Larry Adler, Harmonica

b. Baltimore, MD, USA.
d. Aug. 6, 2001.
A self-taught harmonica player, he began to play professionally at the age of 14 and later gained worldwide recognition as the musician who brought the instrument to the 'serious music' stage. He is well known for playing with many of the world's top symphony orchestras. Between 1943 and 1945 he joined the U.S.O. tours with Jack Benny. During his career he wrote several film scores, including "Genevieve" (1953), for which he received an Academy Award Nomination.

Larry Adler

Lou Calabrese aka "Lou Breese"
Lou Breese, 
Banjo, Trumpet & Violin

Born Luigi G. Calabrese
b. Feb. 10, 1900
d. January 1969
Theme Song: "Breezing Along With the Breeze".
The Lou Breeses band was perhaps the king of Theater orchestras. In the 1920s, Lou began as a "Hot Jazz" musician under his own name, Lou Calabrese. He gained a great background working in theater "pit" bands in the late 1920's, where he developed his trumpet skills and a knack for leading a band. He concentrated most of his career in the Chicago area, playing with Bert Lown, and Paul Specht, before forming his own group in 1936. Later his "Lou Breeze Orchestra", was a very popular band on the ballroom circuit. Lou's 1936 orchestra was way ahead of the times in that he featured a 'wood-wind' section. (At one time, the band swelled to a monumental 90-piece ensemble.) After his band, Lou went on to become the "Chez Paree's" (Chicago) stage show producer.
With the larger audiences at the Chez Paree Night Club, Breese took over Bob Baker's band in the summer of 1939. The Baker band was formerly Henry Busse's Chicago Band and even after Breese fronted the band, the sidemen and style was much the same.
Throughout most of the 1940's the Breese band once again covered the theater circuit around Chicago. Among his Decca recordings were: "Swamp Fire", "Humpty Dumpty Heart", "Chiquita and Sweetheart", "Wait For Me" and his signature tune, "Breezing Along With The Breeze."
"The international icon of the big band era," Paul Levi Specht once played clarinet for the Breese band. The band also saw the likes of trumpeter and later Chicago area bandleader, Leon Ruby and tenor saxophonist Vince Micko.
*Above notes supplied by Mr. Dan DelFiorentino
Bob Carroll, Tenor Sax

b. Louisville, KY, USA. d. 1952

Here is a classic jazz artist who literally died in the gutter, a real shame considering the fact that he could have built a small hut for shelter out of the various sides he appeared on. The glory days of tenor saxophonist Robert Carroll, sometimes credited as Bob Carroll but not to be confused with the vocalist and actor of the same name, included a two-year stint with the wonderful Fats Waller beginning in 1941. By then the saxophonist had been performing professionally for more than a decade, beginning as a member of a local Louisville combo named the Kentucky Derbies with an obvious eye for local happenings. He first went on the road with the great Benny Carter in the late '20s, and in 1930 was a member of the Horace Henderson outfit.
In 1931 he signed on with Don Redman, working out well with this group and staying on for more than five years. In the spring of 1937 he replaced Cecil Scott in the Teddy Hill band, then went back to Redman until the outset of 1940, when he jumped over to the Teddy Wilson Big Band. This was followed by the work with Waller; any collection devoted to the final years of the latter artist's prolific career will feature some blowing from Carroll. The musical happiness was interrupted by military service, an experience that seems to have drained some of Carroll's enthusiasm for performing. Changing musical styles might also be part of the reason that this saxophonist began working less and less. Rather than switching over to the horn sections of rhythm & blues and rock bands, he became a vagrant and died of both malnutrition and alcoholism.
~ Eugene Chadbourne

James "Jimmy" Durante


b. New York, NY, USA.
d. Jan. 29, 1980, Santa Monica, CA, USA.

