Armenian-American Legendary Jazz Producer Profiled in WSJ


George Avakian probably has done more to influence the way jazz has
been heard over the past 70 years than anyone else alive. Mr. Avakian,
who celebrated his 90th birthday in March, may not have single-handedly
invented the jazz album, but in 1939 and 1940 he got the concept off
the ground. He is responsible for essential albums by Louis Armstrong,
Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck and other jazz greats — a
list much too long for this column. And he ran the first jazz reissue
program.

Born in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide, Mr. Avakian arrived
in New York in 1923. The first jazz record he distinctly remembers
hearing was of the Casa Loma Orchestra in 1933, when he was 14, and the
first jazz star he remembers seeing in person is Lucky Millinder, at a
theater in New York’s Washington Heights, the part of upper Manhattan
where Mr. Avakian grew up. He got hooked on jazz via the radio, hearing
Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and others. By 1936, when
attending the Horace Mann School in the Bronx’s Riverdale neighborhood,
he contrived to interview Benny Goodman for the school paper; in 1962,
Mr. Avakian accompanied Goodman on his ground-breaking tour of Russia. LINK

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Published in: on May 18, 2009 at 6:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Great Music

dnots300

One of the most anticipated allbums of the year and one of the best albums to come out this year by far. An incredibly visionary collaboration between Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and … David Lynch is now freely available for your listening pleasure on NPR at this link.

Published in: on May 17, 2009 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment