Archive for Benny Goodman.

Ben Pollack And His Orchestra Before Victor 1925

Posted in Interviews and Articles, Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , on March 22, 2014 by the78rpmrecordspins

According to a September 1925 issue of Variety, the Ben Pollack Orchestra from Venice, California, had been playing an exclusive engagement at the Venice Ballroom. The most important part of this insert, was the mention of all the musicians in the orchestra at the time. Notice how Benny Goodman is addressed and the fact that he plays saxophone in addition to the clarinet. The other, better known original member of the band mentioned, was Gil Rodin, who would later form his own group, and record for Crown Records in the early 1930’s. 

old fulton ny post cards-variety sept 9, 1925 ben pollack orchestra.

Irving Mills and his Hotsy Totsy Gang – My Lit’l Honey And Me (Brunswick 4674 1929)

Posted in 78's on Screen, Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, The Sound of Jazz and Hot Dance 78's with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins


Irving Mills (Jan.16,1894 – April 21,1985) was a jazz music publisher, also known by the name of “Joe Primrose.”

Mills was born to Jewish parents in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City. He founded Mills Music with his brother Jack in 1919. Between 1919 and 1965, when they sold Mills Music, Inc., they built and became the largest independent music publisher in the world. He died in 1985 in Palm Springs, California.

Irving and Jack discovered a number of great songwriters, among them Sammy Fain, Harry Barris, Gene Austin, Hoagy Carmichael, Jimmy McHugh, and Dorothy Fields. He either discovered or greatly advanced the careers of Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ben Pollack, Jack Teagarden, Benny Goodman, Will Hudson, Raymond Scott and many others.

Although not a musician himself (he did sing, however), Irving decided to put together his own studio recording group. In Irving Mills and his Hotsy Totsy Gang he had for sidemen: Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Arnold Brillhardt, Arthur Schutt, and Manny Klein. Other variations of his bands featured Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Red Nichols (Irving gave Red Nichols the tag “and his Five Pennies.”)

One of his innovations was the “band within a band,” recording small groups (he started this in 1928 by arranging for members of Ben Pollack’s band to record hot small group sides for the various dime store labels, out of the main orchestra and printing “small orchestrations” transcribed off the record, so that non-professional musicians could see how great solos were constructed. This was later done by Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and many other bands.

In late 1936, with involvement by Herbert Yates of the American Record Corporation, Irving started the Master and Variety labels, which for their short life span were distributed by ARC through their Brunswick and Vocalion label sales staff. From December, 1936, through about September, 1937, an amazing amount of records were issued on these labels. Master’s best selling artists were Duke Ellington, Raymond Scott, as well as Hudson-De Lange Orchestra, Casper Reardon and Adrian Rollini. Variety’s roster included Cab Calloway, Red Nichols, the small groups from Ellington’s band led by Barney Bigard, Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart, and Johnny Hodges, as well as Noble Sissle, Frankie Newton, The Three Peppers, Chu Berry, Billy Kyle, and other major and minor jazz and pop performers around New York. In such a short time, an amazing amount of fine music was recorded for these labels.

By late 1937 a number of problems caused the collapse of these labels. The Brunswick and Vocalion sales staff had problems of their own, with competition from Victor and Decca, and it wasn’t easy to get this new venture off the ground. Mills tried to arrange for distribution overseas to get his music issued in Europe, but was unsuccessful. Also, it’s quite likely that these records simply weren’t selling as well as hoped for.

After the collapse of the labels, those titles that were still selling on Master were reissued on Brunswick and those still selling on Variety were reissued on Vocalion. Mills continued his M-100 recording series after the labels were taken over by ARC, and after cutting back recording to just the better selling artists, new recordings made from about January 1938 by Master were issued on Brunswick (later Columbia) and Vocalion (later the revived Okeh) until May 7, 1940.

Irving was recording all the time and became the head of the American Recording Company, which is now Columbia Records. Once radio blossomed Irving was singing at six radio stations seven days a week plugging Mills tunes. Jimmy McHugh, Sammy Fain, and Gene Austin took turns being his pianist.

He produced one picture, Stormy Weather, for Twentieth Century Fox in 1943, which starred jazz greats Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Zutty Singleton, and Fats Waller and the legendary dancers the Nicholas Brothers and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. He had a contract to do other movies but found it “too slow” so he continued finding, recording and plugging music.

Much has been made about Mills’ co-writing credit on a number of key Ellington compositions. The fact remains that those acts managed by Irving Mills got the best gigs and had the greatest opportunities in the recording studio.

Irving lived to be over 91 years old. His place in the history of jazz is founded primarily on his business skills rather than his singing and songwriting abilities, but it was his management skills and publishing empire that were central to the history and financial success of jazz. Because of his promotion of black entertainers a leading black newspaper referred to him as the Abraham Lincoln of music.

Irving Mills and his Hotsy Totsy Gang – My Lit’l Honey And Me (1929)

Sterling Bose

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's with tags , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Sterling Bose

From Wikipedia

Sterling Belmont “Bozo” Bose (September 23, 1906, Florence, Alabama – June 1958, St. Petersburg, Florida) was an American jazz trumpeter and cornetist. His style was heavily influenced by Bix Beiderbecke and changed little over the course of his life.

Bose’s early experience came with Dixieland jazz bands in his native Alabama before moving to St. Louis, Missouri in 1923. He played with the Crescent City Jazzers and theArcadian Serenaders, and with Jean Goldkette‘s Orchestra in 1927-28 after the departure of Beiderbecke. Following this he worked in the house band at radio station WGN in Chicagobefore joining Ben Pollack from 1930 to 1933. He also worked with Eddie Sheasby in Chicago, and moved to New York City in 1933. He had many gigs in New York in the 1930s and 1940s, including time with Joe Haymes (1934-35) and Tommy Dorsey (1935), Ray Noble (1936), Benny Goodman (1936), Lana WebsterGlenn Miller (1937), Bob Crosby (1937-39),Bobby Hackett (1939), Bob ZurkeJack TeagardenBud Freeman (1942), George BruniesBobby Sherwood (1943), Miff MoleArt HodesHorace Heidt (1944), and Tiny Hill (1946). Following this he did some further freelancing in Chicago and New York, and then moved to Florida in 1948, setting up his own bands there.

Bose suffered from an extended period of illness in the 1950s and eventually committed suicide in 1958.

Spud Murphy

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's with tags , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Spud Murphy

From Wikipedia

Lyle Stephanovic (August 19, 1908 – August 5, 2005), better known as Spud Murphy, was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, and arranger.

Born Miko Stefanovic to Serbian émigré parents in Berlin, Germany, Murphy grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he took the name of a childhood friend. Murphy studied clarinet and saxophone when young and took trumpet lessons from Red Nichols‘s father. He worked with Jimmy Joy in 1927-28 and with Ross Gorman and Slim Lamar (on oboe) in 1928. He worked in the early 1930s as saxophonist-arranger for Austin WylieJan GarberMal Hallett, and Joe Haymes, then became a staff arranger for Benny Goodman from 1935 to 1937. At the same time he also contributed charts to the Casa Loma OrchestraIsham JonesLes Brown and many others.

From 1937 to 1940 Murphy led a big band, and recorded for Decca Records and Bluebird Records in 1938-39. In the 1940s he relocated to Los Angeles, where he did work in the studios and with film music, in addition to authoring and teaching the 1200-page “System of Horizontal Composition” (a.k.a. “Equal Interval System”). He recorded two jazz albums in the 1950s, but his later career was focused on classical and film music.

In 2003, orchestra leader Dean Mora, a close friend of Murphy’s, recorded some two dozen of his arrangements in a tribute CD, Goblin Market.

Spud Murphy died in Los Angeles, two weeks short of his 97th birthday

Mel Powell

Posted in Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's with tags , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Mel Powell

From Wikipedia
Mel Powell
Mel Powell.jpg
Background information
Birth name Melvin Epstein
Born February 12, 1923
New York City, United States
Died April 24, 1998 (aged 75)
Genres Jazz
Swing music/Big band
Occupations Musician, Arranger, Composer, Music educator
Instruments Piano
Years active 1939 – 1988
Associated acts Benny GoodmanGlenn Miller‘sArmy Air Force Band

Mel Powell (born Melvin Epstein) (February 12, 1923 – April 24, 1998) was an American jazz pianistcomposer of classical music, and music educator. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1990. Powell was the founding dean of the music department at theCalifornia Institute of the Arts.

Early life

Mel Powell was born Melvin D. Epstein on February 12, 1923, in The Bronx, New York City to Russian Jewish parents, Milton Epstein and Mildred Mark Epstein.  He began playing piano at age four, taking lessons from, among others, Nadia Reisenberg. A passionate baseball fan, his home was within sight of Yankee Stadium. A hand injury while playing baseball as a boy, however, convinced him to choose music as a career path instead of sports.  Powell dreamed of life as a concert pianist until one night his older brother took him to see jazz pianist Teddy Wilson play, and later to a concert featuring Benny Goodman. In a 1987 interview with The New Yorker magazine Powell said “I had never heard anything as ecstatic as this music”, prompting a shift from classical to jazz piano. By the age of 14 Powell was performing jazz professionally around New York City.  As early as 1939, he was working with Bobby HackettGeorge Brunies, and Zutty Singleton, as well as writing arrangements for Earl Hines.  He changed his last name from Epstein to Powell in 1941 shortly before joining Benny Goodman’s band.


Powell and actress wife Martha Scott at home in 1947. An award to Powell fromDownbeat magazine rests on the table.

Newly-named, the teenage Mel Powell became a pianist and arranger for Benny Goodman in 1941. One composition from his Goodman years, The Earl, is perhaps his best-known from that time. It is notable that the song—dedicated to Earl “Fatha” Hines, one of Powell’s piano heroes—was recorded without a drummer.  After nearly two years with Goodman, Powell played briefly with the CBS radio band under director Raymond Scott  before Uncle Sam came calling. With World War II at its height, Powell was drafted into the U.S. Army, but fought his battles from a piano stool, being assigned to Glenn Miller‘s Army Air Force Band from 1943 to 1945.

Near wars end Mel Powell was stationed in Paris, France where he played with Django Reinhardt then returned for a brief stint in Benny Goodman’s band again after being discharged from the military. It was around this time, the mid-to-late 1940s, that Powell moved toHollywood and ventured into providing music for movies and cartoons—notably Tom and Jerry.  In 1948 he played himself in the movie A Song Is Born as the jazz pianist working with Benny Goodman. In this movie he worked along with many other famous jazz players including Louis Armstrong. It was during his time in Hollywood that he met and married actress Martha Scott. Mel Powell had a major health crisis in the late 1940s when he developed Muscular dystrophy. Confined to a wheelchair for some time, then walking with aid of a cane, the illness effectively ended his ability to work as a traveling musician again with Goodman or other bands.  It was a career and life-changing event, prompting Powell to devote himself to music composition rather than performance. From 1948 to 1952 he studied under German composer and music theorist Paul Hindemith at Yale University.

Changing styles, careers

At first sticking to traditional neo-Classical styles of composition Powell increasingly explored concepts in Atonality, or “non-tonal” music as he called it,  as well as Serialism advocated by Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg.  After receiving his degree in 1952, Powell embarked on a career as a music educator, first at Mannes College of Music and Queens College in his native New York City,  then returning to Yale in 1958, succeeding Hindemith as chair of composition faculty and director of one of the nations first electronic music studios.  Powell composed several electronic music pieces in the 1960s, some of which were performed at the Electric Circus in New York’s Greenwich Village,  a venue that also saw performances by groundbreaking rock music acts like The Velvet UndergroundThe Grateful Dead, and Blue Öyster Cult. Mel Powell had not completely turned his back on jazz music however. While teaching in the 1950s, he also played piano and recorded music with Benny Goodman again as well as on his own.  Showing the broad range of his talent, Powell composed for orchestras, choruses, singers, and chamber ensembles throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  In 1969 Powell returned to California to serve as founding dean of the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. After serving as Provost of the Institute from 1972 to 1976 he was awarded the Roy O. Disney Professorship of music, and taught at the Institute until shortly before his death.

Later years

In 1987 Mel Powell joined other music greats for a jazz festival on the cruise ship SS Norway playing alongside Benny CarterHoward AldenMilt Hinton, and Louie Bellson and others.  One performance has been documented on the CD release The Return of Mel Powell (Chiaroscuro Records). This CD includes twenty minutes of Powell discussing his life and his reasons for leaving jazz. In an interview with The New Yorker magazine jazz critic Whitney Balliett Powell stated: “I have decided that when I retire I will think through my decision to leave jazz – with the help of Freud and Jung. At the moment, I suspect it was this: I had done what I felt I had to do in jazz. I had decided it did not hold the deepest interest for me musically. And I had decided that it was a young man’s music, even a black music. Also, the endless repetition of material in the Goodman band – playing the same tunes day after day and night after night – got to me. That repetition tended to kill spontaneity, which is the heart of jazz and which can give a lifetime’s nourishment.”

Pulitzer surprise

In 1990 Mel Powell received his highest career achievement, the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his work Duplicates: A Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra.  Powell expressed total surprise at winning the Pulitzer in a Los Angeles Times interview: “Being out here on the coast, far away from the whole Eastern establishment to which the Pulitzer is connected – that made me a remote prospect. I just didn’t expect it.”  In an interview with The New York Times Powell related the story of how Duplicates origins came from his service in World War II and an anecdote he heard in Paris about Claude Debussy‘s search for perfect music. That, Powell, stated was his goal for Duplicates. The work, commissioned in 1987 for the Los Angeles Philharmonic by music patron Betty Freeman, took Powell more than two years to complete. It was made even more difficult as his muscular dystrophy, previously affecting only his legs, began to afflict his arms, thus his ability to play the piano.

Besides the Pulitzer, other awards and honors for Mel Powell include the Creative Arts Medal from Brandeis University, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an honorary life membership in the Arnold Schoenberg Institute, a commission from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation for the Library of Congress, and a National Institute of Arts and Letters grant.  Some of Powell’s notable students include Justin ConnollyWalter HeksterArturo MarquezLewis SpratlanJohn StewartLois V Vierk and John Ferritto.


Gravesite of Mel Powell & wife Martha Scott in Jamesport, Missouri.

Melvin “Mel” Powell died at his home in Sherman Oaks, California on April 24, 1998, from liver cancer. He was 75 years old.  Powell was survived by his wife, actress Martha Scott, two daughters and a son. He was buried in the Masonic Cemetery in his wife’s hometown of Jamesport, Missouri.


  • On his days in Big Band-Swing music: “It’s really so long ago, one ought to be able to invoke a statute of limitations. I played with Benny Goodman for two years, and I’ve been composing for 40. At the time, swing music, big-band music and Benny Goodman in particular were so boundlessly popular that people who made room for it in their lives have never forgotten it. So I get calls from people who are in a kind of time warp, who ask me about this period of my life as though it were the present. But I’ve moved on to other things.”
  • “The musician’s business is structure…The musician…is…therefore drawn to a profound science of structure. Looking closely at music itself, he is likely to ask: “What changes? When? By how much?”…he is…able to feel at home where logicians exhibit techniques for “isolating relevant structure.”
  • “It is true that the music I traffic in, along with Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter and others, has never gained a great popularity. But that was true of the so-called difficult music of earlier centuries, too. And I must say that I have noticed, as we have held our ground, that there has been a softening of response. There are now those who are beginning to find expressive beauty in a music that was at first rejected entirely.”

Zeke Zarchy

Posted in Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's with tags , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Zeke Zarchy

From Wikipedia

Rubin “Zeke” Zarchy (June 12, 1915 – April 12, 2009) was an American lead trumpet player of the big band and swing eras.

Trumpeters Louis Armstrong and Zeke Zarchy

Trumpeters Louis Armstrong and Zeke Zarchy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trumpeters Zeke Zarchy (right) and Louis Armstrong visit during a rehearsal for a Los Angeles TV show in the late 1960s

He joined the Joe Haymes orchestra in 1934, then played with Benny Goodman in 1936 and Artie Shaw in 1937. From 1937 to 1942, he worked and recorded with the bands of Red NorvoBob CrosbyGlenn MillerMildred BaileyFrank SinatraHelen WardJudy GarlandTommy Dorsey, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Zeke’s trumpet can be heard on recordings as Benny Goodman‘s “Bugle Call Rag“, Glenn Miller‘s “Moonlight Cocktail“, and Bob Crosby‘sSouth Rampart Street Parade.

When World War II broke out, Zarchy was the first musician chosen by Glenn Miller for what became Miller’s Army Air Force Band (officially, the 418th Army Band) where Zarchy played lead trumpet and was Master (First) Sergeant from 1942 to 1945.

After the war, singer Frank Sinatra invited Zarchy to move to Los Angeles, where he became a first-call studio musician. He played on the recordings of hundreds of vocalists, including Louis ArmstrongTony BennettDinah Shore, and The Mills Brothers. His trumpet is heard in the soundtracks of many classic Hollywood movies, including West Side Story (1961), Dr. Zhivago (1965) and the The Glenn Miller Story (1954).

During the 1960s and ’70s, he played in the house bands of several CBS TV variety shows, including The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,The Danny Kaye Show and The Jonathan Winters Show, and was a member of the NBC Staff Orchestras in New York and Los Angeles.

In his later years, Zarchy made many music tours of Europe, South America, and Australia, as well as 32 concert trips to Japan. He tutored several young trumpet players who became successful performers and studio musicians. He died on April 12, 2009 at the age of 93.

Billy Butterfield

Posted in Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's with tags , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Billy Butterfield

From Wikipedia
Billy Butterfield
Billy Butterfield in Second Chorus.jpg
Billy Butterfield in the Artie Shaw band, 1940
Background information
Birth name Billy Butterfield
Born January 14, 1917
Died March 18, 1988 (aged 71)
Genres Swingbig band
Occupations Musician
Instruments TrumpetFlugelhornCornet

Billy Butterfield (January 14, 1917 in Middleton, Ohio – March 18, 1988) was a band leader, jazz trumpeterflugelhornist andcornetist.

