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Jimmy Rushing

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Biografia

James Andrew Rushing (August 26, 1901 – June 8, 1972), known as Jimmy Rushing, was an American blues shouter and swing jazz singer from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States, best known as the featured vocalist of Count Basie’s Orchestra from 1935 to 1948.

Rushing was known as “Mr. Five by Five” and was the subject of an eponymous 1942 popular song that was a hit for Harry James and others — the lyrics describing Rushing’s rotund build: “he’s five feet tall and he’s five feet wide”.

He joined Walter Page’s Blue Devils in 1927, then joined Bennie Moten’s band in 1929. He stayed with the successor Count Basie band when Moten died in 1935.

Rushing was a powerful singer who had a range from baritone to tenor. He could project his voice so that it soared over the horn and reed sections in a big-band setting. Basie claimed that Rushing “never had an equal” as a blues vocalist.

George Frazier, author of Harvard Blues, called Rushing’s distinctive voice “a magnificent gargle”. His best known recordings are probably “Going to Chicago” with Basie, and “Harvard Blues”, with a famous saxophone solo by Don Byas.

Rushing was born into a family with musical talent and accomplishments. His father, Andrew Rushing, was a trumpeter and his mother, Cora, and brother were singers. Rushing toured the Mid-West and California as an itinerant blues singer in 1923 and 1924 before moving to Los Angeles, California, where he sang with Jelly Roll Morton.

Rushing sang with Billy King before moving on to Page’s Blue Devils in 1927. He, along with other members of the Blue Devils, defected to the Bennie Moten band in 1929.

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