Fats Waller: Born May 21, 1904

Waller, Fats (21 May 1904-15 Dec. 1943), jazz and popular pianist, singer, and songwriter, was born Thomas Wright Waller in New York City, the son of Edward Martin Waller, a Baptist preacher, and Adeline Lockett. From age six Waller was devoted to the piano but initially failed to practice properly or learn to read music well, because he could memorize lessons immediately. In his youth he also played reed organ in church. He studied piano, string bass, and violin at P.S. 89, which he attended to about age fourteen or fifteen. Although his girth had earned him a nickname by this time, the names Thomas and Fats appeared interchangeably (and sometimes together, as Thomas “Fats” Waller) in his professional work until at least 1931. Later in his career, and posthumously, the nickname prevailed.

Intermittently from 1919 into the mid-1920s he played organ at the Lincoln Theater in Harlem. After his mother’s death in 1920, he moved in with the family of pianist Russell Brooks, who introduced Waller to James P. Johnson. Upon discovering that Waller had learned “Carolina Shout” from Johnson’s piano roll, Johnson offered Waller piano lessons and in turn introduced him to Willie “the Lion” Smith, whom Waller replaced at Leroy’s saloon. Johnson, Smith, and Waller became the leading figures in the jazz style that came to be called stride piano, and through the decade their improvisational competitions were a fixture of Harlem rent parties.
http://www.anb.org/articles/18/18-01201.html

Woody Herman: Born May 16, 1913

A fine swing clarinetist, an altoist whose sound was influenced by Johnny Hodges, a good soprano saxophonist, and a spirited blues vocalist, Woody Herman’s greatest significance to jazz was as the leader of a long line of big bands. He always encouraged young talent and, more than practically any bandleader from the swing era, kept his repertoire quite modern. Although Herman was always stuck performing a few of his older hits (he played “Four Brothers” and “Early Autumn” nightly for nearly 40 years), he much preferred to play and create new music.
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/woody-herman-mn0000958076/biography

Ella Fitzgerald: Born April 25, 1917~

In mid 1936, Ella made her first recording. “Love and Kisses” was released under the Decca label, with moderate success. By this time she was performing with Chick’s band at the prestigious Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom, often referred to as “The World’s Most Famous Ballroom.”

Shortly afterward, Ella began singing a rendition of the song, “(If You Can’t Sing It) You Have to Swing It.” During this time, the era of big swing bands was shifting, and the focus was turning more toward bebop. Ella played with the new style, often using her voice to take on the role of another horn in the band. “You Have to Swing It” was one of the first times she began experimenting with scat singing, and her improvisation and vocalization thrilled fans. Throughout her career, Ella would master scat singing, turning it into a form of art.
Ella Fitzgerald | Official Site~ http://www.ellafitzgerald.com/about/biography

Ella Fitzgerald at 100 (npr)~
http://www.npr.org/2017/04/25/524726767/early-hardship-couldnt-muffle-ella-fitzgeralds-joy

American Masters~
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/ella-fitzgerald-something-to-live-for/590/

21 Dazzling Photos Of Jazz Legend Ella

Fitzgerald Over The Years

National Portrait Gallery

RARE PHOTO of Ella Fitzgerald Goes On Display at Smithsonian

Billie Holiday: April 7, 1915-July 17, 1959

withDog

Billie Holiday was the pre-eminent jazz singer of her day and among the most revered vocalists of the century. Although her brief life was fraught with tragedy, Holiday left a transcendent legacy of recorded work. Her pearly voice, exquisite phrasing and tough-tender persona influenced the likes of Janis Joplin and Diana Ross, among others. She performed and recorded in a jazzy “swing-sing” style from 1933 to 1958 with pianist-bandleaders Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Count Basie, Artie Shaw and others. She was closely associated with tenor saxophonist Lester “Prez” Young, who dubbed her “Lady Day.”

There are varying accounts of her birth: in her memoirs, Holiday claimed she was born in Baltimore; but biographer Donald Clarke notes the time of birth, name of the doctor, and original spelling of her name on her birth certificate dated April 7, 1915 from Philadelphia General Hospital, in Billie Holiday: Wishing on the Moon. As a teenager, she began singing along with records by such artists as Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong in after-hours clubs in Baltimore. Her mother, Sadie Fagan, decided to move to New York, and Billie followed her. She began performing in nightclubs in Harlem, and she took the stage name Billie Holiday after film star Billie Dove. In 1933, when she was 18, she was discovered performing in a Harlem club called Monette’s by Columbia A&R man John Hammond. Her first commercial recording session occurred that November.
https://rockhall.com/inductees/billie-holiday/bio/#sthash.DCRYS46X.dpuf

BHolidayStrange Fruit: the first great protest song~ http://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/feb/16/protest-songs-billie-holiday-strange-fruit

New York Times obituary~ http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0407.html

Looking For Lady Day’s Resting Place? Detour Ahead~ http://www.npr.org/2012/07/17/156686608/looking-for-lady-days-resting-place-detour-ahead

For more Billie Holiday links see 2015’s post~ https://schristywolfe.com/2015/04/07/billie-holiday-born-on-april-7-1915/