Fats Waller (Thomas Wright "Fats" Waller): Jazz pianist best known for "Ain't Misbehavin", was so popular that he was "kidnapped" to play at Al Capone's birthday party in Chicago.

Hope DeRossettThomas Waller

Vincent Lopez: One of America's most popular 1940's band leaders, "Lopez speaking" became his moniker after the radio announcer failed to show one evening for a live radio broadcast from the Taft Hotel in NYC.

Hope DeRossettVincent Lopez

Machito (Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo), the Grammy Award winning Latin Jazz musician, was raised in Cuba. He brought together Afro-Cuban music with big band jazz ushering in today's salsa sound. New York's Mayor Ed Koch even had an intersection in Spanish Harlem named for him, "Machito Square".

Hope DeRossett

Little needs to be said about Ella. With her debut on stage at the Apollo for a talent night, the audience called for an encore and her career as a singer was born.

Her signature sound was a mastery of what is called "scat singing"-vocal improvisation with nonsense syllables.

Hope DeRossettElla Fitzgerald

Stuff Smith (Hezekiah Leroy Gordon Smith); a violinist who came into his own in the mid 1930's with songs like "You'se a Viper", an iconic popular early smoking marijuana song and "I'se a Muggin". Muggin was a term for "doing a doobie, joint, weed, reefer, etc."

A favorite at the Onyx Club in New York City, Smith wrote " 'S Wonderful" with George and Ira Gershwin.


(Arthur Jacob Arshawsky), clarinetist and band leader, may have led as many lives as he had wives (eight, including Lana Turner and Ava Gardner).

An unusual band leader, he broke from traditional music, experimenting with blending musical forms and theory from African, Latin and Classical. He broke color barriers hiring Billie Holliday as a full-time female vocalist.

His intellectual side led him away from music in the early 1950's. He studied advanced mathematics and wrote an autobiographical/novel: "The Trouble With Cinderella" partially regarding the pitfalls of fame.

Hope DeRossettArtie Shaw

Gloria Parker: Gloria's 21 piece Swingphony was the largest big band led by a female band leader. Dubbed Princess of the Marimba she had her own nightly coast to coast WABC broadcast The Gloria Parker Show.

Pre-dating today's music videos, Panoram viewed "soundies" on juke boxes in bars, nightclubs and amusement centers included her and her song Here Comes the Fattest Man in Town with comedic personality Mel Blanc as Santa Claus.

Hope DeRossettGloria Parker

Mezz Mezzrow (Milton Mesirow): Mezzrow, a "white" clarinetist and saxophonist was totally enamored with jazz, the blues and the influence/talent black musicians offered. Married to Johnnie Mae, a woman of color, he lived in Harlem. Also enamoured with marijuana, his dealt so much so that some even called the drug "Mezz".

Hope DeRossettMilton Mesirow

Jimmie Lunceford: Saxophonist and bandleader, having performed at the Cotton Club, his swing orchestra's performances had a distinct style with interwoven skits and costumes, at times poking fun at other popular orchestras.

Hope DeRossettJimmie Lunceford

Una Mae Carlisle: Una Mae's death at 40 kept her from becoming as well known as other African-American female performer/song writers like Ella Fitzgerald. "Discovered" by Fats Waller in the 30's she was sought after for her boogie-woogie style and personality, blending humor into her sets. When her contract with Bluebird records expired she formed recording partnerships with Joe Davis and later Barney Young.

Hope DeRossettUna Mae Carlisle