In 1930s New York jazz was the pop of its day and the music emanating from Manhattan’s radio stations, nightclubs, bars and dance halls was at its most swinging and exciting. Recreating the music of stars such as Fats Waller, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday will be some of the greatest names on today’s classic jazz scene, pianists Martin Litton and Keith Nichols, trumpeter Enrico Tomasso, singers Joan Viskant and Julia Biel, vibraphonist Anthony Kerr, and from Germany, the brilliant saxophonist and clarinetist Matthias Seuffert.
We begin in 1937 with music from The Madhattan Room at Midtown’s Hotel Pennsylvania where Chicagoan Benny Goodman, The King of Swing, is resident. Benny’s effervescent playing is captured perfectly by German clarinet star Matthias Seuffert. From here, a cab ride to Greenwich Village and Nick’s Club where Eddie Condon and his band are cooking up a storm with their freewheeling Chicago jazz style.
Keeping with our Chicagoans in New York theme we then feature our very own Chicago Chanteuse, Joan Viskant, paying tribute to the great singers Lee Wiley and Mildred Bailey. The first set finishes with the music of Harlem’s ‘Cheerful Little Earful’: Fats Waller. Keith Nichols leads his six-piece through some of the most well-loved Fats compositions such as Your Feet’s Too Big and The Joint is Jumpin’.
Vibraphone virtuoso Anthony Kerr kicks off the second set performing as Lionel Hampton and taking us to New York’s RCA Victor studios in 1938 where Hamp’s dizzying small band sessions included some of the top New York jazzmen of the day such as Benny Carter and Harry James.
2015 is the centenary of the ever-popular Billie Holiday and we celebrate with singer Julia Biel who captures Billie’s sound and style perfectly in a set of some of Billie’s marvellous recordings with Teddy Wilson and Lester Young. Pianist Martin Litton takes on the role of Duke Ellington and we’re back in the RCA studios with Duke’s small band starring such luminaries as Johnny Hodges and Cootie Williams.
The concert finishes with a tribute to the biggest name in jazz, Louis Armstrong (played by maestro Enrico Tomasso reprising his role as the great ‘Satchmo’). In 1938 Louis was joined by Fats Waller, Bud Freeman, Jack Teagarden and a hotter-than-hot rhythm section on a Saturday Night in Harlem session on radio station WNEW. The wonderful music that ensued makes for a fitting climax to this round-up of jazz in 1930’s New York.