Who was Kay Kyser

Kathy Sloane and others: Keystone Korner - portrait of a jazz club, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, USA, 223 pages with many photos and a CD

The importance of the jazz clubs (here the event rooms are meant) for jazz cannot be overestimated. A club is a performance location, rehearsal room, experimental stage, meeting center and much more, for some even a kind of second living room. Nowhere else can you experience the charisma of this music so intensely - that is why the clubs are vital for jazz. One of the most important in the USA from 1972 to 1983 was the "Keystone Korner". It was located in San Francisco in the North Bay Area near a police station, hence the name (the Keystone Cops were that clumsy police force who always caused chaos instead of order in silent film burlesques). Todd Barkan, himself a pianist (among others with Roland Kirk) Headed the club, more as a jazz fan than a businessman, which earned him a lot of praise from musicians and audiences alike (Dave Liebmann: “The music grew when you played in a club with a conductive atmosphere, with an owner that was encouraging, with an audience that was accepting, with an equipment that was at least passable if not better ”/ p. 97). The employees also felt like this: “Everyone who worked there knew 'This is where I want to be'” / p.58). The program offered a lot of top class, from A for Nat Adderly to Z for Denny Zeitlin, and over 50 (!) Records were recorded there. The accompanying CD contains 8 tracks, including by McCoy Tyner, Woody Shaw, Dexter Gordon, Bill Evans and Stan Getz. The photos by Kathy Sloane do a bit more to let us feel the atmosphere of this club ...

Monika Herzig and others: David Baker - A legacy in music, Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis, USA, 422 pages with many music examples and a CD

David Baker was born on December 21, 1931 in Indianapolis, hometown of a number of great jazz musicians (including J.J. Johnson, Wes Montgomery, Slide Hampton, Leroy Vinnegar, Freddie Hubbard). He played sousaphone in his high school marching band, later trombone in Hampton Family Band, and finally baritone horn at Arthur Jordan Conservatory in 1949. In 1950 he began studying music at Indiana University with the aim of becoming bass trombonist in a symphony orchestra; but as a black musician he had no chance at the time. He concentrated on jazz and went back to Indiana University after an interlude in Los Angeles and Jefferson City in 1958 to do his doctorate there. He also toured with Maynard Ferguson and Stan Kenton. In 1959, at the invitation of Gunther Schuller, he attended the Lenox School of Jazz, where he met Ornette Coleman and George Russell, who then took him and a few other workshop participants into his new sextet, which was to make jazz history. In 1960 David Baker was also a member of the Quincy Jones Big Band during their European tour.

In 1962 - at the height of his career of all places - he had to give up playing the trombone because of the long-term consequences of a car accident. He first switched to piano, then bass and finally cello, which he stayed with. At the same time he concentrated on composing and teaching. In 1968 he began building a jazz course at Indiana University. His fellow student Jerry Coker and his former student Jamey Aebersold also turned to jazz pedagogy at that time, which received many important impulses through them. The publications by Baker and Coker, some of which have become standard works, and the play-alongs by Aebersold were appreciated all over the world where there was a need for a thorough, well-thought-out jazz education that took this form of music as it was and it did not treated as some sort of exotic side branch of classical music. In addition, David Baker wrote numerous compositions in various styles, some within and some outside of jazz. He was very actively involved in the jazz work for the Smithsonian Institute in Washington and was also active in the International Association of Jazz Educators.

This book is not a detailed biography, but a very readable analysis of the "Baker Method" and a number of his compositions.

David Baker is now an internationally respected figure in the field of music education. She owes a lot to him.

Steven Beasley: Kay Kyser - The 0l ‘Professor of Swing! America‘s Forgotten Superstar, Richland Creek Publ./USA, 341 pages with many photos and a discography

Again and again you can read that the popular music of the 30s and 40s in the USA was jazz in the form of swing. But that's only true to a very limited extent - there were many dance orchestras that only played more or less influenced by jazz, without the intensity that belongs to real jazz, with comparatively good arrangements and without good improvising soloists. These included - to name just a few of the most famous names - Guy Lombardo, Lawrence Welk, Fred Waring, Hal Kemp, Frankie Carle, Bob Chester, George Hall, Wayne King, Sammy Kaye and also Kay Kyser. It is definitely worth studying the life story of one of these band leaders.

The book was written by a much younger musician and journalist who became a fan of Kyser when he was no longer alive. He interviewed family members and band members and collected all the memorabilia he could find: photos, records, newspaper advertisements and reviews, programs, manuscripts, sheet music, posters, tour plans and more. His admiration for Kay Kyser, however, sometimes clouded his judgment, which is already clear in the book title: Kyser was never a superstar. He was actually called "Professor of Swing" in connection with a very popular radio quiz that ran under the name "Kay Kysers College of Musical Knowledge" from 1938-50 (ultimately as a TV broadcast) on NBC . Kyser was born on June 18, 1905 in Rocky Mount (North Carolina). In 1926 he founded a student band, which he later expanded into a big band. He turned out to be a very effective entertainer and an energetic band leader, even though he didn't play an instrument (!). After some ups and downs, the success of his orchestra began in 1935, and from 1939–44 it also appeared in seven feature films. After the end of the war, Kyser supported the health service in his home country and dissolved the ensemble in 1948, but continued to make recordings until 1950, each with specially composed casts. After that, surprisingly, he did not want to know anything about his musical past, declined all interview requests and invitations and became a member of Christian Science after he had found a cure from a persistent ailment there (in 1983 he was even President of the Universal Church for one year). He died two years later, on July 23, 1985. One of his motto was the remarkable sentence: "I‘d rather hire a gentleman and make a musician out of him than hire a musician and try to make a gentleman out of him." (P. 47).

Eddie Lambert: Duke Ellington - A listener‘s guide, The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Lanham, USA, 374 pages

Anyone who still doubts Duke Ellington's significance for the music history of the 20th century has either heard too few of his recordings or not studied them carefully enough. This book, written by one of the most important Ellington connoisseurs, offers him an excellent basis for this. The author has examined all recordings published (!) Up to 1984 (studio, live, radio / TV, film) including all alternate takes, as well as those of the small casts he calls “contingent groups”. It offers the reader condensed, critical analyzes, plus background information, often comparisons with other recordings and all kinds of references to remarkable passages and subtleties. This work requires enormous knowledge, an admirable memory and a very fine ear. The result is a standard work that is unparalleled in jazz literature.

But the author missed one record. It contains nine tracks from the "C Jam All Stars" (rec. November 15, 1958 in Munich) with Clark Terry, Paul Gonsalves, Carlos Diernhammer (then pianist with Freddie Brocksieper), Jimmy Woode and Sam Woodyard. Originally published on BERTELSMANN 61134, the recordings have recently also appeared on CD (LONEHILL LHJ 10339). By the way, Joe was supposed to play Zawinul, but a misunderstanding didn't make it happen. Eddie Lambert also did not recognize the recordings of 3 and 9 February 1932 as unintentional stereo recordings (see break in this issue, p. 18). Neither of these diminishes the value of this excellent book in any way.

Joe Viera