Collector’s Corner (Free MP3 Downloads) • Some June-July 2019 Finds — Mendello’s Five Gee Gee’s, Cotton Pickers, Earl Hines’ Orchestra, Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra, Red Allen’s Orchestra, Louis Armstrong’s Sebastian New Cotton Club Orchestra)

Collector’s Corner (Free MP3 Downloads):
Some June – July 2019 Finds

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Some nice jazz additions to the collection in the past month or so, starting off with two sides that allegedly include Glenn Miller on trombone, although the sources of those claims are sketchy at best. Brian Rust and others have made that attribution, with no sources cited, as usual (and if you believe everything you read in Rust and the various Jazz Records clones, let’s talk about a big bridge in Brooklyn on which we can make you a terrific deal).

The Miller attribution on the Mendello side has also been made by a descendant. Granted, family tales are sometimes embroidered, but it adds perhaps a bit more credibility to the claim. If anyone has credible, verifiable documentary proof that Miller is on either of these records — not “I hear Glenn” or “so-and-so remembers” — please send us a scan of the document, and a note telling us where you found it, so that Miller can finally be properly credited. It’s good trombone work, for sure.

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JAMES G. G. MENDELLO & HIS FIVE GEE GEE’S
(as DIXIE JAZZ BAND): High Hattin’ Hattie
(E-)

New York: August 15, 1928
Oriole 1363 (mx. 8150 -1 / Plaza control 1804 – 1)

Vocal by Jack Kaufman, as Dick Holmes. Personnel listed in Rust’s
Jazz Records and derivative works are apparently speculative (no source cited; not Plaza-ARC file data).
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The Five Gee Gee’s appear to have been purely a studio pick-up group; no reliable report of the band performing in public has been found so far. All of the titles they recorded are what the recording industry used to call “dogs” — those “B”-side fillers that hack songwriters peddled to the record companies for a modest flat fee, no royalties required. Mendello was primarily a New York theater-band trumpeter who also recorded with Gus Haenschen’s “Carl Fenton” Orchestra for Brunswick (per the Paterson [New Jersey] Evening News, April 14, 1927) and reportedly directed one of the Ben Bernie orchestras (Paterson Morning Call, June 13, 1931). He died on June 12, 1931, at the age of twenty-eight.

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THE COTTON PICKERS: Kansas City Kitty (EE-)

New York: March 27, 1929
Brunswick 4325 (mx. E 29525 -)
Personnel listed in Rust’s Jazz Records and derivative works are apparently speculative (no source cited; not Brunswick file data). The selected take is not indicated in the pressing, nor in the Brunswick files; two takes were made.

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FLETCHER HENDERSON & HIS ORCHESTRA: Sensation (E)

New York: March 19, 1927
Brunswick 3521 (mx. E 22029)

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EARL HINES & HIS ORCHESTRA: Grand Piano Blues
(E- to V++, with label damage)

Chicago: October 25, 1929
Victor V-38096 (mx. BVE 57322 – 2)
This master was later dubbed for reissue on Bluebird and British H.M.V., being stripped of much of its bass in the process. The inferior dubbed version was also used on RCA’s various LP reissues.

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LUIS RUSSELL’S ORCHESTRA (as RED ALLEN & HIS ORCHESTRA): Funny Feathers Blues (E)

New York: September 24, 1929
Bluebird B-6588 (mx. BVE 55853- 2)

Vocal by Victoria Spivey. Henry (Red) Allen, director, per the Victor files. October 1936 original-stamper reissue of Victor V-38088.

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LOUIS ARMSTRONG & HIS SEBASTIAN NEW COTTON CLUB ORCHESTRA: You’re Driving Me Crazy! (What Did I Do?) (E-)

Los Angeles: December 23, 1930
Okeh 41478 (mx. W 404418 – B)

Vocal by Louis Armstrong; opening dialogue by Armstrong and Lionel Hampton.

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Fletcher Henderson: Some Newspaper Highlights (1923 – 1931)

Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra: A Few  Newspaper Highlights from Our Ongoing Henderson Research (1923 – 1931)

 

 

 

An even earlier example of a Henderson satellite band (see previous post) — a November 15, 1924 appearance in Watsonville, California. The actual Henderson band recorded in Columbia’s New York studio on November 14. Given the state of American transportation at the time, the band could not possibly have reached California by the following day, and then returned to New York in time for its November 17 Plaza date. (There is no connection to the “Tennessee Ten” on Victor records, which was a white band.)

 

 

Henderson was a prolific broadcaster (this relatively early example is from August 1923). He accompanied Emma Gover and Edna Hicks on some of their recordings during this period. The 1923 Gover–Henderson Pathé sides were brokered by band manager Ed Kirkekby (whose California Ramblers did not yet occupy him full-time), as confirmed in Kirkeby’s logbook.

 

 

As one of several headliners with the Club Alabam’ show
(April 1924)

 

 

A plug for Henderson in a 1924 popularity contest. In the early 1930s he was bested by Blanche Calloway in a similar contest, but only by a few votes. (New York, November 1924)

 

 

Sam Lanin sharing the bill with Henderson at the Roseland, during Louis Armstrong’s tenure with the Henderson band (New York, December 1924)

 

 

Romano’s was one of several white bands, besides Lanin’s, to share the bill with Henderson at the Roseland. (New York, September 1924)

 

 

The Henderson orchestra, or a small unit from it (depending upon the session), masqueraded as The Dixie Stompers for Columbia’s low-priced Harmony line. (June 1926 ad for an April recording)

 

 

“The white man of colored musicians” — a supposed compliment? (Pottsville, Pennsylvania, July 1926)

 

 

Henderson and cutting-edge phonographic technology — the Brunswick Panatrope, the first all-electric phonograph for the consumer market (although the Henderson orchestra had not made any electrical recordings for Brunswick at that time). Scranton, Pennsylvania, June 1926.

 

 

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, June 1926

 

 

Pottsville, Pennsylvania (July 1926)

 

 

A Henderson band and Ed Kirkekby’s California Ramblers made several joint appearances during their summer 1926 tours. Earlier, while still a freelance band manager and talent broker, Kirkeby had secured some recording sessions for Henderson, as confirmed in his logbooks. (Scranton, Pennsylvania, August 1926)

 

 

Pittsburgh, July 1926

 

 

Battle of the bands at the Roseland, with Henderson facing off against Jean Goldkette’s newly arrived orchestra (New York, October 11, 1926)

 

 

Chillicothe, Ohio, July 1927

 

 

Henderson’s auto accident in August 1928 took a heavy toll on him,
as well as on his band (September 1 report)

 

 

New York, June 1929. The mention of “classical airs” bears out reports that the band’s full repertoire was not represented on  its records.

 

 

The “Great Day” debacle of 1929. For a detailed account of this unfortunate turning point in Henderson’s career, see Jeffrey Magee’s The Uncrowned King of Swing: Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz (Oxford University Press), available from amazon.com and many libraries.

 

 

Henderson’s orchestra had been a mainstay of Columbia’s standard pop catalog since 1923, but for reasons unknown, the company assigned his December 1928 recordings of “Come On, Baby!” (a commercial hit tune) and “Easy Money” to the segregated 14000-D Race series. He was quickly returned to the pop series.

 

 

If the Victor contract referenced in this June 1931 blurb was truly exclusive, it’s not reflected in Henderson’s actual Victor output for 1931–1932, which was intermixed with releases on several competing labels and fell far short of the twenty records per year mentioned here.

 

 

Hard times — New York (July 1931)