Archive for Bobby Hackett

Pee Wee Russell

Posted in Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's, Recording Artists Who Appeared in Film with tags , , , , , , , on August 3, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Pee Wee Russell

Pee Wee Russell
Pee Wee Russell (Gottlieb 07571).jpg

Pee Wee Russell, New York, 1946
Background information
Birth name Charles Ellsworth Russell
Born March 27, 1906
MaplewoodMissouriUnited States
Origin MuskogeeOklahomaUnited States
Died February 15, 1969 (aged 62)
AlexandraVirginiaUnited States
Genres Jazzbebopdixielandswing,post-bopfree jazz
Occupations Clarinetistsaxophonist,composer
Instruments Clarinetsaxophone
Associated acts Red NicholsBobby Hackett,Thelonious MonkMarshall BrownEddie Condon

Charles Ellsworth Russell, much better known by his nickname Pee Wee Russell, (27 March 1906 – 15 February 1969) was a jazz musician. Early in his career he played clarinet and saxophones, but he eventually focused solely on clarinet.

With a highly individualistic and spontaneous clarinet style that “defied classification”, Russell began his career playing Dixieland jazz, but throughout his career incorporated elements of newer developments such as swingbebop and free jazz. In the words ofPhilip Larkin, “No one familiar with the characteristic excitement of his solos, their lurid, snuffling, asthmatic voicelessness, notes leant on till they split, and sudden passionate intensities, could deny the uniqueness of his contribution to jazz.”

Early life

Pee Wee Russell was born in Maplewood, Missouri and grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma. As a child, he first studied violin, but “couldn’t get along with it”, then piano, disliking the scales and chord exercises, and then drums – including all the associated special effects. Then his father sneaked young Ellsworth into a dance at the local Elks Club to a four- or five-piece band led by New Orleans jazz clarinetist Alcide “Yellow” Nunez. Russell was amazed by Nunez’s improvisations: “[He] played the melody, then got hot and played jazz. That was something. How did he know where he was or where he was going?” Pee Wee now decided that his primary instrument would be the clarinet, and the type of music he would play would be jazz. He approached the clarinettist in the pit band at the local theatre for lessons, and bought an Albert-system instrument. His teacher was named Charlie Merrill, and used to pop out for shots of corn whiskey during lessons.

His family moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1920, and that September Russell was enrolled in the Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois. He remained enrolled there until October the following year, though he spent most of his time playing clarinet with various dance and jazz bands. He began touring professionally in 1922, and travelled widely with tent shows and on river boats. Russell’s recording debut was in 1924 with Herb Berger’s Band in St. Louis, then he moved to Chicago, where he began playing with such notables as Frankie Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke.

Pee Wee Russell, Muggsy SpanierMiff Moleand Joe Grauso, Nick’s (Tavern), New York, ca. June 1946


From his earliest career, Russell’s style was distinctive. The notes he played were somewhat unorthodox when compared to his contemporaries, and he was sometimes accused of playing out of tune. In 1926 he joined Jean Goldkette‘s band, and the following year he left for New York City to join Red Nichols. While with Nichols’s band, Russell did frequent freelance recording studio work, on clarinet, soprano, alto and tenor sax, and bass clarinet. He worked with various bandleaders (including Louis Prima) before beginning a series of residences at the famous jazz club “Nick’s” in Greenwich VillageManhattan, in 1937. He played with Bobby Hackett‘s big band, and began playing with Eddie Condon, with whom he would continue to work, off and on, for much of the rest of his life – though he complained, “Those guys [at Nick’s and Condon’s] made a joke, of me, a clown, and I let myself be treated that way because I was afraid. I didn’t know where else to go, where to take refuge”.

From the 1940s on, Russell’s health was often poor, exacerbated by alcoholism – “I lived on brandy milkshakes and scrambled-egg sandwiches. And on whiskey … I had to drink half a pint of whiskey in the morning before I could get out of bed” – which led to a major medical breakdown in 1951, and he had periods when he could not play. Some people considered that his style was different after his breakdown: Larkin characterized it as “a hollow feathery tone framing phrases of an almost Chinese introspection with a tendency to inconclusive garrulity that would have been unheard of in the days when Pee Wee could pack more into a middle eight than any other thirties pick-up player”.

