Paul Whiteman (1890-1967):
Influential Bandleader of American Popular Music and Jazz
Paul Whiteman is among the greats in terms of his contribution to American music of the early 20th century. His influence can be heard in jazz and popular dance music of his day, mostly via his never-ending search for new talent and exciting sounds. During the Jazz Age (loosely placed in the 1920s) his band was so popular that it performed almost every day of the year in clubs and concert halls, touring both the U.S. and Europe several times in a decade. He employed many of the top jazz performers of the era, including Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, and Bix Beiderbecke. He launched the career of crooner Bing Crosby and singer Mildred Bailey, featuring them as vocalists with his dance band. Whiteman's band furthered the exposure of jazz to a white, middle-class audience that had resisted what was seen as the music of uncultivated blacks; his 1924 Aeolian Hall concert gave those sounds an unprecedented legitimacy. The concert was billed as "An Experiment in Modern Music" for which Whiteman commissioned George Gershwin to compose a "jazz concerto." Gershwin himself was at the keyboard for that first performance of "Rhapsody in Blue." Concerts over the next thirteen years featured compositions by Ferde Grofé, William Grant Still, Duke Ellington, and many other innovative composers. Whiteman and his band were featured on radio programs, over 600 recordings, and several films. American music owes a considerable - and nearly forgotten - debt to this bandleader who incorporated the changing musical rhythms of jazz in his own unique way.SCOPE
This pathfinder offers a historical context for Paul Whiteman and his music. Many of the selections place Whiteman in the Jazz Age and offer a context for understanding his influence on the music of yesterday and today. Where possible, primary sources such as memoirs are preferred over analyses. When an analysis is appropriate, it will be based on original texts, research, and musical recordings. The sources were selected largely from the Begley Library at Schenectady County Community College. Where the Begley Library collection failed to have an important work, the collection at the University Library at Albany was consulted. Where each item is located is noted before the call number. Non-library sources (websites, commercially available material) will be noted. A few important materials are difficult to find and not located in either library, but are noted here as materials to look for.
The sources will be of interest to students in high school and above as well as to lovers of American music.
Begley Library at the Schenectady County Community College - BEG.
University Library at Albany University - ULIB
Reference - REF
Whiteman, Paul, 1890-1967
Music - Jazz
Conductors (Music) -- United States -- Biography
Jazz -- History and criticism
ML REF 100 -197
ML 3506 - 3561
Some titles came up again and again in my research but I was unable to get copies of them. I list them here as materials to keep an eye out for in used bookstores and on eBay and other online venues.
Johnson, Carl, Paul Whiteman: A Chronology, 1890-1967, Williamstown, MA.: Whiteman Collection, Williams College, Edition: Rev. ed., 1988.
This archive catalog shows up on eBay occasionally. It is not available in either of the libraries cited in this pathfinder. It lists the contents of the Whiteman Collection at Williams College.
Whiteman, Paul, and Mary Margaret McBride, Jazz, New York:J. H. Sears, 1926. Reprint: New York: Arno Press, 1974.
Jazz was Whiteman's first book, co-authored by Mary Margaret McBride. It offers Whiteman's perspective on music and is often cited in the arguments over the title "King of Jazz." Shows up on e-bay and rare book vender sites.
Rayno, Don, Paul Whiteman: Pioneer in American Music, Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, ISBN 0-8108-4579-2, June 2003
This is the first of a two-volume set that will serve as the definitive work about Whiteman's life and music. Covering the years from 1890 to 1930, the text will inform the reader about the exciting life of one of the major influencers of jazz music and also provide a nostalgic glimpse of what life was like during the Roaring Twenties.
From Scarecrow Press:
"Rayno's book sheds much-needed light on a misunderstood figure in American music and provides a detailed picture of Whiteman's many facets." - John Edward Hasse, Curator of American Music, Smithsonian Institute
Delong, Thomas A., Pops: Paul Whiteman, King of Jazz, Piscataway, NJ: New Century Publishers, 1983.
Call Number: ULIB ML 422 W4 D4 1983.
This volume is available at the University Library at the Albany University. Begley Library does not have a copy of it.
