Personalities | Will Marion Cook | Early Years | Jazz & Blues
(Composer, arranger, violin, 1869–1944)
Will Marion Cook was a highly educated musician, studying at Oberlin Conservatory and the Berlin Hochschule für Musik with virtuoso Joseph Joachim (he also studied briefly with Antonín Dvořák). He worked as a composer with Bob Cole’s All-Star Stock Company, a seminal force in early African-American musical comedy production. (The group later employed the Johnson brothers – J. Rosamund and James Weldon – to write pioneering all-black musicals such as The Shoo-fly Regiment, 1907 and The Red Moon, 1909.) At this time, African-American musical comedy was performed on and off Broadway, but only fragments or sections were recorded, despite the popularity of many of the shows.
Cook dreamed of working with the stellar African-American vaudeville team of (Bert) Williams and (George W.) Walker. In 1898, together with poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, he wrote Clorindy, or The Origin Of The Cakewalk. This innovative show starred popular singer-composer Ernest Hogan, as well as a cast of 40 singers and dancers. Very successful, Clorindy set a new course for black musicals. This success assured Cook of his dream – he worked for Williams and Walker for more than a decade, while continuing to collaborate with Dunbar on In Dahomey (1903), In Abyssina (1906) and In Bandanna Land (1908). In 1918, Cook formed the New York (or American) Syncopated Orchestra, with settings for the new jazz music. In the 1920s he led Clef Club ensembles and worked with many important musicians, including pioneer big-band leader Fletcher Henderson and singer-actor Paul Robeson. Cook’s musical Swing Along (1929) displayed his earlier work.
An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...
Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.
The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.
Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers
his life, music, art and movies, with a
sweep of incredible photographs.