Who are these people?

REVISION (OCT 25. 2012) James Carter has identified the tenor sax man on photo number 3: It’s Al Sears as someone had suggested. Sears name can be read on the lips of the sax’s bell!

Here’s my original posting:

In the vast archives of Otto Flückiger I found a box with small photos and reproductions. None of these carry any information about the people pictured. I could identify some of bands and orchestras, but a whole lot wait to be identified. For example here we have an unidentified Lounge band:


Unidentified Trio

It has been suggested that the pianist on the above photo is Elmer Gill. I have to admit he has a slight resemblance, but although Otto Flückiger knew him well, I doubt it’s him. The bass player has been suggested as being Jimmy Butts (“for sure”) on this and the next photo (apparently featuring the same bass player):


unknown five piece band

NOTE (November 6 2011); The people on this photo have been identified. I am leaving the text below for historical reasons.

It has been suggested that the above five are The Harlemaires, a Philadelphia group that recorded for Atlantic in November and December 1947. The bassist would be Percy Joell, the pianist Chester Slater, the drummer Dottie Smith, and the guitarist to the right Billy Butler whereas the left guitar player is unidentified. Vocal group specialist Marv Goldberg very much doubts that these are The Harlemaires though – “The faces really don’t match up too well”. Strangely enough, Goldberg says that the guitarist on the left looks a little like Billy Butler though. As mentioned above, the bass player has been suggested as being Jimmy Butts.

There are several photos of different bands with Dottie Hill on Marvin Goldbergs site, on some she resembles the drummer pictured above, on some she doesn’t!

finally here are eight musicians from an unidentified large band. This photo is most probably not related to the first two:


Unidentified eight musicians

(Click to enlarge)

I received a lot of suggestions for the tenor sax player. Here are my comments:

Hal Singer: There is a resemblance, yes. But comparing this to other old photos of Singer, it does not seem it’s Singer after all.

George Clarke: Resemblance is bigger than with Singer, but not 100%

Big Nick Nicholas: I could not find any vintage Big Nick Nicholas photos to compare with.

Al Sears: Hard to say, because he almost always wore glasses on photos from that time. Al Sears seems to have a rounder face though than the man on the photo above.

Other persons suggested by the person who suggested Al Sears are: Billy Taylor, Rudy Powell, Shad Collins,  and (hidden behind Powell and Collins) Danny Barker. Note though, that the person in the picture seems to be a drummer, not a guitar player.

So, do we have anymore suggestions?

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7 Responses to “Who are these people?”

  1. Looks a lot like Big Joe Burrell, a tenor man out of Port Huron, Michigan, who played with B.B. King, Etta James and the Basie band. He lived and played in Burlington, Vermont in his later years, and passed away in 2005.

  2. Thanks for your suggestion, Dan!

    Do you happen to have a vintage photo of Big Joe Burrell? I only find more recent ones on the net and they are hard to compare.

  3. Beth Cummins Says:

    Hi – Does look a lot like Big Nick – comparing it with pictures of him from the 1980s. Good luck in our search! Beth

  4. [...] another post, I asked if somemone knew who this lady might be and who the four fellows beside her [...]

  5. Hey James Carter here, that’s definetly Al Sears! I did a close up on the bell flare of his tenor & his name is on the bell’s lip! He was also an endorser of this horn model: The Buescher 400 (AKA Top Hat & Cane)

  6. G. Percy Joell Jr. Says:

    The Harlemaires picture is not the right people. The only person that was a member is the guitar player, Billy Butler on the right of the picture.. My dad was the bass player with the Harlemaires, Percy Joell from Philadelphia, Pa. The people identified as Chester Slater, is wrong. The drummer is not Dottie Smith. You had the right names but not the right picture. Thank you.

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