This 1983 biography has long been the only detailed look at Whiteman's life, both public and private. Filled with pictures, narratives, analyses, and facts, it remains the seminal work on Whiteman's life.
Begley Library has a wide assortment of tiles covering music in all genres. I have chosen a few of the best for this pathfinder topic. Musical theater, jazz, American Music, recordings, film, and radio were all part of Whiteman's career and this selection of reference books reflects that.
While many of the volumes are recent printings and reflect a rising interest in jazz, the older volumes also cover jazz effectively.
These volumes are located in the Reference section on the first floor of the Begley Library.
"'Chronicle' is too tame a subtitle for this epic book on the American musical. Bordman tells the story entertainingly, and the book is satisfying whether consulted for information or read for pleasure. An important feature of the new edition is an appendix that covers turn-of-the-century musicals that tour city to city and from neighborhood to neighborhood in large cities such as New York without ever playing a major house." - ARBA 93
Wide coverage through all periods and generally comprehensive. Entries are brief but give adequate basic information." - Walford's, 7th ed. 1996.
"A further 1,400 musician biographies. Guide to jazz films (pp. 382-6), recommended recordings 1966-75 (pp. 387-90), and a bibliography published 1966-75 (pp. 391-403.)" - Walford's, 7th ed. 1996.
Covers all areas of musical life: composers, conductors, singers, virtuosi, orchestras, bands, opera, houses, instruments, cities, festivals, jazz, country music, rock, blues, film, choreography, patrons, critics, scholars, institutions, and terminology. Over 5,000 articles, supported by 700 photographs and over 2,000 musical examples." - Walford's 7th ed.
(Although I noted page numbers for the Paul Whiteman entries this is a set that could be used in its entirety. Most if not all of the other names to search on in the list above will appear in these volumes.)
"This edition has been extensively revised and expanded and now contains 900-plus new entries out of more than 12,000 total. ... The 2nd edition has placed more emphasis on U.S. composers and performers. Finding most prominent jazz composers and performers is now possible, although a few popular musicians are present." ARBA 96.
"The first edition of this reference (1988) was the best single source available for several kinds of information about jazz and jazz musicians. Now three volumes instead of two, the greatly expanded second edition succeeds to the distinction, including more than 7750 entries in just under 3000 pages." - Library Journal - 1/1/2002.
(Although I noted page numbers for the Paul Whiteman entry this is a set that could be used in its entirety. Most if not all of the names to search on in the list above appear in these volumes.)
"A chronological arrangement in seven major periods, from hymns of the Pilgrim Fathers to the present day; all types of music are included. Introductory sections are supported by some 1200 entries. Sometimes idiosyncratic, but an interesting approach." - Walford's 7th ed.
"This encyclopedia has been revised and expanded from four volumes to six with more that 40,000 entries. The work is strictly alphabetical and not divided by class or category. According to the editor, more than 70 percent of the entries have been expanded. ... The majority of the entries focus on biographical information and musical groups. The encyclopedia remains the most comprehensive reference work devoted to twentieth-century popular music." - ARBA 96.
(Although I noted page numbers for the Paul Whiteman entry this is a set that could be used in its entirety. Most if not all of the names to search on in list above appear in these volumes.)
"Under each year, records are listed alphabetically by performer with short descriptions of the song or album and statistics on sales. The first time a performer or group appears, a short history of their career is given, with updates on later recordings. . . . this book has, in one volume, information on popular performers that can otherwise be found only (if at all) in separate books on different musical genres." - School Library Journal, Aug. 1985.
"This is the 5th edition of Music Since 1900 and was published on the happy occasion of the author's 100th birthday. This is one of Slonimsky's most-known and best-admired works, offering numerous examples of his legendary skills as an unearther of facts and serving as a showcase for his unique writing style." - ARBA 95.
"Since the last edition in 1992, this most important reference source has been greatly broaden and is especially valuable for its biographical sketches of the 20th-century jazz and musicians, written and edited by leading authors in the fields." - Library Journal, 3/1/2002
Whiteman and his orchestra recorded extensively. He changed record labels several times throughout his career, making it difficult to find a definitive set of recordings today. Bing Crosby recorded a great deal with the Whiteman orchestra and so it is through his CDs that the orchestra is most often heard.
