[Dixielandjazz] Re: Jimmy Durante (was Time Wallpaper)

Stan Brager sbrager at socal.rr.com
Thu Jan 6 15:07:58 PST 2005


Having heard Jimmy Durante's music for a number of years, I find it
difficult to place him in the jazz corner. More appropriate would have been
George Gershwin or Frank Sinatra. Both of these men did more for jazz on the
whole than Durante.

Durante's phrasing of a song was quite good. His contribution to jazz was
minor at best. Durante was primarily an entertainer who sought the heart of
American popular musical at the current moment. He achieved that goal as a
comedian and a singer of songs popular when he found success. To his credit,
he added to his songbook as he went along but not much. Jazz to "the Schnoz"
was merely a means to an end - acceptance as a popular entertainer. Jazz at
the time of Durante's early years was a word to extract a measure of
popularity into a musical project. Many bands made certain that their name
contained the word "jazz" or "jas" or "jass" - that did not automatically
mean that they were jazz bands as we use the term today or that they played

Gershwin, through his music made jazz acceptable and part of the mainstream
of American music. On the basis of "I Got Rhythm" alone, I would place
Gershwin as a most prominent jazz figure of these three musicians.

Sinatra was an extraordinary vocalist who's phrasing was jazz oriented at a
minimum and who always surrounded himself with jazz players and arrangers
who's roots were in jazz.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bill Haesler" <bhaesler at bigpond.net.au>
To: "Stan Brager" <sbrager at socal.rr.com>; "dixieland jazz mail list"
<dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2005 1:54 PM
Subject: Re: Jimmy Durante (was Time Wallpaper)

> Regarding:  >Until now, I never realized Durante's great contribution to
> jazz (read with sarcasm in your voice).<
> Dear Stan,
> There was a lot more to the man than many jazz lovers realise.
> Durante was certainly a jazz pioneer, although to bracket him with Louis
> Armstrong, Wynton Marsalis, Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk and Dave
> (as Time has) seems a little odd.
> The following is from the 'Big Bands Data Base'.
> 'Jimmy Durante. b. 1893, New York, N. Y., d. 1980, Santa Monica, CA.
> I have included Jimmy Durante here because of his extraordinary
> As a very young vaudevillian, just after WW1, he formed one of New York
> City's first 'dixieland' jazz bands (Durante's Novelty Jazz Orchestra).
> Nicknamed 'the Schnoz' because of his large nose, he went on to become one
> of America's most popular and beloved comedians. Very few people
> his start in show business as a musician. Throughout his vaudeville years,
> and also his screen years, he often wrote little novelty tunes, which he
> sang on stage.
> In 1933, he composed the song "Inka Dinka Doo", a song which was closely
> identified with Jimmy for the rest of his life.
> Jimmy died in California at age 87. Ethel Merman and a whole host of stars
> attended his funeral.'
> There is a lot more in the history books, if you care to search it out.
> Look out for the following early recordings (most of which I have on LP
> CD) that prove Durante's claim to jazz fame:
> Bailey's Lucky Seven
> Jimmy Durante's Jazz Band
> Ladd's Black Aces (alluded to by Mike Logsdon, in his one-line reply to
> Lanin's Southern Serenaders
> Original New Orleans Jazz Band
> Whiteway Jazz Band
> Kind regards,
> Bill.

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