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Dick Hyman, Topsy Chapman Celebrate Teddy Wilson This Week On Riverwalk Jazz

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Jim Cullum Jr. Teddy Wilson
Teddy Wilson
Teddy Wilson
1912 - 1986
piano
backed Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
and Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
1915 - 1959
vocalist
—then became a star playing with Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
1909 - 1986
clarinet
. He made history as one of the first black musicians to join a white band in public performances. Wilson’s understated, delicately-swinging piano style defined the Swing Era.

This week on Riverwalk Jazz, pianist Dick Hyman
Dick Hyman
Dick Hyman
b.1927
piano
(who took piano lessons from Wilson in New York) and vocalist Topsy Chapmanjoin The Jim Cullum Jr.
Jim Cullum Jr.
Jim Cullum Jr.
b.1941
cornet
Jazz Band to celebrate Teddy Wilson's magic touch.

The program is distributed in the US by Public Radio International, on Sirius/XM satellite radio and can be streamed on-demand from the Riverwalk Jazz website.

Wilson was born in 1912. As a young man trained in classical violin and piano, he got his first taste of jazz listening to recordings of Fats Waller
Fats Waller
Fats Waller
1904 - 1943
piano
, Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
and Earl Hines
Earl Hines
Earl Hines
1903 - 1983
piano
on a gramophone that belonged to a clerk in the campus drugstore at Tuskegee Institute where his father taught. Wilson had his first breaks in professional music in the early 1930s playing in Chicago with bands led by Jimmie Noone
Jimmie Noone
Jimmie Noone
1895 - 1944
clarinet
and Louis Armstrong.

Then late one night in 1932, the self-styled talent scout, jazz promoter and record producer John Hammond heard Wilson sitting in on a live broadcast from the Grand Terrace in Chicago. Hammond was so impressed that he fronted the cash to bring Wilson to New York to be a part of Benny Carter
Benny Carter
Benny Carter
1907 - 2003
sax, alto
’s recording group, the Chocolate Dandies.

Hammond was behind the scenes everywhere in the 1930s, spotting unknown singers and musicians and pairing his favorites in concert dates and recording sessions. He soon adopted Teddy Wilson as one of his protégés. In 1935, Hammond brought two of his favorite ‘unknowns’ together in a New York recording studio. It was a winning combination of Billie Holiday and Wilson, who put together a group with Roy Eldridge
Roy Eldridge
Roy Eldridge
1911 - 1989
trumpet
, Benny Goodman and Ben Webster
Ben Webster
Ben Webster
1909 - 1973
sax, tenor
.

The results were spectacular. They recorded four numbers on July 2, 1935, including the classics “Miss Brown to You” and “What a Little Moonlight Can Do.” It was the first of many outstanding Teddy Wilson and Billie Holiday recording collaborations.

As a founding member of Benny Goodman’s enormously successful small ensembles, Wilson became a star of the Swing Era. His 1936 concert debut with the Benny Goodman Trio at the Congress Hotel in Chicago was a landmark in civil rights history—it was the most high-profile appearance up to that time of black and white musicians performing together in public.


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