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EFG London Jazz Festival: Paul Whiteman: The King of Jazz

Bix, Bing and Rhapsody in Blue

Performers

Guy Barker
cornet
Thomas ‘Spats’ Langham
vocals
Nick Dawson
piano soloist
Keith Nichols
musical director
Pete Long
conductor

Paul Whiteman, the biggest name in American music throughout the roaring ’20s, lives again in this recreation (the first in London for over 40 years) featuring a giant 27-piece orchestra crammed with the finest vintage jazz specialists.

Whiteman was a big man (300 pounds) whose huge orchestra bestrode American popular music in the 1920’s like a colossus. His records sold in the millions and in one year alone his orchestra grossed nearly $700,000!

In 1924 Whiteman commissioned George Gershwin to compose a piece for his concert An Experiment in Modern Music and the result was Rhapsody In Blue, a remarkable synthesis of jazz and concert music that is still as popular today as it was 90 years ago. Piano titan Nick Dawson is ideally suited to take on this work as he is an equally gifted concert and jazz pianist.

In 1927 Whiteman hired the first great star of white jazz, Bix Beiderbecke. Regularly featured in Whiteman’s recordings in this year, Bix’s brief solos transform the music with dazzling melodic invention and a beautiful tone that simply electrifies. We’re delighted to have Guy Barker taking the role of Bix in our concert.

Bing Crosby joined Whiteman’s ranks shortly before Bix and his style of crooning was made possible by the recent development of the electronic microphone. Thomas ‘Spats’ Langham has made something of a speciality of Bing’s style which he captures better than anyone else around.

Our musical director is Keith Nichols who has been involved in recreating this music for over 40 years – in 1974 he appeared at Carnegie Hall with the New Paul Whiteman Orchestra. He understands how to get the massed ranks of musicians (27 for this concert) to recreate the sounds of the jazz age with accuracy, excitement and finesse.

The concert also features vintage reed specialist Richard White as Whiteman’s saxophone star Frankie Trambauer and jazz violinist Emma Fisk will take on the role of the great Joe Venuti. This concert is the first all Whiteman programme to be presented in London in over 40 years and includes such classic hits of the 20s as Dardenella, That’s My Weakness Now, Singin’ The Blues Till My Baby Comes Home, There Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth The Salt Of My Tears and Because My Baby Don’t Mean Maybe Now.

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Promoted by:
The Jazz Repertory Company in association with the EFG London Jazz Festival
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