Sidney Bechet
Clarinet/Soprano Sax
b. May, 14, 1897, New Orleans, LA, USA.
d. May 14, 1959
Member group: "his birthday".
né: Sidney Joseph Bechet.
by Scott Yanow

Sidney Bechet was the first important jazz soloist on records in history (beating Louis Armstrong by a few months). A brilliant soprano saxophonist and clarinetist with a wide vibrato that listeners either loved or hated, Bechet's style did not evolve much through the years but he never lost his enthusiasm or creativity. A master at both individual and collective improvisation within the genre of New Orleans jazz, Bechet was such a dominant player that trumpeters found it very difficult to play with him. Bechet wanted to play lead and it was up to the other horns to stay out of his way.
Sidney Bechet studied clarinet in New Orleans with Lorenzo Tio, Big Eye Louis Nelson, and George Baquet and he developed so quickly that as a child he was playing with some of the top bands in the city. He even taught clarinet, and one of his students (Jimmie Noone) was actually two years older than him. In 1917, he traveled to Chicago, and in 1919 he joined Will Marion Cook's orchestra, touring Europe with Cook and receiving a remarkably perceptive review from Ernst Ansermet. While overseas he found a soprano sax in a store and from then on it was his main instrument. Back in the U.S., Bechet made his recording debut in 1923 with Clarence Williams and during the next two years he appeared on records backing blues singers, interacting with Louis Armstrong and playing some stunning solos. He was with Duke Ellington's early orchestra for a period and at one point hired a young Johnny Hodges for his own band. However, from 1925-1929 Bechet was overseas, traveling as far as Russia but getting in trouble (and spending jail time) in France before being deported.
Most of the 1930s were comparatively lean times for Bechet. He worked with Noble Sissle on and off and had a brilliant session with his New Orleans Feetwarmers in 1932 (featuring trumpeter Tommy Ladnier). But he also ran a tailor's shop which was more notable for its jam sessions than for any money it might make. However, in 1938 he had a hit recording of "Summertime," Hugues Panassie featured Bechet on some records and soon he was signed to Bluebird where he recorded quite a few classics during the next three years.
Bechet worked regularly in New York, appeared on some of Eddie Condon's Town Hall concerts, and in 1945 he tried unsuccessfully to have a band with the veteran trumpeter Bunk Johnson (whose constant drinking killed the project). Jobs began to dry up about this time, and Bechet opened up what he hoped would be a music school. He only had one main pupil, but Bob Wilber became his protégé.

Sidney Bechet's fortunes changed drastically in 1949. He was invited to the Salle Pleyel Jazz Festival in Paris, caused a sensation, and decided to move permanently overseas. Within a couple years he was a major celebrity and a national hero in France, even though the general public in the U.S. never did know who he was. Bechet's last decade was filled with exciting concerts, many recordings, and infrequent visits back to the U.S. before his death from cancer. His colorful (if sometimes fanciful) memoirs Treat It Gentle and John Chilton's magnificent Bechet biography The Wizard of Jazz (which traces his life nearly week-by-week) are both highly recommended. Many of Sidney Bechet's recordings are currently available on CD.

