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Paul Whiteman
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    (March 28, 1890-December 29, 1967)
    Born in Denver, Colorado
    Big band leader
    Notable recordings include 'Rhapsody in Blue,' 'Mississippi Mud,' 'Wonderful One,' 'Hot Lips,' 'Whispering,' Valencia, 'Birth of the Blues,' Body and Soul,' Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,' Mississippi Suite' and 'Grand Canyon Suite'
    Nicknamed 'The King of Jazz'
    Inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame (1993)
    Jazz purists complain that his music was not 'real' jazz, because it did not swing and avoided improvisation.
    Critic Leonard Feather called him 'the Lawrence Welk of his generation.'
    He weighed over 300 pounds at his peak.
    He chickened out on plans to integrate his band when his managers convinced him it would be career suicide.
    He did cross racial lines behind the scenes, hiring black arranger Fletcher Henderson for recording sessions.
    He had an eye for talent, with his band featuring musicians Bunny Berrigan, Bix Beiderbecke, Jack Teagarden and the Dorsey Brothers and vocalists Bing Crosby and Mildred Bailey.
    He commissioned George Gershwin's classical composition 'Rhapsody in Blue.'
    Duke Ellington declared, 'Paul Whiteman was known as the King of Jazz, and no one as yet has come near carrying that title with more certainty and dignity.'
    Unlike a lot of his contemporaries, he kept an open mind about changing tastes in music, declaring the year before he died, 'Were I a young man getting started in the music business these days, I'd probably grow my hair long and form a rock'n'roll band.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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