Harry F. Reser, Banjo
b. Piqua, OH, USA.
d. 1965, New York, NY, USA.
Biography ~by Scott Yanow 
When one thinks of pre-bop banjoists, it is of purely rhythmic players whose chordal solos differ little from what they play during ensembles. Harry Reser however was quite a bit different, an outstanding virtuoso who was arguably the finest banjoist of the 1920's. Less an improviser than a brilliant technician who could play novelty ragtime with the speed of a pianist, Reser was also one of the most recorded musicians of the era.

Reser actually started on the guitar when he was five and soon he was playing violin, cello and piano; later on he would add marimba, trumpet and saxophone. It was not until he was 16 (inspired by Vess Ossman and Fred Van Eps), that Reser switched to banjo. After playing locally in dance bands, in 1921 Reser moved to New York where he was quickly in great demand. Over time he would play with Ben Selvin, Sam Lanin, Bennie Kruger and Paul Whiteman (even subbing once with Whiteman on trumpet!).
Reser started making records with many obscure groups almost immediately and in 1922 he recorded his first solo records including a remarkable version of Zez Confrey's "Kitten On The Keys." In addition to his series of virtuoso banjo workouts (writing more than twenty novelty rags) that still sound very impressive today, Reser recorded at the head of a huge number of overlapping dance bands (also writing many of the arrangements) that used a bewildering series of pseudonyms.
Harry Reser and his Orchestra
Among the names he used were the Blue Kittens, the Bostonians, the Campus Boys, the Four Minstrels, the High Hatters, Phil Hughes' Orchestra, the Jazz Pilots, Jimmy Johnston's Rebels, the Night Club Orchestra, the Okeh Syncopators, Earl Oliver's Jazz Babies, the Parlophone Syncopators, the Plantation Players, the Rounders, the Seven Rag Pickers, the Seven Wild Men, the Six Hayseeds, the Six Jumping Jacks, Tom Stacks and his Minute Men, the Victorian Syncopators, Bill Wirges' Orchestra and the Seven Little Polar Bears! The best-known name was the Cliquot Club Eskimos, a radio band that for ten years (1925-35) helped sell soft drinks; the musicians appeared on radio dressed in eskimo suits! Their many recordings, with novelty vocals by Tom Stacks, were peppy, swinging in their own way and featured short solos.

After that band ran its course, Reser freelanced, playing in many settings throughout the world and writing ten instruction books for the banjo, guitar and ukulele. His last job was playing guitar in the orchestra for the 1965 Broadway musical, Fiddler On The Roof, dying of a heart attack in the pit as he was warming up for the night's performance.

Sid Catlett
Sidney Catlett (January 17, 1910 – March 25, 1951), was a swinging jazz drummer often referred to as "Big Sid Catlett" because of his large frame.   

Catlett was born in Evansville, Indiana, and started at piano, but switched to drums and entered formal study when his family moved to Chicago. His career began in Chicago in 1928 with Darnell Howard. In adulthood, he moved to New York City and worked with Benny Carter, Fletcher Henderson, Elmer Snowden, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, and others.

In 1941, he joined Benny Goodman's band and after that joined Teddy Wilson's Sextet. In 1944, he did an album with pianist Harry Gibson. He also had his own band and played for Louis Armstrong's All Stars from 1947 to 1949 and became his drummer of choice. He played bop, dixieland, and other styles.

In early 1951, he began to suffer from pneumonia. In that same year, he died of a heart-attack while visiting friends backstage at an Hot Lips Page benefit concert in Chicago, Illinois.
In 1996, he was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame.
"Big Sid" Catlett
Drum solo artist site
Drummerworld Profile

Peggy Gilbert
Peggy Gilbert (January 17, 1905 – February 12, 2007) was an American jazz saxophonist and bandleader. Peggy Gilbert earned renown as a female jazz musician, with a career that lasted more than 80 years. In 1928 she moved to Hollywood, where she appeared in early movies and toured with Fanchon and Marco vaudeville shows. In 1933 she founded her own all-female jazz band (whose name changed often: from "Peggy Gilbert and Her Metro Goldwyn Orchestra" to "Peggy Gilbert and her Symphonics", etc.)

