Tuesday

MAY 17TH



BIRTHDAYS



1907

Castor McCord, Tenor Sax
b. Birmingham, AL, USA
d. 1963
With a name that sounds like something shouted in brogue during a shipwreck, Castor McCord was a superb member of the reed sections in some of the classiest ensembles ever assembled in jazz, including a Parisian outfit that backed Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins. Nonetheless there are other aspects of his life and career that merit interest outside the realm of jazz aesthetics. For one thing--or actually two things--McCord is one of very few sets of twins involved in performing swinging music. His brother was also a saxophonist, Theodore McCord, sometimes known by his antique middle-name of "Jobetus."

A superficial examination of the playing involvements of these brothers would lead to the mistaken conclusion that they were bluegrass pickers, or rather tooters, instead of jazzmen. After all, they both started out playing in Edgar Hayes' Blue Grass Buddies in 1924. Hayes, however, was an early jazz bandleader, part of a rich scene of black music happening in the region of Ohio towns such as Springfield and Xenia. At this point, the McCord brothers were still in high school and the term "bluegrass" was years away from being used in the context of anything connected to country and western. During his ensuing years at the area's important Wilberforce University, Castor McCord joined a student band under the direction of Horace Henderson, which as in the case of many of his fellow students led to a decision to play professionally.
McCord headed to Atlantic City, then the Big Apple. Falling in with the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, he was by the end of the '20s playing on dates behind Armstrong. He kept up his allegiance to this group while also working with leaders such as Eubie Blake and Charlie Matson. A period of living abroad was next on the agenda, although this decision puts McCord in a much larger group of American performers than his later decision to abandon music for hairdressing. He spent more than a year based in Paris and was also in on the traveling adventures of bandleader Leon Abbey, another expatriate who took jazz to lands it had never been before, including India in 1936.

As a leader of his own group, McCord's main ventures seem to have taken place during the European sojourn--he had his own trio in Amsterdam in 1937. He also gigged the following year in a Rotterdam outfit whose musical weather vane was Walter Rains. McCord came back to New York City soon thereafter, joining back up with Abbey who had made the same decision. In McCord's final years as a musician he joined the reed section of Benny Carter's band for some memorable stomping at the Savoy, also working with Eddie Mallory and a memorable ensemble organized by the great Kansas City jazz musician

Claude Hopkins. McCord opened his own Manhattan hairdressing salon in 1940, remaining committed to the comb and brush up until his death in the early '60s.
~ Eugene Chadbourne

1907
Theodore McCord, Clarinet
b. Birmingham, AL, USA.

The apparently highly swinging music department at Ohio's Wilberforce University was responsible for a surprising number of accomplished jazz musicians in the early 1920s including one of the genre's rare sets of twin brothers, Castor McCord and Theodore McCord. Both were reed players, and in some details their careers were nearly identical. The differences include Theodore McCord's more active use of the alto saxophone -- the siblings shared an interest in fondling the larger tenor sax as well as the clarinet. Castor McCord managed to show up on a few more recording sessions than his brother, at least if the stitch-counting of discographer Tom Lord is to be taken seriously, but demand for Theodore McCord on studio jobs continued for several years after Castor McCord's last known studio recording in 1939.
Quite often credited as Ted McCord, this instrumentalist should not be confused with the Hollywood cinematographer of the same name. The Ted McCord of the movie business has his own seams to the historic jazz scene by virtue of having worked on the biopic potboiler Young Man with a Horn, a portrait of trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke. Beiderbecke's music was not the type of jazz that inspired either of the musical McCord brothers to tie their career knots -- that was bandleader Horace Henderson, whose student ensemble at Wilberforce University was the pride of Xenia, OH. Although college students, the twins came to Henderson with professional experience already under their belts, having both been members of Edgar Hayes' Blue Grass Buddies circa 1924.

The bluegrass genre associated with acoustic string instruments, white lightning tempos and white gospel harmony singing had nothing to do with this, having not even been named as such at this point. That fact does not stop occasional attempts to claim the McCord twins as part of the Nashville freak scene.

No, Xenia was its own incredibly rich theater of live music in the '20s, as difficult as that is to believe based on the portrait film director Harmony Korine created of the town in his 1997 film Gummo. The idea of twin saxophone players working in rowdy local jazz bands is a detail kooky enough for the Gummo connection, yet by the '90s any wealth of cultural diversity had long since vanished from this part of Ohio, leaving as little a trace as Theodore McCord did when he dropped out of music in the '40s.

