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March 22, 2008

THE SOUTH CAROLINA HIT PARADE, produced by CJI’s Jack McCray, featured musical arrangements, for the first time, by jazz musicians native to Charleston and other places in South Carolina who left an historic jazz legacy. This music was performed by some of the finest musicians who actively work Charleston’s contemporary jazz scene.  They make up the Charlton Singleton Orchestra, the debut of a 20-piece big band led by CJI musician, Lowcountry native, trumpeter, composer and arranger, Charlton Singleton.

The orchestra’s rhythm section included CJI’s popular ensemble, the Franklin Street Five, a Jenkins Orphanage tribute band, led by CJI music director, Quentin Baxter. Rounding out the section was bassist Kevin Hamilton, and pianist Richard White, Jr.  They were joined by Robert Lewis on alto saxophone; saxophonist Mark Sterbank and arranger of several concert tunes; trumpeter Chuck Dalton; baritone saxophonist John Cobb; vocalists Tony Burke and Ann Caldwell, Charleston’s first lady of jazz; Fred Wesley, Jr., former bandleader for James Brown; guitarist Lee Barbour, one of the best young jazz guitarists in the country, according to guitar giant, Joe Beck (Miles Davis’ first guitar player); and more!

The repertoire for the evening included the songbooks of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington Orchestras.  A highlight of the concert was the 1931 Fud Livingston hit ballad, “I’m Through With Love.”  This is one of Livingston’s most lasting compositions that he produced with Matt Malneck.  The tune was arranged for CJI and the orchestra by Charleston arranger and musician, John Slate. Also featured were jazz tunes composed by or associated with musicians from Charleston and South Carolina including:

Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) – Cheraw native and one of the country’s most celebrated jazz musician, composer and bandleader; pioneer of modern jazz namely bebop and one of its master trumpet players; with Dizzy, Charlestonian and jazz historian Dr. Wilmot “Al” Fraser wrote his autobiography – To Be or Not To Bop:  The Autobiography of Dizzy Gillespie

Freddie Green (1911-1987) – Charleston native; Count Basie’s rhythm guitarist for 50 years; by Basie’s own account, Green defined American swing; regarded as the greatest rhythm guitarist in jazz history, hands down; his collection was recently donated to the Avery Research Center (CJI Archives)

Fud Livingston (1906-1957) – Charleston native; saxophonist and arranger prominent in the 1920s-40s who arranged for Benny Goodman, among others; he wrote several popular ballads related to Charleston with his musical collaborator, Robert S. Cathcart, Jr. – “Easter Bells” and “Springtime in Charleston”; CJI is currently arranging his collection for online access

Buddy (1915-1977) and Ella (1923-2004) Johnson – bandleader brother and vocalist sister team from Darlington; toured with a large blues band throughout the country, mainly in the south performing to sold-out crowds in the 1940s and 50s; performed at the Cotton Club and Savoy Ballrooms; Buddy’s 1947 hit, “Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball” was used in the motion picture film “The Jackie Robinson Story”

Bubber Miley (1903-1932) – Aiken native and Jenkins Orphanage Band musician; trumpeter with the Duke Ellington Orchestra; he created the signature “jungle” sound for the orchestra – his trumpet solos are unsurpassed; he co-wrote several compositions with Duke including “Black and Tan Fantasy” and “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo”

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Charleston Jazz Initiative
c/o Arts Management Program
School of the Arts, College of Charleston
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