Doe anyone mind my beginning the new year (January 1, 2013) with some hot jazz — obscure songs played energetically by the best musicians? I thought not.
Who remembers Lovie Austin (1887-1972) today? I would bet that her name is not familiar to many, but she led bands that accompanied many of the greatest blues singers, including Ma Rainey and Ida Cox. Austin impressed no less a person than Mary Lou Williams, who remembered her in 1977:
“When I was between 8 or 10 years of age (1918 or 1920), my stepfather and my brother-in-law, Hugh Floyd, often took me to dances and theatres to listen to musicians. Well, there was a T.O.B.A theatre in Pittsburgh where all black entertainers came. I remember seeing this great woman sitting in the pit and conducting a group of five or six men, her legs crossed, a cigarette in her mouth, playing the show with her left hand and writing music with her right. Wow! I never forgot this episode… My entire concept was based on the few times I was around Lovie Austin. She was a fabulous woman and a fabulous musician too. I don’t believe there’s a woman around now who could compete with her. She was a greater talent than many of the men of this period.”
Ninety years after Austin’s greatest fame, a small hot group assembled at the 2012 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party to pay her tribute and play some less-familiar repertoire as well.
The fellows in the band? Rene Hagmann, multi-instrumentalist, here on cornet; Thomas Winteler, clarinet / soprano saxophone; Martin Litton, piano; Roly Veitch, guitar / banjo; Josh Duffee, drums / washboard.
CHICAGO MESS AROUND:
FROG TONGUE STOMP:
Let’s hope for a swinging, creative 2013! (And check out the details for this year’s Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party here.
May your happiness increase.