Archive for the documents Category

Unpublished Interview with Arnett Cobb (1980)

Posted in Arnett Cobb, clips, documents, Lionel Hampton with tags , , , , , , on January 12, 2013 by crownpropeller

My friend, the late swiss jazz researcher Otto Flückiger, was a great fan of tenor saxophonist Arnett Cobb (1918–1989). So when Otto went on a trip through the USA in spring of 1980 he took the chance to visit Cobb in his hometown, Houston TX.

cobb_otto

Arnett Cobb with Otto Flückiger in Cobb’s home, Houston TX, spring 1980.
Photo probably by Trudi Flückiger.

On that occasion Otto interviewed Cobb about his career,  playing with Frank Davis, going to Chicago with Milton Larkin to play at the Rhumboogie, joining Lionel Hampton, forming his own band and the auto accident that dramatically changed Cobb’s life. There are about 40 minutes from this interview on a C90 cassette tape which I found in Otto’s collection:

interview_tape

So I decided to digitize this – unpublished as far as I know – fantastic interview. I just edited out some longer passages of silence and some parts where the conversation is running in circles and into dead ends caused by translation problems. The female voice in the later parts of the interview is Trudi, Otto’s wife, who probably also took the photo of Cobb and Otto shown at the top.

I was always waiting to find the time to transcribe the interview, but I probably never will. So I am putting it up here for you all to hear and cherish yourself:

If you came here because you like Arnett Cobb. I got something more for you. First some nice photographs that Otto Flückiger took when Arnett Cobb appeared in Baden, Switzerland on May 4, 1974 (you can click to enlarge)

cobb_collage_baden_1974(Click to enlarge) Arnett Cobb at a concert in Baden, Switzerland, 1974.
Photos by Otto Flückiger

And here is some footage of Arnett Cobb featured with the Lionel Hampton Band in Nice, France in summer 1978.

 Enjoy!

Eddie Chamblee and some unidentified people

Posted in documents, Eddie Chamblee, Lionel Hampton, unidentified photographs with tags , , , , , , , on January 6, 2013 by crownpropeller

I love to look on ebay for jazz or early r’n’b related memorabilia from time to time. A few weeks ago, being a little bored, I started to browse to see if any interesting photographs would come up. Then suddenly I recognized tenor saxophonist Eddie Chamblee (1920–1999) one one of the stamp sized pictures you see in an ebay listing. The seller was offering the photo under the heading “photo of unidentified black musicians” and I had the luck to get it for the pricely sum of $5.

chamblee_and_others_blog

Eddie Chamblee (left) and two unidentified persons, circa mid 50s.
Photographer unknown

Comparing with other photos of Chamblee I would say it is from the mid 1950s. The other two men look very familiar to me. Does anyone know, who these two might be? Maybe they are members of Lionel Hampton’s band, Chamblee played with Hampton around 1955/1956. They look familiar, but I am not able to place them.

You might as well have some music while thinking about who these men may be. Here is Eddie Chamblee and his band playing Julian Priester’s composition “Swing A Little Taste”.

This was recorded January 20, 1958 in Chicago for Mercury and the band members are:  Fortunatus “Fip” Ricard (tp) Julian Priester (tb) Eddie Chamblee (ts,vcl) Charles Davis (bar) Jack Wilson (p) Robert Wilson (b) James Slaughter (d). And it was released on this LP:

doodlin

“Swing A Little Taste” had been recorded 18 months earlier on one of the first recording sessions of the Sun Ra Arkestra , of which Priester was a member at that time. This version was originally released on the sampler “Jazz In Transition” on the Transition label (go to Robert L. Campbell’s page about Sun Ra’s early years for more information about that session).

jit

While the label on the Transition LP gives Julian Priester as the sole composer of this tune, the Mercury LP “Doodlin” adds one “Washington” to the composer’s credit. This “Washington” is obviously the person to the right of Chamblee on the cover of  the “Doodlin” LP (no prizes for giving her full name).

I also acquired another photo from the same seller, also for $5 (it said “photo of unidentified black musicians” again). Now does anyone have an idea who this lady could be? (And no: Just the fact she is holding a trumpet does not make her Valaida Snow!) Or where and when this photograph was taken?

female_trumpet_blog

Enjoy!

April 18, 1981: What’s happening in N.Y.C.?

Posted in documents, jazz, West End with tags , , on October 30, 2012 by crownpropeller

In 1979, 1980 and 1981 my friend, the late Otto Flückiger, spent some days in New York City to check out the jazz scene and to document the concerts he witnessed. And as regular readers know, I am sometimes presenting some of the sounds and pictures he brought back here.

