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Lovie Austin

Among the initial important feminine bandleaders in jazz, Lovie Austin has a right to be far better known. After learning music in university, she toured over the vaudeville circuit, settling in Chicago in 1923. During 1924-1926, she documented often with her Blues Serenaders, an organization that at several times acquired Tommy Ladnier, Bob Shoffner, Natty Dominique, or Shirley Clay on cornet; Child Ory or Albert Wynn on trombone; and Jimmy O’Bryant or Johnny Dodds on clarinet, alongside banjo and periodic drums. Thankfully, a Classics Compact disc has collected all those recordings. Austin (as home pianist for Paramount) also supported many blues performers (including Ida Cox, Ma Rainey, and Alberta Hunter). But after 1926, her documenting activity largely found a halt. Austin proved helpful for twenty years because the musical movie director for the Monogram Theater and down the road being a pianist in a dance school, only time for record in 1961 within Riverside’s Living Legends series. Although mainly an ensemble pianist, Lovie Austin was an experienced arranger.

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