né: James Francis Durante. 
Nickname: The Schnoz.
If any performer can truly be said to have carved out his own comedic turf, made a huge success out of it lasting over several decades, while completely owning that piece of turf lock, stock and barrel, then that performer would have to be Jimmy Durante. 
There never has been -- nor is there likely ever to be -- a stylistic school of Durante; the man and his character are of one piece and ingrained in the national consciousness to the extreme. 
Anyone foolish enough to start appropriating any part of his act would be immediately branded as a slavish imitator -- someone just merely 'doing Durante' -- while always being doomed to comparison with the one and only real deal "Schnozzola" and again, falling well short of the mark.
On the surface, Durante's mega-success defied all commonly understood show-business laws. No one with such a gravelly voice should have been able to put over a song as well as he did. No one as ugly as him should have made as much profitable hay as he did about being that ugly, and parlaying those looks into a movie career at that. No one wore rumpled suits and a beat-up fedora (covering what little hair he had left), smoked a cheap cigar, and mangled the English language with more charm and hilarity than he. No one won the hearts of his audience by simply being himself -- a comic Everyman from the poor side of town -- than did one Jimmy Durante. 

He didn't sing good, he didn't look good while having the audacity to keep bringing it up, he dressed like a bum and couldn't say a complete sentence without screwing up some (or all) of the words. Not much of a show-business resume on the surface of it, but Durante's uncloneable charm gathered its main strength from being just that; an average guy who -- as one critic put it -- "acted like a heckler from an audience who had finally decided he could do a better job himself and, upsetting all conventional show-business decorum, had snuck into the spotlight."

There was not one subtle thing about Jimmy Durante; whether it was wrecking a piano and throwing the resultant debris at the audience, singing a song like "I Know Darn Well I Can Do Without Broadway (But Can Broadway Do Without Me?)," or doing a complete about face and providing a brief glimpse of the wistful side of his character, he tapped the deepest of emotions every single time and did it at full bore.

He was born James Francis Durante on February 10, 1893 into an Italian community on Manhattan's Lower East Side, just a stone's throw away from Chinatown. He showed an early propensity for the piano and this, indeed, is his least recognized talent. His parents had early aspirations for him to enter the classical field with his talent, but even the small child version of Durante was already carving his own path: "My perfesser tried to make me play "Poet and Peasant." I played "Maple Leaf," "Popularity," and "Wild Cherries." I couldn't do nuttin' else then, and I can't do nuttin' else today." Those who heard him in his pre-comedy days of working around Harlem clubs and Coney Island clip joints spoke in high praise of a white ragtime piano man who was the finest of his kind.
Nobody of his skin color had a more African-American feel for the ivories as Ragtime Jimmy, his original stake moniker. His left hand was a law unto it itself, while his right could combine with it to make early-20th-century ragtime achieve the status of American art. He was that good. As the singing waiters inside Diamond Tony's -- a typical Coney Island saloon -- went through their paces (one of them being a young Eddie Cantor), it was the 17-year-old Durante's job to collect all the small tips the waiters could kick his way. He had the reputation of being able to collect every bit of chump change that came rolling his way while never missing a beat; Cantor had the reputation of being the best nickle kicker at Coney Island.

