Benny Goodman’s band. Duke Ellington replaces him with Ray Nance who plays trumpet, violin and sings.

Coleman Hawkins faces the challenge of Bop and encourages the young players.

Lester Young records with the Benny Goodman Sextet. These recordings for some reason are not released until the 1970’s. The band includes Goodman on clarinet, Artie Bernstein on bass, Charlie Christian on electric guitar, Lester on tenor sax, Buck Clayton on trumpet , Jo Jones on drums and Count Basie on piano — that’s seven? Young is the dominant force and stands out on I Never Knew.

Trumpeter Roy Eldridge can now be heard at his best on I Can’t Believe that You’re in Love with Me with Coleman Hawkins on tenor, Benny Carter on alto and Sid Catlett on drums.

Trumpeter Bunny Berigan returns to the Dorsey Band after his own attempts at leading fail. He will later attempt to lead another band and then die of pneumonia is 1942.

The Yerba-Beuna Jazz Band featuring Lu Watters begins to play at the Dawn Club in San Francisco. It played the music of Oliver and Armstrong.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe is the leading gospel singer and is popular in Jazz as well.

Swedish trumpeter Gosta Turner is playing Dixieland.

Herbie Hancock is born in Chicago on April 12.

Al Jarreau is born.

Smokey Robinson is born.


Bop begins in New York City. At first, Bop is only a few new ideas.

The Minton guys (see 1940) hear of an obscure alto sax player named Charlie Parker who is now playing at Clark Monroe’s Uptown House. They go to hear Charlie. He’s doing similar things to the things that they are doing but he’s way ahead. Kenny Clarke and Thelonious Monk arrange for Parker to sit in at Minton’s. The stage is set.

Charlie Parker is still with Jay McShann. Charlie makes his first recordings for Decca. His style is by now discernable. His playing is confident and strong. Charlie meets Dizzy Gillespie when Diz sits in with McShann at the Savoy Ballroom. The Boppers hit 52nd Street. Parker begins to sit in at Minton’s (the breeding ground of Bop).

Dizzy Gillespie is well schooled in music. This is particularly important in building a theory to support Bop. In May, Dizzy is playing primarily in the Roy Eldridge mold, but he is slipping into the Bop-like stuff that he’d been fooling around with for two years.

Bud Powell meets the creators of Bop at Minton’s (an event later immortalized in the Monk song In Walked Bud). He will become Bop’s premiere pianist.

Others at Minton’s include Monk on piano, Kenny Clarke on drums and Dizzy on trumpet. Monk will become a high priest of Bop. Parker and Dizzy are given credit for founding it. Clarke developed the rhythm on which it sits.

The guys at Minton’s after hours sessions were playing something close to Bop at this time, but no one could imitate it because it hadn’t been recorded yet. The recording ban (starting in 1942) will make the development of the new Bop something of a romantic mystery even to this day.

A quote from Tony Scott: „When Bird and Diz hit the street [52nd Street] regularly, everybody was astounded and nobody could get near their way of playing music. Finally, Bird and Diz made records, and then the guys could imitate it and go from there.“

Art Blakey stated years later that Monk was the guy who started it all, not Parker or Gillespie. On a few recordings made by Jerry Newman at Minton’s, Monk seems to be Tatum influenced at this point. His style will become much sparer.

Kenny Clarke’s new Bebop style of drumming (see 1937) is finally documented on a May recording at Minton’s.

Bop players are substituting different but related chords for normal, mainstream „Swing“ chords. Rhythm changes in Bop are bigger than the harmonic changes however. They are using faster tempos for fast songs and slower tempos for slow songs. The beats are divided more evenly for fast songs and fast tempos than Swing.

Bop players are deliberately playing „off-beat“.

Eddie „Cleanhead“ Vinson joins the Cootie Williams orchestra.

Roy Eldridge becomes the first black performer to be accepted as a permanent member of a white big band when he joins drummer Gene Krupa’s big band.

John Coltrane’s mother moves to Philadelphia.

Coltrane receives a clarinet as a gift and he joins community and school bands in High Point, North Carolina. Later in high school, after hearing Johnny Hodges, Coltrane decides to play the alto saxophone. Lester Young is among his favorite musicians.

The Ellington Band continues on what critics say is its best period. Duke records such favorites as I Got it Bad and That Ain’t Good, Take the A-Train, The Brown Skin Gal, Chelsea Bridge, etc. See Bluebird CD Duke Ellington – The Blanton-Webster Years.

Duke records as a soloist for the first time.

Vibes man Lionel Hampton leaves Benny Goodman to form his own big band.

Cab Calloway is hit by a spitball during a concert in Hartford, Connecticut. Although trumpeter Jonah Jones probably threw it, Calloway blamed Dizzy Gillespie. A fight ensued and Calloway was nicked by a knife. Dizzy was fired.

Check out Joe Thomas’s trumpet masterpiece Stompin‘ at the Savoy with Art Tatum, Joe Turner and Edmond Hall.

Future piano innovator Bill Evans is asked to sit in for a missing pianist in his brother’s Jazz group.

Stan Kenton forms his first band.

Gil Evans joins the Claude Thornhill band. The band moves in the direction of Bop.

Bassist and future composer Charlie Mingus gets a job with Louis Armstrong’s big band.

Billie Holiday begins an affair with drug addict Jimmy Monroe and becomes addicted to drugs herself.

Charlie Christian collapses from tuberculosis, which he had for a few years. He is sent to Seaview Sanitarium on Staten Island.

Swing is both peaking and on its way out. It will become defunct because the younger musicians will be drawn to Bop. But, currently, bands such as Benny Goodman Band, Glenn Miller Band, Tommy Dorsey Band, etc. are as highly regarded as the Beatles will become in the 60’s.

Mel Powell, a Hines-like piano player, joins the thriving Goodman Band.

Tenor saxophone player Chu Berry is killed in a automobile accident.

Jelly Roll Morton dies on July 10 in Los Angeles.

Dixieland trumpeter Wild Bill Davison moves to New York where he becomes a regular at Nick’s and Condon’s.

Otis Redding is born in Georgia.

Saxophonist Lester Young turns Jack Kerouac, the founding father of the „beat generation“, on to his first marijuana cigarette.


The recording ban limits recording of the fledgling Bop movement. The result is that Bop origins remain mysterious to this day. The ban had resulted from a strike by the Federation of American Musicians which began in August.

It is becoming very clear to musicians that Bop is indeed a new music. A number of Jazz musicians are now playing Bop.

Armstrong marries a Cotton Club dancer named Lucille Wilson. They will remain married until Louie’s death.

Charlie Parker is now jamming regularly at Minton’s and playing the Savoy Ballroom with the Jay McShann band. An example of Parker’s work at this time is Sepian Blues recorded with McShann. It is Blues inflected Swing. Parker was a Blues player.

An amateur recording of Parker playing Cherokee at Minton’s is made by Jerry Newman. This is music in transition.

Parker quits McShann in July and joins Noble Sissle’s Band where he plays clarinet and alto sax.

Parker is acquiring a very bad drug habit and bad personal habits in general.

The Earl Hines big band seems to be a breeding ground for Bop. Many of the Bop players are currently with Hines. The list includes Parker, Gillespie, trombonist Benny Green, drummer Shadow Wilson and others. The band’s vocalist is Billy Eckstine. Both Hines and Eckstine are from Pittsburgh, Pa.

Ellington wins Downbeat Poll. Some records from this year are C-Jam Blues, Moon Mist, Sentimental Lady and Perdido. See the Blanton-Webster collection which was mentioned earlier.

Lionel Hampton has a huge hit with Illinois Jacquet’s sax playing on Flying Home.

Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie are both playing in Lucky Millinder’s band.

Dizzy Gillespie writes two of his all-time classic compositions, A Night in Tunisia and Salt Peanuts.

Charlie Christian dies from tuberculosis in February. He had been improving but his friends began to bring liquor and women into the sanitarium . It proved to be too much. He was only 22.

Bandleader Woody Herman commissions trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie to write some compositions which lead to a newer, more progressive sound for his band.

Trumpet player Miles Davis (sixteen years old) is playing with a local East Saint Louis band called the Blue Devils (not the Walter Page group).

New Orleans legend Bunk Johnson is fitted with dentures and begins to play trumpet again.

Future Free Jazz pianist, Cecil Taylor (only 9) is already interested in Jazz, especially Swing.

Belgian Robert Goffin and Englishman Leonard Feather act on Goffin’s idea to have a formal class on Jazz history and analysis. The class consists of fifteen lectures by Feather and Goffin which are augmented by recordings and musical demonstrations by such artists as Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman. The class which attracted almost one hundred serious Jazz students was given at the New School for Social Research in New York. It was repeated later in the year.

Bunny Berigan dies of alcoholism related pneumonia. Berigan was a fine trumpeter, second only to Armstrong in the warmth and sincerity of his tone.

Pittsburgh pianist Erroll Garner comes to New York and finds steady work on 52nd Street.

One of the first European Trad bands is founded by French student Claude Abadie.

Aretha Franklin is born in Memphis.


Capital and Decca sign with the musician’s union.

Bop is becoming well known among young Jazz players.

Charlie Parker is now in the Earl Hines band playing tenor sax. Dizzy is playing trumpet for the Hines band at the same time.

John Coltrane graduates high school and moves to Philadelphia. In the fall, Coltrane attends the Ornstein School of Music to study alto sax.

Charlie Parker marries Geraldine Scott.

Ellington initiates a series of annual concerts at Carnegie Hall with Black, Brown and Beige, an extended concert of nearly 50 minutes.

Ben Webster leaves Ellington to work on 52nd Street in NYC. Ben hears an obscure alto sax player named Charlie Parker and is duly impressed.

In December, Lester Young records a number of very influential sides for Keynote as the Lester Young Quartet. Young is showing signs of change in his playing. His tone is getting thicker and his lines are not nearly as sculptured. Afternoon of a Basie-ite is particularly good.

Gillespie leaves Hines and joins Ellington briefly. Later, Diz takes a group consisting of Gillespie on trumpet, Oscar Pettiford on bass, George Wallington on piano, Max Roach on drums and Don Byas on tenor into the Onyx on 52nd Street. This is a Bop band. They play the Onyx thru the winter of 1943-44. This is the public’s first real exposure to Bop.

Bop pianist Bud Powell gets first major job with ex-Ellington trumpeter Cootie Williams. Records made by this band shows Bop style very clearly.

Bop trumpeter Fats Navarro is currently playing with Andy Kirk’s Clouds of Joy.

Art Tatum forms a trio with Slam Stewart on bass and Tiny Grimes or Everett Barksdale on guitar. Audiences are attracted.

Fats Waller dies on a train while returning from a tour.

Mingus leaves Armstrong to work in Kid Ory’s revival band.

Pianist Lenny Tristano is currently teaching at the Christiansen School of Popular Music and playing piano and reeds professionally in Chicago.

Stan Kenton has a hit with Artistry in Rhythm which is based on Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe. A trend to more complex arrangements begins.

Robert Goffin convinces Esquire editor Arnold Gingrich that a „real“ Jazz poll, one in which Coleman Hawkins could win for tenor sax instead of Tex Beneke, is needed. Thus is born the Esquire Jazz Band Poll. At Esquire publisher David Smart’s suggestion, a concert performed by the winners will be given at the Metropolitan Opera House on January 18, 1944.

Louis Armstrong wins the first Esquire Jazz Band Poll for trumpet. Other winners include Coleman Hawkins for tenor sax and Billie Holiday for vocals.

Pianist Andrew Hill, at age 6, is currently singing and playing accordian in talent shows around chicago.

