On The Town opened at the Adelphi Theatre on December 28, 1944 and ran for 463 performances. Leonard Bernstein composed the music and Betty Comden and Adolph Green wrote the lyrics. The musical starred Betty Comden, Nancy Walker, Adolph Green, John Battles, S. Ono Osata and Chris Alexander.
The Story: Three sailors – romantic Gaby, down-to-earth Chip and clownish Ozzie are on shore leave in New York City. During a subway ride, Gaby falls in love with a picture of Miss Turnstiles. This event leads the guys on an adventure to find her. Roaming around the city as far as the museum of Natural History and Coney Island, the other two also find love. Nancy Walker plays the cab driver. From this play New York, New York and Some Other Time became jazz standards.
Jazz History: American involvement in World War II, which began on December 11th, 1941 marked a decline in the importance of big bands in popular music. Many musicians were sent to fight in the war, and those who remained were restricted by high taxes on gasoline. By the time the ban on recording was lifted, big bands had practically been forgotten, or had begun to be thought of as peripheral in relation to vocal stars such as Frank Sinatra.
The fall of the Big Band began on August 1, 1942 when the American Federation of Musicians initiated a strike against all major recording companies because of a disagreement over royalty payments. No union musician could record. The effects of the strike include the shrouding of the developments of bebop in mystery. There are few documents that can provide evidence of what the early forms of the music sounded like.
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Kenny Drew, Jr. was born on June 14, 1958 in New York City is the son of jazz pianist Kenny Drew. His initial study was in classical music with his mother and grandmother. In his teens he gigged in clubs became interested in jazz and pop, but initially worked in funk bands. Kenny attended Iona College in New Rochelle, NY for a spell from 1977 to 1978. There, he became pianist for the Iona College Singers, an entertainment troop promoting the College’s name and goodwill among local high schools, retirement homes and the like in the Northeast region of the USA.
Later he went into jazz piano and in 1990 Kenny won the Great American Jazz Piano competition at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival in Florida. He has continued to perform jazz, but has also performed some chamber music. He made his recording debut with Charnett Moffet, worked with Stanley Jordan and OTB, and recorded with Eddie Gomez, Sadao Watanabe and the Mingus Big Band.
Although his style has some similarities to his father’s, but is different enough to generally avoid comparison. Drew is considered the more eclectic of the two and his music is known for its hard-swinging bluesy sound and large, two-handed rooty chords contrasting with fast runs. His style is said to be similar to that of his father and Oscar Peterson. He currently has some 17 albums under his name as a leader and continues to perform.
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Kenny Barron was born June 9, 1943 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the younger brother of the late tenor saxophonist Bill Barron. Starting on piano at 12, by 1957 he was playing in with Mel Melvin’s R& B band. By the time he turned 18, he was living in New York and playing with the likes of James Moody, Lee Morgan, Roy Haynes and Lou Donaldson. From 1962 to 1966 he was a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s quartet, followed by stints with Freddie Hubbard, Yusef Lateef, Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, Buddy Rich and Ron Carter.
In the Eighties, Barron along with Buster Williams, Ben Riley and Charlie Rouse co-founded the quartet Sphere, focusing on music composed by Thelonious Monk and original compositions inspired by him. He has also co-led the Classical Jazz Quartet and led his own trios and quintets with a multitude of players.
Kenny recorded several albums with Stan Getz between 1987 and 1991 including his last duet project. He has been nominated for a Grammy nine times often for both album and solo performance, he consistently wins jazz critics and readers polls for Down Beat, Jazz Times and Jazziz magazines and is a six time recipient of Best Pianist by the Jazz Journalists Association.
Known for his lyrical, adaptive style, Barron is the pianist of choice for the most prestigious jazz musicians in the world. In 2005 he was inducted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame, won the MAC Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2010 was honored as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.
For over 25 years, Barron taught piano and keyboard harmony at Rutgers University in New Jersey mentoring young musicians like David Sanchez, Terence Blanchard and Regina Bell. He now teaches at the Manhattan School of Music, has recorded nearly four dozen albums as a leader and many more as a sideman with jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Booker Ervin, Roy Haynes, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Elvin Jones, Yusef Lateef and James Moody. He continues to perform, record and tour with his newest quintet “Brazilia” featuring some of Brazil’s greatest musicians.
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One Touch Of Venus hit the stage of the Imperial Theatre on October 7, 1943. Kurt Weill composed the music, with lyrics by Ogden Nash. The musical ran for 567 performances and starred John Boles, Kenny Baker, Ruth Bond and Mary Martin. One song, Speak Low, distinguished itself from the pack to become a jazz standard.
The Story: When Whitlaw Savory tells his barber, Rodney Hatch, that his statue of Venus is the most beautiful woman in the world, Hatch disagrees. After all, he is engaged to the most beautiful woman, Gloria. To prove his point, he places Gloria’s engagement ring on the marble, which promptly comes to life. The escapades of Venus and Hatch turn Manhattan upside down, with Savory, Gloria and her mother in pursuit. The fling destroys the Hatch/Gloria romance, so Hatch is disconsolate when Venus returns to stone. But as he is about to walk away, a young girl appears who is the image of Venus and Hatch is certain he has an engagement ring to fit her finger.
Broadway History: During the 1940s, Broadway began to lose its originality and drive. New dramatists were less numerous and Broadway began to face competition from television and movies. Some theaters were pulled down, and now theater no longer dominated Broadway.In the forties, 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, the street most associated with Times Square, began to look less and less like a theater district. The theater business was declining all over the city to the point where there were not enough productions to support the available playhouses. In comparison to the 264 productions in 1927-1928, the number dropped to 187 in 1930-1931, and only 72 in 1940-1941. Times Square had degenerated into a kind of carnival and sex bazaar. The Republic Theater, which was built by Oscar Hammerstein in 1900, became Billy Minsky’s burlesque house. Theaters all over the area were being torn down or turned into slums.
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Uri Caine was born June 8, 1956 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and began playing piano at seven, studying with French jazz pianist Bernard Peiffer at 12. He later studied at the University of Pennsylvania and gained great familiarity with classical music and worked in clubs around the city.
His professional career started in 1981 and a mere four years later saw his debut with the Rochester-Gerald Veasley band recording session. During the decade he moved to New York City, appeared on a klemzer album with Mickey Katz and played with Don Byron and Dave Douglas.
Caine has recorded 16 albums and is celebrated for his eclectic and inventive interpretations of the classical repertoire. His 1997 jazz tribute to Gustav Mahler received an award from the German Mahler Society, while outraging some jury members. Caine has also reworked Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, Schumann and Mozart.
In 2001 he teamed up with drummer Zach Danziger to conceive an original project fusing live jungle and drum ‘n’ bass beats with fusion jazz called “Uri Caine Bedrock 3″ and he worked with Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots, Christian McBride, Pat Martino and Jon Swana.
Jazz pianist and composer Uri Caine has been named Composer-in-Residence of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, has received a nomination for a Grammy, been named U.S. Artists Fellow, has recorded twenty-eight albums as a leader and continues to perform and tour.