April 18, 1980 was a friday and when it got later in the day, Otto was eager to hear some good music. And if he started early, he would well be able to change clubs and maybe hear a second band.

His mind seemed set on something earthy played with a lot of blues feeling, so he made his way to the West End on Broadway near Columbia where guess who was playing. Maybe some of you are able to recognize the tenor player from this small excerpt? Unfortunately I do not have any of the other band member’s names.

Otto must have liked this band, as he had seen it already a few days earlier. I have the impression that Otto must have spend the last two photos on his roll of film on the sax player. There are two photos of him taken on this day in his files – and none of the other band members.

After having heard enough of this music, Otto was in the mood for something more out there. So he left the West End and made his way out to the Hurrah Club (most probably) where a large band was playing whose music he had been loving for years. Unfortunately there are no photographs of the goings-on at the Hurrah. But you will find out right away who is playing here:

And sorry, there are no points for guessing the second band.

Documenting Don Redman’s 1946 European Tour

Posted in documents, Don Redman, jazz with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2012 by crownpropeller

Page 2 of Don Redman concert review in swiss  “Film, Radio Jazz” magazine No 1, 1947.
From the Otto Flückiger Collection

Ever since the day i wrote this post about the 1946 european tour by Don Redman and his orchestra, I had the pleasure to work with the very fine jazz researchers such as Leif Bo Petersen, Anthony Barnett, Howard Rye, Mario Schneeberger and Dieter Salemann to make the story complete. With the help of jazz fans and researchers from different european countries and the USA we tried to gather all the known information about this tour in one place. In doing so we were able to correct a lot of misinformation  – discographical and otherwise – that has been around for some years now. Private as well as institutional collections allowed us to use their material including many rare photographs, newspaper ads, concert reviews and other related articles.

Tyree Glenn in Geneva, Switzerland,  photo probably by Freddy Bertrand.
From the Otto Flückiger Collection

You can see the results of our work (and hear some very interesting music!) if you go to the Don Redman’s 1946 European Tour page. Of course this is a work in progress, If you feel that you have something to add to the story, it would be nice if you would use the comment section over there.

Ad for the Bern concert, unidentified newspaper.
From the Otto Flückiger Collection

Wendell Cull(e)y writes to Milt Buckner

Posted in documents, jazz, Lionel Hampton, Milt Buckner with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2012 by crownpropeller

Trumpet man Wendell Cull(e)y (1906–1983) played in Lionel Hampton’s orchestra from 1944 to 1949, a period in which Milt Buckner was Hampton’s pianist. Culley (as his name is mostly written) and Buckner seem to have kept in contact over the years. There is a letter in Otto Flückiger’s files about Milt Buckner that Culley wrote to Buckner in August 1971 (the letter arrived after a longer journey).

(click to enlarge)

I decided to present this very interesting letter in full, since I think it contains nothing of a too personal nature. In addition I have some very nice other documents to offer here that somehow have a connection to this letter.  But let’s start with a question first: Who is “your former vocalist named Jerald” (??)” on the first page? Although being quite knowledgeable about Buckner’s career, I have no idea. Culley writes about Million Dollar Smile here. This gives us the opportunity to leave the letter for a while: Since Wendell Culley writes about Eddie Jones buying the record, it’s clear that Culley is talking about the version Hamp recorded for Decca in October 1944:

Lionel Hampton: Million Dollar Smile (L3644 on Decca 18719, October 16, 1944) But there were people who liked another version (also arranged by Buckner) much better (scroll a little down to hear that one). As Buckner remembered in a 1975 conversation with Otto Flückiger and Kees Bakker:

We got Dinah Washington out of Chicago where she was singing with a church group. Sometimes she was singing there in a club. Hamp heard her somewhere, and before I knew it, she was in the band. I made about all the arrangements for her in Hamp’s band, the first I made was My Bill. I always liked her voice. Gladys Hampton always tried to teach Dinah how to dress. You might remember Million Dollar Smile. I wrote that arrangement so that Dinah could sing it. We got into the Decca studio in Hollywood and we played the thing down and she sang beautifully. Hamp said: ‘Listen, Buck, there should be no singing on this arrangement!’.

This Million Dollar Smile was one of the best records Hamp ever made, because of the sound. The guy that wrote this tune is Porter Roberts. He wrote for a little newspaper in Toledo, Ohio and he is still living there [Buckner was talking in 1975]. Before I came over here, I talked to him on the phone.

I once made a deposition for Porter Roberts in Toledo in the 1950s against Lionel Hampton to describe the scene where Hapmton canceled the vocals. Well Dinah sat there and cried on that deposition and Roberts used it in a trial against Hampton. He was sure that the song was supposed to be a hit. He was sueing on the possibility that his song would have become a hit if Dinah would have sung on it.