Tommy Handley
Thomas Reginald "Tommy" Handley (January 17, 1892 – January 9, 1949) was a British comedian, mainly known for the BBC radio program ITMA ("It's That Man Again"). He was born at Toxteth Park, Liverpool in Lancashire. He served in the British Army during World War I and went on to work in variety, and in the infancy of radio became known as a regular broadcaster. He worked with people such as Arthur Askey and Bob Monkhouse, and wrote many radio scripts, but it is the BBC comedy series ITMA for which he is best known, and which itself became known for a number of catchphrases, some of which entered popular vocabulary. He later starred in the ITMA film in 1942 and in Time Flies in 1944.
In later years, he suffered with high blood pressure, the result of his driving commitment to ITMA, and died suddenly on 9 January 1949 from a brain hemorrhage, 8 days before his 57th birthday. He was cremated and interred at the Golders Green Crematorium. In a eulogy at his memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral, the Bishop of London, John W C Wand, said that "[h]e was one whose genius transmuted the copper of our common experience into the gold of exquisite foolery. His raillery was without cynicism, and his satire without malice..."
Tommy Handley - Wikipedia

Harry Hines, Sax
b. Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, UK
d. 1971
Little remembered now, but Hines played sax in one of England's early orchestras, the (Patrick) "Spike" Hughes Orchestra.

"Stump" Johnson, piano
b. Clarksville, TN, USA.

James "Stump" Johnson was the brother of Jesse Johnson, "a prominent black business man," who around 1909 had moved the family from Clarksville, Tennessee, to St. Louis, where he ran a music store and was a promoter. James, a self-taught piano player, he made a career playing the city's brothels. He had an instant hit with the "whorehouse tune" "The Duck's Yas-Yas-Yas," "a popular St. Louis party song." The song's title is explained by quoting the lyrics more fully: "Shake your shoulders, shake 'em fast, if you can't shake your shoulders, shake your yas-yas-yas."

He made a number of other recordings (some mildly pornographic) under various pseudonyms. One of the more obscene tunes was a version of "Steady Grinding'," true to the original of the song, which he recorded with Dorothea Trowbridge on August 2, 1933.

Eartha Kitt
b. Jan. 17, 1927, North, South Carolina, USA 

Eartha Mae Kitt (January 17, 1927 – December 25, 2008) was an American actress, singer and cabaret star. She was perhaps best known for her highly distinctive singing style and her 1953 hit Christmas song "Santa Baby". Orson Welles once called her the "most exciting woman in the world." She took over the role of Catwoman for the third season of the 1960s Batman television series, replacing Julie Newmar, who was unavailable for the final season.

Vido Musso
tenor saxophone/clarinet
b Carini, Italy. d. Jan 9, 1982.
(Some sources claim b. Jan. 13 and 17, 1913.)
~by Scott Yanow A thick-toned tenor-saxophonist whose spirited and enthusiastic solos helped compensate for his weak music reading skills, Vido Musso was popular for a period in the 1940's. His family moved to the United States in 1920, settling in Detroit. Musso first played clarinet before switching to tenor. He moved to Los Angeles in 1930, began an association with Stan Kenton and the two were sidemen in several of the same local bands. Musso and Kenton briefly had a big band in 1936 but then the tenor-saxophonist was discovered and became a bit of a name playing with Benny Goodman's Orchestra (1936-37). After a period with Gene Krupa 's new band (1938), Musso rejoined Goodman a couple times (1939 and 1941-42).
He also had stints with Harry James (1940-41), Woody Herman (1942-43) and Tommy Dorsey (1945) between attempts to lead his own big band (none of which succeeded). Vido Musso was at the peak of his fame during his two periods with Stan Kenton (1945-46 and 1947), particularly for his emotional rendition of "Come Back To Sorrento." He eventually moved back to Los Angeles, played locally and, starting in 1957, worked regularly in Las Vegas. All of Vido Musso's recording dates as a leader are somewhat obscure. There was a four-song Savoy session in 1946, eight boppish titles in 1947 for Trilon and other dates for Arco, Fantasy (three songs in 1952) and RPM plus two albums for Crown and Modern (1954-55).

Nadezhda Vasilievna Plevitskaya
Nadezhda Vasilievna Plevitskaya (Russian: Надежда Васильевна Плевицкая; born Vinnikova, Russian: Винникова; 17 January 1884 – 1 October 1940) was the most popular female Russian singer of the White emigration.
Plevitskaya was born Nadezhda Vasilievna Vinnikova to a peasant family in the village of Vinnikovo near Kursk. She loved to sing, and after two years in a religious chorus she became a professional singer in Kiev, where she married Edmund Plewicki, a Polish dancer. Soon they moved to Moscow, where she began singing in the well-known Yar restaurant, whose specialty was gypsy bands with beautiful female singers, and going on tour; at a concert in 1909 at the Nizhny Novgorod fair, she was heard by the great tenor Leonid Sobinov, who brought her to the attention of a wider public, which soon included the Imperial family as well as Feodor Chaliapin.

A Russian song site says:
Plevitskaya possessed a rare musicality, lush and flexible, and a mezzo-soprano of wide range. Her repertoire included, alongside popular ditties of mediocre quality, superb examples of Russian peasant folksong from Kursk province as well as songs of city life that are still meaningful today. Her manner of performance showed great sincerity, rich intonation, expressive declamation, and an unusually subtle and deep feeling for the beauty of Russian speech.

