Harlem’s Cab Calloway’s “Hepster Dictionary,” 1939 (video)

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Cab Calloway, the charismatic bandleader not only had a way with words, his love of them led him to compile a “Hepster’s Dictionary” of Harlem musician slang circa 1938. It featured 200 expressions used by the “hep cats” when they talk their “jive” in the clubs on Lenox Avenue in Harlem, NY.. Continue Reading →

Harlem’s Billie “Eleanora Fagan” Holiday

Billie Holiday Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Continue Reading →

The Douglas Theater, Harlem, 1920

On 143rd Street and Lenox Avenue sat the Douglas Theater, depending on which of my sources is correct, either 600 or 2200 seats (which in 1935 expanded to 2300, which could indicate that an orchestra pit was covered over to add more seating). Continue Reading →

Harlem Jazzmobile Founder Billy Taylor

800px-Billy_Taylor_(jazz)Billy Taylor (born William Taylor; July 24, 1921 – December 28, 2010) was an American jazz pianist, composer, broadcaster and educator. Continue Reading →

Harlem Jazz Museum Acquires Trove By Greats

For decades jazz cognoscenti have talked reverently of “the Savory Collection.” Recorded from radio broadcasts in the late 1930s by an audio engineer named William Savory, it was known to include extended live performances by some of the most honored names in jazz — but only a handful of people had ever heard even the smallest fraction of that music, adding to its mystique. Continue Reading →