An unsigned short article from Jet (dated July 8, 1954) also is related to unhappy feelings in connection with Million Dollar Smile:

Composer Sues Hampton For “Violating” Song Pact Bandleader Lionel Hampton was sued in Toledo for failing to keep an agreement to record and publish a song titled Your Million-Dollar Smile (sic!). The action was filed by Porter Roberts, who contended he composed the tune and registered it for copyright, then gave half interest to Hampton. He claims Hampton promised to record and publish the song through his firm, Swing and Tempo Music Co., with profits to be equally shared.

I could not find out what the result of this legal hassles were (and I would like to know the publisher and composer credits on the original 78). But if you listen to the arrangement of Million Dollar Smile featuring Dinah Washington – recorded for the Jubilee series – you can in no way doubt its great potential for becoming a hit.

Lionel Hampton: Million Dollar Smile (Jubilee, recorded summer 1944) There are not many sources on the internet that mention Porter Roberts, but it looks like Roberts was a very interesting person. In the thirties (exact date unknown) he had a column called “Praise And Criticism” in the Pittsburgh Courier, in the fourties this column probably appeared in the Chicago Defender. Roberts probably had his home base in Detroit in 1945, because that is the place where he started “The Entertainer”, a magazine which was to supply “National Theatrical News Weekly”. In Otto Flückiger’s archives I found a copy of “The Entertainer’s” pilot issue. This is just a one-pager – on the flip there is just a list (how much advertising in future issues will cost).  Read the fierce editorial – also named “Praise And Criticism” here – Roberts is not holding anything back.

(click to enlarge and supersize)

The other texts on this page are more or less the usual PR announcements send out by the promoters. But note the blurb about Hampton, which means  a year after “Million Dollar Smile” was recorded there seem to no hard feelings between Hampton and Roberts. Have there ever been any regular issues of “The Entertainer”? I could not find out. So back to the letter:

If Wendell Culley indeed writes about multiinstrumentalist Ben Kynard here, he was misinformed about this supposedly early death. Kynard, (pictured above in an undated, unsigned photograph) the alleged composer of famous tune “Red Top” passed on July 5th 2012, aged 92.  Kynard had played with Hampton from 1946–1953. In the P.S. of his letter, Wendell Culley (as his name is mostly written – but note the signature!) mentions Milt Buckner’s “Fiesta” in Carnegîe Hall 1945. This most probably is “Fiesta de l’Amour” [sic!] a “semi-classical”  piece Buckner wrote in the mid-fourties. He had copyrighted it  on January 23, 1945 along with seven other compositions that apparently never were recorded.

The program for Hampton’s 1945 Carnegie Hall Concert on April 15th (front pictured above) unfortunately does not mention “Fiesta” among the compositions to be played: As you see, “Carnegie Special”, “Where Or When” and Herb Quigley’s composition “Three Minutes With Three Notes” were the compositions played with strings featured. The members of the string section are not known, since the program only mentions Eddie South: So did Hampton change his mind and have the band with the string section play Buckner’s “Fiesta”? It will be hard to find the exact truth.  Although no recording of “Fiesta” as played by the Lionel Hampton orchestra at the Carnegie Hall is extant, “Fiesta de l’Amor” can be heard on a very rare recording by Milt Buckner’s Orchestra from a “Band For Bonds” broadcast recorded two weeks after Buckner’s first session for MGM in March 1949. The broadcast (details in my Milt Buckner discography) was preserved on glass-based acetate records that were in Milt Buckner’s personal collection. It is not known what became of these glass records, but fortunately Kees Bakker or Otto Flückiger had the opportunity to dub them sometime in the 1970s.

Milt Buckner and his Orchestra: “Fiesta de l’Amour” (“Bands For Bonds” broadcast, recorded probably March 26, 1949) This version has no strings but nice parts for Milt Buckner on vibraphone and unaccompanied Julius Watkins on french horn. Enjoy!

The Sun Ra Arkestra in Poschiavo 2012

Posted in clips, documents, Marshall Allen, Sun Ra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2012 by crownpropeller

I spent Wednesday and Thursday of last week with my friend Hubi and Hubi’s friend Dario in Poschiavo in the Graubünden part of Switzerland where the Sun Ra Arkestra under the leadership of  Marshall Allen supplied the on stage music for two theatrical plays at the Uncool Festival. I shot some video there – but in fact a lot of people did. So there is no need for me editing all this stuff now. Instead I have embedded some nice clips that I found on the youtube channel of local newspaper Giornale il Bernina. Here are some excerpts from the Wednesday evening performance of the play Oedipus: 

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Clifford Jordan at the Tin Palace 1979

Posted in documents, jazz, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2012 by crownpropeller

Just because it’s so much fun to put Otto’s photos from his trips to New York up on this blog together with some music from the concerts he witnessed, here is another one. On October 2, 1979, tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan (1931–1993) was  playing at the Tin Palace – with two different rhythm sections.

