Every year, Jazz at Lincoln Center nominates four new members to their all-time Hall of Fame – which is not just an abstract concept, there literally is a hall of fame in JALC's Rose Hall, christened in honor of the legendary producer Nesuhi Ertegun. As always, this year's recipients are all highly worthy of the honor : Chick Webb, Dinah Washington, Cannonball Adderley, and Frank Trumbauer. All four will be inducted with a special musical celebration, rather than a formal ceremony, at Dizzy's Club Coca cola. The most surprising of the inductees, hands down, however, is Frank Trumbauer, the saxophone pioneer who in recent decades has, alas, earned the undesirable mantle of being one of the Great Forgotten Men of Jazz. Trumbauer's reputation is largely connected to two other giants, his longtime musical partner cornetist Bix Beiderbecke and Lester Young, the tenor saxophone colossus who consistently cited Trumbauer as his primary inspiration. (It doesn't help that Trumbauer's instrument of choice, a hybrid horn called the c-melody saxophone, has scarcely been taken seriously as a "real" jazz instrument for about 90 years now.) Through his work with Beiderbecke, and his influence on Young, Trumbauer was one of the founding fathers of jazz lyricism and jazz narrative, the essential idea of telling a story in an improvised solo. It was Trumbauer's particular innovation to make those stories incredibly personal and intimate – in a way that also suggests that he was also an influence on another colleague, the young Bing Crosby, and through him the legions of popular singers that Crosby inspired. Listening to the classic recordings of "Bix and Tram" from the late 1920s is to hear the deep roots of modernism and cool jazz, not only Lester Young, but Miles Davis, Lee Konitz, Lennie Tristano, Stan Getz. You don't really understand Bix or Prez until you've listened to Tram, and doubtless the unique two-reed combination of veteran Ken Peplowski and feisty youngster Aaron Johnson will do justice to his considerable legacy.
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