By early 1916, Durante was working at the Club Alamo in Harlem and put together a sextet called 'Jimmy Durante's Original Jazz Novelty Band.' It was a noisy little combo to be sure, actually having to hold up signs when they played waltzes and fox trots so their ear-bludgeoned audience would know how to respond. It was during the run at the Alamo that one of the acts on the bill started referring to Durante as 'The Schnozzola,' what would become his most enduring nickname. The act was an immediate hit, working every speakeasy around New York. He still wasn't singing or talking or telling jokes in the act yet, just playing his piano in his more than energetic style.
Legend has it that Durante was a shy man, unwilling to draw attention to himself because of the merciless teasing he had taken as a child about his looks. The majority of this taunting primarily focused itself on the size of his nose, which became even larger after a pack of schoolyard bullies broke it and it mended incorrectly. It was his friend Eddie Cantor who encouraged him to stand up while playing and start throwing insults at his drummer to break up the act. As first he demurred ("I couldn't do that, I'd be afraid people would laugh at me"), but very soon found that the sound of laughter from an audience wasn't such a bad thing after all. The die was cast. 
The act was certainly getting noticed, but Durante certainly wasn't getting rich from his success. After pulling down a mere $100 a week at the Club Nightingale, he was convinced by a waiter at the club -- confidant Frank Nolan -- that with his own club, he could become a millionaire in no time flat. Durante found a loft above a used-car dealership in downtown Manhattan and started looking for partners. Nolan was aboard and so was singing waiter Eddie Jackson and his song and dance partner, Harry Harris. The four men started one of the most notorious and legendary speakeasies of the Prohibition era, the Club Durant, its odd spelling -- so legend has it -- the simple result of the partners running out of money for the extra 'e' on the neon sign.
Despite Durante's notable local following, the club was not an immediate hit. But one of the regular clients was Lou Clayton, pretty big stuff in vaudeville circles as a soft-shoe dancer. 
Clayton saw potential in the venture, especially as a springboard for showcasing the largely unused comedic talent of Durante. 
Buying out Harris' share and joining forces with Clayton and Durante onstage, the three men came up with an act that made the audience packed into the tiny club feel like they were in the middle of a very violent cartoon or all three acts of a three-ring circus. 
As noted critic John Fisher pointed out, "The extraordinary gusto of their comic performance, as it bounced from one to the other with Jimmy storming backwards and forth, always the center of attention, set a standard for improvised cabaret humor that has never been surpassed. It would be inaccurate to say that they pulled out all the stops, but only for the simple reason that in their crazy world the stops were inexhaustible." The team of "Clayton, Jackson, and Durante" would form a friendship of immense loyalty that lasted long after they stopped performing together as a unit, indeed,'til death did they part.
The shows became legendary, the tiny club became the hot ticket in town, and their star-studded audience on any given night could include writers like Damon Runyon, Ed Sullivan, and Walter Winchell, Broadway stars like George Jessel, Al Jolson and regular George M. Cohan, to notorious gangsters such as Waxey Gordon and Legs Diamond. Once the cops padlocked the place in the late '20s, the trio immediately found work elsewhere, making successful forays on Broadway and the nightclub circuit of the period. When Hollywood came calling, the offer was for Durante alone. He soon started working solo in a no less frenzied manner, with Clayton staying on as his manager and Jackson hanging around as one of one of many 'vice presidents,' still contributing material to the stage act.
His M-G-M movie contract found him initially teamed with fading silent star Buster Keaton. Although it was reported that the two men didn't enjoy working together -- each feeling the other one was impeding their own personal styles -- they made a number of fine films together, including 1932's Speak Easily. It was Durante's appearance two years later in Palooka that introduced the song that would soon become his enduring theme, "Inka Dinka Doo." His other film credits include Hollywood Party, Roadhouse Nights, Student Tour, George White's Scandals, Cuban Love Song, Music for Millions, It Happened In Brooklyn, and The Milkman. The Durante schnozzola also made several cameo 'appearances' in assorted Walt Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons of the period, truly becoming a national star, an instantly recognizable comedic icon.
Jimmy Durante & Harry James - Inka Dinka Doo
By the late '40s, he was on radio with his own show, sometimes working partners as varied as Alan Young and Garry Moore. But he truly hit his (second? third? fourth?) stride when television became the new dominant medium. Recreating Club Durant with Eddie Jackson for television brought Durante to a whole new audience who had never seen him work in a nightclub setting and proved to be enormously successful. Even though it was a variety show in the traditional sense (bringing on guest stars like Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Sophie Tucker, etc.), the manic energy of Durante combined with his established character made for an hour of TV unlike any other. Many of the old songs and routines were recycled for this new audience, but the biggest change in Durante's act came with the show's closing. Instead of his trademark head-waggling, fedora-shaking 'hot cha cha' set closing walk off, the new TV ending was a far more somber affair.
A night with Durante ended with him walking into successive spotlights -- each one further away than the other til he disappeared -- turning to both the studio and the unseen television audience and delivering the immortal line, "Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are." Durante could do outrageous slapstick and tug at an audience's heartstrings with equal consummate ease. The '60s saw him busy as ever with more TV projects and a great deal of nightclub work. Although his character stayed the same, his twilight years imbued it with an old man wistfulness that made him even more lovable. At the age of 70, his recordings of old standards, issued by Warner Brothers as September Song, became an unexpected Top 40 album hit in 1963. He made his final film that same year as Smiler Grogan in Stanley Kramer's It's A Mad, Mad, Mad World where his cameo deathbed statement had him literally kick the bucket.
Durante's increasing frail condition worsened through the rest of the '60s. In 1970, he had a stroke which confined him to a wheelchair and relegated his performing days to old film clips and scrapbook clippings. His circle of friends and old cronies stayed with him to the end regardless until his heart ceased on January 20, 1980. If any comedian could truly be called a one of a kind, then Jimmy Durante deserves that accolade, and much, much more.
~ Cub Koda
Leroy Kirkland
d. Apr. 6, 1988