On the first set (at least on the first set Otto recorded), Jordan was accompanied by Walter Davis on piano, Walter Booker on bass and drummer Jimmy Cobb (click on photos to enlarge):

Clifford Jordan at the Tin Palace, N.Y.C., October 2, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger  Continue reading

Blindfold test resolved: Big Nick Nicholas at the West End

Posted in Bross Townsend, documents, West End with tags , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2012 by crownpropeller

Update (June 16, 2012): Big Nick Nicholas is playing at the West End here, not at the Tin Palace as I had erroneously written.

Well my little “Body and Soul” blindfold test did not last long. I promised to give you the solution by the end of june, but it did take Bo Scherman less than an hour to figure out that the tenor player in question is Big Nick Nicholas (1922–1997). Congratulations, Bo! I would not have thought that someones comes up with the solution THAT quick.

Big Nick Nicholas was playing this beautiful rendition of “Body and Soul” with his quartet at the West End in N.Y.C. on October 3, 1979.

Big Nick Nicholas at the West End, October 3, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger

George Walker “Big Nick” Nicholas played with Hank Jones, Thad Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Hot Lips Page and Earl Hines  in the 1940s and joined Buck Clayton’s band in 1955. In the early sixties Nicholas inspired John Coltrane to write his composition “Big Nick”, dedicated to him.

It seems that Nicholas was away from the N.Y.C scene for a while. In one of the announcements on Otto’s tape from the West End, Nicholas mentions that he has not been in New York for years. Besides recording two sets of Nicholas’ quartet, Otto also took quite a few photographs (you can click on them to enlarge them) and did not forget to take the promotional flyer for the engagement with him  (subtitled “An Infuential Tenor Saxophonist returns To The Big Apple”) on which Phil Schaap  tells us more details about Nicholas’ career:

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“Body and Soul”: A blindfold test

Posted in documents with tags , on June 10, 2012 by crownpropeller

Ever since in 1939 Coleman Hawkins did what he did to “Body and Soul”, tenor saxophone players had to show what they can do with this beautiful tune.

I myself always loved the blindfold tests that were (and still are) run by different jazz magazines. So here’s a little blindfold test for my esteemed readership: Which tenor player is playing “Body and Soul” on the tape I found in Otto Flückiger’s archives yesterday?

I am very much looking forward to your educated guesses. I will put up the solution here at the end of june accompanied by a bunch of nice photos – and maybe some more music.

Enjoy!

Frank Foster/Bill English Quintet: Left Bank Jazz Society, 1966

Posted in Bross Townsend, documents, Frank Foster, jazz with tags , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2012 by crownpropeller


As you may have noticed the “unidentified” Big band at the Village Vanguard in 1980 turned out to be Frank Foster’s Orchestra. Unfortunately I do not find any audio documentation from this concert in Otto’s archives. But here is a real nice track with Foster (see picture on the right) that I discovered while looking for Foster’s music from the Village Vanguard. It’s an excerpt from a radio show, presenting 27 minutes of the Frank Foster/Bill English Quintet at the Madison Club in Baltimore on October 16, 1966, playing for the Left Bank Jazz Society . Besides Foster and drummer English, the band contained trumpeter Dave Burns, pianist Bross Townsend and bassist Chris White.

This tape probably was given to my friend Otto by pianist Bross Townsend, whom Otto got to know sometime in the late seventies. Townsend (1933–2003) was a fixture on the New York scene from the sixties to the nineties, freelancing most of the time. For a while he worked as the pianist with singer Dakota Staton.  Townsend  and Otto became friends and Townsend copied different tapes of bands in which he was involved for Otto. You’ll probably read more about Townsend on this blog at a later date.

So here’s the Frank Foster/Bill English Quintet at the Madison Club for the Left Bank Jazz Society in Baltimore on October 16, 1966. They are playing an ultra-fast rendition of “Autumn Leaves” (or is it?). Especially remarkable is how much Foster at that time was under the influence of a certain other tenor saxophone player. But who was not?

P.S.: Ellery Eskelin has uploaded a Chronologial Listing of Concerts sponsored by the Left Bank Jazz Society: Very interesting!