Archive for 1950

Welcome to the Crown Propeller Lounge again!

Posted in 78 rpm, documents, jazz, King Kolax, Photographs, R'n'B with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2013 by crownpropeller

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(Click to enlarge) Sleeve for souvenir photographs from the Crown Propeller Lounge, unidentified date. From the Crown Propeller collection

The Crown Propeller Lounge – after which this blog is named – was one of Chicago’s most important venues for R’n’B and Jazz during the 1950s. You can read more about it on my old blog entry here. After reading that post, Mike Medina (aka WayoutWardell) contacted me and identified more of the people pictured in this gorgeous photo, donated to the Crown Propeller blog by the Schlossberg family (also check the comments section over there for more interesting information from Mike).

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(Click to enlarge) Dancer Lupita Peruyero, Joe Louis, Norman Schlossberg, Sarah Vaughan, King Kolax and Mitzi Mars at the Crown Propeller, probably 1952. Courtesy of the Schlossberg family

I had recognized trumpeter King Kolax and boxer Joe Louis with Crown Propeller owner Norman Schlossberg and Mike added the name of dancer Lupita Peruyero (far left) who was a regular at the Crown Propeller and knew that the lady on the far right is singer Mitzi Mars – of which I had presented some music in my old blog entry about the CP.

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From Chicago Defender, May 31, 1952.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

Mike also kindly allowed me to use the photo of this bautiful  foursome at the Crown Propeller in 1945 – a time when the main audience of the CP was still white.

8434880768_7eda29c458_oEnjoying an evening at the Crown Propeller Lounge, 1945.
From the collection of Mike Medina.

If you are interested in photographs from Chicago’s South Side, you definitely should check Mike’s Flickr page. It was also Mike who alerted me, that the sign of the Crown Propeller lighting up can be seen in the opening sequence of the old “Crime Stories” TV series. I managed to find that one on youtube. I edited the CP part and let it run backwards and forwards – the way it possibly was. I guess there was something in the middle as well (a crown, maybe?) – I leave it to your imagination.

Ending up our second visit to the famed Crown Propeller Lounge is photo of a young couple at the bar, probably in the 1950s.  This was stuck in the souvenir envelope pictured at the very top of the envelope.

happy couple crown propeller_2
From the Crown Propeller collection

Who might they have listened to on that evening? Rudy Greene maybe, the “King Of The Guitar”?

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From the Crown Propeller Collection

cpadChicago Defender, February 13, 1954

Enjoy!

Welcome to the Crown Propeller Lounge!

Posted in 78 rpm, Chicago Tenor Sax, documents, jazz, King Kolax, Photographs, R'n'B, Sax Mallard with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2013 by crownpropeller

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Sleeve for souvenir photographs from the Crown Propeller Lounge, probably 1940s.
Courtesy of the Schlossberg Family

The Crown Propeller Lounge – after which this blog is named – was one of Chicago’s most important venues for R’n’B and Jazz during the 1950s. The town’s larger talent appeared here as well as every other  R’n’B star coming through town (and a lot of jazzers): Tiny Davis, Wynonie Harris, The Moonglows, Stomp Gordon, Jo Jo Adams, Big Maybelle, Ray Charles, The Flamingos, Andy Tibbs, Danny Overbea, Nellie Lutcher, Valaida Snow, Amos Milburn, Johnny Hodges and his Orchestra, Big Joe Turner, Sonny Stitt, Jimmy Rushing, Al Hibbler, T-Bone Walker, Dizzy Gillespie, Arthur  Prysock, Bill Doggett, The Orioles, Illinois Jacquet …  A program quite to my liking, I must say, so that’s why this blog is named Crown Propeller’s blog.

Some weeks ago I was contacted by a lady, who is married to the grandson of Mildred “Mitzi” Schlossberg and Norman Schlossberg, who used to own the Crown Propeller Lounge. The lady asked me, if I had any material she might use for making a birthday collage for Mitzi who turned 97 (!) in January. I could help her just a little, since (other then say for the equally famous Club DeLisa) photographs and memorabilia from the Crown Propeller are rather rare.

cp_outsideOne of only two known photographs showing the Crown Propeller Lounge from outside (the other one is here). Judging from the cars in the picture, this photo was taken after the closing of the Lounge in 1959 (photo taken from Sandor Demlinger’s and John Steiner’s beautiful book “Destination Chicago Jazz”). To the right of the Crown Propeller one can see the entrance to Crown Liquors, another business owned by the Schlossbergs.

