JazzSnap: Harry James (c. 1943) - JazzWax

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May 16, 2011


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Ed Leimbacher

A-ha! The real Harry James, in photos and on trumpet. Last Friday's Booker T. post got a bit confusing; while the clip was indeed of James's orchestra, the identifying still-frame showed, not James, but a band clarinetist soloing. Who was that unmasked man anyway?

Jery Rowan

When I arrived in the Pacific Northwest in the early ‘60s, Corky Corcoran was already something of a music legend in those parts. Word was Harry James had snatched him out of Tacoma, Washington when he was only 15 and became his legal guardian so that Corky could travel with the band. This was back in the early ‘40s, and when I first worked with Corky he’d been in and out of the James band for more than 20 years.

In the summer of 1965, the James band was on hiatus and Corky had come back to Seattle to play golf and enjoy featured billing in Burke Garret’s territory band -- with the emphasis on golf. His Vido Musso-like sound led the guys in the band to refer to him as “the last of the big sounding tenors”. He had great energy and fire for a guy who had been blowing so big for so many years and was a real inspiration to all the younger players. During subsequent summer breaks from James’ Las Vegas engagements, Corky would join my group at the Gaslamp Tavern in Bellevue, usually with a bunch of spectacular Johnny Mandel charts tucked under his arm.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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