Junior Raglin was born Alvin Raglin on March 16, 1917 in Omaha, Nebraska. He started out on guitar but had picked up bass by the mid-1930s. He played with Eugene Coy from 1938 to 1941 in Oregon, and then joined Duke Ellington’s Orchestra, when Ellington returned to using two basses, then replaced Jimmy Blanton after his departure from the orchestra. He remained with Duke from 1941 to 1945.
After leaving Ellington, Raglin led his own quartet, and also played with Dave Rivera, Ella Fitzgerald, and Al Hibbler. He returned to play with Ellington again briefly in 1946 and 1955. Falling ill in the late 1940s, he quit performing;
Double-bassist Junior Raglin, who performed mainly during the swing era and never recorded as a leader, passed away on November 10, 1955 at age 38.
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Ina Ray Hutton was born Odessa Cowan on March 13, 1916 in Chicago, Illinois. She began dancing and singing in stage revues at the age of eight and by the age of 13, Odessa was considered so advanced that she skipped eighth grade and went straight to high school at Hyde Park High School.
By the time she was 18 years old, Odessa became Ina Ray Hutton for the stage and was already a seasoned performer, having starred in Gus Edwards’ revue Future Stars Troupe at the Palace Theater, Lew Leslie’s Clowns in Clover. On Broadway she performed in George White’s revues: Melody, Never Had An Education, and “Scandals”, and then went onto The Ziegfeld Follies.
In 1934, she was approached by Irving Mills and vaudeville agent Alex Hyde to lead an all-girl orchestra, The Melodears, featuring trumpeters Frances Klein and Mardell “Owen” Winstead, pianist Ruth Lowe Sandler, saxophonist Jane Cullum, guitarist Marian Gange,and trombonist Alyse Wells during its existence. Hutton and her Melodears were one of the first all-girl bands to be filmed for Paramount shorts, including Accent on Girls and Swing Hutton Swing, as well as Hollywood feature films.
The group disbanded in 1939 and the following year she led an all-male orchestra that was featured in the 1944 film Ever Since Venus. This group disbanded in 1949. During the 1950s, she returned to the all-girl format for a variety television program, The Ina Ray Hutton Show, which ran from 1951 to 1956 on Paramount Television Network’s flagship station KTLA in Los Angeles, California.
Vocalist and bandleader Ina Ray Hutton retired from music in 1968 and passed away in Ventura, California on February 19, 1984 of complications from diabetes, at the age of 67.
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Bix Beiderbecke was born Leon Bismark Beiderbecke on March 10, 1903 in Davenport, Iowa and began playing piano at age two standing on the floor and playing with his hands over his head. At seven he was lauded in the Davenport Daily Democrat tas being able to play any selection he hears. At age ten he slipping aboard one or another of the excursion boats to play the Calliope or at home trying to duplicate the silent matinee melodies.
His love of jazz came from listening to records by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band his brother brought him and from the excursion boats that stopped on the Mississippi. Bix taught himself to play cornet largely by ear listening to Nick LaRocca’s horn lines, leading him to adopt a non-standard fingering creating his original sound.
While attending Davenport High School from 1919 to 1921 he played professionally with various bands, including those of Wilbur Hatch, Floyd Bean and Carlisle Evans, and in 1920 Beiderbecke performed for the school’s Vaudeville Night, singing in a vocal quintet called the Black Jazz Babies and playing his horn. However, due to his inability to read music he never got his union card.
Enrolled at the exclusive Lake Forest Academy, north of Chicago, Bix would often jump a train into Chicago, Illinois to catch the hot jazz bands at clubs and speakeasies, sometimes sit in with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and go to the Southside to listen to Black musicians who he referred to as real jazz musicians. Soon after, Beiderbecke began pursuing a career in music, moved to Chicago, joined the Cascades Band and gigged around the city until the fall of 1923.
He first recorded with Midwestern jazz ensembles, The Wolverines and The Bucktown Five in 1924, after which he played briefly for the Detroit-based Jean Goldkette Orchestra before joining Frankie “Tram” Trumbauer for an extended gig at the Arcadia Ballroom in St. Louis. In 1926 Beiderbecke and Trumbauer joined Goldkette, touring widely and famously played a set opposite Fletcher Henderson at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. He made his greatest recordings Singin’ the Blues and I’m Coming, Virginia in 1927 and the following year the pair left Detroit for New York City and the best-known dance orchestra in the country: the Paul Whiteman Orchestra.
