Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Roger Wolfe Kahn
Born in Morristown, New Jersey into a very rich family -- his father, Otto Hermann Kahn, was a banker --, Kahn is said to have learned to play 18 musical instruments before starting to lead his own orchestra in 1923, aged only 16. Kahn hired famous jazz musicians of the day to play in his band, especially during recording sessions, for example Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Artie Shaw, Jack Teagarden, Red Nichols, and Gene Krupa. Recordings were made for Victor until 1929, Columbia in 1929 and 1930, and for the Brunswick label in 1932.
Kahn always had fun leading and conducting his orchestra. Reportedly, when the band was playing especially well he used to throw himself onto the floor and wave his legs in the air. However, in the mid-1930s, he lost interest in his orchestra and disbanded it. Instead, he preoccupied himself with aviation and eventually, in 1941, became a test pilot for the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, a well-known aircraft manufacturer.
In 1931, Kahn made headlines on the New York society pages when he married musical comedy actress Hannah Williams . The wedding was at Oheka Castle, his family's estate on Long Island, and was kept secret from the public for two weeks, until the Broadway show Williams was appearing in, Sweet and Low , had had its final performances. The couple made headlines again when they divorced two years later and when, after only a few weeks, Williams married boxing champion Jack Dempsey.
Kahn's popular titles include:
- "Hot Hot Hottentot"
- "Anything You Say"
- "Crazy Rhythm" (part of the soundtrack of Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway)
- "She's a Great Great Girl" (the closing theme song of WAMU's Hot Jazz Saturday Night hosted by Rob Bamberger )
Compilations of Roger Wolfe Kahn's music are available on CD.
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