Carleton A. Coon
b. Rochester, MN, USA.
d. 1932
Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra was the first Kansas City jazz band to achieve national recognition, which it acquired through national radio broadcasts. It was founded in 1919, as the Coon-Sanders Novelty Orchestra, by drummer Carleton Coon and pianist Joe Sanders.

Coon was born in Rochester, Minnesota in 1893 and his family moved to Lexington, Missouri shortly after his birth. Sanders was born in Kansas in 1896. Sanders was known as "The Old Left Hander" because of his skills at baseball. He gave the game up in the early 1920s to make dance music his career.
The orchestra began broadcasting in 1922 on clear channel station WDAF, which could be received throughout the United States. They were broadcast in performance at the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City. They took the name Nighthawks because they broadcast late at night (11:30pm to 1:00am).

By 1924 their fan club had 37,000 members. Fans were encouraged to send in requests for songs by letter, telephone or telegram. That move became so popular that Western Union set up a ticker tape between Sanders' piano and Coon's drums so the telegrams could be acknowledged during the broadcasts.

Their song "Nighthawk Blues" includes the lines: "Tune right in on the radio/Grab a telegram and say 'Hello'."

The group left Kansas City for the first time in 1924 for a three-month engagement in a roadhouse in Chicago. The orchestra moved to Chicago the same year, where Jules Stein used the profits from a tour he booked for them to establish the Music Corporation of America, with the orchestra as its first client. 

The orchestra moved into the Blackhawk in Chicago in 1926. The members of the orchestra at that time were Joe Richolson and Bob Pope, trumpets; Rex Downing, trombone; Harold Thiell, Joe Thiell and Floyd Estep, saxophones; Joe Sanders, piano; Russ Stout, banjo and guitar; "Pop" Estep, tuba; Carleton Coon, drums. In the following years, the Nighthawks performed at the Blackhawk every winter, doing remote broadcasts over radio station WGN. Their reputation spread coast-to-coast through these broadcasts and the many records they made for Victor. They undertook very successful road tours. The orchestra later moved to New York City for an 11-month broadcast engagement at the Hotel New Yorker arranged by William S. Paley, who needed a star attraction to induce radio stations to join the Columbia Broadcasting System.

At their peak, each member of the Orchestra owned identical Cord Automobiles, each in a different color with the name of the Orchestra and the owner embossed on the rear. The Orchestra's popularity showed no signs of abating and their contract with MCA had another 15 years to run in the spring of 1932 when Carleton Coon came down with a jaw infection and died, on May 4.

Joe Sanders attempted to keep the organization going; however, without Coon, the public did not support them. In 1935, he formed his own group and played until the early 1940s when he became a part time orchestra leader and studio musician. In his later years he suffered from failing eyesight and other health problems. He died in 1965 after suffering a stroke. The Kansas City Public Library acquired the scrapbooks and other memorabilia collected and prepared by Joe Sanders and the information is available to researchers.
The Coon Sanders Nighthawks Fans' Bash is held annually on the weekend following Mothers' Day in Huntington, West Virginia to remember the great contributions to music made by all the members of the Coon Sanders Nighthawks Orchestra and to play and enjoy the great music of the era.
This event has been held annually for 40 years. Over the years, such musical notables as Curt Hitch, Bill Rank, Earl Roberts, Doc Ryker, Paul Oconnor, Mike Walbridge, Bob Neighbor, Frank Powers, Bob Lefever, Johnny Haynes, Jimmy and Carrie Mazzy, Moe Klippert, Clyde Austin, Nocky Parker, Fred Woodaman and Spiegle Willcox have attended the event.
Tex Atchison
C&W vocals/guitar
b. Rosine, KY, USA.
Member: "The Prarie Ramblers"
~by Eugene Chadbourne 
A Kentucky born and bred fiddler and vocalist, Tex Atchison was a member of the extremely popular traditional country band the Prairie Ramblers during the '30s, but went out on his own as a sideman, singer, and songwriter after that. His knack at writing amusing drinking songs came in about as handy in the country music genre as lots of muscles at a body building contest. "Sick, Sober and Sorry" was one of the Atchison titles, written with songwriting partner Eddie Hazlewood that made for a classic bit of honky tonk for Lefty Frizzell. The background in the Prairie Ramblers was certainly the right launching pad for any player with versatility fueling their rockets. Created by four Kentucky boys -- harmonica whiz Salty Holmes, bassist "Happy" Jack Taylor, and mandolinist Chick Hurt were the other original members -- the group added female vocalist Patsy Montana in the early '30s. "Nobody's Darlin' but Mine," with beautiful passages from the left-handed fiddler, was a popular song during the Depression.

