Elmer Gill on 45rpm

In the ususal discographical sources there are only very few entries for Canadian pianist and vibist Elmer Gill who used to play with Lionel Hampton for a while in the early fifties, in the period after Milt Buckner had left Hampton’s band. The listings of records under Gill’s name usually start with The Three Sides Of Elmer Gill, the rare LP Gill recorded with bassist David Friesen and drummer Al Johnson around 1968 in Vancouver for Canadian label Aragon (the third side of Elmer Gill is his singing).

Elmer Gill, 1995 probably
in Otto Flückiger’s garden

I met Elmer Gill when I portrayed him for the no longer existing swiss cultural magazine Stehplatz, that must have happened around 1997. Someday I will look up in the attic if I can find a copy to present it here.
I also witnessed Gill at some place in Switzerland, where he was playing with his son, drummer Donald Gill, and a bass player I cannot recall.
My friend Otto had befriended Elmer Gill who was splitting his life between Vancouver and a place in Switzerland, that I seem to have forgotten. Otto gathered a lot of material about Elmer Gill which I am going to present here sooner or later.
Meanwhile, while going through the 45 rpm records in the archives, I discovered two 45rpm records by the Elmer Gill Trio that were recorded much earlier than Gill’s earliest discographical entries– at least one of them. I present them here for your listening pleasure. Please excuse the slight hum, my amplifier is being revised, and it’s replacement – well it hums! The first record is an EP on Chet Noland’s Celestial label, based in Seattle.
Fortunately this one has a “Delta” number (7600) by the Monarch Pressing Company in the wax, and thusly can be dated to a pressing in November/December 1955.  What a nice composition!
The flipside of Celestial EP001(Delta number 7599) has Gill moving from piano (Lullaby Of Birdland) to vibes (September Song).
But who are the bassist and the guitar player on the Celestial EP? Maybe the same people as on the next record – which is a lot more mysterious?
Unfortunately this record carries no useful numbers at all (not useful to me that is). And I could not find out anything about the Rube-K label. As you see this (probably ultra small) label was trying to move some glamour towards itself by proclaiming where it was pressed – including the RCA trademarks! Unfortunately the matrix numbers are not from the RCA numbering system which would make the dating much easier. Bassist Al Larkins was a well known figure in Seattle’s musician’s circles, in 1979, two years after his passing, a park was dedicated to him. Al Turey is well known as a guitar teacher in Seattle.
Winslow is the name of the downtown area of the city of Bainbridge Island, Washington. Up to 1991 the name Winslow referred to the whole city. Bainbridge Island is across the Pudget Sound from Seattle. Can we find out anything else about this company?
Yes: The flipside, on which Gill sings in a way reminding very much of Nat King Cole, carries a composer credit for one Roy Carter King, the publisher is given as Rube King (as in Rube-K). So this label was probably owned by one Rube King who may be related – or even identical with Roy Carter King.
Anyone out there know more about these two records, especially the one on Rube-K? Please let me know!

22 Responses to “Elmer Gill on 45rpm”

  1. on google books there is another copyright notice for at least two more songs by Gill/King (in the snippet that is shown I rather read a 54 instead of a 56, but the book is from 1957 so it must be earlier than that)

    KING, ROY CARTER. Sweet girl; words and music by Elmer Gill and Roy Carter King. © Rube King Music Publications, Winslow, Wash.; 2Aug56- EP101340. * ‘ Triple-beating heart; words and music by Elmer Gill and Roy Carter King

  2. What a surprise to see this page.These are a couple of 45’s I don’t think I’ve seen…(the green one,I’m sure). It’s nice to know that there are folks out there doing their homework. My father would have been very impressed. I’ve been try to find some CBC recordings of him ,Dave Robbins and Pill Nimmons, but the clock is ticking as CBC is destroying a lot of it’s archives.I’ll try to find some more info on the two you have shown.I’m now in Calgary but was living in Basel Switzerland for 23 years. To Sonia…Hope all is well.I’m at…
    ottomaddixprod@hotmail.com or ottomaddix@yahoo.com or verantique@bluewin.ch . Whoever you are…wherever you may be…thank you. Peace , Love and Happiness !!!

    Don Gill (403)455 3812

    • Hello, Donald

      Nice to see your here! I saw you in a trio with your father, I think it might have been at the old jazz museum in Arlesheim. I will put up some clips with your father here from time to time.


