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Sam Lanin
leader, b. d. May 5, 1977
~by Bruce Eder
Not everyone who had a profound effect on the world of music was necessarily a musician, or had to be a particularly good one -- sometimes it was just a matter of recognizing the latter quality in others and enabling them to do what they did best. Sam Lanin was a musician, but it was not in that capacity that he made his greatest contribution to music -- oh, he played drums here and there in some recording sessions, but that was as far he got generating music himself in a way that lasted beyond a particular performance. He was a band director, an organizer of performing and recording groups, who was as active in that field as anyone in music during the 1920s -- his timing was especially significant because the '20s were, for the majority of Americans (except in the farm belt) a time of unimpeded (and, as it turned out, in major part illusory) prosperity, when entertainment was booming.
It was no coincidence that the 1920s saw the organizing of the major film studios in something close to their final forms, the birth of commercial radio, and the massive growth of RCA Victor -- the first modern incarnation of one of the labels that was to dominate recorded music for much of the century -- as well as the spawning of dozens upon dozens of rival recording outfits, and a golden age in American theater. It wasn't easy to get a drink legally, but every other kind of diversion and entertainment was growing as never before.
Samuel Lanin was one of ten children of Benjamin and Mary Lanin, Jewish immigrants from Russia who arrived in the United States in the early 1890s and settled in Philadelphia. The whole family was musical -- Sam studied the clarinet and violin as a boy, and his brothers Jimmy, Howard, andLester also gravitated toward music and eventually became bandleaders, with Lester's fame lasting into the 1990s, a hundred years after Sam's birth. For his part, Sam got good enough so that in 1912, at age 21, he joined Victor Herbert's orchestra. And his musical ability was sufficient to keep him based stateside during World War I despite his joining the United States Navy as a bandsman.
Lanin returned to Philadelphia after the war and subsequently moved to New York City. He was employed there in a newly founded institution, the Roseland Ballroom, at the end of 1918. Lanin was precisely the right man in the right place at the right time. Roseland, which called itself "The Home of Refined Dancing," captured the hearts and fancy of a middle-class and working-class public that was only too eager to forget America's two-year involvement with what was then called the World War, as well as the two years longer that Europe had been fighting; the public, except for President Wilson and a minority of dedicated humanitarians and forward-thinking people, wanted little or no active role in the aftermath or the clean-up of the wreckage, human or otherwise, beyond sending food and aid to Europe. Rather, the public wanted to dance -- and relax, and enjoy the fiction of a job well done, even if winning the war was only half the job (and the second half was well-nigh impossible to do, owing to the politics of the era on both sides of the Atlantic).
The Republicans of 1920 captured the mood in a phrase, a "return to normalcy" -- no one knew what "normalcy" was; indeed, the word may not even have existed before that campaign, but they knew that it involved lots of fun, and spending money on anything (except alcoholic beverages, which were soon to be banned) that helped in the making of the fun without worrying about rationing or social ills or other concerns. Roseland was an instant success, and it was only a short time before its name had sufficient cachet to justify recordings exploiting it.
By early 1920, Lanin had organized and was leading an ensemble called the Roseland Orchestra -- carrying his name in front of it -- in a recording session for the Columbia Gramophone Company (distant predecessor to Columbia Records). He went on to record with numerous ensembles, using such diverse names as Lanin's Famous Players, Lanin's Southern Serenaders, Lanin's Arkansaw Travelers, and others -- most carried his name but some didn't, and Lanin was a downright ubiquitous presence in the studio across the 1920s, providing or leading sessions by groups whose names and sounds fed the ever-growing public appetite for dance music, much of it jazz-inspired if not all strictly "jazz" in the technical sense; other names with which he was associated behind the scenes included Ladd's Black Aces and Bailey's Lucky Seven, and he apparently even subbed for his own brother Howard at a recording session credited to the latter by the Benjamin Franklin Hotel Orchestra on Victor.
Phil Napoleon was in most of Lanin's groups, and others whose names turn up regularly include Miff Mole and Jules Levy, Jr., with jazz notables such as Frank Trumbauer moving in and out from session to session; although he did play some percussion on some early recordings, and even added a vocal to "Shake It and Break It" by Ladd's Black Aces, Lanin's basic role was as leader and organizer.
One reason that Lanin was so busy involved the number of different hats he wore during this era. In addition to his employment at Roseland -- and he led one of the three top orchestras playing at the ballroom, in addition to any recording he did with groups bearing the Roseland name -- he was also employed by the Starr Piano Company and their Gannett label, where he seems to have been in charge of most of their dance recording sessions. But he also provided groups to Brunswick during the mid-'20s.Lanin only added to his fame in 1923 when he embraced the new medium of radio -- he was among the very first major bandleaders to be heard over the air, leading his Roseland orchestra in a regular Monday night gig starting that year.
He soon picked up a sponsored broadcast, courtesy of Bristol-Mayers on behalf of their Ipana toothpaste -- the group he led might well have been called Sam Lanin's Troubadours, and there was such an outfit recording in the 1930s, but in return for Bristol-Meyers' sponsorship in the 1920s they were the Ipana Troubadours, a name that stuck.
