Jabbo Smith: Newspaper Highlights (1929 – 1991)

Jabbo Smith: Newspaper Highlights (1929 – 1991)

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The Rhythm Aces records were a musical triumph, but a
sales bust (Chicago Defender, August 1929)

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A battle of the bands in Lansing, Michigan, August 1929. Particularly interesting is the note in the newspaper story concerning Smith’s full eleven-piece orchestra, which is not known to have recorded. The “famous quintet known as ‘Four Aces and a Joker'” mentioned in the article was the small unit that made the Brunswick recordings.

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Jabbo Smith after his move to the Midwest, playing in Racine, Wisconsin
(top, May 1932) and Sheboygan, Wisconsin (bottom, May 1933).

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Jabbo Smith performs to save to home (January 1977). The benefit raised only $700 of the $10,000 he needed, but the concert marked the beginning of a remarkable comeback.

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Hobnobbing with Benny Goodman (February 1980) and
Dizzy Gillespie (November 1979)

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Jabbo in California: Los Angeles (top, December 1980)
and San Francisco (August 1981)

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New York (January 19, 1991)

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And a couple of masterpieces from the Rhythm Aces series —  Personnel, as given by Jabbo Smith to researcher Dick Spottswood in 1966 (and bearing little resemblance to the undocumented, apparently fabricated listings in Rust’s Jazz Records and derivative works), are: Smith (trumpet), Willard Brown (reeds), Earl Frazer (piano), Ikey Robinson (banjo), Lawson Buford (brass bass):

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JABBO SMITH & HIS RHYTHM ACES – “Four Aces and the Joker”
(Jabbo Smith, vocal): Decatur Street Tutti

Chicago: April 4, 1929
Brunswick 7078 (mx. C 3233 – A)

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JABBO SMITH & HIS RHYTHM ACES – “Four Aces and the Joker”:
Band Box Stomp

Chicago: August 22, 1929
Brunswick 7111 (mx. C 4100 – A)

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Collectors’ Corner (Free MP3’s): Some March 2019 Finds • Fats Waller with Tom Morris, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Red Nichols, East Texas Serenaders, Uncle Dave Macon

Collectors’ Corner: Some March 2019 Finds
Fats Waller with Tom Morris, Fletcher Henderson,
Duke Ellington, Red Nichols, East Texas Serenaders,
Uncle Dave Macon
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THOMAS MORRIS & HIS HOT BABIES with THOMAS [FATS] WALLER  (E)

Camden, NJ (Church studio): December 1, 1927
Victor 21358 (mx. BVE 40097 – 2)
“Race release,” per Victor files. The personnel listed in Rust’s Jazz Records and derivative works, other than Waller and Morris, should be considered speculative (no source cited, not from Victor file data).

 


RED NICHOLS & HIS FIVE PENNIES: Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider  (E+)

New York: August 15, 1927
Brunswick (British) 01536 (mx. E 24232)
Stock arrangement, per the Brunswick files. The personnel listed in Rust’s Jazz Records and derivative works, other than Nichols, should be considered speculative (no source cited, not from Brunswick file data).

 


DUKE ELLINGTON & HIS ORCHESTRA (as The Jungle Band): Tiger Rag,
Part 2
 (EE+)

New York: January 8, 1929
Brunswick (French) A 9279 (mx. E 28941 – A)
Irving Mills arrangement, per the Brunswick files. The personnel listed in Rust’s Jazz Records and derivative works should be considered speculative (no source cited, not from Brunswick file data).

 


FLETCHER HENDERSON & HIS ORCHESTRA: Tidal Wave  (E)

New York: September 12, 1934
Decca 213 (mx. 32602 – A)
The personnel listed in Rust’s Jazz Records and derivative works should be considered speculative (no source cited, not from Decca file data).

 


EAST TEXAS SERENADERS: Acorn Stomp  (E)

Dallas: December 2, 1927
Brunswick 282 (mx. DAL-720- )

 


UNCLE DAVE MACON & HIS FRUIT-JAR DRINKERS: Tom and Jerry (E- to V+)

New York: May 9, 1927
Vocalion 5165 (mx. E 2759)

“Race Records” Nominated for 2017 ARSC Award

We’re pleased to announce that Race Records and the American Recording Industry, 1919–1945 (Allan Sutton, Mainspring Press) has been nominated for a 2017 Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded-Sound Research by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. Winners will be announced later this year.