    • Hi Don,
      Your Dad and I used to hang out in Vancouver in the 70’s and I met you in the Surrey mansion in those years.
      Elmer and I met at the Qualicum College Inn. I worked there when he instituted those great Jazz Weekends.
      We lost touch after he moved to Europe where he was appreciated.
      I hope life is treating you gently.
      Elmer was a good friend, a great guy and talented.
      I’m a rock guitarist of no particular note but Elmer introduced me to some great musicians and we did have a lot of fun.

  3. Hello Armin, Thanks for the quick response. I look forward to seeing and hearing some more stuff from you.Do you have access to any of Otto F.’s archives? Also, can you hook me up to his web site address. Any other interesting sites would be great.I would like to reply in person to Sonia…could you please send a forwarding address to me. As you can see ..the swiss e-mail works better for me as my yahoo is a bitseli kaputt, but this format is fine too!!! Take care and stay in touch…Don.

  4. caro Don, ti ho inviato una mail. Fammi avere tue notizie

  5. […] Mario was a close friend of deceased jazz researcher Otto Flückiger, who always took his camera with him when Mario was playing somewhere close. And Otto also had befriended  Elmer Gil (1924–2004) who, born in Indianapolis, later settled in Seattle and Vancouver. Gil – who is mostly known for having played with Lionel Hampton’s orchestra in 1952 and 1953 – in the 1980s and 1990s could often be heard in switzerland. And on some of this occasions Mario Schneeberger took the opportunity, to sit in with the band. […]

  6. I met Elmer in the 70’s on Vancouver Island and we became friends.
    He introduced me to Ray Brown, Shelley Mann, Dizzy Gillespie and a host of other great Be-bop people.
    We lost contact when he moved to Europe where he was appreciated.
    Rest in peace Elmer.

  7. Sonia,
    On a very polite bet, the 3 sides of Elmer were his music, his family and his pilot’s license. He loved and took pride all 3. I don’t have it any more but look at the album cover.
    He told me that he just read books prior to taking the ground exam and got the highest mark in the class. Everyone else had taken a course.
    Now there’s some trivia for you.
    He was a great pal and a fine man.

  8. Don,
    I remember you at the Surrey mansion with a snare, bass drum and a Ziljan next to the Bosendorfer with an rather badly growing afro next to the Bosendorfer.
    You were learning and I’m very happy to see how you’ve grown.
    Does that knock you out?
    I’m happy to find this site.
    I’m so glad that Elmer was in my life. He was a fine musician and a good friend. I hope we meet again on the other side.

  9. Ty Young Says:

    this is a cool site to have stumbled upon. As a kid, I went to a music camp in Courtenay (BC) in the 70’s and hung out with Don Gill, watching him play a bunch with his dad (who was on faculty at the Courtenay Youth Music Centre.) Hope you’re well Don!

  10. As to the bassist on the first 45, I would bet on Al Larkin.

  11. Concerning the bassist on your first 45, I would bet on Al Larkins.
    In 1955 and 1956 I saw Elmer and Al, from whom I was taking
    a few bass lessons, play at a club in the International District of
    Seattle. This club had a restaurant and I was 16-17 years old
    so I was able to go several times; specifically, on Saturday morning at
    7 or 8 am (can’t remember which). Their show was called “Jam
    for Breakfast”. In 1959-60 I saw Elmer with another bass player
    in a club on 5th Ave. in Seattle. Finally, I saw him play in Port
    Townsend, WA in the late 90’s, for a weekend. I spoke with him
    recalling the JFB sessions; he looked at me and said (Quote)
    “I’m not that old.” Thanks for posting these records; I hadn’t
    though of Elmer since that meeting in Port Townsend.

  12. Don Gill passed away 23.12.14 in Basel Switzerland. He was a loving friend and a wonderfull drummer. Last year he got married with Veronique, I was his best man. I feel very sad!

    • Paul Cadogan Says:

      Elmer and I were good friends in the 70’s until he moved to Europe.
      I remember Don with a bass drum, snare, cymbal and hi hat. He was about 14 I think but doing his best. May I ask what happened?
      I’m really sorry to hear that he died. He was musical as was his Dad. Please reply. Thanks and love to the Gill music machine. Elmer introduced me to some of the greats of jazz: Dizzie, Ray Brown, Shelly Manne, Ella Fitzgerald…the list is endless.

  13. site in question had resumed contacts, the phone told me to be comfortable and What would be back soon in Basel. coast has happened?

  14. Nan Watson Says:

    I remember Elmer from parties t Phillip and RichRds as well as the espresso with Nield Longton. One of my favourite Elmer numbers was its a lazy afternoon. Very fine man and brought so much joy to make of us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: