Thursday

MARCH 17TH



Alcide "Yellow" Nunez, Tom Brown, Frank Christian

BIRTHDAYS



1884
Alcide "Yellow" Nunez, clarinet
b. New Orleans, LA, USA.
d. Sept. 2, 1934.
Louisiana Five is of interest today mostly for the presence of their clarinetist Alcide "Yellow" Nunez. Nunez was born in New Orleans circa 1892 and in 1916 was a charter member of Stein's Dixie Jass Band, among the earliest of the white Dixieland bands to venture north to Chicago. The band would later morph into Original Dixieland Jazz Band under the leadership of cornetist Nick LaRocca. According to writer H.O. Brunn it was Nunez's unreliability compounded by heavy drinking that caused LaRocca to fire him on October 31, 1916, a scant few weeks before ODJB's landmark successes in New York City.

Nunez returned to New Orleans, replaced by Larry Shields, who would do something Nunez was never able to do or possibly unwilling to do, that was to find a place for the clarinet in the cornet led Dixieland ensemble. Nunez formed another band and returned to Chicago's Vernon Café but with little success.
About a year after the initial success of Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Nunez joined with New Orleans drummer and manager Anton Lada to form Louisiana Five. Joining the group were Brooklyn trombonist Charlie Panelli, who would be a fixture on the New York Dixieland scene through the early '20s where he would perform for extended periods with the Original Memphis Five and Original Indiana Five; pianist Joe Cawley; and banjoist Karl Berger. Starting in December 1918 for one year they would record over 50 sides, many original compositions, for Emerson, Columbia, Edison, Okeh, and even an unissued test for Victor. Nunez was modestly billed as "The World's Greatest Jazz Clarinetist" in the various Gotham venues they played.
Some of the Columbia Louisiana Five recordings enjoyed modest success but they never rivaled the sales of ODJB Victors. Shortly after the demise of Louisiana Five in early 1920, Nunez made recordings in association with Harry Yerkes, a New York recording pioneer who played a variety of percussion instruments. Some of the recordings also featured New Orleans trombonist Tom Brown. That association seems to have ceased in the same year. Anton Lada went on to lead dance orchestras and record for Emerson. His last recordings appear to have been made in Los Angeles in 1925 for the Sunset label.
In the mid-'20s, Nunez played through Texas and Oklahoma with his own quartet. One could speculate that Nunez's lack of success stemmed from his unwillingness to change his style by abandoning lead playing to the cornet. But Nunez unknowingly may have had some vindication when he was heard, according Charles Edward Smith, by a teenage Pee Wee Russell at the Elks Club in Muskogee, OK. The argument can be made that Russell's "un-clarinet"-like style may have derived originally from the stubborn old New Orleans veteran with his C Albert system clarinet refusing to surrender the lead. Although Smith's assertions were based on personal interviews with Russell, Robert Hilbert seems to have dismissed much of this in his biography of Russell written in 1993. Nunez returned to New Orleans in 1927 where he continued to work with local groups and was a member of the Police Band. He passed way on September 2, 1934, a forgotten man at the beginning of the swing era.
Some of the recordings of Louisiana Five have been reissued as part of 
potpourri sets like Timeless Historical's excellent From Ragtime to Jazz three-CD series. 
~ Frank Powers







1917
Nat "King" Cole
Piano/Vocal
b. Montgomery, AL, USA. 
d. Feb.,15, 1965, Santa Monica, CA, USA.
(age :46. Lung Cancer -smoked 3 packs a day.)
né: Nathaniel Adams Coles.
Exact year of birth unknown. He often used 1912, 1915, 1916, 1917, and 1919.
His father was the Reverend Edward James Coles Snr. His mother was Perlina Adams Coles. They had thirteen children, but only five lived to adulthood. Taught to play piano (by ear - he could never read music) by his mother, he was playing in his father's church at age 11. After graduating high school, he formed a trio (that included his brother). Nat later told interviewers that by the time he was 20, his music was "known in every beer joint in Los Angeles."
In time, the public took to Nat's singing voice, and he became a worldwide star. He recorded so many hits for Capitol Records that the label was often called "The House That Nat Built". Nat and President John Kennedy became friends, and Kennedy even attended Natalie Cole's debutante ball. In 1946, Nat started doing a weekly radio show, making him the first Black man to have his own radio (and later TV) show. He subsequently appeared in many movies.
In 1936, he was part of the touring show "Shuffle Along", and married one of the show's dancers, Nadine Robinson. His second marriage was in 1946, to Maria Ellington (no relation to the "Duke" - although she did once sing in the Duke's band). Their first child was Natalie Maria, born June 2, 1950, a few months before Nat's huge hit recording of "Mona Lisa" was released. A few years later, upon the death of Maria's sister and her husband, they adopted that couple's daugter, Carol (b. Oct. 17, 1944).
In 1959, thinking they would never have any more children of their own, Nat and Maria adopted a son whom they called Nat Kelly Cole. However on September 26, 1961, Maria gave birth to twin girls. Their names were Timolin and Casey. 
Timolin was a name suggested by a songwriter friend, while Casey was named after baseball celebrity Casey Stengel (Nat was an avid sports fan!). Among Nat's hit recordings are: "Unforgettable", "Mona Lisa", "When I Fall In Love", "Too Young", "Sweet Lorraine", "Love Letters", "For All We Know", "The Very Thought Of You", "Ramblin' Rose", and "Nature Boy".