Jamaican born pianist Wynton Kelly makes his professional debut at around twelve years of age.

Pianist Graeme Bell starts a Trad band in Australia.

Red Norvo switches to vibraphone.

Bluesman John Lee Hooker arrives in Detroit.


Columbia and Victor finally sign with the musician’s union and the strike ends at the end of 1944.

Bop is a recognized, controversial movement.

In spring, vocalist Billy Eckstine leaves Earl Hines to form a Bop oriented big band. Dizzy Gillespie is chosen to be in charge of music. Gillespie brings in Charlie Parker.

Charlie Parker is with Billy Eckstine’s band. Eckstine had the first big band to feature the Bop artists. Parker is now in full command of his music. He does his first small combo recording with Tiny Grimes.

Parker leaves Eckstine late in the year to front a rhythm section at the Three Deuces.

Dizzy Gillespie is chosen „best new star on trumpet“ in Esquire Poll.

The First Bop record is cut by a band fronted by Coleman Hawkins. The band includes Hawkins on tenor sax, Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet, Max Roach on drums and Leo Parker on alto sax. Sides are Woody ’n‘ You and Disorder at the Border.

Piano innovator Thelonious Monk cuts his first records. Coleman Hawkins had been using Monk in a small combo on 52nd Street. In October, Hawkins gives Monk a solo on a recording of Flying Hawk. Monk is forever grateful.

Old Swing drummer Dave Tough and buddies from Woody Herman’s band drop in on 52nd Street to hear an early Bop-style band featuring Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet and Oscar Pettiford on bass. Dave says that it is scary. Dave will become one of the few to successfully make the transformation from Swing to Bop.

Trumpeter Little Ben Harris from the Earl Hines Band cuts four sides which are definitely Bop with Oscar Pettiford on bass, Denzil Best on drums and Clyde Hart on piano.

Boyd Raeburn forms a big band dedicated to the Bop musical approach.

Innovative Pittsburgh drummer Art Blakey joins the Eckstine band. Eckstine wanted to hire Shadow Wilson but he was drafted. Blakey was exempt from the draft because of a silver plate in his head (put there after a severe beating by police).

Saxophonist Lester Young is inducted into the army in September. A redneck officer sees a picture of Lester’s very light skinned wife in his locker and believes that this is a picture of a white woman. As a result, the officer has Lester court-martialed for possession of marijuana. The officer knew about Lester’s pot smoking because of a questionnaire that Lester filled out. Lester is sentenced to a year’s detention, but gets off because of his health.

The Eckstine band comes to St. Louis. A young trumpeter named Miles Davis makes a pest of himself, pressing Eckstine to let him sit in. Davis later says that Gillespie asked him to sit in. Eckstine says Miles pressed him. At any rate, Eckstine thinks that Miles is terrible and at this point, he probably is.

The winners of Esquire magazine’s first Jazz poll perform in the first Jazz concert ever to be given at the Metropolitan Opera House. The concert date is January 18. The concert is recorded but never released in America. A Japanese release becomes available years later.

Armstrong wins Esquire magazine’s Gold Award for trumpet and vocal.

Duke Ellington wins the Downbeat poll.

Trumpeter Cat Anderson joins Ellington’s band.

Lester Young joins the army. Since 1936, Lester has created one of the most influential bodies of records.

Ben Webster is hired by CBS Radio.

Ornette Coleman’s mother gives him an alto sax. He wanted to join the church band.

Detroit pianist Hank Jones makes his recording debut with trumpeter and Blues singer Hot Lips Page.

George Web’s Dixielanders (a Trad band) form in England.

Carlo Loffredo forms the Roman New Orleans Jazz Band in Italy.


It still seems clear at this point that Swing will rule, but.

Bop hits with full force. The musicians union strike ended at the end of 1944 and a lot of Bop gets recorded in 1945.

Bop has broken into the open. It seems to have sprung up fully formed. This is not really the case. It just seems that way because of the musician’s strike.

Bop players begin to dress like business men instead of popular performers. Cool becomes the word, not hot. Things become hip, not hep. Performers cooly bow at the end of a tune. They don’t mug. They become aloof.

The Bop players have changed the music considerably. It is almost as if they have taken the New Orleans and Swing forms apart and reformed them in a manner similar to what Picasso did when he arrived at the idea of Cubism.

The clarinet has nearly disappeared from Jazz at this point courtesy of the saxophone. By now, the sax is king even forcing trumpeters to take notice.

Jazz is becoming the preferred music of white renegades (will be until the mid 60’s).

Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie become known as partners and the co-founders of Bebop. Diz and Bird and Bird and Miles Davis record a number of tunes in Feb, May and Nov which establish Bebop. These tunes which are the most influential sides since the Hot Fives and Sevens include Groovin‘ High, Salt Peanuts, Hot House, Koko, Billie’s Bounce and Now’s the Time. These and other tunes which mark the beginning of recorded Bebop can be found on several Savoy Jazz CD’s including The Charlie Parker Story and The Genius of Charlie Parker as well the Stash CD The Legendary Dial Sessions: Vol 1.

Diz and Bird go to California to work in a small combo at a club called Billy Berg’s. They had been booked by Parker’s manager Billy Shaw. Parker is now getting very heavily into drugs. Parker takes up with a hat check girl named Doris Sydnor while he is still married.

Miles Davis graduates high school and moves to New York to become a musician. He enrolls in Julliard at his parents request.

John Coltrane is drafted and plays clarinet with the Navy Band in Hawaii.

Monk is too individualistic of a piano player to be pinned to one school. He is not really a Swing or a Bop player but he has elements of all styles. Monk is, ironically, not the Bopper’s piano player of choice. His phrasing is unique and is considered to be perverse by many.

The Bop piano players of choice are Bud Powell, Al Haig and George Wallington.

Bud Powell has a mental breakdown at age 21 and is sent to Pilgrim State Hospital on Long Island. He’ll be in and out of institutions for the next four years.

Fats Navarro replaces Dizzy Gillespie in the Eckstine Band.

Clifford Brown’s father gives him a trumpet.

Saxophonist Eddie „Lockjaw“ Davis is leading the house band at Minton’s Playhouse (until 1952).

Pianist Wild Bill Davis is currently working for Louis Jordan.

Soprano saxophone virtuoso Sidney Bechet continues to record. Check out The Sidney Bechet Sessions on Storyville CD.

Armstrong wins Esquire Gold award for vocal but Swing is going out of style with the musicians.

The Woody Herman big band is incorporating Bop in tunes such as Caldonia and Apple Honey.

Duke Ellington wins the Esquire Gold award for arranger and bandleader as well as the Metronome poll. Oscar Pettiford joins Duke on bass.

Roy Eldridge is in his mid-thirties, at the height of his magnificent trumpet playing powers, and he is becoming passe‘. Musicians such as Roy are unfortunately being pushed out by the Boppers and their music.

Art Tatum is thrown into obscurity by the emergence of Bop (a music that he probably influenced substantially).

Lenny Tristano is currently one of the most thoroughly schooled musicians in Jazz.

Benny Carter moves to Hollywood and begins to write movie and TV scores.

The teenaged Art Farmer and his twin brother Addison spend their summer in Los Angeles just as Bop is breaking out.

The term „Moldy Fig“ (sometimes „Mouldy Figge“) appears for the first time in reference to the old school Jazz players in the Esquire letters column in a letter from a Navy man named Sam Platt.

Eddie Condon opens his Dixieland oriented Jazz club called Eddie Condon’s in the Greenwich Village section of New York City.


Charlie Parker breaks down completely on July 29 after a recording session. He is admitted to Camarillo State Hospital. He will later write Relaxin‘ at Camarillo.

Parker does his first Dial recordings. These are some of the landmark recordings of Jazz. They are available on the Stash CD series The Legendary Dial Masters – Vol 1 and Vol 2.
During 1946 Parker will also start with Norman Granz’s Jazz at the Philharmonic. His sidemen include Miles Davis on trumpet, Red Rodney on trumpet, Kenny Dorham on trumpet, Duke Jordan on piano, Al Haig on piano, Tommy Potter on bass, Max Roach on drums, Roy Haynes on drums, Lester Young on tenor sax and Coleman Hawkins on tenor sax.
Dizzy Gillespie forms a big band, against all odds, at a time when most big bands are going broke.
Bud Powell is recognized as Bop’s premiere pianist.
Thelonious Monk is now playing in Dizzy Gillespie’s big band. Later this year, Monk signs a contract as a leader with Blue Note. Monk will work as a small band leader from now until 1959.
Saxophonist Eddie „Lockjaw“ Davis forms the group Eddie Davis and His Beboppers.
Armstrong wins the Esquire Gold award for Vocalist.
Armstrong stops recording for Decca and begins his second go-around with Victor.
The first vinyl record is produced.
After his discharge from the Navy, Coltrane returns to Philadelphia and works in rhythm and blues bands led by King Kolax, Big Maybelle, and Eddie „Cleanhead“ Vinson. Vinson insists that Coltrane switch to tenor sax to give him more room on the alto. At first Coltrane is reluctant, but the new instrument grows on him. His early models on the tenor saxophone include Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins. Coltrane will continue to work with Vinson on and off for the next two years.Charles Mingus is now with Lionel Hampton’s band.
The Ellington biography Duke Ellington is written by Barry Ulanov. Ellington wins Esquire Gold award and the Downbeat poll. Russell Procope joins Duke on clarinet and alto sax.
In December, eight of the biggest Swing bands break up. The list includes Benny Goodman, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Jack Teagarden, Benny Carter and 3 more. The Swing era is truly over. Big band Jazz will not die out entirely though.
Django Reinhardt sleeps through a Carnegie Hall concert with Duke Ellington.
Lenny Tristano (Mr. Cool on the piano) arrives in NYC and takes Jazz into more coolness and complexity. His primary source of income is teaching. He quickly develops a reputation as a crazy genius among musicians. He has a lot of new musical ideas. He is consciously trying to weld Jazz and Classical.
The seeds of Cool are being planted by Kenton and Herman.
Stan Kenton has the leading Swing band. Woody Herman’s is a close second. These bands are both embracing the Cool.
Woody Herman presents Igor Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto at Carnegie Hall.
A very cool and Canadian Gil Evans arrives on 52nd street.
Claude Thornhill reforms his band. His principal arranger is the „soon to be Cool“ Gil Evans.
Nat „King“ Cole records the classic Christmas song The Christmas Song. This will later be covered by Johnny Mathis. A lot of people don’t even know that Nat recorded this first.
Ray Charles begins his professional carreer.
English piano player George Shearing visits the U.S.

Future Fusion drummer Tony Williams is born in Chicago. Tony will be raised in Boston.


Bop is beginning to dominate American Jazz.