Castor McCord also quit performing during this time, but was known to have become a hairdresser in New York City. The brothers frequently worked in the same groups, including the Mills Blue Rhythm Band. In terms of discographical activity, that association is directly responsible for the ease with which interested listeners can examine and even compare the reed work of the Xenia twins. Louis Armstrong utilized the group to accompany him on a series of recordings in the early '30s, material that has been reissued several times. Theodore McCord also performed and recorded with McKinney's Cotton Pickers.
1909
Joe Montgomery, piano
b. Kentwood, LA, USA.
Worked with J. B. Lenoir


1916
Paul Quinichette, Tenor Sax
b. New York, NY, USA
d. 1983. Tag: The "Vice Prez".
Paul Quinichette was known throughout his career as the "Vice Prez" because he sounded so similar to Lester Young. While most of Young's other followers emulated his '30s style, Quinichette sounded like Lester Young of the then-present day (the 1950s). After getting experience with Nat Towles, Lloyd Sherock, and Ernie Fields, Quinichette was featured with Jay McShann during 1942-1944. He played on the West Coast with Johnny Otis (1945-1947), traveled to New York with Louis Jordan, and performed with Lucky Millinder (1948-1949), Red Allen, and Hot Lips Page. Quinichette was with Count Basie during 1952-1953 (when Basie had re-formed his orchestra), worked with Benny Goodman in 1955, recorded with Billie Holiday, and held his own on a session with John Coltrane. Otherwise, Quinichette mostly led his own group in the 1950s, recording several excellent (if obviously derivative) records. He left music in the late '50s to become an electrical engineer, returning to jazz briefly in the early to mid-'70s, playing with Sammy Price, Brooks Kerr, and Buddy Tate before being forced to retire due to bad health.


1880
Olivia Shipp, bass
b. New Orleans, LA. USA.
Olivia L’Ange Porter Shipp, A bassist, cellist, pianist and a native of New Orleans, Louisiana was born on this day in 1880. She spent most of her professional life in New York, where she worked as a musician from until the 1950s. She is best known for organizing the Negro Women’s Orchestral and Civic Association in New York in the 1920's and 1930's. She passed away in 1980 in New York City at 100 years of age.




1908
Warren Doyle Smith, Trombone
b. Middlebourne, WV, USA.
d. 1975
This artist's movement around the American countryside is easily compared to the fluid action of a trombone's slide when properly lubricated. The clumsiness of the image is acceptable since Warren Smith was fortunate enough to earn his living playing trombone. Discographical mistaken identity with other performers in jazz named Warren Smith a small stumbling block in the distant future, he is thus comfortably linked to diverse scenes in distinct sections of the United States, emerging as one of Harrison's Texans in the '20s yet able to relax on the West Coast in the company of Red Nichols in the '60s.

Smith accomplished this much by playing professionally right up to the day of his death. In between the previously described associations there was a long spell in the big band of Abe Lyman, work with vocal music crooner Bob Crosby, even a stint in the Duke Ellington band. The trombonist's father was a multi-instrumentalist and taught Smith the same skills: he began on piano at the ripe age of seven, then learned both cornet and saxophone before finally choosing trombone as a primary instrument. Discographies hint at occasional employment on tenor saxophone and in actuality he played both horns in initial rovings with Harrison's Texans. By his move eastward to Indianapolis in the second half of the '30s, Smith's résumé included a half-dozen years with Lyman. He finished out the decade with Crosby's outfit, was back with Lyman for a minute, then turned into a regular on the Chicago jazz scene -- undoubtedly a good move as the nightlife scene in Indianapolis was beginning to crumble.

Solid mainstream jazz credentials emerge from the Windy City period including associations with bandleaders such as Bud Jacobson and Bob Scobey, continuing to accumulate in a sunnier climate by 1945, the slippery Smith now a West Coast resident in bands with Jess Stacy, Lu Watters, and others. The trombonist toured with Ellington in the summer of 1955 and spent three years with Joe Darensbourg beginning in 1957. Then came what turned out to be two of his finest musical associations in terms of no-nonsense swing, a stint with organist Wild Bill Davison and the final set of rallies with Nichols, rumored to include mammoth saki-drinking sessions during a Japanese tour in 1964.
~ Eugene Chadbourne


1912
Grant Turner
(C&W) vocals/announcer
b. Abilene, TX, USA.


1918
Dorris Paul Warren
(Bluegrass) fiddler
b. Lyles, TN, USA.




Notable Events 
Occurring 

On This Date Include:




