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Blue Rhythm FantasyBig Band Jazz Arranging in the Swing Era$
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John Wriggle

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040405

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040405.001.0001

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Ace Race Arranger

Ace Race Arranger

The Broadway Music Clinic

Chapter:
(p.30) 2 Ace Race Arranger
Source:
Blue Rhythm Fantasy
Author(s):

John Wriggle

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252040405.003.0003

This chapter explores Chappie Willet's life and career, in particular the colleagues and ventures that formed his Broadway Music Clinic. Born on September 6, 1907, Francis Robert Willet was raised by “musical parents”—Chester Willet and Elizabeth Hill—in the immigrant row-house neighborhood of South Philadelphia, from where he would begin his musical studies. Later on, he would begin his first arranging work in New York City, scoring for stage shows at Harlem's Apollo Theater featuring Luis Russell's orchestra. In the 1940s, Willet settled with his wife—stage performer Olena Hunter (1913–89)—at 147th Street and Broadway in Harlem, a straight shot from his Music Clinic office via the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) subway line. Willet's arranging work and related Music Clinic activities were celebrated in the black press with remarkable regularity, especially at the height of the Swing Era during the late 1930s and early '40s.

Keywords:   Broadway Music Clinic, Chappie Willet, black press, Harlem, New York City, Olena Hunter

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