Tonight's typically crowded "Big Broadcast" includes King Oliver, the trumpet-playing leader who brought Louis Armstrong to Chicago in 1922. Oliver's career on record was brief, 1923 to 1931, and he didn't always make the wisest career moves, like turning down the job at the Cotton Club that catapulted Duke Ellington to global fame. His chops went bad by the early 30s, but he continued touring with groups until 1936. He passed two years later.
Songwriter J. Fred Coots, born on May 2, has never gotten a proper tribute, and he won't tonight. But you'll hear a few of his songs in anticipation of the real thing next year. We'll also hear the work of composer Archie Gottler and crooner Scrappy Lambert. Plus some appropriate "Mother's Day" selections, including Irving Berlin's "To My Mammy," written for the Al Jolson picture, "Mammy." Berlin's is the archetypical American Success Story. He arrived in NYC from Russia at the age of five, went from being a "singing waiter" to an unrivaled composing career that began with "Alexander's Ragtime Band" in 1911. He was born on May 11, 1888, and lived to be 101.