1907
Ellabelle Davis
(gospel) vocals
b. New Rochelle, NY, USA.


1909
Patrick Dodd
(Political) songwriter
Member of the Oregon (USA) group ' Patrick Dodd and Small Revolutions'



1915
Ray Ellington
Drums/Vocals/Leader
b. Kennington, London, England, UK
d. Feb. 27, 1985, London, England, UK.
(cancer).
né: Harry Pitts Brown.
Ray Ellington has a last name that would seem to make him a natural part of the American jazz family, but in reality his background was quite different, and his major claim to fame would be most appropriately described as "something completely different." Although a hardworking part of the British jazz and rock scenes of the '50s and '60s, the African-born drummer, vocalist, and bandleader is known to most listeners as part of the auxiliary cast of The Goon Show, a madcap radio series that ran on the British Broadcasting Corporation for a nearly a decade beginning in the early '50s. The main three performers behind the show were the great comedian Peter Sellers, the versatile musician and performer Sir Harry Secombe, and goon-of-all-trades Spike Milligan. The latter comedian and writer had begun his professional performing career as a jazz trumpeter and was keen on the genre for his entire life, so it is no surprise that he would enlist the aid of a talented jazz performer such as Ellington to help create the memorable mixture of nutty humor and high-quality music that was one of the show's most original features.

Another fine jazz musician who was part of the cast was the Dutch harmonica player Max Geldray. Working together with bandleader Wally Stott, these musicians were responsible for several musical interludes in each show, without which it is quite possible that many audience members might have died of non-stop laughter. Like all members of the show's staff, these musicians also took part in the skits themselves. In fact, it would be quite appropriate to list "long drawn-out African-sounding gibberish" as part of Ellington's instrumental credits, as this was a regular part of his contributions to various sketches. Bengali dialects, on the other hand, were the speciality of both Milligan and Sellers. Ellington took on a variety smaller roles in sketches, such as Chief Ellinga, Gladys, and the Red Bladder.

Ellington's family immigrated to England when he was young, and he was an instructor in the Royal Air Force prior to embarking on his professional music career. He formed his original Ray Ellington Quartet in 1950, and was also known to millions through the radio program Mr. Ros and Mr. Ray. Ironically, his association with the Goons helped him sustain a musical career during an era when British Invasion rock & roll was vanquishing just about any kind of musical performer who did not possess a mop-top haircut and the ability to sing "yeah, yeah, yeah." Not that he stuck to straight jazz when exploiting the popularity of the Goons; he had chart singles in the early '60s, but these were rock and rhythm & blues numbers, some produced by the superb Joe Meek. In 1970, Ellington established the popular Ray Ellington Big Band & Singers. His son, singer Lance Ellington, took his place on a 50th anniversary special of The Goon Show in 2001. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi

1909
Lovie Lee, piano
b. Chattanooga, TN, USA.
né: Eddie Lee Watson.
Lovie is perhaps best recalled as Muddy Waters' final piano accompanist. Lee is also the adoptive father of harpist Carey Bell,
Best known as Muddy Waters' final piano accompanist, the sadly underrecognized Lovie Lee was a longtime staple of the Chicago club circuit. Born Eddie Lee Watson in Chattanooga, TN on March 17, 1909, he worked during the day as a factory woodworker, honing his skills each night in the Chicago blues clubs from the '50s onward; the adoptive father of harpist Carey Bell, he acquired an impressive local reputation over time, but was little known outside of the Midwest in spite of his association with Waters during the legend's final years. In 1984 and 1989, Lee recorded much of the material which later comprised his 1992 release Good Candy, which was rounded out by latter-day efforts cut with Bell; his lone solo release, it too garnered little notice. Lee died May 23, 1997.
~ Jason Ankeny


1919
Leroy Lovett
piano/celeste/arranger
b. Philadelphia, PA, USA
d. USA




1930
Grover Mitchell
trombonist and bandleader
b. March 17, 1930, Whatley, Alabama
d. August 6, 2003 in New York, NY
Grover Curry Mitchell (March 17, 1930 in Whatley, Alabama – August 6, 2003 in New York City's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center) was a jazz trombonist and bandleader.
Biography
He was born in Alabama, but his parents moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was eight. It was in Pittsburgh that he became interested in jazz.
He began on trombone in his teens after initially desiring to learn trumpet. However, his arms were considered long, so the school trained him in trombone as they needed trombonists more than trumpeters. In adulthood he worked with the United States Marines band, Lionel Hampton, and Duke Ellington. He became best known for his association with Count Basie, which began in 1962. He was lead trombone for Basie by 1970, but after that he took time off. He founded his own band in 1978 which he continued to lead even after returning to Basie's Orchestra in 1980. From 1995 until his death, he served as director of the Count Basie Orchestra. In that capacity he won the Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album twice.
Mitchell was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 2008.

