Archive for Fats Waller

Lee Wiley

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

Lee Wiley

From Wikipedia
Lee Wiley
Lee Wiley singer.jpg
Born October 9, 1908
Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, U.S.
Died December 11, 1975 (aged 67)
New York CityNew York, U.S.
Spouse(s) Jess Stacy (1943-1948)
Nat Tischenkel (1966-1975; her death)

Lee Wiley (October 9, 1908 – December 11, 1975) was an American jazz singer popular in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.

Wiley was born in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma.  While still in her early teens, she left home to pursue a singing career with the Leo Reisman band. Her career was temporarily interrupted by a fall while horseback riding. Wiley suffered temporary blindness, but recovered, and at the age of 19 was back with Reisman again, with whom she recorded three songs: “Take It From Me,” “Time On My Hands,” and her own composition, “Got The South In My Soul.” She sang with Paul Whiteman and later, the Casa Loma Orchestra. A collaboration with composer Victor Young resulted in several songs for which Wiley wrote the lyrics, including “Got The South in My Soul” and “Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere,” the latter an R&B hit in the 1950s.

During the early 1930s, Wiley recorded very little, and many sides were rejected:

  • Take it From Me (with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra, June 30, 1931, issued)
  • Time On My Hands (with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra, October 19, 1931, rejected & October 26, 1931, issued)
  • Got The South In My Soul (with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra, June 15, 1932, issued)
  • Just So You’ll Remember (with unknown orchestra, January 21, 1933, rejected)
  • A Tree Was A Tree (with unknown orchestra, February, 1933, rejected)
  • You’re An Old Smoothie (duet with Billy Hughes) (with Victor Young’s Orchestra, January 21, 1933, issued)
  • You’ve Got Me Crying Again &
  • I Gotta Right to Sing The Blues (with Dorsey Brothers, March 7, 1933, both rejected)
  • Let’s Call It A Day (with Dorsey Brothers, April 15, 1933 and May 3, 1933, both rejected)
  • Repeal The Blues &
  • Easy Come, Easy Go (with Johnny Green’s Orchestra, March 17, 1934, issued)
  • Careless Love &
  • Motherless Child (with Justin Ring’s? Orchestra, August 13, 1934, issued)
  • Hands Across The Table &
  • I’ll Follow My Secret Heart (with Victor Young’s? Orchestra, November 26, 1934, issued)
  • Mad About The Boy (with Victor Young’s Orchestra, August 25, 1935, rejected)
  • What Is Love? &
  • I’ve Got You Under My Skin (with Victor Young’s Orchestra, February 10, 1937, issued)

In 1939, Wiley recorded eight Gershwin songs on 78s with a small group for Liberty Music Shops. The set sold well and was followed by 78s dedicated to the music of Cole Porter(1940) and Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart (1940 and 1954), Harold Arlen (1943), and 10″ LPs dedicated to the music of Vincent Youmans and Irving Berlin (1951). The players on these recordings included Bunny BeriganBud FreemanMax KaminskyFats WallerBilly ButterfieldBobby HackettEddie CondonStan FreemanCy Walter, and the bandleader Jess Stacy, to whom Wiley was married for a number of years. These influential albums launched the concept of a “songbook” (often featuring lesser-known songs), which was later widely imitated by other singers.

Wiley’s career made a resurgence in 1950 with the much admired ten-inch album Night in Manhattan. In 1954, she opened the very first Newport Jazz Festival accompanied byBobby Hackett. Later in the decade she recorded two of her finest albums, West of the Moon (1956) and A Touch of the Blues (1957). In the 1960s, Wiley retired, although she acted in a 1963 television film, Something About Lee Wiley, which told her life story. The film stimulated interest in the singer. Her last public appearance was a concert in Carnegie Hall in 1972 as part of the New York Jazz Festival, where she was enthusiastically received.

Monette Moore

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Monette Moore

From Wikipedia

Monette Moore (May 19, 1902, Gainesville, Texas – October 21, 1962, Garden Grove, California) was an American jazz and classic female blues singer. 

Moore was raised in Kansas City. She taught herself piano in her teens, and worked as a theater pianist in Kansas City in the early 1920s.  In 1923–24 she recorded with the Paramount Records label in New York City and Chicago,  and relocated to New York City.  In the 1920s she also worked in ChicagoDallas and Oklahoma City. She played with Charlie Johnson‘s ensemble at Small’s Paradise, and recorded with him in 1927–28.  Her output from 1923–27 amounts to 44 tunes, some recorded under the name Susie Smith; her sidemen included Tommy LadnierJimmy O’BryantJimmy BlytheBob FullerRex StewartBubber Miley, and Elmer Snowden.

