Teddy Wilson by Bob Melvin part 1

John Hammond had heard about Teddy, took an interest in him, and recommended him to Benny Carter. Carter was impressed and took him into the band. He did arranging while with Carter. Carter gave up his band in 1934 and Wilson joined Willie Bryant’s till 1935.
John Hammond’s parents were people of wealth who passed it on to John.
His passion was music, especially Jazz. He visited night clubs and concerts, always on the lookout for budding talent. He heard Billie Holi-day in early 1933 and convinced Benny Goodman to have Billie record with the Goodman Band. She recorded “Riffin The Scotch” in January of 1934 and it was a hit.
Benny Goodman had heard Teddy Wilson play while a guest at Mil-dred Bailey’s house in the Queens of New York. Mildred often gathered groups of musicians there and all were free to entertain. At the urging of John Hammond and music lover Helen Oakley, Goodman asked Teddy to join him and Gene Krupa to form a trio.
Their first effort for Victor was “Body & Soul” and was the first of many to reach the record charts. Later Goodman hired Lionel Hampton (Vibes) to form a quartet. Wilson was placed in the piano chair of Good-man’s Band in 1936. Goodman had made a statement by showcasing a black man in a white band. This was not the first black to appear in a white band but it was the first in a first rank band. Wilson was to re-main with the Goodman Band till 1939.
Meanwhile, in 1935, Hammond arranged for Teddy Wilson to conduct the orchestra to record Billie Holiday for Brunswick. Wilson was to hire the musicians needed for the recordings and conduct the orchestra. One of the first recordings made was “What a Little Moonlight Can Do”. This was an immediate hit.
It was the beginning of a triumphant melding of Lady Days’ voice with Wilson’s impeccable baton wielding. Listen to her on “Pennies from Heaven “and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”.
This pair turned out hit after hit from 1935 to 1938 including the chart topping “Carelessly” in 1937 (This was #1 on the charts for 3 weeks). Wilson was free to choose the band personnel during these Brunswick recordings and he picked only the best including, Roy Eldridge, Lionel Hampton, Chu Berry, Ben Webster, Lester Young, Johnny Hodges and many others.
He also conducted at Brunswick recordings for vocalists Helen Ward, Ella Fitzgerald, Nan Wynn and Midge Williams.