I asked her to be on the lookout for memorabilia from the Crown Propeller when she was going to her husband’s grandmother’s house and she promised to do so. Then some weeks later I could not believe my eyes when I got a mail from that lady containing some gorgeous photos, which I am presenting you here, courtesy of the Schlossberg Family. I have added some music typical of the Crown Propeller’s programming to go along with it as well as some advertisements featuring the people in the photographs.

cp 2(Click to enlarge) Norman Schlossberg (2nd from left), Mitzi Schlossberg
(center) and unidentified others at the Crown Propeller, possibly
late 1940s. Courtesy of the Schlossberg family

The  – undated – photo above was contained in the beautiful souvenir cover seen at the top of this post. It is possible that this photograph was taken in the 1940s when the Crown Propeller  ran a  musical policy that was different from what the lounge later became known for.

Usually the time span for the Crown Propeller’s existence is given  as 1951–1959.  This  seems to be based on an ad from Chicago Defender of August 4, 1951 announcing the opening of the Crown Propeller (strangely enough regarding the newspaper’s date) on August 3rd with singer Ethel Duncan and violinist Leon Abbey’s trio.

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From Chicago Defender, August 4, 1951.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

But the Crown Propeller Lounge had existed before that. The earliest mention I could find is in Billboard of November 14, 1942, where Everett Hull and Victory Boys are announced to appear at the Crown Propeller for four weeks. Billboard of December 19, 1942 mentions Don Jacks as returning to the Crown Propeller on January 12.  Other acts mentioned in Billboard as playing at the Crown Propeller are in 1942 trumpeter Johnny Gibbs with singer Dolores Janis (December ), and in 1943 The Victory Four (Everett Mull, Leon Shash, George Mitchell, George Michaels), Don Jacks (March 20: “picked up another four month holdover at the Crown Propeller”).

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From the Billboard Yearbook 1943

The Billboard Yearbook 1944 mentions Don Jacks as having had a two-and-a-half-year engagement at the Crown Propeller, so the Crown Propeller may already have existed in 1941.

There are no mentions for the Crown Propeller in Billboard’s regular issues of 1944 and 1945. The issue of December 14, 1946 mentions Little Sans and Lee Trio at the Crown Propeller, in Billboard of January 15, 1947 the same aggregation is mentioned as having extended four weeks at the CP.

I do not know if the changing of musical policy at the CP came with a changing of venues or if it always had been on 868 East 63rd. From the mentions in Billboard during the fourties I can only gather that it had always been on the South Side of Chicago. Anyway after the (re-)opening on August 3rd, 1951, the Crown Propeller was never looking back to the days of accordeon-and-fiddle bands again.

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R’n’B and Jazz – the Crown Propeller takes a new direction.
From Chicago Defender, August 11, 1951.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

The next photo the lady married to the Schlossberg’s grandson send me is also undated. It shows The 4 Tunes (also known as The Four Tunes), a very famous vocal group in the early 1950s about which you can find a lot of information in Marv Goldberg’s article.

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(Click to enlarge) The 4 Tunes (left) and some fans at the Crown Propeller,
date unknown. Courtesy of the Schlossberg family

I can find no reference for a 4 Tunes appearance at the Crown Propeller, so the photo has to remain undated for now.

One of The 4 Tunes’ greates hits was “Marie”, recorded for Jubilee in 1953. It’s one of my favourite uptempo R’n’B vocal group pieces when I am appearing as DJ Crown Propeller at  the Klub Helsinki. Here is a nice clip from youtube user ilbmlb51 showing the original 78 rpm playing:

The next photo that the lady send me is really fantastic:

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(Click to enlarge) Dancer Lupita Peruyero, Joe Louis, Norman Schlossberg, Sarah
Vaughan, King Kolax and Mitzi Mars at the Crown Propeller, probably 1952.
Courtesy of the Schlossberg family

Second person from left is boxer Joe Louis, World Heavyweight Champion from 1937 to 1949. Behind him is CP owner Norman Schlossberg and the man front right is local trumpeter and bandleader King Kolax (1912–1991) who is known to the wider jazz world for employing John Coltrane for a while in the late 1940s. There is a lot more to know about Kolax though, and you can find it all on the King Kolax page of the Red Saunders Research Foundation. The woman in the middle is Sarah Vaughan (see comments section) and the one on the right also looks familiar to me, she might be a singer or some other celebrity.There are several possibillities regarding the question when the photo above was taken. Judging from the known ads for the Crown Propeller, Vaughan never was part of the program there. But she was in town several times each year, mostly as part of some jazz package tour . As for King Kolax and his Orchestra: He played at the Crown Propeller in January 1952:

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   From Chicago Defender, January 19, 1952.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

And then again in March:

cd_52_03_22From Chicago Defender, March 22, 1952.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

In May 1952 Kolax was also at the Crown Propller, when Sax Mallard (about whom more later) was also on the bill.