1846. 
Antoine Joseph Sax patented
the "saxophone" (in Belgium).
~Biography
Antoine Joseph Sax aka Adolphe Sax was born in Dinantin Wallonia, Belgium. His father, Charles-Joseph Sax, was an instrument designer himself, who made several changes to the design of the horn. Adolphe began to make his own instruments at an early age, entering two of his flutesand a clarinet into a competition at the age of fifteen. He subsequently studied those two instruments at the Royal School of Singing in Brussels.
Having left the school, Sax began to experiment with new instrument designs, while his father continued to produce conventional instruments to bring money into the household. Adolphe's first important invention was an improvement of the bass clarinet design which he patented at the age of twenty.
In 1841, Sax relocated permanently to Paris and began work on a new set of instruments which were exhibited there in 1844.
They were valved bugles, and although he had not invented the instrument itself, his examples were so much more successful than those of his rivals that they became known as saxhorns. They range in approximately seven different sizes, and paved the path to the creation of the flugelhorn. Today, they are widely used inconcert bands and sometimes in orchestras. The saxhorn also laid the groundwork for the modern euphonium.
Sax also developed the saxotromba family, valved brass instruments with narrower bore than the saxhorns, in 1845, though they survived only briefly.
Saxhorn instruments spread rapidly throughout the world. The saxhorn valves were accepted as state of the art and are still largely unchanged today. The advances made by Adolphe Sax were soon followed by the formation of the famous British brass band movement which exclusively adopted the saxhorn range. An example is the Jedforest Instrumental Band which formed in 1854 within the Scottish Borders only a decade after saxhorn models became available.
The period around 1840 saw Sax inventing the clarinette-bourdon, an early (and unsuccessful) design of contrabass clarinet. Most significantly, at this time he developed the instrument for which he is now best known, the saxophone, patented in 1846. The saxophone was invented for use in both orchestras and concert bands. Composer Hector Berlioz wrote approvingly of the new instrument in 1842. By 1846 Sax had designed, on paper, a full range of saxophones (from sopranino to subcontrabass). Although they never became standard orchestral instruments, the saxophones made his reputation, and secured him a job teaching at the Paris Conservatoire from 1867.
Sax continued to make instruments later in life, as well as presiding over a new saxophone class at the Paris Conservatoire. However, rival instrument makers attacked the legitimacy of his patents and mounted a long campaign of litigation against Sax and his company, driving him into bankruptcy twice (in 1856 and 1873).
Sax suffered from lip cancer between 1853 and 1858 but made a full recovery. He died in 1894 in Paris and was interred in section 5 (Avenue de Montebello) at the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris.



1933.
C&W singer Jimmie Rodgers,
in failing health, started to record
24 songs for RCA-Victor.
He completed the series, and just
9 days later died (tuberculosis).
Jimmie Rodgers - The Father of Country Music
1964.
"Stick Horse Hammond", guitar
died in Taylortown, LA, USA.
Age: 68.



1974.
Romeo Nelson, piano
died in Chicago, IL, USA.
Age: 72. 
Iromeio "Romeo" Nelson (March 12, 1902 - May 17, 1974) was an American boogie woogie pianist. His recordings from 1929 are regarded as some of the finest, and certainly the fastest, boogie woogie showpieces on record.
Born in Springfield, Tennessee, he moved to Chicago at the age of 6. For most of his life he played piano at rent parties in the city, although he also lived in East St. Louis for a while in the early 1920s.
In 1929 he made his only series of recordings for Vocalion Records. These included "Gettin' Dirty Just Shakin' That Thing", renowned for its raunchy "signifying" lyrics, and "Head Rag Hop", featuring talking by Tampa Red and Frankie Jaxon.
His music is multi-dimensional, involving great amounts of keyboard technique, an interesting harmonic imagination, and an obvious sense of humor. He often takes the works of his competitors on the piano, such as Pinetop Perkins, and plays them at greatly enhanced speed, an effect as overwhelming as it is comical. An interview conducted the 1960s by the Jazz Institute of Chicago indicated that Nelson had retired from the music industry.
Romeo Nelson - Wikipedia


Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:



1917


Six Brown Brothers - My Fox Trot Girl


1923


The Gulf Coast Seven
  • Day Break Blues
  • Fade Away Blues

1927



Jack Hylton's Kit-Cat Band - Muddy Water
  • Number Ten

1928


Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders - I Can't Give You Anything But Love 
  • Japansy

Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra
  • C.O.N.S.T.A.N.T.I.N.O.P.L.E.

1930



Memphis Jug Band - Cocaine Habit Blues


1939


Quintette of the Hot Club of France
  • Hungaria

LYRICS:

*"I Can't Give You Anything but Love" is a jazz standard generally considered to have been written by Jimmy McHugh (music) and Dorothy Fields (lyrics), although some claims have been made that in fact the music was by Fats Waller and the lyrics by Andy Razaf. According to the Jazz Standards website, the song was originally written as "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Lindy" in honor of Charles Lindbergh for the Broadway revue Harry Delmar's Revels (1927) but was dropped from that show.
I can't give you anything but love, baby

I can't give you anything but love, baby.
That's the only thing I've plenty of, baby.
Dream a while, scheme a while,
You're sure to find
Happiness and, I guess,
All those things you've always pined for.

Gee, it's great to see you looking swell, baby.
Diamond bracelets Woolworth doesn't sell, baby.
Till that lucky day you know darn well, baby,
I can't give you anything but love.
*Originally introduced in Lew Leslie's Blackbird Revue
at Les Ambassadeurs Club in New York, January 1928.


brought to you by... 
~confetta

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

and all those who have provided content,
images and sound files for this site.

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