He studied cornet with Frank Simons, but later switched to studying medicine. He did not give up on music and quit medicine after finding success as a trumpeter. Early in his career he played in the band of Austin Wylie. He gained attention working with Bob Crosby(1937–1940), and later worked with Artie ShawLes Brown, and Benny Goodman. On October 7, 1940, during his brief stay with Artie Shaw’s orchestra, he performed what has been described as a “legendary trumpet solo” on the hit song “Stardust.” Between 1943 and 1947, taking a break to serve in Uncle Sam’s army, Billy led his own orchestra. On September 20, 1944, Capitol recorded the jazz standard “Moonlight In Vermont“, which featured a vocal by Margaret Whiting and a trumpet solo by Billy. The liner notes from the CDCapitol From The Vaults, Volume 2, “Vine Street Divas” indicate that, although ‘Billy Butterfield & His Orchestra’ were credited with the song, it was really the Les Brown band recording under the name of Billy Butterfield because Brown was under contract to another label at the time. He recorded two albums with Ray Conniff in the 1950s (“Conniff meets Butterfield”) and 1960s (“Just Kiddin’ Around”). Later in the 1960s he recorded two albums with his own orchestra for Columbia Records. Billy was a member of the World’s Greatest Jazz Band led by Yank Lawson and Bob Haggart from the late 1960s until his death in 1988. He also freelanced as a guest star with many bands all over the world, and performed at many jazz festivals, including the Manassas Jazz Festival and Dick Gibson’s Bash in Colorado.

Cutty Cutshall

Posted in Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Cutty Cutshall

From Wikipedia

Robert Dewees “Cutty” Cutshall (December 29, 1911 – August 16, 1968) was an American jazz trombonist.

Cutshall played in Pittsburgh early in his career, making his first major tour in 1934 with Charley Dornberger. He joined Jan Savitt‘s orchestra in 1938, then played with Benny Goodman in the early 1940s. Later in the decade he worked frequently with Billy Butterfield and did some freelance work in New York City. He started working with Eddie Condon in 1949, an association which would last over a decade. Cutshall was touring with Condon in 1968 at the time of his death, which occurred in a hotel room.

Cutshall’s credits include work with Peanuts HuckoBob CrosbyElla Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong.

Benny Goodman

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's, Recording Artists Who Appeared in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Benny Goodman

From Wikipedia
Benny Goodman
Goodman in Stage Door Canteen, 1943.
Background information
Birth name Benjamin David Goodman
Also known as “King of Swing”, “The Professor”, “Patriarch of the Clarinet”, “Swing’s Senior Statesman”
Born May 30, 1909
Chicago, Illinois
United States
Died June 13, 1986 (aged 77)
New York City, New York
United States
Genres Swingbig band
Occupations Musician, bandleader, songwriter
Instruments Clarinet
Years active 1926–1986

Benjamin David “Benny” Goodman  (May 30, 1909 – June 13, 1986) was an American jazz and swing musician, clarinetist and bandleader; known as the “King of Swing”.

In the mid-1930s, Benny Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups in America. His January 16, 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City is described by critic Bruce Eder as “the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history: jazz’s ‘coming out’ party to the world of ‘respectable’ music.”

Goodman’s bands launched the careers of many major names in jazz, and during an era of segregation, he also led one of the first well-known racially integrated jazz groups. Goodman continued to perform to nearly the end of his life, while exploring an interest in classical music.

Childhood and early years

Goodman was born in Chicago, the ninth of twelve children of poor Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire,  who lived in the Maxwell Street neighborhood. His father was David Goodman (1873-1926), a tailor from Warsaw; his mother was Dora Grisinsky  (1873-1964) from KaunasLithuania. His parents met in Baltimore, Maryland, and moved to Chicago before Benny was born.

When Benny was 10, his father enrolled him and two of his older brothers in music lessons at the Kehelah Jacob Synagogue. The next year he joined the boys club band at Jane Addams‘ Hull House, where he received lessons from director James Sylvester. He also received two years of instruction from the classically trained clarinetist Franz Schoepp.  His early influences were New Orleans jazz clarinetists working in Chicago, notably Johnny DoddsLeon Roppolo, and Jimmy Noone.  Goodman learned quickly, becoming a strong player at an early age: he was soon playing professionally in various bands.

Goodman made his professional debut in 1921 at Central Park Theater in Chicago and entered Harrison High School in 1922. He joined the musicians’s union in 1923 and that summer he met Bix Beiderbecke. He attended Lewis Institute (now Illinois Institute of Technology) in 1924 as a high school sophomore, while also playing the clarinet in a dance hall band. (He was awarded an honorary LL.D. from IIT in 1968.) At age 14, he was in a band that featured the legendary Bix Beiderbecke.  When Goodman was 16, he joined one of Chicago’s top bands, the Ben Pollack Orchestra, with which he made his first recordings in 1926.

He made his first record on Vocalion under his own name two years later. Goodman recorded with the regular Pollack band and smaller groups drawn from the orchestra through 1929. The side sessions produced scores of sides recorded for the variousdimestore record labels under an array of group names, including Mills’ Musical Clowns, Goody’s Good Timers, The Hotsy Totsy Gang, Jimmy Backen’s Toe Ticklers, Dixie Daisies, and Kentucky Grasshoppers.

Goodman’s father, David, was a working-class immigrant about whom Benny said (interview, Downbeat, February 8, 1956); “…Pop worked in the stockyards, shoveling lard in its unrefined state. He had those boots, and he’d come home at the end of the day exhausted, stinking to high heaven, and when he walked in it made me sick. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand the idea of Pop every day standing in that stuff, shoveling it around”.

On December 9, 1926, David Goodman was killed in a traffic accident. Benny had recently joined the Pollack band and was urging his father to retire, since he and his brother (Harry) were now doing well as professional musicians. According to James Lincoln Collier, “Pop looked Benny in the eye and said, ‘Benny, you take care of yourself, I’ll take care of myself.'” Collier continues: “It was an unhappy choice. Not long afterwards, as he was stepping down from a streetcar—according to one story—he was struck by a car. He never regained consciousness and died in the hospital the next day. It was a bitter blow to the family, and it haunted Benny to the end that his father had not lived to see the success he, and some of the others, made of themselves.”  “Benny described his father’s death as ‘the saddest thing that ever happened in our family.'”


Goodman left for New York City and became a successful session musician during the late 1920s and early 1930s (mostly with Ben Pollack‘s band between 1926 and 1929). A notable March 21, 1928 Victor session found Goodman alongside Glenn MillerTommy Dorsey, and Joe Venuti in the All-Star Orchestra, directed by Nat Shilkret.  He played with the nationally known bands of Ben SelvinRed NicholsIsham Jones (although he is not on any of Jones’s records), and Ted Lewis. He recorded sides for Brunswick under the name Benny Goodman’s Boys, a band that featured Glenn Miller. In 1928, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller wrote the instrumental “Room 1411“, which was released as a Brunswick 78.  He also recorded musical soundtracks for movie shorts; fans believe that Benny Goodman’s clarinet can be heard on the soundtrack of One A. M., a Charlie Chaplin comedy re-released to theaters in 1934.

During this period as a successful session musician, John Hammond arranged for a series of jazz sides recorded for and issued on Columbia starting in 1933 and continuing until his signing with Victor in 1935, during his success on radio. There were also a number of commercial studio sides recorded for Melotone Records between late 1930 and mid-1931 under Goodman’s name. The all-star Columbia sides featured Jack TeagardenJoe SullivanDick McDonoughArthur SchuttGene KrupaTeddy WilsonColeman Hawkins (for 1 session), and vocalists Jack Teagarden and Mildred Bailey, and the first two recorded vocals by a young Billie Holiday.

In 1934 Goodman auditioned for NBC‘s Let’s Dance, a well-regarded three-hour weekly radio program that featured various styles of dance music. His familiar theme song by that title was based on Invitation to the Dance by Carl Maria von Weber. Since he needed new arrangements every week for the show, his agent, John Hammond, suggested that he purchase “hot” (swing) arrangements from Fletcher Henderson, an African-American musician from Atlanta who had New York’s most popular African-American band in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Goodman, a wise businessman, helped Henderson in 1929 when the stock market crashed. He purchased all of Henderson’s song books, and hired Henderson’s band members to teach his musicians how to play the music.  In 1932, his career officially began with Fletcher Henderson. Although Henderson’s orchestra was at its climax of creativity, it had not reached any peaks of popularity. During the Depression, Fletcher disbanded his orchestra as he was in financial debt.

In early 1935, Goodman and his band were one of three bands (the others were Xavier Cugat and “Kel Murray” [r.n. Murray Kellner]) featured on Let’s Dance where they played arrangements by Henderson along with hits such as “Get Happy” and “Jingle Bells” from composer and arranger Spud Murphy.  Goodman’s portion of the program from New York, at 12:30 a.m. Eastern Time, aired too late to attract a large East Coast audience. However, unknown to him, the time slot gave him an avid following on the West Coast (they heard him at 9:30 p.m. Pacific Time). He and his band remained on Let’s Dance until May of that year when a strike by employees of the series’ sponsor, Nabisco, forced the cancellation of the radio show. An engagement was booked at Manhattan’s Roosevelt Grill (filling in for Guy Lombardo), but the crowd there expected ‘sweet’ music and Goodman’s band was unsuccessful.  The band set out on a tour of America in May 1935, but was still poorly received. By August 1935, Goodman found himself with a band that was nearly broke, disillusioned and ready to quit.

Catalyst for the Swing era

An eager crowd of Goodman fans inOakland

In July 1935, a record of the Goodman band playing the Henderson arrangements of “King Porter Stomp” backed with “Sometimes I’m Happy“, Victor 78 25090, had been released to ecstatic reviews in both Down Beat and Melody Maker. Reports were that in Pittsburgh at the Stanley Theater some of the kids danced in the aisles,  but in general these arrangements had made little impact on the band’s tour until August 19 when they arrived in Oakland to play at McFadden’s Ballroom.  There, Goodman and his artists Gene Krupa,Bunny Berigan, and Helen Ward found a large crowd of young dancers, raving and cheering the hot music they had heard on the Let’s Dance radio show.  Herb Caen wrote that “from the first note, the place was in an uproar.”  One night later, at Pismo Beach, the show was another flop, and the band thought the overwhelming reception in Oakland had been a fluke.

The next night, August 21, 1935 at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, Goodman and his band began a three-week engagement. On top of the Let’s Dance airplay, Al Jarvis had been playing Goodman records on KFWB radio, and Los Angeles fans were primed to hear him in person.  Goodman started the evening with stock arrangements, but after an indifferent response, began the second set with the arrangements by Fletcher Henderson and Spud Murphy. According to Willard Alexander, the band’s booking agent, Krupa said “If we’re gonna die, Benny, let’s die playing our own thing.” The crowd broke into cheers and applause. News reports spread word of the enthusiastic dancing and exciting new music that was happening. Over the course of the engagement, the “Jitterbug” began to appear as a new dance craze,  and radio broadcasts carried the band’s performances across the nation.

The Palomar engagement was such a marked success it is often exaggeratedly described as the beginning of the swing era.  Donald Clarke wrote “It is clear in retrospect that the Swing Era had been waiting to happen, but it was Goodman and his band that touched it off.”

In November 1935 Goodman accepted an invitation to play in Chicago at the Joseph Urban Room at the Congress Hotel. His stay there extended to six months and his popularity was cemented by nationwide radio broadcasts over NBC affiliate stations. While in Chicago, the band recorded If I Could Be With YouStompin’ At The Savoy, and Goody, Goody. Goodman also played three special concerts produced by jazz aficionado and Chicago socialite Helen Oakley. These “Rhythm Club” concerts at the Congress Hotel included sets in which Goodman and Krupa sat in with Fletcher Henderson’s band, perhaps the first racially integrated big band appearance before a paying audience in the United States.  Goodman and Krupa played in a trio with Teddy Wilson on piano. Both combinations were well-received, and Wilson stayed on.

In his 1935–1936 radio broadcasts from Chicago, Goodman was introduced as the “Rajah of Rhythm.”  Slingerland Drum Company had been calling Krupa the “King of Swing” as part of a sales campaign, but shortly after Goodman and crew left Chicago in May 1936 to spend the summer filming The Big Broadcast of 1937 in Hollywood, the title “King of Swing” was applied to Goodman by the media.  Goodman left record company RCA for Columbia, following his agent and soon to be brother-in-law John Hammond.

At the end of June 1936, Goodman went to Hollywood, where, on June 30, 1936 his band began CBS’s “Camel Caravan,” its third, and, according to Connor and Hicks, its greatest of them all, sponsored radio show, co-starring Goodman and his old boss Nat Shilkret.  By spring, 1936, bandleader Fletcher Henderson was writing arrangements for Goodman’s band. He would disband his own group in 1939 and become a full-time arranger for Goodman. Other noteworthy arrangers in the Goodman band were Jimmy Mundy, 1935 to 1939 (overlapping with Henderson) and Eddie Sauter, the 1940s. In 1940, Benny developed a serious case of sciatica, and had others compose pieces for him, such as Eddie Sauter who did not fully compose flawless compositions such as Benny Rides Again where the clarinet piece sounded like two tempo pieces instead of one. During 1945, the orchestra disbanded. After, Benny still continued to tour internationally, and played in classical concert halls with major composers such as Hindemith and Copland.

Carnegie Hall concert

In bringing jazz to Carnegie, [Benny Goodman was], in effect, smuggling American contraband into the halls of European high culture, and Goodman and his 15 men pull[ed] it off with the audacity and precision of Ocean’s Eleven.
Will Friedwald

In late 1937, Goodman’s publicist Wynn Nathanson attempted a publicity stunt by suggesting Goodman and his band should play Carnegie Hall in New York City. If this concert were to take place, then Benny Goodman would be the first jazz bandleader to perform at Carnegie Hall. “Benny Goodman was initially hesitant about the concert, fearing for the worst; however, when his film Hollywood Hotel opened to rave reviews and giant lines, he threw himself into the work. He gave up several dates and insisted on holding rehearsals inside Carnegie Hall to familiarize the band with the lively acoustics.”

The concert was the evening of January 16, 1938. It sold out weeks before, with the capacity 2,760 seats going for the top price of US$2.75 a seat, for the time a very high price. The concert began with three contemporary numbers from the Goodman band—”Don’t Be That Way,” “Sometimes I’m Happy,” and “One O’Clock Jump.” They then played a history of jazz, starting with a Dixieland quartet performing “Sensation Rag”, originally recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in 1918. Once again, initial crowd reaction, though polite, was tepid. Then came a jam session on “Honeysuckle Rose” featuring members of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands as guests. (The surprise of the session: Goodman handing a solo to Basie’s guitarist Freddie Green who was never a featured soloist but earned his reputation as the best rhythm guitarist in the genre—he responded with a striking round of chord improvisations.) As the concert went on, things livened up. The Goodman band and quartet took over the stage and performed the numbers that had already made them famous. Some later trio and quartet numbers were well-received, and a vocal on “Loch Lomond” by Martha Tilton provoked five curtain calls and cries for an encore. The encore forced Goodman to make his only audience announcement for the night, stating that they had no encore prepared but that Martha would return shortly with another number.

By the time the band got to the climactic piece “Sing, Sing, Sing“, success was assured. This performance featured playing by tenor saxophonist Babe Russin, trumpeter Harry James, and Benny Goodman, backed by drummer Gene Krupa. When Goodman finished his solo, he unexpectedly gave a solo to pianist Jess Stacy. “At the Carnegie Hall concert, after the usual theatrics, Jess Stacy was allowed to solo and, given the venue, what followed was appropriate,” wrote David Rickert. “Used to just playing rhythm on the tune, he was unprepared for a turn in the spotlight, but what came out of his fingers was a graceful, impressionistic marvel with classical flourishes, yet still managed to swing. It was the best thing he ever did, and it’s ironic that such a layered, nuanced performance came at the end of such a chaotic, bombastic tune.”

This concert has been regarded as one of the most significant in jazz history. After years of work by musicians from all over the country, jazz had finally been accepted by mainstream audiences. Recordings were made of this concert, but even by the technology of the day the equipment used was not of the finest quality. Acetate recordings of the concert were made, and aluminum studio masters were also cut.

The recording was produced by Albert Marx as a special gift for his wife, Helen Ward and a second set for Benny. He contracted Artists Recording Studio to make 2 sets. Artists Recording only had 2 turntables so they farmed out the second set to Raymond Scott‘s recording studio.[…] It was Benny’s sister-in-law who found the recordings in Benny’s apartment [in 1950] and brought them to Benny’s attention.
Ross Firestone

Goodman took the newly discovered recording to his record company, Columbia, and a selection was issued on LP. These recordings have not been out of print since they were first issued. In early 1998, the aluminum masters were rediscovered and a new CD set of the concert was released based on these masters. The album released based on those masters went on to be one of the best selling live jazz albums of all time.

Charlie Christian

Pianist/arranger Mary Lou Williams  was a good friend of both Columbia records producer John Hammond and Benny Goodman. She first suggested to John Hammond that he see Charlie Christian.

Charlie Christian was playing at the Ritz in Oklahoma City where […] John Hammond heard him in 1939. Hammond recommended him to Benny Goodman, but the band leader wasn’t interested. The idea of an electrified guitar didn’t appeal, and Goodman didn’t care for Christian’s flashy style of dressing. Reportedly, Hammond personally installed Christian onstage during a break in a Goodman concert in Beverly Hills. Irritated to see Christian among the band, Goodman struck up “Rose Room“, not expecting the guitarist to know the tune. What followed amazed everyone who heard the 45-minute performance.

Charlie was a hit on the electric guitar and remained in the Benny Goodman Sextet for two years (1939–1941). He wrote many of the group’s head arrangements (some of which Goodman took credit for) and was an inspiration to all. The sextet made him famous and provided him with a steady income while Charlie worked on legitimizing, popularizing, revolutionizing, and standardizing the electric guitar as a jazz instrument.

