Sunday, September 20, 2015

Memories of A Jazz Journalist - Part Ten - Sabby Lewis by George A. Borgman

Here is a continuation of Memories of A Jazz Journalist by George A. Borgman, which has been augmented and broken up into a serialized format.

George first heard the name Sabby Lewis from his wife who was a local of Boston. He was from St. Louis and hadn't heard of Lewis prior to that time since Lewis' band could be described as a Boston based band. After George began writing about jazz in The Mississippi Rag and other publications in 1994 he interviewed Lewis and wrote a story for the Rag.

"A real gentleman was legendary pianist and bandleader Sabby Lewis (Braintree), who led a swing band in Boston from 1936 through the Fifties. Lewis' big bands were popular attractions in famous nightclubs in Boston and New York City, and his bands were known nationally through coast-to-coast network radio broadcasts. Some of Sabby's sidemen went on to play in such bands as Duke Ellington's and other eminent bands. In the Fifties, Lewis became the first fulltime disc jockey on Boston radio.
I interviewed Lewis for a story in the Rag, and found Sabby to be a truly fine gentleman, one of the nicest I ever  met in the business.  On June 26, 1994, he played with his trio at the Mall at Chestnut Hill, Newton, Massachusetts, and except for a swollen hand, he looked well. However, after a short illness he passed away on July 9th. He was well respected as a man and musician and Boston area musicians mourned his passing."

Sabby, born William Sebastian Lewis on November 1, 1914, in Middleburgh, North Carolina grew up in Philadelphia. He began piano lessons at the age of five and moved to Boston, Massachusetts sometime in 1932.

Listen to the Sabby Lewis Orchestra play Bottoms Up
from this 1947 recording.


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