Arthur James "Zutty" Singleton, Drums
b. Bunkie, LA, USA
d. July 14, 1979
by William Ruhlmann 
Along with Baby Dodds, Zutty Singleton was one of the two major drummers to emerge from the formative period of jazz in New Orleans. He accompanied such noted New Orleans jazz musicians as Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Sidney Bechet. But he also played behind Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, the leading lights of the bebop era. And though he rarely recorded as a leader, he led his own small bands on and off throughout his lengthy career.
Singleton grew up in New Orleans, the nephew of musician Willie "Bontin" Bontemps, a bass, guitar, and banjo player. He made his first professional appearance with Steve Lewis at the Rosebud Theatre in New Orleans in 1915, and after that he sometimes worked with John Robichaux. He served in the Navy during World War I and after the war returned to New Orleans where he briefly worked as a chauffeur before getting a job with Tom's Roadhouse Band. He then played with "Big Eye" Louis Nelson and Papa Celestin and led his own band at the Orchard Cabaret before joining Luis Russell's band at the Cadillac Club in 1921. In late 1921, he got a job with Fate Marable, who led a band on a riverboat that went up and down the Mississippi. He remained with Marable through 1923, and made his first recordings with Marable in 1924. He moved to St. Louis to work with Charlie Creath and married Creath's sister, Marjorie, a pianist. He moved back to New Orleans after a year and worked with Charlie Lawson, but he soon joined the stream of jazz musicians moving to Chicago, where he played with Doc Cook, Dave Peyton, Jimmie Noone, Clarence Jones, Carroll Dickerson, Vernon Roulette, and his own band during the mid- to late '20s.
(Miss Lee Morse on vocals)
Singleton had encountered Louis Armstrong both in New Orleans and in Chicago. In 1928, he participated in Armstrong's ongoing series of small group recordings for OKeh Records generally known as the Hot Five recordings, and in 1929 he recorded in a trio with Jelly Roll Morton and Barney Bigard; these recordings made him much better known.
In 1929, Singleton accompanied Carroll Dickerson's band, which was backing Louis Armstrong, in a move to New York City. There, in the late '20s and early '30s he played with Alonzo Ross, Vernon Andrade, Fats Waller, Bubber Miley, and Otto Hardwick, and he also led his own band at the Lafayette Theatre. The Depression limited his opportunities and he became a touring backup musician in vaudeville, playing behind various acts, including Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. By 1934, he had re-settled in Chicago and returned to working for Carroll Dickerson, though he occasionally led his own band at such clubs as Three Deuces. He also accompanied Roy Eldridge for an extended period at the Three Deuces in the mid-'30s. In 1937, he moved back to New York, where he worked with Mezz Mezzrow's Disciples of Swing in November, then played with Sidney Bechet from early 1938 to November 1938 at a club called Nick's. Remaining at Nick's, he began leading his own group, which varied in size from a trio to a sextet, in 1939-1940. The band also played at the Village Vanguard and Kelly's before launching a long residency at Ryan's in March 1941 that lasted until early 1943.
Singleton moved to Los Angeles to take up a gig at Billy Berg's club in April 1943. He appeared in the film Stormy Weather that year and went on to play with Paul Howard, T-Bone Walker, and Teddy Bunn over the next couple of years, also appearing on Orson Welles' radio show. Continuing to lead his own bands in occasional club gigs, he also played during the rest of the '40s with Slim Gaillard (1945-1946), Wingy Manone (1947), Eddie Condon (1948), Joe Marsala (1948), and Nappy Lamare (1949). Meanwhile, he returned to the screen in New Orleans (1946) and Turned-up Toes (1949). He played with Art Hodes in Chicago in 1950, with Bobby Hackett in the spring of 1951, and with Bernie Billings in Los Angeles in August 1951. In November 1951, he went to Europe, initially to play with Mezz Mezzrow, but he wound up staying on the continent until February 1953, working with Hot Lips Page and with the Bill Coleman All-Stars.
Returning to the U.S., Singleton settled in New York where he led bands at the Stuyvesant Casino, Central Plaza, and the Metropole during the rest of the '50s. In the early '60s, he began playing with Tony Parenti at Jimmy Ryan's, a residency that lasted through the end of the decade. (In 1964, he had a bit part as a clarinetist, curiously, in the film Andy.) In 1970, he suffered a stroke and was forced to retire; he died five years later at age 77.

Singleton is justly celebrated for his late-'20s work with Louis Armstrong, which mixed a traditional New Orleans style with the use of recent innovations such as the sock cymbal (a forerunner of the hi-hat) and wire brushes. He was one of the first jazz drummers to take solos and he developed many types of playing that became part of the basic vocabulary of jazz drummers. He occasionally recorded under his own name, notably for Decca in 1935 and 1940, Capitol in 1944, Brunswick in 1953, and Fat Cat in 1967, but he remains best-known as an accompanist for some of the leading jazz musicians of the 20th century.