Charlie Christian’s recordings and rehearsal dubs made with Benny Goodman in the early forties are widely known and were released by Columbia.

Beyond swing

Goodman continued his meteoric rise throughout the late 1930s with his big band, his trio and quartet, and a sextet. By the mid-1940s, however, big bands lost a lot of their popularity. In 1941, ASCAP had a licensing war with music publishers. In 1942 to 1944 and 1948, the musician’s union went on strike against the major record labels in the United States, and singers took the spot in popularity that the big bands had once enjoyed. During this strike, the United States War Department approached the union and requested the production of the V-Disc, a set of records containing new and fresh music for soldiers to listen to.  Also, by the late 1940s, swing was no longer the dominant mode of jazz musicians.

Bebop, Cool Jazz

By the 1940s, jazz musicians were borrowing advanced ideas from classical music. The recordings Goodman made in bop style for Capitol Records were highly praised by jazz critics. When Goodman was starting a bebop band, he hired Buddy GrecoZoot SimsWardell Gray and a few other modern players.

Benny Goodman (third from left) in 1952 with some of his former musicians, seated around piano left to right: Vernon Brown,George AuldGene Krupa, Clint Neagley,Ziggy ElmanIsrael Crosby and Teddy Wilson (at piano)

Pianist/arranger Mary Lou Williams had been a favorite of Benny’s since she first appeared on the national scene in 1936 […]. [A]s Goodman warily approached the music of [Charlie] Parker and [Dizzy] Gillespie, he turned to Williams for musical guidance. […] Pianist Mel Powell was the first to introduce the new music to Benny in 1945, and kept him abreast to what was happening around 52nd Street.

Goodman enjoyed the bebop and cool jazz that was beginning to arrive in the 1940s. When Goodman heard Thelonious Monk, a celebrated pianist and accompanist to bop players Charlie ParkerDizzy Gillespie and Kenny Clarke, he remarked, “I like it, I like that very much. I like the piece and I like the way he played it. […] I think he’s got a sense of humor and he’s got some good things there.”

Benny had heard this Swedish clarinet player named Stan Hasselgard playing bebop, and he loved it … So he started a bebop band. But after a year and a half, he became frustrated. He eventually reformed his band and went back to playing Fletcher Henderson arrangements. Benny was a swing player and decided to concentrate on what he does best.
—Nate Guidry

By 1953, Goodman completely changed his mind about bebop. “Maybe bop has done more to set music back for years than anything […] Basically it’s all wrong. It’s not even knowing the scales. […] Bop was mostly publicity and people figuring angles.”

Forays into classical repertoire

Goodman’s first classical recording dates from April 25, 1938 when he recorded Mozart‘s Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581, with the Budapest Quartet. After his bop period, Goodman furthered his interest in classical music written for the clarinet, and frequently met with top classical clarinetists of the day. In 1946, he met Ingolf Dahl, an emigre classical composer on the faculty of the University of Southern California, who was then musical director of the Victor Borge show. They played chamber music together (Brahms,MilhaudHindemithDebussy) and in 1948 Goodman played in the world premiere performance of Dahl’s Concerto a Tre.

In 1949, when he was 40, Goodman decided to study with Reginald Kell, one of the world’s leading classical clarinetists. To do so, he had to change his entire technique: instead of holding the mouthpiece between his front teeth and lower lip, as he had done since he first took a clarinet in hand 30 years earlier, Goodman learned to adjust his embouchure to the use of both lips and even to use new fingering techniques. He had his old finger calluses removed and started to learn how to play his clarinet again—almost from scratch.

Clarinetists all over the world are indebted to Goodman for his being singly responsible for having commissioned many major works of twentieth century chamber music for clarinet and small ensembles as well as compositions for clarinet and symphony orchestra that are now standard repertoire in the field of classical performance. He also gave premiere performances of other works written by leading composers in addition to the pieces he commissioned, namely Contrasts by Béla BartókClarinet Concerto No. 2, Op. 115 byMalcolm ArnoldDerivations for Clarinet and Band by Morton Gould, and Aaron Copland‘s Clarinet Concerto. While Leonard Bernstein‘s Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs was commissioned for Woody Herman‘s big band, it was premiered by Goodman. Woody Herman was the dedicatee (1945) and first performer (1946) of Igor Stravinsky‘s Ebony Concerto, but many years later Stravinsky made another recording, this time with Benny Goodman as the soloist.[40]

He made a further recording of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, in July 1956 with the Boston Symphony String Quartet, at the Berkshire Festival; on the same occasion he also recorded Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Charles Munch. He also recorded the clarinet concertos of Weber and Carl Nielsen.

Other recordings of classical repertoire by Goodman are:

Touring with Armstrong

After forays outside of swing, Goodman started a new band in 1953. According to Donald Clarke, this was not a happy time for Goodman.

Goodman with his band and singer,Peggy Lee, in the film Stage Door Canteen(1943)

In 1953 Goodman re-formed his classic band for an expensive tour with Louis Armstrong’s All Stars that turned into a famous disaster. He managed to insult Armstrong at the beginning; then he was appalled at the vaudeville aspects of Louis’s act […] a contradiction of everything Goodman stood for.
—Donald Clarke


Benny Goodman’s band appeared as a specialty act in major musical features, including The Big Broadcast of 1937Hollywood Hotel(1938), Syncopation (1942), The Powers Girl (1942), Stage Door Canteen (1943), The Gang’s All Here (1943), Sweet and Lowdown (1944) and A Song Is Born (1948). Goodman’s only starring feature was Sweet and Low-Down (1944).

Goodman’s success story was told in the 1955 motion picture The Benny Goodman Story  with Steve Allen and Donna Reed. A Universal-International production, it was a follow up to 1954’s successful The Glenn Miller Story. The screenplay was heavily fictionalized, but the music was the real draw. Many of Goodman’s professional colleagues appear in the film, including Ben Pollack,Gene KrupaLionel Hampton and Harry James.

Personality and influence

Goodman was regarded by some as a demanding taskmaster, by others an arrogant and eccentric martinet. Many musicians spoke of “The Ray”,  Goodman’s trademark glare that he bestowed on a musician who failed to perform to his demanding standards. Guitarist Allan Reuss incurred the maestro’s displeasure on one occasion, and Goodman relegated him to the rear of the bandstand, where his contribution would be totally drowned out by the other musicians. Vocalists Anita O’Day and Helen Forrest spoke bitterly of their experiences singing with Goodman.  “The twenty or so months I spent with Benny felt like twenty years,” said Forrest. “When I look back, they seem like a life sentence.” At the same time, there are reports that he privately funded several college educations and was sometimes very generous, though always secretly. When a friend once asked him why, he reportedly said, “Well, if they knew about it, everyone would come to me with their hand out.”

“As far as I’m concerned, what he did in those days—and they were hard days, in 1937—made it possible for Negroes to have their chance in baseball and other fields.”
—Lionel Hampton on Benny Goodman

Goodman is also responsible for a significant step in racial integration in America. In the early 1930s, black and white jazz musicians could not play together in most clubs or concerts. In the Southern states, racial segregation was enforced by the Jim Crow laws. Benny Goodman broke with tradition by hiring Teddy Wilson to play with him and drummer Gene Krupa in the Benny Goodman Trio. In 1936, he added Lionel Hampton on vibes to form the Benny Goodman Quartet; in 1939 he added pioneering jazz guitarist Charlie Christian to his band and small ensembles, who played with him until his death from tuberculosis less than three years later. This integration in music happened ten years before Jackie Robinson became the first black American to enter Major League Baseball. “[Goodman’s] popularity was such that he could remain financially viable without touring the South, where he would have been subject to arrest for violating Jim Crow laws.” According to Jazz by Ken Burns, when someone asked him why he “played with that nigger” (referring to Teddy Wilson), Goodman replied, “I’ll knock you out if you use that word around me again”.

John Hammond and Alice Goodman

One of Benny Goodman’s closest friends off and on, from the 1930s onward was celebrated Columbia records producer John H. Hammond, who influenced Goodman’s move from RCA to the newly created Columbia records in 1939.

Benny Goodman married Hammond’s sister Alice Frances Hammond (1913–1978) on March 14, 1942. They had two daughters, Benjie and Rachel. Alice was previously married to British politician Arthur Duckworth, from whom she obtained a divorce.

Both daughters studied music, though neither was as successful as her father.

Hammond had encouraged Goodman to integrate his band, persuading him to employ pianist Teddy Wilson. But Hammond’s tendency to interfere in the musical affairs of Goodman’s and other bands led to Goodman pulling away from him. In 1953 they had another falling-out during Goodman’s ill-fated tour with Louis Armstrong, which was produced by John Hammond.

Goodman appeared on a 1975 PBS salute to Hammond but remained at a distance. In the 1980s, following the death of Alice Goodman, John Hammond and Benny Goodman, both by then elderly, reconciled. On June 25, 1985, Goodman appeared at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City for “A Tribute to John Hammond”.

Later years

Benny Goodman in concert in Nuremberg, Germany (1971)

After winning numerous polls over the years as best jazz clarinetist, Goodman was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1957.

Goodman continued to play on records and in small groups. One exception to this pattern was a collaboration with George Benson in the 1970s. The two met when they taped a PBS salute to John Hammond and re-created some of the famous Goodman-Charlie Christian duets.

Benson later appeared on several tracks of a Goodman album released as “Seven Come Eleven.” In general Goodman continued to play in the swing style he was most known for. He did, however, practice and perform classical clarinet pieces and commissioned compositions for clarinet. Periodically he would organize a new band and play a jazz festival or go on an international tour.

Despite increasing health problems, he continued to play until his death from a heart attack in New York City in 1986 at the age of 77, in his home at Manhattan House, 200 East 66th Street. A longtime resident of Stamford, Connecticut, Benny Goodman is interred in the Long Ridge Cemetery in Stamford. The same year, Goodman was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  Benny Goodman’s musical papers were donated to Yale University after his death.

Goodman received honorary doctorates from Union College, University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville,  Bard College, Columbia University, Yale University, and Harvard University.

He is a member of the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in the radio division.

His music was featured in the 2010 documentary Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story, narrated by Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman.

Irving Fazola

Posted in Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's with tags , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Irving Fazola

From Wikipedia

Irving Fazola (December 10, 1912 – March 20, 1949) was an American jazz clarinetist.


Fazola or Faz was born in New Orleans, Louisiana as Irving Henry Prestopnik. He got the nickname Fazola from his childhood skill at Solfege (“Fa-Sol-La”). He decided to use the nickname as his family name, and many fellow musicians were unaware that Fazola was not his birth name. Many people feel that he adopted the name “Fazola” from Louis Prima, when Faz toured with him. Prima would tell Faz that he was “Fazola” Italian for “Beans.” That being Jazz talk for being cool.

Influenced early on by Leon Roppolo, who Fazola continued to idolize throughout his life, Fazola was playing professionally by age 15. In his home city of New Orleans he worked with such bandleaders as Candy CandidoLouis PrimaSharkey BonanoArmand Hug, and Ellis Stratakos.

When the touring Ben Pollack band came through New Orleans in 1935 Fazola joined the band and toured the country and played residencies in New York City and Chicago with them. After brief stints with Gus ArnheimGlenn Miller and time back in New Orleans he joined the Bob Crosby band in 1938. His work with Crosby brought him national fame. He ranked first in the Down Beat polls of 1940 and 1941 as the top hot clarinetist, winning out over such other greats as Benny GoodmanArtie Shaw, and Edmond Hall.

It is clear, listening to Fazola’s mature style in the late 1930s (My Inspiration with the Bob Crosby Orchestra, for instance), that his main influence by then was Jimmie Noone. He played on the Glenn Miller composition Doin’ the Jive which was released on Brunswick and Vocalion in 1938 by the first Glenn Miller Orchestra.

After leaving Crosby’s band two years later he alternated between playing with various groups in New York, Chicago, and New Orleans (including a stint with George Brunies at the Famous Door) before returning to New Orleans for good in 1943. While some of his fellow musicians urged Fazola that greater fame and fortune awaited him in the big cities up north, Fazola said he was more comfortable in his home town with its wonderful food (which he ate in great quantities, becoming ever more obese). According to Pete Fountain, for whom Fazola was one of his two foremost idols, Faz also drank heavily, which contributed to his weight and his early death.

In New Orleans Faz had a radio show on WWL, sometimes led his own band, and worked with bandleaders Tony Almerico and Louis Prima.

Fazola died of a heart attack in New Orleans in 1949 at the age of 36.


Fazola was an enormous influence on young clarinetist Pete Fountain, whose style and sound very much followed Fazola’s and who sat in for Faz at the Opera House the night Faz died, specifically requested because he played like Faz. Fountain has Faz’s clarinet, but says that the odor of garlic that comes from the horn when it warms up makes it virtually impossible to play even after having been reconditioned by the factory. It was an Albert System clarinet, on which the fingers are stretched out more than on the Boehm Systemclarinet that Fountain played. The distinctive woody (or “fat”) Fountain sound, however, comes from the crystal mouthpiece he has played with since 1949, his first having been Fazola’s own, given to him along with the clarinet by Fazola’s mother after Faz’s death, because she had heard him play and noted how he played like her son. Pete has played crystal mouthpieces ever since.

Jess Stacy

Posted in Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's with tags , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Jess Stacy

From Wikipedia
Jess Stacy
Jess Stacy.jpg
Jess on the last night of the existence of the Benny Goodman orchestra (NY 1947)
Background information
Birth name Jesse Alexandria Stacy
Born August 11, 1904
Origin Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Died January 1, 1995 (aged 90)
Genres Jazz
Occupations Pianist
Instruments Piano
Associated acts Earl Hines
Floyd Towne
Crosby Bob-Cats
Tommy Dorsey
Benny Goodman
Lee Wiley

Jess Stacy (August 11, 1904 – January 1, 1995) was an American jazz pianist who gained prominence during the Swing era.

Early life

Stacy was born Jesse Alexandria Stacy in Bird’s Point, Missouri, a small town across the Mississippi River from Cairo, Illinois. In 1918 Stacy moved to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. There Stacy received his only formal music training studying under Professor Clyde Brandt, a professor of piano and violin at Southeast Missouri State Teachers College (now Southeast Missouri State University), while sweeping up nights at Clark’s Music Store.

By 1920 Stacy was playing piano in saxophonist Peg Meyer’s jazz ensemble at Cape Girardeau High School and at the Bluebird Confectionary on Broadway and Fountain and also at the Sweet Shop on Main Street. Originally labeled by schoolmates as “The Agony Four,” “….. that band took them out of Cape Girardeau where, according to Stacy, ‘everyone was square as a bear'”.

By 1921 the ensemble was known as Peg Meyer’s Melody Kings and started touring the Mississippi River on ‘The Majestic’ and other riverboats.


Early career

At some unknown date in the early 1920s Stacy moved ‘upriver’ to Chicago, Illinois, where he received notice performing with Paul Mares, leader of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, playing a genre of jazz which came to be called “Chicago-style”. Stacy cites his main influences at the time as Louis Armstrong and, especially, pianist Earl Hines, pianist for both Louis Armstrong and the Carroll Dickerson band.  Stacy would frequently go to wherever Hines was playing and later played with Hines’ band as ‘relief piano player’ in The Grand Terrace Cafe [as did Nat “King” Cole and Teddy Wilson] but during this time Stacy was mostly playing with Floyd Towne’s dance orchestra.

Stacy’s big break came in 1935 when Benny Goodman asked Stacy to join his band. Stacy left Floyd Towne, moved to New York, and spent the four years from 1935-1939 with the Benny Goodman Orchestra. He reached a personal peak when he performed with Goodman at Carnegie Hall on 16 January 1938,  the first jazz concert ever played at the venue. The Carnegie Hall performance has gained legendary status in part owing to an unplanned piano solo by Stacy during “Sing, Sing, Sing”. Following a Goodman/Krupa duet, Stacy received a nod from Goodman to take a solo. Some believe that Stacy did not gain the recognition he rightly deserved because Teddy Wilson was the regular pianist for the Benny Goodman quartet, the most acclaimed of Goodman’s bands.  Stacy did though play with such players as Bix BeiderbeckeEddie CondonBud FreemanGeorge GershwinLionel HamptonBillie HolidayGene KrupaJack Teagarden and, later, Horace Heidt.

A 1939 review of ‘Jess Stacy’ (Commodore 1503) stated:
“These two five-minute blues are probably the finest solos ever recorded by Jess Stacy and the best coupling ever issued by Milt Gabler on his Commodore label. When this most sensitive, intelligent and polished of piano players goes to work in the simple, traditional blues form, the result is likely to be more individual than authentic; and that was the case here. On the slow blues, “EcStacy”, and a faster one named “The Sell Out”, Stacy has lavished all his musical sincerity, his harmonic invention and delicate melodic ideas, all performed with uniquely fine touch and really incisive phrasing. “EcStacy” is quiet, and the chords ring out like chimes; in “The Sell Out”, Stacy’s foot acts as bass drum and the swing is very easy and sure. Instead of the sterility which afflicts so many of the “advanced” jazz players, there is the sincere, personal emotion, and integrity, of a uniquely talented musician. Much intellect went into this music, and in places you can almost hear Jess’ rapid thinking”.

After leaving the Goodman Orchestra, Stacy joined the Bob Crosby (Bing Crosby‘s brother) Orchestra and his famous small jazz group the Bob Crosby Bob-Cats. During his period with the latter band Stacy received yet wider acclaim. He won the national Down Beat piano polls in 1940, 1941, 1942, and 1943.  Stacy would later be credited with revitalizing the dying band. When the Crosby band broke up, Stacy rejoined Goodman in 1942 for a short period before joining the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

Stacy spent six months with the Tommy Dorsey band. He then left to put together a big band of his own, named the Jess Stacy Band and recorded with vocalist Lee Wiley, to whom he was married. But by then “big band” music was losing popularity, and the band suffered economically. The band did not last long and Wiley and Stacy would later divorce.