She married again, this time to a Lieutenant Shangin of the Cuirassiers, but he died in battle in January 1915. After the October Revolution she became a communist and Bolshevik, and continued singing for the troops of the Red Army. In 1919 she was captured by a unit of the White Army commanded by General Nikolai Skoblin, who married her in exile in Turkey after the defeat of the White military forces.
READ MORE: Nadezhda Plevitskaya - Wikipedia

Johnny Porazzo, guitar
b. NY (poss. MA).
Happily still with us (3/2001), and playing in the Chicago, IL area. Played with Vaughn Monroe, Joe Venuti and Wayne King bands. His father was a guitar and Mandolin maker. A reader has reported that Johnny made a mandolin in 2000 and has recorded with it.

Tommy Reynolds
b. Akron, OH, USA.

Morris "Fruit" White
b. St. Louis, MO, USA
d. Nov. 1986.
As a child, he first played the banjo, and later also played the guitar. While still a teenager in the mid-1920s, he worked with the Dewey Jackson and Charlie Creath orchestras, as well as with singer Ethel Waters ('Sweet Mama Stringbean'). Then, in 1928, he joined "The Missourians" and remained with them when Cab Calloway took over the leadership. Today, Morris is best recalled for his work in the rhythm section of Cab Calloway's orchestra during the 1930s. In 1937, he left Calloway and subsequently (ca. 1941) played for a while with Lionel Hampton, after which he no longer played music full time. 
~by Chris Kelsey

White was an important member of Cab Calloway 's rhythm section during the ‘30s. White learned banjo as a child; he later took up guitar, as well. He performed with Charlie Creath , Dewey Jackson, and Ethel Waters during the mid ‘20s, then joined the Missourians in 1928, staying with the group after Calloway assumed its leadership in 1930. White left Calloway in 1937; after playing for a time with Lionel Hampton around 1941, he quit playing music full time.

Morris White

Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:

Composer Henry Herbert Godfrey
died in Montreal.
Age: 50.
At the turn of the 20th century, he wrote some of Canada's most popular patriotic songs. 
Godfrey, Henry Herbert

While in Chicago, Illinois, USA, to play a concert, jazz star Fats Waller is kidnapped by four men, who bundle him into a car and take him to The Hawthorne Inn, owned by infamous gangster Al Capone. Waller finds himself the "surprise guest" at Capone's birthday party, and is obliged to play for the mobster. According to some reports, Waller is held for three days, but Capone pays him several thousand dollars for his trouble.

Gene Krupa and his band recorded
the standard "Drum Boogie," on Okeh Records.
Irene Daye was the female vocalist.

Blind Alfred Reed
died in Raleigh City, W. VA, USA.
Claude B. Jones, trombone
died in S.S. United States NY, USA.
Age 59.


Joe Robichaux
died in New Orleans, LA, USA.

Johnny Letman, trumpet
died in New York, NY, USA.
Age: 74.
Worked with Tiny Grimes.
Johnny Letman - Wikipedia
Johnny Letman

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Bailey's Lucky Seven
  • “Bee's Knees”, (Ray Lopez /Ted Lewis )


Jean Goldkette and his Orchestra

Clara Smith 

  • ‘Empty House Blues” (Andy Razaf)

Nick Lucas
  • “(You're Not Asking Me) I'm Telling You” (Rose / Lewis / Young)

Annette Hanshaw - “In A Great Big Way” (from "Hello Daddy"), (Dorothy Fields / Jimmy McHugh)

Annette Hanshaw - When The World Is At Rest

Hal Swain's New Princes Orchestra

  • I'm Crazy Over You
  • Then Came The Dawn
  • I'm On The Crest Of A Wave
  • What D'ya Say?


Red Nichols' Five Pennies - “Strike Up The Band”
(vocal), (George Gershwin / Ira Gershwin)

Waring's Pennsylvanians
  • “Thank Your Father” (Ray Henderson / Lew Brown / Buddy DeSylva)


Ambrose And His Orchestra
  • Down Argentina Way, with Sam Browne on vocal
  • We Three, with Anne Shelton on vocal


She's Funny That Way

I'm not much to look at, nothin' to see
Just glad I'm livin' and happy to be
I got a woman, crazy for me
She's funny that way

I can't save a dollar, ain't worth a cent
She'd never holler, she'd live in a tent
I got a woman, crazy for me
She's funny that way

Though she'd love to work and slave for me every day
She'd be so much better off if I went away

But why should I leave her, why should I go?
She'd be unhappy without me, I know
I got a woman, crazy for me
She's funny that way

When I hurt her feelin's once in a while
Her only answer is one little smile
I got a woman, crazy for me
She's funny that way

brought to you by... 


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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