The Best of Some Recent “Collector’s Corner” Playlists
(Free MP3 Downloads)
Our thanks to all who’ve recently sent us their lists of disposable jazz and blues records. We’re not dealers, and we don’t buy complete collections, with rare exceptions. But if you have individual items like these, and don’t want to sacrifice them at dealer’s low-ball prices, we pay top dollar for items we need, in top condition.
The big caveat: We generally buy only records in EE- condition, or better, although true V+ may be acceptable for scarcer items. Be sure to use strict VJM grading, and be brutally honest in your assessment, since over-graded records will be rejected. (We shouldn’t have to say this, but with “grade slippage” running rampant, we will: True V+ means a clean copy that still retains some shine, with just light, even wear; no digs, rough starts, stressed grooves, gouges, cracks of any kind, etc.; and nothing worse than a few light, faintly audible scuffs or scratches. V+ is not synonymous with worn-out, banged-up filler material, despite what some dealers would have you believe.)
Many tantalizing new items have come in lately, or are on the way, and we’ll be sharing some of them in a future installment of Collector’s Corner. In the meantime, here’s a re-run of a few favorites we’ve added to the collection in recent months:
LUCILLE HEGAMIN & HER BLUE FLAME SYNCOPATORS: You’ll Want My Love (EE– )
New York (probably New York Recording Laboratories): Released June 1921
Arto 9063 (no visible mx. number)
Hegamin never produced another hit to rival “Arkansas Blues,” and her sales seemed to slip with each subsequent Arto release, if the number of surviving copies is any indication. Based on aural and physical characteristics, this master was recorded by NYRL (Paramount), one of many studios from which Arto commissioned its masters, as documented in Ed Kirkeby’s 1921–1923 session logs. For details, see American Record Company and Producers, 1888–1950.
LOTTIE BEAMAN: Honey Blues (V+)
Chicago (probably Rodeheaver Recording Laboratories): c. February 1924
Paramount 12201 (mx. 1695 – 1)
Accompanied by Miles and Milas Pruitt, as The Pruett Twins (sic).
This seems like an opportune spot to debunk the hoary tale that Marsh Laboratories recorded Paramount’s acoustic masters (when in fact, Marsh researcher Richard Raichelson has found no evidence that the company ever made acoustic recordings). Paramount house pianist and session arranger Lovie Austin recalled in a 1950 interview that these sessions were held in Homer Rodeheaver’s studio (a Chicago for-hire operation, as distinct from his Rainbow religious label), and aural characteristics support her claim. See ARC&P for more details.
CHARLES A. MATSON’S CREOLE SERENADERS: I Just Want a Daddy (V+)
New York: July 30, 1923
Edison 51224 (mx. 9105 – C)
This band has flummoxed discographers for decades, with various writers suggesting Freddie Keppard as the cornetist, or Armand Piron’s New Orleans Orchestra in disguise, along with even more far-fetched guesses. Now, we have the likely answer. Based upon archival materials first reported on the grammophon-platten.de website, this group probably consisted of Thomas E. Hillery (cornet); Levi Bush (trombone); Carlos Daugherty (clarinet, saxophone); Charles O. Moseley, possibly Julian Arthur (saxophones); William Escoffery (banjo); William (Bill) Benford (tuba); and Curtis Moseley (percussion).
Cornetist Hillery — the principal person of interest in this band — was born and trained in Baltimore, where he apparently spent much of his time. Until this discovery, he was a cipher to historians and discographers. He seems to have been highly regarded in his hometown but died at age 28, no doubt accounting in part for his obscurity. Bush and Daugherty were also active in Baltimore in the 1920s, and Escoffery was a native of nearby Washington, DC.
So what we have here, apparently, is a Baltimore or Baltimore-Washington group, briefly transplanted to New York by band-contractor Charles Matson (who was working for Clarence Williams at the time). The band toured under Matson’s management, appearing as far afield as Boston and Philadelphia during the spring and summer of 1923. Of course, these clipping don’t tell us who was actually present in the Edison studio. But given the consistency between the April and June reports, and the proximity of the latter to the July recording session, they’re probably the best evidence we’re going to get — and certainly more to be trusted than the fanciful guesswork that’s surrounded this band for so many years.
CALIFORNIA RAMBLERS (as Palace Garden Orchestra): After You’re [sic] Gone (EE–)
New York: June 24, 1927
Pathé 36653 (mx. 107644 – )
Personnel per manager Ed Kirkeby’s files (we’ve added the instrumentation; Kirkeby logged only the names): Chelsea Quealey (trumpet); Bobby Davis, Sam Ruby (clarinet, saxophones); Adrian Rollini (bass saxophone, goofus); Jack Rusin (piano); Tommy Felline (banjo); Herb Weil (percussion); unlisted (whistling). Rust’s Jazz Records erroneously lists Max Farley rather than Sam Ruby. One of the Dorseys (perhaps Tommy, given the plethora of reed men already present?) was scheduled for this session, but his name was subsequently crossed-out in the session entry.