In the 1930s, Moore recorded with Fats Waller (1932), filled in for Ethel Waters as an understudy, and sang with Zinky Cohn in Chicago in 1937. She performed at her own club, Monette’s Place, in New York City in 1933.  Around 1940 she sang in New York with Sidney Bechet and Sammy Price, and then moved to Los Angeles in 1942, where she performed often in nightclubs.  She appeared in James P. Johnson‘s revue Sugar Hill (ca. 1949)  and appeared in numerous films in minor roles. Moore recorded again in 1945-47. She played with the Young Men of New Orleans at Disneyland in 1961-62, and died of a heart attack that year.

Mezz Mezzrow

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

Mezz Mezzrow

From Wikipedia
Mezz Mezzrow
Birth name Milton Mesirow
Born November 9, 1899
Origin ChicagoIllinoisUnited States
Died August 5, 1972 (aged 72)
Genres Dixieland
Mainstream jazz
Instruments Alto saxophone
tenor saxophone

Milton Mesirow, better known as Mezz Mezzrow (November 9, 1899 – August 5, 1972) was an American jazz clarinetist andsaxophonist from ChicagoIllinois. Mezzrow is well known for organizing and financing historic recording sessions with Tommy Ladnier and Sidney Bechet. Mezzrow also recorded a number of times with Bechet and briefly acted as manager for Louis Armstrong. He is equally well remembered, however, for being a colorful character, as clearly portrayed in his autobiography Really The Blues, as for his music. The book, which takes its title from a Bechet musical piece, was co-written by Bernard Wolfe and first published in 1946.

Music career

Mezzrow organized and took part in recording sessions involving black musicians in the 1930s and 1940s including Benny Carter,Teddy WilsonFrankie Newton, Tommy Ladnier and Sidney Bechet. Mezzrow’s 1938 sessions for the French jazz critic Hugues Panassie involved Bechet and Ladnier and helped spark the ‘New Orleans revival’.

In the mid-1940s Mezzrow started his own record label, King Jazz Records, featuring himself in groups that usually included Sidney Bechet and, often, trumpeter Oran ‘Hot Lips’ Page. Mezzrow also can be found and heard playing on six recordings by Fats Waller. He appeared at the 1948 Nice Jazz Festival.

Following that, he made his home in France and organized many bands that included French musicians like Claude Luter, as well as visiting Americans such as Buck Clayton,Peanuts HollandJimmy ArcheyKansas Fields and Lionel Hampton. In 1953, in Paris with ex-Basie trumpeter Buck Clayton, he made a recording of the Louis Armstrong’s “West End Blues.”

Personal life

Mezzrow became better-known for his drug-dealing than his music. In his time, he was so well known in the jazz community for selling marijuana that “Mezz” became slang for marijuana, a reference used in the Stuff Smith song, “If You’re a Viper“. He was also known as the “Muggles King,” the word “muggles” being slang for marijuana at that time; the title of the 1928 Louis Armstrong recording “Muggles” refers to this.

Mezz Mezzrow, ca. November 1946

Mezzrow praised and admired the African-American style. In his autobiography Really The Blues, Mezzrow writes that from the moment he heard jazz he “was going to be a Negro musician, hipping [teaching] the world about the blues the way only Negroes can.”

Mezzrow married a black woman, Mae (also known as Johnnie Mae), moved to HarlemNew York, and declared himself a “voluntary Negro.” In 1940 he was caught by the police to be in possession of sixty joints trying to enter a jazz club at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, with intent to distribute. When he was sent to jail, he insisted to the guards that he was black and was transferred to the segregated prison’s black section. He wrote (in Really the Blues):

“Just as we were having our pictures taken for the rogues’ gallery, along came Mr. Slattery the deputy and I nailed him and began to talk fast. ‘Mr. Slattery,’ I said, ‘I’m colored, even if I don’t look it, and I don’t think I’d get along in the white blocks, and besides, there might be some friends of mine in Block Six and they’d keep me out of trouble’. Mr. Slattery jumped back, astounded, and studied my features real hard. He seemed a little relieved when he saw my nappy head. ‘I guess we can arrange that,’ he said. ‘Well, well, so you’re Mezzrow. I read about you in the papers long ago and I’ve been wondering when you’d get here. We need a good leader for our band and I think you’re just the man for the job’. He slipped me a card with ‘Block Six’ written on it. I felt like I’d got a reprieve.”

