Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Birthday: Scott Joplin & Coleman Hawkins

Scott Joplin
(November 24, 1868 - April 1, 1917)

Composer/pianist Scott Joplin achieved fame for his unique ragtime compositions, and was dubbed the "King of Ragtime." During his brief career, Joplin wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first pieces, the "Maple Leaf Rag", became ragtime's first and most influential hit, and has been recognized as the archetypal rag.

Joplin's music was rediscovered and returned to popularity in the early 1970s with the release of a million-selling album of Joplin's rags recorded by Joshua Rifkin, followed by the Academy award–winning movie The Sting which featured several of his compositions, such as "The Entertainer".

Coleman Hawkins
(November 21, 1904 – May 19, 1969)

Coleman Randolph Hawkins was a Jazz tenor saxophonist who was the first important Jazz musician to use the instrument. Hawkins is most strongly associated with the swing music and big band era, he had a role in the development of bebop in the 1940s. After an unsuccessful attempt to establish a big band, he led a combo at Kelly's Stables on Manhattan's 52nd Street with Thelonious Monk, Oscar Pettiford, Miles Davis, and Max Roach as sidemen. He was leader on what is generally considered the first ever bebop recording session with Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach in 1944.

On October 11, 1939 he recorded a two chorus performance of the pop standard "Body and Soul", which he had been performing at Kelly's Stables. A landmark recording of the Swing Era, recorded as an afterthought at the session, it is notable in that Hawkins ignores almost all of the melody, only the first four bars are stated in a recognizable fashion. In its exploration of harmonic structure it is considered by many to be the next evolutionary step in Jazz recording from where Louis Armstrong's "West End Blues" in 1928 left off.

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