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Re: “Blue Heaven

Jimmie Lunceford and his players, singers and arrangers are remembered and celebrated internationally, and his recordings are still heard everywhere. But, like the article points out, Jimmie is sometimes overlooked in Memphis, where the Lunceford band began. The "refurbished" Beale Street area, as everybody knows, is very tourist-ey and has one believing that Memphis was purely a musical domain of Blues and Blues offshoots. But that's not truly the case, and Lunceford's sound is so universally appealing and musically versatile that he's actually transcended the packaged perception offered to the visitors who come to the theme-park type strip of clubs and restaurants that are intended to represent the legacy of music in Memphis. As the hometown folks should know (and be proud of), Lunceford was immensely popular and beloved in his day, with DOZENS of hit records! Those that might disregard him, as the article correctly stresses, are probably very narrow in their musical (and historical) understanding, and completely unaware of the awesome Swing, power and precision that overwhelmed audiences wherever the Lunceford Orchestra played. That's too bad, because the energy and electricity of that great band still reverberates with new generations of Swing dancers and fans. PS: People who are into Lunceford are happy to know that a few of the band members are still living and playing great, right up to this day, like the trumpeters Joe Wilder and Snooky Young, and the trumpeter and arranger Gerald Wilson, who teaches Jazz Appreciation at UCLA and just won a series of Grammys for his own recent big band arrangements and albums.

Posted by john colianni on 01/08/2008 at 9:15 AM


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