events, News, staff

Broadway, Harlem… and London

Motley, 1929

Dr Harvey G. Cohen spoke at a London Jazz Festival event in the Purcell Room last week, an evening of music and discussion on the theme of Harlem Meets Broadway.

Jack Jaffe of the newsletter Music and Words writes: “For me, this was the highlight of the week. Alyn Shipton, jazz critic on the Times and author of the definitive New History Of Jazz, chaired a first set colloquium with two King’s College academics: Harvey Cohen, lecturer in Cultural & Creative Industries and author of Duke Ellington’s America, and Cliff Eisen, Professor of Music History, and a Mozart, Frank Loesser and Cole Porter aficionado.

“Their discussion focused on two musician-composers, Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges, both of whom were exceptional talents. If Carter takes precedence, it was because he was a multi-instrumentalist, playing sax, trombone, trumpet, piano as well as a superb arranger. Harlem in the 1920’s was a magnet for musicians and Manhattanites attracted by the new music: jazz, as played at the Cotton Club. (And also a home from home for substance abuse, though the speakers didn’t refer to it.)

“The discourse was punctuated by a lively septet led by trombonist/broadcaster Campbell Burnap, with Dave Gelly (tn sax), Martin Litton (p), Pete Morgan (bass). Richard Pite (dr), Enrico Tomasso (tr) and Trevor Whiting (al sax). Campbell’s gravelly vocals could also be heard. The second set was mainly musical, with occasional anecdotes from the musicians. One wistful composition by Benny Carter, ‘All About You’, was souffl’d neatly by Martin Litton and I later discovered that it had no lyric. […]

“Altogether, a very pleasant and entertaining 2.5 hours […] The speakers were well-informed, the musicians excellent, the soaring horn of Enrico Tomasso was
sublime, and the audience went home smiling. More talk and play experiences, please.”

Yes, sir!

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