The guide books below are an effort to show the extent of his recordings and to give some insight as to where to find recordings of interest.
I have also included one volume as a general guide to the subject of jazz.
Theses volumes are located on the first floor of the Begley Library in the Reference Section.
"Jazz: The Rough Guide provides entries for more than 1,600 musicians, arranged alphabetically, that include instrument(s) (and other related categories such as composer, arranger, educator); dates of birth and death (when appropriate); place of birth; a critical musical biography; and for most, an annotated list of selected LP and CD recordings compilers feel are the musicians' most significant." - ARBA 97.
This book is kept in the Second floor Interactive Media Room - Room 244.
"The object of this book is 'to give the serious collector a comprehensive survey of the finest recordings.' Arranged alphabetically by composer name and the sometimes subdivided by genre, the guide rates recordings on a scale of one to three stars; notes superlative recordings; indicates digital recordings, bargain-priced recordings, record labels, catalog numbers, and names of performers and conductors; and gives a brief critical evaluation." - Recommended Reference in Paperback 3rd ed. 2000
"Nine chapters (each with biographical survey and bibliography): 1. The general background - 2. The blues - 3. The histories of jazz - 4. The lives of jazz musicians - 5. Analysis, theory and criticism - 6. Reference sources (pp. 133-62) - 7. Jazz education - 8. Jazz in novels, poetry, plays and films - 9. Jazz periodicals (pp. 189-202)." - Walford's 7th ed.
"A chronological arrangement covering major musicians and groups, including 1,000 names. Entries give biography, critique, lineage, recordings; cross-references frequent." - Walford's 7th ed.
"One of a series of Blackwell Guides ... this book is intended 'to suggest a starter collection' of jazz recordings selected from 'among the first and best of jazz.' Authoritative writers have selected 125 records, tapes, or compact discs from 11 stylistic categories, ranging from 'The First Hot Bands' to the latest fashion." - ARBA 92
"All Music presents its listings in chronological order, employing a system of symbols indicating essential collections and recommended first purchases, as well as a rating system. The discussion of each individual recording seems designed to stand on its own, which makes for some repetition." - Library Journal - 12/198
No pathfinder of a musician would be complete without a list of recordings. Visit the The Red Hot Jazz Archives website (also listed in this pathfinder under Internet Websites) for a detailed discography.
Harrison, Max, Charles Fox and Eric Thacker, The Essential Jazz Records, Westport, CN: Greenwood, 1984, Vol. 1, pp. 47, 62-3, 65-6, 85, 89-91, 109-11, 116, 118, 124, 139, 145, 162, 200, 231-232.
Call Number: BEG REF ML 156.4 .J3 .H33 1984 v.1
The volumes below explore the subject of jazz from such perspectives as historical, musical, cultural, and sociological. The selection of books below reflects these varied approaches to jazz.
These volumes are located on the second floor of the Begley Library.
"A bumper crop of Whitney Balliett's New Yorker sketches and pen portraits is gathered here - from Louis Armstrong to Wynton Marsalis - in a vivid chronicle of the music he once famously described as 'the sound of surprise.'" - Economist - 12/22/2001
"In the chapter 'The Inevitability of Jazz in America,' Collier discusses the development of jazz in its historical context, shedding much light on this quintessentially American form of music by examining the social forces that helped to shape it. In 'The Rise of Individualism and the Jazz Solo,' Collier focuses on the shift from the emphasis on collective playing in early jazz to the emphasis on the individual player and the jazz solo in later jazz." - Magill Book Reviews, 04/01/1994
(Collier, a jazz musician and writer explodes tired assumptions about jazz in the critical essays. These essays should be read for the unique views they offer on jazz from a tough-minded critic. The essays offer a context with which to form your own opinion.)
Professor of History at Loyola University, Erenberg captures the explosive energy of jazz as it broke existing social barriers. Erenberg skillfully reconstructs the jazz to swing evolution and the Whiteman's orchestra part in it.