Patsy Montana and the Prairie Ramblers: Their names, from left to right above, are: Chick Hurt and Tex Atchison; below, Jack Taylor, Patsy Montana and "Salty" Holmes.
In her second year with the group, Montana scored the first million-selling record ever by a female country artist: "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart." The song was typical of the cowboy infatuation that was a big part of the group's popularity, to the point where the members even made their entrances on horseback, probably not difficult for Shelby David Atchison, nicknamed "Tex." Speaking of which, the Western swing style largely associated with Texas became a big part of the Prairie Ramblers' evolving sound, and on his own Atchison triumphed at yet another new genre sprouting out of the country corn patch: rockabilly. The feel he had for the idiom is surprising considering that he had already established his status as one of the great fiddlers from the pre-war era of country music. His single of "Tennessee Hound Dog" and "Mail Man" done for the indie Sage label in the '50s is prime rockabilly juice, featuring sweaty breaks from Roy Lanham on lead guitar. By the time this record was cut, Atchison had been recording sides on his own for more than a decade, working with labels such as Crystal, King, Federal, Deluxe, and Imperial.

As a fiddler he did many sessions on the West Coast, linking up with the honky tonk crowd such as the hilarious Johnny Bond in 1951 and expert song storyteller Johnny Horton shortly thereafter. During the mid-'40s and '50s, Atchison performed with the great guitarist Merle Travis in a combo with the silly name of Tin Ear Tanner and his Back Room Boys. Several of their performances are available on collections of radio transcriptions from the period, such as Cliffie Stone's Radio Transcriptions 1945-1949 on the Country Routes label. Travis and Atchison co-wrote the song "I'm a Natural Born Gamblin' Man."
Atchison also kept his hand in at Western swing, joining fellow fiddler Rocky Stone, and many other fine musicians in Ole Rasmussen and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The leader of the group doesn't sound like a Texan, but it didn't matter. He was simply a businessman who kept the band together, proving with his hiring of Atchison that he knew talent when he heard it. The group recorded more than two dozen sides during a two year stint at Capitol which began in 1950. Classics such as "Sleepy-Eyed John" and a version of the jazz toast "C Jam Blues" reveal Atchison's graceful way with the Western swing style.
Tex Atchison

Rozelle Claxton, Piano
b. Memphis, TN, USA.
d. March 30, 1995
~by Eugene Chadbourne

Feminist scholars looking for early female performers in the jazz and blues genre can forget about Rozelle Claxton, a male despite a first name that hints at skirts and perfume. He came from a large Memphis family and was taught to read music by his sister. From the age of 11 he was playing piano and at 17 was a professional in the combo of trumpeter Clarence Davis. This group, known as Clarence Davis' Rhythm Aces among other band names, provided back-up for composer and publisher W.C Handy in 1932. Several years later Claxton began both playing and arranging for Harlan Leonard and was also booked regularly as a solo pianist in the Chicago area.
In the late '30s and early '40s the keyboardist held forth with Ernie Fields and Eddie South and even briefly substituted for Count Basie himself. Solo gigs continued in the '40s along with stints behind Walter Fuller and a quartet led by George Dixon. By the late '40s he had established a reputation as a superb arranger and his charts were showing up on bandstands occupied by Basie, Earl Hines, Red Norvo, Jimmie Lunceford, Andy Kirk and many others. Female singers seem to be his main interest in the '50s--he was best known in this decade as an accompanist for the powerful Pearl Bailey. From 1959 he began working with Franz Jackson and was featured on several of this leader's live albums in the following decade. Claxton maintained a presence as both a solo organist and pianist at various Chicago venues up until the time of his death. He was sometimes mixed up with another pianist named "Rozelle", namely the Californian Rozelle I. Gayle.
Rozelle Claxton - Wikipedia

Rozelle Claxton
Rozelle Claxton: Information from

Bronislaw Kaper, composer
b. Warsaw, Poland
d. April 26, 1983. Beverly Hills, CA, USA.
~by Joslyn Layne 

