Jim Cullum

Jim Cullum

In the 1950s, when everyone else his age was listening to Elvis Presley, Jim Cullum locked onto the sounds of early jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Bix Beiderbecke and Jelly Roll Morton. He discovered his father's record collection of 78s, and spent one whole summer spellbound in his bedroom at home in San Antonio, spinning these scratchy discs and memorizing solos note for note.

The next summer, enlisted in the family grocery business, Cullum's job was to guard the soda pop and candy bars in the delivery truck while the driver delivered the goods. Tantalized by a shiny brass horn glimmering in the sunlit window of a pawn shop across the street, the 14-year-old abandoned his post and set off to negotiate for his first cornet. It was a 1920 C. Bruno & Sons cornet; the sale price $7, plus $1 for the booklet "How To Play the Cornet."

From Carnegie Hall in New York to home-base at The Landing on the Paseo del Rio in San Antonio, Jim Cullum has been recognized as a leading figure in the jazz world for almost 40 years. He has spent his adult life researching, performing and presenting repertoire from an often overlooked but increasingly popluar era of American music — jazz and popular song from the 1920s and '30s.

The Jim Cullum Jazz Band, an outstanding all-acoustic septet, offers a superb combination of individual musicianship, sophisticated arrangements and high-energy ensemble playing, which is the product of many years performing nightly at The Landing.