"Divided into fifteen chapters, and organized in a semi-chronological order, Jazz Singing endeavors to cover everyone who has ever been called a jazz singer, from Bessie Smith to Dianne Schurr. ... As surprising as the coupling of Bessie Smith and Eddie Cantor is, even more startling is the juxtaposition of Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby. While Friedwald notes that Crosby was one of the first singers to work with Paul Whiteman, and that Crosby often performed with Armstrong, placing the two in the same chapter in a history of jazz singing seems to beg the issue." - American Music, Spring 1994.
"Hennessey substantiates his book's account by extensive references to the Chicago Defender, a distinctive newspaper (still being published) that has chronicled the local as well as the national black entertainment scene. According to Hennessey, the purpose of the text ... is to trace the interaction between the enormous sociological changes in America and the music of African-American musicians from the origin of jazz to the beginning of the swing era. He claims that 'the transformation of jazz from a primarily local music rooted in black folk traditions to the tightly managed product of a national industry controlled by white businessmen and aimed at a predominantly white mass market paralleled the changing nature of American society." - American Music, Spring 1996.
(Hennessey tells the jazz music story from the African-American perspective. This book emphasizes the black jazz band evolution and places Whiteman's contribution within that historical contest.)
Oliphant offers a detailed look at Whiteman's career on pages 263-275. This carefully researched piece quotes Whiteman's autobiography Jazz and from Richard Sudhalter's book White Jazz. The result is an informative and analytical treatment of Whiteman's career.
History professor Kathy Ogren explores the impact and development of jazz from a social and cultural perspective. Her writing represents Whiteman's objective in presenting the Aeolian Hall concert as an effort to capture the jazz rhythms in a dignified manner.
"O'Meally's preface, and the 'comprehensive gathering of important essays, speeches, and interviews on the impact of jazz' (p. xi) that follow, convey a basic, two-part interpretation. Jazz music, it is argued, grew out of central values in African American culture that deeply influenced many other aspects of American life (e.g., sports, dance, language, and post-1960 black politics) in ways that were 'jazzlike.' In addition, when jazz rose to prominence, it had its own direct influence on artists, writers, and other creators. These two processes, working together, generated a highly significant 'cross-disciplinary beat or cadence' (p. xi) with jazz at its heart." - Notes, March 2000.
(The Jazz Cadence of American Culture is an anthology of "statements illustrating and analyzing the jazz facets of American society." O'Meally's approach is to firmly embed the music and the culture of the ear. This book is not so much a history of music as a history of the Jazz ear and it music and people. This book offers an excellent historical perspective with excerpts from original texts.)
"The author's basic thesis is that jazz was essentially an urban music that grew out of city stimuli and fulfilled unique urban social functions. Peretti's main sources are oral histories from selected jazz pioneers and their associates." - Music Educators Journal, Nov. '94.
Peretti, a History and American Culture professor, has written the story of jazz as an account of how the racial and cultural dynamics of America combined to become the music and life that was jazz. Whiteman's early success as a recording artist placed his orchestra as a leader of the innovation to come. His recordings, here labeled as "sweet jazz," were embraced by young white middle-class with time and money to spare.
"A general history and criticism of jazz music in the United States written in an upbeat and conversational style by jazz critic Sales. Sales recognizes the unique contribution of the music of black Americans to the richness of jazz." - School Library Journal, April 1985.
Jazz critic, theater publicity agent, and teacher Sales takes a hard and often unflattering look at Whiteman's "society orchestra." Many of the Whiteman references are in connection with Bix Bdiederbecke's "stifled musical genius." Sales offer an important alternative perspective to Whiteman's career contributions.
"The first volume of Gunther Schuller's 'history' of jazz was rightly hailed as a landmark when it appeared 20 years ago. His new, second volume runs to 919 closely packed pages; and a third volume, bringing matters up to date, is promised after a further period of gestation. Only a man of' exceptional talents and qualifications, of mind-boggling intellectual stamina and ear-boggling musical acuity could carry through an enterprise with such sweep, with such illuminating precision. Schuller is himself' a composer of 'art' music distinguished in quality and fairly prolific in quantity; he has been a jazz horn player, working with artists of the caliber of Miles Davis; he is a brilliant conductor and an inspiring teachers. Somehow he has found time to listen, for what must be thousands of hours, to recorded (and other) jazz performances, and to spend further hundreds of hours in making verbal assessments of what musically happens in them." - The New Republic, March 27, 1989.