Movie composer Bronislaw Kaper wrote hits for a number of Hollywood films from the mid-'30s through the late '60s. Born in 1902 in Warsaw, Poland, Kaper studied at the Warsaw Conservatory of Music, then later worked as a composer and conductor in Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, London, and Paris. Kaper composed concert pieces and movie music, often in collaboration with Austrian composer Walter Jurman. 
He emigrated to the U.S. in 1935, and became a successful Hollywood composer. He not only wrote successful scores for MGM, but also many hit songs, usually with chief collaborator lyricist Gus Kahn. Kaper also worked in Hollywood as an arranger, conductor, and musical director.
Other projects of Kaper's include adapting Chopin for Broadway's Polonaise, and writing for television, including the theme of The F.B.I. show. Some of Kaper's best-known songs are "Cosi Cosa," "You're All I Need" (1935), "San Francisco" (1936), "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm," "Someone to Care For Me" (1937), "On Green Dolphin Street" (1947), "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo" (1953), and "Somebody Up There Likes Me" (1956). 
In addition to his work with Jurman and Kahn, Kaper wrote songs with Helen Deutsch, Paul Francis Webster, and Sammy Cahn. The long list of '50s and '60s films featuring music by Kaper includes Red Badge of Courage (1951), The Naked Spur (1953), The Brothers Karamazov (1958), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), and Lord Jim (1965).

Bronisław Kaper - Wikipedia

Leon "Cappy" Lafell, Harmonica
In the 1920s, while still a teenager, "Cappy" was already performing professionally, in Philadelphia, PA, as a member of "Albert Hoxie's Boy's Harmonica Band".
By the early 1930s, he was part of "Carl Freed's Harmonica Harlequins", but left in 1934 with other members, to help form the "Cappy Barra Harmonica Ensemble", with promoter Maurice Duke. During the 1940s and '50s he often appeared with Jerry Murad and "The Harmonicats". Cappy also helped found the "Windy City Harmonica Club".

Will Shade, harmonica
also known as Son Brimmer
During the 1920's and 30's he led the "Memphis Jug Band". Very late in his career (1950s), a young Charlie Musselwhite took some harmonica lessons from Shade. During his career, he alsow worked with such other players as "Furry" Lewis, Charlie Burse, and Will Weldon.
~by Eugene Chadbourne

Apparently almost as important a part of the Memphis scene as the Mississippi river, Will Shade was born near the end of the 19th century and was one of the founders of a particularly 20th century music combo, the Memphis Jug Band. The original lineup of this important group consisted of Shade on vocals, guitar, and harmonica, plus Ben Ramey, Will Weldon, and a man simply known as Roundhouse in some accounts and Lionhouse in others. Either way, he sounds like he would be an asset to any band when the going gets rough.

Shade was also known as Son Brimmer, a nickname he had gotten from his grandmother, Annie Brimmer, who had raised him. The name stuck after it became apparent that bright sunlight bothered the lad; the brim of a hat kept the sun out. Perhaps the fear of sunlight was a warning of the musicians' lifestyle that was to come, complete with many a late night. Shade first heard what would eventually be known as jug band music on records by a Louisville group called the Dixieland Jug Blowers in 1925. It was his vision that this kind of thing might go down smoothly in Memphis and it was he who had to convince the reluctant local musicians to make the appropriate changes. Lionhouse, for example, was coached to switch from blowing an empty whiskey bottle to a gallon jug by Shade, who apparently could hear the subtle difference in tone and pitch without it even having to be demonstrated, just like Stravinsky if he had led a jug band.