With Bebop well established at this point, it is clear that the mainstream of Jazz is from New Orleans through Swing to Bebop. Bop currently rules.
Early in 1947, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and others record some landmark sides for Dial in California (Ornithology, Loverman, Bebop, etc.) and in New York (Scrapple from the Apple, Dexterity, etc.). These cuts can be found on the Stash CD’s which cover the Dial sessions.
Parker forms the Charlie Parker Quintet with Max Roach on drums, Miles Davis on trumpet, Tommy Potter on bass and Duke Jordan on piano. Sides are cut for Dial and Savoy. Ross Russell of Dial thinks these are Parker’s best.
In March, Dean Benedetti begins following Parker and recording him (until 1948). The complete recordings can be found on the Mosaic CD The Complete Dean Benedetti Recordings. More noteworthy CD’s covering this era are Savoy CD’s The Charlie Parker Memorial: Vol 1 and The Genius of Charlie Parker as well as the Stash CD’s The Legendary Dial Masters: Vol 1 and Vol 2.
Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie records Manteca with percussionist Chano Pozo. The Cuban influence adds rhythmic complexity to Gillespie’s big band sound.
Dizzy and George Russell’s Cubana Be, Cubana Bop contains Modal Jazz elements way before its time.
Bassist Al McKibbon joins Dizzy’s band.Bud Powell records under his own name and with Charlie Parker.
Monk makes a series of recordings (first time as a leader) for Alfred Lion at Blue Note. These recordings begin to establish his reputation as a genius. See the Blue Note CD’s Genius of Modern Music: Vol 1 and Vol 2. Some notable titles include Ruby, My Dear; Straight, No Chaser; Round Midnight; etc. The work is still not pouring in, however.
Drummer Art Blakey becomes interested in his African heritage. He travels to west Africa to learn to play like an African drummer. He remained in Africa for two years.
Trumpeter Fats Navarro is at his peak. He will not live long due to drug addiction.
Miles Davis becomes Charlie Parker’s trumpet player at the age of 21.
Coltrane is becoming increasingly impressed by Dexter Gordon’s work on the tenor saxophone.
Charlie Mingus sells his first arrangements Mingus Fingers to Lionel Hampton.
Saxophonist Lee Konitz (a Lenny Tristano disciple) is now playing in the band of Claude Thornhill.
Sonny Rollins graduates from High School.
The big band of Earl Hines disbands. This ends a period of nearly twenty years in which Earl had a good big band.
The saxophone duels of Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray are put on record in June of this year.
Woody Herman’s saxophone playing „Four Brothers“ become the center of Herman’s band. Stan Getz is the best known „Brother“.
Louie Armstrong and Billie Holiday appear in the movie New Orleans. Louie plays himself and Billie plays a maid.Billie Holiday Louie Armstrong
Armstrong wins the Esquire Gold award for trumpet and vocal.
Armstrong quits recording for Victor and returns to Decca.
Ellington wins Esquire Gold award.
Eddie Condon replaces Swing oriented Dixielanders with „more authentic“ players. Dave Tough and Max Kaminsky are out, George Brunis and Bill Davison are in.
Mahalia Jackson (whose mentor is Thomas E. Dorsey — aka Georgia Tom — the father of Gospel) cuts Move on up a Little Higher which sells more than 2,000,000 copies.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe will sing only Gospel from now on.
George Shearing becomes a permanent U.S. resident and works extensively on 52nd street.
The University of North Texas in Denton, Texas offers a Jazz degree. This is the first Jazz degree to be offered in the United States.Monthly magazine Swing Journal is founded in Japan.


Birdland (named after Charlie Parker) opens in New York City.
Notable 1947 Savoy recordings by Charlie Parker can be found on The Charlie Parker Memorial – Vol 2, The Genius of Charlie Parker and Bird at the Roost – Vol 1.
Max Roach and Miles Davis get fed up with Charlie Parker and quit.Charlie Parker begins recording for Clef/Verve. This will continue until his death in 1955.
Dizzy Gillespie brings his big Bop band to Europe. The impact is great.
The LP is introduced by Columbia. This is significant because it will make it possible to make longer, more spontaneous recordings.
Swing has been all but pushed out by Bop in the U.S. and by Trad in Europe.
Most young players in the U.S. are in the Bop camp.
Clifford Brown is playing in Philadelphia with the likes of Kenny Dorham, Max Roach, J.J. Johnson and Fats Navarro who offered much encouragement.
Humphrey Lyttleton forms his own Trad band in England.
Elements of the coming Cool style are popping up in Woody Herman’s recording of Early Autumn.
Stan Kenton borrows Machito’s Cuban drummer for a memorable recording of The Peanut Vendor. It is a big hit for Stan. Kenton and Herman are very influential.

Gil Evans, John Lewis, Gerry Mulligan and John Carisi begin informal meetings to exchange ideas. Miles Davis will be brought in as trumpeter. See the Birth of the Cool CD.
The Miles Davis nonet performs at the Royal Roost on Broadway.
Ornette Coleman graduates high school and goes on the road with a traveling variety show. Ornette gets fired in Natchez for trying to interest other players in Jazz.
Bassist Charles Mingus quits the Lionel Hampton band.
Pianist Hank Jones becomes Ella Fitzgerald’s accompanist.
Armstrong forms the first version of the Jazz All Stars with Jack Teagarden on trombone, Barney Bigard on clarinet, Dick Carey on piano, Sid Catlett on drums and Arvell Shaw on bass. Their music fits in with New Orleans revival.
Louis Armstrong performs at the Jazz festival in Nice, France.
Duke Ellington tours England and France. Although his band is on the decline, he wins the Downbeat poll again.
Ben Webster rejoins the Ellington band.
At the age of 3, Keith Jarrett begins to play the piano.
Ray Charles integrates a Country and Western band called the Florida Playboys.
Mitch Miller overdubs Patti Page singing her own harmony on Money, Marbles and Chalk. This might be the first use of this technique.
John Lee Hooker records „Boogie Chillen.“ This will become his first big hit.
Fans of Classical and Jazz music Dr Peter Goldmark and William Bachman invent microgroove or ‚high fidelity‘ playback, thus the 33 1/3 RPM disc is introduced.


The battle lines form. In the U.S. Bop, Swing, Trad, Cool and Dixieland are being played. Bop is king here.
In Europe, two schools emerge. They are Bop and Trad with the decided advantage going to Trad.
Cool Jazz begins in a series of recordings made by Miles Davis, et al. Many people attach more importance to the „et al“ than to Davis. Nevertheless, a nucleus of people from the Claude Thornhill band including Lee Konitz, Bill Barber, Gerry Mulligan, Joe Shulman and Gil Evans apparently arrived at the ideas which led to Cool and then called Davis in as a trumpeter and maybe more importantly, a known name. Songs include Denzil Best’s Move, Mulligan’s Jeru and Rocker as well as Israel and Boplicity. See the Capitol Jazz CD Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool.
Latin influences become more important in Jazz.
Jerry Wexler, future partner of Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records, persuades his current employer, Billboard, to change the term „Race Records“ to „Rhythm and Blues.“ The term has been replaced occasionally by terms such as „Soul Music“, but is currently in vogue again.
The 45 RPM record is introduced by Victor. The first vinyl LP is made.
Charlie Parker takes his first trip overseas. He takes part in the Paris Jazz festival. The new Parker quintet features Parker on alto sax, Al Haig on piano and Red Rodney on trumpet. Listen to the CD’s Bird at the Roost – Vol 2 and Vol 4 on Savoy/Vogue.
John Coltrane first appears on record as a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s big band, playing alto saxophone. He will stay with Gillespie until 1951, later doubling on tenor sax. During his tenure with Gillespie, Coltrane plays on George Russell’s „Cubana-Be, Cubana-Bop,“ one of the first modal recordings and also a landmark Latin jazz composition.
Ben Webster leaves Ellington again. He moves back to Kansas City to work in the Jay McShann band. In addition, he begins work at this time in pioneering Rhythm and Blues bands playing a new music which might easily be called Rock and Roll. He will eventually work with Johnny Otis and others. An interesting thing appears to be happening, it seems as if many Swing musicians displaced by Bop are working in small bands pioneering Rock and Roll which will eventually totally eclipse Jazz. Talk about irony. See the EmArcy CD The Complete Ben Webster on EmArcy for some examples.
Bud Powell makes recording of Cherokee for Verve which clearly shows the Charlie Parker influences in his playing. Powell has seemingly recovered from his latest bout with depression. He is playing regularly and well, but he is also drinking a lot. During the next two years, he will cut his most important records for Blue Note. These Blue Note recordings will be recognized as masterpieces.
J.J. Johnson is now the premiere trombone player in Jazz.
Bill Evans is attending college at Southeastern Louisiana College. The college is about 100 miles north of New Orleans. Bill is playing piano regularly in a rural juke joint.
Art Blakey returns from Africa. His name is now Abdullah Ibn Buhaina and his work becomes some of the most imaginative in Jazz.
Lenny Tristano group records some unique sides that are closely listened to by Jazz musicians…even musicians that don’t like the music. The tunes are Intuition and Digression. The players are Lee Konitz on alto sax, Warne Marsh on tenor sax, Billy Bauer on guitar, a drummer and a bassist. The drummer and bassist are not given much latitude. Tristano is interested in complicated systems of chord changes and he wants to create pure melodic lines with shifting meters or without meter. This music is close to Free Jazz and is 5 to 10 years early.
At the end of the Tristano session above, in May 1949, Tristano tells engineers to leave the mike open. Each instrumentalist plays in a melodic system of his own choice. The Tristano group is playing Free Jazz about ten years before its time and musicians and record company execs are puzzled. The record is not issued for quite some time.
Ornette Coleman gets a job with the Clarence Samuels Rhythm and Blues group. The band goes on tour and Ornette is beaten up in Baton Rouge, La. His sax is destroyed. The reason for the beating is either because the locals think that his music is bizarre or because they are tired of musicians stealing their girls.
Trumpeter Jerry Gonzalez born in New York, NY.
Coleman Hawkins is now out of the vanguard of Jazz. Hawkins was another displaced Swing idol. He was as capable as anyone of understanding Bop harmonics. Since he had been improvising on the chord structure longer than anyone at this point. However, like many Swing musicians, the Bop rhythms completely escaped him.
Roy Eldridge is another displaced Swing giant.
Django Reinhardt, another Swing giant, is bruised and battered. He also finds himself irrelevant due to Bop.
The list goes on and on.
New Orleans trumpeter Bunk Johnson dies.
Clarinetist George Lewis emerges as a leader and tours Europe giving more impetus to the Trad movement. Two other important clarinet players come to Europe. They are Sidney Bechet and Mezz Mezzrow.
Charles Delaunay and Hughes Panassie split. Delaunay takes the Bop side and the magazine. Panassie takes the New Orleans side and the Hot Club.
Armstrong goes on European tour.
Cuban bandleader Luis del Campo becomes enamored with Jazz and begins to hire Jazzmen. This is a switch. Usually, it was the Jazz bands which hired cuban musicians. The del Campo band had five rhythm men including three drummers, a piano and a bass.
In February, Machito’s drummers sit in with Will Bradley’s Dixieland Jazzband and the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald. The result was astonishing and airshots of this session are collector’s items.
Norman Granz persuades Oscar Peterson to join the Jazz at the Philharmonic(JATP). The popular style pianist is an instant success.
Albert Ammons dies.
Blues man John Lee Hooker has his first million seller with Boogie Chillun.
Drinkin‘ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee by Stick McGhee becomes the first hit on the relatively new Atlantic Records.
Not to be out done, RCA responded with the 45 RPM disc, thus began the battle of the ’speeds‘ and the death of the 78 RPM.


