Did You Know ?

Louis Armstrong’s All Stars –

The Town Hall Concert 17th May, 1947 – Only one concert !

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.

In fact, there 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).

Anderson 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.

Louis Armstrong’s Birthday 4th August, 1901

Emile Berliner – The inventor of the flat disc 1887

The 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).

Freddie Keppard – The First Jazz Recording ???

Everybody interested 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 truth ?

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 disregarded immediately.

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.

Victor’s offer 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 responsible.

So, the first jazz recording is still by the ODJB. But it could have been, if …

Jelly Roll Morton – real name Ferdinand Joseph Lemott (Lemoth, Lamoth) – born on 20th October 1890 in New Orleans

Until 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.

After 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.

Morton’s 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 Johnson.

It 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.

New Orleans Rhythm Kings vs. Friar’s Society Orchestra

The 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.

The 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.

The conclusion is:

The “Friar’s Society Orchestra” and the “New Orleans Rhythm Kings” are not the same orchestra.

To clarify this issue, a brief review of the band’s career and recordings seems appropriate.

A 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.

In 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.

Friar’s 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.

During 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”.

The 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).

Personnel 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.

Then, 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 Orchestra”.

Again 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 recorded.

The 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.

In 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).

Again, the musical quality of all recordings is high.

Listening 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.

A 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.

The Story of Jimmy Noone Jr. (21.4.1938 – 29.03.1991)

Jimmie 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.

Yes, 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.

This 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.

Jimmy explaines: “This had a profound effect on myself and my music making.”

The 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.

After 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.

One 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 Jazz Vipers.

After 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 better.

In 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.

On a sad note is to report, that Jimmy Jr. passed away on 29th March, 1991 in San Diego.

For 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 Schneider, rainerjazz.de)

Rosetta (Composition):

Actual Composer is Henri Woode, uncle of Bassman Jimmy Woode

This 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. (see Storyville 134, page 48).