Archive for the documents Category

Two Nights at The Crown Propeller Lounge

Posted in 78 rpm, Chicago Tenor Sax, documents, jazz, King Kolax, Photographs, R'n'B, Sax Mallard with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2016 by crownpropeller

cp 4Mildred “Mitzi” Schlossberg and Oett “Sax” Mallard
at the Crown Propeller Lounge in Chicago, exact date unknown.
Courtesy of the Schlossberg family

Already more than a half a year ago I was informed that Mildred “Mitzi” Schlossberg, co-owner of Chicago’s Crown Propeller Lounge (after which this blog here is named) passed at the proud age of 100. What an interesting life she must have had! I wanted to put up something here at that time, but I have been extremely busy otherwise during the last months.

But all the while I have been on the lookout for souvenirs from the Crown Propeller Lounge and I managed to acquire two very nice items.

The first is a photograph showing Mitzi Schlossberg’s husband Norman Schlossberg with a woman and three men. It comes from Mitzi Schlossberg’s estate, and I found it on ebay. The three men are holding trophies in their hand, but unfortunately the writing on the cups is out of focus.

schlossbergtrophyCrown Propeller owner Norman Schlossberg (2nd from
left) with unidentified others on October 15, 1953.
From the Crown Propeller Collection

The backside of the photograph is stamped Oct. 15, 1953. (Photographer was H.S. Rhoden, 7037 Indiana Ave – if you care). October 15, 1953 was a thursday and I found an ad in the “Chicago Defender” for that day.

UntitledFrom Chicago Defender, Defender, Oct. 10  1953.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

But unfortunately the ad does not give out a hint what the trophies were for. There is a small possibility that the photo was taken during the night between the 14th and the 15th and come from Wednesday night’s regular talent contest at the Lounge – but the prices for winning the “Talent Nite” are given as $25 (1st) and $10 (2nd). Would they be handing out trophies as well?

Anyway here’s some music you might have heard played at the Crown Propeller Lounge on the night the photo above was taken:

In a recording from October 14, 1949 (for Decca), it is trumpeter Tiny Davis’ All Girl Band with Tiny herself (tp,vcl), Birdie Davis (as), Helen Cole (p) and unknown ts, p and b playing “Race Horse”, a nice Boogie Shuffle.

And here is guitarist Rudy Greene playing “Meet Me Baby”, recorded with King Kolax’ band for Chance Records in 1953.

The other nice item I could lay my hands on is one of the typical souvenir pictures made by house photographers in different clubs in Chicago. I imagine they were quickly developed in some small dark room in the club and then sold to the photographed customers. Here we have a couple of people at a table – apparently not all of them enjoying the proceedings.

scan-cp-picA Night At The Crown Propeller Lounge, probably
September 1951. from the Crown Propeller Collection

scan-sleeveFrom the Crown Propeller Collection

A pointer to the date this photo was taken is the Crown Propeller sleeve in which it came (above). Sax Mallard as well as violinist Leon Abbey were part of the Crown Propeller’s program together only in September 1951.

cd_51_09_01

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

cd_51_09_29

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

It is strange though, that they printed an extra sleeve just for these few weeks.

How about some music to this photograph? I can not offer you anything by Leon Abbey or by the Ding Bell Trio, but here is a video that lets you listen to Sax Mallard’s “Teen Town Strut!”, recorded for Checker on May 12, 1952. With Sax Mallard (ts); unidentified (tp); unidentified (ts, bars); William “Lefty” Bates (eg); probably Jimmy Bowman (p); probably LeRoy Jackson (b); probably Sleepy Nelson (d).

Enjoy!

Percy France Sextet at the West End, 1980

Posted in Bo Diddley, documents, Ed "Tiger" Lewis, Percy France, West End with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2014 by crownpropeller

UPDATE: The trumpeter on the photographs is not Ed “Tiger” Lewis, but probably Francis Williams (thanks, Peter Vacher)! So photos and music are not from the same session. This blog post has been entirely rewritten.

percy_france1

Percy France at the West End, N.Y.C., Spring 1980.
Photo by Otto Flückiger

As you may remember, in this post I suspected that Doc Cheatham might have been the trumpeter with the Percy France Sextet at the West End in NYC on May 23 and 24 1980 (France played in Cheatham’s group on May 21 and 22). I thought so because it looks like Phil Schaap who was doing the programmation at the West End employed a rather small circle of veterans.

