Feb. 12 is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. That was the reason why Paul Whiteman decided to hold a concert that day in 1924.
Paul Whiteman was the King of Jazz, and he was a king with a vision: to meld an orchestral approach with the burgeoning sound of American jazz. To many, this was seen as a fanciful idea. After all, jazz was played by small bands in speakeasy nightclubs. Orchestra, by large bands in grandiose concert halls. Jazz was all about embracing improvisation. Orchestra favored the assiduous process of perfecting the score. Jazz was seen as being more “black.” Orchestra, more “white.”
But Whiteman was above such talk — he was the king after all. What better day to make a statement to the world