When you actually get down to it, there are five great figures in jazz music. They are great not only because of their influence on other jazz musicians, but also for their important contributions to an art form which is only beginning to be recognized as such. Louie is still the king-there's no arguing about that. Bix Beiderbecke and Bessie Smith are dead, but their work was far ahead of its time; only recently has the average listener reached an appreciative stage as regards the jazz they played. Duke Ellington is still ahead of his time, and because his contributions as a composer have scarcely been limited by Tin Pan Alley standards, the public has yet to realize the superiority of Ellington's music over the innocuous offerings of men like Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey. And then, of course, there's Jack Teagarden.
Jack is something of a magnificent guy. I don't mean personally, because I've never met him. However, like many other jazz amateurs, I've always been tremendously impressed by the big fellow who stands out in front of his band, virtually crying the blues in a Texas drawl which is at once lazy, yet strong and deep, coming out of his guts, if you will. That's the way he sings, and that's the way he plays trombone. You'll notice it particularly if you're dancing, not paying a great deal of attention to the music, until suddenly Jack breaks out of the ensemble background for a solo. I don't mean he plays loud; anybody can do that. What makes you look up is an aggressive attack executed in a tone which by itself is something of a phenomenon. These two elements, combined with musical ideas that no other trombonist over thought of, make his solos actually rise above everything else that happens to be playing. I could go off on a wonderfully inarticulate tangent trying to describe the way Jack plays, so all I'll say is that when you hear it, you'll know that Jack's the boy, because without him his band wouldn't be the same, since it would be lacking in the one driving spirit which gives any band its outstanding quality. Bix had that spirit, and Louie still does (when he feels like it), and Bobby Hackett has the right idea. Mr. T has it too, as you'll find out tonight at Dunster House.
NEWS AND NEW RELEASES. Coleman Hawkins and Big Sidney Catlett will be featured at the Crown Hotel jam session in Providence on Sunday. The Hawk is playing a lot of tenor these days any you don't want to miss him ... Record of the week: Jelly Jelly, a slow blues by Earl Hines. Soloists include the Father opening up with some elaborate piano, one of his best recent recorded solos; and a vocal backed by guitar fillins which give the chorus a pleasantly simple contrapuntal quality. Everybody comes in for the finish, and it's stuff like this which makes sissies out of the white bands (BLUEBIRD)... Billie Holiday and Benny Carter get together on two old numbers: Loveless Love and St. Louis Blues, and the date is something of a comeback for Billie. She's awfully erratic, but when she's. "right," Billie can put life into Hearts and Flowers, The band offers interesting solos, including a clarinet which sounds like Edmond Hall (OKEH).