Iconic San Antonio jazz band leader Jim Cullum, who's music from the Landing night spot on the Riverwalk delighted jazz aficionado around the world for decades, has died at the age of 77, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
“For decades, Jim Cullum kept the flame of jazz burning in San Antonio, and it was through his gift as a band leader that he’s given life to a new generation of musicians. We will miss him, but Heaven just got a little more swingin’. Rest In Peace, Jim," Mayor Nirenberg said.
Cullum's jazz concerts were syndicated on public radio from 1989 until he retired in 2012. In his classic introduction, the announcer said the music was coming from 'across the alley from the Alamo, deep in the heart of Texas.'
Cullum came from a music family. His father Jim Cullum, Sr. was the leader of the Happy Jazz Band,which performed around the country in the fifties through the seventies.
The Jim Cullum Jazz Band was a traditional seven piece jazz ensemble, including Cullum on cornet, and a clarinet, trombone, piano, banjo or guitar, bass and drums. Cullum performed at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and Austin City Limits. He recorded for Jazzology, Columbia, Audiophile, Stomp Off, and his label, Riverwalk.
Following Cullum's retirement, many of the members of his band went on to form the Mission City Hot Rhythm Cats.
Nationally syndicated radio talk host Blanquita Cullum, Cullum's ex wife, recalled Jim as a 'wonderful father to our children.'
She recalled when his jazz band was playing at the Landing Jazz Club in the early 1970s, which then was on the River Level of the Nix Hosptial Building. The broadcast was then on KITE radio, now KLUP, which had a strong night time signal.
"They must have been playing some really hot jazz that night, she recalled, "because Jim received a note from Acapulco Mexico....from Bing Crosby...who was listening on his yacht...the note read, "You boys are sounding great!!You can really swing that jazz!!!'"
Cullum died at his San Antonio home or an apparent heart attack.