It was around 20 years ago when my friend the late Otto Flückiger taught me that there were much more interesting things from the Chicago jazz scene of the 1940s and 1950s than the Sun Ra related stuff from that time and placethat I was so much interested in. On one day in the mid-nineties he played me several 78rpm records featuring a tenor saxophonist called Tom Archia to introduce me to the chicago way of playing the tenor sax: relaxed and way behind the beat. Of course the best known exponent of this style has to be Gene Ammons. I already knew and loved a bit the early Gene Ammons stuff. But Tom Archia thrilled me right away. What got me is that he was cool and relaxed and immensely sassy at the same time.
Around that time I exchanged Sun Ra related tapes with Ra researcher Robert L. Campbell and used some Tom Archia stuff Otto had taped for me as filler. And Robert was blown away just the same. So we had to know more about this man. Google did not bring up much about him in the mid-90s and so we started with dusting off old (non indexed mostly) discographies and collector’s lists. All the while we were stumbling over other artists from that place and period that we wanted to know more about. And that was the foundation of the Red Saunders Research Foundation. And one of the RSRF’s first projects was a page, dedicated to Tom Archia.
Most of Tom Archia’s playing on records is in an r’n’b context which is a pity as this format restricts him timewise. But in October 1947 at the Universal Recording studio in Chicago it was just him and a rhythm section (with Archia himself singing on one track). Tom is accompanied by Bill Searcy (p), Leo Blevins (eg), Lowell Pointer (b) and Robert “Hindu” Henderson (d). The four resulting tracks landed on three different 78rpm records.
The result is not only a fine session, it is a GREAT SESSION! Hey people, this DESERVES TO BE UNIVERSALLY HEARD!
To help this noble cause, I have put up clips playing the four tracks on youtube. If you listen to all four of them, you may notice that his set of licks is limited. But if you love these licks as much as i do, they’ll never get on your nerves.
The first track of the session was the jumping “Jam For Sam”. If you want to hear one of Archia’s favourite licks , check at 01:24-01:26. Also here as on the other three tracks listen to Leo Blevins’ guitar and the accents he sets.
The second track recorded that day was the boppish “Macomba Jump”. Here one of Archia’s favourite licks appears at 01:34–01:40.
The next track, “Downfall Blues”, was rereleased on a Chess Vintage Series LP in the early seventies (titled “Whiskey” on that occasion). But here you get it in original 78rpm sound to feed your nostalgic needs. The singer is Archia himself and the track unfortunately has some autobiographical notions. Starting with his most favourite lick, his playing is at its most laconic throughout here:
The final tune the band recorded that day is “Slumber”(also rereleased as “Minor Blues” on that Chess Vintage Series LP). Relax, lay back and enjoy this one – and if you wake up, tell me what you think.
Now would someone else please wake up and rerelease all of Tom Archia’s recordings for Aristocrat/Chess? In pristine quality? From the original master disks? Please? Universal? Charly? Some japanese company? Preferably on vinyl?
Mildred “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.
Crown 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.
From 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.
A Night At The Crown Propeller Lounge, probably
September 1951. from the Crown Propeller Collection
From 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.
From Chicago Defender, September 1, 1951.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”
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).
Edwin Starr (left) and Wilson Pickett at Jazz Festival Montreux, 1973-
Hey People, it’s summer!
You need hot music! Wait, here its is:
Twenty minutes of Wilson Pickett at the Jazz Festival Montreux in 1973 featuring a guest appearance by Edwin Starr (of “War” fame), taken from a VHS cassette in the Otto Flückiger collection. In spite of Pickett’s pleading, no Rolling Stone appears (I am not missing them). If you recognize any of the band members, please let me know.
