Building Rhythm Together for Christ's Love

April 27, 2019

Thinking About Jazz
(free event, light lunch served, door prizes, great discussion)

Billy Eckstine:  Mr. B

Born July 8, 1914, Billy Eckstine was born and raised in Pittsburgh before moving to Washington, DC where he attended Armstrong High and Howard University.  He left Howard in 1933 after winning first prize in an amateur talent contest.  By 1939 he went to Chicago and joined Earl Hines orchestra with whom he played trumpet and was a featured vocalist until 1943.  Already establishing himself as a significant artist he formed his own band the next year which welcomed rising stars such as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, Fats Navarro and Sarah Vaughan.  The Billy Eckstine Orchestra is considered the first bop big band which generated a sound incorporating the new wave of jazz emerging during this time.  He created two million-selling hits in 1945 (Cottage for Sale and a revival of Prisoner of Love) which set the stage for his future career.  He became a solo artist in 1947 and recorded over a dozen hits in the late 40’s.  His 1950 performance at New York’s Paramount Theater drew a bigger audience than Frank Sinatra’s appearance there.  A LIFE magazine profile that year portrayed Billy in a jovial moment with a group of white female admirers, one with a hand on his shoulder, another laughing while resting her head on his chest.  The backlash caused protest against the magazine and damaged his career significantly.  Nevertheless, he continued to record and perform; in later years he made numerous appearances on TV variety shows and as an actor on other shows.  Strikingly handsome, he was a fashion icon, famous for his “Mr. B collar,” a high roll collar that formed a “B” over a Windsor-knotted tie.  These collars were worn by hipsters in the late 40’s and 50’s.  After suffering a stroke in 1992 he never performed again, dying at age 78 the next year.  Jazz scholar and radio programmer, Guy Middleton, will deliver this fascinating presentation.


Other 2019 TAJ Events

February 23th
Jamil Nasser:  Upright Bass

April 27th
Billy Eckstine:  Mr. B

 June 29th
Lee Morgan:  I Called Him Morgan

August 24th
Jelly Roll Morton:  Jazz’s First Arranger

October 26th
Oscar Peterson:  The Will to Swing

December 4th

Mary Lou Williams:  1st Lady of Jazz Keyboard

Thinking About Jazz is a public service brought to you by Southwest Renaissance Development Corporation (SRDC)--a cultural ministry arm of Westminster DC. 

This free educational experience happens every other month from 1-3pm  on the 4th Saturday (except December).  Each one focuses on a different giant or genre of jazz and features vintage video footage and select audio recordings delivered by experts in the subject matter.

The material along with Q & A allows participants to go deeper into the history, stories and power of the art form and those who have created it.

Light refreshments are served and door prizes are given.

  • Rev. Brian Hamilton, President
  • Lloyd Jordan, Chair
  • Dick Smith, Jazz Night Program Director

Marilyn Abraham, James Besley, Yolanda R. Coleman, Vyllorya Evans, Gwen Fleming, Wilma Goldstein, Sue K. Gresham, Blanche Hamilton, Alicia Hetzner, Donald Roe, Tangela Roe, Brenda Wilder, Von Deleah Williams
The Thinking About Jazz Committee
holds a planning meeting the last Saturday of January, March, May, July, Sept, Nov, 10am to noon at Westminster.  You are invited to join this committee!  Check the calendar for the next meeting.  You will enjoy your welcome to the committee and the opportunity to be part of planning another great Thinking About Jazz event.