Today In Jazz

Happy Birthday Ronnie Matthews, Sylvia Syms, Eddie Sauter and Wynton Kelly!

December 2

Let’s celebrate four jazz giants who were born on this day and all of whom left an indelible legacy – two pianists, a singer and a composer/arranger.

We’ll start with pianist Ronnie Matthews (1935-2008), caught in great form by an amateur videographer – the juice was flowing that night:

Singer Sylvia Syms (1917-92) was taken in as a teenager by Billie Holiday and Benny Carter, admired by Frank Sinatra and Harry Belafonte, and loved by Art Tatum. Here she is, in the wee small hours of the morning jamming with Mr. Tatum – this has never been commercially released.

Eddie Sauter (1914-81) was the most original voice in jazz composition and arranging after Duke Ellington in the 1930’s and 40’s, and has yet to be appropriately recognized for his contributions to jazz. In the early 1950’s, Sauter paired up with another vital voice in orchestrated jazz, Bill Finegan, and their madcap, unique, humorous and deep music was captured on the Abbott and Costello Show in 1953. Dig the humorous introduction:

Wynton Kelly (1931-71) was one of the most swinging pianists of his generation, and had a knack for providing the perfect accompaniment to whomever he was playing with. This clip from a 1959 television broadcast finds Kelly with the famous Miles Davis Quintet (John Coltrane/Paul Chambers/Jimmy Cobb). Every note is a classic: