Cootie Williams with Cleanhead Vinson (1943)

Trumpeter Cootie Williams (July 10, 1911 – September 15, 1985) made his first recordings with pianist James P. Johnson in 1928. He rose to fame with Duke Ellington’s orchestra in which he played from 1929 to 1940. In the Ellington band Williams was renowned for his “jungle” style of playing with a lot of growls, he was also a master of the plunger mute. After a short stint with Benny Goodman, Williams formed his own band in 1941. This band that at different times had sideman like Bud Powell, Eddie Cleanhead Vinson, Eddie Lockjaw Davis and Eddie Johnson in its rank. From the mid fourties on his band turned more toward jump and  rhythm ‘n’ blues.

From Chicago Defender, July 17, 1943.
Taken from Franz Hoffmanns “Jazz Advertised”.
Note “Eddie Vincent”, who is of course
Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson.

On one of Otto Flückiger’s old VHS cassettes I found a six minute clip by Cootie and his Orchestra which I am presenting you here. It was filmed in New York, in mid June, 1943. Originally this was released as Columbia Pictures film “Film Vodvil” (series 1, release no. 2). According to Mark Cantor (via Tom Lord) the on-screen personnel is also heard on the soundtrack:

Cootie Williams, Louis Bacon, Ermit V. Perry, Frank “Fat Man” Humphries (tp) Ed Burke, Bob Horton (tb) prob. Jonas Walker (tb) Charles Holmes (as) Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson (as,vcl) Sam “The Man” Taylor, Lee Pope (ts) Greely Walton (bar) Fletcher Smith (p) Norman Keenan (b) George “Butch” Ballard (d) Laurel Watson (vcl) Douglas Brothers (tap dancing-1) Lindy Hoppers (dancing-2) [ Leon James (dancing-2) & Dottie Mae Johnson (dancing-2) , Russell Williams (dancing-2) & Connie Hill (dancing-2) ]

The band is playing:

• Let’s keep on jumping/Get hep
• unidentified tune (1)
• Giddap mule
• Let’s keep on jumping (2)



3 Responses to “Cootie Williams with Cleanhead Vinson (1943)”

  1. Just for documentation, Harry Foster is the director.

  2. They are also playing parts and riffs from “Things ain’t what they used to be,” in “Let’s keep on”. Unidentified tune could be something called “Wild Fire.”

  3. […] Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson (1917–1988) had his breakthrough in 1941 when he joined Cootie William’s band as vocalist. In 1945 he split from Williams and formed his own band. Vinson had hits on Mercury as […]

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