FLETCHER HENDERSON & HIS ORCHESTRA: Have It Ready (E-)
New York: January 22, 1927
Vocalion15532 (mx. E 4406 W)
Listed as a “Special Race Recording” on the recording sheet, but issued in the regular pop series. False mx. numbers for the corresponding Brunswick release were assigned on February 2, 1927. (And what does that mysterious “W” in the wax stand for? “Western Electric,” it turns out. For years, it’s been said that W.E. licensed its electrical recording system exclusively to Victor and Columbia. But now, thanks to a late-in-life disclosure by Brunswick musical director Gus Haenschen — made public for the first time on the Mainspring Press blog — we know that W.E. signed a secret deal with Brunswick after it became apparent that their Hoxie “Light-Ray” system wasn’t working out.)
EARL HINES & HIS ORCHESTRA: Grand Piano Blues (E)
Chicago: October 25, 1929
Victor V-38096 (mx. BVE 57322 – 2)
The much more common Bluebird and other reissues of this side (including most LP and CD reissues) use a dubbed master made on December 21, 1936 (take -1R), which squeezed much of the life out the original recording. The anemic-sounding dub was no doubt more durable in play — pressings from the robustly-recorded original master tend to turn up stripped — but at a cost, sonically.
CLARENCE WILLIAMS’ JAZZ KINGS: The Keyboard Express (EE–)
New York: August 1, 1928
Columbia 14348-D (mx. W 146825 – 2)
CLARENCE WILLIAMS’ JAZZ KINGS (Williams, speech and vocal):
Walk That Broad (E)
New York: August 1, 1928
Columbia 14348-D (mx. W 146826 – 3)
JELLY ROLL MORTON: Seattle Hunch (EE-)
Camden, NJ: July 8, 1929
Victor V-38527 (mx. BVE 49449 – 1)
Released September 6, 1929. As sometimes happened with its jazz recordings of the period, for reasons we’ve yet to fathom, Victor chose to release the inferior take — listen for Morton to briefly lose his way beginning at the 1:36 mark. Luckily for posterity, Victor often assigned “Hold” status to alternate takes, as occurred in this case. The superior take 2 survived and was finally released by RCA in 1941.
FIVE HARMANIACS: It Takes a Good Woman (To Keep a Good Man at Home) (EE–)
New York: February 8, 1927
Victor 20507 (mx. BVE 37750 – 2)
Walter Howard (speaking)
Headed by Texas entertainer Claude Shugart, the Five Harmaniacs defy easy categorization. Originally the Four Harmaniacs, they started out singing cowboy ballads in a vaudeville act titled “Round-Up Tunes.” But in 1926 they headed off in a new direction that caught the attention of the record companies. Now calling billing themselves as “A Genuine Musical Novelty,” they began featuring jazz- and blues-inflected tunes in a style inspired by southern jug and skiffle bands (Brunswick even released two of their titles in its race-record series). But they continued to wear their cowboy outfits on national tours, and sometimes reverted to their original repertoire when playing in and around Texas.
SEVEN GALLON JUG BAND: What If I Do (E–)
New York: December 6, 1929
Columbia 2087-D (mx. W 149691 – 3)
SEVEN GALLON JUG BAND: Wipe ’Em Off (E–)
New York: January 3, 1930
Columbia 2087-D (mx. W 149690 – 6)
No personnel listed in the Columbia files or on the labels, other than Clarence Williams; personnel cited in Rust’s Jazz Records and other discographies are speculative.
LOTTIE BEAMAN (as LOTTIE EVERSON): Rolling Log Blues (V++)
Richmond, IN: August 21, 1928
Champion 15636 (mx. GE 14162 – )
The Gennett matrix ledger states, “Use plain [take].” The guitarist is not identified in the Gennett documentation or on the labels. Miles Pruitt, with whom Beaman is known to have been closely associated, and who received label credit on some of her other records, is generally considered the likely suspect.
NAP HAYES & MATTHEW PRATER: Nothin’ Doin’ (V++)
Memphis: February 15, 1928
Okeh 45231 (mx. W 400243 – B)
Issued in Okeh’s 45000 white country-music series, although Hayes and Prater were black. This sort of blurring of prevailing racial and ethnic lines was not unusual for Okeh, which even repackaged some recordings by Mexican instrumental groups (disguised by appropriately hillbilly-sounding aliases) for the white country market.
BLIND BOY FULLER (Fulton Allen): Big House Bound (E–)
Columbia, SC: October 29, 1938
Vocalion 04897 (mx. SC 25 – 1)
With Sonny Terry, harmonica
BUMBLE BEE SLIM & MEMPHIS MINNIE: New Orleans Stop Time (E–)
Chicago: February 6, 1936
Vocalion 03197 (mx. C 1227 – 2)