Armstrong's All Stars -
The Town Hall Concert 17th May, 1947
- Only one
The Town Hall
Concert has become famous as the starting point for the Louis Armstrong
All Stars. The full story of this concert was told by Ernie Anderson,
who was the organizer of this event, in the journal Storyville No. 160,
p. 132 ff.
For a long time
collectors, writers and jazz historians believed that there had been two
concerts that evening at Town Hall, New York City. This was printed as
fact by Hans Westerberg in his Louis Armstrong discography and by James
Lincoln Collier in his renowned Louis Armstrong biography. Subsequently,
this was repeated by many writers all over the world.
was only one concert that night, as was confirmed by Ernie Anderson in his
report. The concert started at eleven thirty and ran into the early
morning hours of the 18th. A rehearsal was scheduled for six
o’clock, when the musicians Bobby Hackett, Dick Cary, Peanuts Hucko,
Jack Teagarden, Bob Haggart, George Wettling and Sid Catlett were all
standing on the Town Hall stage. When Louis walked in, he greeted all in
turn, and, knowing them all quite well, he said: "We don’t have
to rehearse. We’ll just hit at eleven thirty and play the show!"
(Reference: Ernie Anderson in Storyville 160, p.133).
statet later that Jack Lesberg was definitely the bassist on the Town Hall
Concert (Storyville 161, p. 182). He does not say, why Bob Haggart
should have been present at the rehearsal, but not in the concert. Jack
Lesberg may have been busy at the time of the rehearsal, and both may
have split duties during the concert.
Armstrong's Birthday 4th August, 1901
Berliner - The inventor of the flat disc 1887
grandson of Emile Berliner lives in the US and has great interest in the
history of jazz recording. He contributes from time to time through the
pages of the IAJRC Journal (e.g. Vol. 35, No. 2, Spring 2002).
Keppard - The First Jazz Recording ???
in early jazz knows that the Original Dixieland Jazz Band from New
Orleans, a white combination, cut the first jazz recordings in 1917.
There was no jazz or blues record before the ODJB. Earlier recordings of
popular music by white and black performers alike can at most aptly be
described as "ragtime", and the word jazz (or jass) was not
used for any recordings before the ODJB.
Due to an account
first published in the pioneering work on New Orleans Jazz by Ramsey and
Smith ("Jazzmen", 1939), the New Orleans hero of the cornet,
creole Freddie Keppard, rejected an offer by the Victor Talking Machine
Company in New York to make records early in 1916, because he did not
want other people to steal his ideas. In "Jazzmen" he is
quoted verbatim as saying: "Nothin' doin' boys. We won't put our
stuff on records for everybody to steal". And he persuaded the
other fellows in the band to turn down the recording offer. The band was
the black Original Creole Orchestra from New New Orleans, and Keppard
was its co-leader together with Bill Johnson, the bassman.
This story was
perpetuated by most subsequent writes ever since and, probably due to a
lack of evidence, it has never been seriously disputed. But what is the
The writers of
"Jazzmen" do not quote any source for Freddie Keppard's words.
During their research for the work, however, they apparently interviewed
leader Bill Johnson, as he is listed by them among the musicians they
had contacted. George Baquet, however, the clarinet player of the
Original Creole Orchestra, had not been asked. Keppard himself was dead
before the authors started the research for the book.
In a later
interview, which was published in the December 1941 issue of the jazz
journal "Down Beat", clarinetist George Baquet relates a
different story. His report is found in John Chilton's (the British
writer and trumpet player) work "Sidney Bechet, The Wizard of
Jazz". John Chilton is known for his expertise on jazz and for his
careful treatment of the historical evidence, and for not relying on
stories which cannot be backed-up. Therefore, Baquet's account cannot be
According to Baquet,
Freddie Keppard began to get annoyed with the Victor company when they
expressed doubts as to whether Bill Johnson's string bass playing could
be recorded on the primitive and fragile recording equipment of the time
(1916!). One may be reminded, that on the famous King Oliver recordings
of seven years later Johnson's string bass was replaced by banjo and
brass bass and the bass drum was not used, due to the same technical
problems, which were hard to overcome by the acoustical recording
process in use before 1925/26.
Victor wanted the
band to go into the studio to make a test to ascertain this point, but
this "condition" was to take place without payment. "Keppard
couldn't understand playing a date and not being paid for it", said
Baquet. Keppard said "We've been kicked around so much we don't
want to record. We'll do if you give money, right away".