During the Whiteman period Bix suffered a precipitous decline in his health, brought on by the demand of the bandleader’s relentless touring and recording schedule in combination with his persistent alcoholism. Support from family and Whiteman along with rehabilitation centers did not help to stem his drinking or decline.
Cornetist, jazz pianist, and composer Bix Beiderbecke, one of the most influential jazz soloists of the Twenties, along with Louis Armstrong and Muggsy Spanier, passed away of lobar pneumonia in his apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, New York on August 6, 1931 at the age of 28.
Howard McGhee was born on March 6, 1918 in Detroit, Michigan and originally played clarinet and tenor saxophone before taking up trumpet when he was 17. By 1941 he was playing in the territory bands led by Lionel Hampton, Andy Kirk being featured on McGhee Special, then with Count Basie and landing with Charlie Barnet from 1942-43. Participating in the fabled bop sessions at Minton’s Playhouse and Monroe’s Uptown House, he modernized his style away from Roy Eldridge, moving towards Dizzy Gillespie. However, it was in a club listening to the radio when he first heard Charlie Parker and became one of the early adopters of the new style, to the disapproval by older musicians like Kid Ory.
In 1946 a new label, Dial Records, organized some record sessions in Hollywood with Charlie Parker and the Howard McGhee combo. Joining these two were pianist Jimmy Bunn, bassist Bob Kesterson and Roy Porter on drums. He continued to work as a sideman for Parker playing on titles like Relaxin’ at Camarillo, Cheers, Carvin the Bird and Stupendous. Racial prejudice cut his California stay short when it became particularly vicious towards McGhee as half of a mixed-race couple.
Back in New York Howard he recorded for Savoy Records and had a historic meeting on record with Fats Navarro in 1948 on the Blue Note label. For much of the Fifties drug problems sidelined Howard but he resurfaced in the 1960s, appearing in many George Wein productions. His career sputtered again in the mid-1960s and he did not record again until 1976. He led one of three big jazz bands trying to find success in New York in the late 1960s. While the band did not survive, a recording was released in the mid-1970s.
He taught music through the 1970s, both in classrooms and at his Manhattan apartment. He was as much an accomplished composer and arranger as he was a performer. He recorded fifteen albums as a leader and held down sessions as a sideman with Dexter Gordon, Johnny Hartman, James Moody, Don Patterson, Joe Williams. Over the course of his career he would record for Felsted, Bethlehem, Contemporary, Hep, Black Lion, Sonet, SteepleChase, Jazzcraft, Zim, and Storyville record labels. Trumpeter Howard McGhee, known for his fast fingers and very high notes, passed away on July 17, 1987.
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Ronald Maxwell Jones was born on February 28, 1917 in London, England and together with his brother Cliff, taught himself to play the saxophone, before the two of them founded the semi-professional Campus Club Dance Band in 1930. Dissolved in 1935 he tried to establish himself as a professional musician, becoming a member of a combo led by trumpeter Johnny Claes, with musicians who played in the style of Coleman Hawkins.
In 1942 and 1943, Max worked for the BBC radio program Radio Rhythm Club; and in 1942, together with authors Albert McCarthy and Charles Fox, founded the magazine Jazz Music, which became meritorious as it set out to reassert the pioneering role of the African-American, to emphasize the music’s social dimensions, and to attack the glossy commercialism of big-band swing.
Since 1944, Jones had a full-time job writing features for the Melody Maker in the column Collectors’ Corner. In the following years he gained more and more high recognition as a proven expert of New Orleans Jazz, swing, and mainstream jazz.
In 1971 Jones published a Louis Armstrong biography, Louis: The Louis Armstrong Story, together with John Chilton. He also wrote a number of liner notes, such as for the CD edition of the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band, the Spirits of Rhythm, and wrote the preface for the Lee Collins, Mary Spriggs Collins, Frank Gillis, John W. Miner book Oh, Didn’t He Ramble: The Life Story of Lee Collins. A collection of his articles on musicians such as Coleman Hawkins, Johnny Hodges, Billie Holiday, and Mary Lou Williams was published as a book entitled Talking Jazz in 1987.
Jones was the first jazz musician to become a professional journalist and exclusively dealt with jazz in his publications. He was a model and a mentor for a younger generation of rock music critics and authors. Author, radio host, and journalist Max Jones passed away on August 1, 1993 in Chichester, England.
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