Later career

In 1950 he moved to Los Angeles California.  As with many jazz ‘stars’, his career declined to mostly club work. Finally one evening, while working the piano bar in Leon’s Steak House, Stacy walked out in the middle of a number after a drunken woman, while requesting the “Beer Barrel Polka” for the third time that evening, spilled a beer in his lap. Stacy declared that he was ‘done’ with the music business and he retired from public performances.

Unusually for a ‘jazzer’, Stacy chose to leave the music industry and take regular jobs until he was able to retire. For a time Stacy worked as a salesman, then warehouseman, then postman, for Max Factor cosmetics.

You wonderful gal, Jess Stacy

Later, he would be “re-discovered” as fame of his past career became known. However Stacy was selective in his performances – he played for Nelson Riddle on the soundtrack of The Great Gatsby (1974). The same year as the film’s release he was invited to play at the Newport Jazz Festival in New York and, as a result, was asked to record twice for the Chiaroscuro label, in 1974 and, in 1977, Stacy Still Swings. The years after that included compilations and some club work. Stacy’s final performance was broadcast on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz for National Public Radio on December 1, 1981.  After his brief and ‘selective’ revival in the 1970s, Stacy again retired from the music scene and lived a quiet existence with his third wife, Patricia Peck Stacy.

Personal life

Stacy had a tumultuous love life as a young man. His first wife was Helen Robinson. Both were very young when they married in 1924. Stacy worked nights playing in clubs and slept during the day while Robinson worked days. She needed more security than Stacy was willing to provide, and Stacy was unwilling to work at a radio station in secure employment. This did not change when the couple had a child, Frederick Jess. The couple would later divorce and Robinson would go on to marry a friend of Stacy’s, Phil Wing, the embodiment of all she had wanted Stacy to be.

Stacy’s second wife was the beautiful and wild Lee Wiley, a jazz singer of considerable acclaim at the time and subsequently. The couple was described by their friend Deane Kincaide as being as “compatible as two cats, tails tied together, hanging over a clothesline.”  After being married less than three years, the couple divorced in 1948. Lee’s response to Stacy’s desire to get a divorce was, “What will Bing Crosby be thinking of you divorcing me?”  while Stacy said of Wiley, “They did not burn the last witch at Salem.” Lee Wiley then married a retired business man, Nat Tischenkel, in 1966 and died of stomach cancer in 1975. Stacy did not attend her funeral.

Stacy’s third wife was Patricia Peck. They had been friends and dating for a decade when they married on September 8, 1950. Stacy and Peck lived in Los Angeles and were married very happily for forty-five years.

Death and legacy

Stacy died of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles, California on January 1, 1995.

Since his death Stacy has gained new attention and honors. In 1996 he was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame, and in 1998 a biography of him Jess Stacy: The Quiet Man of Jazz. a Biography and Discography was published.

Bob Haggart

Posted in Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Bob Haggart

From Wikipedia

Robert Sherwood Haggart (March 13, 1914, New York City – December 2, 1998, Venice, Florida) was a dixieland jazz double bass player, composer and arranger. Although he is associated with dixieland he was in fact one of the finest rhythm bassists of the Swing Era.

Haggart was a founder-member of the Bob Crosby Band (1935), arranging and part-composing several of the band’s big successes, including “What’s New?“, “South Rampart Street Parade”, “My Inspiration”, and “Big Noise from Winnetka“.

He remained with the band until 1942. He then worked as a studio musician in New York and recorded with Billie HolidayDuke EllingtonBenny Goodman and Ella Fitzgerald; his arrangements can be heard on Ella’s Decca release “Lullabies of Birdland”. During the 1950s, Haggart organised, with Yank Lawson, a regular series of small band recordings and also arranged many of the tunes for Louis Armstrong‘s 1956-7 four-volume LP recreation set.[clarification needed]

Bob Crosby also used this ensemble as the core of many groups, including the band that recorded Haggart’s arrangement of Porgy and Bess (1958). During the late 1960s he played frequently in bands organised by Bob Crosby.

He co-led, with Yank Lawson, The World’s Greatest Jazz Band (1968–1978). From 1978 until shortly before his death, Haggart worked with own groups or as a free-lance musician in several jazz groups and toured all over the world. He wrote a tutor for double bass which has become a standard text.

Matty Matlock

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Matty Matlock

From Wikipedia
Matty Matlock
Ray Bauduc, Herschel Evans, Bob Haggard, Eddie Miller, Lester Young, Matty Matlock, Howard Theatre, Washington D.C., ca. 1941.jpg
Ray Bauduc, Herschel Evans, Bob Haggard, Eddie Miller, Lester Young, Matty Matlock, Howard Theatre, Washington D.C., ca. 1941.
Background information
Birth name Julian Clifton Matlock
Born April 27, 1907
Origin United States Paducah, Kentucky, U.S.
Died June 14, 1978 (aged 71)
Genres Dixieland
Instruments Saxophone
Years active 1950s – 1970s
Associated acts Matty Matlock’s All Stars

Julian Clifton “Matty” Matlock (April 27, 1907 – June 14, 1978) was an American Dixieland jazz clarinettistsaxophonist and arranger born in Paducah, Kentucky. From 1929 to 1934 Matlock replaced Benny Goodman in the Ben Pollack band doing arrangements and performing on clarinet.

The following info on Matty is from the liner notes of his 1958 album The Dixieland Story:

Matty Matlock was born in Paducah, Kentucky. Not unlike many famous musicians whose families had no musical tradition, Matty has a charming vignette from his very early years which, he believes, deeply influenced and pressed him inevitably toward a career in music. The scene took place when Matty was about to turn six. There is no evidence to the contrary, so it must be reported that the child Matty Matlock saw and heard (while the waters of a river flood receded slowly about him) an old Negro gentleman seated on a stoop playing a wistful melody on a tin flute. From that moment, Matty soberly claims, the twig was bent.

Several years later, (the Matlocks had by then moved to Nashville) Matty recalls an incident which appears to have a more logical, if not so quaint, bearing on his musical career. Watching a National Guard outfit drilling (campaign hats and wrapped leggings) Matty noticed soldiers with rifles had to march briskly up and down across the streaming tarmac while, in the shade, the musicians sat leisurely blowing “Too Much Mustard”.

Sedentary occupations have a natural attraction to sensible folks in the catfish country. Shortly thereafter, Matty joined the Boy Scouts and made immediate application for the band. A Professor Simmons assigned the boys instruments by a process that might be called the “bite” system. Those with strong teeth and jutting jaws were assigned horns. A slightly receding chin qualified the applicant for the reeds. Anyone who would not fit readily into the Professor’s dental categories was assigned to percussion. Matty made the reeds.

In the Scouts Matty learned the Albert clarinet system, and later in the National Guard the Boehm System, all under the guidance of Professor Simmons.

The delivery boy at the local drug store, Joycie, had a “C” Melody sax. Joycie could manage “The Sheik” on the instrument but not much else. During those periods when the neighbors demonstrated a strong resistance to Joycie’s limited repertoire, Matty was able to borrow the saxophone, and with Professor Simmon’s help, he learned to play it.

Matty’s father was a stonecutter, and itinerant journeyman who openly boasted he never paid a railroad fare in his life. This was a sizable accomplishment since Mr. Matlock, Sr. tired quickly of any one location. Her would be gone from home for years at a time. Until he was an adequately accomplished sideman, Matty held part time jobs selling hot tamales, delivering papers and sundries, and he was thirteen when he got his first “gig”. He doubled clarinet and “C” melody at a hotel in Red Boiling Springs, a spa near Nashville, and significantly lasted only one night. Matty unfortunately could not be clearly seen behind the saxophone. the manager claimed he was entitled to five visible musicians; Matty was swapped for a bigger man.

“Casuals” of all kinds: dances, socials, rallied, park concerts began to come in regularly. Matty was able to spend all his spare time with sic. He taught himself basic orchestration by writing down all the parts on Ted Lewis records. Banjo music at that time was noted on the clefs, symbols came later. Matty found he had ready made exams in analyzing banjo parts.

In 1923 Matty began playing regularly with a five piece group, The Blue Melody Boys. He graduated to a slightly larger outfit, the Tennessee Ramblers which, Matty claims had the most impressive band picture ever taken. For the portrait the Ramblers we to O.K. Houck’s Music Store and posed with the greatest number of instruments ever displayed with a band of its size. Matty alone was framed in a jungle of reeds: saxophones, oboes, clarinets, english horns.

It was an impressive implication of doubling, tripling, and quadrupling. Possibly the Ramblers couldn’t live up to their 8×10 glossies. They split, and Matty joined Beasley Smith at the Andrew Jackson Hotel (400 rooms – 400 baths) in Nashville. It was 1925. Smith had a real “jazz” band, not a “sissy” band. Ray MacKinley came in from Texas with eight feet of drums and the biggest wad of active chewing gum Matty had ever seen. Beasley’s boys openly boasted that it took Ray four hours to set up. Featuring MacKinley hammering out “Heebie Jeebies” on his tuned tom-toms Beasley Smith played the W.S. Butterfield Circuit as the staring attraction of a “Syncopation Show”.

In 1928 Matty married, moved to Tracey Brown’s Orchestra, later joined Jimmie Joy and, after eight months returned to Beasley Smith.

In New York meanwhile, Benny Goodman had decided to quit Ben Pollock. Word had gotten around that there was a boy with Beasley Smith who blew real good, and Pollock dispatched Jack Teagarden and Ray Bauduc to Pittsburgh to hear Matty. Teagarden staked himself out in a sample room of the Fort Pitt Hotel. Matty went to meet him. With six other musicians they sat passing a coronet around; everyone blew some, passed the born, talked and blew again – all night long. Teagarden and Baauduc returned to New York without ever hearing Matty on clarinet. Their official report to Pollock was terse. “Guy’s great.” And Matty got Benny Goodman’s chair with eh Pollock band.

In 1934 Ben Pollock disbanded. Gil Rodin, Eddie Miller, Yank Lawson, Nappy Lamare, Ray Bauduc, Charlie Spivak, Gil Bowers and Matty left for New York to join Jack Teagarden. It was a move Teagarden had been carefully planning for some years. Unfortunately, though, Jack had no mind for details; he had overlooked the fact that he had a five year contract with Paul Whiteman.

The stranded group decided to form a cooperative similar to Casa Loma and the Rockwell-O’Keefe Agency suggested one of three personalities to front the new band: Goldie Goldmark, Johnny “Scat” Davis and Bob Crosby. The boys picked Crosby.

Bob Haggard, bass, joined the group early. Along with the original members he became a participating member of the cooperative, with Gil Rodin acting as manager. Gil Bowers quite; Joe Sullivan and later Bob Zurke became identified as pianists with the band.

For eight years Bob Crosby and Bobcats, consistently loyal to a unique, free swinging style, remained among the top few musical organizations along with such attractions as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and the Dorseys.

Matty and Bob Haggart, through the years, mad the major contributions to the unique “book” which came to characterize the Crosby band. Matty arranged “Boogie Woogie Maxixe”, “Little Rock Getaway”, “Honky Tonk Train”, “Dixieland Shuffle”, “Tea for Two” among many others.

By 1942 most of the original Crosby sidemen were sitting in with the armed services. With gas rationing and travel priorities, moving a band around the country was almost impossible and the cooperative was dissolved.

Matty came to California where he’s been ever since: playing and arranging for Paul Weston, John Scott Trotter, Phil Harris, Johnny Mercer, Connie Haines, Peggy Lee, The Lancers, Frank Sinatra, and Bob Crosby. He arranged for and helped Jack Webb organize the “Pete Kelly” group.

Matty lives quietly with his family in San Fernando Valley. He still holds the young enthusiasm for ajar that he had when climbed behind the “C” Melody sax on the bandstand at Red Boiling Springs.

A consistent, almost obsessive belief in craftsmanship, tone and technique, qualify Matty’s work on clarinet. His arrangements bear the impairing of a sentence he and Bob Haggard always employed to criticize each other’s work, “Phrase it stingy – like Louie!” 

Select discography

As bandleader

  • Dixieland (Douglass Phonodisc)
  • Four-Button Dixie (Douglass Phonodisc, 1959) [credited as Matty Matlock and the Paducah Patrol]
  • They Made It Twice As Nice As Paradise And They Called It Dixieland (Douglass Phonodisc)

With Ella Fitzgerald

With Ray Heindorf

With Ben Pollack

With Beverly Jenkins

Taft Jordan

Posted in Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's with tags , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Taft Jordan

From Wikipedia

Taft Jordan, Aquarium, New York, ca. November 1946

Taft Jordan (February 15, 1915, Florence, South Carolina – December 1, 1981, New Orleans) was an American jazz trumpeter, heavily influenced by Louis Armstrong.

Jordan played early in his career with the Washboard Rhythm Kings before joining Chick Webb‘s orchestra from 1933 to 1942, remaining there after Ella Fitzgerald became its frontwoman. Jordan and Bobby Stark traded duties as the main trumpet soloist in Webb’s orchestra. From 1943 to 1947 he played with Duke Ellington, then with Lucille Dixon at the Savannah Club in New York City from 1949 to 1953. After this he played less often, though he toured with Benny Goodman in 1958, played on Miles Davis‘s Sketches of Spain, and worked with the New York Jazz Repertory Company. He recorded four tunes as a leader in 1935, and led his own band in 1960–61, when he recorded LPs for MercuryAamco Records, and Moodsville.

Taft Jordan and The Mob

Jordan recorded 4 titles for ARC (Banner, Melotone, Oriole, Perfect, Romeo) on February 21 and 22, 1935. It was an all-star group consisting of

  • Jordan-t
  • Ward Silloway-tb
  • Johnny Mince-cl
  • Elmer Williams-ts
  • Teddy Wilson-p
  • Bobby Johnson-g
  • John Kirby-sb
  • Eddie Dougherty-d

Two takes were recorded of “Night Wind”, “If the Moon Turns Green”, “Devil in the Moon”, and “Lousiana Fairy Tale” (all were current commercial pop hits). Take 1 of each were rejected versions with vocals by Jordan. ARC issued the take 2 instrumental versions, which were outstandingly arranged swing.

Rube Bloom

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Rube Bloom

From Wikipedia

Reuben Bloom (April 24, 1902 – March 30, 1976) was a Jewish American multi-faceted entertainer, and in addition to being a songwriter, pianistarrangerband leader, recording artist, vocalist, and writer (he wrote several books on piano method).

Life and career

He was born and died in New York City.

During his career, he worked with many well-known performers, including Bix BeiderbeckeJoe VenutiRuth Etting, and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. He collaborated with a wide number of lyricists, including Johnny MercerTed Koehler, and Mitchell Parish.

During the 20s he wrote many novelty piano solos which are still well regarded today. He recorded for the Aeolian Company’s Duo-Art reproducing piano system various titles including his “Spring Fever”. His first hit came in 1927 with “Soliloquy”; his last was “Here’s to My Lady” in 1952, which he wrote with Johnny Mercer. In 1928, he made a number of records with Joe Venuti’s blue Four for OKeh, including 5 songs he sung, as well as played piano.

Bloom formed and led a number of bands during his career, most notably “Rube Bloom and His Bayou Boys”, which consisted of 3 records made over 3 sessions in 1930 and are considered 6 of the hottest recordings made in the first days of the depression. It was an all-star studio group containing Benny GoodmanAdrian Rollini, Tommy Dorsey andManny Klein). At other times, he played with other bands; an example of this side of his career can be found in his work with Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer in the Sioux City Six, as well as his frequent work with Joe Venuti’s Blue Four.

His song “I Can’t Face the Music” was recorded by Ella Fitzgerald on her 1962 Verve release Rhythm is My Business, in a fabulous swing/big band version with Bill Doggett.

According to some sources, his first name was pronounced like ‘Ruby’ by his friends.

He is buried in Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, New York.


Hank D’Amico

Posted in Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Hank D’Amico

From Wikipedia

Hank D’Amico, ca. May 1947

Hank D’Amico (March 21, 1915 – December 2, 1965), was an American jazz clarinetist.

D’Amico was born in Rochester, NY. He began playing professionally with Paul Specht‘s band in 1936. That same year, he joined Red Norvo. In 1938, D’Amico began radio broadcasts with his own octet before returning briefly to Norvo’s group in 1939. He played with Bob Crosby’s orchestra in 1940 and 1941, then had his own big band about a year. D’Amico had short stints in the bands of Les Brown,Benny Goodman and Norvo again before working for CBS in New York. He also found time to play with Miff Mole and Tommy Dorsey. D’Amico spent ten years as a staff musician for ABC, and then played with Jack Teagarden in 1954. From that part he mostly worked with small groups, infrequently forming his own band. D’Amico played at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York with The Morey Feld trio.

Teddy Wilson

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Teddy Wilson

From Wikipedia
Teddy Wilson
Teddy Wilson (William P Gottlieb).jpg
Teddy Wilson at the Turkish Embassy,Washington, D.C., 1940
© William P. Gottlieb
Background information
Birth name Theodore Shaw Wilson
Born November 24, 1912
Austin, Texas
Died July 31, 1986 (aged 73)
New Britain, Connecticut
Genres Jazz
Occupations Pianist
Instruments Piano
Associated acts Louis Armstrong
Earl Hines
Billie Holiday
Lester Young
Lena Horne
Benny Goodman

Theodore Shaw “Teddy” Wilson (November 24, 1912 – July 31, 1986)  was an American jazz pianist. Described by critic Scott Yanow  as “the definitive swing pianist”, Wilson’s sophisticated and elegant style was featured on the records of many of the biggest names in jazz including Louis ArmstrongLena HorneBenny GoodmanBillie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. With Goodman, he was perhaps the first well-known black musician to play publicly in a racially integrated group. In addition to his extensive work as a sideman, Wilson also led his own groups and recording sessions from the late 1920s to the ’80s.


Wilson was born in Austin, Texas, on November 24, 1912. He studied piano and violin at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. After working in the Lawrence “Speed” Webb band, with Louis Armstrong, and also understudying Earl Hines in Hines’s Grand Terrace Cafe Orchestra, Wilson joined Benny Carter‘s Chocolate Dandies in 1933. In 1935, he joined the Benny Goodman Trio (which consisted of Goodman, Wilson and drummer Gene Krupa, later expanded to the Benny Goodman Quartet with the addition of Lionel Hampton). The trio performed during the big band’s intermissions. By joining the trio, Wilson became the first black musician to perform in public with a previously all-white jazz group.

