Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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DANCE, Stanley, and Helen Oakley

A team of valuable journalists and proselytizers. Dance (b 15 Sep. '10, Braintree, England; d 23 Feb. '99, Rancho Bernardo CA) wrote for French mag Jazz Hot '35, first went to the USA '37, wrote articles and reviews inclcluding a pernickety monthly column for over 25 years for Jazz Journal, where he complained about 'bootleg' issues of old jazz records at a time when the big record companies sat on their vaults like dogs guarding bones. But he invented the term 'mainstream' to describe the music played in the '50s and '60s by Swing Era veterans who were mostly ignored by major labels during those years, and did his best as a record producer for Columbia, Black Lion and others to find work for them. He won a Grammy '63 for his notes to The Ellington Era, one of two three-LP compilations of vintage tracks that were treasured by Ellington fans for decades. In particular he became a chronicler of the Duke Ellington band, accompanying it on tours and writing endlessly about it. His articles and sleeve notes helped whet the appetites of generations of jazz fans and his oral histories are priceless compilations of interviews with musicians: The World Of Duke Ellington '70, The World Of Swing '74, The World Of Earl Hines '77, The World Of Count Basie '80; as-told-to biographies include The Night People: Reminiscences Of A Jazzman (Dickie Wells), Duke Ellington In Person: An Intimate Memoir (Mercer Ellington), Those Swinging Years '84 (Charlie Barnet).

Helen Oakley (b Toronto, 1913; d 27 May 2001, Escondo CA) became a journalist and publicist for jazz who helped the early down beat become a jazz-oriented mag; she was the sparkplug for the legendary concert at which the integrated Benny Goodman Trio first played in public (with Gene Krupa and Teddy Wilson), talking Goodman into it and sending Wilson the fare from Chicago to New York. Working for Irving Mills she produced scores of small-group records from '37 on his Variety label, especially by Ellingtonians (after all, she said, 'Where are you ever gonna hear enough Johnny Hodges?') and she wrote the notes for the two-CD sets of reissues, The Duke's Men. There had been 'battles of the bands' for years, but she was the first to promote them, especially the famous one between Chick Webb and Count Basie at the Savoy Ballroom '38; she was close friends with Billie Holiday and Irene Kitchings (musician, songwriter, Wilson's first wife). She worked for the OSS during WWII, married Dance in England; they settled permanently in the USA '59; she helped him in his work, and published her own Stormy Monday: The T-Bone Walker Story '87.