Victor declined the
terms, and the course of jazz recording history altered. This may have
been the opportunity for the first generation of jazz musicians from New
Orleans to preserve the sound of their music on record for posteriority
and, in today's view, may have led to document the intense jazz activity
on the South Side of Chicago before 1920.
probably occurred in December 1915, when the band visited New York. In
1959, the British discographer Brian Rust discovered in the Victor files
that a test recording of "Tack 'Em Down" had been made on 2nd
December 1918 by a "Creole Jass Band". As the Bill Johnson
band was playing in New York at that time, it is quite possible that it
was his band which recorded the test. (The session was entered as by
"probably B. Johnson's Creole Jazz Band" into the standard
discographies). It is a matter of speculation, however, if Keppard may
be present. Keppard opened with the band in New York on 7th
March, 1917 and left it, before the band broke up in late 1918, and it
is not known if he was still with them at the time of recording.
Baquet had left the
band in 1917, and it is certainly not this recording date he is
referring to in his account.
No records of this
"Tack 'Em Down" have ever been issued and no test pressing has
surfaced. This would not have been the first jazz record, of course, but
probably the first jazz record by a black band. If one speculates about
the possible reason why the recording had not been issued, one could
believe that the old technical problem with respect to the reproduction
of the bass fiddle sound (and of the bass drum and the mandolin) was
So, the first jazz
recording is still by the ODJB. But it could have been, if ...
Morton - real name Ferdinand Joseph Lemott (Lemoth, Lamoth) - born
on 20th October 1890 in New Orleans
the 1980s it was commonly accepted by jazz historians and researchers
that Jelly Roll Morton's date and place of birth was the 20th September
1885 at Gulfport, La. This information was mainly based on Jelly's own
account as told to the folk music researcher Alan Lomax, who recorded
Morton extensively in May, June and December 1938 in Washington,
D.C. for the Library of Congress. The narrative part of these recordings,
along with further reminiscences and some additional research,
constitute the material for Lomax's widely read biography of Jelly Roll
Morton "Mister Jelly Roll: The Fortunes Of Jelly Roll Morton, New
Orleans Creole and 'Inventor of Jazz'" (New York, 1950).
Morton used to adjust the year of his birth according to his needs and
gave 1885, 1886 and 1889 at different times.
extensive archival research in New Orleans during the period 1980 - 85,
Prof. Lawrence Gushee established the facts. The reproduction of a
Certificate of Baptisme which was copied in 1984 from the original
records of St. John's Church, 1802 Tulane Avenue, gives the date of
birth as 20th October 1890. The baptisme took place on 25th April 1891.
Gushee states that September could also be possible as the month of
birth, but gives no source for this assumption.
name is given as Ferdinand Joseph Lemott (or Lemoth, handwritten,
sometimes in combination with other sources interpreted as Lamoth). His
father's name is Edward Lemott, and his mother's name spelt Louise
Monett, or Louisa Monette as in the original handwritten marriage
cerificate when she married William Mouton on 5th February 1894. The
facsimile of the marriage certificate shows that he was illiterate (signed
X, someone else entered his name for him). Louisa signed "Louise
Monette (hardly legible) and the witnesses signed Emile Péché, Paul
Hecaud (sic), Amelia Péchér (sic) and an otherwise unidentified Alex
is possible, that Jelly's mother Louisa was not married to Edward Lemott
and both were united in a common-law-marriage. Thus, Jelly may be
illegitimate. After Louisa married Mouton, he gave his name to Jelly,
who anglicized it to "Morton" when he started in showbusiness.
Orleans Rhythm Kings vs. Friar's Society Orchestra
1922/1923 recordings by the Friar's Society Orchestra and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings (NORK) are well-known
to collectors and musicians and have been a source of inspiration
particularly for the next generation of white Chicago musicians. Among
them were Bix Beiderbecke and the so-called "Austin High School
Gang", a group of youngsters attending the Austin High School in
Chicago, among them the later jazz greats Jimmy McPartland, Frank
Teschemacher and Bud Freeman. Names who were to become stalwarts of the
Chicago style dixieland of the 40's and 50's.
recordings made for the Gennett record company in Richmond, Indiana at 3
different sessions are usually considered by critics and analysts as a
rather homogeneous group of recordings and are collected under the name
"New Orleans Rhythm Kings". There is, however, a
non-negligible difference in the personnel of the 1923 sessions with
respect to 1922, and both series are issued under different headings.
While the 1922 recordings have been released as by the "Friar's
Society Orchestra" , the 1923 sessions are by the "New Orleans
Rhythm Kings". The simple question arises, whether the "Friar's Society
Orchestra" and the "New Orleans Rhythm Kings" are the same band.
