Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Should they have Stuck with Jazz?

I have been reading Ira Gitler's Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition in Jazz in the 1940s, in the process of which I have been coming across a whole new round of unfamiliar names. One of those was the name of Henry Jerome, who figured significantly in the mid-forties. Connected with Jerome were a couple of name that were familiar, just not in the context of the emergence of bebop. Here are the first two paragraphs of Jerome's biography page from the Solid! Web site:

Trumpeter Henry Jerome formed his first orchestra in the mid-1930s. The ten-piece outfit received some notoriety via remote broadcasts on ABC from the Green Room at the Edison Hotel. Early vocalists were David Allen and Frank Warren. Though barely adequate musically Henry Jerome and His Stepping Tones found steady work on the hotel ballroom circuit during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Kay Carlton was vocalist.

Jerome completely reorganized in 1944, modernizing his sound. His new lineup featured bop arrangements, courtesy of Johnny Mandel, which were surprisingly ahead of their time. Of note in Jerome's later line-up was future Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan on bass clarinet and future Nixon-administration White House Counsel Leonard Garment on saxophone. It was this association from Jerome's band that made the two men friends and eventually caused Garment to recommend Greenspan for the job of Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Nixon later named Greenspan to his current job.

One has to wonder if the world would have been a different (better?) place had both Garment and Greenspan had remained in the jazz world, which hopefully would have kept them at a safer distance from Nixon!

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