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From Chicago Defender, May 31, 1952.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

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From Chicago Defender, June 14, 1952.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

Then Kolax’ band was acting as house band from mid 1954 to January 1955. One of the CP’s main attraction at that time was still the “Aqua-Tease” of sea nymph Atlantis with whom the Croen Propeller had started in 1951. In 1954 Kolax joined Atlantis in the 500 gallon tank for a photo published in Jet magazine in September.

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Jet, September 16, 1954.

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From Chicago Defender, November 13, 1954.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

Probably his success at the Crown Propeller lead King Kolax to record for Vee Jay in December 1954 (and later in Sepetember 1955). Parts of these sessions are said to having been arranged by Sonny Blount, later known throughout the cosmos as intergalactic band leader Sun Ra. “Vivian” from December 1954 is one of the tracks of which  some people – including me –  think they might be a Ra arrangement. The band consists of  Kolax (tp), Harold Ousley (ts), Prentice McCarey (p), “Cowboy” Martin (b),  and Leon Hooper (d,  perc).

In October 1956 King Kolax returned to the Crown Propeller for two weeks (Della Reese was followed by Louis Jordan and then by Charles Brown who brought their own bands):

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From Chicago Defender, October 20, 1956.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

Kolax was also engaged by the Crown Propeller in February 1957, but it is not clear how long this gig lasted.

The next photo the lady send me send me shows another local Chicago legend: Saxophonist Oett “Sax” Mallard (1915–1986). This photo also could have been taken on different dates.

cp 4(Click to enlarge) Mitzi Schlossberg and Oett “Sax” Mallard
(with retouched glasses) at the Crown Propeller, exact date unknown.
Courtesy of the Schlossberg family

Sax Mallard, about whom you can find a lot more information on the Sax Mallard page of the Red Saunders Research Foundation, made his name recording blues with people like Roosevelt Sykes, Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy in sessions for RCA-Victor in the 1940s. For a while in 1943 Mallard substituted for Otto Hardwick in Duke Ellington’s orchestra. Starting in 1947 for Aristocrat Mallard had the chance to record some tracks under his own name.

Here is a video of a copy of Checker 750  from my collection. “Slow Caboose”, a typical tenor sax fuelled piece of jukebox fodder, was recorded in January 1951 with Sax Mallard (ts) an unidentified trumpeter, probably Jimmy Bowman piano; probably Ernest “Big” Crawford on bass and Osie Johnson drums (Johnson also does some dramatic baritone singing on another side from this session). This one is so echo-filled that you might imagine yourself being in deep in dub land.

Mallard’s band was the Crown Propeller’s house band at different times, starting with some months in 1951 and 1952.

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From Chicago Defender, September 1, 1951.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

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From Chicago Defender, September 29, 1951.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

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From Chicago Defender, November 24, 1951.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

During the early fifties Sax Mallard backed quite a few singers and r’n’b vocal groups on records.

In March 1953 he went to Chicago’s Universal Recording studios where his group was backing Mitzi Mars in a session for Checker Records:

mitzi_mars2
From the Crown Propeller Collection.

One of Mitzi Mars’ tunes with Sax Mallard’s band backing her – “Roll ‘Em” –  was uploaded on youtube by youtube user Rosenda Moore:

From November 1953 to summer 1954, Mallard’s Combo was the Crown Propeller’s house band again. During this time the Crown Propeller’s main attractions were people like Jimmy Witherspoon, Billy Brooks, Scatman Crothers, Lowell Fulson, Ray Charles, Big Maybelle, Wynonie Harris, Amos Milburn and Valaida Snow.

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From Chicago Defender, November 29, 1953.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

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From Chicago Defender, January 9, 1954.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

.

Sax Mallard’s last appearances at the CP took place in August 1957 (two weeks) and again from December 1957 on (length of engagement unknown) At that time the Crown Propeller was already in decline. The club closed in 1959 and by early 1960 the Schlossbergs had moved to Florida.