Bop is in command, Dixieland revival is in full bloom, Cool is up and coming and the Swing players are bewildered.
Trad is as big in Europe as Bop is in the U.S.
Drugs run rampant in Bop.
The West Coast School (also called Cool and sometimes called Bopsieland) produces some big hits such as the Chet Baker/Gerry Mulligan rendition of My Funny Valentine.
Colleges and Universities across the U.S. have Dixieland bands. The craze is big now.
Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm group records a big hit called Rocket 88 which many believe is the first true Rock and Roll record. Rocket 88 was written and sung by Jackie Brenston.
By this time, it is possible for a Jazz star to get rich without compromising. A competent Jazz musician can make a good living without compromise. Audiences are finally somewhat indifferent to a mixed black and white band.
Barney Josephson (Owner of Cafe‘ Society) is forced out of business by the right-wing politics of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Charlie Parker becomes the first modern Jazz soloist to perform with strings and woodwinds in a symphony style group.
Parker is well represented on the album Bird at the Roost – Vol 3. Fats Navarro is present on this one.
While still married, Parker hooks up with a woman named Chan Richardson.
Dizzy Gillespie is at his peak.
Dizzy Gillespie reduces his working big band to a sextet. Coltrane stays on with the group, playing both alto and tenor saxophone.
Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins records with Fats Navarro and Bud Powell.
Fats Navarro dies of drug-connected tuberculosis. He is only twenty-six.
Bud Powell records some memorable Tatum specialties like Tea for Two, Yesterdays and April in Paris.
Clifford Brown is almost killed in an automobile accident. Dizzy visits him in the hospital during his year long recovery and urges Clifford to move forward with his career as a trumpeter.
Billie Holiday breaks off with John Levy, the third drug addict she has dated. The first was Jimmy Monroe, then Joe Guy and now John Levy. Levy proved to be perhaps the worst. Once, he framed her to save himself from a drug bust, but she returned for more abuse anyway. At this point, she has little to show for all her work. Her voice is going and so is her health.
Art Tatum is back as a major Jazz figure.
Pianist John Lewis is a thoroughly schooled musician after the army and the Manhattan School of Music. He is very prominent in the Cool movement.
Stan Getz hires Horace Silver to play piano in his quartet.
After the incident in New Orleans, Ornette Coleman joins the Pee Wee Crayton band. Pee Wee who is from Fort Worth takes the band, including Ornette Coleman, to L.A. When they get there, he fires Ornette. Ornette stays there.
Pianist Cecil Taylor is gigging around New York City.
Pianist Andrew Hill (age 6) learns his first blues changes for piano from Pat Patrick.
Ellington band tours Europe. Paul Gonsalves joins the Duke on tenor sax.
The Del Campo band is playing Jazz numbers with a rolling rhumba rhythm that attracts large dance audiences. Del Campo is inclined to turn the band loose and then dance with the ladies. He very dramatically dies on the dance floor while doing this very thing. The cause is a bad heart.
New Orleans clarinetist Edmond Hall is currently playing Dixieland (not his favorite) at Eddie Condon’s.
George Shearing develops commercial success but becomes very commercial in the process.
Singer Bobby McFerrin is born.
Crazy Leo Watson dies in Los Angeles on May 2.
Future mega Pop star Stevie Wonder is born as Stevie Morris in Detroit.


45 rpm records are introduced to the public.
Jazz is starting to be considered legitimate by colleges and universities.
The first American Jazz festival occurs in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. in the autumn. This festival precedes the first Newport Jazz Festival by almost three years.
Armstrong wins Record Changer All Time All Star Poll 1951.
John Coltrane moves back to Philadelphia and enters the Granoff School of Music to study the saxophone and music theory with Dennis Sandole.
By this time, John Coltrane is familiar with Nicholas Slominsky’s „Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns“.
Coltrane’s heroin use becomes a serious addiction. Gillespie fires him because of drug-related problems.
Clifford Brown, the brilliant young trumpeter from Wilmington, Del., returns to music after a year recovering from an auto accident. Clifford gets much encouragement from Dizzy. Clifford has a good reputation among older Bopsters.
Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins joins the Miles Davis group. Rollins is a Coleman Hawkins influenced player. Because of this he is running counter to the current tide of Lester Young addicts. How ironic that ten years ago, Hawkins was the popular one.
Pianist Cecil Taylor begins to study music at the New England Conservatory. He had previously attended the New York college of Music. Cecil begins to mingle with young Boston musicians such as Jackie Byard(p), Gigi Gryce(as), Charlie Mariano(s), Serge Chaloff(s), Joe Gordon(t). Cecil has interest in Bop, especially Bud Powell and Horace Silver.
Ornette Coleman is working as a day laborer in L.A. He gets gigs when he can, but they are few. People think that he doesn’t know how to play. He’ll spend nine tough years this way.
Musicians such as trumpeter Chet Baker and saxophonist Gerry Mulligan form the „Cool School“ in California, of course.
Sidney Bechet moves to Paris. Sidney becomes one of the first black American musicians to do this. Many more (Bud Powell, etc.) will follow due to less racial tension.
Thelonious Monk records the classic of modern music Straight, No Chaser.
Thelonious Monk is sentenced for drugs and is banned from playing the NYC clubs for six years. Narcotics which were probably not his were found in Monk’s car. Monk will not inform. Although he could not play in clubs, he could record.
Miles Davis is currently recording little because of heroin addiction. However, his interests are beginning to shift from the Cool to the harbingers of Hard Bop.
Saxophone player Jackie McLean debuts on records with Miles Davis.
Soul sax player Eddie „Lockjaw“ Davis is currently recording with Bennie Green and Art Blakey.
Bud Powell is back in a mental institution.
Charlie Parker is still hopelessly addicted to drugs.
Roy Eldridge makes the claim that he can tell the difference between a black player and a white player merely by listening. Leonard Feather gives Roy a blindfold test. Roy fails.
Django Reinhardt makes a comeback at the Club St. Germain in Paris.
Louis Bellson joins Duke Ellington on the drums.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe marries for the third time. The wedding draws 25000 paying guests.
Boogie Woogie piano player Jimmy Yancey dies in Chicago on September 17.


Not as much is happening in Jazz. Bop is getting old.
Classically trained pianist John Lewis forms the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) with vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Kenny Clarke. Lewis insists that group members wear tuxedos to dignify Jazz.
Thelonious Monk begins to make records for Prestige.
Coltrane joins alto saxophonist Earl Bostic’s R&B group.
Cecil Taylor is drawn to Brubeck and Stravinsky. Free ideas are brewing.
Lee Konitz is with Stan Kenton.
Bop trombone player J. J. Johnson is working as a blueprint inspector (until 1954).
Young Nebraskan trumpet player Chet Baker plays with Charlie Parker before joining Gerry Mulligan’s pianoless quartet.
Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker form the pianoless quartet.
Django Reinhardt’s health is failing. He’s getting stiffness in his fingers.
Armstrong takes yet another European tour.
Disc jockey Alan Freed produces what could be called the first Rock and Roll concert.
Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records buys Ray Charles‘ contract for a mere $2500.
Les Paul introduces his new invention, the solid body guitar, when Gibson begins marketing the classic guitar which bears Les‘ name.
Les Paul uses a custom-made Ampex tape recorder and begins experimenting with over-dubbing and other innovative recording techniques.


Horace Silver records Opus de Funk. His left hand is playing like Bud Powell, but his right hand is playing Boogie Woogie. Hard Bop, here we come. Hard Bop will be big.
George Russell has worked out his Lydian Concept of Tonal Organization, a landmark treatise on modal theory. Modal jazz will become a major movement over the course of the next decade.
Mingus puts together a classic concert at Massey Hall with Charlie Parker on alto sax, Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet, Max Roach on drums, Bud Powell on piano and himself on bass. Maybe the first superstar group.
Parker, Gillespie, Max Roach, Charlie Mingus and Bud Powell are recorded in concert at Massey Hall in Toronto. A good LP results. Listen to The Quintet: Jazz at Massey Hall on Original Jazz Classics(OJC). Also check out Charlie Parker at Storyville on Blue Note.
Mingus begins working with the Composer’s Workshop (vibraphonist Teddy Charles, Teo Macero and John LaPorta). At this time, Mingus begins bringing sketches of his pieces which players must fill in with their own notes.
Coltrane joins the Johnny Hodges band. Hodges was Coltrane’s original inspiration for switching to the saxophone.
Bud Powell’s emotional problems are now eating away his skills.
Clifford Brown tours Europe (particularly France) in the fall with Lionel Hampton. He produces some excellent music with the locals as well as the American musicians. See Big Band in Paris, Sextet in Paris and Quartet in Paris on OJC.
Wild Bill Davis switches from the piano to the organ. This will later inspire Jimmy Smith to do likewise.
Tadd Dameron tells his band that his primary objective when he writes is to produce beautiful music.
Armstrong wins Downbeat International Critic’s poll, Downbeat Hall of Fame award, Melody Maker’s Reader’s poll, Melody Maker’s Critic’s poll, Jazz Hot poll in France and Jazz Echo poll in Germany.
Soprano sax virtuoso Sydney Bechet (Kenny G. ought to give him a listen) is still rollin‘ along. Check out Sydney Bechet at Storyville on Black Lion.
Art Tatum begins to record piano solos for Norman Granz on the Verve label. He will record over 100 on 11 LP’s in all between now and 1955.
Baritone sax great, Gerry Mulligan expands his band to ten people. The band is similar to the „Birth of the Cool“ group.
Ellington wins Downbeat Critics poll.
Django Reinhardt dies of a stroke while fishing at his house on the Seine in Samois (40 miles from Paris) on May 15.
Ben Webster moves to L.A. to care for his aging grandmother.
Billy Ward, leader of the Dominoes (Sixty Minute Man), fires Clyde McPhatter for violating one of the Band’s petty rules. Bad move, Billy. Clyde will go on to form the first version of the Drifters.
The first biographical dictionary or encyclopedia of Jazz musicians is published in Copenhagen.


Miles Davis has kicked the drug habit. He is currently putting together small groups. He records Walkin‘ with Horace Silver on piano, J.J. Johnson on trombone and Lucky Thompson on saxophone. This song signals the beginnings of Hard Bop or Funk. Miles gets a lot of credit here, but Horace Silver’s contribution was probably greater.
Miles records Sonny Rollins‘ Oleo with a group which includes Miles on trumpet, Sonny Rollins on tenor sax, Percy Heath on bass, Horace Silver on piano and Kenny Clarke on drums.
Miles refuses to record Bag’s Groove with Thelonious Monk accompanying because Monk’s playing is „too disturbing“.
Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis record Airegin.
Sonny Rollins takes a sabbatical from music to kick the heroin habit.
Johnny Hodges fires Coltrane for drug-related problems. Coltrane returns to Philadelphia to work in R&B groups, including one led by seminal jazz organist Jimmy Smith.
John Coltrane meets Juanita Grubbs, who goes by her Muslim first name, Naima. The couple will marry next year.
John Coltrane is working for R&B singer Big Maybelle in Cleveland. During the performance, Big Maybelle says that Coltrane is her favorite musician.
Horace Silver initiates the first version of the Jazz Messengers to record for Blue Note.
Horace Silver is currently one of the most sought after pianists in Jazz.
Pianist Bill Evans has become a master of composition and harmony.
Cecil Taylor begins to abandon the standard Jazz piano approaches. He begins to use chords, not as building blocks, but as swatches of color like the French Impressionists.
Clifford Brown wins the Downbeat critic’s award for best new star on trumpet. Clifford becomes a sought after musician.
Clifford Brown and drummer Max Roach form a quintet called the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet. See CD’s from this group on EmArcy.
Clifford Brown records with Art Blakey at an early live concert at Birdland.
Trombonists J. J. Johnson and Kai Winding form a quintet.
Lee Konitz has his own band now.
Saxophonist and composer Gigi Gryce and trumpeter Art Farmer co-lead a band at the Tijuana Club.
The first Newport Jazz festival occurs in Newport, Rhode Island. Pianist George Wein is responsible for inviting the musicians.
Eddie „Cleanhead“ Vinson leaves Cootie Williams and returns to Houston to become a music teacher and part-time musician.
Tony Williams begins to play drums with his father at the age of 8. He will learn much from listening to Art Blakey and Max Roach.
Pianist Art Tatum is now seriously ill. He stops drinking, but it is probably too late.
Louis Armstrong goes on a Japanese tour.
Louis Armstrong quits Decca and records Satch Plays W. C. Handy for Columbia.
Gene Krupa and Cozy Cole co-found a school of percussion in New York.
Swedish baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin becomes the first non-American to win in Downbeat’s Critic’s poll.
Ray Charles does the successful I Got a Woman. Here, Ray took the tune and rhythm from a Spiritual song and substituted decidedly unspiritual words.
Elvis Presley records the first of his seminal sessions at Sun Records.
Kansas City Blues shouter Big Joe Turner records the very early Rock and Roll song Shake, Rattle and Roll. This song will be covered by the Philadelphia-area Country turned Rock and Roller Bill Haley. For awhile, Haley’s version will be more popular.
Bill Haley and the Comets record Rock Around the Clock.
The U.S. Senate and the U.S. people, in general, stop taking Senator Joseph McCarthy seriously and a relatively liberal period begins.
Shelly Manne, Shorty Rogers and Jimmy Giuffre form an unusual trio at a recording session and perform a couple of free pieces.