"Friar's Society Orchestra" and the "New Orleans Rhythm
Kings" are not the same orchestra.
this issue, a brief review of the band's career and recordings seems
group of young white jazz musicians, some of them from New Orleans, who
later became famous as the "New Orleans Rhythm Kings", had been
working separately in and around Chicago since about 1920 in different
combinations. Among them were Paul Mares, the cornettist, and George
Brunies tb, from New Orleans, Elmer Schoebel, piano, from East St. Louis, Jack
Pettis, C-mel sax and Lou Black, bj, from Rock Island, Ill. During the
usual summer lay-off 1921 Jack Pettis landed a job on one of the famous
Mississppi riverboats, the Streckfus steamer J.S. DeLuxe, and he took Paul
Mares, George Brunies and possibly Elmer Schoebel and bassman Arnold
Loyocano (also from New Orleans) with him.
August 1921 singer Bea Palmer, known as "The Shimmy Queen", began an engagement at Friar's Inn in
Chicago and, for backing, brought in several of the musicians who had been
playing the riverboats during the summer: Paul Mares, George Brunies, Jack
Pettis, Elmer Schoebel, Lou Black, Arnold Loyocano and Frank Snyder (on
d). When Leon Roppolo, cl, came into the band a little later (replacing
John Provenzano), the Friar's
Society Orchestra was born. Earlier in 1921, Bea Palmer had come north
with a band called her "New Orleans Rhythm Kings" which included
the legendary cornettist Emmett Hardy (then 17 years old), Santo Pecora (tb,
18), Leon Roppolo (cl, 18) and Johnny Frisco, (d,25). When Bea Palmer's
engagement had been brought to a successful end, the Friar's Society
Orchestra was asked to stay on, without vocalist. During this period the
band book developed and finally included tunes like Farewell Blues,
Bugle Call Blues, and Tin Roof Blues. The group was coached by
Elmer Schoebel, its only music reader.
Inn was a night club located in a basement in Chicago's Loop area, on 60
East Van Buren Street at 343 South Wabash Avenue. The Moulin Rouge Cafe
was in the same complex. Friar's Inn was run by Mike Fritzel and was
remembered in musician's recollections as a gangster hangout (Paul Mares:
"A hangout for the big money guys"). Friar's Inn had
three bands: one from 3 to 6 p.m., one from 6 to 10 p.m., generally a
rhythm section for dinner, and the main band from 10 p.m. to the early
morning - which was the Mares group. The club
employed a strict "whites-only" policy.
the 1922 summer break the band came into contact with booking agent Husk
O'Hara, who arranged to set up the first recording session for the band at
Gennett Records in Richmond Ind. The recordings made on the 26th and 30th
August 1922 were released as by the "Friar's Society Orchestra,
Direction of Husk O'Hara".
personnel of these recordings, which has been the subject of intense
research over the years, consists most probably of Paul Mares c, George
Brunies tb, Leon Roppolo cl,as, Jack Pettis C-melsax, ts, Elmer Schoebel
p, Lou Black bj, Steve Brown b, Frank Snyder d. (Plus one aurally
unidentified third reed on one or two sides).
fluctuations occured during the autumn of 1922 and finally Schoebel and
Snyder left and were replaced by Mel Stitzel and Ben Pollack. Emmett Hardy
c (briefly), Nuncio Scaglione reeds, Oscar Marcour violin and Chink Martin
(Abraham) augmented the line-up. Did Mares and Hardy perform two-cornet
breaks like King Oliver and young Louis Armstrong at the South Side of
Chicago during the same time ? This band, however, was not to last, and
early in 1923 it was fired from Friar's Inn and split up, and the
band members went all separate ways. "The Friar's Society
Orchestra" did not exist any more.
the Melrose Publishing Company, which had published many songs from the
repertoire of the band, arranged for another Gennett recording session for
Paul Mares with a five-piece unit, recording Melrose songs. This session
took place in Richmond, Ind. on March 12th and 13th. The personnel was
Mares c, George Brunies tb, Leon Roppolo cl, Mel Stitzel p, and Ben
Pollack drums. The musicians billed themselves as "The New Orleans
Rhythm Kings (Formerly Friar's Society Orchestra)" on the record
labels. Technically and musically these recordings are generally rated
superior to the previous recordings by the "Friar's Society
the band split up, for the summer season, and was assembled again for a
third record session at the Gennett studios in Richmond, Ind. on the 17th
and 18th July, 1923. This was a combined session with composer and master
pianist Jelly Roll Morton, who took the piano chair on some of the titles
personnel for these recordings was Paul Mares c, George Brunies tb, Leon
Rappolo cl,sax, Jack Pettis, Glenn Scoville and Don Murray saxes, Jelly
Roll Morton and Kyle Pierce alternating on piano, Bob Gillette bj, Chink
Martin bb, and Ben Pollack d. It is known that Don Murray had brought Bix
Beiderbecke along for the session (as a visitor), and it is agreed that
Bix did not play. During this session, some more 'classic' recordings of
jazz were made, like Sobbin' Blues, Clarinet Marmalade, Mr. Jelly Lord,
London Blues and Milneberg Joys.