By the spring of 1925, he'd outgrown anything that Roseland could do for him, and he soon became a fixture on the radio and in the recording studio -- in addition to the Ipana Troubadours, he led outfits with names such asLanin's Arkansaw Travelers, Lanin's Southern Serenaders, Lanin's Red Heads (who, led by Red Nichols, subsequently metamorphosed intothe Five Pennies), Lanin's Jazz Band, Lanin's Arcadians, and others. Many of these credited him up front on their records in this manner, while these and many others also included a credit of "S.C. Lanin -- director" or some such reference, while others that never mentioned him also were product of his work.
It will probably never be known how many different groups and sessions he led and organized -- among the non-"labeled" Lanin groups were the Broadway Bell-Hopsand the Westerners, as well as Ladd's Black Aces, but the actual list would be far longer, based on the sheer volume of his work. He was among the most popular bandleaders and organizers of the 1920s, specializing in dance music with a jazz base, a bit like Fred Rich. And like Rich, his reputation beyond the 1920s and early '30s was carried forward by the names of the musicians who passed through his employ.
Among the most celebrated of Lanin alumni, in addition to Phil Napoleon, Miff Mole, Red Nichols, and Jules Levy, Jr., were Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Manny Klein, Jimmy McPartland, Bix Beiderbecke, Eddie Lang, Bunny Berigan, and Nick Lucas. The biggest name with which he ever worked at a formative career stage, however, was Bing Crosby -- then working for Paul Whiteman -- who was on hand for a couple of Lanin sessions in 1928 and 1929, with the Ipana Troubadours and Sam Lanin's Famous Players.
With his ear for talent and the public's taste, Lanin might have gone on for decades, but the business signs weren't that favorable to him as the 1930s opened. The stock market crash in October of 1929 was the opening signal of what became the Great Depression, and by 1930 the good times as they'd been known were definitely over, not just for a rapidly (and alarmingly) increasing portion of the public, but also for the record industry and even radio, though it did fare better than the recording business.
The Bristol-Meyers sponsorship disappeared in 1931 and with it Lanin's radio show and, not long after -- as soon as contracts had run their course -- the Ipana Troubadours name. He went on to record with Sam Lanin's Troubadours, Sam Lanin's Dance Ensemble, and other groups, often anonymously, and led the Pillsbury Orchestra in broadcasts for a year during the early '30s. But by the mid-'30s he was reduced to cutting transcription discs, a usually thankless and anonymous task that paid bills but earned little glory or significant amounts of money.
His brand of dance music still had an audience, although the advent of the swing era increasingly pulled that audience toward bigger ensembles and more jazz-focused work, while personalities such as an up-and-coming young Ozzie Nelson -- who not only led a band, but also sang -- got an ever-larger share of what top hotel work and radio broadcasts that there were.Lanin probably could have gone the same route that Fred Rich did, to an executive position in radio or with one of the movie studios, but he didn't have to.
Despite the market crash, he'd apparently held onto a lot of the money he'd made in the teens and 1920s, and was able to walk away from the business in the late '30s more-than-comfortably well off. He was largely forgotten, except by collectors, jazz history buffs, and nostalgia mavens across the decades that followed -- ironically enough, this was a period in which his younger brother Lester, who'd begun emerging to fame a decade after Sam in somewhat different circles, achieved a following leading the same kind of dance bands with which Sam had first made his name; of course, by the 1950s, what Lester was doing was considerably more nostalgia-oriented, whereas Sam had been on the cutting edge of popular music 30 years before.
Lanin passed away in Florida in 1977, four decades out of the music business, but in the 1980s and 1990s, select sides of his work started reappearing on compact disc. In 2000, Lanin received something of his long overdue recognition from author Tim Gracyk in the book Popular American Recording Pioneers 1895-1925, which probably contains the fullest account of his career. And in more recent times some of Lanin's sides with the likes of Frank Trumbauer and Miff Mole have even been honored with reissues by Mosaic Records, the Rolls-Royce of jazz reissue labels.
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Johnny Bayersdorffer
Trumpet/Tenor sax/Leader
b. New Orleans, LA, USA
d. Nov. 17, 1969, New Orleans, LA, USA, age 70.
Very active and popular band leader in
New Orleans and vicinity all during the 1920s.
While his name makes him sound more like someone who would lead a German Oktoberfest "oompah" band, Johnny Bayersdorffer was a New Orleans jazz brass player who worked in a variety of popular local bands during the '20s and then bounced around between several other large American cities, most notably Chicago. Bayersdorffer formed his own bands beginning in high school, possibly afraid that he would be unable to find a bandleader willing to try and announce his name on-stage. Jazzola Ltd. Band and Johnny Bayersdorffer & His Jazzola Novelty Orchestra were some of snappy names for his combos in the early '20s, sidemen including Nappy Lamare and Tom Brown. Bayersdorfer and trombonist/bassist Brown co-wrote the tune "I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Ridin' Now?" one of a handful of recordings made by Bayersdorfer's groups but not to be confused with the more popular, if equally lost, "I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone." Around the same time, the trumpeter was gigging in a band led by reed player Tony Parenti. In the fall of 1924, Bayersdorffer ditched his civil service day job and took his music full-time, relocating to Chicago and doing stints in Indianapolis and Los Angeles prior to returning to New Orleans. In the late '20s he began to focus more on his Chicago base, although Bayersdorffer was also a name heard on the New York scene. He continued working with players such as violinist Billy Lustig and pianist Lee Shore, and was seriously injured with the latter man in a 1940 car crash while on tour. Bayersdorffer was back in action professionally by early in the following decade, including a residency at the Club Flamingo and a triumphant New Orleans homecoming. Staying put in New Orleans, he retired in the '60s following a decade in which his time had been almost equally balanced between gigs and a government job. Biography ~by Eugene Chadbourne

