Tuesday

FEBRUARY 21ST

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SCRAPPER BLACKWELL!



BIRTHDAYS 


1903
"Scrapper" Blackwell, guitar
d. Oct. 7, 1962.
né: Francis Hillman Blackwell
Scrapper Blackwell was best-known for his work with pianist Leroy Carr during the early and mid-'30s, but he also recorded many solo sides between 1928 and 1935. A distinctive stylist whose work was closer to jazz than blues, Blackwell was an exceptional player with a technique built around single-note picking that anticipated the electric blues of the '40s and '50s. He abandoned music for more than 20 years after Carr's death in 1935, but re-emerged at the end of the '50s and began his career anew, before his life was taken in an apparent robbery attempt.
Top row:  Jazz Gillum, Tampa Red, Scrapper Blackwell. Bottom row:  Jack Dupree, Big Bill Broonzy in front - Tampa Red's whiskey drinking dog.
Francis Hillman "Scrapper" Blackwell was of part-CherokeeIndian descent, one of 16 children born to Payton and Elizabeth Blackwell in Syracuse, NC. His father played the fiddle, and Blackwell himself was a self-taught guitarist, having started out by building his own instrument out of cigar boxes, wood, and wire. He also took up the piano, an instrument that he played professionally on occasion. By the time he was a teenager, Blackwell was working as a part-time musician, and traveled as far away as Chicago. By most accounts, as an adult, Blackwell had a withdrawn personality, and could be difficult to work with, although he had an exceptionally good working relationship with Nashville-born pianist Leroy Carr, whom he met in Indianapolis in the mid-'20s. They made a natural team, for Carr's piano playing emphasized the bass, and liberated Blackwell to explore the treble strings of his instrument to the fullest.
Carr and Blackwell performed together throughout the midwest and parts of the South, including Louisville, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Nashville, and were notably successful. With Blackwell's help, Carr became one of the top blues stars of the early '30s, and the two recorded well over 100 sides together between 1928 and 1935. They might've had major success going into the war years and beyond. It was not to be, however, as Carr's heavy drinking and a nephritis condition caused his death in Indianapolis on April 29, 1935. Blackwell also recorded without Carr, both as a solo and also occasionally with other partners, including Georgia Tom Dorsey and an obscure singer named Black Bottom McPhail, and had occasionally worked with blues bands such as Robinson's Knights of Rest. His biggest success and greatest effectiveness, however, lay in his work with Carr, and after the latter's death, he continued working long enough to cut a tribute to his late partner. His withdrawn personality didn't lend itself to an extended solo career, and he gave up the music business before the end of the '30s.
Blackwell's career might've ended there, preserved only in memory and a hundred or so sides recorded mostly with Carr. At the end of the '50s, however, with the folk-blues revival gradually coming into full swing, he was rediscovered living in Indianapolis, and prevailed upon to resume playing and recording. This he did, for the Prestige/Bluesville label, at least one album's worth of material that showed his singing and playing unmarred by age or other abuse. Blackwell appeared ready to resume his career without missing a beat, and almost certainly would've been a prime candidate for stardom before the burgeoning young White audience of college students and folk enthusiasts that embraced the likes of Furry Lewis, the Rev. Gary Davis, and Mississippi Fred McDowell. In 1962, however, soon after finishing his work on his first Prestige/Bluesville long-player (which, for reasons best understood by the label's current parent company, Fantasy Records, has never been re-released on CD), Blackwell was shot to death in a back alley in Indianapolis, the victim of a mugging. 
The crime was never solved.
Scrapper Blackwell was one of the most important guitar players of the '20s and early '30s, with a clean, dazzlingly articulate style that anticipated the kind of prominent solo work that would emerge in Chicago as electric blues in the '40s and '50s, in the persons of Robert Nighthawk and the young Muddy Waters. His "string-snapping" solos transcend musical genres and defy the limitations of his period. Although Blackwell's recordings were done entirely on acoustic guitar, the playing on virtually every extant track is -- and this is no joke -- electrifying in its clarity and intensity. Along with Tampa Red (who also had some respect in jazz circles, and who was a more derivative figure, especially as a singer), Blackwell was one of a handful of pre-war blues guitarists whose work should be known by every kid who thinks it all started with Chuck Berry or even Muddy Waters.
In addition to the albums credited to Scrapper Blackwell, his recordings can also be found on collections of Leroy Carr's work (virtually all of which features Blackwell) including such releases as Magpie Records' The Piano Blues: Leroy Carr 1930-35; and one Carr/Blackwell duet, "Papa's on the Housetop," which is not on The Virtuoso Guitar of Scrapper Blackwell, but shows up on Yazoo's Uptown Blues: Guitar Piano Duets anthology.
~ Bruce Eder
Harry Archer
Leader/composer
b. Creston, IA, USA.
d. April 23, 1960, New York, NY, USA.
Composer.
He is remembered for his song "I Love You."
He worked in Broadway in plays such as "Little Jessie James," "Peek-a-Boo," "Paradise Alley" and "Strip Girl" (1935). He also appeared in a few silent films such as "Mixed Blood" (1916), "The Trail of Octopus" (1916) and "The Hope Diamond Mistery" (1921). (bio by: José L Bernabé Tronchoni)
Harry Archer - IBDB