Finally the lady married to the Schlossberg’s grandson send me another nice photo of Mildred “Mitzi” Schlossberg. Obviously this was taken in a year where January 17th was a tuesday which points to 1950 or 1956. Neither an “Amateur Night” nor a “Crazy Auction” is mentioned in the Crown Propeller ads for 1956. So I would say 1950.

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(Click to enlarge) Mitzi Schlossberg and probably not Cary Grant at the
Crown Propeller Lounge, probably 1950. Courtesy of the Schlossberg Family.

Again I have to thank  the Schlossberg Family for these beautiful photographs that allow a rare glimpse inside the Crown Propeller. The lady married to the Schlossberg’s grandson has promised to look if she can find anymore memorabilia of the Crown Propeller Lounge. If she does, I will keep you all informed.

Enjoy!

Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge in Europe, 1949/1950

Posted in Coleman Hawkins, jazz, Roy Eldridge with tags , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2012 by crownpropeller

After the Don Redman concerts in autumn 1946 nothing much happened in Switzerland in regard to modern jazz directly from the USA. One of the most important events in this context was Coleman Hawkin’s tour through several european countries in late 1949 and early 1950, among them Switzerland, where Hawkins had spent some time during the 1930s.

It is not quite clear to me from when to when the tour lasted; according to John Chilton’s “The song of the Hawk”, Hawkins flew from New York to Paris on November 29. He shortly rehearsed his group  – James Moody on second ts, Nat Peck (tb), Hubert Fol (as), Jean-Paul Mengeon (p), Pierre Michelot (b) and Kenny Clarke (dr) – after that they played the Edouard VII Theatre in Paris. On November 30 they appeared in Bern, on December 1 they played in Zurich. On December 3 the Hawkins band played in Lausanne, this concert was released at sometime in the 1990s as TCB CD 02132.

Here’s the program for the swiss part of the concert that I found in the Otto Flückiger collection. As you see the front page was signed by Hawkins himself.

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

Although the Be Bop revolution had shaken the american jazz scene already four years earlier, a lot of european critics still did not know what to make of the “new” sounds that altogether were not so new all. Typical for the times is the following review of the Zurich concert– signed by one “-li” – which appeared in an unidentified newspaper (apparently the reviewer took Nat Peck as another french man).

Here is a translation of the above article:

Be Bop at the Kongress-Saal
About the jazz concert with Coleman Hawkins

That a Coleman Hawkins has subscribed to Be Bop is really surprising. It is a pity when you think of the good records this artist of the tenor saxophone has published – for example his famous Body And Soul!. This piece which was played in a crippled version on December 1 is a good indicator of this aberrance in jazz. This unmotivated music that does not consider harmonic and rhythmic laws was even tiring to jazz fanatics. The thousand listeners missing – who are always there when good authentic jazz is played (i.e. Sidney Bechet, Armstrong) and are able to fill the Kongress-Saal – proofed with ostentation that the audience in Zurich does not agree with this kind of jazz. Let us hope, that this silly fashion will not hold its ground for too long, as it would not be able to attract more people to jazz.

Ok, some of the participants were good musicians, especially the black ones. Drummer Kenny Clarke, who is not just anybody,  was brilliant during his solos, and received the most applause by far. This shows that the audience who was attuned to sensation was really satisfied only by him. Unfortunately he found a lot of fun in being louder than his colleagues, forgetting that it also applies to jazz that the drum set must not be the main instrument after all. From the start second tenor saxophonist unwillingly made some mistakes ["Canards" meaning "ducks" is a french slang word] which he repeated often during the concert. Obviously this does not matter in Be Bop – because Moody  apparently belongs to the greatest exponents of this style. Technically he was extraordinary, but he could not reach Hawkins in any way. The other four french musicians blended into the ensemble well, but it has to be said also: What is based on the instinctive naturalness of the negro often seems laughable with white people. The whole concert was tiring not the least because there were no soprano instruments in the group and the whole thing appeared monotonous – but that’s what Be Bop is. -li

Hawkins, the poor victim of a “silly fashion”? As you know – without me going into detail – nothing could have been further from the truth. It would have been better for “li” if he had just relaxed and enjoyed the pieces in Hawkins’ repertoire that might have better suited his tastes.

Here I am offering you a rendition of “Sophisticated Lady” as played by Coleman Hawkins, that you might not have heard before.