Grover Mitchell, a Basie original | African American Registry

Grover Mitchell | Biography | AllMusic
An Interview With Grover Mitchell
Grover Mitchell, 73, Trombonist And Leader of Basie Orchestra
Jazz House obituary


1901
Alfred Newman, composer
b. New Haven, CT, USA.
d. Feb. 17, 1970, Hollywood, CA, USA.
(Emphysema)
Composed: "Love is a Many Splendored Thing"
1918
Wilbur Schwartz, reeds
b. New Jersey, USA
d. Aug. 3, 1990 in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
best remembered today for his work with Glenn Miller whom he joined in 1937, remaining until 1942. Prior to Miller, he had played with Julie Wintz's band.
Notable Events Occurring 
On This Date Include:


1926.
The musical "The Girl Friend"
opened in New York City.
(409 performances.)

1963.
Lizzie Miles, vocals
died in New Orleans, LA, USA.
Age: 69.
1976.
Jack Palmer, songwriter
died in Waterbury, CT, USA.
Age: 75.


1980.
Hugh Farr, Fiddle/Bass Vocals
member of the "Sons of the Pioneers," died.
Age: 76.


1995.
"Sunnyland Slim", piano
died in Chicago, IL, USA.
Age: 87.


Bill & Cliff Carlisle/The Carlisle Brothers
2003.
"Jumpin'" Bill Carlisle
C&W Singer-Songwriter/Guitar/Yodeler/comedy
died at his home near Nashville, TN, USA.
Age: 94.
Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


1920

Raderman's Jazz Orchestra - Yellow Dog Blues


1921



All Star Trio and their Orchestra
  • Teach Me

1923




The Cotton Pickers - Snake Hips


1924



Johnny Bayersdorffer and his Jazzola Novelty Orchestra - The Waffle Man's Call



Bailey's Lucky Seven
  • What'll I Do?
  • Worried

1925




Original Crescent City Jazzers - Christine

Josie Miles - Low Down Daddy Blues



1927




Lee Morse and her Southern Serenaders - Mollie, Make Up Your Mind


Lee Morse and her Southern Serenaders - What Do I Care What Somebody Said?

Bill Brown and his Brownies - Hot Lips
  • Bill Brown Blues

1928


Charley Straight's Orchestra - Sweet Sue - Just You - (Vocal Chorus by Frank Sylvano)

1929


Frankie Trumbauer and his Orchestra
1931



Marion Harris - My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes


1932




Lonnie Johnson - There Is No Justice
  • Winnie The Wailer


Ella Fitzgerald - My Melancholy Baby (with Teddy Wilson on piano)



1937




The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra - They Can’t Take That Away From Me


1940


Lil "Brown Gal" Armstrong and her Dixielanders - Riffin' The Blues



LYRICS:

Yellow Dog Blues
~by W.C. Handy
Verse 1:
E'er since Miss Susan Johnson lost her Jockey, Lee,
There has been much excitement, more to be;
You can hear her moaning night and morn.
"Wonder where my Easy Rider's gone?"

Cable grams come of sympathy,
Telegrams go of inquiry,
Letters come from down in "Bam"
And everywhere that Uncle Sam
Has even a rural delivery.

All day the phone rings, But it's not for me,
At last good tidings fill our hearts with glee,
This message comes from Tennessee.

Chorus: Dear Sue your Easy Rider struck this burg today,
On a south-bound rattler side door Pullman car.
Seen him here an' he was on the hog
Spoken The smoke was broke, no joke, not a jitney on him.

Easy Rider's gotta stay away,
So he had to vamp it, but the hike ain't far.
He's gone where the Southern cross' the Yellow Dog.

Verse 2:
I know the Yellow Dog District like a book,
Indeed I know the route that Rider took;
Ev'ry cross tie, bayou, burg and bog.
Way down where the Southern cross' the Dog,

Money don't zactly grow on trees.
On cotton stalks it grows with ease;
No race horse, race track, no grand stand
Is like Old Beck and Buckshot land,

Down where the Southern cross' the Dog,
Every kitchen there is a cabaret,
Down there the boll weevil works while the darkies play,
This Yellow Dog Blues the live long day.

Chorus: Dear Sue your Easy Rider struck this burg today,
On a south-bound rattler side door Pullman car.
Seen him here an' he was on the hog
Spoken The smoke was broke, no joke, not a jitney on him.

Easy Rider's gotta stay away,
So he had to vamp it, but the hike ain't far.
He's gone where the Southern cross' the Yellow Dog.

TubaGirlFin
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Special Thanks To:
The Red Hot Jazz Archives,
The Big Band Database
, Scott Yanow

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