The All-Female Big Bands That Made History During World War II

The International Sweethearts of Rhythm in the 1940s

During World War II, with thousands of men shipping off to war, half a dozen all-female, instrumental big bands toured around America. It was a rarity in a musical world dominated by men and, for the most part, their stories have been erased or minimized in jazz history. 

Jazz Night in America host Christian McBride has spent years tracing the history of some of these bands and notes that during this flourishing time for all-women groups, the 17-piece International Sweethearts of Rhythm had the most formidable level of popularity.

Dusty Springfield: Remembering the “White Queen of Soul” on the 80th anniversary of her birth (Part 1 of 2)

INTRO:

The teacher can be forgiven if she dismissed as an impossible dream the English schoolgirl’s declaration that she wanted to be a jazz singer when she grew up. Young Mary O’Brien was a gawky tomboy with thick spectacles — always ready for rough-and-tumble play with the neighborhood lads. She hardly matched the image of glamorous and sophisticated entertainers seen in the cinema and the picture magazines of the post-war years in London.

Nevertheless, Mary began pursuing her dream early in life. At the age of 11, she cut a demo record of Irving Berlin’s When That Midnight Choo Choo Leaves For Alabama at a London music store. 

The tuneful tramp: the forgotten musical genius of Charlie Chaplin

It might seem odd to claim that one of the most universally popular entertainers in the world is underrated. But Charlie Chaplin is. Not necessarily as a comedian, actor or director, but as a composer. Most people know the themes Smile, Eternally, and This Is My Song, but they probably don’t know that Chaplin wrote them – for Modern Times, Limelight and A Countess from Hong Kong, respectively. Film buffs might know that from 1931’s City Lights onwards, he composed the scores for all of his films, and that as an old man he wrote new music for his earlier films. Yet he is never mentioned in talk of the great film composers, and in a recent Radio Times poll of top film themes, Chaplin’s name was nowhere to be seen.

HD emulation mod makes “Mode 7” SNES games look like new

Gamers of a certain age probably remember being wowed by the quick, smooth scaling and rotation effects of the Super Nintendo’s much-ballyhooed “Mode 7” graphics. Looking back, though, those gamers might also notice how chunky and pixelated those background transformations could end up looking, especially when viewed on today’s high-end screens.

Emulation to the rescue. A modder going by the handle DerKoun has released an “HD Mode 7” patch for the accuracy-focused SNES emulator bsnes. In their own words, the patch “performs Mode at up to 4 times the horizontal and vertical resolution” of the original hardware.

How we made ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’

“EMI was going to finance the film, but got cold feet. It was a mortal blow, because we were already in pre-production. So Eric went to Hollywood and pitched it to George Harrison, who had been a huge Python fan since the first TV programme. He pawned his house and arranged a loan of $5m. When he was asked why, he just said: “Because I want to see it.” Not many people pay $5m for an admission ticket.