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Howard Rye

[Columbo, “Crazy” Chris; Morris, Joe; Morris, Joseph Christopher Columbus]

(b Greenville, NC, June 17, 1902; d Atlantic City, NJ, Aug 20 2002). American drummer and bandleader, father of Sonny Payne. His first job was in Atlantic City with Fletcher Henderson in 1921. He was active as a leader from the 1930s into the 1950s and his band was resident for a time at the Savoy Ballroom, New York. In 1943 he was a member of Al Sears’s band and from 1946 to 1952 he played regularly with Louis Jordan; he may be seen with Jordan’s group in the films Reet, Petite and Gone (1947) and Look Out, Sister (1948). Concurrently from around 1944 he began leading bands at the Club Harlem in Atlantic City, a job that continued intermittently until the club closed in 1978. In the 1950s and early 1960s he worked mainly in Wild Bill Davis’s trio; he then accompanied the singer Damita Jo and was briefly with Duke Ellington (...

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John L. Clark Jr.

(b Chicago, IL, June 22, 1903; d Palm Springs, CA, June 7, 1971). American jazz drummer and bandleader. Born into a wealthy family, he began playing drums and was hired by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, with whom he played and recorded in 1923. While with this band he became known as perhaps the best white drummer in the style and influenced the next generation of players, including Dave Tough and Gene Krupa.

After a year on the West Coast with the Harry Bastin band, he took over Bastin’s group in 1925. For the next 15 years Pollack led big bands, primarily in Chicago and New York, before settling in Los Angeles in the late 1930s. His first band included such later jazz worthies as Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman, and Glenn Miller.

By the early 1930s Pollack had replaced his early stars with younger musicians. His affair with singer Doris Robbins caused friction in the new band and most of the musicians left to form a cooperative group later fronted by Bob Crosby. Pollack again reformed, using other young musicians including Harry James and Irving Fazola....