Count Basie in Geneva 1956

Update (December 16 2011): Meanwhile everybody on these photos has been identified. Thanks to Peter Vacher and Bill Lee!

I had a request from Yvette Porter Moore who was in search for photographs of her Grand Uncle Wendell Culley. Culley (January 8, 1906 – June 1983) played trumpet with Noble Sissle, Lionel Hampton (from 1944 to 1949) and Count Basie (from 1951 to 1959). Indeed I found a photo in the Otto Flückiger archives that showed Wendell Culley and Duke Garrette 1948 in Lionel Hampton’s band. You can see this photo on Yvette’s blog.

When I looked for further photographs of Culley, I discovered a handful of photos showing different members of the Count Basie orchestra when it was touring switzerland in 1956. Most probably these were taken by Ernest Zwonicek in Geneva. It would be nice to know for sure though. I am not really a specialist on Basie, so I could not identify each and everyone. But I had help!

First up is a photo of Basie himself, probably taken at the Geneva train station.

Next up is the man who unwillingly made me look for these photos:

Wendell Culley, probably in Geneva

Now for guitarist Freddie Green

A copy of the Freddie Green photo is also in Hans Phillipi’s notebooks now residing in the collection of Mario Schneeberger. That copy (edited) was used in the booklet of TCB CD02202 Count Basie Orchestra Mustermesse Basel 1956 Part 2.

If these photos were indeed taken in Geneva, they sure were taken in the dressing rooms of Victoria Hall where the orchestra played. This one shows Frank Wess:

Others photos show members of the band outdoors :
Ernie Wilkins (traveling with the band as arranger), Charlie Fowlkes,
Frank Wess, Joe Newman
Marshall Royal
Freddie Green (thanks to those who noticed
the error), Wendell Culley and Marshall Royal
And finally another photo from the train station. There are several people here whom I could identify thanks to Peter Vacher and Bill Lee.
Henry Coker, Benny Powell, Bill Hughes, Bill Graham,
Wendell Culley, Eddie Jones, Count Basie, Joe Williams,
Frank Foster, Freddie Green.

11 Responses to “Count Basie in Geneva 1956”

  1. This is a great post! I might have info on the band members as I have record of who went to Geneva. Will send to you, and hope this might help.

  2. Peter Vacher Says:


    The unidentified musicians are: left to right, Benny Powell (tb); Bill Hughes (tb); Bill Graham (as); Wendell Culley (t) at Graham’s right, and Eddie Jones (b) just behind Basie. Charlie Fowlkes isn’t in the picture!

    Great photos, much enjoyed. Keep up the good work. Regards. Peter

    • Thanks, Peter!

      I will correct this now. I did not recognize Culley with glasses on and I made the wrong conclusion that glasses= Fowlkes.
      Would you have an idea who the man in the middle on picture No.5 might be?

      P.S.: The photo of Powell that I have send you is also from this dressing room series. When you received that, did you also get the other photos that I send you?

  3. Thanks for posting these, it is great to see again so many musicians who brought so much pleasure to those of us who heard and saw them.

    Can I suggest that the unidentified musician in picture 5 is Frank Wess (see also p.4). His stature and general appearance is right (and the moustache is a giveaway!).

  4. […] in 1956, the Count Basie Orchestra also visited Switzerland in 1959. The concert they gave at the […]

  5. […]  My greatest success came when I connected with Armin Büttner, the writer and researcher for CROWNPROPELLER’S Blog. (Click Link to see blog)      I came across a post featuring Lionel Hampton and his […]

  6. […]  My greatest success came when I connected with Armin Büttner, the writer and researcher for CROWNPROPELLER’S Blog. (Click Link to see blog)      I came across a post featuring Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra. […]

  7. Michele Kane Says:

    Photo seven..Benny Powell (???). That’s Freddy Green on the left side in the photo.

  8. Fantastic job. One thing, though: “Benny Powell (???)” is Freddie Green.

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