Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Today, a great artist was born

"Jimmie Lunceford will long be remembered as the lead of a swinging big band that rivaled on, and exceeded in person, the orchestras of Duke Ellington, and Count Basie. His band differed from many of the other big bands of the the 1930's and 1940's in that Lunceford's group was noted less for its soloists than for its ensemble work. Furthermore, most bands of the period used a four-beat rhythm while the Lunceford orchestra develped a distinctive two-beat swing often played a medium temp. The unique sound became known during the Swing era as the Lunceford two-beat." --The Legends of Big Band Jazz History

Listen up. Today, June, 1902, a great artist was born. His name was Jimmie Lunceford, a big bandleader and arranger of the 30's and 40's. You see, the brotha's band was known for the sweet and refined performances on stage and on record. Now, homies at the coffee shop, The Daddy knows that, when you think of refined performances, you think of The Duke's elegant playing, his great compositions, and his excellent soloists. A brotha knows you think of Count Basie's sweet touch on the piano, his orchestra and his excellent soloists. But, if you put on history hat for a bit, you got to admit that this baaad ass brotha from another motha kicked it like no other. Indeed, if truth be told, he kicked ass and typed names. You got to give The Daddy all of that. On the real:

Jimmie Lunceford rivaled Duke and Basie on record; and he exceeded them in person. With band members singing and dancing and leg kicking and horns swinging, a brotha kicked it like the wicked Wilson Picket but jazz style, making people stay on the floor til they just had to go home, though some wanted to stay out on the dance floor all night. And they did!

Lunceford was born in Fulton, Mississippi, where he was exposed at an early age to the blues. But he left Mississippi to travel great distances to get formal training. He attended Fisk University, where he obtained a degree in sociology. He did advance study at New York City College and then came back South, to Memphis, to teach high school.

During his travels, Lunceford picked up talented musicians along the way. They eventually became the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. In trumpeter Sy Oliver and saxophonist Willie Smith Lunceford had two especially talented musicians; and Lunceford composed complex arrangements around them. The complex interplay between the reed and brass section was a crowd-soother; and it was all performed with such tight execution.

But when Smith and Oliver left, the orchestra could not reclaim its former glory. Maybe it had nothing to do with their leaving. Maybe America was ready for a new style of music (something called Rock & Roll) which could arise out of an old music form (the blues). Or maybe America just took for granted the beautiful music it already had. Whatever, Lunceford's music lost most of its shine with America. But it was great music nonetheless. It was elegance and genius in medium-tempo; and some Americans remember Lunceford fondly. They remember sitting in their living room as daddy and mom held court, talking about the fun they had doing the lindy as "hot bands" like Lunceford's kept the out on the floor til their hearts and theri feet just couldn't stand it anymore. And they spoke of how the music of that era helped eased their tension from a war that seemed to rest on the survival of civilization itself. It was a time when no one knew what would happen tomorrow and people did their best to live life to the fullest. That's where the Benny Goodman's, The Dukes, the Basie's, and the Luncefords came in: they provided a little happiness in troubled times.

Lunceford died on July 12, 1947.

Hey, wanna have some fun this weekend? Try something different. Pick up one of Lunceford's "Best of" CDs. And make sure the CD includes his rendition of "Stardust." The tightness of the arrangement and the sweetness in the sound will make you say "Wow!" and..."Happy birthday!"

Ever heard of Jimmie Lunceford?


Somebodies Friend said...

Hey MacDaddy,

I can feel this brotha from anotha motha, and how he set out to get an education, and for many, the best part of getting that education is leaving your friends, and family, and seeing the world. There is something to the fact that he left his home town to get his learning on.

I think a lot of the greats did this, and that is part of the reason they were so great. Every good musician needs talent around him, and Lunceford is no exception, and folks that are looking for bigger and better things can rarely find a good supporting cast in their home town.

Seeing the world, and hooking up with other alented like minded people is what it is all about in order to make it as a musician, today, as well as in days gone by.

Hope you're doing well MacDaddy, looking forward to summer how about you?

Stimpson said...

Thanks for passing on the knowledge. I knew little about Lunceford before. Just went to YouTube and listened to his Orchestra performing Ain't She Sweet. Nice.

MacDaddy said...

Somebody: You say it so well. The greats did whatever they had to do to be great. Music writers say Lunceford rehearsed his band often and hard. They say this constant rehearsing and attention to detail is what made the band so tight and what made his band better than Ellington or Basie in person and rivaled them on record. Be well.

Stimpson: Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Isn't it great to learn new things, especially about geniuses of the past? Jazz, blues and gospel are America's gift to the world. We created it, and we played it better than anyone else on earth. Blessings.

Corey said...

MacDaddy! I think I've told you about how old records were passed down in the family to me, so yeah, I've heard of Lunceford.

Perhaps Lunceford could be sweet and refined, but he could also be wild and manic, too! Consider his swing jam, White Heat! From what I think I know, his band helped to define the Swing era with the dance classic, For Dancer's Only, and weren't they the house band at the famous Savoy Ballroom. Or was it the Cotton Club?

Dorothy Dandridge made her first recordings (Little Red Wagon with the Dandridge Sisters) with the Lunceford Band ~ not that that's any great footnote in musical history, but you know how I am with the divas!

Regardless, thanks for continuing to keep the history ALIVE!

Solomon said...

Haven't been through for a while, I should stop by more often, you always have such valuable information, especially for a brotha that's into poetry, and music greats of the past.

Maybe I'll just have to put one foot in front of the other, (right foot first of course lolol) and make it over this way more often.

Another great post MacDaddy, I'll see you soon!

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Wow, Just checked out Jimmie L on YouTube. Those some crazy rythyms and some even crazier sounds. Excellent stuff!
Thanks MacD, again you enlighten.