This volume focuses on the musical history of the Swing Era when jazz was American's popular music. On pages 660-660 Schuller summarizes Whiteman's unsuccessful struggle to regain the spotlight and forge a definitive sound for his orchestra. See entry above for more details.
This volume documents the white jazz contribution to jazz between the years 1914 and 1945. Sudhalter, a trumpeter and historian, challenges the notion that white performers contributed little to the development of Jazz. This book reminds readers that Jazz has multi-cultural roots. Although, you could read just the pages on which Whiteman is indexed you would miss the lively history of jazz as Sudhalter narrates it.
"As a stand-alone volume, this fluidly written and visually satisfying book is highly recommended for all public libraries and for all academic libraries looking for an excellent general history of the musical genre. As a companion to Burns's 19-hour PBS television series of the same name, set to air in January 2001, it is an essential purchase." - Library Journal 11/01/2000
These CDs of Whiteman recordings are available for listening at the Interactive Media Room - Room 244 on the second floor of Begley Library.
The Internet has many excellent websites on Paul Whiteman or the many musical talents that were associated with him. The selection of websites below is a cross section of people of some of those people. Of particular interest for those interested in archival material is the Williams College site. Finally for those interested in hearing the Whiteman style live there are two websites of interest - Vince Giordano and Al Gallodoro.
Dissertations Abstracts is available though ProQuest of Ann Arbor Michigan. The database provides searchable abstracts of academic topics found in dissertations. Searching for Paul Whiteman as a keyword retrieved these citations. 1861- .
Two dissertations would be of interest to this pathfinder topic.
"This dissertation examines the musical, ideological and aesthetic interactions that occurred between the jazz tradition, modern media, popular culture, and the culture of concert music in America during the first half of the twentieth century. The interactions manifested themselves in a variety of cultural discourses that intersected in symphonic jazz- an idiom often marginalized in music criticism. Symphonic jazz is approached here in two complementary ways." - Dissertations Abstracts
"Tracing the major changes in jazz styles between WWI and WWII, Aloisio describes how selected significant vocalists, instrumentalists, and composers led the way in rural and urban blues, Dixieland, stride piano and boogie-woogie, and the big swing bands in New York and Kansas City. Brief but complete treatment is given to Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Biederbecke, James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, Jimmy Yancey, Meade Lux Lewis, Paul Whiteman, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman." - Dissertations Abstracts
The information for these articles was obtained using the Readers Guide Abstracts database available via OCLC First Search on University of Albany Library web page. Readers Guide Abstracts is a product of H.W. Wilson, Bronx, New York. It is updated monthly. The online database coverage in 1983 to present. Readers Guide Abstracts began in 1984
Readers Guide abstracts Popular covers periodicals published in the U.S. and Canada. Topics included are current events and news, fine arts, fashion, education, business, sports, health and nutrition, consumer affairs, and others.
A keyword search for Paul Whiteman retrieved these articles.
This magazine can be obtained at Periodical room at the University Library of Albany University (paper format).
"Bandleader/musician Vince Giordano specializes in playing pre-Depression pop arrangements from the likes of Paul Whiteman, Jean Goldkette, Fletcher Henderson, and Duke Ellington. Fascinated by early jazz since he was a child, Giordano mastered several instruments in high school and was soon on the road playing gigs. After settling in Boston, he formed an orchestra called the Nighthawks and began specializing in recreating the sounds of some of the first jazz bands. Giordano often uses original arrangements and tries to duplicate original solos. After playing at the Red Blazer Too for six years, the Nighthawks have started to make a name for themselves. They have recorded New Orleans Nighthawks, an album on George Buck's G.H.B. label. Bandleader/musician Vince Giordano specializes in playing pre-Depression pop arrangements from the likes of Paul Whiteman." - Readers Guide Abstracts
This magazine can be obtained at Periodical room at the University Library of Albany University .
