Paul Lingle was born on December 3, 1902 in Denver, Colorado and began learning to play the piano at age six. He first played professionally in the San Francisco, California area in the 1920s. He often accompanied Al Jolson in the late Twenties, including for his film soundtracks.
In the 1930s Paul worked mainly on radio, and also played with the Al Zohn band. He tuned pianos early in the 1940s and worked as a soloist in local San Francisco clubs, accompanying visiting musicians such as Lead Belly and Bunk Johnson.
Lingle released almost no recorded material during his lifetime, doing only one session for Good Time Jazz in 1952. This session for Good Time Jazz produced eight recorded numbers. After his death, Euphonic Records released several volumes of private recordings which were critically acclaimed.
Pianist Paul Lingle performed locally until his death on October 30, 1963 in Honolulu, Hawaii, relocating there in 1952.
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Edward Ernest Sauter was born December 2, 1914 in Brooklyn, New York and studied music at Columbia University and the Juilliard School. He began as a drummer and then played trumpet professionally, most notably with Red Norvo’s orchestra, eventually becoming Norvo’s full-time arranger.
Eddie went on to arrange and compose for Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman and Benny Goodman, earning a reputation for intricate, complex, and carefully crafted works such as Benny Rides Again, Moonlight on the Ganges and Clarinet a la King.
From 1952 to 1958 he co-led the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra and between 1957 and 1959 he was Kurt Edelhagen’s successor as leader of the SWF Orchestra in Baden-Baden, Germany. By 1961, he was working with tenor saxophonist Stan Getz on Focus, a unique collaboration of string compositions, and featuring drummer Roy Haynes on I’m Late, I’m Late, the only selection to feature a non-string instrument other than Getz. They collaborated again during Sauter’s work composing the score for the 1965 film Mickey One, starring Warren Beatty.
He would venture into composing for television including the third season theme to Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. He also orchestrated a number of Broadway musicals, most notably 1776, but also The Apple Tree and It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman. His composition World Without Time is used as the theme music for the public affairs show The Open Mind.
Composer, arranger, drummer and trumpeter Eddie Sauter, who was prominent during the swing era, passed away of a heart attack in New York City on April 21, 1981.
Wild Bill Davis was born November 24, 1918 in Glasgow, Missouri and originally played guitar and wrote arrangements for Milt Larkin’s Texas-based big band during 1939–1942. The band included Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, and Tom Archia on horns. After leaving the Larkin orchestra, he worked in Chicago, Illinois as a pianist, recording with Buster Bennett in 1945. He played a crucial role as the pianist-arranger in Louis Jordan’s Tympany Five from 1945 to 1947 at the peak of their success.
Leaving Jordan and Harlem, he returned to Chicago for a time, recording again with Bennett, working with Claude McLin and after switching from piano to organ, Davis moved back to the East Coast. In 1950, he began recording for Okeh Records, leading an influential trio of organ, guitar, and drums. Originally slated to record April in Paris with the Count Basie Orchestra in 1955 but could not make the session, Basie used his arrangement for the full band and had a major hit.
During the Sixties, in addition to working with his own groups, Wild Bill recorded several albums with his friend Johnny Hodges, leading to tours during 1969–1971 with Duke Ellington. In the 1970s he recorded for the Black & Blue Records label with a variety of swing all-stars, and he also played with Lionel Hampton, appearing at festivals through the early 1990s.
Pianist, organist and arranger William Strethen Davis, whose stage name was Wild Bill, passed away in Moorestown, New Jersey on August 17, 1995. He recorded some four-dozen albums as a leader and co-leader and another dozen as a sideman with Ray Brown, Sonny Stitt, Gene “Mighty Flea” Conners, Billy Butler, Floyd Smith and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis among others. Prior to the emergence of Jimmy Smith in 1956, he was the pacesetter among organists and best known for his pioneering jazz electronic organ recordings.
Alvin Burroughs was born on November 21, 1911 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He played in Kansas City, Missouri with Walter Page’s Blue Devils in 1928-29 and then joined Alphonse Trent’s territory band before moving to Chicago, Illinois around 1930.
