DISCOGRAPHY UPDATE • Personnel for Grey Gull’s July 1926 “Little Pilgrims” Session (California Ramblers)

This morning we add another “lost” session to the California Ramblers’ confirmed output, thanks to further foraging in Ed Kirkeby’s payroll books. This information does not appear in Jazz Records or the new edition of American Dance Bands — Kirkeby’s session log for this date seems to be missing (it’s absent from our copy, anyway), and the compilers of JR and ADB  apparently didn’t access the corresponding payroll book.

Oh, the dangers of “aural identification” — Jazz Records cites no instrumental personnel other than trumpeter Red Nichols who, as it turns out, was not present. Kirkeby paid his featured soloists extra, so at least based upon the pay rates shown below, it appears likely that Roy Johnston plays the trumpet solos  on these sides.

New York: Friday, July 23, 1926 — Grey Gull *

The Girl Friend (mx. 2023)
Hi Diddle Diddle (mx. 2025)
When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along (mx. 2024)
(Titles are shown above in the order listed by EK, not in mx-number order)

Personnel and payments, per Ed Kirkeby’s payroll book:

Ed Kirkeby — $44
Roy Johnston (trumpet) — $22
Frank Cush (trumpet) — $15
George Troup (trombone) — $15
Freddy Cusick (saxophone) — $15
Bobby Davis (saxophone) — $22
Sam Ruby (saxophone) — $15
Jimmy Pugliese (bass saxophone) — $15
Tommy Felline (banjo) — $20
Jack Russin (piano) — $15
Herb Weil (percussion) — $15

*Grey Gull was finally recording in its own studio by this time, after several years with Emerson.


Discography Update • Correct Identification and Personnel for “Lloyd Newton & his Varsity Eleven” (Crown, 1930)

Another long-standing mystery solved, thanks to band contractor Ed Kirkeby’s files. The guesswork personnel listings for “Lloyd Newton & his Varsity Eleven”  in Jazz Records and the new edition of American Dance Bands — the latter being basically just a re-run of the undocumented JR listing — should be disregarded. The group is actually Ed Kirkeby’s Orchestra; here are the correct personnel, studio location, and recording date (JR’s and ADB’s guesses are off by a month), from Mr. Kirkeby’s session and payroll files:

New York: November 17, 1930
Crown — Sol Kronberg — 122 5 [Fifth] Ave. — Date O.K.”

Mx. 1066 (St. Louis Blues)
Mx. 1067 (Sweet Jennie Lee)
Mx. 1068 (I Got Rhythm)

Personnel per Ed Kirkeby’s files: Jack Purvis, Fred Van Eps Jr. (trumpets); Carl Loeffler (trombone); Bobby Davis, Joe Gillespie (reeds); (M.?) Dickson, Sidney Harris, Sam Hoffman (violins); Ed Sexton (guitar); Lew Cobey (piano); Ward Lay (bass); Jack Powers (percussion); Dick Dixon (usually a pseudonym for Dick Robertson), unidentified trio (vocals).

(Kirkeby listed this as a “Banner” session in his payroll book, perhaps from force of habit. Sol Kronberg, who is credited in the session log as shown above, was co-owner of the Plaza Music Company, which marketed Banner records until it was left out of the American Record Corporation merger in 1929. ARC kept the Banner brand, however, and Kronberg went on to launch Crown with several other Plaza executives.)


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:


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).


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:


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)

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…

“Lloyd Dayton & his Music” Finally Identified (from the Ed Kirkeby Files)

Thanks to our recent research of Ed Kirkeby’s files in conjunction with the ongoing Pathé-Perfect and American Record Corporation projects, we’ve finally unearthed the true identity of the band ARC credited as “Lloyd Dayton & his Music” (which, to further confuse matters, was logged by ARC as “Fred MacDougall & his Orchestra”). It’s none other than Ed Kirkeby & his Orchestra, with his usual personnel of the period.

The compilers of The American Dance Band Discography and American Dance Bands on Records and Film obviously didn’t check for these in Kirkeby’s files. ADB shows all personnel as unknown and doesn’t mention Kirkeby. ADBFR makes a tiny bit of headway, mentioning a “reported” Kirkeby connection, guessing correctly Jack Purvis, and getting Dick Dixon partially correct (right name, wrong instrument), while leaving the rest blank.

The correct data from Kirkeby’s logbook and payroll files are shown below. First names (except Dixon’s) are not listed in either file; we’ve inserted [in brackets] the first names of musicians who are confirmed to have been on Kirkeby’s payroll in late 1930.

Kirkeby logged this as a Cameo session, but that label was discontinued a short time later, so the recordings instead appeared on Banner, Romeo, and other ARC brands. The session is headed “Three dogs” (i.e, throw-away “filler” tunes,  generally not even copyrighted) in Kirkeby’s log — a surprisingly honest appraisal, given that Kirkeby himself composed one of them!