Archie Edwards, guitar
b. Union Hall, VA, USA
From the time of his birth in rural Virginia in 1918, Piedmont blues guitarist Archie Edwards was surrounded by music. The hard work of farm life was punctuated by musical interludes when musicians from the town of Union Hall and surrounding areas visited to make music with his father, Roy Edwards, who played the slide guitar, harmonica, and banjo.
By the time he had entered his teenage years, Edwards knew that he wanted to be a guitarist. Within a few years, he had one of his instruments to play, but the guitar was one he had to share with two brothers, Willie and Robert.
Archie in the ArmyHe built up his repertoire by listening to recordings made by such blues legends as Blind Boy Fuller and Blind Lemon Jefferson. He also increased his musical knowledge by learning at the elbow of men like his father and other musicians who occasionally traveled through town and the neighboring areas.
Edwards and his brothers earned pocket money by playing local house parties. At the time, Edwards was just a boy of 12. He didn't return to school after the eighth grade, but instead sought employment alongside another brother. The Edwards siblings toiled in a sawmill, with the guitarist continuing to appease his lifelong love of music during rare downtimes by playing around the camp, where he also labored on Saturday mornings. In the evenings after work, Edwards strummed his guitar during house parties. But by 1937, the guitarist had had enough of the sawmill. He left the area and ended up in New Jersey, where he supported himself for several years by chauffeuring and cooking before heading home. Later, he found employment at an Ohio hotel. During World War II, the guitarist enlisted and served his time as an MP overseas.
Archie PerformingWhen the war was over, he made his way to the nation's capital, where he undertook the trade of a mason. Dissatisfied, he left for Virginia again, this time settling in the city of Richmond where he worked as a barber. Still unsettled, he headed back to Washington where, before he retired during the early '80s, he would work as a federal security guard. He also drove a truck and opened a barbershop in the late '50s. The storefront attracted men who loved the blues as much as he did. One of Edwards' frequent visitors was a musician he had revered since his youth,Mississippi John Hurt. The two blues lovers quickly forged a bond of friendship and they played around the capital with another blues musician, Skip James. Beginning in 1966 with the death of his idol Hurt, Edwards' music was silenced for several years when he could not play, perhaps due to grief.
Following this period of mourning, he went on to pen "The Road Is Rough and Rocky." He later performed at festivals and local nightspots, and he appeared during a festival sponsored by the Smithsonian. He also appeared around Washington with an ensemble known as the Travelling Blues Workshop. The outfit included Flora Molton, Mother Scott, John Jackson, Phil Wiggins, and John Cephas. Thanks to Molton, Edwards got the chance to record. She passed his name to Alex Kustner, who booked Edwards onto the American Blues Festival across Europe. L&R soon scooped him up to record Living Country Blues, Vol. 6: The Road Is Rough and Rocky. He also recorded for Mapleshade in the late '80s. He went on to team with Molton and Eleanor Ellis, and the three partners toured Europe and North America.
~ Linda Seida

