The BBC Jam Sessions from New York, 1938/39
Sent in by John Westwood
18/04/21 - I've just found another 'lost tape' - and since it's by someone who was born up your way thought you might like to hear it. - John
In November 1938 and January 1939, the BBC relayed two American Jam Sessions from New York to Britain. Regarded as historic by critics and producers, the live relays broke from BBC tradition in their presentation of improvised jazz and in their production as “informal parties.” Both broadcasts featured Alistair Cooke as announcer and “a galaxy of swing stars” (including Sidney Bechet, Teddy Wilson, and Tommy Dorsey) assembled by the New York bandleader Joe Marsala; however, British jazz enthusiasts responded to them very differently. Whereas the second session was widely praised, the first session inspired controversy, particularly after a leading critic deemed it a “washout.”
Alistaire Cooke, of 'Letters from America'
fame, was born Alfred Cooke in Salford, Lancashire, England, the
son of Mary Elizabeth (Byrne) and Samuel Cooke. His father was a
Methodist lay preacher and metalsmith by trade; his mother's
family were of Irish Protestant origin.
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