Jimmy Harrison was born on October 17, 1900 in Louisville, Kentucky and began on trombone at age 15, playing locally in the Toledo, Ohio area. He also played semi-pro baseball but chose music over a career in sports when he joined a traveling minstrel show in the late 1910s.
By 1919 Harrison was leading his own jazz ensemble in Atlantic City, New Jersey and played in the bands of Charlie Johnson and Sam Wooding. Moving to Detroit he played with Hank Duncan and Roland Smith. After returning to Toledo, he played gigs with June Clark and James P. Johnson. He followed this period with a stint in New York City with Fess Williams.
Giving leadership of his ensemble to June Clark in 1924, Jimmy continued to play with the group, worked with Duke Ellington during this period and in 1925 was working with Billy Fowler then with Elmer Snowden, Fletcher Henderson and Benny Carter’s Chocolate Dandies. While on tour with Henderson he took ill with a stomach ailment and though he continued to play for several months with Chick Webb. Trombonist Jimmy Harrison passed away on July 23, 1931 in New York City at the age of 30.
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Dewey Jackson was born on June 21, 1900. A trumpeter and cornetist, he began playing professionally at an early age, with the Odd Fellows Boys’ Band in 1912, then Tommy Evans from 1916-17 and George Reynold’s Keystone Band.
He played the riverboats with Charlie Creath and then led his own Golden Melody Band from 1920 to 1923. He continued to be a regular performer on riverboats into the early 1940s, heading his own groups and working as a sideman for Creath and Fate Marable. His only major stint off boats during this time was in 1926, when he played for four months with Andrew Preer at the Cotton Club in New York City.
Jackson played little in the 1940s but returned to work in the 1950s with Singleton Palmer and Don Ewell. He recorded only four sides as a leader in 1926. Among his sidemen were Pops Foster, Willie Humphrey, Don Stovall, Morris White and Clark Terry.
Dewey Jackson passed away on January 1, 1994.
Cole Albert Porter was born into wealth on June 9, 1891 in Peru, Indiana. His musical training began at an early age, learning the violin at age six, the piano at eight and wrote his first operetta, with help from his mother at 10. His father, an amateur poet, may have influenced his son’s gifts for rhyme and meter. He matriculated through Yale writing student songs went on to Harvard law, switched to the music faculty, where he studied harmony and counterpoint.
Classically trained, he was drawn towards musical theatre. After a slow start, he began to achieve success in the 1920s, and by the 1930s he was one of the major songwriters for the Broadway musical stage. Unlike most successful Broadway composers, Porter wrote both the lyrics and the music for his songs.
After a serious horseback riding accident in 1937, Cole was left disabled and in constant pain, but he continued to work. His shows of the early 1940s did not contain the lasting hits of his best work of the 1920s and 30s, but in 1947 he made a triumphant comeback with his most successful musical, Kiss Me Kate.
Porter wrote numerous songs that have come to be jazz standards such as Night and Day, Anything Goes, I Get A Kick Out Of You and I’ve Got You Under My Skin, It’s De-Lovely, Begin the Beguine, Just One of Those Things and In The Still of the Night. He also composed scores for films from the 1930s to the 1950s.
Cole Porter, composer and lyricist, noted for his sophisticated, suggestive lyrics, clever rhymes and complex forms, contributed to the great American songbook, passed away of kidney failure on October 15, 1964.
Lucille Bogan was born in Amory, Mississippi on April 1, 1897 but was raised in Birmingham, Alabama and at age five she was named Lucille Anderson. In 1916 she married railway man Nazareth Lee Bogan and she received her training singing in the rowdiest juke joints of the 1920s. She first recorded vaudeville songs in New York for Okeh Records in 1923. That same year she recorded “Pawn Shop Blues” in Atlanta, which was the first time a black blues singer had been recorded outside New York or Chicago.
Among the first blues singers to be recorded, in 1927 Lucille signed with Paramount Records in Chicago, recording her first big success, “Sweet Petunia”, later covered by Blind Blake. By 1930 her recordings had begun to concentrate on drinking and sex, with songs such as “Sloppy Drunk Blues”, “Tricks Ain’t Walkin’ No More” and “Black Angel Blues” later covered by B. B. King as “Sweet Little Angel”. She would later record for Brunswick Records.
Many of Bogan’s songs, most of which she wrote herself, have thinly-veiled humorous sexual references with the theme of prostitution featured prominently in several of her recordings. In the early Thirties Lucille returned to New York and recorded prolifically under the pseudonym Bessie Jackson until the middle of the decade. Lucille Bogan does not appear to have recorded after 1935, spending some time managing her son’s jazz group, Bogan’s Birmingham Busters, before moving to Los Angeles, where she died on August 10, 1948 from coronary sclerosis.
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Ida Cox was born Ida Prather on February 25, 1896 in Toccoa, Georgia but grew up in Cedartown, Georgia and grew up in Cedartown, Georgia singing in the local African Methodist Church choir. She left home to tour with traveling minstrel shows, often appearing in blackface into the 1910s.
By 1920, she was appearing as a headline act at the 81 Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia along with another headliner at that time, Jelly Roll Morton. It was during this period that a demand for recordings of race music grew and the classic female blues era had begun and would extend through the 1920s. From 1923 through to 1929, Cox made numerous recordings for Paramount Records and headlined touring companies, sometimes billed as the “Sepia Mae West”, continuing into the 1930s.
During the 1920s, she also managed Ida Cox and Her Raisin’ Cain Company, her own vaudeville troupe. At some point in her career, she played alongside Ibrahim Khalil, a Native American and one of the several jazz musicians of that era who belonged from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
In 1939 she appeared at Café Society Downtown in New York’s Greenwich Village, participated in the historic Carnegie Hall concert “From Spirituals to Swing”, and resumed her recording career with a series of sessions for Vocalion Records and Okeh Records, with groups that at various times included Charlie Christian, Hot Lips Page, Henry “Red” Allen, J. C. Higginbotham and Lionel Hampton.
By the Sixties after spending several years in retirement Cox recorded a final album on the Riverside label with Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins Sammy Price, Milt Hinton and Jo Jones titled Blues For Rampart Street that included “Wild Women Don’t Have The Blues” that gained a new audience.
She returned to live with her daughter in Knoxville, Tennessee where she passed away of cancer in November 10, 1967.
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