1917
Tadd Dameron
Piano/Composer
b. Cleveland, OH, USA.
d. March 8, 1965.
né: Tadley Ewing Peake Dameron 
Biography
~by Scott Yanow

The definitive arranger/composer of the bop era, Tadd Dameron wrote such standards as "Good Bait," "Our Delight," "Hot House," "Lady Bird." and "If You Could See Me Now." Not only did he write melody lines but full arrangements and he was an influential force from the mid-'40s on even though he never financially prospered. Dameron started out in the swing era touring with the Zack Whyte and Blanche Calloway bands, he wrote for Vido Musso in New York and most importantly contributed arrangements for Harlan Leonard's Kansas City Orchestra, some of which were recorded. Soon Dameron was writing charts for such bands as Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie, Billy Eckstine and Dizzy Gillespie (1945-47) in addition to Sarah Vaughan.
Dameron was always very modest about his own piano playing but he did gig with Babs Gonzales' Three Bips and a Bop in 1947 and led a sextet featuring Fats Navarro (and later Miles Davis) at the Royal Roost during 1948-49. Dameron co-led a group with Davis at the 1949 Paris Jazz Festival, stayed in Europe for a few months (writing for Ted Heath) and then returned to New York. He wrote for Artie Shaw's last orchestra that year, played and arranged R&B for Bull Moose Jackson (1951-52) and in 1953 led a nonet featuring Clifford Brown and Philly Joe Jones. However drug problems started to get in the way of his music. After recording a couple of albums (including 1958's Mating Call with John Coltrane) he spent much of 1959-61 in jail. After he was released, Dameron wrote for Sonny Stitt, Blue Mitchell, Milt Jackson, Benny Goodman and his last record but was less active in the years before his death from cancer. Tadd Dameron's classic Blue Note recordings of 1947-48, his 1949 Capitol sides and Prestige/Riverside sets of 1953, 1956, 1958 and 1962 are all currently in print on CD.
Tadd Dameron - Wikipedia




1910
"Big" Al Sears, Tenor Sax
b. St. Albans, NY, USA.
d. 1990, USA.
Biography ~by Scott Yanow
It is ironic that tenor saxophonist Al Sears' one hit, "Castle Rock," was recorded under Johnny Hodges' name (the altoist is virtually absent on the record), denying Sears his one chance at fame. Sears had actually had his first important job in 1928 replacing Hodges with the Chick Webb band. However, despite associations with Elmer Snowden (1931-1932), Andy Kirk (1941-1942), Lionel Hampton (1943-1944), and with his own groups (most of 1933-1941), it was not until Sears joined Duke Ellington's Orchestra in 1944 that he began to get much attention. His distinctive tone, R&B-ish phrasing, and ability to build up exciting solos made him one of Ellington's most colorful soloists during the next five years, although his period was overshadowed by both his predecessor (Ben Webster) and his successor (Paul Gonsalves). Among Sears' many recordings with Ellington are notable versions of "I Ain't Got Nothing but the Blues" and a 1945 remake of "It Don't Mean a Thing." Sears worked with Johnny Hodges' group during 1951-1952, recorded a variety of R&B-oriented material in the 1950s, and cut two excellent albums for Swingville in 1960 before going into semi-retirement.