Meade "Lux" Lewis, Piano
*b. Chicago, IL (or Louisville, KY), USA.
d. June 7, 1964, Los Angeles, CA area (or Minneapolis, MN) (Auto crash).
né: Meade Anderson Lewis.
*His birthdate is variously reported
as either Sept, 3, 4, or 14. Meade Anderson "Lux" Lewis (1905 - 1964) was a United States pianist and composer noted for his work in the Boogie Woogie style. His best known work, "Honky Tonk Train Blues" has been recorded in various contexts, often in a big band arrangement. Early renditions include 1940s recordings by Adrian Rollini, Frankie Trumbauer, and Bob Zurke, with Bob Crosby's orchestra. Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer often includes it in his program, but Lewis himself did not need accompaniment, his solo performances had the power and intricacy of a sophisticated orchestral arrangement.
Lewis was born in Chicago, Illinois in September of 1905 (September 3rd, 4th, and 13th are given as his birthdate in various sources). In his youth he was influenced by pianist Jimmy Yancey.  A 1927 rendition of "Honky Tonk Train Blues" on the Paramount Records label marked his recording debut. He remade it for Parlophone in 1935 and for Victor in 1937, but it was his performance at John Hammond's historic From Spirituals to Swing concert at Carnegie Hall, in 1938 that brought Lewis lasting fame.
Following the celebrated event, Lewis and two other performers from that concert, Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson often appeared as a trio and became the leading boogie-woogie pianists of the day. They performed an extended engagement at Café Society, toured as a trio, and inspired the formation of Blue Note Records in 1939. Their success led to a decade long boogie woogie craze with big band swing treatments by Tommy Dorsey, Will Bradley, and others; and numerous country boogie and early rock.
Meade "Lux" Lewis continued recording until 1962 and died in an
automobile accident in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 7, 1964.
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Tommy McQuater Trumpet
b. Maybole, Scotland Tommy McQuater was born in Maybole on the 4th of Sept 1914. Although he received tuition in a brass band, he was largely self-taught. He began playing professionally with Louis Freeman, whose band performed on transatlantic liners, then worked with the bandleaders Jack Payne (1934) and Lew Stone (1934-5).
He spent two years with Bert Ambrose (1936-8) before playing briefly with the Heralds of Swing (1939); he returned for a short time to Ambrose, then during and after the war played with the Squadronaires , making several recordings. After performing with a pit band called the Skyrockets (1952-3), he played mainly in radio and television, at first as a member of Cyril Stapleton's BBC Showband, then as a staff musician in television under Jack Parnell.
He continued to work as a freelance player into the 1980s. Among the many leaders with whom McQuater recorded were Benny Carter (1936-7), Danny Polo (1937), George Chisholm (1938, 1944-5, 1961), John Dankworth (1955, 1961), and Benny Goodman (1969); his playing is well represented on Chisholm's Rosetta (1938, Decca F7015).

