Boston's Jazz History

In His Own Words: George Frazier, Boston Herald, 1942

January 28, on Frankie Newton: “Frankie Newton’s band at the Savoy on Columbus Avenue is far and away the most exciting small group to play Boston within at least the past ten years. Newton is one of the more distinguished trumpet players around today... He’s not a powerhouse trumpeter, but a musician who plays subtly and exquisitely.”

March 19, on Stan Kenton: “My own reaction to Kenton’s music is that it is neither fish nor flesh, but pretty foul. It seems to me pretentious, artistically phony, and without any attributes that might even charitably be called jazz... It plays too loud, it has no exciting soloists, its intonation is deficient, it lacks light and shade, and it never, never, relaxes. But it is only accurate reporting to state that it was a smash hit in Boston.”

April 17, on Sabby Lewis: “The seven pieces—piano, bass, drums, two reeds, two brass—accomplish wonders. The voicings are so expert that there are monments when the seven men sound like 13 or 14. And by that I don’t mean they’re loud and blary, and strictly for the jazzers, but that they somehow manage to achieve the depth and resonance of a good small band.”

June 25, on Benny Goodman: “Somewhere along the road he became a charlatan. He became the worst sort of aesthetic phony... Goodman’s supposed to be an artist. He’s not supposed to have a singer as third-rate as Peggy Lee cluttering up the platform. He’s supposed to be Benny the Magnificent. I’m afraid, though, that he is just about anything but.”

July 1, on the Tommy Dorsey band: “Between you and me, it sounds much nicer when it isn’t playing. When it isn’t playing, it sounds absolutely lovely... You look at that Tommy Dorsey, you would think with his profound ignorance of jazz, he would be glad to keep quiet. But not him.”

View the companion article, "Of Datelines and Down Beats: Jazz, George Frazier, and Late-Night Boston."


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