Noted jazz producer and writer John Hammond was instrumental in getting Wilson a contract with Brunswick, starting in 1935, to record hot swing arrangements of the popular songs of the day, with the growing jukebox trade in mind. He recorded fifty hit records with various singers such as Lena HorneHelen Ward and Billie Holiday, including many of Holiday’s greatest successes. During these years, he also took part in many highly regarded sessions with a wide range of important swing musicians such as Lester YoungRoy EldridgeCharlie ShaversRed NorvoBuck Clayton, and Ben Webster.

Wilson formed his own short-lived big band in 1939, then led a sextet at Café Society from 1940 to 1944. He was dubbed the “Marxist Mozart” by Howard “Stretch” Johnson due to his support for left-wing causes. Wilson performed in benefit concerts for The New Masses journal, for Russian War Relief and he chaired the Artists’ Committee to elect Benjamin J. Davis).  In the 1950s, Wilson taught at the Juilliard School. Wilson can be seen appearing as himself in the 1955 motion picture The Benny Goodman Story. He also worked as music director for the Dick Cavett Show.

Wilson lived quietly in suburban Hillsdale, New Jersey, in the 1960s and 1970s.  He performed as a soloist and with pick-up groups until the final years of his life.

Wilson died in New Britain CT, on July 31, 1986; he was 73. He is buried at Fairview Cemetery in New Britain, Connecticut.

Wilson at a Benny Goodman rehearsal, 1950

Select discography

  • 1949: Teddy Wilson Featuring Billie Holiday
  • 1956: I Got Rhythm
  • 1956: Pres and Teddy
  • 1959: “Gypsy” in Jazz
  • 1972: With Billie in Mind
  • 1972: Moonglow (Black Lion)
  • 1973: Runnin’ Wild (Recorded live at the Montreux Festival) (Black Lion)
  • 1976: Live at Santa Tecla
  • 1980: Teddy Wilson Trio Revisits the Goodman Years
  • 1990: Air Mail Special

As sideman:

  • 1933-1942: Billie Holiday, The Quintessential Billie Holiday (Volumes 1-9)
  • 1935-1939: Benny Goodman, The Complete RCA Victor Small Group Recordings
  • 1938: Benny Goodman, The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert

Fred Rich

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Fred Rich

From Wikipedia

Frederic Efrem “Fred” Rich (January 31, 1898 – September 8, 1956) was a Polish-born American bandleader and composer who was active from the 1920s to the 1950s. Among the famous musicians in his band included the Dorsey BrothersJoe VenutiBunny Berigan and Benny Goodman. In the early 1930s, Elmer Feldkamp was one of his vocalists.

Fred Rich was born in WarsawPoland. Rich was a pianist and he formed his own band in the 1920s. His theme songs were “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” and “So Beats My Heart For You.” Between 1925-1928, he toured Europe. Rich enjoyed a long stay at the famous Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. After this, he began leading studio band that featured many famous musicians. He recorded for OkehColumbiaParamountCamden and Vocalion and several others, often recording under the names Fred Richards, the Astorites, the Hotel Astor Band (Rich and his band served as their house band for a time in the 1920s) and many others. In the late 1930s, he would become a musical director for various radio stations and in 1942, he moved onto a staff position with United Artists Studios in Hollywood, where he was to remain for most of his career.

Like many prolific leaders of bands and studio groups, most of Rich’s records are typical ordinary dance fare of the era. However, during the period between November 1929 and March 1931, there was a scattering of outstanding hot jazz versions of popular tunes, with notable solos by Bunny BeriganTommy DorseyJimmy DorseyJoe VenutiEddie Lang, and others. These celebrated recordings include:

  • A Peach Of A Pair (October 29, 1930)
  • I Got Rhythm (October 29, 1930)
  • Cheerful Little Earful (November 19, 1930)
  • I’m Tickled Pink With A Blue-Eyed Baby (November 19, 1930)

As “Freddie Rich,” he recorded dozens of popular-title piano rolls in the 1920s for the Aeolian Company, both for its reproducing Duo-Art system and its 88 note Mel-O-Dee label.

In 1945, Rich was badly injured when he suffered a fall. As a result, he suffered from partial paralysis. But despite this, Rich continued to lead studio bands into the 1950s. Fred Rich died on September 8, 1956 in California aged 58 after a long illness.

A pianist, Fred Rich has a number of song credits to his name, including “Blue Tahitian Moonlight,” “Time Will Tell” and “On The Riviera.” He also wrote scores for many movies.

Dick McDonough

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Dick McDonough

From Wikipedia

Dick McDonough

Dick McDonough (1904-May 25, 1938) was an influential American jazz guitarist and composer. His major recordings included “Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jibe” with the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra with Johnny Mercer, “Stage Fright” with Carl Kress, “Chasin’ a Buck”, “Feelin’ No Pain”, recorded in 1927 with Red Nichols, and “Chicken a la Swing”.


McDonough played with Red Nichols in 1927 as a banjoist, and soon after played with Paul Whiteman. After exchanging banjo for guitar, he did extensive work as a session musician in the 1930s and played with Jimmy and Tommy DorseyThe Boswell SistersJoe VenutiBenny GoodmanMiff MoleAdrian RolliniRed NorvoJack TeagardenJohnny MercerBillie HolidayPee Wee RussellFrankie TrumbauerGlenn Miller, and Gene Gifford among others. He and Carl Kress recorded as a guitar duet in the mid-1930s as well. He played in the Jam Session at Victor with Fats Waller, Tommy Dorsey, Bunny Berigan, and George Wettling.

McDonough was an alcoholic and died as a result of this in 1938.

Compositions by Dick McDonough

Dick McDonough compositions included “Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jibe”, which was recorded by the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra with Johnny Mercer on vocals, “Chicken a la Swing”, “Stage Fright”, “Chasin’ a Buck”, and “Danzon”.

Red Norvo

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, Recording Artists Who Appeared in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Red Norvo

From Wikipedia
Red Norvo
Red Norvo c. February 1947. Photo by William P. Gottlieb.
Background information
Birth name Kenneth Norville
Born 31 March 1908
Origin BeardstownIllinoisUnited States
Died 6 April 1999 (aged 91)
Genres Jazz
Occupations Vibraphonist, composer
Instruments Vibraphonemarimbaxylophone
Associated acts Paul WhitemanBenny Goodman,Charlie BarnetWoody Herman

Red Norvo (March 31, 1908 – April 6, 1999) was one of jazz‘s early vibraphonists, known as “Mr. Swing”. He helped establish thexylophonemarimba and later the vibraphone as viable jazz instruments. His major recordings included “Dance of the Octopus”, “Bughouse”, “Knockin’ on Wood”, “Congo Blues”, and “Hole in the Wall”.


Red Norvo was born Kenneth Norville in Beardstown, Illinois. The story goes that he sold his pet pony to help pay for his first marimba. Norvo’s career began in Chicago with a band called “The Collegians”, in 1925. He played with many other bands, including an all-marimba band on the vaudeville circuit, and the bands of Paul WhitemanBenny GoodmanCharlie Barnet, and Woody Herman. Norvo recorded with Mildred Bailey (his wife), Billie HolidayDinah Shore and Frank Sinatra, among others. Together, Red and Mildred were known as “Mr. and Mrs. Swing.” He also appeared in the film Screaming Mimi (1958), playing himself and in Ocean’s 11 (1960 film) backing Dean Martin‘s “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?“.

In 1933 he recorded two sessions for Brunswick under his own name. The first “Knockin’ on Wood” and “Hole in the Wall” pleased Brunswick’s recording director Jack Kapp and he was booked for another session. This time, Kapp was out of town and Norvo went ahead and recorded two of the earliest, most modern pieces of chamber jazz yet recorded: Bix Beiderbecke‘s “In a Mist” and Norvo’s own “Dance of the Octopus”. Playing marimba instead of xylophone in the second session, he was accompanied by Benny Goodmanin a rare performance playing a bass clarinet,  Dick McDonough on guitar and Artie Bernstein on slap bass. Kapp was outraged when he heard the recordings and tore up Norvo’s contract and threw him out. Nevertheless, this modern record remained in print all through the 1930s.

Norvo recorded 8 modern swing sides for Columbia in 1934–1935, and 15 sides of Decca and their short-lived Champion label series in 1936 (strangely enough, Jack Kapp ran Decca, so they must’ve patched things up by then).

Starting in 1936 through 1942, Norvo formed a Swing Orchestra and recorded for ARC first on their Brunswick label, then Vocalion and finally Columbia, after CBS bought out the ARC company. Featuring the brilliant arrangements of Eddie Sauter and often featuringMildred Bailey as vocalist, this series of recordings were among the more sophisticated and elegant swing records of the era.

In 1938, Red Norvo and His Orchestra reached number one with their recordings of “Please Be Kind”, which was number one for two weeks, and “Says My Heart”, with lead vocals by Mildred Bailey, which was number one for four weeks on the pop charts, reaching number one during the week of June 18, 1938.

In June 1945, while a member of the Benny Goodman Sextet, he recorded a session for Comet records using a sextet which featured members of the Goodman group and alsoCharlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. He said: “Bird and Diz were dirty words for musicians of my generation. But jazz had always gone through changes and in 1945 we were in the middle of another one. Bird and Diz were saying new things in an exciting way. I had a free hand so I gambled”.

In 1949, while trying to find work near home on the West Coast and running into difficulties with large groups, Norvo formed a trio with the novel combination of vibes, guitar, and bass.  When the original guitarist and bassist quit (Mundell Lowe and Red Kelly), he brought in two previously little-known players. Tal Farlow became one of the most important of the post-War generation of guitarists, in part because the demands of the trio led him to explore new levels of both speed and harmonic richness on the instrument. Farlow left the group in 1953 and guitarist Jimmy Raney took his place. Charles Mingus‘s prominence as a bass player increased through this group, though its reportoire did not reflect the major career he would develop as a composer. Mingus left in 1951 and Red Mitchell replaced him. The Norvo, Farlow and Mingus trio recorded two LPs for Savoy.

In 1959 Norvo’s group played concerts in Australia with Frank Sinatra; Blue Note released these recordings in 1997. Red Norvo and his group also made several appearances onThe Dinah Shore Chevy Show in the late 1950s and early ’60s.

Norvo recorded and toured throughout his career until a stroke in the mid-1980s forced him into retirement (although he developed hearing problems long before his stroke). He died at a convalescent home in Santa Monica, California at the age of 91.

Compositions by Red Norvo

Red Norvo composed the following instrumentals during his career: “Dance of the Octopus”, “Bughouse” with Irving Mills and Teddy Wilson, “The Night is Blue”, “A Cigarette and a Silhouette”, “Congo Blues”, “Seein’ Red”, “Blues in E Flat”, “Hole in the Wall”, “Knockin’ on Wood”, “Decca Stomp”, “Tomboy”, and “1-2-3-4 Jump”.

Jimmy McPartland

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Jimmy McPartland

From Wikipedia

James Dugald McPartland (March 15, 1907 – March 13, 1991), better known as Jimmy McPartland, was an American cornetist and one of the originators of Chicago Jazz. McPartland worked with Eddie CondonArt HodesGene KrupaBenny GoodmanJack TeagardenTommy Dorsey and other jazz veterans, often leading his own bands.


Jimmy McPartland was born in ChicagoIllinois. His father was a music teacher and baseball player. Family problems caused Jimmy and his siblings to be partly raised in orphanages. After being kicked out of one orphanage for fighting, he got in further trouble with the law. Fortunately, he had started violin at age 5, then took up the cornet at age 15. He credited music with turning him around. He confessed that if it weren’t for music, he probably would have been “a hoodlum”.

McPartland was a member of the legendary Austin High Gang with Bud Freeman (tenor sax), Frank Teschemacher (clarinet), brother Dick McPartland (banjo/guitar), brother-in-law,Jim Lanigan (bass, tuba and violin), Joe Sullivan (piano) and Dave Tough (drums) in the 1920s. They were inspired by the recordings they heard at the local malt shop, The Spoon and Straw. They would study and try to duplicate what they heard on recordings by The New Orleans Rhythm Kings and others, and would frequently visit with Louis Armstrong, only a few years their senior, and King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band at Lincoln Gardens.

After playing through high school, their first musical job was under the name The Blue Friars. In 1924, at age 17, McPartland was then called to New York to take Bix Beiderbecke‘s place in the Wolverine Orchestra.  Bix quietly sat in the back of the club during the audition, later revealing himself with the compliment, “I like ya, kid. Ya sound like me, but you don’t copy me.” They became friends and roomed together while Bix gave McPartland pointers. At that time, Bix picked out a cornet for McPartland that he then played throughout his career.

From 1926 to 1927, he worked with Art Kassel. Also in 1927, he was a part of the historic McKenzie-Condon’s Chicagoans recording session that produced “China Boy” and “Nobody’s Sweetheart”. Finally, in 1927 he joined Ben Pollack‘s band for 2 years, and was one of the main soloists (along with Benny GoodmanBud FreemanJack Teagardenand Glenn Miller). He played on the 1928 recording of “Room 1411” which was composed by Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman as part of Bennie Goodman’s Boys and released as Brunswick 4013. He also moonlighted in Broadway pit bands. McPartland then went to New York City, and played with a number of small combos. He co-wrote the song “Makin’ Friends” with Jack Teagarden.

In 1930, he moved back to Chicago, working with his brother Dick, in a group called “The Embassy Four.” He was then a bandleader/singer/master-of-ceremonies at The Three Deuces nightclub. He also worked with Russ Columbo (1931–1932) and the Harry Reser band (1933–1935). During this period, he married singer Dorothy Williams, who along with her sister Hannah (who later married boxer Jack Dempsey), performed as “The Williams Sisters”, and they had a daughter, Dorothy. They soon divorced and McPartland spent time in South America. From 1936-1941, McPartland led his own bands and joined Jack Teagarden‘s Big Band until he was drafted in the Army during World War II (1942–1944).

After participating in the Invasion of Normandy, McPartland met his future wife in Belgium, the English pianist Margaret Marian Turner. They married in AachenGermany and moved back to Chicago, where Jimmy appeared on Windy City Jamboree, before finally settling in New York. Soon, Jimmy McPartland was part of Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith‘s band (along with Jimmy ArcheyPee Wee RussellGeorge ‘Pops’ Foster, and George Wettling), which won a Grammy for their soundtrack to the 1954 film After Hours.

McPartland proudly introduced his new bride around the New York jazz scene, but knew that Marian’s future didn’t lie in playing traditional jazz. He encouraged her to develop her own style and form her own group, which led to the establishment of her long residency at the Hickory House, with a trio including drummer Joe Morello.

McPartland’s outgoing personality and stage presence led him to try his hand at acting, resulting in a featured role in The Alcoa Hour episode “The Magic Horn” in 1956 with Sal MineoRalph Meeker, and other well-known jazz musicians. He also later performed in a production of Show Boat.

In 1961, McPartland appeared on a DuPont Show of the Month musical extravaganza hosted by Garry Moore, called “Chicago and All That Jazz” featuring many great names in jazz, including Gene KrupaJack TeagardenEddie CondonPee Wee Russell, and Lil Armstrong.

McPartland performed as guest star with many bands and at festivals during the 1970s in the US and out of the country. The McPartlands divorced in 1970. However, they continued to work together, stayed friends, and remarried just a few weeks before Jimmy’s death.

In 1984, a surprise 77th birthday celebration in New Jersey was thrown for McPartland by friend and trombonist Chuck Slate III with a great band including Chuck, McPartland, Dick Wellstood, Sonny Igoe, Frank Tate, Jorge Anders and Marian playing a set. McPartland played great and was very touched by the full audience of his fans.

McPartland died of lung cancer in Port Washington, New York in 1991, two days before his 84th birthday. (Coincidentally, long-time friend, collaborator and Austin High Gang member Bud Freeman died the next day.)


In 1992, Jimmy McPartland was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame.

Gene Krupa

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Gene Krupa

From Wikipedia
Gene Krupa
Gene Krupa crop.jpg
Background information
Birth name Eugene Bertram Krupa
Born January 15, 1909
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died October 16, 1973 (aged 64)
Yonkers, New York, U.S.
Genres Jazzswingdixielandbig band
Occupations Drummercomposerbandleader
Instruments Drums
Years active 1920s–1973
Associated acts Eddie CondonBenny Goodman,Louie BellsonAnita O’Day

Eugene Bertram “Gene” Krupa (January 15, 1909 – October 16, 1973) was an American jazz and big band drummer and composer, known for his highly energetic and flamboyant style.

Early Life

Krupa was born in Chicago, the youngest of Anna (Oslowski) and Bartłomiej Krupa’s nine children. Krupa’s father, Bartłomiej, was an immigrant from Poland, and his mother, Anna, was born in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, of Polish descent. His parents were very religious and had groomed Gene for the priesthood. He spent his grammar school days at various parochial schools and upon graduation, attended Saint Joseph’s College for a year, but later decided it was not his vocation. He studied with Sanford A. Moeller and began playing professionally in the mid-1920s with bands in Wisconsin. He broke into the Chicago scene in 1927, when he was picked byMCA to become a member of “Thelma Terry and Her Playboys,” the first notable American Jazz band (outside of all-girl bands) to be led by a female musician. The Playboys were the house band at The Golden Pumpkin nightclub in Chicago and also toured extensively throughout the eastern and central United States.


He made his first recordings in 1927, with a band under the leadership of banjoist Eddie Condon and Red McKenzie: along with other recordings beginning in 1924 by musicians known in the “Chicago” scene such as Bix Beiderbecke, these sides are examples of “Chicago Style” jazz. The numbers recorded at that session were: “China Boy“, “Sugar”, “Nobody’s Sweetheart” and “Liza”. The McKenzie – Condon sides are also notable for being some of the early examples of the use of a full drum kit on recordings. Krupa’s big influences during this time were Tubby Hall and Zutty Singleton. The drummer who probably had the greatest influence on Gene in this period was Baby Dodds, whose use of press rolls was highly reflected in Gene’s playing. 

Krupa also appeared on six recordings made by the Thelma Terry band in 1928  In 1934 he joined Benny Goodman‘s band, where his featured drum work made him a national celebrity. His tom-tom interludes on their hit “Sing, Sing, Sing” were the first extended drum solos to be recorded commercially.  He made a cameo appearance in the 1941 film, Ball of Fire, in which he and his band performed an extended version of the hit “Drum Boogie”, sung by Barbara Stanwyck, which he had composed with trumpeter Roy Eldridge.

As the 1940s ended, large orchestras fell by the wayside: Count Basie closed his large band and Woody Herman reduced his to an octet. Krupa gradually cut down the size of the band in the late 1940s, and from 1951 on led a trio or quartet, often featuring the multi-instrumentalist Eddie Shu on tenor sax, clarinet and harmonica. He appeared regularly with the Jazz At the Philharmonic shows. Along with Ball of Fire, he made a cameo appearance in the 1946 screen classic The Best Years Of Our Lives. His athletic drumming style, timing methods and cymbal technique evolved during this decade to fit in with changed fashions and tastes, but he never quite adjusted to the Be-Bop period.

In 1954, Krupa returned to Hollywood, to appear in such films as The Glenn Miller Story and The Benny Goodman Story. In 1959, the movie biography, The Gene Krupa Story, was released; Sal Mineo portrayed Krupa, and the film had a cameo appearance by Red NicholsDave Frishberg, a pianist who played with Krupa, was particularly struck by the accuracy of one key moment in the film. “The scene where the Krupa character drops his sticks during the big solo, and the audience realizes that he’s “back on the stuff.” I remember at least a couple of occasions in real life when Gene dropped a stick, and people in the audience began whispering among themselves and pointing at Gene.”

He continued to perform in famous clubs in the 1960s including the legendary Show Boat Lounge in suburban Maryland (which burned to the ground in the race riots of 1968), and the Metropole, near Times Square in New York City, often playing duets with drummer Cozy Cole. Increasingly troubled by back pain, he retired in the late 1960s and opened a music school. One of his pupils was KISS drummer Peter Criss,  whilst Jerry Nolan from The New York Dolls was another, as evidenced by the drumming similarities between KISS’s “Black Diamond” and The New York Dolls’ “Jet Boy”.

He occasionally played in public in the early 1970s until shortly before his death. One such late appearance occurred in 1972 at a jazz concert series sponsored by the New Schoolin New York. Krupa appeared on stage with other well-known musicians including trumpeter Harry James and the younger jazz star saxophonist Gerry Mulligan. A presumption was that the 500 or so audience members were drawn by Mulligan’s contemporary appeal. Nevertheless, when, during the second tune, Krupa took a 16 bar break, the room essentially exploded, the crowd leaping to its feet creating a deafening roar of unanimous affection; in effect he remained a seminal performer up to his death, even while playing for a huge audience perhaps half his age.

The Krupa-Rich ‘drum battles’

Norman Granz recruited Krupa and fellow drummer Buddy Rich for his Jazz at The Philharmonic concerts. It was suggested that the two perform a ‘drum battle’ at the Carnegie Hall concert in September 1952, which was recorded and later issued on vinyl (a CD edition called The Drum Battle at JATP appeared courtesy of Verve in 1999). Further drum battles took place at subsequent JATP concerts; the two drummers also faced off in a number of television broadcasts.

Krupa and Rich recorded two studio albums together; the first was titled Krupa and Rich (Verve, 1955) and the second called Burnin’ Beat (Verve, 1962).

Personal Life

Krupa married Ethel Maguire twice: the first marriage lasted from 1934–1942; the second one dates from 1946 to her death in 1955. Their relationship was dramatized in the biopic about him. Krupa remarried in 1959 (to Patty Bowler).

In 1943, Krupa was arrested for possession of two marijuana cigarettes and was given a three-month jail sentence.

Krupa died of leukemia and heart failure in Yonkers, New York, aged 64.  He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Calumet City, Illinois.


Gene Krupa Drive in Yonkers, New York

In the 1930s, Krupa prominently featured Slingerland drums. At Krupa’s urging, Slingerland developed tom-toms with tuneable top and bottom heads, which immediately became important elements of virtually every drummer’s set-up. Krupa developed and popularized many of the cymbal techniques that became standards. His collaboration with Armand Zildjian of the Avedis Zildjian Company developed the modernhi-hat cymbals and standardized the names and uses of the ride cymbal, the crash cymbal, the splash cymbal, the pang cymbal and theswish cymbal. One of his drum sets, a Slingerland inscribed with Benny Goodman’s and Krupa’s initials, is preserved at the Smithsonianmuseum in Washington, D.C.

Krupa was featured in the 1946 Warner Bros. cartoon Book Revue in which a rotoscoped version of Krupa’s drumming is used in an impromptu jam session.

The 1937 recording of Louis Prima‘s “Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)” by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra featuring Gene Krupa on drums was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1982.

In 1959, The Gene Krupa Story was released theatrically in America.

Gene Krupa’s “Syncopated Style” is mentioned by a street musician in the 1976 film Taxi Driver.

In 1978, Krupa became the first drummer inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame.

Krupa was mentioned in the animated dark comedy/action series Archer episode “Dial M for Mother”, when Sterling Archer is querying his mother (Malory Archer) on his father’s identity. After Sterling shows his disgust that his father may be the head of either of their top two rival espionage organizations, Malory indicates that there are other possibilities. Sterling asks Malory, “Who else?”. “Gene Krupa.” “WHAT the drummer?” “No, wait not Gene Krupa the other one with the teeth. Buddy Rich. I could never say ‘No’ to a drummer.”

Krupa was mentioned in the Simpsons episode “Hurricane Neddy”, when Ned Flanders parents are being told they must control Ned, Ned’s father responds “We can’t do it man! That’s discipline! That’s like tellin’ Gene Krupa not to go “Boom boom bah bah bah, boom boom bah bah bah, boom boom boom bah bah bah bah, boom boom tss!””.

Krupa was mentioned in ’90s sitcom Freaks & Geeks Nick Andapolis, played by Jason Segel, is listening to Rush and Linsday’s father, Harold, tells him that what he’s listening to “isn’t real drumming” and whoever that is “couldn’t drum his way out of a paper bag,” and then proceeds to show him a Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich album. Nick is blown away by the speed and precision of Krupa’s music. They are dancing and frolicking about to Krupa by the end of scene.

Rhythm, the UK’s best selling drum magazine voted Gene Krupa the third most influential drummer ever, in a poll conducted for its February 2009 issue. Voters included over 50 top-name drummers.

Gene Krupa is tributed during a drum solo by Neil Peart on Rush’s “Snakes and Arrows” live DVD. “Malignant Narcissism” segues to a Peart solo titled “De Slagwerker” (Dutch for “The Drummer”) during which videos play on the stage screen behind him. Near the end, short clips of Gene Krupa performances are shown.



Krupa’s version of Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ayreleased as a 78 rpm shellac record (Brunswick)

  • Benny Goodman: The Famous Carnegie Hall Concert 1938 (Columbia)
  • Drummin´ Man (Charly, 1938–41) with Roy Eldridge, Anita O’Day, Benny Carter, Charlie Ventura
  • Drum Boogie (Columbia, 1940–41)
  • Uptown (Columbia, 1941–1949)
  • Lionel Hampton/Gene Krupa (Forlane, 1949) with Don Fagerquist, Frank Rehak, Frank Rosolino, Roy Eldridge
  • The Exciting Gene Krupa (Enoch’s Music, 1953) with Charlie ShaversBill HarrisWillie SmithBen WebsterTeddy WilsonHerb EllisRay Brown, Israel Crosby
  • Krupa and Rich (Verve, 1955) with Roy Eldridge, Dizzy GillespieIllinois Jacquet, Flip Phillips, Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, Buddy Rich
  • Gene Krupa Big Band: Drummer Man featuring Anita O’Day & Roy Eldridge (Verve, 1956)
  • Gene Krupa Plays Gerry Mulligan Arrangements (Verve, 1959)
  • Big Noise From Winnetka (Live at the London House (Verve 1959)
  • Burnin’ Beat: Gene Krupa – Buddy Rich (Verve, 1962)
  • The Great New Gene Krupa Quartet featuring Charlie Ventura (Verve, 1964) also Nabil Totah and John Bunch


Gene Krupa wrote or co-wrote the following songs: “Some Like It Hot” (1939) with Frank Loesser and Remo Biondi, “Disc Jockey Jump” with Gerry Mulligan, “Manhattan Transfer” with Elton Hill, “Drum Boogie” with Roy Eldridge, “Drummin’ Man”, “Bolero at the Savoy” with Jimmy Mundy, “Feelin’ Fancy”, “He’s Gone”, “Wire Brush Stomp”, “Jam on Toast”, “The Big Do”, “Murdy Purdy” with Jimmy Mundy, “Hard, Hard Roxy”, pt. 2, “Full Dress Hop”, “Swing is Here” with Chu Berry, “To Be or Not to Be-Bop”, “Quiet and Roll ‘Em” with Sam Donahue, “Sweetheart, Honey, Darlin’ Dear”, “Boogie Blues”, “I Should Have Kept on Dreaming”,”Apurksody”, “The Babe Takes a Bow”, “Blues of Israel”, “Blues Krieg”. “Some Like It Hot” has been recorded by Charlie Barnet, Red Norvo, Nat King Cole, and Judy Ellington.

Bud Freeman

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Bud Freeman

From Wikipedia
Bud Freeman
Bud Freeman, Marty Marsala (Gottlieb 02951).jpg
Bud Freeman, New York, 1947
Background information
Birth name Lawrence Freeman
Born April 13, 1906
Origin ChicagoIllinoisUnited States
Died March 15, 1991 (aged 84)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres Jazz
Occupations Saxophonist, Bandleader, Composer
Instruments Tenor saxophone
Years active 1920s – 1980s

Lawrence “Bud” Freeman (April 13, 1906 – March 15, 1991) was an American jazz musician, bandleader, and composer, known mainly for playing the tenor saxophone, but also able at the clarinet. He had a smooth and full tenor sax style with a heavy robustswing. He was one of the most influential and important jazz tenor saxophonists of the Big Band era. His major recordings were “The Eel”, “Tillie’s Downtown Now”, “Crazeology”, “The Buzzard”, and “After Awhile”, composed with Benny Goodman.


One of the original members of the Austin High School Gang which began in 1922, Freeman played the C-melody saxophone alongside his other band members such as Jimmy McPartland and Frank Teschemacher before switching to tenor saxophone two years later. Influenced by artists like the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and Louis Armstrong from the South, they would begin to formulate their own style, becoming part of the emerging Chicago Style of jazz.

In 1927, he moved to New York, where he worked as a session musician and band member with Red NicholsRoger Wolfe KahnBen PollackJoe Venuti, among others. One of his most notable performances was a solo on Eddie Condon‘s 1933 recording, The Eel, which then became Freeman’s nickname (for his long snake-like improvisations). Freeman played with Tommy Dorsey’s Orchestra(1936–1938) as well as for a short time Benny Goodman‘s band in 1938 before forming his own band, the Summa Cum Laude Orchestra (1939–1940). Freeman joined the US Army during World War II, and headed a US Army band in the Aleutian Islands.

Following the war, Freeman returned to New York and led his own groups, yet still kept a close tie to the freewheeling bands of Eddie Condon as well as working in ‘mainstream’ groups with the likes of Buck Clayton, Ruby Braff, Vic Dickenson and Jo Jones. He wrote (along with Leon Pober) the ballad “Zen Is When”, recorded by The Dave Brubeck Quartet on Jazz Impressions of Japan (1964). He was a member of the World’s Greatest Jazz Band between 1969 and 1970, and occasionally thereafter. In 1974, he would move toEngland where he made numerous recordings and performances there and in Europe. Returning to Chicago in 1980, he continued to work into his eighties.

He also released two memoirs You Don’t Look Like a Musician (1974) and If You Know of a Better Life, Please Tell Me (1976), and wrote an autobiography with Robert WolfCrazeology (1989).

In 1992, Bud Freeman was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame.

Arthur Schutt

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Arthur Schutt

From Wikipedia

Arthur “The Baron” Schutt (1902-1965), U.S. jazz pianist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arthur Schutt(1902-1965).

Arthur Schutt (Born Reading, Pennsylvania – November 21, 1902. Died San Francisco, California – January 28, 1965) was an American jazz pianist and arranger.

Schutt learned piano from his father, and accompanied silent films as a teenager in the 1910s. He was playing in a movie palace in 1918 when Paul Specht hired him to play in a band; he worked for Specht until 1924, including during a tour of Europe in 1923. He held positions with Roger Wolfe Kahn and Don Voorhees, and became a prolific studio pianist, recording with Fred RichNat ShilkretFrankie TrumbauerBix Beiderbecke, and the Charleston Chasers. From 1926-29 and again in 1931 he played with Red Nichols; he also recorded with Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey‘s orchestra (1928–31), and Benny Goodman. He recorded under his own name in 1929-30 as a bandleader.

Schutt receded from jazz in the 1930s, though he did play with Bud Freeman in 1939. He spent much of the 1940s and 1950s working in the Hollywoodrecording studios.

Schutt composed a jazz tune “Delirium” in 1927, which was widely recorded and enjoyed a fair amount of popularity. In 1934, Schutt co-wrote “Georgia Jubilee” with Benny Goodman which, while a hit, was also recorded by Isham Jones‘s band. Schutt also composed the ragtime “piano novelty” piece “Bluin’ the Black Keys“, considered one of the most difficult traditional, period rags ever written.

Buster Bailey

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Buster Bailey

From Wikipedia

John Kirby (standing) and Buster Bailey (seated), Washington D.C., ca. Mai 1946.
Photography by William P. Gottlieb.

William C. “Buster” Bailey (July 19, 1902 – April 12, 1967) was a jazz musician specializing in the clarinet, but also well versed onsaxophone. Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Bailey was one of the most respected session players of his era.

Career history

Early career

Buster Bailey was a master of the clarinet and was educated on the instrument by classical teacher Franz Schoepp, the man who taught Benny Goodman. Bailey got his start with W.C. Handy’s Orchestra in 1917 when he was just fifteen years old. After two years of touring with Handy, Bailey quit the orchestra while the band was in Chicago. In 1919, Bailey joined Erskine Tate’s Vendome Orchestra and remained with Tate until 1923 when he joined up with Joe “King” Oliver. As a member of King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, Bailey met and became friends with Louis Armstrong, who was also a member of the band at that time. In 1924, Armstrong left King Oliver’s Jazz Band to join Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra in New York. Within a month Armstrong extended an invitation for Buster Bailey to join him as a member of Henderson’s band. Bailey accepted and moved to New York City.

Mid career

In New York during the late 1920s, Buster Bailey became a highly respected sideman with Perry Bradford and others, and appeared on numerous recordings playing both the clarinet and the soprano saxophone. Most notably Bailey performed on a number ofClarence Williams albums. In 1927 he left Fletcher Henderson and undertook a tour of Europe with Noble Sissle’s Orchestra. After his return, Bailey performed with several other jazz greats, including Edgar Hayes and Dave Nelson. He rejoined Sissle’s orchestra in 1931 and continued with the group through 1933. In 1934, Bailey was back briefly with Fletcher Henderson, but by the end of the year he had settled down as a member of the John Kirby Band. Bailey remained a member of Kirby’s band until 1946, but that didn’t stop him from performing with other artists. In 1934 and 1935, Bailey was playing with the Mills Blue Rhythm Band and in 1937 he was a session player for Midge Williams and Her Jazz Jesters. He also recorded music during this time as Buster Bailey and His Rhythm Busters.

Late career

In 1946, Buster Bailey went independent and led his own band, but his group lasted for only the year. In 1947 he joined Wilbur de Paris and performed with him until 1949. During the early 1950s Bailey was with Big Chief Russell Moore, but for most of the decade Bailey played with Henry “Red” Allen. From 1961 to 1963 he performed with Wild Bill Davison. Bailey was with the Saints And Sinners from 1963 to 1964, and in 1965 he rejoined his old friend Armstrong and became a member of Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars.

Buster Bailey died in April 1967 of a heart attack. He was living in Brooklyn, New York, at the time.

Screen appearances

Buster Bailey appeared on film three times during his career. The first was in a film entitled That’s the Spirit (1933) in which he played himself as a band member. The second was as an uncredited clarinetist in Sepia Cinderella (1947) as part of the John Kirby Sextet. His final film appearance was with Louis Armstrong in When the Boys Meet the Girls (1965), again as a musician.

He also appeared in 1958 in the DuMont TV series Jazz Party and in 1961 on the TV program The DuPont Show of the Week in an episode entitled “America’s Music – Chicago and All That Jazz”.

Miff Mole

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Mole, Miff (Irving Milfred)

Miff Mole was one of the first to bring the tailgate style of Kid Ory and other New Orleans trombonists to his hometown of New York, and he made some of the first jazz recordings. In doing so, he added his own, more soloistic approach to the instrument, which was characterized by wide leaps in pitch and clear, rhythmic articulation. This virtuosity prompted Tommy Dorsey to call him “the Babe Ruth of the trombone.”


 Miff Mole

As a member of The Original Memphis Five, Mole played on some of the first jazz recordings, and went on to record with some of the other top musicians of early hot jazz, including cornetist Bix Beiderbecke,saxophonist Frank Trumbauer and Jimmy Dorsey. His legacy as a trombonist stretches beyond jazz, as he performed under Arturo Toscanini with the NBC Radio Orchestra and was a successful teacher.