"Composer/arranger/conductor and virtuoso pianist Dick Hyman is certainly keeping himself busy. He was the virtual house pianist at the Kool Jazz Festival in New York last summer and was actively involved with "Hot Jazz, Ragtime, Old Time, and Blues," a six-day festival held at the 92d Street Y in New York City. He climaxed the latter event with a re-creation of the Paul Whiteman 1924 Aeolian Hall concert that introduced Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Hyman also plays solo piano on Monday nights at Hanratty's. He has recorded the complete solo piano works of Scott Joplin and a tribute to Zez Confrey for RCA. Hyman's The Piper Patriot of '76 premiered in Buffalo on July 4. Hyman also wrote the scores to Zelig and The Purple Rose of Cairo, two movies by Woody Allen, who shares the pianist's love of traditional jazz." - Readers Guide Abstracts
This magazine can be obtained at Periodical room at the University Library of Albany University
"Cornetist Richard Sudhalter has dedicated himself to the task of sustaining the sounds of traditional jazz. As a twelve-year-old in1950, Sudhalter heard cornetist Bix Beiderbecke on a Paul Whiteman record and became captivated by the music. He began playing the cornet himself, and by the early 1970s had organized the New Paul Whiteman Orchestra in England. Sudhalter co-authored Bix: Man And Legend, which was nominated for a National Book Award. The cornetist has also fronted his own small traditional jazz groups and recorded albums with several of them. Sudhalter is now involved in bringing traditional jazz musicians to New York's Vineyard Theater, which he wants to make into a jazz stronghold. He produces an hour-long radio program from each concert, which is then broadcast on American Public Radio." - Readers Guide Abstracts
This magazine can be obtained at Periodical room at the University Library of Albany University.
"Elegant sensuality - Mildred Bailey: The Paul Whiteman Years, featuring one of the first white singers to interpret jazz and the blues without copying the styles of black performers" - Readers Guide Abstracts
This magazine can be obtained at Periodical room at the University Library of Albany University.
"A new recording from the MusicMasters label recreates the Paul Whiteman Orchestra's famous Aeolian Hall concert of 1924 that introduced George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. The concert was a somewhat didactic attempt to fuse the serious, high-minded respectability of classical music with the vitality of modern music. Most of the program turned out to be elegant dance band arrangements of popular songs and semiclassics, but Gershwin's Rhapsody validated Whiteman's idea. The performance presented here is based on new research into Gershwin's score and Ferde Grofe's orchestration. Conductor Maurice Peress leads pianist Ivan Davis and a crackerjack orchestra through a jumping version of the piece, characterized by a sharpness that is absent from most concert performances. After Gershwin, the concert's real star turns out to be Grofe, who arranged much of the music." - Readers Guide Abstracts
This magazine can be obtained at Periodical room at the University Library of Albany University.
"Composer Ferde Grofe captured the musical spirit of the Grand Canyon in his Grand Canyon Suite. The five_movement suite was commissioned by bandleader Paul Whiteman and premiered by Whiteman's orchestra on November 22, 1931, to critical and popular raves. As the conductor of the New York Capitol Theater orchestra, Grofe later created a new orchestration for the piece that was a sensation, and the music is still performed internationally." - Readers Guide Abstracts
This magazine can be obtained at Periodical room at the University Library of Albany University.
"Rhaspsody in Blue" marked the first stride in the long, and still incomplete, process of dismantling America's musical barriers. The piece, composed by George Gershwin, made an enormous impact when it was first played at New York City's Aeolian Hall on February 12, 1924, by Paul Whiteman and his 22-piece Palais Royal Orchestra. "Rhapsody in Blue," which is still popular with classical orchestras today, was the first piece to show that respectable music could be jazzy." - Readers Guide Abstracts
This publication is available on microfiche from periodical section of the Schenectady County Community College's Begley Library. (Readers Guide Abstracts)
Online access via UAlbany Database and E-Texts. JSTOR provides full-text articles from a variety of different journal in many areas of study. JSTOR began in 1995 as an effort to increase access to scholarly journal while reducing the amount of stack space preserving journals requires. JSTOR (as of 2003) has over 1500 participants providing access to 322 journals. Frequency of updates and journals covered varies.
A search on Paul Whiteman and Jazz returned 23 articles. Three of which are cited below and are available in full-text
ISP 605: INFORMATION SOURCES AND SERVICES
School of Information Science and Policy
University at Albany, State University of New York
Professor Lokman Meho
May 3, 2003