And here’s another one:
Bo Diddley playing his signature tune “Bo Diddley” at the Philharmonie in Berlin during the “Rhythm & Blues: Roots of Rock” show of Berliner Jazztage sometime in early November 1975. (Look here for a (german language) article dated November 7 – though it’s not clear whether this is the date of the concert or the date of publication)
Besides Bo we have Johnny Guitar Watson (guitar), James Booker (piano), Gene “Mighty Flea” Conners (trombone, tambourine), Preston Love (tenor sax), Jimmie Lee Robinson (bass), Panama Francis (drums). Thanks to David Blakey for identifying the band members (see comment section)!
This 1953 record from Philadelphia contains solos
by John Coltrane. From the Crown Propeller Collection
The John Coltrane Reference by Lewis Porter, Chris DeVito, David Wild, Yasuhiro Fujioka, Wolf Schmaler – a book you should own if you are a Coltrane fanatic – lists a probably 1953 session by Philadelphia drummer James “Coatesville” Harris that features Coltrane, done for the small Philadelphia label Nestor.
In their notes to that session the authors write: “This 78-rpm record was discovered by Swiss reserachers Otto Flückiger and Armin Büttner. (…) Coltrane is identified by aural evidence only, but we consider the evidence overwhelming. He plays throughout and solos on both tracks.”
What they write is not quite the truth though. It was not Otto Flückiger and me who made this discovery. Instead Otto and his friend the swiss jazz researcher and alto saxophonist Mario Schneeberger had thought that the saxophonist on Nestor 06 sounded very much like John Coltrane back in the 1960s when Otto won this record for a dollar or two in an auction. When Otto played the two tracks for me in the early 1990s, I was convinced that it’s Coltrane playing the tenor here from the first notes emanating from that horn, leading me to inform the Coltrane experts. But the claim for the discovery must go to Otto and Mario.
There is really not much known about the Nestor label which was owned by Herman “Piney” Gillespie, who at different points in time also ran the labels G&M, Piney and Teenage. Gillespie had his home base in Philadelphia, but at least Nestor moved to New York later.
The second Edition of Bob McGrath’s The R&B Indies (2006) lists nine issues on Nestor. And although I have been running a permanent ebay search for “Nestor 78rpm” since 2003, I only ever came up with one Nestor record at all (Nestor 10, incidentally not listed in the The R&B Indies).
In the hope of acquiring more information about the Nestor label (and maybe stumbling over even more Coltrane, not that I do have much hope), I decided to gather all the information that I have here, in the hope of delivering a somewhat complete list of its issues. Many thanks to Bob McGrath whose four volume work The R&B Indies is responsible for about 92 percent of this listing. Some composer credits were taken from 45rpm labels appearing on the internet. There is some music inside of this listing, some youtube clips – yes, and some Coltrane to listen to in an atomic age tenor solo!
Nestor Records – a draft
NESTOR 1 to NESTOR 5: No information
COATESVILLE HARRIS ORCH. Vocal by Rodney Smith
Coatesville Harris (dr, ldr), Rodney Smith (voc), John Coltrane (ts), unidentified p, g, b, d
Philadelphia, probably 1953
JG-06A Ham Hocks And Hominy (H. Gillespie)
JG-06B Strange Things All The Range (H. Gillespie)
(Information from Fancourt – McGrath: “The Blues Discography 1943–1970” and a copy of Nestor 6 in the Crown Propeller Collection, this record is not mentioned in the 2006 edition of The R&B Indies). Only 78 rpm copies are known.
And here is Coatesville Harris’ band with singer Rodney Smith doing “Strange Things All The Rage”. Watch out for John Coltrane!
NESTOR 7 to NESTOR 9: No information
THE STAN MOORE QUARTET
JG-10A The Little Black Sheep (Moore)
JG-10B My Dream (Moore)
(Not listed in The R&B Indies, information from a 78rpm copy in the Crown Propeller Collection), Here is the music (warning: no jazz or r’n’b content!) I cannot find the 78rpm right now, so I might add a picture later.