"Big" Al Sears


Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:



1926.

Rube Wolf 'Czar Of Rhythm' And His Greater Band, plus The Loew's State Augemented Orchestra, play at Loew's State Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA.



1926.

Gene Morgan 'King Of Mirth' And His Orchestra play at the West Coast Boulevard Theatre, in support to the movie The New Commandment, Los Angeles, California, USA, with Herbert Kern at the Wurlitzer organ.



1926.

Charlie Nelson And His Playboys play at the West Coast Uptown Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA, as support to the movie The Pony Express.




1949.
Louis Armstrong becomes the first jazz musician ever to be featured on the cover of Time magazine.



1992.
Eva Jessye, vocals
died in Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
Age: 97.
Member: 'Eva Jesse Gospel Choir'



1980.
Theo Wade, (gospel) vocals/DJ
died in Memphis, TN, USA.
Age: 73.
Member: 'Spirit Of Memphis'




2001.
C&W vocalist Malcolm Yelvington
died Memphis, TN, USA.
Age: 82.



Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:



1919


Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra - Ruspana



1921


Art Hickman and his Orchestra
  • Happiness (I Find My Happiness, Dear, With You)
  • Hokum
  • Honey Lou
  • Honeymoon Home (Introducing: "In A Little Front Parlor")
  • Molly-O
  • Nestle In Your Daddy's Arms

Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds
  • Jazzbo Ball
  • What Have I Done?

1923


Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - Bambalina
Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra Dearest (You're The Nearest To My Heart)

1928


The New Yorkers
  • Pretty Girl


Lonnie Johnson - Blues In G


Bessie Smith - It Won't Be You
  • Standin' In The Rain Blues

1929


Edwin J. McEnelly’s Orchestra
  • Raquel - Vocal refrain by Frank Munn


Roger Wolfe Kahn and his Orchestra
  • Shady Lady
  • You're The Only One For Me





The DeBroy Somers Band - Misery Farm
  • Grown-up Baby

Hal Swain's New Princes Orchestra

1930


The Jungle Band
  • Maori (Foxtrot)



1931



Ambrose And His Orchestra - Blue Again

1940



Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra


  • At the Story Book Ball
  • Ragtime Cowboy Joe
  • Rain
  • Wham (Re-bop-boom-bam)


LYRICS:

NESTLE IN YOUR DADDY'S ARMS
(Lou Herscher / Joe Burke, 1921)

Baby, daddy's mighty blue,
Don't know what to do,
So lonesome for a little love from you;
Maybe you feel just as bad,
Won't you make me glad;
You know I need your sweet affection too;
Just cuddle near me,
So you can hear me,
And listen while I say:

Baby, you're my little pet,
Since the day we met,
You've been your daddy's little angel child
Maybe you don't realize,
How my poor heart cries,
Because you very nearly drive me wild.
I'm wild about you,
Can't live without you,
So listen to my plea:

Come and nestle in your daddy's loving arms,
On my shoulder let me hold your loving charms;
When you go away for even just a day,
Your daddy misses all your love and all your kisses;
Show your pretty dimples, let me see you smile,
Make your daddy happy all the while;
Because you know I'm awf'ly lonesome
When I'm by my ownsome,
Come and nestle in your daddy's arms.

TubaGirlFin
brought to you by... 

~confetta

Special Thanks To:
The Red Hot Jazz Archives,
The Big Band Database, Scott Yanow, 

and all those who have provided content,
images and sound files for this site.

Monday

FEBRUARY 20TH

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACK JACKSON!


BIRTHDAYS 




1909
Oscar Aleman, Guitar
b. Resistencia, Argentina
d. 1980 
Biography
~by Scott Yanow

Oscar Alemán, one of the finest jazz guitarists of the 1930s, is a difficult player to evaluate because he sounded like a near-exact duplicate of Django Reinhardt. Since Django was a year younger, some have speculated that he developed his style from Alemán, although the opposite is just as likely.
Alemán began playing guitar as a teenager in Argentina and in the late '20s, he moved to Europe, Spain at first. By 1931, he was living in Paris and during 1933-1935, he was a regular member of Freddy Taylor's Swing Men From Harlem. Alemán appeared on records with trumpeter Bill Coleman and clarinetist Danny Polo and was the leader on eight selections from 1938-1939. He moved back to Argentina in 1941 and, although he recorded as late as 1974, few outside of his native country have ever heard of him.

Strangely enough, Oscar Alemán does not seem to have ever visited the United States and none of his many recordings of swing tunes in his post-Europe years (except for a few titles put out by the collectors TOM label) have ever been released domestically.
1901
Charles Boulanger, Leader
d. Nov. 1967
The Boulanger band was based in Hartford, Connecticut and often played for Broadway productions and supper clubs in and around New York. The band's style began to change once they toured. During Boulanger's first Midwest tour, he hired famed drummer, Herman Dressel, who made a name for himself while with Hal McIntyer's band. The sound of the band changed while on tour to reflect Dressel's talents.
George Simon once wrote that Charlie Boulanger, "put together a pleasantly subdued orchestra that eschewed the usual blatant brass and crunchy rhythms prevalent in the Broadway-type nightclubs it played, while still satifiying customers with its light, lilting, melodic sounds."
These notes supplied thru the courtesy of Mr. Dan DelFiorentino.


1918
Beulah Bryant, vocals
b. Dayton, AL, USA. 
Biography
~by Eugene Chadbourne

Claimed by the proud state of Alabama as one of their homegrown talents, Beulah Bryant was born Blooma Bryant and sang in local church groups. She left the state as a teenager, though, relocating to California in 1936 and more or less officially launching her professional career about a decade later by winning an amateur contest held by a network radio show. This victory inspired her to start up her own trio, which worked regularly in California. In the mid '40s she moved to New York and by 1950 was part of a group of signings pulled off by Joe Davis wearing his hat as an MGM A&R man. The June Billboard of that year announced that the label had "inked West Coast blues thrush Beulah Bryant." She made some excellent recordings with a group of musicians that had also backed up singers such as Irene Redfield and Millie Bosman, including the fine trombonist Will Bradley and trumoeter Taft Jordan.

Bryant's style was tailored from the same type of musical suits worn by the so-called "blues shouters." She had strong, authoritive delivery, a sense of rhythm that was like a bass drum pedal come to life, and the advantage of some first class material created specifically for her by contributors such as singer and writer Irene Higginbotham, most notably the meaty "Fat Mama Blues". As good as these records were, the singer must have supported herself from her gigs or had an additional job, since the payment from the label was almost non-existent--for example, her advance for one session was only $50. Up through the '70s, she kept busy performing in radio, films and television as well as keeping up a tiring schedule of personal appearances. She also maintained an exhaustive touring schedule.



1907
Richard Himber, Leader
b. Newark, NJ, d. 1966.
In addition to his band leading, he also left us a few noteable popular songs such as "Cling To Me", "Day After Day" (Johnny Green/Himber tune), "Footloose and Fancy Free", "If I Should Lose You (Robin/Rainger tune)," "In the Chapel In the Moonlight (Billy Hill tune)" and "Stars Fell On Alabama. (Perkins/Parish tune)"
[ Richard Himber Orch. ]
Theme Song: "It Isn't Fair"
As a child Himber studied the violin, celeste and vibraphone. He started his professional career working on the Vaudeville circuits. In time, he spent three years working with the great vaudevillian Sophie Tucker's act. 
Later, he wrote some wonderful arrangements for another vaudeville and radio star Rudy Vallee. In 1929 he was with Jean Goldkette's orchestra, broadcasting from Chicago, IL. During 1934, he formed his own band for an engagement at New York's prestigious Essex House (also heard on radio). The band was called "Richard Himber and his Essex House Orchestra". Joey Nash was the vocalist. At that time. The Himber band mostly 'inhabited' New York's Central Park South area (the swank Hotel District). The band had an act called "The Parade of Bands". The orchestra would instantly imitate the playing and theme song of any band called out by the audience.

