BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE — Harry James
Happy 100th Birthday to the late, great Harry James! In the age of the big band, James’ virtuosic talents on the trumpet made his name. Performing for Benny Goodman, his sight-reading ability earned him the nickname “the Hawk” and, once he became a bandleader in his own right, was the first to employ a young singer named Frank Sinatra. James performed at the Paramount Theatre in Times Square during the same season that Sinatra had the first of his notorious “bobbysocks riots”, though the two had parted ways by then. On his way to the top, he earned the admiration of Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, and Glenn Miller. In classic New York fashion, though, he was far more popular with the fans and with his fellow musicians than he was with the critics, often responding to their barbs about his “schmaltzy” music with jabs of his own. But the crowds loved him, whether he played at the Empire State Building, the Astor Roof, the Hotel Lincoln, or Carnegie Hall. As he got older, he left New York for the warmer climes of the west and died in Las Vegas at the age of 67.
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