Gerald Wilson
b. Shelby, MS, USA
Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:

Bascom Lamar Lunsford
C&W singer/multi-instrumentalist died.
Bessie Jones, vocals
died in Brunswick, GA, USA.
Age: 82.
Best recalled as member of "The Georgia Sea Island Singers'.
Bessie Jones 

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


McMurray's California Thumpers - Blue


Faye Barnes / Maggie Jones - Don't Never Tell Nobody What Your Good Man Did


Waring's Pennsylvanians
  • Mighty Blue


Joe "Wingy" Manone and his Club Royale Orchestra

Wilton Crawley

Slim Lamar and his Southerners

Ted Weems and his Orchestra - (You're Just a Great Big) Baby Doll


Jessie Stafford and his Orchestra - Feelin' The Way I Do

Fred Hall and his Sugar Babies
  • I Lift Up My Finger And Say "Tweet, Tweet"
  • Sophomore Prom

Irving Mills' Hotsy-Totsy Gang - Ain't Misbehavin'


Abe Lyman's California Ambassador Hotel Orchestra Hullabaloo


Lee Morse and her Bluegrass Boys - Love Letters In The Sand

Lee Morse and her Bluegrass Boys Mood Indigo


Isham Jones and his Orchestra - Blue Lament (Cry For Me)


Doin' the New Low-Down

Listen good folks:
It isn't alcohol,
No yaller gal at all,
Thrill me, thrill me with the pep I've got!
I got a pair of feet that have found that lowdown beat,
Lowdown, down around, the spot that's hot,
Have no peace with losing' my lease on livin',
Here's the how, I'm tellin' you now, to givin':
Make 'em play that crazy thing again,
I've got to do that lazy swing again,
Hi-ho, doin' the new lowdown!
Got my feet to misbehaving now,
Got a soul that's not for saving now,
Hi-ho, doin' the new lowdown!
That dancin' demon, he has my feet in a trance,
'Cause when I'm dreamin', folks, I go right into that dance!
Once you hear that haunting strain to it,
I'll bet my life you'll go insane to it,
Hi-ho, doin' the new lowdown!
Hi-ho, doin' the new lowdown!

Love Letters In The Sand
Written by Charles Kenny, Nick Kenny and J. Fred Coots

On a day like today
We pass the time away
Writing love letters in the sand
How you laughed when I cried
Each time I saw the tide
Take our love letters from the sand
You made a vow that you
Would always be true
But somehow, that vow
Meant nothing to you
Now my poor heart just aches
With ev'ry wave that breaks
Over love letters in the sand

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