Louis Douglas
b. New York, NY, USA.
d. 1939 
Louis Winston Douglas, sometimes misspelled Douglass (May 14, 1889, Philadelphia - May 19, 1939, New York City) was an American dancer, choreographer, and music businessman.
Douglas toured Ireland with a children's revue in 1903 and then went on tour in Europe with Belle Davis from 1903 to 1908, and appears with her in the 1906 film Die schöne Davis mit ihren drei Negern. He branched into solo dancing from 1910, doing shows throughout the major European capitals, and toured South America in 1923. He was the star of the 1925 show La revue nègre, which featured music by Claude Hopkins and his Charleston Jazz Band. In 1926 he organized and starred in Black People, with music by some of Sam Wooding's sidemen; the show toured Europe and North Africa. His shows in Berlin in 1926 and in New York in 1927 featured, at times, Sidney Bechet, Tommy Ladnier, Valaida Snow, and Juice Wilson. He can be seen as a dancer in the films Einbrecher (1930) and Niemandsland (1931), he had a leading acting role in the latter.
Douglas choreographed revues at the Casino de Paris between 1933 and 1936, then did a final tour of Europe before returning to New York in 1937. There he starred in Eubie Blake and Andy Razaf's Tan Manhattan, then worked with James P. Johnson on the show Tan Town Topics. He and Johnson also worked on Policy Kings the following year. Louis Douglas married the daughter of composer Will Marion Cook and singer Abbie Mitchell.
Louis Douglas is the main male dancer in the dance number.

Pearlis Williams
Drums, b. Clouester, MS
Played with the Harlem Hamfats 

~by Jim Powers
The Harlem Hamfats were a crack studio band formed in 1936 by black talent scout Mayo "Ink" Williams. Its main function was backing jazz and blues singers such as Johnny Temple, Rosetta Howard, and Frankie "Half Pint" Jackson for Decca Records; The Hamfats' side career began when its first record "Oh Red" became a hit. Despite its name, none of the band's members came from Harlem, and none were hamfats, a disparaging term referring to indifferent musicians. Brothers Joe (g, v) and Charlie McCoy (g, m) were blues players from Mississippi; leader Herb Morand (tpt, v), Odell Rand (cl), and John Lindsay (b) were from New Orleans; Horace Malcolm (p) and drummers Pearlis Williams and Freddie Flynn were from Chicago.
This territorial disparity created a sound which blended various blues styles with New Orleans, Dixieland, and swing jazz. The band's high-spirited playing and excellent musicianship compensated for what some critics have called lack of improvisational skill. The Hamfats' music has been somewhat neglected over the years. The vocalists tended to be derivative of other popular singers of the day such as Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, and various blues singers. The lyrical content of their songs often revolved around subjects like drinking and sex, leading some to dismiss them as a lightweight novelty act. Although it is not seen as an innovative group, The Harlem Hamfats' riff-based style was influential to Louis Jordan, early Muddy Waters, and what would eventually become rhythm and blues and rock & roll.

Jenks "Tex" Carman
"C&W" vocalist/steel guitarist
b. Hardinsburg, KY, USA.
Biography by Bruce Eder
Jenks Tex Carman was one of the more dubious but interesting talents ever to achieve stardom, however fleeting, in country music. A player of great dexterity but severely lacking in any sense of rhythm, and even more lacking in a voice, Carman succeeded on the basis of the sheer enthusiasm of his performances, achieving some respectable record sales and a national following based on his television appearances.
Jenkins Carman was the seventh of eight children born to Alford Carman and his wife. They were a farm family with a great love of music -- throughout his career, Carman also claimed part Cherokee ancestry, and tried to emphasize this by wearing Native American regalia in some of his public appearances and later album cover art. By age 12 he was on his way to becoming an accomplished guitarist, and he left home in his teens to pursue a career in music. He started out in vaudeville and playing Chautauqua shows, and by the end of the 1920s had emerged as a solo-guitar novelty act. He cut a pair of songs in late 1929 for the Gennett label in Indiana, but neither was ever issued.