Through the Thirties he went on to play with Hal Draper’s Arcadians, Horace Henderson and Earl Hines with whom he recorded extensively. By the 1940s Burroughs worked with Bill Harris, Milt Larkin, Benny Carter and Red Allen, in addition to leading his own groups. He was in George Dixon’s quartet in 1950 when he died of a heart attack.
Swing drummer Alvin Burroughs, who never recorded as a leader, passed away on August 1, 1950.
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John Herndon Mercer was born November 18, 1909 into a prominent family Savannah, Georgia. He became known to the world simply as Johnny and liking music as a small child was exposed this parents singing, minstrels, vaudeville shows. Growing up with Black playmates and servants he gained further exposure to Black music listening to the fishermen and vendors, Black church music. Having no formal musical training he was singing in a choir by six and by eleven years old had memorized almost all of the songs he had heard and became curious about who wrote them.
Mercer’s talent was in creating the words and singing, he listened to Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong, and with his natural sense of rhythm easily learned to dance from Arthur Murray. He attended Woodberry Forest boys prep school where he was a member of the literary and poetry societies, and the hop committee that booked musical entertainment on campus. He became the stamp of approval on all orchestra and new productions and quickly learned the powerful effect songs had on girls.
Though headed for Princeton University as a legacy, his hopes were dashed with the Great Depression but eventually escaped Savannah and moved to New York in 1928, when he was 19. Jazz and blues, were booming in Harlem and Broadway was bursting with musicals and revues from George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin. He got small acting parts, wrote lyrics, met Eddie Cantor who encouraged him and finally got a song, composed by Everett Miller, into the Garrick Gaieties in 1930. His first song was recorded by Joe Venuti and his New Yorkers.
At 20 he began hanging out with other songwriters to learn the trade, traveled to California on a lyric writing assignment for the musical Paris in the Spring, met Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong returned to New York and got a job as staff lyricist for Miller Music for a $25-a-week draw. He would go on to win a vocal position with Paul Whiteman’s orchestra, then make his vocal recording debut with Frank Trumbauer’s Orchestra, and o apprentice with Yip Harburg on the score for Americana. But it was his chance pairing with Indiana-born Hoagy Carmichael that his fortunes improved dramatically with Lazybones, which became a hit one week after its first radio broadcast, and each receiving a large royalty check of $1250.
Mercer became a member of ASCAP and a recognized “brother” in the Tin Pan Alley fraternity alongside Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter among others. As the demand for the stand alone song diminished he set his sights on Hollywood and landed a job with RKO and claiming his first big Hollywood song I’m an Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande was performed by Crosby in the film Rhythm on the Range in 1936. The demand for him as a lyricist took off and his second hit that year was Goody Goody followed by a move to Warner Brothers studio in 1937.
He would go on to write hits like Jeepers Creepers, You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby, Day In, Day Out, Fools Rush In, One for My Baby (and One More for the Road), That Old Black Magic and Come Rain or Come Shine, Skylark, In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening, as well as lyrics for the established instrumental hits Laura, Midnight Sun, Satin Doll and Autumn Leaves among others.
By the mid-1940s enjoyed a reputation as one of the premier Hollywood lyricists. With the advent of rock and roll in the 1950s and the transition of jazz into “bebop” Mercer’s natural audience and venues for his songs dwindled. He continued to write a string of hits for some MGM films, made occasional television appearances, teamed up with Henry Mancini and wrote the wrote the lyrics to Moon River, Days of Wine and Roses and Charade. He would go on to write I Wanna Be Around and Summer Wind and the lyrics for I Remember You which was the most direct expression of his feelings for the affair he had in 1941 with then 19-year old Judy Garland.
Over the course of his career Johnny would team up with Richard Whiting, Harry Warren and Johnny Mandel, have his lyrics recorded as part of Ella Fitzgerald’s Songbook series, received eighteen Oscar nominations, winning four for Best Song, founded Capitol Records, and helped establish the National Academy of Popular Music’s Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Diagnosed was an inoperable brain tumor, lyricist Johnny Mercer passed away on June 25, 1976 in Bel Air, California. Posthumously, the Songwriters Hall of Fame established the Johnny Mercer Award, he was honored with a postage stamp, received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, given tribute in the book and film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, a statue was unveiled in Ellis Square in Savannah, and The Johnny Mercer Collections, including his papers and memorabilia, are preserved in the library of Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA.