Correct Personnel for the California Ramblers’ Late 1927—Early 1928 Cameo Sessions (from Ed Kirkeby’s Files)

Some more corrections to American Dance Bands on Records and Film California Ramblers personnel listings, this time for the December 1927 and February 1928 Varsity Eight sessions for Cameo. The compilers somehow missed this material in California Ramblers manager W. T. “Ed” Kirkeby’s logbook and payroll records.

This also offers an object lesson on the dangers of “collective personnel” — a euphemism for “If you throw enough names at the wall, maybe a few might stick.” Here’s ADBFR’s “collective personnel” for these sessions. The names in boldface turned out to be correct guesses. We’ve crossed out the bad guesses (most notably, Tommy Dorsey), which make up the majority (64%) of the listing:

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Angie Rattiner, Al King, Mickey Bloom, Fred Van Eps Jr., Frank Cush (trumpets); Ted Raph, Tommy Dorsey, Frank Ferretti, Chuck Campbell (trombones); Pete Pumigilo, Carl Orech, Harold Marcus (clarinets, alto saxes); Sam Ruby (tenor sax); Spencer Clark (bass sax); Chauncey Gray or Jack Russin (piano); Tommy Felline (banjo, guitar); Herb Weil or Chick Condon (drums).

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And now, the actual personnel who were hired for these sessions, from Ed Kirkeby’s files. As usual, Kirkeby did not enter first names or instruments; we’ve inserted the first names [in brackets] and usual instruments (in parentheses) of musicians who appear in his payroll records for this period. Musicians missing from ADBFR’s “collective personnel” are in underlined red type:

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December 1, 1927 (Cameo mxs. 2715 – 2717) — [Chelsea] Quealy, [Henry] Levine (trumpets); [Al] Philburn (trombone); [Pete] Pumiglio, [Bob] Fallon (reeds); Jack Russin (piano); [/?] Mahoney (banjo); [Hank] Stern (bass); [Herb] Weil (percussion)
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February 3, 1928 (Cameo mxs. 2857 – 2859) — [Henry] Levine, [Fred] Van Eps [Jr.] (trumpets); [Al] Philburn (trombone); Bob Montgomery [first name listed in this case], [Sam] Ruby (saxophones); [Chauncey] Grey (piano); Joe La Faro (violin); [Tommy] Felline (banjo, guitar); [Hank] Stern (bass); [Herb] Weil (percussion)

More to come…