COLEMAN HAWKINS: SOPHISTICATED LADY


(Please excuse the digital noise, the source CD is slightly damaged)

It was recorded for broadcast around the time in question, although the exact provenance is unclear. I have this from a CD-R in the Otto Flückiger collection, the notes to which carry irritating data:

Track 13: Roy Eldridge/Rec. Zürich 1950/Sophisticated Lady

Track 14: Coleman Hawkins/Rec. München [Munich] 1949/Rockin Chair

As you see right away, something must be wrong here, as “Sophisticated Lady” is the Hawkins track, whereas “Rockin’ Chair” belonged to Roy Eldridge – it used to be Eldridge’s feature number when he was with Gene Krupa. But what about the dates and places?

The next date mentioned by Chilton for Hawkins’ tour is December 11, when the band played in London. Afterwards there was a jam session after which a writer from Melody Maker asked Hawkins what he thought about bop. His answer is quoted in Chilton’s The song of the Hawk: 

Bop? Man, I ain’t never heard of bop! What is this bop? I understand it as a name, the name of a street. Bop Villa and next to it you got Pop Villa. Do I like the sound of the word? Yes, it sounds all right. I don’t know any bop music. I only know one music – the music that’s played. There’s no such thing as bop music, but there is such a thing as progress. What you are talking about is probably a commercial phrase, huh? A phrase that has been used to make something sell.

On December 13 Hawk played in Brussels. On December 21 the band recorded seven tracks for Disques Vogue in Paris – where Hawkins also spent Christmas. According to Chilton, Hawk played in Germany  in January 1950 and – later in the month – with local musicians in Sweden. After that he returned to the USA.

So for the Hawkins track above, neither Munich 1949 can be right (as the band played Germany in January 1950) nor Zürich 1950 (as the band played Zürich on December 1 1949).

So what about the Roy Eldridge track? Have a listen:

ROY ELDRIDGE: ROCKIN`CHAIR


(Please excuse the digital noise, the source CD is slightly damaged)

I am not able to find out whether Eldridge was in Europe in 1949. Judging from his discographical entries he must have spent most of the year in the USA. But in 1950 Eldridge  was touring Europe with the Benny Goodman orchestra for six weeks. From May 10 to May 12 1950 they were playing at the Kongresshaus in Zürich. It seems that Rockin Chair was the Eldridge feature number for this tour, it was also played at Benny Goodman’s Lausanne concert on May 13 (released as TCB (Swi)02142). Unfortunately I do not own the Goodman TCB CD, so I can not compare the versions of “Rockin’ Chair”.

Of course another possibility is that the mix-up on the CD notes is complete chaos, and that the Hawkins track is from Zürich,  December 1, 1949, whereas the Eldridge track is from Munich, 1950.

So, can anyone identify the provenience of these two tracks? Does anyone know when (or if) Benny Goodman’s band played in Munich in 1950?

Any help is welcome.

John Young Trio: You Go To My Head

Posted in 45 rpm, clips, jazz, John Young with tags , , , , , , , on December 11, 2011 by crownpropeller

I finally found the time to update my discography of Chicago pianist John Young. I added some sessions that I found in Tom Lords Jazz Discography as well as some scans of records and CDs I managed to acquire after the last update. Like for example the LP that trumpeter Bobby Bryant recorded for Vee Jay in 1961 (though it was only issued at some time in the 1970s):

or the Joe Venuti LP from 1976 (released in 1978) for Flying Fish:

or Eddie Johnson’s Nessa Lp which also has John Young on it:


And finally I have put up a video of my red wax copy of Chance 1144, featuring John Young’s interpretation of “You Go To My Head”:

Continue reading

Photo identified: Daisy Mae and her Hep-Cats

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 6, 2011 by crownpropeller

In another post, I asked if somemone knew who this lady might be and who the four fellows beside her are:
unknown five piece band

Now I found the unedited photograph and it turns out this is … Continue reading

George Johnson live in Basel, 1950

Posted in jazz, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 7, 2011 by crownpropeller

On some day in late August 1950 my friend, the late Otto Flückiger, took his Webster Wire Recorder to a house at Greifengasse 3 in Basel. There on the first floor was the Tanzcabaret Odeon where George Johnson and his band were supposed to play this evening.

The Tanzcabaret Odeon in Basel, unknown date
(taken from http://www.altbasel.ch)

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