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Reginald Foresythe

(1907—1958) jazz pianist and composer


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b. 28 May 1907, London, England, d. 28 December 1958, England. Son of a Yoruba (Nigerian) barrister and English mother, Foresythe received a public school education as well as studying piano and composition. American singer Walter Richardson, whom he accompanied in Australia, encouraged him to go to the USA. There he scored the D.W. Griffith film Abraham Lincoln and played with Paul Howard’s Quality Seranaders, who recorded two of his compositions. In Chicago, he wrote for trumpeter Wild Bill Davison and pianist Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines, his ‘Deep Forest’ becoming Hines’ signature tune. He returned to London to lead a revolutionary 10-piece band in which two clarinets and a bassoon replaced the brass section. ‘In my band each instrument has its own part to play in the rhythm, ’ he said, thereby anticipating a later view of jazz although he himself was not really a jazz artist. Back in the USA he guested with Paul Whiteman, who recorded his dramatic Southern Holiday: A Phantasy Of Negro Moods, the string writing far in advance of anything then current. In 1935 he recorded four compositions with a band that included Benny Goodman, John Kirby and Gene Krupa, one piece being the oft-recorded ‘Dodging A Divorcee’. With his ‘New Music’ he played London’s exclusive 400 Club, then broadcast as a piano soloist and duettist. His work was played and recorded by a variety of others, including Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Henry Hall and Lew Stone.

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From Encyclopedia of Popular Music in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Music.


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