Herman Chittison was born on October 15, 1908 in Flemingsburg, Kentucky. Known as Ivory in the jazz world he began his career in Zack Whyte’s territory band in Ohio in 1928. In the early Thirties he moved to New York City and found work as an accompanist to Ethel Waters, Adelaide Hall, and Clarence Williams. It was during these years that he visited Boston for the first time with a traveling show headlined by comic actor Stepin Fetchit.
In late 1933 he went to Europe with the Willie Lewis Orchestra and toured Europe and the following year he recorded with Louis Armstrong in Paris, France. Chittison and trumpeter Bill Coleman left Lewis in 1938 and formed a band that worked extensively in Cairo, Egypt and traveled as far east as India. The two musicians would later lead the Harlem Rhythm Makers.
By 1959 Ivory arrived in Boston for a stay of two years and took up residence as the house pianist at the Red Garter bar in the Lenox Hotel. He then moved to the Mayfair Lounge, in Bay Village. He was one of the earliest and most important ambassadors of American jazz in Europe.
Stride pianist, accompanist and virtuoso Herman Chittison, whose style and technique were very similar to Art Tatum, passed away on March 8, 1967 in Cleveland, Ohio.
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Teddy Weatherford was born on October 11, 1903 in Pocahontas, Virginia and was raised in neighboring Bluefield, West Virginia where he learned to play the piano. But it was while living in New Orleans, Louisiana from 1915 through 1920, that he learned to play jazz piano.
Moving to Chicago, Illinois he worked with the bands of Erskine Tate through the 1920s and with such jazz notables as Louis Armstrong and Johnny Dodds and impressed the young Earl Hines. Restless to experience the world, Weatherford then traveled, first to Amsterdam and then around Asia playing professionally. In the early 1930s, he led a band at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay, now Mumbai, India. He joined Crickett Smith’s band in Jakarta, Indonesia and took over leadership of Smith’s band in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, in 1937.
During World War II, Teddy led a band in Calcutta, where he made radio broadcasts for the U. S. Armed Forces Radio Service. Performers with in his band included Bridget Althea Moe, Jimmy Witherspoon, Roy Butler and Gery Scott.
Pianist and bandleader Teddy Weatherford, who was also an accomplished stride pianist, passed away of cholera in Calcutta, aged 41, on April 25, 1945.
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Karel Vlach, born in Prague, Czech Republic on October 8, 1911 and founded his first orchestra in 1938. Over the years many important composers, instrumentalists and arrangers of the Czech jazz scene went through his band.
From 1947 to 1948 Vlach’s orchestra performed at the V+W Theatre, recorded prolifically with Supraphon and his albums include both light classical, orchestral, jazz and pop arrangements for big band with strings.
During the decades from 1940to 1980 Karel arranged and conducted many Czech film scores, launched the singing careers of Czech artists Yvetta Simonová and Milan Chladil. He and his musical colleagues Dalibor Brazda and Gustav Brom also arranged and recorded many titles that are now a part of the Great American Songbook for British singer Gery Scott in the late 1950s.
Dance orchestra conductor and arranger Karel Vlach passed away on February 26, 1986 in Prague.
Beverly Peer was born on October 7, 1912 in New York City and started out playing piano professionally early in his career before switching to bass. He worked with Chick Webb from 1936 to 1939 and continued to play in the orchestra under the direction of Ella Fitzgerald.
In 1942 he joined the Sabby Lewis Orchestra and also worked extensively as an accompanist for Sarah Vaughan, Lena Horne, Johnny Mathis, and Barbra Streisand among others. The 1950s and 1960s saw him working with pianists Barbara Carroll and Ellis Larkins. Performing with Bobby Short from the 1970s into the 1990s, Peer was often heard performing with him at the Cafe Carlyle in New York City.
Among his many recording sessions were Ella Fitzgerald’s release Ella Sings, Chick Swings with the Chick Webb Orchestra and Lucky Thompson & His Lucky Seven with Harold “Money” Johnson, Jimmy Powell, Clarence Williams, Earl Knight, Beverly Peer and Percy Brice.
Aside from music, late in his career Peer also had cameo roles in films such as Hannah and Her Sisters and For Love or Money. Double bassist Beverly Peer passed away on January 16, 1997.
Samuel Blythe Price was born in Honey Grove, Texas on October 6, 1908 and during his early career, he was a singer and dancer in local venues in the Dallas, Texas area. While living in Kansas City, Missouri, Chicago, Illinois and Detroit Michigan he played jazz. In 1938 he was hired by Decca Records as a session sideman on piano, assisting singers such as Trixie Smith and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Price was most noteworthy for his work on Decca Records leading his own band, known as the Texas Bluesicians, that included fellow musicians Don Stovall and Emmett Berry. He would also go on to have a decade-long partnership with Henry “Red” Allen.
Later in his life, Sammy partnered with the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, and was the headline entertainment at the Crawdaddy Restaurant, a New Orleans themed restaurant in New York in the mid-1970s. Here he would play with both Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich.
During the Eighties he moved to Boston, Massachusetts switched to performing in the bar of Copley Plaza. Pianist and vocalist Sammy Price passed away from a heart attack on April 14, 1992, at home in Harlem, in New York City, at the age of 83.