When people want to ‘get to know you’, often times a question they ask is “what kind of music do you like”?’
My hands-down all-time favourite is Harlem music from the 20s, 30s and 40s.
To me, Harlem music is Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway.
It’s Willie “The Lion” Smith, Jelly Roll Morton and Fats Waller. Harlem jazz is the music of zoot suits, speakeasies and the Savoy Ballroom, of rent parties and the Cotton Club.
The Harlem jazz and blues style captures the mood and feel of that place and time. It was to a large extent THE sound of the 20s and its influence spread into the 30s and 40s. It is the music that speaks of life, hardship, broken hearts, and unrequited love. It is filled with good times and memorable characters… Minnie the Moocher, the Viper, Sophisticated Ladies and Satin Dolls.
At its best, the music can stop your heart and lift your spirit. Does anything get better than that?
As Thomas “Fats” Waller would say, “One never knows… do one?”