"Once again Leroy Kirkland was in charge of the session" begins many an account of R&B and vocal group recording activity from the '40s well into the '60s, almost as many as there are jokes that begin "A man walked into a bar...." While in the latter case subsequent happenings are wildly unpredictable, a typical Kirkland summation will proceed reliably through certain steps, with an outcome guaranteed to be pleasing. A guitarist whose most illustrious training grounds were the Jimmie Lunceford and Cootie Williams big bands, Kirkland idolized jazz guitarist Tiny Grimes. Solos in the Grimes style were something he really never stopped tossing into songs as if adding a throw rug to a room. Kirkland developed into a force beyond the guitar fretboard, however, leading his own groups and serving as a combination director, conductor, and arranger. Before the man who walked into the bar had even ordered a drink, Kirkland would have decided on a configuration -- septet or larger or maybe just a quintet -- and would have been well on his way into staffing it with both people and music.
Typical for a guitarist from the era prior to the axe roaring into the forefront, Kirkland envisioned the horn section as the lead instrument. He had a top-flight crew of players to prove the point, including the famed Sam "The Man" Taylor, Al Sears, and Taft Jordan. Taylor's association with Kirkland goes back to the early '40s, when both were members of a Florida-based band known as Doc Wheeler & His Sunset Orchestra. Wheeler had a big roll with a version of "Foo-Gee," a song written by Erskine Butterfield. The momentum was more than enough to get Kirkland out of South Carolina, where some members of the hit group had been both trained and brought up in the illustrious Jenkins Orphanage Band. Kirkland settled into New York City and stayed put, busy as could be under the auspices of producers who assumingly sensed his feel for the new styles that were developing, groupings that always provided just the perfect touch.
A surrender of ego may never be required of a record producer, yet for an artist in Kirkland's position the resulting dynamic is not to be underestimated. Though a fine guitarist himself, Kirkland would typically turn the chair over to Mickey Baker, also no slouch. R&B buffs sometimes claim to be just as happy reading the personnel listings for certain sides as listening, at least the ones who don't like to dance. In some cases the backup players have bypassed the fame of whatever name is printed on the label. Behind the obscure Ernestine Hassel Abbott in 1953, Kirkland brought back a quartet that he had previously used to back doo wop smoothies the Mellows, topping it up to sextet status by adding Sears on alto saxophone and Bill Crump on baritone. Loose talk circulating regarding the session indicates Crump came into the picture simply because Kirkland saw him walking down the street in the afternoon. Speaking of walking, Milt Hinton's basslines are a part of many Kirkland sessions, adding an element nearing spirituality to many otherwise trivial pop numbers.
In charge of several different orchestras and big bands operating under his own name, Kirkland had no problem fattening up a horn section. His backing for Dean Barlow of the Crickets, for example, includes a five-horn aggregation including Taylor, Jordan on trumpet, and trombonist Jimmy Cleveland. The outrageous singer Screamin' Jay Hawkins made some of his best recordings with the Kirkland orchestra backing him. Also linked with the early career of the Supremes, Kirkland basically overwhelms with his list of accomplishments, connections, and creations -- all the more sad that author and R&B performer Ben Sidran chooses to bring Kirkland up as an example of a great artist who died in obscurity.
~ Eugene Chadbourne

Claude Lampley, banjo

b. Bon Aqua, TN, USA.
Member: "Fruit Jar Drinkers"