October 10, 1930 (ARC mxs. 10131 – 10133, issued as Lloyd Dayton & his Music):

[Jack] Purvis (trumpet); Dick Dixon (first name listed in this case only; the beginning of the logbook session entry reads “Add trombone Dick Dixon,” but the name appears in the payroll record as “Dickson”); [Bobby] Davis, [Joe] Gillespie (reeds); [Sidney] Harris, [Sam] Hoffman (violins); [Lew] Cobey (piano); [Ed] Sexton (guitar); [Ward] Lay (string bass); [Jack] Powers (percussion)


Correct Personnel for the California Ramblers’ 1929–1930 Grey Gull Sessions, from Ed Kirkeby’s Files

Sorry to report that the personnel listings for the California Ramblers’ 1929–1930 Grey Gull sessions in American Dance Bands on Record and Film (the $600 successor to Brian Rust’s American Dance Band Discography) are seriously in error.

The compilers don’t say where their information came from, but it certainly wasn’t from the one unimpeachable source in this case: Ramblers manager Ed Kirkeby himself, who maintained meticulous logbooks detailing all recording sessions with which he was involved. So, to set the record straight, here are the actual correct personnel — which in some cases bear only a slight resemblance to those undocumented listings in ADB — directly from Mr. Kirkeby’s files:


July 30, 1929 — Grey Gull mxs. 3559–3561

ADB misattributes this session to a “Grey Gull studio orchestra,” “with a sound not unlike the California Ramblers.” All recordings were issued pseudonymously. The titles, as confirmed in Ed Kirkeby’s files, are:

Maybe! Who Knows? (mx. 3559 — Grey Gull 1746, et al.)
Sweetness (mx. 3560 — Grey Gull 1752, et al.)
Little Pal (mx. 3561 — Grey Gull 1756, et al.)

Personnel for this session, from Kirkeby’s files, are:

Chelsea Quealey, Fred Van Eps, Jr. (trumpets); Carl Loeffler (trombone); “Pete” [presumably Pumiglio], Harold Marcus (saxophones); Chauncey Gray (piano); Al Duffy (violin); Tommy Felline (banjo/guitar); Ward Lay (bass); Stan King (percussion); Smith Ballew (vocal, with unnamed others). Kirkeby paid Dick Morgan $20 for this session, for reasons unstated.


December 27, 1929 — Grey Gull mxs. 3804– 3807

ADB personnel listing is “collective” (i.e., all likely names were tossed into the pot, in the hope that at least some might apply), with no source cited. The exact session personnel, from Kirkeby’s files, are:

Fred Van Eps, Jr. (first trumpet); Frank Cush (second trumpet); Carl Loeffler (trombone); Paul Mason (tenor saxophone) “Pete” [presumably Pumiglio] (first alto saxophone); “Carl” [presumably Orech] (second alto saxophone); Sid Harris (violin); “Gross” [Gray?] (piano); Tommy Felline (banjo, guitar); Ward Lay (string bass); Stan King (percussion); Smith Ballew (vocal with two unnamed others, presumably band members)


January 24, 1930 — Grey Gull mxs. 3855– 3857

ADB personnel list is “collective,” with no source cited. The exact session personnel, from Kirkeby’s files, are:

Fred Van Eps, Jr., Tony Gianelli (trumpets); Carl Loeffler (trombone); Carl Orech] (saxophone); Paul Mason (tenor saxophone); Harold Marcus (alto saxophone); Sid Harris (violin); illegible, possibly [Chauncey] Gray (piano); Tommy Felline (banjo, guitar); Ward Lay (string bass); [?] Dale (percussion); Smith Ballew (vocal). The accordionist is not listed in Kirkeby’s log, suggesting that he was supplied by the studio.


February 24, 1930 — Grey Gull mxs. 3913–3915

ADB personnel list (source not cited) is largely incorrect. The correct session personnel, from Kirkeby’s files, are:

Angie Rattiner (first trumpet); Tony Giannelli (second trumpet); Pete Pumiglio, Paul Mason, Tommy Bohn (“first,” “second,” and “third” saxophones, in that order); Lloyd Turner (trombone); Irving Brodsky (piano); Joe La Faro (violin); Tommy Felline (banjo/guitar); Tex Hurst (bass); Herb Weil (percussion). The vocalist is not listed in Kirkeby’s log, suggesting that he was supplied by the studio.


May 12, 1930 — Grey Gull mxs. 4059, 4060

ADB personnel list (source not cited) is largely incorrect. The correct session personnel, from Ed Kirkeby’s files, are:

Jack Purvis (trumpet); Carl Loeffler (trombone); Pete Pumiglio, Paul Mason, Tommy Bohn (saxophones); Irving Brodsky (piano); Scoop Thompson (Tomson in file) (guitar); Tex Hurst (bass); Jack Powers (percussion); “Moore” (no further details); Scrappy Lambert (vocal)


June 12, 1930 — Grey Gull mxs. 4095– 4098

ADB personnel list (source not cited) is almost entirely incorrect. The correct session personnel, from Ed Kirkeby’s files, are:

Fred Van Eps, Jr., Tony Giannelli (trumpets); Carl Loeffler (trombone); Ed Blanchard, Joe Gillespie, Nye Mayhew (saxophones); Lew Cobey (piano); Ed Sexton, guitar; Ward Lay (string bass); Joe Powers (percussion); Elmer Feldkamp (vocal, with unnamed others, presumably band members)