In 1934, his was the featured String Ensemble on the CBS Studebaker Parade of Champions show. Here's a photo of Richard Himber with String Ensemble. Himber is in lower right hand corner talking to his harpist Verly Mills. In 1935, his band was featured on Ludens Cough Drops Program. Here's still another photo of Richard Himber. Himber's early band was a good one especially when Bill Challis was doing the scores.
In the 1930's Himber and the orchestra did a lot of studio work, and the band was great (and occasionally original). When the 'bigbands' came along, he completely changed and started using a stylized type of scoring (he called it 'Pyramid' music). His band was voted best band of 1938. During his vaudeville days, he picked up some magic tricks, and also some eccentric dance routines. In later years, he would often entertain the audiences some some of these routines.
1906
Jack Jackson
trumpet/broadcaster
b. England, UK.
Played with Jack Hylton and others. 

Biography
~by Jason Ankeny

British bandleader Jack Jackson was born in Yorkshire in 1907, going on to study at the Royal Academy of Music. His first professional gigs were as a trumpeter on ocean liners, followed by stints backing Jack Hylton and Bert Ambrose; he also played with Bert Ralston on the ill-fated 1931 tour of South America which ended in Ralston's death.




After two years with Jack Payne, in 1933 Jackson formed his own big band which was soon booked into the Dorchester Hotel, where it remained until the spring of 1939; in between the orchestra cut a number of recordings, some of them spotlighting blues legend Alberta Hunter. Following their stay at the Dorchester, the group toured theaters, ballrooms and hotels until disbanding in 1947; Jackson later moved on to a career in broadcasting. 
Jack Jackson (British radio)




1908
Seymour Osterwall
tenor sax, leader
d. Aug. 3, 1981.
Osterwall led a great Swedish Jazz band.
Other Swedish Jazzmen include Arne Huphers, Nisse Lind, Thore Ehrling, Gosta Torner, Putte Wickman, Bengt Hallberg, Lars Gullin, Arne Domnérus, Ernst Rolf's Jazz Band, Helge Lindberg's Crystal Band, Swedish Paramount Orchestra, Fredrik Ljungkvist, Fredrik Nordstrom Quintet, Magnus Lindgren & The Swedish Radio Jazz Group, Mats Holmquist Stora Stygga Big Bad Band, Lennard Åberg, Bosse Broberg & Nogenja Jazz Soloist Ensemble, etc.



1901
Fred Robinson, Trombone
b. Memphis, TN, USA
d. 1984 
Biography
~by Scott Yanow 
It seems odd that trombonist Fred Robinson had such a long life, for he is chiefly remembered for his work with Louis Armstrong from 1928-29, particularly the recordings with Armstrong's Savoy Ballroom Five. Robinson started playing trombone while in high school. After studying in Ohio at the Dana Musical Institute and freelancing, he moved to Chicago in 1927, where he worked with Carroll Dickerson's Orchestra -- an ensemble that Armstrong soon joined. Robinson was on quite a few of Satch's 1928 records and nearly all the ones with Earl Hines, taking a much more subservient role than Kid Ory had with Armstrong from 1925-27 (although Robinson did have some short solos).


He continued working with Armstrong the following year and traveled to New York as part of Armstrong's big band. The trombonist then had associations with many orchestras including Edgar Hayes, Marion Hardy (1931), Charlie Turner's Arcadians, Don Redman (1931-33), Benny Carter (1933), four stints with Fletcher Henderson (1935, 1938, 1939 and 1941), Jelly Roll Morton (with whom he recorded in 1939), Andy Kirk (1939-40), George James (1943) and Cab Calloway (1944-45). Although part of jazz history, Robinson did not have many opportunities to solo with any of these groups; he mostly played in the background. Later associations included Sy Oliver (off and on from 1946-50) and Noble Sissle (1950-51) plus a lot of freelancing. Robinson, who never led his own record date, stopped being a full-time player by the mid-1950s (becoming a subway worker) although he occasionally gigged into the 1960s.
Fred Robinson: Information from Answers.com


1894
Jimmy Yancey, Piano
b. Chicago, IL, USA
d. Sept. 17, 1951.
(some sources say b. 1898) 
Biography
~by Chris Kelsey

One of the seminal boogie-woogie pianists, Yancey was active in and around Chicago playing house parties and clubs from 1915, yet he remained unrecorded until May 1939, when he recorded "The Fives" and "Jimmy's Stuff" for a small label. Soon after, he became the first boogie-woogie pianist to record an album of solos, for Victor. By then, Yancey's work around Chicago had already influenced such younger and better-known pianists as Meade "Lux" Lewis, Pinetop Smith, and Albert Ammons.

Yancey played vaudeville as a tap dancer and singer from the age of six. He settled in Chicago in 1915, where he began composing songs and playing music at informal gatherings. In 1925, he became groundskeeper at Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox baseball team. Yancey was a musician's musician, remaining mostly unknown and unheard outside of Chicago until 1936, when Lewis recorded one of his tunes, "Yancey Special." Three years later, producer Dan Qualey became the first to record Yancey for his new Solo Art label. After the Victor recordings, Yancey went on to record for OKeh and Bluebird. In later years, Yancey performed with his wife, blues singer Estelle "Mama" Yancey; they appeared together at Carnegie Hall in 1948.
Yancey was not as technically flashy as some of his disciples, but he was an expressive, earthy player with a flexible left hand that introduced an air of unpredictability into his bass lines. His playing had a notable peculiarity: Although he wrote and performed compositions in a variety of keys, he ended every tune in E flat. He was also an undistinguished blues singer, accompanying himself on piano. Although Yancey attained a measure of fame for his music late in life, he never quit his day job, remaining with the White Sox until just before his death.

Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:



1914.
Felix Arndt records his own composition, the ragtime piano solo From Soup To Nuts, in New York City, USA. 


1940.
Larry Clinton Orchestra
recorded "Limehouse Blues"
(Victor).




Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:



1923


The Virginians - Bees Knees


1925



Bailey's Lucky Seven
  • Yearning
  • No Wonder




The Savoy Orpheans - Alabamy Bound

  • You Can Dance With Any Girl At All



Ethel Waters - Sugar That Sugar Baby O' Mine



1929



Louisiana Rhythm Kings - That's A Plenty


Waring's Pennsylvanians



Annette Hanshaw - Mean To Me


1930



Charleston Chasers - Sing, You Sinners
1931


Lee Morse and her Bluegrass Boys - I've Got Five Dollars
Lee Morse and her Bluegrass Boys Walkin' My Baby Back Home



Annette Hanshaw - You're The One I Care For

Annette Hanshaw - Walkin' My Baby Back Home

1935



New Orleans Rhythm Kings
  • Baby Brown
  • No Lovers Allowed
  • (Oh! Susanna) Dust Off The Old Piano
  • Since We Fell Out Of Love

LYRICS...


You're mean to me
Why must you be mean to me?
Gee, honey, it seems to me
You love to see me cryin'
I don't know why
I stay home each night
When you say you phone
You don't and I'm left alone.
Sing the blues and sighin'
You treat me coldly each day in the year
You always scold me
Whenever somebody is near, dear
I must be great fun to be mean to me
You shouldn't, for can't you see
What you mean to me

TubaGirlFin
brought to you by... 

~confetta

Special Thanks To:
The Red Hot Jazz Archives,
The Big Band Database, Scott Yanow, 

and all those who have provided content,
images and sound files for this site.