Born on March 11, 1898, in Roosevelt, New York, Mole began his musical studies on the violin at age 11. His father, also a violinist, augmented Mole’s training by having him sit in with his own dance band. Two years later, Mole purchased a used alto horn, which he learned to play in addition to the violin. After seeing a trombone playing in a local parade, he decided to teach himself yet another instrument at age 14. Already self-taught on the piano, he learned the trombone slide positions by playing pitches on the keyboard and finding them on the slide. During high school, he devoted himself entirely to his trombone study under the tutelage of classical trombonist Prof. Charles Randall in New York.

While classically trained, Mole found himself in the midst of New York’s burgeoning hot jazz scene when, at age sixteen, he got a job with a small band at the College Arms in Brooklyn. That was when the sounds of early jazz began to find their way into Mole’s ears, starting with the music of Hank O’Hara.


Mole began to study the first jazz records and became one of the early masters of the new trombone style. His proficiency led him to land the trombone chair with the Original Memphis Five. The group began performing at the Harvard Inn on Coney Island, at the time run by gangster Al Capone. The group then embarked on a nationwide tour which included performances in Los Angeles, where Mole remained when the rest of the ensemble returned to New York.

Mole returned to New York in 1919 to play a five-month engagement at the Roseland Theater with the Sam Lanin Orchestra, and continued working with them until 1924. He also recorded with other groups during this time, including again with the Original Memphis Five in 1922.


He left Lanin to play with Ray Miller in Atlantic City along with saxophonist Frank Trumbauer. Mole shaped the role of the trombone in these ensembles as a combination of tailgate-style counterpoint and occasional melody, perhaps informed by his early training as a violinist. While playing with Miller, Trumbauer and Mole first heard cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, and the three came to be close friends.

Mole also became friends with another groundbreaking cornetist and trumpeter, Red Nichols. The two began co-leading their own recording sessions in 1925 under a number of group names including Hottentot, the Red Heads, Arkansas Travelers, Red and Miff’s Stompers, the Five Pennies and Miff’s Molers. Other important collaborators on these records included Jimmy Dorsey, Eddie Lang, Adrian Rollini and Joe Venuti.


“Buddy’s Habits,” recorded with the Five Pennies in 1926, is one example of this ensemble’s work. Mole was often featured as a soloist with this group, a role that was unusual for trombonists at the time. Two sides that feature Mole’s solo work include “Delerium,” recorded with Red and Miff’s Stompers in 1927, and “Riverboat Shuffle,” recorded the same year with the Five Pennies.

Mole’s early innovations on the trombone are especially apparent in the Five Pennies’ recording of “The Original Dixieland One-Step,” starting with the first solo break. In the version popularized by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and widely copied, the trombone break features a long, brassy glissando. Mole, however, plays a fast, pointillistic figure that more closely resembles clarinet phrasing than the traditional trombone passage. Throughout the rest of the song, however, he blends into the mix in a more “tailgate” style but with a clear, articulate sound and good control across a wide range of pitches, particulalry in the lower register.

Mole also recorded regularly with Bix Beiderbecke in the late 1920s, and can be heard on Beiderbecke’s famous recording of “Singin’ the Blues.” No stranger to Beiderbecke’s heavy drinking and partying, Mole, along with Beiderbecke and Jimmy Dorsey, once missed a recording session after a long bender, and the musicians performed what Mole later described as their best set together on top of a double-decker bus leaving the studio.

In 1929, Mole was offered a chair in the NBC orchestra and played with them throughout most of the 1930s. He also led his own group, Miff’s Molers, until 1930, and did other occasional studio work. In 1934, he played the famous trombone solo from Ravel’s Bolero, beating out a number of outside classical soloists who auditioned for the part. Mole briefly played second trombone in the group under Arturo Toscanini, but left in 1938 to join Paul Whiteman.


Ironically, it was his desire to play more jazz that led him to join Whiteman’s group, the same reason he cited when leaving two years later. While with Whiteman, Mole played briefly alongside fellow jazz trombone pioneer Jack Teagarden. Teagarden left the group at the end of 1938, two weeks after Mole’s arrival, but enough time for the two to record together in Whiteman’s December 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert, billed as “An Experiment In Modern Music” and featuring the work of a number of budding composers including Duke Ellington. “Blue Belles of Harlem” was Ellington’s contribution to the concert.

Mole left Whiteman in 1940 to refine his own trombone skills and to open a teaching studio in New York, where he fostered over 50 young trombonists, including Eddie Bert. Mole left teaching in 1942 to join the Benny Goodman band, but decided to leave to form a small Dixieland ensemble a year later. He continued to play with small groups in both New York and Chicago for the rest of the 1940s, working with Muggsy Spanier, Dave Tough, Bobby Hackett, Eddie Condon, Pee Wee Russell and many others. Although he was thoroughly in the Dixieland-revival camp and derided as one of the “moldy figs” by some of his peers in the bebop community, Mole maintained a healthy respect for bop. He even appeared with his friend and fellow trombonist Jack Teagarden at Dizzy Gillespie’s debut at the Blue Note, praising the performance in a 1948Down Beat interview.

Mole began to develop serious health issues in 1945 that limited his ability to perform regularly, starting with hip surgery in 1945 that produced numerous complications. His last gig came with Pee Wee Russell in 1960, a year before his death on April 29, 1961 in New York City. He had been scheduled to play at the 1961 Newport Jazz Festival, only to arrive and find out that riots at the festival that year had caused his performance to be cancelled.


Miff’s friends in the jazz world, led by fellow trombonist Charlie Galbraith, had planned a “Miff Mole Day” in New York to celebrate the trombonist’s career on June 21, 1961, but Mole did not survive to see it. Proceeds from the concert went to help his widow and family pay off the debts that he had incurred from his lengthy medical treatments. After his death, even his prized trombone had been seized by the Welfare Committee of New York, from whom he had been drawing support in his later years.

Despite the tragedy of his late life, Mole left a legacy as one of the first models of the jazz trombone style. Many of the music’s subsequent trombone virtuosi learned how to play by transcribing his solos with theOriginal Memphis Five and the Five Pennies. This enduring influence led one of his earliest admirers, Tommy Dorsey, to aptly describe him as “the trombone player’s trombone player.”

Wingy Manone

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , on March 9, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Wingy Manone

From Wikipedia

Wingy Manone in William P. Gottlieb‘s office, New York, N.Y., between 1946 and 1948

Wingy Manone (February 13, 1900 – July 9, 1982) was an American jazz trumpeter, composer, singer, and bandleader. His major recordings included “Tar Paper Stomp”, “Nickel in the Slot”, “Downright Disgusted Blues”, “There’ll Come a Time (Wait and See)”, and “Tailgate Ramble”.


Manone (pronounced “ma-KNOWN”) was born 
Joseph Matthews Mannone in New Orleans, Louisiana. He lost an arm in a streetcaraccident, which resulted in his nickname of “Wingy”. He used a prosthesis, so naturally and unnoticeably that his disability was not apparent to the public.

After playing trumpet and cornet professionally with various bands in his home town, he began to travel across America in the 1920s, working in ChicagoNew York CityTexasMobile, AlabamaCaliforniaSt. Louis, Missouri and other locations; he continued to travel widely throughout the United States and Canada for decades.

Wingy Manone’s style was similar to that of fellow New Orleans trumpeter Louis Prima: hot jazz with trumpet leads, punctuated by good-natured spoken patter in a pleasantly gravelly voice. Manone was an esteemed musician who was frequently recruited for recording sessions. He played on some early Benny Goodman records, for example, and fronted various pickup groups under pseudonyms like “The Cellar Boys” and “Barbecue Joe and His Hot Dogs.” His hit records included “Tar Paper Stomp” (an original riff composition of 1929, later used as the basis for Glenn Miller‘s “In the Mood“), and a hot 1934 version of a sweet ballad of the time “The Isle of Capri“, which was said to have annoyed the songwriters despite the royalties it earned them.

Manone’s group, like other bands, often recorded alternate versions of songs during the same sessions; Manone’s vocals would be used for the American, Canadian, and British releases, and strictly instrumental versions would be intended for the international, non-English-speaking markets. Thus there is more than one version of many Wingy Manone hits. Among his better records are “There’ll Come a Time (Wait and See)” (1934, also known as “San Antonio Stomp”), “Send Me” (1936), and the novelty hit “The Broken Record” (1936). He and his band did regular recording and radio work through the 1930s, and appeared with Bing Crosby in the movie Rhythm on the River in 1940.

In 1943 he recorded several tunes as “Wingy Manone and His Cats”; that same year he performed in Soundies movie musicals. One of his Soundies reprised his recent hit “Rhythm on the River.”

Wingy Manone’s autobiography, Trumpet on the Wing, was published in 1948.

From the 1950s he was based mostly in California and Las Vegas, Nevada, although he also toured through the United StatesCanada, and parts of Europe to appear at jazz festivals. In 1957, he attempted to break into the teenage rock-and-roll market with his version of Party Doll, the Buddy Knox hit. His version on Decca 30211 made No. 56 onBillboards Pop chart and it received a UK release on Brunswick 05655.

Wingy Manone’s compositions include “There’ll Come a Time (Wait and See)” with Miff Mole (1928), “Tar Paper Stomp” (1930), “Tailgate Ramble” with Johnny Mercer, “Stop the War (The Cats Are Killin’ Themselves)” (1941), “Trying to Stop My Crying”, “Downright Disgusted Blues” with Bud Freeman, “Swing Out” with Ben Pollack, “Send Me”, “Nickel in the Slot” with Irving Mills, “Jumpy Nerves,” “Mannone Blues,” “Easy Like,” “Strange Blues”, “Swingin’ at the Hickory House,” “No Calling Card,” “Where’s the Waiter?,” “Walkin’ the Streets (Till My Baby Comes Home),” and “Fare Thee Well (Annabelle)”. In 2008, “There’ll Come a Time (Wait and See)” was used in the soundtrack to the Academy Award-nominated movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Manone is survived by his son Joseph Matthew Manone II and grandson Jimmy Manone, who are both musicians, as well as grandsons Joseph Matthew Manone III and Jon Scott (Manone) Harris.

Joe Venuti

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , on March 7, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Joe Venuti

From Wikipedia
Joe Venuti
Joe Venuti with the Bubba Kolb Trio at the Vil...

Joe Venuti with the Bubba Kolb Trio at the Village Jazz Lounge, Disneyworld (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joe Venuti (right) with the Bubba Kolb Trio at the Village Jazz Lounge, Walt Disney World, in 1978

Background information
Birth name Giuseppe Venuti
Born September 16, 1903
Died August 14, 1978 (aged 74)
Genres Jazz
Occupations Musician
Instruments Violin
Associated acts Eddie LangBenny Goodman, the Dorsey BrothersBing CrosbyBix BeiderbeckeJack Teagarden, the Boswell Sisters, many others.
Notable instruments

Giuseppe Venuti (September 16, 1903 – August 14, 1978), better known as Joe Venuti, was an Italian-American jazzmusician and pioneer jazz violinist.

Considered the father of 
jazz violin, he pioneered the use of string instruments in jazz along with the guitarist Eddie Lang, a childhood friend of his. Through the 1920s and early 1930s, Venuti and Lang made many recordings, as leader and as featured soloists. He and Lang became so well known for their ‘hot’ violin and guitar solos that on many commercial dance recordings they were hired do 12 or 24 bar duos towards the end of otherwise stock dance arrangements. In 1926, Venuti and Lang started recording for the OKeh label as a duet (after a solitary duet issued on Columbia), followed by “Blue Four” combinations, which are considered milestone jazz recordings. Venuti also recorded a number of larger, more commercial dance records for OKeh under the name New Yorkers.


He worked with Benny GoodmanAdrian Rollini, the Dorsey BrothersBing CrosbyBix BeiderbeckeJack Teagarden,Frank Signorelli, the Boswell Sisters and most of the other important white jazz and semi-jazz figures of the late 1920s and early 1930s. However, following Lang’s early death in 1933, his career began to wane, though he continued performing through the 1930s, recording a series of excellent commercial dance records (usually containing a Venuti violin solo) for the dime store labels, OKeh and Columbia, as well as the occasional jazz small group sessions. He was also a strong early influence on western swing players like Cecil Brower, not to mention the fact that Lang and Venuti were the primary influences of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. (Many of the 1920s OKeh sides continued to sell through 1935, when ARC reissued selected sides on the 35 cent Vocalion label.)

After a period of relative obscurity in the 1940s and 1950s, Venuti played violin and other instruments with Jack Statham at the Desert Inn Hotel in Las Vegas. Statham headed several musical groups that played at the Desert Inn from late 1961 until 1965, including a Dixieland combo. Venuti was with him during that time, and was active with the Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra during the 1960s. He was ‘rediscovered’ in the late 1960s. In the 1970s, he established a musical relationship with tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims that resulted in three recordings. In 1976, he recorded an album of duets with pianist Earl Hines entitled Hot Sonatas. He also recorded an entire album with country-jazz musicians including mandolinist Jethro Burns (of Homer & Jethro), pedal steel guitaristCurly Chalker and former Bob Wills sideman and guitarist Eldon Shamblin. Venuti died in Seattle, Washington.

Early life

Early Life Joe Venuti was well known for giving out conflicting information regarding his early life, including his birthplace and birth date as well as his education and upbringing. Since there is no record of any recognized birth certificate, it is difficult to say for certain which information is correct.

Joe Venuti (Giuseppe Venuti) claimed to have been born aboard a ship as his parents emigrated from Italy around 1904, though many believe he was born in Philadelphia. It has also been claimed that he was born on April 4, 1898 in LeccoItaly, or on September 16, 1903 in Philadelphia. Later in life, he said he was born in Lecco, Italy in 1896 and that he came to the U.S. in 1906 and settled in Philadelphia.

Joe was classically trained in the violin from a young age, and studied solfeggio with his grandfather. He later said that while he studied music from him, he did not learn any one instrument but rather music theory in general. He began studying the violin in Philadelphia, and later claimed to have studied at a conservatory, though there is no documented evidence to support this theory. Despite this, his style of playing was characteristic of someone who had a solid basis in violin technique.


Joe Venuti had an extensive career ranging from 1924 until shortly before his death in 1978. During this time, he redefined the role of violin playing and introduced the violin as a serious jazz instrument.

Venuti spent time in the early 1900s playing in the James Campbell School Orchestra in the violin section. It was there that he first met and befriended Salvatore Massaro, who was also playing in the violin section of the orchestra. During this time they were also experimenting with jazz and blues in addition to classical playing.

In 1924 he moved to Detroit to join Jean Goldkette’s band, and began playing with the Book Cadillac Hotel Orchestra, one of Jean Goldkette’s dance bands. It was here that he made his first recordings with Goldkette’s big band. By the summer of 1925, he had moved to Atlantic City briefly to play with Bert Estlow’s band before settling in New York. Here, he once again encountered Massaro, who had changed his name to Eddie Lang. Lang had also switched instruments from the violin to the guitar. The two friends struck up a professional partnership which was to last until Lang’s untimely death in 1933. They began playing with Roger Wolfe Kahn’s dance orchestras in addition to playing in Broadway pit orchestra’s to support themselves.

From 1926-1928, the Venuti and Lang duo were recording with most of the prominent jazz musicians of the day, including Goldkette (1926–27), Red Nichols (1927–28), Bix Beiderbecke (1927), Adrian Rollini (1927) and Frankie Trumbauer (1927). Between 1927 and 1929 Lang and Venuti were leading bands and performing in Atlantic City. Venuti then moved back to New York in 1929 to play with Paul Whiteman‘s orchestra from 1929 to 1931. He also appeared in the film The King of Jazz (1930) with the band. From the period of 1931-1933, Venuti recorded again with Eddie Lang, Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer. The most famous recording of Venuti’s career was also produced during this time: his October 22, 1931 recording with Joe Venuti-Eddie Lang and their All Star orchestra. This session also included Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden. Both Venuti and Lang rejoined Roger Wolfe Kahns’ orchestra in 1932 and played and recorded with him until Eddie Lang’s death in 1933.

Following Eddie Lang’s death, Venuti conducted a tour of Europe and the UK. During this period he also alternated from violin to guitar, varying from his almost strictly violin approach formerly. Upon returning to the US in 1935, he formed a big band and worked as its leader. During this time he also composed most of his original arrangements. Venuti was less successful as a big band leader than as a soloist, and the band folded in 1943.

After this period, Venuti transitioned from being in a position of relative prominence to one of ignominy. Venuti moved to California in 1944 to become a studio musician with MGM, in addition to playing with other film and radio studios. He also appeared regularly on Bing Crosby’s radio show during this time. Later, Venuti returned to a small group format and continued to play and record in and around Los Angeles, while touring frequently. In 1953 he conducted another tour of Europe, and in 1963 a tour of Seattle.

Throughout much of the 1950s Venuti made records and played at clubs. This was the beginning of about a 15 year lull in Venuti’s career. In the early 1960s Venuti was mostly inactive due to his development of alcoholism. The late 1960s marked a revival in his career. In 1967 he was invited to perform at Dick Gibson’s Colorado Jazz Party, and was such a success that he would be asked to repeat his performances annually until his death in 1978. In 1968 he was also invited to the Newport Jazz Festival, and in 1969 he performed at the London Jazz Expo.

During the 1970s, at the end of his life, Venuti toured extensively in Europe with a small ensemble. During this time he made his final recordings with names such as Earl Hines,George BarnesRoss TompkinsDave McKennaMarian McPartlandScott HamiltonLeon Redbone, and most notably Zoot Sims. Venuti continued to tour and play until his death in 1978.

Personal life

Little is known about Venuti’s personal life aside from his extensive jazz career. Some of his many biographers claim that he married at least once, some others report that he was married three times, although there does not seem to be any documented evidence about his wife (or wives).

Venuti suffered from alcoholism in his middle age, throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. He was able to recover, and to regain his former acclaim for his playing. In 1970 Venuti was diagnosed with cancer. He died from cancer on August 14, 1978 in Seattle, Washington.