He played with Art HodesMuggsy Spanier and occasionally bands under his own name in addition to Condon. In his last decade, Russell often played at jazz festivals and international tours organized by George Wein, including an appearance with Thelonious Monk at the 1963 Newport Festival, a meeting which has a mixed reputation (currently available as part of the Monk 2-CD set Live at Newport 1963–65). Russell formed a quartet with valve trombone player Marshall Brown, and included John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman tunes in his repertoire. Though often labeled a Dixieland musician by virtue of the company he kept, he tended to reject any label. Russell’s unique and sometimes derided approach was praised as ahead of its time, and cited by some as an early example of free jazz. At the time of their 1961 recording Jazz Reunion (Candid), Coleman Hawkins (who had originally recorded with Russell in 1929 and considered him to be color-blind) observed that ‘”For thirty years, I’ve been listening to him play those funny notes. He used to think they were wrong, but they weren’t. He’s always been way out, but they didn’t have a name for it then.”

By this time, encouraged by Mary, his wife, Russell had taken up painting abstract art as a hobby. Mary’s death in the spring of 1967 had a severe effect on him. His last gig was with Wein at the inaugural ball for President Richard Nixon on 21 January 1969. Russell died in a hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, less than three weeks later.

(From Wikipedia)

George Wettling

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

George Wettling

From Wikipedia


Ernie CaceresBobby HackettFreddie Ohms, and George Wettling, Nick’s, NYC, 1940s.
Photography by William P. Gottlieb.

George Wettling (November 28, 1907 – June 6, 1968) was an American jazz drummer.

He was one of the young white Chicagoans who fell in love with jazz as a result of hearing King Oliver‘s band (with Louis Armstrong on second cornet) at the Lincoln Gardens in Chicago in the early 1920s. Oliver’s drummer, Baby Dodds, made a particular and lasting impression upon Wettling.

Wettling went on to work with the big bands of Artie ShawBunny BeriganRed NorvoPaul Whiteman, and even Harpo Marx: but he was at his best on (and will be best remembered for) his work in small ‘hot’ bands led by Eddie CondonMuggsy Spanier, and himself. In these small bands, Wettling was able to demonstrate the arts of dynamics and responding to a particular soloist that he had learned from Baby Dodds.

Wettling was a member of some of Condon’s classic line-ups, which included, among others, Wild Bill DavisonBilly ButterfieldEdmond HallPeanuts HuckoPee Wee RussellCutty CutshallGene SchroederRalph Sutton, and Walter Page, and in 1957 toured Britain with a Condon band including Davison, Cutshall, and Schroeder.

Towards the end of his life, Wettling (like his friend the clarinetist Pee Wee Russell), took up painting, and was much influenced by the American cubist Stuart Davis. He has been quoted as remarking that “jazz drumming and abstract painting seemed different from him only from the point of view of craftsmanship: in both fields he felt rhythm to be decisive”.

Eddie Condon

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

Eddie Condon

From Wikipedia
Eddie Condon (Gottlieb 01651).jpg

Albert Edwin Condon (November 16, 1905 – August 4, 1973), better known as Eddie Condon, was a jazz banjoistguitarist, andbandleader. A leading figure in the so-called “Chicago school” of early Dixieland, he also played piano and sang on occasion.

Condon was born in 
Goodland, Indiana, the son of John and Margaret (née McGraw) Condon. He grew up in Momence, Illinois andChicago Heights, Illinois, where he attended St. Agnes and Bloom High School. After some time playing ukulele, he switched to banjo and was a professional musician by 1921. He was based in Chicago for most of the 1920s, and played with such jazz notables as Bix BeiderbeckeJack Teagarden and Frank Teschemacher.


In 1928 Condon moved to New York City. He frequently arranged jazz sessions for various record labels, sometimes playing with the artists he brought to the recording studios, including Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller. He organised racially-integrated recording sessions – when these were still rare – with Waller, Armstrong and Henry ‘Red’ Allen. He played with the band of Red Nichols for a time. Later, from 1938 he had a long association with Milt Gabler‘s Commodore Records.

From the late 1930s on he was a regular at the Manhattan jazz club Nick’s. The sophisticated variation on Dixieland music which Condon and his colleagues created there came to be nicknamed “Nicksieland.” By this time, his regular circle of musical associates included Wild Bill DavisonBobby HackettGeorge BruniesEdmond Hall and Pee Wee Russell. In 1939, he appeared with “Bobby Hacket and Band” in the Warner Brothers & Vitaphone film musical short-subject, “On the Air”.