But I found some  audio from either May 23 or 24. My friend the late Otto Flückiger taped enough music to fill two CDs of which I just found one. So on these two dates the Percy France Sextet consisted of France (ts), Ed “Tiger” Lewis (tp), Chris Flory (eg), John Ore (b), Samie “Sticks” Evans (dr). On some tracks they were joined by pianist Sonny Donaldson.

The CD I found carries the subtitle “Vol. 2” I am sure to find volume 1 one day. The band’s repertoire unfortunately is a little restricted, parts of the set list read like a tourist’s requests dream list.

– I’ll Remember April

– St. Thomas

– Tenderly

– Night Train

– Red Top

– C Jam Blues

– Honky Tonk

So they must have played “Satin Doll” in the first set right?

In fact there is no reason to be cynical. It’s not easy at all to get something fresh sounding out of those old horses after playing them each night for years. And these men succeed as recorded evidence shows.

So for your pleasure (sorry, sound quality is not really that good), here is the Percy France Sextet playing “Tenderly” at the West End, May 23 or 24, 1980.

 

[audio http://www.jazzdocumentation.ch/blog/tenderly.mp3]

 

I also found photos of another gig by a Percy France group at the West End, which also must be from spring 1980. Peter Vacher thinks the trumpeter is Francis Williams:

tiger_lewisProbably Francis Williams at the West End,
N.Y.C., spring 1980. Who is the drummer
visible on the right? Photo by Otto Flückiger

percy_france2Percy France at the West End, N.Y.C., Spring 1980.
Photo by Otto Flückiger

Then there is a nice a shot of the bassist. Is this John Ore?possibly_john_oreUnidentified bassist at the West End, N.Y.C., Spring 1980.
Photo by Otto Flückiger

… as well as a nice one of  prob. Francis Williams  and Percy France.

tiger_percyFrancis Williams (?) and Percy France
at the West End, N.Y.C.,
Spring 1980.
Photo by Otto Flückiger

 

Enjoy!

Doc Cheatham and Percy France at the West End (1980)

Posted in Doc Cheatham, documents, jazz, Percy France, West End with tags , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2014 by crownpropeller

cheatham_blow

(Click to enlarge): Doc Cheatham at the West End, N.Y.C., May 1980.
Photo by Otto Flückiger

In the early 1980s in New York the place to be when you were in the mood to listen to some legendary swing and bop veterans was the West End on Broadway near Columbia, where Phil Schaap was curating the program.

During his 1980 trip to the USA my friend the late jazz researcher Otto Flückiger went to the West End to see the band led by Doc Cheatham (1905–1997), who had been Cab Calloway’s lead trumpeter from 1932 to 1939. In the early 1980s Cheatham was said to play better then ever before, because he had started practicing again, in the process ridding his playing of any cliches that had crept into his work through the years.

As always Otto made some photos and recorded a little music at the West End.

cd_inlet

Inlet for the CD onto which Otto copied his original tape. Unfortunately the original photograph does not seem to exist anymore.

I have not yet found Otto’s original tapes, but I found a CD onto which Otto had edited the concert down. Since all the announcements have been edited out, I can not tell which of the tracks was recorded on May 21 and which on May 22.

The tenor player with Doc Cheatham was the totally underrated Percy France. Interestingly, France is announced with his own group at the West End for May 23 and 24! Was Cheatham France’s trumpeter then?

percy_france

(Click to enlarge): Percy France at the West End, N.Y.C., May 1980.
Photo by Otto Flückiger

Otto got to know Percy France a little (I do not know if they first met at this concert). France had been playing with Bill Doggett in the early 1950s. He told  Otto that the band had already played Doggett’s “Honky Tonk” while he was there. But since it looked like this band will never have the success it deserved, France left. Half a year later “Honky Tonk” became one of the biggest R’n’B instrumentals ever!