between the band recordings Morton waxed a number of his all time great
solo recordings (King Porter Stomp, New Orleans Joys), and Kyle
Pierce did two more solos (I Forgave You, St. Louis Blues).
the musical quality of all recordings is high.
to the recordings by the "Friar's Society Orchestra" and to
those by the "New Orleans Rhythm Kings", which have distinctly
different rhythm groups, reveals that both groups of recordings are
musically different and, therefore, the different names represent
different musical units, notwithstanding that they consist of the same
front-line Mares - Brunies - Rappolo.
fuller analysis is presented in the article
"The New Orleans
Rhythm Kings" by Tom Buhmann in Storyville 2000-1, pp 192-217,
from which these notes are derived. This source contains the full detailed
and annotated story of the "Friar's Society Orchestra" and the
"New Orleans Rhythm Kings" and their recordings.
Story of Jimmy Noone Jr. (21.4.1938 - 29.03.1991)
Noone, the great clarinet player from New Orleans, died of a sudden heart
attack on 19 April, 1944 in Los Angeles, just about one year after he and
his family had moved to Los Angeles, Cal. He left to the world a number of
invaluable recordings, much sought after in their original form as 78 rpm
shellack issues. He left also a widow and 3 little children.
the great Jimmie Noone had a son! Jimmy Noone Jr., the oldest of the 3
children, eventually became himself an accomplished musician and
clarinet player in his own right. Due to his mother's difficult economic
situation Jimmy Jr. grew up living in several cities with relatives of his
parents and spent the years from 1944 to 1951 travelling back and forth
between Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and New Orleans.
was a tough way to grow up, but it gave him the advantage of living with
musicians and their families, people of various musical persuasions, which
made a deep impression on the adolescent Jimmy Jr. Thus, he gained insight
in different styles of music from New Orleans Jazz and Gospel to Big Band
Swing and Be Bop.
explaines: "This had a profound effect on myself and my music
biggest impression, however, was made on him by a man, who had married his
mother. Jimmy, his brother and sister came to live again as a family in
San Diego, Cal. His mother's new husband was Troy Floyd, a former leader
of a successful band in the South West (he made some beautiful recordings),
whom Jimmy greatly admired, because he was such a humble and considerate
man who taught him so much about music: how to play in tune, how to hear
chords and much more.
years of service in the US Navy, Jimmy Jr. settled in San Diego and chose
to have a civil service job at the Post Office, confining his musical
activities to the local jazz scene.
day in the 1980's - he did not play frequently during that period - he
happened to see an ad for a clarinet player in New Orleans Style à la
Dodds or Bechet. He responded - "Who? Jimmy Noone? Oh sure you are!"
and got in touch with Gordon Wilson, the leader of the Cottonmouth D'Arcy
a period of hard practising on clarinet he made the audition, and was
accepted. This steady job with Gordon's band changed his life for the
the years to follow he was at least on 4 LP albums: two with Jeannie and
Jimmy Cheatham, one with Hal Smith's Creole Sunshine Orchestra, and one
under his own name with John R.T. Davies and his Rhythm Five. These all
show his versatility and ability to fit in all musical environments.
a sad note is to report, that Jimmy Jr. passed away on 29th March, 1991 in San Diego.
this article I am indepted to Johnny Simmen, the Swiss jazz authority. I
have drawn from his long article published in the British jazz magazine
Storyville No. 127 (1986). I fully acknowledge his original work and apologize
for any mistakes and errors, which are mine, and also for not having his
formal permission for reproduction of parts of his writing. My sole
intention is to tell the jazz world some facts that are not so widely
known and which are not found in the other jazz litterature. (Rainer
Actual Composer is Henri Woode, uncle of Bassman Jimmy
well known hit composition of the swing era was credited to Earl Hines (who
- or his family- cashes in the royalties). There is some evidence,
however, that an origininal handwritten manuscript by Henri Woode
existed, which was inspected by a witness. The facts are related by
Jimmy Woode and Harry Sweets Edison.
Storyville 134, page 48, Source: Researcher Theo Zwicky).