Condon also did a series of jazz radio broadcasts from New York’s Town Hall during 1944-45 which were nationally popular. These recordings survive, and have been issued on theJazzology label.

From 1945 through 1967 he ran his own New York jazz club, first located on West 52nd Street near Sixth Avenue, on the present site of the CBS headquarters building, then later, on the south side of East 56th Street, east of Second Avenue. It was of course called Eddie Condon’s. In the 1950s Condon recorded a sequence of classic albums for Columbia Records. The musicians involved in these albums – and at Condon’s club – included Wild Bill DavisonBobby Hackett (cornet), Billy Butterfield (trumpet), Edmond Hall, Peanuts HuckoPee Wee RussellBob Wilber (clarinet), Cutty CutshallLou McGarityGeorge Brunies (trombone), Bud Freeman (tenor sax), Gene Schroeder, Dick CaryRalph Sutton(piano), Bob Casey, Walter PageJack LesbergAl Hall (bass), George WettlingBuzzy DrootinCliff Leeman (drums).

Condon toured Britain in 1957 with a band including Wild Bill Davison, Cutty Cutshall, Gene Schroeder and George Wettling. His last tour was in 1964, when he took a band to Australia and Japan. Condon’s men, on that tour, were a roll-call of top mainstream jazz musicians: Buck Clayton (trumpet), Pee Wee Russell (clarinet), Vic Dickenson (trombone),Bud Freeman (tenor sax), Dick Cary (piano and alto horn), Jack Lesberg (bass), Cliff Leeman (drums), Jimmy Rushing (vocals). A nice touch was that Billy Banks, a vocalist who had recorded with Condon and Pee Wee Russell in 1932, and had lived in obscurity in Japan for many years, turned up at one of the 1964 concerts: Pee Wee asked him “have you got any more gigs?”.

In 1948 his autobiography We Called It Music was published. The book has many interesting and entertaining anecdotes about musicians Condon worked with. Eddie Condon’s Treasury of Jazz (1956) was a collection of articles by various writers co-edited by Condon and Richard Gehman.

A latter-day collaborator, clarinetist Kenny Davern, described a Condon gig: “It was always a thrill to get a call from Eddie and with a gig involved even more so. I remember eating beforehand with Bernie (Previn; trumpet) and Lou (McGarity; trombone) and everyone being in good spirits. There was a buzz on, we’d all had a taste and there was a great feel to the music.”

Eddie Condon toured and appeared at jazz festivals through 1971. He died in New York City.

He is survived by his daughter Maggie Condon and his only grandchild Michael Repplier, who both live in Greenwich Village in New York City. It has been falsely reported that he has another grandson, Zach Condon, lead singer and instrumentalist of the band Beirut, but this is incorrect.

References to Condon are common in the BBC Radio 4 parody series Down the Line.

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

Why I Collect 78 RPM Records by Ken McPherson

Posted in Have Your Say, Welcome to the78rpmrecordspin! with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

I suppose my interest in music from the 1920’s and 1930’s began,  some 30 years ago, when I bought an LP of Bobby Hackett, not knowing at the time, I would be put in a trance by his deep melodic cornet and trumpet playing style. At the same time, I was unaware that my apartment was directly below that of the greatest authority on Jack Teagarden in the world, Joe Showler. He heard me playing my music, and invited me up to listen to his collection of Teagarden 78’s. I was fascinated by his collection-there were 16″  transcriptions, newspaper articles, a massive film collection, LP’s on Teagarden, etc. From that moment on, I regarded the sound of that era as real music, and have never looked back.

He later introduced me to a group of collector’s in the Toronto area, who gathered every so often to play Jazz and Ragtime 78’s, and discuss the in’s and out’s of who were on the records, and often said Brian Rust was wrong! He guided me in how to build my first collection of 78’s, which later had to be sold when I got married and had children. Some 20 years have pasted since then, and three years ago I got the bug to collect again.


Today I have more that 2000 78’s in my collection, spanning 1918-1939. I collect Dance Bands with Hot Solos. and Jazz. Oh yes, it is Saturday…I am off to get more records!

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