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MSP_race-records_cover
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Race Records
is available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries. Here’s a peek inside the book, at some of our favorite race-record ads:

msp_race-record-ads_1

 

 

The Playlist • Five Harmaniacs (1926–1927)

MSP_five-harmaniacs_composite

 

The usual members of this group were Jerry Adams, Hampton Durand, Walter Howard, Ned Nestor, Clyde Shugart, and Percy Stoner (with the addition of pianist Tommy Reilly on one oddball  Brunswick session at which the Harmaniacs had no harmonica player — the only instance in which at least partial personnel were listed in the recording files).

 

HARMANIAC FIVE: Harmaniac Blues

Chicago (Marsh Laboratories): c. May 1926
Paramount 20476 (Marsh mx. 1079)
From a tape dubbing supplied by the late Gilbert Louey. Jazz Records shows two banjos and no guitar, in error (one of each is audible, even through the horrendous surface noise and notoriously inaccurate “Marsh Sound”).

 

FIVE HARMANIACS: Coney Island Washboard

New York: September 17, 1926
Victor 20293 (mx. BVE 36327 – 2)
No personnel listed in the Victor files.

 

FIVE HARMANIACS (with uncredited vocal): Sleepy Blues

New York: February 24, 1927
Brunswick 7002 (mx. E 22013, renumbered from E 4587)
Race-series release (although the band was white). Originally recorded as a test master (Vocalion mx. E 4587, unissued on that label), and subsequently transferred to Brunswick on March 18, 1927, and assigned Brunswick mx. E 22013. No personnel are listed in the Brunswick-Vocalion files. Jazz Records shows a recording date of February 4, in error.

 

FIVE HARMANIACS: It Takes A Good Woman (To Keep a Good Man at Home)

New York: February 8, 1927
Victor mx. BVE 37751 – 1 (unissued in 78-rpm form)
From a c. 1960s blank-label vinyl pressing from the original stamper. Take 2 was released on Victor 20507 in April 1927. No personnel listed in the Victor files.

 

FIVE HARMANIACS (Walter Howard, speech): What Makes My Baby Cry?

New York: February 8, 1927
Victor mx. BVE 37750 – 1 (unissued in 78-rpm form)
From a c. 1960s blank-label vinyl pressing from the original stamper. Take 2 was released on Victor 20507 in April 1927. No personnel, aside from Howard, are listed in the Victor files.

The Playlist • Walter Barnes & his Royal Creolians (1929)

MSP_bwk-4480_C-3941

The Royal Creolians were a fixture at the Chicago Cotton Club in the late 1920s. The band was led by Walter Barnes, a diminutive saxophonist with an oversized ego, who was dubbed “The Midget Maestro” by The Chicago Defender. Barnes also took over Dave Peyton’s “Musical Bunch” column in the Defender in the late 1920s, and he continued to write for that paper for the next  decade. His columns are a treasure-trove of tour listings, biographical tidbits, and band personnel changes, often with a healthy dose of self-promotion tossed in.

In the off-seasons, the Royal Creolians toured widely. Like many other black bands in the 1920s, one of their stop-overs was Denver, which probably explains why these fairly scarce records have turned up here surprisingly often over the years. (Lest anyone be tempted to pack their bags for Colorado, a quick reality-check: The state was a goldmine for rare and unusual records of all kinds when we arrived here 25 years ago, but those days are long-gone. You might still find an occasional rare gem with some persistence and luck, but the unexpectedly rich pickings we enjoyed in the 1990s are pretty much just a memory.)

The 1928–1929 Brunswick sessions comprise Barnes’ total recorded output. After the Depression hit, he spent much of his time touring the Southern states, eventually renaming the band Walter Barnes and his Kings of Swing. He died in Natchez, Mississippi, on April 23, 1940, at age thirty-four, in a dance-hall fire that claimed 209 lives. His adventures on the road, and his tragic end, are beautifully recounted in The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ’n’ Roll, by Preston Lauterbach (W. W. Norton, 2011) — a great read.

