Archive for 78 rpm

Chicago Tenor Sax (first installment)

Posted in 78 rpm, Chicago Tenor Sax, Gene Ammons, Leon Washington, R'n'B, Schoolboy Porter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by crownpropeller

jug_1950Gene Ammons around 1950. Photographer unknown.

Up to the late 1950s you could usually tell where a tenor saxophone player may come from geographically. This goes especially for tenorists from Chicago, where the dominant way of playing was very relaxed and way behind the beat. The most famous exponent of this school  who was also widely known outside of Chicago was of course Gene Ammons. But in the 1940s and 1950s this town had a whole lot of great or at least  very interesting tenor saxophonists – some of which are well known, some more or less obscure. Not all of them are members of the Lester Young school though: Von Freeman, Dick Davis, Sax Mallard, Claude McLin, Eddie Johnson, John Neely, Johnny Griffin, Clifford Jordan, Tom Archia – and the list goes on.

If I start to listen to tenor players from Chicago,I might end up  doing so for days. So I decided to let my readers in on the fun and present in a loose series some of the best jazz and r’n’b tenor saxophonists that played in the clubs of the Windy City in the 1940s and 1950s. I will try to use original 78 rpms for this purpose, but this probably will not work in very case, as there are some things of which I only have bad tape copies or the like.

The first installment of this series has to start of with Gene Ammons, of course. “Hey Mr. Freddy”on Aristocrat 8001 was recorded in February 1949 by group that included Ammons, singer and pianist Christine Chatman, Leo Blevins on guitar, bassist Lowell pointer and legendary drummer Ike Day. It was for the first time reissued in 2003 on a CD by the french company Classics, all the previous compilers of Ammon’s output for Aristocrat/Chess had overlooked this track.

Not really from Chicago, but from close enough Gary Indiana comes John “Schoolboy” Porter (born in 1926). Porter recorded for Chicago based Chance Records from 1950 to 1952. Then he appeared – as guitarist! – on a Roosevelt Sykes session for United, also in 1952. After that he opted for a career in the military. Porter has an interesting sound, most of his records pair jukebox groovers with sentimental ballads as was usual during these days. “Kayron”, recorded in 1950, was a fine piece of bop from Chicago with – I think – a really great solo by Schoolboy (search for it on youtube, someone has put it up). On the shuffling “Schoolboy’s Boogie” which was recorded in September 1950, Porter is accompanied by pianist Jesse Hart (who also sang, but not on this track), bassist Walter Broyle and drummer Carl Scott.

If you want to know more about John “Schoolboy” Porter, you should check the Chance Records page at the Red Saunders Research Foundation. On the other hand if you know anything about what Porter is doing nowadays, it would be nice if you would let me know.

Now for today’s third featured Chicago tenor man. After having recorded with Earl Hines in the mid 1930s saxophonist Leon Washington joined drummer Red Saunders’ house band at Chicago’s famed Club De Lisa in 1937, staying with Red until the late 1950s.

delisaSmiling Ladies at the Club DeLisa, unknown date.
From the Crown Propeller Archive (click to enlarge)

Leon Washington isa  totally overlooked saxophonist. Red Saunder’s band is mostly interesting not for Washington’s solos but for the fact that Sun Ra wrote arrangements for it. Understandably so, since the Saunders orchestra was essentially a show band and Leon rarely had an opportunity to shine. Elaborate boppish playing was not asked for in between singer’s verses.

In 1954 and 1955 Washington and McKinley Easton, Saunders’ baritone man, did some work for the very small Theron label. You can read all about Theron on the Theron page of the Red Saunders Research Foundation. On “Forward Blow” which was recorded in 1954, Easton and Washington show what they could do if let loose

Watch this space for further installments of this series!

A quick blindfold test: Night In Tunisia

Posted in 78 rpm, jazz with tags , , on October 6, 2012 by crownpropeller

Here is a little blindfold test for all the Boppers out there (certain people who might guess that they are meant are not allowed to take part). So who might be playing the cute little arrangement of Dizzy Gillespie’s Night In Tunisia on this 78 rpm record?

Continue reading

Unknown (well, almost) Don Byas

Posted in 78 rpm, jazz with tags , , , , , , on August 6, 2011 by crownpropeller

Hi, everybody

I have been away for some time and now as I am back – I am also back to work. So I am sorry if now I only add something to this blog that is also on my website. But since I guess no-one ever found it there, I decided to put his beautiful (and very rare) record up on my blog as well. Continue reading

Cecil Payne on Decca: Angel Child

Posted in 78 rpm, Cecil Payne, documents, jazz, R'n'B with tags , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2011 by crownpropeller

After reading my entry on Cecil Payne’s Hippy Dippy, Dani Gugolz has sent me this ultra rare photo of  Brownie McGhee (left) and Cecil Payne at the club Jazzland in Vienna, Austria:

Brownie McGhee and Cecil Payne at "Jazzland", Vienna 197X

(click to enlarge)

Thanks, Dani! The photographer of this shot from an unknown date in the mid-seventies is not identified. Brownie McGhee recorded with Cecil Payne on Payne’s second session for Decca on November 25, 1949. Here McGhee was named “Henry Johnson”, a pseudonym he used at different times in his career. The full band:

Leonard Hawkins (tp), Cecil Payne (as, bar, ldr), Ray Abrams (ts), Billy Taylor (p), John Simmons (b), Joe Harris (dr), Brownie McGhee (“Henry Johnson”) (voc).

McGhee sang on two tracks, the mock sermon The Worst Is Yet To Come and the slow blues Angel Child, on which Cecil Payne plays alto sax. You can hear Angel Child here:

Cecil Payne / Brownie McGhee: Angel Child (1949)

The music is taken from an original 78 rpm copy of Decca 48127 from the Otto Flückiger Collection. Dani has also send me a better version, but it’s on my other computer right now. But this one sounds fine enough, i think. Enjoy!

High Speed Harris

Posted in 78 rpm, documents, R'n'B with tags , , , , , , on January 22, 2011 by crownpropeller

Today I went through a batch of old “Jet” magazines from the collection of Otto Flückiger. Here’s a nice photo of singer Wynonie Harris from the september 4, 1958 issue, when his days of glory were long over.

To go with it, I have some music for you from Wynonie’s younger days:

This is Wynonie Harris on a rare Bullet 78 pm from my collection playing “Dig this Boogie”, recorded 1946 in Nashville. Featured on the piano is none other than Herman “Sonny” Blount, later known as extraterrestrial big band leader Sun Ra! The drummer is most probably Wynonie himself. Enjoy!

To find out more about this session, go to:

http://hubcap.clemson.edu/~campber/sunra.html

Tommy Dean: Rock Easy (1947)

Posted in 78 rpm, R'n'B with tags , , , , , on December 19, 2010 by crownpropeller

To give you something to enjoy while I am waiting to find the time to scan some more photos of unknown r’n’b and jazz bands, I present to you a 78rpm from my collection, so you can have a little dance around your computer.

The musicians on this one are: Tommy Dean (p); Gene Easton (as); Chris Woods (cl); James Taylor (ts); Buck Underwood (b); Nathaniel “Pee Wee” Jernigan (d). It was recorded in St. Louis in 1947. For more information about Tommy Dean’s band (and also this record), go to The Tommy Dean Discography at the Red Saunders Research Foundation.

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