George Avakian Is 90

George Avakian has produced recordings by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Erroll Garner, Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond, among others. With the 78 rpm albums of Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Hot Sevens that he oversaw for Columbia Records in the 1940s, he invented the jazz reissue.
George turned 90 this week, and there was a huge party for him at Birdland in New York City. A wide cross-section of the jazz community turned out for the celebration. A splendid ad hoc mainstream band signed on to honor Mr. Avakian. They were David Ostwald, tuba; Randy Sandke, trumpet; Wycliffe Gordon, trombone and vocals; Anat Cohen, clarinet; Mark Shane, piano and vocals; Kevin Dorn, drums. Michael Steinman, proprietor of the excellent Jazz Lives web site, was there to report on the party.
Steinman, Avakian.jpg Steinman’s report includes four videos of the band playing and one of George, with his customary charm, addressing the celebrants. To see it, click here.
Happy Birthday, George.

((Photo © Lorna Sass))
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  1. Red Colm O'Sullivan, says

    It was indeed a grand affair, and I was honoured to be Mr. Avakian’s guest on the day… Paquito D’Rivera also played (splendidly) and messages of admiring congrats were read out from Statesmen and musicians (including Michel Legrand), with Tony Bennett also in attendance.

  2. james camey says

    I have been cleaning out some old ‘stuff’ and ran across an album of 78’s titled Hot Jazz classics King Louis Columbia Records set C-28. All the recordings are there. It’s a yellow cover with Armstrong’s head and trumpet. The notes inside the cover are by George Avakian. Is an album of this type of interest to anyone in this day and age? Thanks for any comments or insights.