Playing Style

Venuti pioneered the violin as a solo instrument to the jazz world. He was famous for a fast, “hot” playing style characteristic of jazz soloists in the 1920s and the swing era. His solos have been described as incredibly rhythmic with patterns of duplets and running eighth and sixteenth notes. He favored a lively, fast tempo that showed off his superior technique. Venuti was a virtuosic player with a wide range of techniques including left hand pizzicato and runs spanning the length of the fingerboard. He also frequently implemented slides common in blues and country fiddle playing. Occasionally, he used a strange technique in which he unscrewed the end of his bow and wrapped the bow hair around the strings of the violin, lending the subsequent sound a “wild” tone. He was particularly notable in small ensemble jazz, since the force of the horns in big band jazz was sufficient to drown out the violin, prior to the invention of the musical amplifier.

Practical Jokes

Apart from his impressive playing style, Joe Venuti was almost as well known for his amusing practical jokes. He was well known to play inexpensive violins, since many of his former band members have said that he had been known to crack these over the heads of his players on occasion. There are many anecdotes of his humorous pranks fondly told by his associates. One of the best known tales was one in which he filled a tuba player’s horn with flour during a break in a rehearsal. Another involved sending a well-known one-armed trumpet player, Wingy Manone, a single cufflink for Christmas several years in a row. He was also well known for calling up every bass player in the New York phonebook and asking them to meet with him on a street corner. When over 50 bass players arrived with their instruments it created a minor roadblock. He then subsequently had to pay the players for their time as mandated by the AMF.

Bobby Hackett

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , on March 7, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Bobby Hackett

From Wikipedia

Bobby Hackett

Bobby Hackett
Background information
Birth name Robert Leo Hackett
Born January 13, 1915
Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Died June 7, 1976 (aged 61)
Chatham, Massachusetts, USA
Genres Big band
Occupations BandleaderSideman
Instruments Trumpet
Years active 1920’s–1976
Labels Storyville, Project 3 records, ADD, Classics, Segal Enterprices, DBK Jazz, Bluebird
Associated acts Louis ArmstrongGlenn Miller,Tony BennettBenny Goodman,Ray McKinleyJackie Gleason,Pee Wee RussellLee Wiley,Horace Heidt

Ernie Caceres, Bobby Hackett, Freddie Ohms, and George Wettling, Nick’s, NYC, 1940s.
Photography by William P. Gottlieb.

Robert Leo “Bobby” Hackett (January 31, 1915 – June 7, 1976) was an US jazz musician who played trumpet, cornet and guitar with the bands of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman in the late thirties and early forties. Hackett is probably most well known for being the featured soloist on some of the Jackie Gleason mood music albums during the 1950s.

Hackett was born in 
Providence, Rhode Island. He made his name as a follower of the legendary cornet player Bix BeiderbeckeBenny Goodman hired him to recreate Bix’s famous “I’m Coming Virginia” solo at his (Goodman’s) 1938 Carnegie Hall concert.  In the late 1930s Hackett played lead trumpet in the Vic Schoen Orchestra which backed the Andrews Sisters. Bobby Hackett can be heard on the soundtrack to the 1940 Fred Astaire movie Second Chorus.  In 1939 the talent agency MCA asked Bobby Hackett to form a big band with their backing. Unfortunately the band failed and Hackett was in substantial debt to MCA after it folded. Bobby Hackett joined the bands of Horace Heidt and then Glenn Miller to pay down this debt.  To make matters worse, his lip was in bad shape after dental surgery, making it difficult for him to play the trumpet or cornet. Glenn Miller came to Hackett’s rescue, offering him a job as a guitarist with the Miller Band. “When I joined the band and I was making good money at last, […] [jazz critics] accused me of selling out. Hell I wasn’t selling out, I was selling in! It’s funny, isn’t it, how you go right into the wastebasket with some critics the minute you become successful”.  Despite his lip problems, Hackett could still play occasional short solos, and he can be heard playing a famous one with the Glenn Miller Orchestra on “A String of Pearls.”


A dream come true for Hackett was his inclusion in Louis Armstrong’s 1947 Town Hall Jazz Concert.  In 1954, Hackett appeared as a regular on the short-lived ABC variety showThe Martha Wright Show, also known as The Packard Showroom.

However, what made Hackett something of a household name was his being hired by Jackie Gleason as a soloist for some of Gleason’s earliest mood music albums. Starting in 1952, Hackett apppeared on Gleason’s first Capitol Records album, Music for Lovers Only. The record – as well as all of Gleason’s next ten albums – went gold. Hackett went on to appear on six more Gleason LPs. This association led directly to Hackett signing with Capitol for a series of his own albums.

In 1965, he toured with singer Tony Bennett. In 1966 and 1967 Hackett accompanied Bennett on two European tours.  In the early 1970s, Hackett performed separately with Dizzy Gillespie and Teresa Brewer.

Personal life

Sometime in the 1930s, Bobby Hackett married Edna Hackett. He had two children with her, Barbara Hackett(†) and Ernie Hackett. His son became a musician as well, playing the drums. Hackett died in 1976 of a heart attack, at age 61.

Partial Discography

As leader:

As sideman:

With Bill Kenny of The Ink Spots

With George Wein

  • Wein, Women and Song and More, George Wein Plays and Sings (Arbors Records)

With Tony Bennett

With Jackie Gleason

  • Music for Lovers Only (1952) Capitol Records
  • Music to Make You Misty (1953) Capitol Records
  • Music, Martini’s and Memories (1954) Capitol Records
  • Music to Remember Her (1955) Capitol Records
  • Music to Change Her Mind (1956) Capitol Records
  • Music for the Love Hours (1957) Capitol Records
  • That Moment (1959) Capitol Records

Isham Jones

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , on March 6, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Isham Jones

From Wikipedia
Isham Edgar Jones

Isham Jones, 1922
Background information
Born January 31, 1894
Origin Coalton, OhioUnited States
Died October 19, 1956 (aged 62)
Hollywood, FloridaUnited States
Occupations Songwriter, bandleader,saxophonist, bassist
Isham Jones in 1922

Isham Jones in 1922 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Isham Jones in 1922

Isham Edgar Jones (January 31, 1894 – October 19, 1956) was an American bandleader, saxophonist, bassist and songwriter.

Jones was born in 
Coalton, Ohio, to a musical and mining family, and grew up in Saginaw, Michigan, where he started his first band. In 1911 one of Jones’ earliest compositions “On The Alamo” was published by Tell Taylor Inc. (Taylor had just formed a publishing company the year before when his song “Down By The Old Mill Stream” became a big hit.)


In 1915 Isham Jones moved to ChicagoIllinois, which remained his home base until 1932, when he reestablished himself in New York City. Jones also toured England with his orchestra in 1925.

The Isham Jones band made a series of popular gramophone records for Brunswick throughout the 1920s. He led one of the most popular dance bands in the 1920s and 1930s. His first successful recording, Wabash Blues written by Dave Ringle and Fred Meinken, was recorded in 1921 by Isham Jones and his Orchestra. This million-seller stayed twelve weeks in the U.S. charts, six at No. 1.[1]Noted musicians who played in Jones’ band included Louis PanicoBenny Goodman (although he did not make any records during the short time he was with them), Woody HermanWalt Yoder, and Roy Bargy. Reed virtuoso Al Gallodoro appeared briefly with Jones in 1933, taking part in a record date October 3.

Jones was reportedly a strict taskmaster and was known for being rather cold and distant. His lushly romantic compositions seem at odds with his reported personality.

From the start, his Brunswick records were extremely popular. There was a gap from October 1927 to June 1929 where Jones did not record due to disbanding and reorganization.

From 1929 to 1932, his Brunswick recordings became even more sophisticated with often very unusual arrangements (byGordon Jenkins and others; Jones was his own arranger early on, but cultivated others for offbeat arrangements). During this period, Jones started featuring violinist Eddie Stone as one of his regular vocalists. Stone had an unusual, almost humorous tone to his voice. His other vocalists included Frank Sylvano, Billy Scott, Arthur Jarrett and Stone beginning in 1929 and in 1932, he added Joe Martin, another of the band’s violinists, as a frequent vocalist. In April that year, youngBing Crosby recorded two sessions with Jones’ group which included “Sweet Georgia Brown“. Crosby at this point in his career was still singing in a jazz idiom, transitioning to his better known “crooner” style.

In August 1932, Jones signed with Victor, and these records are generally considered among the very best arranged and performed commercial dance band records of the Depression era. Victor’s recording technique was especially suited to Jones’ band. In October 1932, he teamed up with the Three X Sisters in New York who had just departed from CBS radio. They recorded “experimental” songs for RCA Victor which Jones began to fuse jazz and early swing music. They recorded “Where, I Wonder Where?” and “What Would Happen To Me If Something Happened To You.” His Victor releases had an almost symphonic sound, often with a strong use of tuba. He stayed with Victor until July 1934, when he signed withDecca. (Jones’ recordings during this period rivaled Paul Whiteman and other dance orchestras as examples of the very best and most popular dance music of the era.)

Jones’ Decca recordings are often unfavoribly compared to his Victor recordings. He continued the same high standard of fine arrangements and well chosen songs (as well as bunch of rerecordings of his Victor hits), but Decca’s flat recording technique made his Decca’s sound like it was a smaller band, which it wasn’t. After he left Decca in 1936, he again retired and his orchestra was taken over by band member Woody Herman. Jones started a new band in 1937-38 and recorded a handful of sessions under the ARC labels:MelotonePerfect and Banner.

In the 1940s, Jones resided on his poultry farm in Colorado, which he occasionally left for short tours with pickup bands. He later resided in Los Angeles. He moved to Hollywood, Florida in 1955, and died there of cancer in 1956. (He is interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles, and perhaps for that reason is often erroneously listed as having died in Hollywood, California.)

His great-nephew is the noted jazz drummer Rusty Jones.

Compositions by Isham Jones

Isham Jones’ compositions (he wrote the music, Charles Newman and Gus Kahn were among his lyricists ) included:

  • “Meet Me In Bubble Land” 1919
  • “On the Alamo” recorded 1922 (composed & published in 1911)
  • “Swingin’ Down The Lane” 1923
  • I’ll See You in My Dreams” 1924
  • “The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else)” 1924
  • It Had To Be You” 1924
  • “Spain” 1924
  • “Song Of The Blues” (1929)
  • “Not A Cloud In The Sky” 1929
  • “What’s The Use?” 1930
  • “Feeling That Way” 1930
  • “You’re Just A Dream Come True” (his theme song) 1931
  • “I Wouldn’t Change You For The World” 1931
  • “Let That Be A Lesson To You” 1932
  • “I Can’t Believe It’s True” 1932
  • “One Little Word Led To Another” 1932
  • “The Wooden Soldier And The China Doll” 1932 [“Calvacade of Vitaphone Shorts Volume 1: Swing, Swing Swing:1931-1944″(Cat. #ML103928) 1934]
  • “I’ll Never Have To Dream Again” 1932
  • “Pretending You Care” 1932
  • “There’s Nothing Left To Do But Say Goodbye” 1932
  • “Why Can’t This Night Go On Forever?” (another theme song) 1932
  • “You’ve Got Me Crying Again” 1933
  • “Honestly” 1933
  • “Old Lace” 1933
  • “Something Seems To Tell Me” 1933
  • “You’re Welcome” 1933
  • “Bubbles In The Wine” 1933
  • “All Mine, Almost” 1934
  • There Is No Greater Love” 1936

Number One Hits

During the 1920s, Isham Jones had several number one records on the pop charts in the U.S.:

  • “Wabash Blues” was number one for six weeks in 1921;
  • “On the Alamo” was number one for four weeks in 1922;
  • “Swinging Down the Lane” was number one for six weeks in 1923;
  • “Spain” was number one for two weeks and “It Had To Be You” was number one for five weeks in 1924; and,
  • “I’ll See You in My Dreams” was number one for seven weeks and “Remember” was number one for one week in 1925.
  • His 1930 version of “Star Dust” was one of the best selling versions. Jones commissioned Victor Young to write a ballad instrumental of the mid-tempo tune and it was this arrangement (with Victor Young’s violin solo) which became such a hit. Mitchell Parish wrote lyrics for the song at this time.

Ben Pollack

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, The History of Jazz and Blues Recordings with tags , , , , , , , on March 4, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Ben Pollack

From Wikipedia

Ben Pollack and His Californians, Chicago, 1926: (L-R) Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Gil Rodin, Harry Green, Ben Pollack, Fud Livingston, Al Harris, Harry Goodman, Vic Breidis and Lou Kast(l)er.

Ben Pollack
Birth name Ben Pollack
Born June 22, 1903
Chicago, Illinois
Died June 7, 1971 (aged 67)
Palm Springs, California
Occupations drummer, bandleader
Years active 1924-1971
Associated acts Frank Sinatra

Ben Pollack (June 22, 1903 – June 7, 1971) was an American drummer and bandleader from the mid-1920s through the swing era. His eye for talent led him to either discover or employ, at one time or another, musicians such as Benny GoodmanJack TeagardenGlenn MillerJimmy McPartland and Harry James. This ability earned him the nickname “Father of Swing”.

Born in 
Chicago in 1903 to a well-to-do family, Pollack was largely self-taught as a drummer, and was afforded the opportunity to become the drummer for the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, a top jazz outfit, in the early 1920s. In 1924 he played for several outfits, including some on the west coast, which ultimately led to his forming a band there in 1925. One of the earliest members of his band was Gil Rodin, a saxophonist whose sharp business acumen served him well later as an executive for the Music Corporation of America (MCA). Rodin also served as the “straw boss’ for Pollack along with the young arranger-trombonist Glenn Miller. Already recognized as immensely talented on the clarinet, sixteen-year-old Benny Goodman began working with Pollack in 1925 as well.

Early life

The Victor and dime store label era

In 1926, Pollack recorded for Victor. Many of his records were good sellers. From about 1928, with involvement with Irving Mills, members of Pollack’s band moonlighted at Plaza-ARC and recorded a vast quantity of hot dance and out-and-out jazz for their dime store labels (BannerPerfectDominoCameoLincolnRomeo, and others using colorful names like Mills’ Merry Makers, Goody’s Good Timers, Kentucky Grasshoppers, Mills’ Musical Clowns, The Lumberjacks, Dixie Daises, The Caroliners, The Whoopee Makers, The Hotsy Totsy Gang, Dixie Jazz Band, Jimmy Bracken’s Toe Ticklers, and many others). Most of these records are usually listed in discographical books (like Brian Rust‘s Jazz Records) as by Irving Mills. The rare Jack Teagarden’s Music book lists them properly as being a “Ben Pollack Unit”. Combining Pollack’s regular recordings with these side groups made Pollack one of the more prolific bands of the 1920s and 1930s.

The band played in Chicago, mainly, and moved to New York City around the fall of 1928, having obtained McPartland and Teagarden around that time. This outfit enjoyed immense success, playing for Broadway shows, and having an exclusive engagement at the Park Central Hotel. Pollack’s band also was involved in extensive recording activity at that time, using a variety of pseudonyms in the studios. The orchestra also made a Vitaphone short subject sound film (which has been recently restored). Pollack, in the meantime, had fancied himself as more of a bandleader-singer type instead of a drummer. To this end, he signed Ray Bauduc to handle the drumming chores.

The 1930s

Soon afterward, things began to become difficult for Ben Pollack. The Stock Market Crash of 1929, and subsequent effects on the music industry as a whole, had a negative effect on all bands at that time, and Pollack’s was no exception. Work was scarce, and the band had several periods of inactivity, in spite of Pollack’s best efforts in obtaining work. Changes in personnel were also inevitable. Benny Goodman and Jimmy McPartland left the band in the summer of 1929, either fired or quit, depending on whose story is to be believed. They were replaced by Matty Matlock on clarinet and Jack Teagarden’s brother, Charlie, on trumpet. Eddie Miller was also signed as a tenor saxophonist in 1930.

Pollack left Victor in late 1929 and subsequently recorded for Hit of the Week (1930), the above listed dime store labels (1930–1931), Victor (1933), Columbia (1933–1934),BrunswickVocalion and Variety (1936-37), and Decca (1937–1938).

Pollack made several forays into the U.S. Midwest in the early 1930s, and also made some trips to Canada. During this time, he became involved with the singing career of his girl vocalist, Doris Robbins. As he was also involved with her romantically, he began to de-emphasize his involvement with band matters, much to the consternation of the musicians. Eventually, Ben Pollack and Doris Robbins married.

More changes came for the band in the spring of 1933 when trombone star Jack Teagarden gave his notice during an engagement in Chicago. It was not long after that, possibly a year, when the rest of the musicians decided to leave Pollack, They re-formed soon after as a co-operative band, fronted by Bing Crosby‘s brother, Bob.

Pollack re-formed his band eventually, and had some top-flight talent, including Harry James and Irving Fazola in it, but never really achieved any of the success of his earlier bands, despite the high quality of most of his recordings. These two stars, also, found greater success after they left Pollack. In the early 1940s, Pollack was the organizer for a band led by comedian Chico Marx. He tried his hand organizing a record label, Jewel Records (not the Plaza-ARC or the Shreveport labels), and at other venues, including restaurants on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood and in Palm Springs, California. He also appeared, as himself, in the motion picture The Benny Goodman Story and made a cameo appearance in The Glenn Miller Story.

All through this troubled period, Pollack managed to record excellent records and had an occasional hit, like the 1937 “Peckin'”, which Pollack co-wrote with Harry James, originally issued on Variety VA-556. Ben Pollack also wrote “Deep Jungle”, “Tin Roof Blues” with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, and “Swing Out” with Wingy Manone.

Ben Pollack co-wrote the jazz standard “Tin Roof Blues” in 1923 when he was a member of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings: the band’s trombonist George Brunies is also generally credited as a co-composer. In 1954, Jo Stafford recorded “Make Love to Me“, which used Pollack’s music from “Tin Roof Blues”. “Make Love to Me” was no. 1 for three weeks onBillboard and no. 2 on Cashbox. The song was also recorded by Anne Murray and B. B. King.

In 1992, Ben Pollack was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame.


In later years, Pollack grew despondent and committed suicide by hanging in Palm Springs in 1971.

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