Shade himself played guitar; harmonica; and a "bullfiddle," a standup bass concocted from a garbage can, a broom handle, and a string. Critics tend to say harmonica was his best instrument, perhaps just to be unpredictable. He did play harmonica in a pure country blues style that served as the foundation for the playing of later bluesmen such as Big Walter Horton and both of the Sonny Boy Williamson harmonica monsters, yet Shade's real importance was not as an instrumentalist, but as the foundation of the Memphis Jug Band group itself as its membership changed and then changed again and again over the years. Vocalist and tenor guitarist Charlie Burse was one of the members who joined on in 1928, and he was still a happy playing partner of Shade's some 45 years later when the pair were lively participants on the fantastic Beale St. Mess Around album.
Other members of the Memphis Jug Band at one time or another included Hattie Hart, Charlie Polk, Walter Horton, Memphis blues scene stalwart Furry Lewis, Memphis Minnie and her husband Kansas Joe McCoy, Dewey Corley, and Vol Stevens. It was Shade who kept track of all these players, lined up a quorum for a given gig, and ran all the business affairs. He seemed to know what he was doing in the latter department, the first Memphis musician to not only provide a full-time living for himself with his activities but to put a down payment on his own home as well. The group was closely associated with the Beale Street scene and first signed with Victor in 1927. Until the mid-'30s, the group recorded regularly, producing some 60 sides and scoring great success with such classic songs as "Memphis Jug-Blues," "Sometimes I Think I Love You," "In the Jailhouse Now," and "Stealin'."
Shade was personally responsible for some of the group's best material, either by adopting traditional material with his own touches or coming up with entirely new ditties. He made sure his copyright wound up on certain songs if at all possible, although not everyone agrees with the result. The jug band classic "Stealin'" is case in point; it is likely to appear with a Shade credit, but many blues scholars say this is a case of stealing "Stealin'." If he had heard the cover version of this song eventually done by British art rock band Uriah Heep, perhaps Shade would have left his name off the song after all. Shade's "Dirty Dozens" song routine was a good one for making straight-laced college blues fans blush with embarrassment. This was a pleasure the group had to wait until the '60s to enjoy, when a revival of classic folk music made the Memphis Jug Band and Shade regain their popularity. His death in 1966 ended the group, however, as they apparently needed his personality at the center in order to continue.
Will Shade - Wikipedia
Eugene Charles "Gene" Schroeder, Piano
b. Madison, WI, USA.
d. Feb 16, 1975.
~by Scott Yanow

A reliable pianist who was continually overshadowed during his long association with Eddie Condon's Chicago jazz bands, Gene Schroeder was a talented if subtle player. Schroeder, whose mother was a pianist and father was a trumpeter, studied at the Wisconsin School of Music. When he was 11 he was playing now and then with his father's band, and he doubled on clarinet in his high school orchestra a few years later. After a year at the University of Wisconsin Music School, Schroeder moved to Milwaukee. He led his own band and played with local musicians (including Wild Bill Davison).
Schroeder moved to New York in 1939, was briefly with the Wes Westerfield Trio, headed a combo and spent a year apiece as a member of the groups of Joe Marsala and Marty Marsala. In the summer of 1942 Schroeder worked with Wild Bill Davison then (beginning in 10 1943) at Nick's with Miff Mole. After becoming Eddie Condon's regular pianist, he played at the opening of the club Condon's in 12 1945. Schroeder was with Condon most of the time from then on up to 1962 (appearing on many recordings), he had a stint with the Dukes of Dixieland (1961-64) and worked in the late 1960's with Tony Parenti. Despite his busy activity, Gene Schroeder only led one recording session in his career, four songs cut in 1944 for the Black & White label with a trio.
Gene Schroeder

Eraldo Volonte
Tenor Sax
b. Milan, Italy
Eraldo Volontè - Wikipedia

Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:

The Glenn Miller Orch. recorded
"Tuxedo Junction" (RCA Victor studios)
The flip side of the record -released on
the Bluebird label- was "Danny Boy".

Ike Berman, label co-owner (Apollo)
died in Miami Beach, FL, USA.
Age: 58.

Piano Red Memphis, piano
died in Memphis, TN, USA.
Age: 76.

Martin Munkacsi, [Man holding records], 1930s
Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Lopez and Hamilton's Kings of Harmony Orchestra
  • Bo-La-Bo


Sissle and Blake - Pickaninny Shoes


The Happy Six
  • Little Rover (Don't Forget To Come Back Home)
  • Peggy Dear


Naylor's Seven Aces - Ain't That Hateful?

Naylor's Seven Aces - 31st Street Blues
Naylor's Seven Aces - You


Ray Miller's Orchestra
  • That's My Girl


Jessie Stafford and his Orchestra - All A-Twitter

Jessie Stafford and his Orchestra - I Wanna Go Places And Do Things

Clarence Williams' Jazz Kings - Have You Ever Felt That Way?

Red Nichols' Five Pennies - Chinatown, My Chinatown


Cliff Edwards "Ukulele Ike" - I'll See You In My Dreams

Harry Reser and his Orchestra
  • I Love You More Each Day


Fletcher Henderson Orchestra - My Gal Sal

Fletcher Henderson Orchestra - My Pretty Girl


Frankie Trumbauer and his Orchestra

Chinatown, my Chinatown
~Words: William Jerome
~Music: William Jerome and Jean Schwartz

Chinatown, my Chinatown,
Where the lights are low;
Hearts that no no other land
Drifting to and fro.
Dreamy, dreamy Chinatown,
Almond eyes of brown;
Hearts seem light and life seems bright in
In dreamy Chinatown.

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.

No comments: