Big band - Difficult By Harry James. Arranged by Myles Collins. Full score and set of parts. Published by Lush Life JL.
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Harry Haag James March 15, — July 5, was an American musician who is best known as a trumpet-playing band leader who led a big band from to He broke up his band for a short period in but shortly after he reorganized and was active again with his band from then until his death in He was especially known among musicians for his technical proficiency as well as his tone , and was influential on new trumpet players from the late s into the s.
He was also an actor in a number of films that usually featured his band. He started performing with the circus at an early age, first as a contortionist at age four, then playing the snare drum in the band from about the age of six.
James started taking trumpet lessons from his father at age eight, and by age twelve he was leading the second band in the Christy Brothers Circus, for which his family was then working. At each session he was given several pages to learn from the Arban's book and was not allowed to pursue any other pastime until he had learned them.
In , his family settled in Beaumont , Texas. James played regularly with Herman Waldman's band, and at one performance was noticed by nationally popular Ben Pollack. He was nicknamed "The Hawk" early in his career for his ability to sight-read. A common joke was that if a fly landed on his written music, Harry James would play it. His low range had a warmth associated with the cornet and even the flugelhorn , but this sound was underrecorded in favor of James' brilliant high register.
With financial backing from Goodman,  James debuted his own big band in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania, in January , but it didn't click until adding a string section in He toured with the band into the s, and as of July the Harry James Orchestra, led by Fred Radke, was still very much in business.
James wanted to change Sinatra's name to 'Frankie Satin', but the singer refused. James' orchestra succeeded Glenn Miller 's on a program sponsored by Chesterfield Cigarettes in , when Miller disbanded his orchestra to enter the Army.
James recorded many popular records and appeared in many Hollywood movies. The album from the movie charted at 1, with James backing big band singer and actress Doris Day. With James's childhood spent as a musician in a traveling circus, he picked up a flamboyant style that utilized such techniques as heavy vibrato, half valve and lip glissandi, valve and lip trills, and valve tremolos.
These techniques were popular at the time in what was known as "hot" jazz, epitomized by James's idol Louis Armstrong , but fell out of favor by the s with the advent of "cool" jazz. Growing up in the South, James was also exposed to blues music , which had an additional influence on his style. As James explained, "I was brought up in Texas with the blues — when I was eleven or twelve years old down in what they call 'barbecue row' I used to sit in with the guys that had the broken bottlenecks on their guitars, playing the blues; that's all we knew.
After James left Benny Goodman's band in to form his own band, he soon found that leading a commercially viable musical group required a broader set of skills than those needed to be a gifted musician playing in someone else's band. The James band ran into financial trouble, and it became increasingly difficult for James to pay salaries and keep the band together.
In , James lost his contract with Columbia Records he returned in , and Frank Sinatra left the band that January. It was not long after this that James made a pivotal decision: he would adopt a "sweeter" style that added strings to the band, and the band would deliver tunes that were in more of a "pop" vein and less true to its jazz roots. From a commercial standpoint, the decision paid off as James soon enjoyed a string of chart topping hits that provided commercial success for him and his band.
Indeed, a U. Treasury report released in listed Harry James and Betty Grable as the highest-paid couple in the nation. While James remained commercially successful and personally committed to his music, some critics sought to find fault.
James's jazz releases during this period, while not as numerous, include a variety of modern arrangements from Neal Hefti , Frank Devenport, Johnny Richards and Jimmy Mundy that often inspired his musicians, and as bop surpassed swing by the late s, James was surprisingly open to its influence.
After coasting through the mids, James made a complete reevaluation of where he was heading in his musical career. Count Basie provided the impetus by making a significant comeback with his newly formed "16 Men Swinging" band, and James wanted a band with a decided Basie flavor. This album was the first in a series released on Capitol, and continuing later on MGM , representative of the Basie style that James adopted during this period, with some of the arrangements provided by former Basie saxophonist and arranger Ernie Wilkins , whom James hired for his own band.
While James never completely regained favor with jazz critics during his lifetime in spite of his return to more jazz-oriented releases in the late s and into the s, contemporary opinion of his work has shifted. In , Marc Myers of JazzWax commented, "[James's] band of the mids was more modern than most of the majors, and in he led one of the finest bands of the year. While each served up its own brand of magnificence, James produced more consistently brilliant tracks than the others James felt strongly about the music he both played and recorded.
In while in London, he did an interview with the English jazz critic Steve Voce , who asked if the biggest audience was for the commercial numbers he had recorded.
James visibly bristled, replying "That would depend on for whom you are playing. If you're playing for a jazz audience, I'm pretty sure that some of the jazz things we do would be a lot more popular than 'Sleepy Lagoon,' and if we're playing at a country club or playing Vegas, in which we have many, many types of people, then I'm sure that 'Sleepy Lagoon' would be more popular at that particular time.
But I really get bugged about these people talking about commercial tunes, because to me, if you're gonna be commercial, you're gonna stand on your head and make funny noises and do idiotic things. I don't think we've ever recorded or played one tune that I didn't particularly love to play. Otherwise, I wouldn't play it. James was married three times, first to singer Louise Tobin on May 4, , with whom he had two sons, Harry Jeffrey James b.
They had two daughters, Victoria Elizabeth b. The couple had a son, Michael b. He was also a founding investor in the Atlantic City Race Course. James was a heavy smoker. In he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer , but continued to work. He played his last professional job, with the Harry James Orchestra, on June 26, in Los Angeles,  dying just nine days later in Las Vegas, Nevada  on July 5, at age Frank Sinatra gave the eulogy at his funeral, held in Las Vegas.
As of , two recordings of Harry James had been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame , a special Grammy award established in to honor recordings that are at least 25 years old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance.
Metronome magazine conducted annual readers' polls ranking the top jazz musician on each instrument. The winners were invited to join an ensemble known as the Metronome All-Stars that was assembled for studio recordings. The studio sessions were held in the years —42, —53, and , and typically resulted in two tracks which allowed each participant a one chorus solo.
Harry James was chosen to play trumpet with the Metronome All-Stars in , and A similar annual readers' poll conducted by Downbeat magazine selected James as the best trumpet instrumentalist for the years ,   and ,  and as favorite soloist for For his contribution to the motion picture industry James was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at Hollywood Boulevard on February 8, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
For other people named Harry James, see Harry James disambiguation. Albany, Georgia , U. Las Vegas , Nevada, U. Louise Tobin m.
Betty Grable m. Joan Boyd m. Jazz big band swing. Musician bandleader trumpeter. Main article: Harry James discography. Retrieved October 16, Retrieved August 27, Oxford University Press. Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved May 31, Retrieved on May 10, Retrieved January 29, Tape 1, side A. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. Oxford, , pp. Retrieved May 13, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
June 7, Retrieved April 15, — via Newspapers. Retrieved November 22, Call For Music, popular music and song. Vanity Fair. Retrieved October 17, Retrieved January 20, November 15, Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 20, Retrieved December 18, Archived from the original on February 2, The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, Retrieved July 17, Big Band Library.
Retrieved January 2,
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