The Hard Bop style is emerging via people like drummer Art Blakey and piano player Horace Silver. Blue notes are disappearing from Jazz. They are being replaced by minor notes. For instance, the blue seventh becomes the minor seventh, etc.
Cool Jazz hits its last peak as saxman Jimmy Giuffre eliminates drums and strong bass altogether giving an implicit beat rather than an explicit beat.
Charlie Parker performs in public for the last time on March 4 at Birdland.
Charlie Parker dies of a heart seizure, hemorrhage and general pathetic health on March 12 in NYC in the home of Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter. Most of the major Bebop figures are dead or ineffective (mostly because of heroin).
Charlie Parker died in front of the TV. He was watching Tommy Dorsey and his band. Charlie’s last words are a comment that Dorsey sounded great.
During the finale of the Charlie Parker Memorial Concert, Monk selects a tune that only he and Dizzy Gillespie are familiar with and Gillespie can’t remember it. In the confusion, quick thinking Red Allen does a fast switch to the Blues and saves the moment.
Monk’s Prestige contract is taken over by Riverside. Monk records some Ellington tunes and standards to stop the talk that he can only play his own compositions well.
Monk’s music is starting to be referred to as „zombie music“. Even this late, Monk’s playing is still often ridiculed.
Miles Davis hires Coltrane to play tenor sax in his new Hard Bop quintet. Davis actually wants Sonny Rollins, but Rollins is busy kicking his drug habit and doesn’t feel ready. The quintet also includes Paul Chambers (bass), Red Garland (piano) and Philly Jo Jones (drums).
Art Blakey puts together the first of his Jazz Messenger groups featuring Kenny Dorham on trumpet, Hank Mobley on tenor sax, Doug Watkins on bass, Horace Silver on piano and Blakey on drums. The sound will continue to define Hard Bop.
Bassist, composer and leader Charlie Mingus begins his period of greatest influence.
Drummer Kenny Clarke quits the MJQ and moves to Paris.
Connie Kay replaces Kenny Clarke as drummer for the MJQ. Connie will stay with this extraordinary band until his death.
Jimmy Smith debuts the Hammond B-3 organ as a Jazz instrument in an organ-guitar-drum trio in Atlantic City. Smith’s Hammond will become a Jazz force.
Pianist Cecil Taylor becomes a major Free Jazz figure way before the time of Free Jazz.
Gigi Gryce and Art Farmer’s quintet becomes a permanent unit now.
Saxophonist Eddie „Lockjaw“ Davis forms a trio which includes Shirley Scott.
Tenor sax player Tina Brooks tours with Lionel Hampton.
Piano player Bud Powell can play well only sporadically now.
Sonny Rollins joins the Max Roach-Clifford Brown Quintet. Rollins says that Clifford showed him that it is possible to lead a good clean life and still be a good Jazz musician.
Piano player Herbie Nichols records the first of four sessions for Blue Note.
Free Jazz is not far off.
Archie Shepp begins college.
Art Tatum gives his last solo performance.
Artie Shaw gives up music as his career. Artie never played a clarinet in public again.
Johnny Hodges rejoins the Duke Ellington orchestra. Drummer Sam Woodyard joins the Ellington band.
Leonard Feather finishes his first Encyclopedia of Jazz.
Downbeat becomes the most widely read jazz periodical in the U.S. (until 1965).
James P. Johnson dies.
Ray Charles does Hallelujah I Love Her So.
Former Blues guitarist Chuck Berry is playing a new style of guitar which is essentially Blues guitar fused with Country guitar. This is a major innovation and the result is the classic Rock guitar style of such songs as Sweet Little Sixteen which was later borrowed by the Beach Boys for their song Surfin‘ USA.
Cecil Taylor makes his recording debut.
Sun Ra makes his first recordings as a bandleader.


AAJ Building a Jazz Library: Masterpieces Thelonious Monk – Brilliant Corners Quirky yet rigorously logical, Brilliant Corners is a triumph of composition and performance, a set heavy on Monk originals with Rollins, Roach and Pettiford along for the swing. Even its title describes Monk’s angular genius.
Charles Mingus records the LP Pithecanthropus Erectus. This recording demonstrates some of the earliest use of modal themes in Jazz. Mingus uses unusual saxophone cries and hollers to simulate the human voice. Newer forms of Jazz are being explored.
AAJ Building a Jazz Library: Masterpieces Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus Not just one of Rollins‘ great moments – one of the great „monster“ jazz sessions of all time, and, in „St. Thomas,“ one the first crossroads between Jazz and the Caribbean.
Clifford Brown plays an informal gig at a Music City store in Philadelphia on June 25. Later that night Clifford Brown, Richie Powell (Bud’s brother) and Richie’s wife Nancy head west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. In the early hours of June 26, their car veers off the road killing all three. It was a great loss for Jazz.
Clifford Brown’s death is a great shock and a heavy blow for Sonny Rollins who idolized Brown.
Clifford Brown takes his place beside Jazz greats such as Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong.
Detroit pianist Barry Harris replaces Richie Powell in the Max Roach quintet. Clifford was not replaceable except maybe by Lee Morgan.
Guitarist Mundell Lowe brings piano player Bill Evans to the attention of Orin Keepnews and Bill Grauer of Riverside records.
Pianist Bill Evans records New Jazz Conceptions which is available on Original Jazz Classics. This is Bill’s first effort as a leader. The personnel are Bill, Teddy Kotick on bass and Paul Motian on drums.
Blue Note’s Alfred Lion and Frank Woolf go to Small’s Paradise in Harlem to hear a Jazz organist named Jimmy Smith. Woolf describes the scene, „It was at Small’s in January of 1956. He was a stunning sight. A man in convulsions, face contorted, crouched over in apparent agony, his fingers flying, his foot dancing over the peddles. The air was filled with waves of sound I had never heard before. A few people sat around, puzzled but impressed. Jimmy came off the stand smiling…’So what do you think?‘ he asked. ‚Yeah!‘ I said. That’s all I could say. Alfred Lion had already made up his mind.“ (Woolf quote found in the Rosenthal book, page 112 – see bibliography)
Piano player Cecil Taylor records for Transition with Steve Lacy on soprano saxophone, Buell Neidlinger on bass and Dennis Charles on drums. The record which they make is not a commercial success, but musicians take notice. The music exhibits most of the devices that would later become Free Jazz.
Miles Davis and his quintet record four records for Prestige. These records are Cookin‘, Relaxin‘, Workin‘ and Steamin‘. They take only two days to complete. Miles also records ‚Round about Midnight on the Columbia label.
Miles Davis fires Coltrane for showing up to work drunk. Davis hires Sonny Rollins to replace him.
Coltrane records with pianist and composer Tadd Dameron on Mating Call (Prestige).
Eighteen-year-old trumpeter Lee Morgan from Philadelphia cuts his first records as a leader for the Blue Note and Savoy labels.
Lee Morgan is currently with Dizzy Gillespie’s big band.
Pianist Horace Silver leaves the Jazz Messengers and drummer Art Blakey becomes the leader.
Detroit pianist Tommy Flanagan moves to New York. He plays on Sonny Rollins‘ Saxophone Colossus (see above).
Duke Ellington’s band performs at the Newport Jazz Festival. Duke’s band devises a landmark performance which is capped by an amazing tenor saxophone solo by Paul Gonsalves on Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue. Duke gets a new record contract with Columbia.
Louis Armstrong tours Great Britain.
Louis Armstrong travels to Ghana as Ambassador Satch.
Clarinetist Edmund Hall joins Armstrong’s Allstars.
Dizzy Gillespie meets Argentine pianist Lalo Schifrin and is impressed. Dizzy continues to gravitate to the Latin rhythms.
Frank Trumbauer, saxophonist and major influencer of Lester Young, dies at the age of 45.
Art Tatum dies in November.
Bass saxophonist Adrian Rollini dies.
Billie Holiday is arrested for drugs again. This time she’ll quit. However, she begins to drink more and becomes addicted to television.
Bud Powell makes his first appearance in Europe.
Japanese artist and composer Toshiko Akiyoshi arrives in the U.S. to attend the Berklee School of Music.
Ray Charles records yet another big hit called What’d I Say.
In Liverpool, England, an unknown teenager named John Lennon forms a group called the Quarry Men. This group begins as a Skiffle (or Folk/Blues) group. The group will eventually include George Harrison and Paul McCartney and will evolve into the Beatles in the early 1960s. The Beatles owed a lot to the Trad Jazz which was played in England during their childhood and adolescence. They will eventually have their influences on Jazz also — „the child is father to the man.“
Charles Mingus starts to greatly free up his music.