Back to the West End in 1980, here is Doc Cheatham’s band playing “Indiana”:

Unfortunately audio quality is not that good, especially the pianist is hardly to be heard. Maybe he was not to be seen either? At least Otto has no photograph of him and added a “probably” to Sonny Donaldson’s name. Maybe the pianist’s name was announced and Otto was not sure if he heard it right?

If we take the “probably” on the cover as pertaining to the pianist only, then this must be a photo of drummer Ronnie Cole at the West End:

cheathams_drummer

 (Click to enlarge): Ronnie Cole (or is he?) at the West End, N.Y.C., May 1980. Photo by Otto Flückiger

The bassist can be seen in the back of a photo that prominently shows Cheatham:

cheatham_to_the_sky

 (Click to enlarge): Peck Morrison (???) and Doc Cheatham at the West End, N.Y.C., May 1980. Photo by Otto Flückiger

 

Finally there are two photos showing a second trumpeter besides Doc Cheatham. There also glimpses of the drummer again.cheatham_and_2ndtp_wide

(Click to enlarge): Doc Cheatham and unidentified trumpeter at the West End, N.Y.C., May 1980. Photo by Otto Flückiger

Unfortunately I have no idea about the second trumpet man’s identity – and he can not be heard on the eight tracks saved by Otto. If you do have any suggestions, please let me know. 

cheatham_and_2ndtp

(Click to enlarge): Doc Cheatham and unidentified trumpeter at the West End, N.Y.C., May 1980. Photo by Otto Flückiger

Finally here are Doc Cheatham and Band playing “Rosetta”:

Enjoy!

Rex Stewart in Europe (1947/1948)

Posted in documents, jazz, Rex Stewart with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2014 by crownpropeller


 rexpic

Rex Stewart. Photo: Gottlieb

In Otto Flückiger’s collection I found some nice souvenirs from Rex Stewart’s late 1947 / early 1948 european concerts. The most beautiful item is a program from the Tabaris-Bar in Lausanne (in the french speaking part of Switzerland), probably from November 1947 or from spring 1948. It has been autographed by nearly everybody in the band: Rex, trombonist Sandy Williams, tenor sax man Vernon Story whose only claim to fame is his short stint with Stewart, pianist Don Gais and drummer Ted Curry. Missing is only the bassist (if indeed there was one).

rex_autographs

Back of autographed program for the Rex Stewart appearance at the Tabaris-Bar in Lausanne, late 1947 or early 1948. From the Otto Flückiger Collection

As you can see from the program’s inside, Rex Stewart “et son orchestre de couleur américain” were not the evening’s only attraction:

rex_innen

(Click to enlarge)

In fact the Tabaris’ management obviously thought more about Borrah Minevitch, as his picture is featured on the program’s front (Rex’s is on the back).

minevitch

The second item I found in relation to Rex Stewart’s european sojourn is another program – this time it’s (almost) only about Rex.

rexprog2

(Click to enlarge) Program for a Rex Stewart appearance in Switzerland, late 1947 or early 1948. From the Otto Flückiger Collection

“Almost” because there are also piano solos by Bernard Pfeiffer mentioned. The program was printed in Lausanne, so it might well be also from the Tabaris-Bar (maybe after Minevitch went out or before he came in?).

  largea

(Click to enlarge) Program for a Rex Stewart appearance in Switzerland, late 1947 or early 1948. From the Otto Flückiger Collection

What you can not really see on this scan is that the original owner of the program marked the pieces played that night and also added pieces that were played but not announced in the printed program. So the band played (in an unknown order of course) Georgia on My Mind, The Jeep Is Jumpin’, Boy Meets Horn, The Man I Love, The Mooche, Just Squeeze Me, Jazz Me Blues, Stompin’ At The Savoy, Body And Soul, Storyville, Honeysuckle Rose and – probably as closer – Goofin’ Off.

Of course you would like to know what that sounded like. There are no recordings from Lausanne although there are three dates from Basel (November 1947 as well as April 30 and May 5, 1948) in the standard discographies. I do not have these in my collection, instead I am offering you four tracks as recorded by Rex’s group in Paris in December 1947. First here is “The Man I Love” as recorded live at the Salle Pleyel on December 5:

And here’s the band three days later on a studio in Paris playing “Just Squeeze Me”:

From the same date comes Roy’s old feature number with Duke, “Boy Meets Horn”:

And finally here is Rex going with the times by offering “Be-bop Boogie”, which also offers a rare glimpse of tenor man Vernon Story:

Finally here is (part of) an enthusiastic though paternalistic review of one of Rex’s appearances probably from a swiss newspaper:

rex_ad

(Click to enlarge) Undated review of a Rex Stewart appearance, probably Switzerland, early 1948. From the Otto Flückiger Collection

Whereas Rex had used John Harris on clarinet and alto in Paris, this review mentions alto saxophonist George Kennedy and makes a point of him being the only white guy in the band. That again points to indeed no bassist playing at least on the evening which was reviewed here.

Enjoy!

The ominous Rashied Ali at the Boltax LP

Posted in documents, Photographs, Rashied Ali with tags , , , , , , , on June 28, 2014 by crownpropeller

In this post, I presented documents of a concert by the Rashied Ali Quartet 1979  in N.Y.C. The gig was taped and photographed by my friend, the late jazz researcher Otto Flückiger. Among the things I presented is a 27 minute audio excerpt in so and so quality.

A few days ago, I noticed a sudden increase in people interested in that blog post, and wondered why this would be so. So while googling for “Rashied Ali” and “Boltax”, I found, that some *[&**!! has loaded down that mp3, as well as some of the photos from my blog post and made a “limited edition LP” of supposedly 45 pieces out of it. Some “nightshift” pressing maybe?

Now one of these found a buyer who was willing to pay over hundred dollars for it.

boot jpg

I have to say that I find this a bit shabby. Of course one can argue that this blog here might be acting immoral as well. After all I have been presenting music here which I do not really have the rights to present. But I am never offering any music that is legally vailable, nor would I ever try to earn any money on a musician’s back. Up to now I only had positive responses from musicians or from relatives of deceased musicians to what I do.

SO THIS IS TO LET YOU ALL KNOW THAT NEITHER  I NOR THIS BLOG NOR LITTLE ROCKET RECORDS HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS RECORD!

I know how attractive things like this are (limited! only 45 copies!), but I encourage anyone to think twice before bidding on this thing. You can have the music here for free. Of course: Rashied Ali’s estate does not profit from the music presented here. But if it does not, I think no-one should.

I am 99  percent sure that the mp3 from my old blog post is the source for this LP, but I have not yet seen a copy of the record. Does anyone own it and can confirm that it’s about 27 minutes long?

 

Thanks!

 

Sun Ra and the hot chicks!

Posted in documents, jazz, Sun Ra with tags , , , , on June 15, 2014 by crownpropeller


A while ago while searching for hot girlie magazines Sun Ra related items on ebay I was surprised that the March 1969 issue of Swank magazine showed up in my search.

swank_cover

Sex and space music: “Swank”, March 1969

I have applied a little censorship to the mag’s front page here as this blog might be visited by minors. Also, the woman pictured on the cover might not be happy to see herself dressed that way again.

I bought the magazine because I was very much curious what space jazz master Sun Ra was doing in between the “Teen-Age Sex Queen Of Sweden” and “Love Potions And Aphrodisiacs!”.  Adding to my curiousity was the fact that being from March 1969 (the “Rolling Stone” with the Sun Ra cover shot of  was the April 1969 issue) this must be a quite early mention of Ra in an US-wide distributed non-specialist magazine. So what’s inside?

Continue reading

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

crown_propeller_black_silver

(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).

cp 1

(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.

cd_52_05_31

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”?

1139
From the Crown Propeller Collection

cpadChicago Defender, February 13, 1954

Enjoy!

Frank Foster Big Band at the Village Vanguard 1980

Posted in documents, Frank Foster, jazz with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2013 by crownpropeller

As promised in this post, I am reposting the images from the performance by Frank Foster’s “Living Colours” Big Band at the Village Vanguard on April 4, 1980 – this time with some music.