Bert Niosi, Clarinet
b. London, ONT, Canada, 1987

Bert Niosi (London, Ontario, February 10, 1909 – Mississauga, Ontario August 3, 1987) was a Canadian bandleader, known as "Canada's King of Swing".
Bert Niosi was notable for his swing orchestra which had a long-time association from 1933 to 1950 with the Palais Royale dance hall in Toronto, considered the top dance hall in Canada, where he earned his nickname 'Canada's King of Swing.' His orchestra was broadcast regularly on CBC Radio and in 1945 and 1946 toured Canada. He was also a member of CBC radio's The Happy Gang musical series from 1952 to 1959. He was also involved in CBC television including The Tommy Hunter Show.
Mr. Niosi played several instruments including clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet and trombone.
Mr. Niosi's family had other musicians, including his brothers Joe and Johnnie.

Oscar "TV Slim" Wills
b. Houston, TX, USA, d. 1969, (near) Kingman, AZ, USA
Oscar's brief bid for fame came in 1957 when he recorded a comic tale called "Flat Foot Sam" (Cliff Records). Early in his career, "T.V. Slim" was influenced by DeFord Bailey and both Sonny Boy Williamsons on mouth harp and Guitar Slim. He soon set up his own record label which became the source for the great majority of his output over the next dozen years.

Walter "Foots" Thomas, Reeds
b. Muskogee, OK, USA.
d. August 26, 1981
Reed specialist, arranger and sometimes bandleader Walter "Foots" Thomas retired from fulltime playing in 1948, then became a professional manager whose specialty could easily have been coaching players on the art of amassing discographies capable of encircling Atlantic City's Trump Plaza. Thomas hailed from Muskogee, Oklahoma, a point of interest in connection with country and western star Merle Haggard's famous lyric, "We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee." Nonetheless, one of Muskogee native Thomas' most famous sideman affiliations was with Cab Calloway of "Reefer Man" fame. This artist is the brother of Joe Thomas, also a noted classic jazz reed player who eventually took over the Jimmie Lunceford band. Older than his brother by a year, Walter Thomas began playing with local bands as a college student. He moved to New York City in 1927 and began working with the famed Jelly Roll Morton less than a year later. Thomas joined the The Missourians in 1929 after short stints in bands led by Luis Russell and Joe Steele.

The Missourians provided the contact with Calloway, who eventually took over that band. With and without Calloway, Thomas was involved with this outfit through 1943. Calloway sidemen were said to have received some of the best salaries in jazz, perhaps one reason for loyalty. Thomas finally began playing with Don Redman by 1944, then led his own band for a bit less than half a decade before moving into management. Firmly associated with swing styles, Thomas made one of his finest recordings near the end of his playing career when combined with the rootsy yet always forward-looking tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins. Thomas gave saxophone lessons to the late Jackie McLean, a brilliant bebop and modern jazz alto saxophonist.
~ Eugene Chadbourne

Willie Trice
b. Hillsborough, NC, USA
d. Dec. 10, 1976, Durham, NC, USA.

Trice’s parents played music and he learned guitar from an uncle, but one of his principal influences as a blues guitarist was Blind Gary Davis. In the 30s he formed a partnership with his younger brother, Richard Trice, playing the ragtime-influenced blues style prevalent in the Carolinas at that time. In 1937 he made a record, with Richard playing second guitar, but it can have had little success as he did not record again until the 70s. He lived his whole life in the same area, and continued to play music. In his retirement he made some new recordings, and saw an album released shortly before his death at the age of 66.

Chick Webb
b. Baltimore, MD, USA
d. June 16, 1939.
né: William Henry Webb.
One of Chick's sidemen (Bardu Ali) discovered a young Ella Fitzgerald in an Amateur Contest at the Harlem Opera House. He introduced her to Chick who at first did not accept her. Later, Chick and his wife adopted young Ella.

Chick Webb represented the triumph of the human spirit in jazz and life. Hunchbacked, small in stature, almost a dwarf with a large face and broad shoulders, Webb fought off congenital tuberculosis of the spine in order to become one of the most competitive drummers and bandleaders of the big band era. Perched high upon a platform, he used custom-made pedals, goose-neck cymbal holders, a 28-inch bass drum and a wide variety of other percussion instruments to create thundering solos of a complexity and energy that paved the way for Buddy Rich (who studied Webb intensely) and Louie Bellson. Alas, Webb did not get a fair shake on records; Decca's primitive recording techniques could not adequately capture his spectacular technique and wide dynamic range. He could not read music, but that didn't stop him either, for he memorized each arrangement flawlessly.

Although his band did not become as influential and revered in the long run as some of its contemporaries, it nevertheless was feared in its time for its battles of the bands in Harlem's Savoy Ballroom; a famous encounter with the high-flying Benny Goodman outfit at its peak (with Gene Krupa in the drummer's chair) left the latter band drained and defeated.
William Henry Webb bought his first set of drums with his earnings as a newsboy, and he began playing in bands on pleasure boats. After moving to New York in 1925, he led bands in various clubs before settling in for long regular runs at the Savoy beginning in 1931.
Although Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges played with the band early on, the Webb band was oddly short on major soloists during its heyday from the mid-'30s onward; the young alto sax player Louis Jordan made the biggest impression after leaving the band. 

But the band made up for it with a crisp ensemble sound, Webb's disciplined, ferociously driving drum pyrotechnics, trumpeter Taft Jordan's impressions of Louis Armstrong, and most of all, a series of strong compositions and charts by Edgar Sampson ("Blue Lou" and "Stomping at the Savoy" among them).
In 1935, Webb hired the teenaged Ella Fitzgerald after she won a talent contest at the Apollo Theater, became her legal guardian, and rebuilt his show around the singer, who provided him with his biggest hit record, "A Tisket-A-Tasket," in 1938. 
The band's fame continued to grow, fueled by its reputation as a giant-killer in the Savoy battles and a continuous string of Decca 78s that featured such irresistible numbers as "T'aint What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It)" and the B-side of "Tasket," "Liza." 
But Webb's precarious health began to give way, and after a major operation in Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, he died (his last words reportedly were, "I'm sorry, I've got to go."). 
After Webb's death, Fitzgerald fronted the band until it finally broke up in 1942.

~ Richard S. Ginell

Chick Webb Biography

Vernon L. Welsh, Guitar
b. Irvington, MD, USA
d. Aug. 8, 2002, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
With the late Benny Kearse, he co-founded The Left Bank Jazz Society that showcased both 'local' and 'legendary' Jazz artists such as Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz, Maynard Ferguson, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Julian "Cannonball" Adderly and Duke Ellington, --recording about 800 performances.

Notable Events Occurring 

On This Date Include:

Ted Fio Ritos orchestra recorded "Rio Rita" (Decca).
Bob Carroll did the vocal, and the song became the band's theme song.


Billy Rose, songwriter/showman
died in Montego Bay, Jamica.
Age: 66

Paul Barbarin, drums
died in New Orleans, LA, USA.
Age: 69

Paul Barbarin

Arthur Edward Satherley, a pioneer of Country music record production, died. "Uncle" Art was one of the most important people in the history of Country music. (b. October 17, 1889, Bristol, England, February 10, 1986).

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Wilbur Sweatman's Jazz Orchestra - That's Got 'Em


Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra
  • Jimmy (I Love But You)


Ted Lewis and his Band - Poor Papa
  • Dream Daddy
  • Mr. Radio Man


Paul Ash and his Orchestra - Let's Talk About My Sweetie
  • Blinky Moon Bay

The Broadway Bell-Hops


Winegar's Pennsylvania Boys - Since My Best Gal Turned Me Down
  • I Call You Sugar
  • Stay Out of the South

Blue Steele and his Orchestra - Because You Are My Dream Girl - Vocal refrain by Bob Nolan

The California Ramblers - Anything To Make You Happy


Tom Gerun and his Orchestra - In My Little Hope Chest


Ethel Waters - When Your Lover Has Gone


Noble Sissle's Swingsters - Blackstick


Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone

Please don't talk about me when I'm gone,
Oh, honey though our friendship ceases, from now on;
And, listen, if you can't say anything real nice,
It's better not to talk at all, is my advice.

We're parting, you go your way I'll go mine,
it's best that we do;
Here's a kiss! I hope that this brings lots of luck to you.

Makes no difference how I carry on,
Remember, please don't talk about me when I'm gone.

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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