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.
DICKY HOWARD’S QUINTETTE
Ray Edwards (voc), Dicky Howard, rest unknown
N-17A Rolling Down The Highway
N-17B Going Down The River (H. Gillespie – R. Jefferson)
Information from The R&B Indies and Classic Urban Harmony website.
MATTHEW CHILDS & HIS CHILLUN
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.