Paul Samuel Whiteman (March 28, 1890 – December 29, 1967) was an American bandleader, composer, orchestral director and violinist.
Leader of one of the most popular dance bands in the United States during the 1920s, Whiteman produced recordings that were immensely successful, and press notices often referred to him as the “King of Jazz”. Using a large ensemble and exploring many styles of music, Whiteman is perhaps best known for his blending of symphonic music and jazz, as typified by his 1924 commissioning and debut of George Gershwin’s jazz-influenced “Rhapsody in Blue”.
Later, Whiteman’s work on Symphonic Jazz influenced many jazz musicians either way – directly or indirectly – as diverse as Miles Davis, Gil Evans, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Wynton Marsalis and other modern artists. Whiteman recorded many jazz and pop standards during his career, including “Wang Wang Blues”, “Mississippi Mud”, “Rhapsody in Blue”, “Wonderful One”, “Hot Lips (He’s Got Hot Lips When He Plays Jazz)”, “Mississippi Suite”, and “Grand Canyon Suite”. His popularity faded in the swing music era of the 1930s, and by the 1940s Whiteman was semi-retired from music.