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Jazz At The Philharmonic

In 1944, producer Norman Granz organized a concert billed as "Jazz at the Philharmonic" (also JATP) as a fundraiser in Los Angeles. The event, which was recorded, featured Illinois Jacquet, Jack McVea, J.J. Johnson, Shorty Sherock, and a rhythm section with Nat King Cole and Les Paul; Jacquet's playing in particular caused a bit of a sensation. After a few more similar events, Granz in 1946 began organizing extensive annual tours using classic swing and bop musicians in a jam-session setting. Although some critics often complained that these events encouraged grandstanding (R&B honking was getting popular during the era), a great deal of rewarding and exciting music resulted, and Granz recorded (and later released) much of it on his Verve label. He paid his musicians very well and did his best to fight racism every bit of the way. Among JATP's stars through the years were tenors Flip Phillips (whose solo on "Perdido" became famous), Jacquet, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster, and Stan Getz; trumpeters Roy Eldridge, Charlie Shavers, Dizzy Gillespie, and Harry "Sweets" Edison; trombonists Bill Harris and Tommy Turk; altoists Charlie Parker, Willie Smith, and Benny Carter; pianists Hank Jones and Oscar Peterson; a variety of bassists (often Ray Brown); and drummers Louie Bellson, Gene Krupa, and Buddy Rich. Ella Fitzgerald started touring with JATP early on, usually having her own separate set and joining in on a finale, and later tours often also included performances by regular groups such as the Oscar Peterson Trio, Gene Krupa's combo, Stuff Smith, or Lester Young. After 1957, the annual tours stopped, although there was an attempt to revive JATP in 1967; and Granz kept the spirit of Jazz at the Philharmonic alive on his many jam session-type records for Pablo in the 1970s.
© Scott Yanow /TiVo


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