Jazz Birthdays: Joe Bushkin (1916), Howard Rumsey (1917) and Al Hirt (1922)

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Joe Bushkin was a talented pianist who worked with Berigan, Dorsey, Sinatra and Crosby. His bio in the New Yorker has many anecdotes that show that the free market is demanding and competitive. It shows how jazz musicians had to move around from gig to gig in order to work and how getting paid could be a problem. “You Do Something To Me”, (with Bobby Hackett) “Sweet Georgia Brown”, (with Peanuts Hucko), “I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues”, and “Indiana”.

Howard Rumsey’s claim to fame was in bringing jazz to a bar named The Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach. He got the owner to try it to enhance business and then he worked on commission. This arrangement lasted for 22 years during which time he became a jazz entrepreneur who brought in talented musicians and marketed them. Through his efforts, West Coast jazz became a brand and a way to market the music. His work led to a recording contract with the Contemporary label, which built up the West Coast brand. Rumsey organized an intercollegiate jazz festival to market the music, leading to events at the Hollywood Bowl. Subsequently he owned and operated Concerts by the Sea. The economics of the business altered when younger musicians began contracting with studios exclusively, making it difficult to recruit new players and record them.

Al Hirt didn’t regard himself as a jazz musician, but he could play some mean jazz when he wanted to, as in “Hot Lips“. He solos after Red Nichols and Pete Candoli, and Red plays a terrific solo some 40 years after being a huge recording star of the 20s. Hirt was a businessman musician who opened his own club in the French Quarter on Bourbon Street.

6:01 am on November 7, 2012