In the early '30s, he hooked up with Hawaiian guitar virtuoso Frank Plada, who taught Carman the basics of Hawaiian guitar technique. This instrument became the core of Carman's music from the early '30s onward, and it was using the unamplified acoustic Hawaiian guitar, hung from his neck and fretted with a steel bar, that he began making a name for himself in country music. By the late '40s, he had signed to the Four Star label and begun recording under the name Jenks Tex Carman, "the Dixie Cowboy," as well as appearing on local radio. Soon after, he started to perform regularly on television on the country music showcase Town Hall Party, hosted by Tex Ritter and Johnny Bond, and later still became a regular on Cliffie Stone's Hometown Jamboree. His contract with Four Star ended, and Stone brought Carman to Capitol Records and producer Ken Nelson in 1951. 

Carman's Capitol recording career lasted from April of 1951 until December of 1953, and despite some very uncomfortable moments in the studio, he generated some choice sides -- "Hillbilly Hula" was his most famous and requested song, a number he featured on his television appearances, but other highlights included "The Caissons Go Rolling Along" and "Locust Hill Rag." The backing personnel on these cuts is not known, although essayist Cary Ginell believes that Joe Maphis was probably one of the participants on electric guitar or banjo. Carman never acquired much more than a cult following through his records, but on stage or television he was a major attraction. The sheer wildness of his appearances and the unbridled enthusiasm of his work made him a continuous showstopper, despite his inability to hold a beat or hit a cue.

The sales of Carman's singles were too low to justify the renewal of his Capitol contract, and after a lapse of several years, he signed to the small Sage & Sand label, even as he continued to work on television as a regular on locally produced variety series. His later albums tended to emphasize his unverified claims to Cherokee ancestry, which were reinforced by his unusual physiognomy -- as one onlooker recalled, Carman dressed like a cowboy and looked like an Indian; occasionally, he even donned a feathered headdress. Carman's last album was called The Ole Indian, released by Sage & Sand in 1962. By the mid- to late '60s, he had retired after a 40-year career in music.
Jenks Tex Carman was not in a league with the best steel or Hawaiian guitarists, and his vocal skills were even more limited. He was a master showman, however, and accomplished with sheer enthusiasm and reckless abandon what he couldn't do with technical skills or musical instincts.

Notable Events 

On This Date Include:

Duke Ellington and his band recorded "Caravan".
Member group: "Brunswick".

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra
  • Dance And Grow Thin
  • Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!


Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra
  • Sweet Siamese
  • The Missouri Waltz


Original Dixieland Jass Band - Alice Blue Gown

Bennie Krueger and his Orchestra

Herb Wiedoeft's Cinderella Roof Orchestra - Stack O'Lee Blues

Waring's Pennsylvanians
  • Wa Wa Waddle Walk


Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra - Kater Street Rag

Bessie Smith and her Blue Boys - Soft Pedal Blues

The California Ramblers - Sweet Georgia Brown

The California Ramblers - Ev'rything Is Hotsy-Totsy Now

Oliver Naylor's Orchestra

Rosa Henderson accompanied 
by the Three Hot Eskimos
Powell's Jazz Monarchs
  • Chauffeur's Shuffle
  • Laughing Blues

The Dixie Stompers - Jack Ass Blues
  • The Stampede

Lonnie Johnson - Baby You Don't Know My Mind

Bertha "Chippie" Hill - Do Dirty Blues

Art Landry and His Orchestra - The Whisper Song (When The Pussy Willow Whispers To The Catnip)

Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven

Napoleon's Emperors - Mean To Me

Napoleon's Emperors - My Kinda Love

Ethel Waters - Am I Blue?
Ethel Waters - Birmingham Bertha


Isham Jones and his Orchestra
  • Miss Hannah
  • Trees
  • What's The Use?


Duke Ellington and his band
  • "Caravan"


Am I Blue?

Am I blue, am I blue
Aint these tears in my eyes tellin' you
Am I blue, you'de be too
If each plan with your man
Done fell through
Was a time I was his only one
But now I'm the sad and lonely one, Lordy
Was I gay, till today
Now he's gone and we're through
Am I blue

Was I gay, till today
Now he's gone and we're through
Am I blue
Oh he's gone, left me
Am I blue

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.

1 comment:

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