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Happy Birthday, Sy Oliver

Today would have been the 114th birthday of Sy Oliver. Oliver is a very important figure, and a pioneer. This is from Wikipedia:

In 1933, Oliver joined Jimmie Lunceford’s band, contributing many hit arrangements for the band, including “My Blue Heaven” and “Ain’t She Sweet”. In 1939, he became one of the first African Americans with a prominent role in a white band when he joined Tommy Dorsey as an arranger, though he ceased playing trumpet at that time. (Fletcher Henderson joined the Benny Goodman orchestra as the arranger in the same year.) He led the transition of the Dorsey band from Dixieland to modern big band. His joining was instrumental in Buddy Rich’s decision to join Dorsey. His arrangement of “On the Sunny Side of the Street” was a big hit for Dorsey, as were his own compositions “Yes, Indeed!” (a gospel-jazz tune that was later recorded by Ray Charles), “Opus One”, “The Minor is Muggin'”, “T.D.’s Boogie Woogie” and “Well, Git It”.

He certainly deserves to be remembered.

Above is Opus No. 1. It was made famous by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, which had a hit with it in 1944. Oliver wrote the music and Sid Garris the lyrics.

This nice version was performed by Big Band Konzervatoře Plzeň, which is from Dubna, Russia.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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