About 70 minutes of music from this evening survive on a tape that has been digitally transferred to CD by Otto in the early 1990s. While the original tape box does not carry information at all, some information is attached to the CD.

frank_foster_cover(click to enlarge)

The rudimentary CD cover can not be trusted though. For example Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” which I am presenting you here, is not the second track on the CD, but the first. Likewise Title 5, “Joy Spring(s?)” is indeed a “Minor Blue Waltz”, at least in form and content. I will have to bring this in a meaningful order some day …

So here are all of Otto’s photos from the April 4 1980 concert again. If you can identify anyone for sure, to help get rid of the question marks on the CD’s listing, please let me know (but please check the comment section from the old blog entry about this event first).

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

Continue reading

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

cpl card

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.

cd_51_08_4pdf

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”).

billboard-yearbook43

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.

cd_51_08_11pdf

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.

cp 3

(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:

cp 1

(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:

cd_52_01_19

   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.

cd_52_05_31

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

cd_52_06_14

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 Crown Propeller had started in 1951. In 1954 Kolax joined Atlantis in the 500 gallon tank for a photo published in Jet magazine in September.

jet_54_09_16jpg

Jet, September 16, 1954.

cp_54_11_13

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):

cd_56_10_20

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:

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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”

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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!

Rashied Ali at the Boltax (1979)

Posted in documents, Photographs, Rashied Ali with tags , , , , , , , on March 31, 2013 by crownpropeller

From 1978 to 1981 my friend, jazz researcher Otto Flückiger (1930–2006), went to the USA each year for up to three weeks to check out the jazz scene. Most of these trips led him to New York City where he checked out every jazz related event he could manage to visit – from gatherings of old swing veterans to extreme improvised loft sessions, documenting it all with a tape recorder and taking photos at every gig.

On Saturday, October 13th, 1979, Otto spent the evening at the Boltax Theatre in Soho, where drummer Rashied Ali’s Quintet  presented modal jazz, very much influenced by – of course – John Coltrane.

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 Cover of the MC on which Otto recorded parts of the Rashied Ali concert.

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The band consisted of Arthur Rhames  – misspelled by Otto – (ss, ts), Melvin Holder (ts), Tommy Smith (p), Radu (b) and of Rashied Ali (dr). Otto recorded some eighty minutes on that evening, but most of it is marred by talking and other background noise. But there is a piece which is a little bit more listenable, so I thought I could present it here. The name of the slow burning tune the band is playing here is unknown (at least to me):

As always, Otto took a handful of photographs (remember, the material was expensive then):

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Rashied Ali at the Boltax, N.Y.C, October 13, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger (click to enlarge)

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Tommy Smith, Melvin Holder, Rashied Ali and Arthur Rhames at the Boltax,
N.Y.C, October 13, 1979. Photo by Otto Flückiger (click to enlarge)

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Arthur Rhames at the Boltax, N.Y.C, October 13, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger (click to enlarge)

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Melvin Holder at the Boltax, N.Y.C, October 13, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger (click to enlarge)

Seeing the tape recorders besides pianist Tommy Smith on the next photos, I wonder if one of them was Otto’s. I guess probably not, because it would not have picked up so much talk most of the time. Maybe the band members were also documenting it?

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Tommy Smith at the Boltax, N.Y.C, October 13, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger (click to enlarge)

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Rashied Ali at the Boltax, N.Y.C, October 13, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger (click to enlarge)

On the above photo you will notice the neon letters “SRO”. Does anyone know what these letters stand for? It looks like “SRO” was a regular act at the Boltax. The “After Dark” section of “New York” magazine’s October 8 issue mentions “S*R*O” as “back again”. Strangely Rashied Ali’s appearance is not mentioned here;

afterdark_oct_8_1979

And to close our visit at the Boltax up, here is a photo of bassist Radu:

Radu

Radu at the Boltax, N.Y.C, October 13, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger (click to enlarge)

Look forward for more documents from Otto’s travels at this place  in the near future!