Bop still rules. All future Jazz should follow from it. But…will this happen?
Thelonious Monk gets his cabaret card back. He’s allowed to play clubs in New York again.
Monk plays the Five Spot with Johnny Griffin, Roy Haynes, John Coltrane, etc.
Monk appears on the CBS Television Show The Sound of Jazz in December. Monk is rapidly becoming a leading figure in the world of Jazz.
Monk records Monk’s Music.
Monk is declared a genius.
Coltrane kicks his heroin habit „cold turkey“ by locking himself in a room in his mother’s house in Philadelphia with only cigarettes and water. At the same time he also stops drinking alcohol. During this critical period Coltrane devotes his life to God.
John Coltrane joins pianist Thelonious Monk’s quartet, working with bassist Wilbur Ware and drummer Philly Joe Jones. They perform regularly at New York’s Five Spot from spring through autumn. Coltrane’s playing and his reputation both skyrocket.
Jazzland/Riverside records the Thelonious Monk quartet for Thelonious Monk/John Coltrane (reissued by Fantasy). Blue Note Records will subsequently release a live recording from the Five Spot Quartet that was originally taped by Coltrane’s wife Naima (Thelonious Monk Quartet Live at the Five Spot).
Thelonious Monk teaches Coltrane how to play multiphonics on the saxophone. Coltrane also develops a rapid, sweeping harmonic style that critic Ira Gitler terms „sheets of sound.“
Sonny Rollins leaves the Miles Davis group. Davis hires Coltrane to replace him in the fall of 1957, at the conclusion of the Five Spot Monk Quartet gigs. The new Davis group also features pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Philly Joe Jones, and saxophonist Cannonball Adderley.
Prestige signs Coltrane to his first record contract. His first record under his own name is simply entitled Coltrane (not to be confused with the Impulse! recording of the same title which came later). Subsequent Prestige releases from 1957 include Dakar, Lush Life, and Traneing In, all reissued by OJC. Coltrane also records the critically renowned Blue Train for Blue Note.
Coltrane records A Blowin‘ Session with Johnny Griffin, also featuring Hank Mobley as part of the three-tenor front line.
Sonny Rollins goes out on his own.
Charlie Mingus records The Clown which includes the controversial Haitian Fight Song. Mingus also records East Coasting which includes the amazing Conversation.
Metronome Year Book declares Jimmy Smith the new star of 1956.
Pianist Tommy Flanagan cuts his first LP as a leader. It is The Tommy Flanagan Trio Overseas with Wilbur Little on bass and Elvin Jones on drums.
Alfred Lion of Blue Note is introduced to Tina Brooks‘ saxophone playing.
Orin Keepnews and Bill Grauer issue an album of Bill Evans work. The pianist’s first album has little commercial success, but it brings him to the attention of Miles Davis.
Art Pepper records Meets the Rhythm Section with Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums (Miles Davis‘ rhythm section). This album is excellent even though Art didn’t know about the session until the morning of the date, hadn’t played in weeks and had to repair his dried out cork with tape.
Ellington does the CBS TV special A Drum is a Woman. Ellington also premieres Such Sweet Thunder, a Strayhorn suite, at Towne Hall. Ellington wins the Downbeat poll for composing.
Armstrong tours the British West Indies.
Armstrong releases Satchmo, A Musical Biography.
Sidney Bechet marries a French woman in Antibes. This is a big social event on the Riviera.
Cecil Taylor is invited to play the Newport Jazz Festival. His detractors are most Bop musicians who are afraid of being pushed aside as they pushed aside the Swingers only a decade or so before.
Cecil Taylor gets a break. The Termini brothers, owners of the Five Spot in the East Village, hire Dick Whitmore of Boston to bring in a small group. Whitmore hires Taylor and some of his associates as the rhythm section. As it happened, modern artists frequented the place and they sympathized with Taylor’s free approach. Taylor became a force.
Orval Faubus, governor of Arkansas, opposes school integration in Little Rock. Mingus will later immortalize the incident in The Fables of Faubus on Mingus Ah Um in 1959.
Norman Mailer’s book White Negro is published.


Ornette Coleman makes his recording debut for Contemporary.
Ornette Coleman records the influential LP Something Else! in February. This album features Ornette on alto sax, Don Cherry on trumpet, Don Payne on bass, Walter Norris on piano and Billy Higgins on drums. This album is available on OJC.
Cannonball Adderley records the excellent LP Somethin‘ Else a month later. This album features Cannonball on alto, Miles Davis on trumpet, Hank Jones on piano, Sam Jones on bass and Art Blakey on drums. This album is available on Blue Note.
Coltrane records Soultrane, Black Pearls and Settin‘ the Pace for Prestige (reissued on OJC). Black Pearls documents some of his most heated „sheets of sound“ playing to date. At the end of 1958, Coltrane leaves Prestige and signs a two-year contract with Atlantic Records.
Miles Davis brings pianist Bill Evans into his group.
The new Miles Davis group, featuring Coltrane, records Milestones in April. This recording represents a significant shift toward modal jazz.
On December 15, pianist Bill Evans records the unaccompanied piano solo Peace Piece on which he improvises two repeated chords. What makes this recording significance is that Evans draws heavily on George Russell’s modal theory. It’s one of the first examples of modes in modern Jazz.
Pianist Bill Evans records Everybody Digs Bill Evans with Sam Jones on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums. This album, which contains the innovative Peace Piece, is available on Original Jazz Classics. I hope that Bill didn’t come up with this title! … Just kidding. Riverside came up with the title to promote Bill in the ranks of Jazz. The cover is a unique „all quotes“ design featuring complimentary blurbs from various people including Miles Davis, the first time the trumpeter allowed himself to be quoted in such a manner about a fellow musician.
Bill Evans is chosen „New Star“ pianist in the Downbeat International Jazz Critics Poll.
Thelonious Monk begins an association with saxophonist Charlie Rouse that lasts until 1970.
Trumpeter Lee Morgan is now with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.
Eric Dolphy joins the Chico Hamilton Quintet.
Sax player Benny Golson is now with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers for a short while.
Sax player Tina Brooks records as a leader for Blue Note.
Pianist Cecil Taylor plays the Great South Bay Festival with a group that includes Buell Neidlinger on bass, Steve Lacy on soprano saxophone and Dennis Charles on drums. Nat Hentoff gives them a good review. The resulting publicity gets Taylor a recording date with United Artists which results in the LP Love for Sale. Taylor will later go completely into Free Jazz and will gradually decline.
Soprano saxophone virtuoso Sidney Bechet is rolling at the Brussels World’s Fair Concert. His performance can be heard on Vogue.
Ellington performs at Carnegie Hall with Ella Fitzgerald and he wins the Downbeat Critic’s poll and the Downbeat poll for composing.
Mahalia Jackson sings at the Newport Festival.
Bop composer and arranger Tadd Dameron enters the Federal Narcotics Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky for his heroin addiction. Had it not been for his drug addiction, many feel that Dameron could have been the Ellington of Bop.
Early in the year, British-born singer Annie Ross joins Dave Lambert and Jon Hendricks to form the Pop-Vocalese singing group Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. They record the experimental Sing a Song of Basie. It is a success.
Art Kane’s photo of 57 Jazz greats on the steps of a Harlem Brownstone appears in Esquire magazine. Some of the legendary musicians who showed up for the 10:00 a.m. photo shoot were: Thelonious Monk, Lester Young, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Gerry Mulligan, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Milt Hinton and Art Farmer.
Ike Turner discovers Anna Mae Bullock in East St Louis, renames her Tina and begins to explore Soul and Funk.
Blakey MessengersAAJ Building a Jazz Library: Masterpieces Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Moanin‘ Jazz’s most explosive drummer debuted his third version of the Jazz Messengers with this instant hard-bop classic. It’s way too funky in here, thanks to compositions and performances by Benny Golson, Lee Morgan and Bobby Timmons (who contributed the famous title track).
Jimmy SmithAAJ Building a Jazz Library: Masterpieces Jimmy Smith – The Sermon A foreshadowing of Smith’s awesome Back at the Chicken Shack and Midnight Special, and defining moment of organ jazz. Smith, Lee Morgan and Curtis Fuller testify on the side-long title track.


George Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept is written about use of the modes in Jazz. This is probably the first important text on Jazz theory. Modal Jazz will soon emerge in full force.
AAJ Building a Jazz Library: Masterpieces Miles Davis – Kind of Blue The best-selling jazz recording of the era (and a perfect introduction for the jazz newbie), Kind of Blue helped introduce a new sound for jazz. Working from relatively simple structures, the musicians here lay out wonderfully lyrical extended improvisations. Generally considered the best Jazz album ever and still sells 5,000 copies a week.
Miles Davis is clubbed for loitering by police outside of Birdland. Miles was playing at Birdland at the time and had just stepped outside for a break.
In September, Coltrane plays on George Russell’s big band recording New York, New York (Decca) along with some of the biggest names in jazz.
About two weeks after his work on Davis’s Kind of Blue, John Coltrane records Giant Steps (Atlantic), an eloquent demonstration of his „sheets of sound“ style. Along with Blue Train, this is one of his most influential early recordings.
Coltrane also records Coltrane Jazz (Atlantic), which experiments with tone polytonality. Polytonality involves playing a melody in one key over a chord sequence in another.
Coltrane discovers the soprano saxophone by accident in another musician’s suitcase. He begins to explore the possibilities of this new instrument.
Influential tenor sax player Sonny Rollins takes another sabbatical from Jazz. People think that he’s off inventing a new kind of Jazz. At this point in time most people believe Sonny to be as important to Jazz as Coltrane.
Ornette Coleman arrives in New York.
The Ornette Coleman Quartet’s stint at the Five Spot splits the Jazz world.
Ornette Coleman records Tomorrow Is The Question in March. This album features Ornette on alto sax, Don Cherry on trumpet, Percy Heath or Red Mitchell on bass and Shelly Manne on drums and is available on OJC.
Ornette Coleman records Change Of The Century in October. This album features Ornette on alto sax, Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, Charlie Haden on bass and Billy Higgins on drums, and is available on Atlantic LP.
Ornette ColemanAAJ Building a Jazz Library: Masterpieces Ornette Coleman – The Shape of Jazz to Come After four decades, this disc remains true to its title. Saxophonist Ornette Coleman solidified his group in 1959 to the working quartet recorded here. They broke convention and provided a major stepping stone on the road to free jazz
Charles Mingus records Better Git It in Your Soul on the LP Mingus Ah Um.
Charles Mingus records the song Fables of Faubus on the LP Mingus Ah Um. This is a sarcastic song which criticizes Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas who fought against school integration in Little Rock in 1957. Mingus is censured by Columbia for this one.
Thelonious Monk leads a large orchestra at Town Hall in February.
Bill Evans forms trio with brilliant young bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. Their work can be found on the excellent Portrait In Jazz on OJC.
Wynton Kelly replaces Bill Evans in the Miles Davis group.
Trumpeter Kenny Dorham releases his debut album Quiet Kenny. He chooses nostalgic tunes for the record. His renditions do not lean toward flashy showmanship.
AAJ Building a Jazz Library: Masterpieces Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out What was conceived by pianist Brubeck as an adventure into unusual time signatures ended up one of the most successful records in jazz history, due in large part to its beautiful melodies and the mesmerizing alto work of Paul Desmond.
Cannonball Adderley hears little-known guitarist Wes Montgomery playing with organist Melvin Rhyne and drummer Paul Parker in a west-side Indianapolis club called the Missile Room. Adderley is so impressed he calls Riverside producer Orin Keepnews about Wes and convinces Keepnews to record him. The result is Montgomery’s first album The Wes Montgomery Trio, which propels him into Jazz guitar history.
Bud Powell has made some recovery. He moves to Paris and he is playing better again.
Art Farmer and Benny Golson form their Jazztet.
Saxman Jackie McLean switches from Prestige to Blue Note.
Saxophonist Archie Shepp graduates from college, moves to New York and begins playing in coffee houses there.
Duke EllingtonEllington contributes the film score for Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder and wins the Downbeat Critics‘ poll.
Armstrong finishes fifth in the Music USA all-time great Jazz musician poll.
Sidney Bechet dies in Paris on May 14 – his birthday. A bust of him is erected in Juan-les-Pins.
Lester Young dies in New York City on March 15.
Billie Holiday dies in New York City on July 17.
The French Jazz group Les Double Six is formed.


Ornette Coleman records This Is Our Music in August. This album features Ornette on alto sax, Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, Charlie Haden on bass and Ed Blackwell on drums, and is available on Atlantic LP.
The Black rights movement is currently in full swing. Left wing thought is taking hold.
Free Jazz and Black rights become intertwined.
Ideas of the soon to arrive „hippie“ or „hippy“ culture are brewing. People should be free to „do their own thing.“
Free Jazz and Modal Jazz are pushing Bop forms aside.
In Free Jazz, it is as if the musicians have blown apart the older forms (New Orleans, Swing and Bop) and represented them in a form that is musically analogous to the Abstract Art of Jackson Pollock.
Bop is becoming passe. In fact, Dixieland players at this point may be producing more interesting music because the Dixieland form is more varied than Hard Bop. The mainstream of Jazz (New Orleans > Swing > Bop) is drying up.
The heyday of Soul Jazz (a popular form of Hard Bop) is beginning.
Miles Davis records Sketches of Spain with the help of Gil Evans.
Ornette Coleman finishes The Shape Of Jazz To Come in July after starting it in October of 1959. The album features Ornette on alto sax, Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, Charlie Haden on bass and Billy Higgins on drums, and can be found on Atlantic CD.
Ornette releases the anthem LP Free Jazz in December. This album can be found on Atlantic CD. The players include Ornette on alto sax, Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet, Charlie Haden and Scott LaFaro on bass and Ed Blackwell and Billy Higgins on drums. The original album cover featured an appropriate Jackson Pollock painting. This was one of the most important albums in the Free Jazz movement.
Charles Mingus leads a quartet with Eric Dolphy, Ted Curson and Dannie Richmond.
Charles Mingus in a 1960 interview comments regarding Ornette Coleman. „Now aside from the fact that I doubt he can even play a C scale…in tune, the fact remains that his notes and lines are so fresh. So when Symphony Sid played his record, it made everything else he played, sound terrible. I’m not saying everybody’s going to have to play like Coleman. But they’re going to have to stop playing Bird.“ (Quote is from „Another View of Coleman,“ Downbeat 27:11 (26 May 1960): 21 – I saw it in the Rosenthal book, page 152 – see bibliography)
Over six days in October, Coltrane records material for three albums. The first one released, My Favorite Things, features his recorded debut on the soprano saxophone. „My Favorite Things,“ a highly modal piece, will become a Jazz favorite. Coltrane’s quartet on this date includes pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Steve Davis, and drummer Elvin Jones.
Two other albums recorded by Coltrane during these marathon October sessions were Coltrane’s Sound and Coltrane Plays The Blues.
Coltrane’s The Avant-Garde, which delves into Free Jazz, was also released during 1960.
Coltrane also becomes interested in and influenced by Ornette Coleman. He records Coleman’s „The Invisible.“
Archie Shepp records for the first time on The World of Cecil Taylor.
Pianist Barry Harris moves to New York City. Barry records Barry Harris at the Jazz Workshop with Sam Jones and Louis Hayes.
Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s first Blue Note LP Open Sesame includes tenorist Tina Brooks.
Tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter joins Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.
At what is first scheduled to be just another „blowing date,“ tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley records the classic Soul Jazz album Soul Station. The rhythm section includes Art Blakey, Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers. How could you go wrong with these four first-rate musicians?
Pianist Bobby Timmons records his debut album This Here Is. It includes his most popular originals This Here, Moanin‘ and Dat Dere.
Lalo Schifrin joins Dizzy Gillespie’s band as a pianist, but more importantly as an arranger and composer. See the Verve CD Gillespiana.
Poll results printed in Leonard Feather’s Encyclopedia of Jazz list Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Lester Young and Count Basie as top Jazz figures in that order. This points out the lag between fan and musician appeal.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe becomes very popular in Europe.
Ray Charles does Georgia On My Mind.
In Liverpool, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best name their group The Silver Beatles.


Free Jazz is currently becoming more popular and it is making a number of waves in the pool of Hard Bop.AAJ Building a Jazz Library: Masterpieces Bill Evans – Waltz for Debby & Live at the Village Vanguard The laid-back character of Bill Evans’s piano playing here masks a serenely beautiful touch and wonderfully innovative ideas. His inhumanly intuitive interactions with bassist Scott LaFaro remain legendary. This is the best piano trio music ever recorded (and it’s all live).
Bassist Scott LaFaro is killed in an automobile accident at the age of 25, just a few weeks after his landmark Village Vanguard performance with Bill Evans. Evans is so shaken that he retires for several months.
In May, Coltrane records his last Atlantic record: Ole. Eric Dolphy, who joined Coltrane’s band in 1961, appears under the pseudonym „George Lane.“
Coltrane records Impressions and Live at the Village Vanguard (Impulse!) during 1961 Vanguard performances. The personnel on Impressions, released in November, include Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet, McCoy Tyner on piano, Reggie Workman and Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. The title tune is modal, but other pieces, such as „India,“ approach Free Jazz.
During May and June, Coltrane records Africa/Brass (Impulse!) with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Elvin Jones. This record explores dark sounds and textures, with explicit references to African music.
After Reggie Workman leaves the band, Coltrane forms his classic quartet with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones.
Sonny Rollins begins to play again and records The Bridge. It is a good LP, but it is the „same old stuff“ (Hard Bop) and the fans are disappointed.
Ornette Coleman records a few albums which are far less important than his landmark Free Jazz albums.
Bass clarinetist, saxophonist and flutist Eric Dolphy forms a quintet with Booker Little on trumpet, Mal Waldron on piano, Richard Davis on bass and Ed Blackwell on drums.
Pianist Sonny Clark makes the excellent Leapin‘ and Lopin‘ on Blue Note.
Pianist Elmo Hope records Homecoming on his return to New York from Los Angeles.
Jamie Lyons joins the Cecil Taylor Unit.
Trumpeter Don Cherry, saxophonist Archie Shepp and saxophonist John Tchicai establish The New York Contemporary Five.
Richard Abrams forms The Experimental Band in Chicago.
Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington record together on Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington: The Complete Sessions on Roulette. It is an excellent album.
Pop Jazz singer Nancy Wilson and British Jazz pianist George Shearing team up on The Swingin’s Mutual. Critic Leonard Feather characterized it as „one of the most logical and successful collaborations of the year.“
A Dixieland revival or Trad Jazz movement with a modified New Orleans style is currently popular in Britain.
John Lee Hooker tours Europe. His opening act is an unknown group called the Rolling Stones.
Trumpet player Wynton Marsalis is born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 18.
AAJ Building a Jazz Library: Masterpieces Oliver Nelson – Blues & The Abstract Truth Some of Nelson’s best work – as a composer, arranger AND saxophonist – features his large ensemble soulfully tight-roping arrangement and improvisation. A genuine masterpiece that has inspired musicians and arrangers for decades.


Ornette Coleman is temporarily out of Jazz because of a salary dispute. Ornette perceives (and is probably correct) that he is not making money like the other big names in Jazz and goes on strike.
Ornette Coleman retires for several years.
John Coltrane records Coltrane (Impulse!) in April and June with McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums.
Coltrane’s classic quartet records Ballads, a strikingly softer, quieter and simpler album than his recent high-energy work.
Coltrane records a number of live albums, including Live At Birdland (Charly) and Bye Bye Blackbird (OJC).
Sonny Rollins puts together a band with Don Cherry on trumpet and Billy Higgins on drums. This group will make the album Our Man in Jazz.
Miles Davis does Quiet Nights with Gil Evans and a large band. This will be Miles‘ last big band work until Aura in 1989.
Miles Davis finally makes the Billboard charts.
Pianist Bill Evans records Interplay. Over the next ten or twelve years, Bill will be very prolific.
Albert Ayler makes his recording debut in Europe.
The First Recordings of Albert Ayler is recorded. This album is available on Sonet CD.
Cannonball Adderley and Cleanhead Vinson record the classic tunes Back Door Blues and Kidney Stew for Riverside.
Sun Ra and his Arkestra resettle in New York.
Pianist Andrew Hill goes to the West Coast.
Ellington records The Money Jungle in September with Max Roach and Charles Mingus. Talk about big names. This is a very good album which can be found on the Blue Note label.
Tenor saxophonist Stan Getz records the album Jazz Samba. This is a major commercial success. The music here represents variations on Latin dance music. This type of music becomes popular in nightclubs.
The Latin Dance Jazz boom has begun. The first hit to break the charts wide open is Desafinado followed by The Girl from Ipanema.
Saxophonist Tina Brooks‚ short recording career is unfortunately over.


John Coltrane meets Alice McCleod, whom he will marry in 1966.
Coltrane records John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (Impulse!) with vocalist Johnny Hartman, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones.
MingusCharles Mingus records The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Impulse!)
Tenor sax man Archie Shepp joins the New York Contemporary Five with Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, John Tchicai on alto sax, Don Moore on bass and J.C. Moses on drums. The debut album is the excellent Archie Shepp & The New York Contemporary Five which can be found on Storyville LP.
Archie Shepp records a very good tribute to the still-living Coltrane called Four For Trane.
AAJ Building a Jazz Library: Masterpieces Horace Silver – Song for My Father One of the greatest Hard Bop albums, and not just from that title track (honored in „Rikki Don’t Lose That Number“) but also his classic „Lonely Woman.“
Hard Bop pianist Sonny Clark dies of a drug overdose in a club called Junior’s in New York. The owners of Junior’s move Clark’s corpse to another location to avoid losing their liquor license and to avoid the adverse publicity.
Pianist Wynton Kelly forms a trio with Paul Chambers on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums.
Saxophonist Gigi Gryce drops out of Jazz, never to return.
Tommy Flanagan becomes Ella Fitzgerald’s accompanist.
Pianist Andrew Hill cuts his first Blue Note LP’s Black Fire and Smokestack.
Tony Williams, a 17-year-old drummer, is asked by Miles Davis to join his quintet. Williams will record 13 albums with Davis during the next six years. He will play with such greats as Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Jimi Hendrix
Gary Burton, a 19-year-old prodigy vibist, joins pianist George Shearing’s band. About a decade later Burton is instrumental in another prodigy’s career when he hires Pat Metheny.
Guitarist Kenny Burrell records his finest and most successful album, Midnight Blue.
Grant Green records his classic album Idle Moments. The guitarist gets ample support from saxophonist Joe Henderson and vibist Bobby Hutcherson. This landmark release earns Green the reputation as one of Jazz’s most versatile guitarists.
Cast Your Fate to the Wind by Vince Guaraldi becomes a Gold Record winner and earns the Grammy as Best Instrumental Jazz Composition. Guaraldi was best known for his work on the „Peanuts“ television specials.
Asian and Middle Eastern instruments are added to Jazz by flutist Yusef Lateef. Lateef also adds techniques to accommodate these new Jazz instruments.
Bop pianist Bud Powell is recorded in Paris on the appropriately-named album Bud Powell in Paris.
Bop pianist Bud Powell contracts tuberculosis. This is all that Bud needs.
Pioneer Free Jazz pianist Herbie Nichols dies of Leukemia at age 44.
Singer Dinah Washington dies.
Martin Luther King is successful with a nonviolent march of 250,000 people on Washington, D.C.
Trumpeter Lee Morgan records The Sidewinder (Blue Note), which will rise to number 25 on the Billboard pop album chart, impressive for a Jazz LP. Most of the record is Hard Bop, though the title track has crossover appeal.


