Geoffrey Smith celebrates the centenary today of Nat “King” Cole, the iconic pop vocalist who was also a brilliant jazz pianist. Geoffrey Smith surveys his keyboard hits, which inspired the likes of Oscar Peterson and Diana Krall.
Though he started on guitar, Bobby Hackett (1916-76) made his name on cornet and trumpet, starring with Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller, admired by Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis, in demand for Dixieland and lyrical ballads. Geoffrey Smith salutes a musicians’ musician.
Don Byas (1912-72) may be the best saxophonist you’ve never heard of. Coming to fame with Count Basie, he made his mark in the bebop band of Dizzy Gillespie, and forged a stellar reputation as a soloist. But in 1946, he moved to Europe, playing well, but rather forgotten. Geoffrey Smith restores the reputation of a formidable tenorist.
Count Basie’s illustrious big band career is usually divided into the free-wheeling crew of the 1930s and the juggernaut of the 1950s. But in between, the Basie team of the 1940s combined solo swing and potent ensembles. Geoffrey Smith picks highlights from a great Basie band.
Renowned for his solo virtuosity, pianist Oscar Peterson (1925-2007) was also esteemed as an inspiring accompanist. Geoffrey Smith presents Oscar in star partnerships with the likes of Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Stan Getz and Count Basie.
Pianist, composer and educator, Michael Garrick (1933-2011) blended jazz with poetry, Indian music and the church, adventure and whimsy, in cutting-edge work with the likes of Joe Harriott, Ian Carr and Norma Winstone. Geoffrey Smith picks highlights from a stellar British career.