The Little Black Sheep:
NESTOR 11: No information
MICHELLE & HIS ORGAN (v. Jimmy Milner)
N-12A Love Is Such A Funny Thing
N-12B Now That You’re Gone
(Information from “The R&B Indies”)
Mae Parrish with unidentified tp, tb, ts, g, p, b, d, vocal ensemble on “Function …”
Philadelphia, probably late 1955 or early 1956
N-13A Function On Broadway
N-13B Let’s Make Love Tonight
Information from The R&B Indies, and Fancourt – McGrath: The Blues Discography 1943–1970. Fancourt/McGrath give 1953/1954 as the recording date, but this was probably later. The New York Age of February 11, 1956 noted: “Mae Parrish, sensational blues singer, getting good response from her recent recording of “Function On Broadway” on Nester (sic!) label.”
Here is “Function On Broadway”:
Freddie Clark (voc), unknown tp, as, p, b, d
N-14A Begging Papa Blues
N-13B Got The Blues
Information from The R&B Indies and Fancourt – McGrath: The Blues Discography 1943–1970 and a 78rpm copy of Nestor 14 in the Otto Flückiger Collection. When I go down to the archive again, I will take pictures of the label. There were 45rpm copies as well. Here’s one from Youtube user stompingsevens:
And if you’d like to hear the flip side too, here’s “Got The Blues” from Otto’s collection.
MONTEREYS (Dean Barlow)
N-15A Someone Like You (White-Epps)
N-15B Train Whistle Blues
Basic information from The R&B Indies. Composer credits from 45rpm label shots found on the internet. Nestor 15 was also released as Teenage 1001.
N-16A There Goes That Train (R. McGill)
N-16B I Gotta (B. Smith)
Basic information from The R&B Indies. Composer credits from 78 and 45rpm label shots found on the internet.
N-18X45 119 Rosa Lee (M. Childs)
N-18X45 120 No Love (M. Childs)
Basic information from The R&B Indies. Composer credits from 45rpm label shots found on the internet. Here is a vid of “Rosa Lee” from youtube user jdkays:
NESTOR 19 to NESTOR 25: No information
N-26A One More Time (Ollie Blanchard)
N-26B Sugarfoot Sam
Information from The R&B Indies, composer credit for N-26A from a copy on ebay. This is the first known Nestor with a N.Y.C. adress on the label.
THE FOUR FELLOWS
N-27A Remember (G. Payne)
N-17B That Kiss You Gave Me (G. Payne)
Information from The R&B Indies and label shots from the internet.
NESTOR (number unknown)
LLOYD “FAT MAN” SMITH
Information about singer Lloyd “Fat Man” Smith recording for Nestor can be found in the Billboard of April 13, 1957 (dates in brackets added by me):
“Lloyd, the ‘Fat Man’, r.&b. singer and ork leader who has recorded on Peacock (1951/52), Gotham (1950), Nestor (??), Checker (??) and Epic (really Okeh, 1956), has been signed as a disk jockey on WHAT, Philadelphia.”
Some information about Lloyd “Fat Man” Smith can be found here.
If you have information about the unlisted Nestor records or can provide label scans or audio files of records from the list, please contact me via a comment.
You may never catch me sitting at home intensely listening to an Bill Doggett LP. But when I am am doing a DJ gig, one of those old King LPs has to come with me. After more than fifty years the famed Doggett Beat is still irresistible.
Considering that Doggett really was really well known, there is surprisingly very little footage of the man in action.
On one of Otto’s VHS cassettes I found around thirty minutes of a Bill Doggett combo playing at as part of the Newport Jazz Festival on tour in the Cimiez Gardens in Nice in July 1978. I had already posted “Honky Tonk” from this concert a while ago, but well: the more the better!
So here you have Bill Doggett on organ, the legendary David “Bubba” Brooks on tenor, guitarist Pete Mays (who also sings), Larry Trott on electric bass and Howard Overton on drums.
(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).
(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.
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.
Enjoying 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.
From the Crown Propeller collection
Who might they have listened to on that evening? Rudy Greene maybe, the “King Of The Guitar”?