Born: September 20, 1941 Primary Instrument: Cornet
In the 1950s when everyone else his age was listening to Elvis Presley and Connie Francis, Jim Cullum locked onto the sounds of early jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton. At first he thought he might want to play trombone, but one day while helping his dad in the grocery business, Jim caught sight of an antique cornet in a store window and fell in love.
While attending Trinity University in San Antonio, Jim formed a seven-piece traditional jazz group, the Happy Jazz Band, with his father the late Jim Cullum, Sr., who had played professionally with Jack Teagarden and others in the 1940s. In 1963, a group of San Antonio business leaders established The Landing, a jazz club on the San Antonio River Walk, as a showcase for the Happy Jazz Band. Under Jim, Jr.'s direction the band evolved into a nationally- acclaimed professional company known as The Jim Cullum Jazz Band.
Jim Cullum’s lifelong passion has been researching, preserving and presenting jazz and popular song from the turn of the 20th century to the mid-1940s.
Bill McFarlin, Executive Director of the International Association of Jazz Educators notes: “The Jim Cullum Jazz Band is one of the nation’s premiere ensembles.”
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San Antonio, TX
Jim Cullum and the Jazz Band describe and demonstrate the techniques and theory behind early jazz playing, such as polyphony, or "many voices" improvisation common in the early days of jazz, and how an early jazz rhythm section functions. Each ndividual player demonstrates the role of his instrument in the ensemble, and the band performs selected masterworks from the early jazz repertoire, such as from Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, King Oliver, Sidney Bechet, etc. Time permitting, there is a Q & A session with the students. Grade levels: middle school through college.