He wrote Blues In The Night, Get Happy, That Old Black Magic, the song that Frank Sinatra made his own, One For My Baby, and the one Judy Garland made hers, Over The Rainbow.
Yes, Harold Arlen is one of the true gods of the Great American Songbook, that informal collection from the songwriters and lyricists who created all those songs that have achieved immortality, mainly through jazz interpretation.
Arlen is the subject of the BBC Big Band’s concert in Birmingham Town Hall tomorrow evening.
The singer performing Arlen’s songs with the band was to have been Mario Biondi, but he is no longer available, so Jeff Cascaro has stepped neatly into his shoes. The arranger and conductor is Joerg Achim Keller.
Get Happy – The BBC Big Band Celebrates Harold Arlen starts at 7.30pm, tickets are £19.50 and £13.50 and are available from thsh.co.uk or on 0121 345 0600.
And if you fancy a jazzy pre-concert drink before Arlen, head for Symphony Hall’s Cafe Bar and the company of John Ruddick.
We normally see him leading the whole crowd of youthful musicians that make up the Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra, but trumpeter John steps up with just his trumpet and a small group for company at the Rush Hour Blues session tomorrow evening.
Expect mainstream jazz played with warmth and a light swing. The music starts at 5.30pm. It’s free.
Stratford Jazz steps way outside its usual box on Sunday evening, and bravo to them for some bold programming.
In the house – the house being No.1 Shakespeare Street, in Stratford-upon-Avon – will be Brooklyn-based drummer and storyteller Sean Noonan, assisted by pianist Matthew Bourne.
The gig is called Born To Brew, but whether Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew has anything to do with it, I don’t know. Maybe it’s about making a nice cuppa.
Noonan mixes up punk jazz, world music and classically-influenced composition, and has worked with Marc Ribot, Jamaaladeen Tacuma and Mat Manieri.
Sounds exciting. Head for Stratford for an 8pm, start, tickets are £8 on the door, and find out more at stratfordjazz.org.uk
It’s all change on the Birmingham jazz front as far as names and organisations go, with the new name, Jazzlines, attached to what we have become familiar with as the Birmingham Jazz programme.
Meanwhile, Birmingham Jazz continues separately with future plans still to be announced in detail.
If you are a member of what used to be Birmingham Jazz, are you a member of Jazzlines or the future Birmingham Jazz? There is a meeting at 7.30pm on Wednesday in the Jewellery Quarter – at the Red Lion, 95 Warstone Lane, Birmingham B18 6NG to be precise – to answer that question, and to give members a chance to have their say.
If you need more information, try birminghamjazz.co.uk. There is a Jazzlines site promised but it isn’t up at the time of writing.