The Troy Street Observer

Cape Cod Jazz: Pretty Hot for May

It’s a Cape Code two-fer for the month of May. On May 24, 1980, the first Cape Cod Jazz Festival opened, while on May 25, 1914, pianist Marie Marcus, a friend indeed to Cape jazz, was born in Roxbury.

The Cape Cod Jazz Fest was the brainchild of Jack Bradley, the president of the Cape Cod Jazz Society, an organization he helped form in 1977. Bradley claimed it was the largest aggregation of jazz talent ever assembled on the Cape, and it is hard to argue with that assessment. For two days they held forth at Dunfey’s Hyannis Resort. Amy Lee covered the festival for the Christian Science Monitor.
Cape Cod Jazz Fest AdvertOn Saturday the 24th, the New Black Eagle Jazz Band with special guest Dick Wetmore led off, followed by Roomful of Blues. In the evening, Dick Johnson’s band (not yet called Swing Shift) preceded Buddy Rich and his thunderous 16-piece orchestra.

The afternoon of Sunday the 25th was given over to a tribute to Bobby Hackett, who lived his last five years on the Cape, passing in 1976. The Marie Marcus Quartet played first, followed by tributes by Lou Colombo and Dick Wetmore, then Scott Hamilton’s Quartet, and finally a Bobby Hackett Memorial group led by Doc Cheatham and Vic Dickenson, with pianist Chuck Folds and drummer Ernie Hackett, Bobby’s son. The session ran a whopping four and a half hours.

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January 4, 1906: Frankie Newton Born in Emory, VA

Trumpeter William Frank “Frankie” Newton was born in Emory, Va. Newton was already a star when he arrived in Boston in January 1942, and stayed for almost two years. He’d played with Cecil Scott, Charlie Barnet, John Kirby, and Teddy Hill; played on Bessie Smith’s “Gimme a Pigfoot” session in 1933 (her last), and on Billie Holiday’s recording of “Strange Fruit” in 1939. He was a founding member of John Kirby’s swing sextet, and often played at Barney Josephson’s Cafe Society nightclub.

His engagement at the Savoy, with trombonist Vic Dickenson alongside, turned Boston jazz on its ear, and his professionalism raised the level of play on bandstands all across town. Wrote one reporter that year: “There’s only one word for Frankie Newton: magnificent.”

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