 

WALTER BARNES & HIS ROYAL CREOLIANS: Buffalo Rhythm

Chicago: February 27, 1929
Brunswick 7072 (mx. C 3009 – )

 

WALTER BARNES & HIS ROYAL CREOLIANS: Third Rail

Chicago: February 27, 1929
Brunswick 7072 (mx. C 3010 – )

 

WALTER BARNES & HIS ROYAL CREOLIANS (with uncredited vocalist): Birmingham Bertha

Chicago: July 25, 1929
Brunswick 4480 (mx. C 3942 – )
Identification of May Alix as the vocalist in some discographies is based on aural evidence; the vocalist is not credited in the Brunswick files or on the labels. An alternate version (mx. C 3942 – G) was recorded without vocal, for export to Germany.

 

WALTER BARNES & HIS ROYAL CREOLIANS: If You’re Thinking of Me (When I’m Thinking of You)

Chicago: July 25, 1929
Brunswick 4480 (mx. C 3941 – )

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Three takes were recorded for each selection (two, in the case of C 3941); the selected takes are not indicated in the Brunswick files or on the pressings. At least two takes of C 3010 are known to have been issued, although the differences are rather insignificant. Personnel listed for these records in Jazz Records and other discographies are undocumented; they are not from the Brunswick files.

The Playlist • The Best of Fess Williams & his Royal Flush Orchestra (1927)

MSP_williams-fess_composite

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FESS WILLIAMS’ ROYAL FLUSH ORCHESTRA:
White Ghost Shivers

New York: February 3, 1927 (A.M. session, Brunswick Studio – Room #1)
Vocalion 1085
Three takes were made (E4503, E4504, E4505); the selected take is not shown on our pressing. The recording date is given in error as February 2 in Rust’s Jazz Records.

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FESS WILLIAMS’ ROYAL FLUSH ORCHESTRA:
Variety Stomp

New York: March 28, 1927 (P.M. session, Room #1)
Brunswick 3532 (mx. 22361, renumbered from Vocalion mx. E4769)

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FESS WILLIAMS’ ROYAL FLUSH ORCHESTRA:
Phantom Blues

New York: March 28, 1927 (P.M. session, Room #1)
Brunswick 3532 (mx. E22366, renumbered from Vocalion mx. E4774)

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FESS WILLIAMS’ ROYAL FLUSH ORCHESTRA:
Alligator Crawl

New York: June 15, 1927 (P.M. session, Room #2)
Brunswick 3589 (mx. E23633)
Arrangement by Fess Williams, per Brunswick files

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FESS WILLIAMS’ ROYAL FLUSH ORCHESTRA:
Ozark Blues

New York: June 15, 1927 (P.M. session, Room #2)
Brunswick 3589 (mx. E23638)
Arrangement by Fess Williams, per Brunswick files

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FESS WILLIAMS’ ROYAL FLUSH ORCHESTRA:
Number 10

New York: June 24, 1927 (P.M. session, Room #1)
Brunswick 3596 (mx. E23747)
Arrangement by Fess Williams, per Brunswick files

 

The Playlist • Bill Brown & his Brownies: Complete Recordings (1927, 1929)

MSP_brown-b_composite(Top) Chicago Defender ad for the Vocalion version of “Bill Brown’s Blues” (sic; the possessive form doesn’t  appear on the labels or in the Brunswick files). The Vocalion uses the same master as the Brunswick release (renumbered as E 6444, assigned on September 9, 1927), but has a different coupling.

(Bottom) The very rare alternate take of “Hot Lips” (mx. E 21990), showing the telltale “90” at the three-o’clock position.

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BILL BROWN & HIS BROWNIES: Bill Brown Blues

New York: March 17, 1927
Brunswick 7003 (mx. E 21986)

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BILL BROWN & HIS BROWNIES: Hot Lips [-89]

New York: March 17, 1927
Brunswick 7003 (mx. E 21989)

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BILL BROWN & HIS BROWNIES: Hot Lips [-90]

New York: March 17, 1927
Brunswick 7003 (mx. E 21990)
This very rare take is shown in error as unissued in Laird’s Brunswick Records Discography (Greenwood Press), although listed correctly in Rust’s Jazz Records. We found this copy a few years ago in an Englewood, Colorado, thrift store.

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BILL BROWN & HIS BROWNIES (Ovie Alston, vocal): Zonky

New York: December 26, 1929
Brunswick 7142 (mx. 31743 – A or –B*)

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BILL BROWN & HIS BROWNIES: What Kind of Rhythm Is That?

New York: December 26, 1929
Brunswick 7142 (mx. 31744 – A or –B*)

*The selected takes are not shown in the surviving Brunswick files or on inspected pressings.

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