In October, trumpeter Bill Dixon organizes a series of Free Jazz concerts called the October Revolution at the Cellar Cafe in New York, featuring John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman and others. Out of this festival grows the Jazz Composer’s Guild, which includes Dixon, Archie Shepp, Roswell Rudd, Cecil Taylor, Paul Bley and Carla Bley, among others.
The young pianist Herbie Hancock and drummer Tony Williams begin work with Miles Davis.
AAJ Building a Jazz Library: Masterpieces Eric Dolphy – Out to Lunch (Blue Note) Eric Dolphy was always a big fan of bird calls, and much of his playing here reflects that natural sonority. This disc transports a relatively straightahead group into adventurous, inventive territory–with dramatically successful results.
Eric Dolphy goes to Europe in April to tour with Charles Mingus. At the end of the tour, he elects to stay in Paris, dying shortly thereafter on June 29.
Pianist Andrew Hill records Point of Departure (Blue Note) in March with reed player Eric Dolphy, saxophonist Joe Henderson, trumpeter Kenny Dorham, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Tony Williams.
ColtraneAAJ Building a Jazz Library: Masterpieces John Coltrane – Love Supreme One of Coltrane’s most spiritually moving recordings, this disc has been popular among devotees and neophytes alike. It’s a heart-felt celebration of divine love, with equal measures of devotion and exploration. Recorded in December with his classic quartet: pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones.
Saxophonist Ben Webster moves to Europe, eventually settling in Denmark until his death in 1973.
Bop piano great Bud Powell returns to the United States. He is playing well at times. He has an extended stay at Birdland.
At the Antibes Festival, Ella Fitzgerald (accompanied by pianist Tommy Flanagan, trumpeter Roy Eldridge, bassist Bill Yancey, and drummer Gus Johnson) is interrupted by crickets in the pine forest while she sings „Mack the Knife.“ She quickly improvises a blues to the rhythm of their chirping and calls it „The Cricket Song.“ The performance is documented on Ella At Juan-Les-Pins (Verve).
Thelonious Monk makes the cover of Time magazine, which calls him the „high priest of bebop.“ (Originally slated for November, 1963, the cover story was delayed due to the Kennedy assassination.) 
Pharoah Sanders makes his recording debut with Pharoah’s First (ESP).
Albert Ayler records Spiritual Unity with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray, the first release on Bernard Stollman’s ESP label.
Japanese impresario Tokutara Honda stages the World Jazz Festival in Japan. Miles Davis is the biggest draw.
Boogie woogie pianist Meade „Lux“ Lewis dies on June 7.
Robert Moog develops the Voltage Controlled Amplifier and Voltage Controlled Oscillator of the modular Moog synthesizer. Moog was previously best known for the theremin kits he sold out of his apartment starting in 1961.


In one mammoth swath of recording activity, Coltrane produces Ascension, Om, and Kulu Se Mama. These three large-group recordings feature high-energy collective free improvisaton. (They will later be collected for reissue as The Major Works Of John Coltrane on Impulse!)
ColtraneJohn Coltrane records Sun Ship in August, the final work by his classic quartet with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones. November’s Meditations expands his working quartet to a sextet with Pharoah Sanders on tenor saxophone; Rashied Ali joins Elvin Jones on the drums. (Jones will subsequently leave the group after complaining he can not hear his own playing; Tyner will leave the next year.)
Trumpeter Miles Davis records E.S.P. (Columbia) with his classic ’60s quintet: saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams. The album has a picture of his (then) wife, dancer Frances Taylor, on the jacket.
Saxophonist Archie Shepp records his Impulse! debut, Four For Trane, with alto saxophonist John Tchicai, trombonist Roswell Rudd on trombone, bassist Reggie Workman, and drummer Charles Moffett.
Vibraphone player Bobby Hutcherson records Dialogue (Blue Note) with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, reedist Sam Rivers, pianist Andrew Hill, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Joe Chambers.
Ornette Coleman’s new trio with bassist David Izenzon and drummer Charles Moffett records the two volume At the „Golden Circle“ Stockholm (Blue Note).
AAJ Building a Jazz Library: Masterpieces Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage (Blue Note) Pianist Herbie Hancock’s best record adopts a nautical angle, with gentle waves of sound surrounding strong, forward-sailing melodies. Maiden Voyage relies upon subtlety, but it features wonderful group interaction and showcases some of Hancock’s finest playing.
The AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) is formed in Chicago.
Baritone sax player Gerry Mulligan records Night Lights (Mercury) with trumpeter Art Farmer, trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Bill Crow, and drummer Dave Bailey. Mulligan also plays clarinet and piano.
Bop composer and arranger Tadd Dameron dies on March 8.
Bill Lear announces the development of eight track tape technology. The following year Ford offers players as optional equipment on its vehicles, sparking a new listening trend. Tape player production eventually shifts to Japan.
The classic fuzz box assumes popularity among rock guitarists, including Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, and Keith Richards (who uses a Gibson Fuzz Box on „Satisfaction“ in 1965). As effects technology develops, jazz players (and even horn players like Miles Davis) will pick it up for use.


Duke Ellington records Far East Suite (RCA).
John Coltrane marries Alice McCleod, who replaces McCoy Tyner as Coltrane’s pianist. Following the departure of Elvin Jones, Coltrane’s new quintet, which includes Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Jimmy Garrison and Rashied Ali, records Live at the Village Vanguard Again! (Impulse!) in late May and Live in Japan (Impulse!) in July. The latter recording (reissued as a 4-CD set) features a nearly hour-long version of „My Favorite Things.“
Alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley records the live Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! (Blue Note) with his quintet. Acoustic/electric pianist Joe Zawinul composes the hit title track.
Pianist Keith Jarrett is currently performing with the Charles Lloyd Quartet.
The Roscoe Mitchell sextet records Sound in August with members of Chicago’s AACM community, including two future members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Lester Bowie and Malachi Favors.
Drummer Buddy Rich starts up a big band which would last about twenty years.
Bop piano immortal Earl „Bud“ Powell dies on July 31.
On October 3, Dave Lambert of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross fame is struck by a car and killed instantly while trying to help a fellow motorist on the Connecticut Turnpike.
Trumpeter Chet Baker is severely beaten on the streets of San Francisco, an event related to his drug addiction. Carol Baker was in the hospital for the birth of their youngest child, Missy, when it occurred. (Baker wrongly gave 1968 as the date in some interviews; he also incorrectly stated that he lost most of his teeth during the assault. The teeth went in ensuing years.)


Aretha Franklin records I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (Atlantic), which features the hit single „Respect,“ by Otis Redding.
In the final stages of developing liver cancer, Coltrane records three records which see public release: Stellar Regions, Expression, and Interstellar Space. The latter two would have to wait several years before release. The Olatunji Concert (recorded live) would be discovered later. His other recorded material from 1967 remains in the private collection of Alice Coltrane.
John Coltrane dies of liver cancer on July 17 at the age of 40. Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler perform at his funeral, and a church will be created in his name in San Francisco.
Strayhorn EllingtonComposer Billy Strayhorn dies on March 31. Shortly thereafter, Duke Ellington records the tribute And His Mother Called Him Bill (RCA).
Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson records Oblique (Blue Note) with Herbie Hancock on piano, Albert Stinson on bass and Joe Chambers on drums.
Miles Davis records Nefertiti with Wayne Shorter on tenor sax.
Miles Davis records Sorcerer. The album cover features a picture of his second wife, actress Cicely Tyson. Nefertiti, with his ’60s quintet, follows shortly thereafter.
The Beatles record the tremendously influential Sergent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. This album is not only influential on the Rock front. It will influence all types of music including Jazz.
Guitarist Jimi Hendrix releases his debut, Are You Experienced? (Track, UK; Reprise, US), with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell.
Albert Ayler records the live In Greenwich Village (Impulse!) in December 1966 and February 1967.
Bop pianist Elmo Hope dies on May 19.
New Orleans clarinetist Edmond Hall dies on February 11.
Boogie woogie piano player Pete Johnson dies on March 23.
Clarinetist Buster Bailey dies on April 12.


Miles DavisMiles Davis records Filles de Kilimanjaro (Columbia) with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Ron Carter, Dave Holland, and Tony Williams. His new third wife, singer Betty Mabry, appears on the cover.
Warner Brothers releases Irish rocker Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks.
Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson and saxophonist/flutist Harold Land play together on Total Eclipse (Blue Note) with Chick Corea on piano, Reggie Johnson on bass and Joe Chambers on drums.
Anthony Braxton records For Alto (Delmark), a 2-LP collection of solo saxophone improvisations.
President Richard Nixon hosts an event in honor of Duke Ellington’s 70th birthday, awarding the artist the Congressional Medal of Freedom (the highest honor that can be awarded to a civilian) at the White House.
Trumpeter and flugelhorn player Art Farmer moves to Vienna.


Miles Davis records In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew, starting the fusion revolution. Bitches Brew sells a half million copies its first year.
Drummer Tony Williams forms an early fusion band called Lifetime with guitarist John McLaughlin and organist Larry Young, recording Emergency! (Polydor).
Frank Zappa records his second solo album, Hot Rats, with Jean-Luc Ponty on violin (among others).
ECM (Editions of Contemporary Music) Records is established in Munich by Manfred Eicher. The label’s first release, recorded in late 1969, is the Mal Waldron Trio’s Free at Last with pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Isla Eckinger, and drummer Clarence Becton.
Tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins dies of liver cancer on May 19.


Dreams, a fusion group featuring Billy Cobham plus Randy and Mike Brecker, releases its self-titled debut on Columbia.
Saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Joe Zawinul, bassist Miroslav Vitous, drummer Alphonse Mouzon and percussionist Airto Moreira form the fusion supergroup Weather Report.
Free jazz saxophone player Albert Ayler dies on November 5.
Pianist Chick Corea, reedist/percussionist Anthony Braxton, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Barry Altschul form the free jazz group Circle. They record Early Circle and Circulus (Blue Note). The rhythm section of the group also records Song of Singing (Blue Note) under Corea’s name.
Duke Ellington records New Orleans Suite (Atlantic).


Louis „Satchmo“ Armstrong dies in New York City on July 6.
In September, Thelonious Monk and a band including Art Blakey on drums and Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet begins „The Giants of Jazz“ world tour in New Zealand. They would record at several venues in Europe. Shortly after the tour’s conclusion, Thelonious Monk records three Black Lion sessions (The London Collection, Vol. 1-3) solo and with drummer Art Blakey and bassist Al McKibbon.
The fusion group Weather Report records its eponymous first LP for Columbia. The group consists at this time of Joe Zawinul on keyboards, Wayne Shorter on soprano saxophone, Miroslav Vitous on bass, Alphonse Mouzon on drums and Airto Moreira on percussion.
British electric guitarist John McLaughlin forms the Mahavishnu Orchestra, a fusion group whose first LP, The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia), includes McLaughlin on guitar, Jan Hammer on piano, Rick Laird on bass, Jerry Goodman on violin and Billy Cobham on drums.
Pianist Chick Corea records Piano Improvisations Vols 1 and 2 (ECM), two records of solo improvisation consisting mostly of Corea tunes.

Henry Threadgill (flute and reeds), Fred Hopkins (bass) and Steve McCall (drums) form Air and record an eponymous record on Embryo.


Hard bop trumpeter Lee Morgan is shot dead at 33 by his common-law wife, Helen More, at Slug’s, a New York City jazz club, on February 19.
Thelonious Monk shuts himself up in the home of Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter. He will remain there until he dies in 1982. Recall that Charlie Parker died in 1955 in Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter’s apartment. Not the same place, but nonetheless an interesting fact.
Weather Report finishes recording I Sing the Body Electric (Columbia).
Pianist Chick Corea and Return to Forever record an eponymous debut on ECM, followed by a second album, Light as a Feather (Polydor), with Joe Farrell on flute and tenor sax, Stanley Clarke on bass, Airto Moreira on percussion, and Flora Purim on vocals and percussion.
Gospel great Mahalia Jackson dies on January 27.


Pianist Herbie Hancock records the classic jazz/funk album Head Hunters (Columbia), which includes „Chameleon“ and „Watermelon Man.“
Drummer Billy Cobham records Spectrum (Atlantic) with Tony Bolin on guitar, Jan Hammer on keyboards, Lee Sklar on bass, Joe Farrell on flute and sax, Jimmy Owens on flugelhorn, John Tropea on guitar, Ron Carter on bass, and Ray Barretto on congas.
Swing and bop saxophonist Ben Webster dies on September 20.
Gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe dies in Philadelphia on October 9.
Stride piano pioneer Willie „The Lion“ Smith dies on April 18.
The United States is almost completely out of Vietnam.