Mezzrow was lifelong friends with French jazz critic Hugues Panassié and spent the last 20 years of his life in Paris. Mezzrow’s autobiography, Really the Blues, was co-authored by Bernard Wolfe and published in 1946.

Eddie Condon said of him (We Called It Music, London; Peter Davis 1948): “When he fell through the Mason-Dixie line he just kept going”.

Alex Hill

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Alex Hill

From Wikipedia

Alex Hill (April 22, 1906 – February 1937)  was an American jazz pianist.

Hill was a child prodigy on piano, which he learned from his mother. While studying at Shorter College he met Alphonse Trent, and began arranging material for him. He graduated in 1922 and played in various territory bands, including Terrence Holder‘s. From 1924 to 1926 he led his own ensemble; later in 1926 he played with Speed Webb, and in 1927 he spent time with Mutt Carey‘s Jeffersonians and Paul Howard‘s Quality Serenaders.

Late in 1927 he relocated to Chicago and held a job as an arranger for the Melrose Music Publishing Company, while simultaneously arranging for the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra. He played with Jimmy Wade in 1928, Jimmie Noone in 1929, and Sammy Stewart in 1930.

While on tour with Stewart he moved to New York City. There he arranged for Paul WhitemanBenny CarterClaude HopkinsAndy KirkIna Ray Hutton, the Mills Blue Rhythm Orchestra, and Duke Ellington. He also did charts for Fats WallerEddie Condon, and Willie Bryant. Additionally, he became staff arranger for the Mills Music Company. He and Fats Waller did a show together in New York called Hello 1931, and accompanied Adelaide Hall.

Hill again put together his own group in 1935, but after playing at the Savoy Ballroom, he disbanded the ensemble due to his tuberculosis. He moved back to Little RockArkansas, and died in 1937 at age 30.

Most of his recordings can be found on Alex Hill 1928-34, released on CD by Timeless Records in 1998. It includes recordings he made with Albert WynnJimmy WadeJimmie NooneJunie CobbEddie Condon, and The Hokum Trio, in addition to 11 tunes he did as bandleader.

Sara Martin

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

Sara Martin

From Wikipedia

Sara Martin (June 18, 1884 – May 24, 1955) was an American blues singer, in her time one of the most popular of the classic blues singers. She was billed as “The Famous Moanin’ Mama” and “The Colored Sophie Tucker”.  Martin made many recordings, including a few under the names Margaret Johnson and Sally Roberts.


Martin was born in LouisvilleKentuckyUnited States  and was singing on the African-American vaudeville circuit by 1915. She began a very successful recording career when she was signed by the Okeh label in 1922. Through the 1920s she toured and recorded with such performers as Fats WallerClarence WilliamsKing Oliver, and Sylvester Weaver.  She was among the most-recorded of the classic blues singers.


She was possibly the first to record the famous blues song “T’aint Nobody’s Bizness If I Do” with Waller on piano in 1922.

On stage she was noted for an especially dramatic performing style and for her lavish costumes, which she changed two or three times per show.  In his book, Ma Rainey and the Classic Blues Singers, Derrick Stewart-Baxter says of her:

…she was never a really great blues singer. The records she made varied considerably, on many she sounded stilted and very unrelaxed. … Occasionally, she did hit a groove and when this happened, she could be quite pleasing, as on her very original “Brother Ben”. … The sides she did with King Oliver can be recommended, particularly “Death Sting Me Blues”.

According to blues historian Daphne Duval Harrison, “Martin tended to use more swinging, danceable rhythms than some of her peers … when she sang a traditional blues her voice and styling had richer, deeper qualities that matched the content in sensitivity and mood: “Mean Tight Mama” and “Death Sting Me” approach an apex of blues singing”.

Martin’s stage work in the late 1920s took her to New York, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, and to Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.  She made one film appearance,  in Hello Bill with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in 1929.  Her last major stage appearance was in Darktown Scandals Review in 1930.  She performed with Thomas A. Dorsey as a gospel singer in 1932, after which she worked outside the music industry, running a nursing home in Louisville.  Sara Martin died in Louisville of a stroke in May 1955.

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.

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