Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. For the week of Aug. 17, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman takes a look at Eddie Durham, the San Marcos musician and composer who left his mark on the swing era through collaborations with everyone from Cab Calloway and Glenn Miller.
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And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KERA radio’s 90.1 at Night.
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This Week in Texas Music History, we honor a Texan who may have been the first jazz musician ever to record with an electric guitar.
Eddie Durham was born August 19, 1906, in San Marcos His father, Joe, was a fiddler who performed at square dances throughout the area. By the time Eddie was a teenager, he was performing professionally. As an adult, he worked as an instrumentalist, composer and arranger for some of the most popular jazz and swing bands of the 1930s and 1940s, including Count Basie, Glen Miller and Bennie Moten. Durham arranged and performed such classics as “Moten Swing,” “One O’Clock Jump” and “Jumpin’ at the Woodside.” Durham also may have been the first jazz musician ever to record with an electric guitar when he played on Jimmie Lunceford’s 1935 song “Hittin’ the Bottle.” Some historians also believe that Durham introduced legendary guitarist Charlie Christian to the single-string style of playing that became Christian’s trademark. In recent years, Durham has started to receive the recognition he has long deserved with an annual celebration honoring him in his hometown of San Marcos.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we celebrate a woman who began her career singing radio jingles before becoming famous throughout Latin America as “The Queen of Boleros.”