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Barry Kernfeld

[Holliday, Clarence Ernest; Lib-Lab]

(b Baltimore, July 23, 1898; d Dallas, March 1, 1937). American guitarist and banjoist, father of Billie Holiday. Although his name was originally Holliday, he had adopted the spelling Holiday by the time of his draft registration in 1917; his nickname, Lib-Lab, derived from his propensity for talking. From November 1928 to summer 1933 he was a member of Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra (for illustration see ). Many of his early recordings with Henderson were as a banjoist, but by 1930 he was playing guitar with the group; he may be heard as rhythm guitarist and guitar soloist on Hot and Anxious (1931, Col. 2449D). He then recorded with Benny Carter (December 1934) and Bob Howard (1935), and his fine rhythm guitar playing may be heard to advantage on Howard’s Whisper Sweet (1935, Decca 347). After working with Charlie Turner (1935) and Louis Metcalf (...

Article

Howard Rye

[Rafael ]

(b Manati, nr Arecibo, Puerto Rico, July 16, 1898; d Puerto Rico, April 10, 1970). American double bass and tuba player. He began playing double bass at the age of 12 in a school band, and first worked professionally after moving to New York, where he played with the New Amsterdam Musical Association and recorded with Lucille Hegamin (1920–21) and Ethel Waters (1921). While appearing with Wilbur Sweatman at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC, Escudero was heard and recruited by Fletcher Henderson, with whom he performed and recorded until 1926. He then exchanged places with June Cole (who joined Henderson), and from late 1926 to 1931 he played with McKinney’s Cotton Pickers; his recordings with the band display the propulsive swing he obtained from the tuba. Later he performed with Kaiser Marshall’s Bostonians (early 1932), Benny Carter (late 1932), and the Savoy Bearcats, toured with W. C. Handy, and worked with Latin-American bands. Following periods in New York and California Escudero returned to Puerto Rico, where he continued to play regularly throughout the 1960s, though not always in jazz contexts....

Article

[Charles Edward ]

(b Jersey City, NJ, c1898; d New York, Dec 6, 1940). American banjoist and arranger. He played in New York and Boston before joining Sam Wooding at the Nest Club, New York, in 1922; later he played with the violinist Ralph “Shrimp” Jones. In May 1923 he recorded with Fletcher Henderson, and in January the following year he became a regular member of the group; as well as recording extensively with the big band he took part in many sessions accompanying vocalists with small groups led by Henderson, and is often heard to particular advantage in this context. Dixon continued to arrange pieces for Henderson after he left around 1928, when he led a band that accompanied the dancer Cora LaRedd. He was active mainly as an arranger and composer during the 1930s, and his arrangements for Chick Webb of That Naughty Waltz (1937, Dec. 1356...

Article

Lewis Porter

[Bean, Hawk]

(b St Joseph, MO, Nov 21, 1904; d New York, May 19, 1969). American jazz tenor saxophonist.

He was taught the piano, cello and tenor saxophone, and by the time he was 12 he was performing professionally at school dances. He went to high school in Chicago, then (by his own account) attended Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas, for about two years, during which time he studied harmony and composition.

In the spring of 1921 Hawkins was playing in the orchestra of the 12th Street Theater in Kansas City. That summer Mamie Smith performed at the theatre and offered Hawkins a position touring from coast to coast with her group the Jazz Hounds. From June 1923 he worked freelance in New York. Fletcher Henderson employed him to record with his band in August and engaged him when he formed a band to play at Club Alabam in early ...

Article

Howard Rye

[Taxi ]

(b Orlando, FL). American tenor saxophonist and leader. Originally a pianist, he took up saxophone and clarinet after his famly moved to New York when he was 13; by 1940 he was performing regularly. From January to March 1941 he was at Nick’s with Benny Carter, with whom he made his first recordings. He then joined Fletcher Henderson, recording and touring until the leader disbanded in about March 1942, after which he returned to Carter, worked with Hot Lips Page, and performed with Louis Armstrong. From late 1942 until 1946 he was a member of Ovie Alston’s band. In June 1949 he began working for the Derby label, leading a jump band for both recording and touring, and produced a string of rocking riff instrumentals featuring his hard-preaching tenor saxophone; he also accompanied blues and rhythm-and-blues singers with his house band. After 1952 the band recorded for other labels, and in ...

Article

Howard Rye

[Robert; Clarence (Fitzroy)]

(b Belize, British Honduras [now Belize City, Belize], Feb 22, 1897; d New York, March 27, 1982). American double bass and tuba player. He began playing tuba at the age of 18, and after performing in a military band (1917–19) he moved to New Orleans, where he worked with Amos White (1922). He made a number of recordings as a tuba player with A. J. Piron’s orchestra in New York (1923–5), then was a member of Elmer Snowden’s band (1925–6) and the Plantation Orchestra, led by the violinist Alex Jackson (1926–9). In 1927 he recorded with Snowden’s band under the leadership of the trombonist Te Roy Williams. He also performed briefly with Fletcher Henderson (from September 1929 until about March 1930) and Horace Henderson (from late 1930 into 1931). In 1931 he began a long association with Don Redman, with whom he made many recordings on tuba and double bass; he may be seen with Redman’s band in the short film ...

Article

Howard Rye

[Fat Man]

(b early 20th century; d Oct 27, 1964). American tuba and double bass player and bandleader. He played with Doc Cheatham (1926), then recorded with Richard M. Jones’s Jazz Wizards (1927), and his imaginative tuba playing may be heard to advantage on Boar Hog Blues (1927, Vic. 21203). After touring with Jelly Roll Morton he moved to New York as a member of Marion Hardy’s Alabamians (1929). By 1933 he was leading his own band, which, under the name Turner’s Arcadians, was resident at the Arcadia Ballroom in 1934. Between November 1934 and around May 1935 this group was used by Fletcher Henderson for various engagements, and from 1935 to 1938 some of its members, including Turner himself, formed the nucleus of Fats Waller’s touring band. Turner also recorded with Waller’s Rhythm and with Emmett Mathews; You came to my rescue...

Article

Howard Rye

[Frog; Muffle Jaws]

(b Bayonne, NJ, 1897; d Jersey City, NJ, c 1952). Trumpeter . He met Sam Wooding while playing with an army band during World War I; after leaving the army he performed with Wooding in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and then in Detroit and New York. In 1923 he left Wooding and worked as a soloist with Fletcher Henderson, recording with his small groups (1923–4) and with his orchestra (1924–5;), often accompanying such blues singers as Rosa Henderson, Edna Hicks, Clara Smith, and Ida Cox. Chambers left Fletcher Henderson late in 1925 and was with the bandleaders Ellsworth Reynolds (1926), Billy Fowler (c 1926–7), and Russell Wooding (spring 1930), then toured with traveling shows before ceasing to play full-time sometime after 1932.

Article

Lawrence Koch

(Lawrence )

(b Springfield, OH, 1903; d New York, Oct 10, 1960). American double bass and tuba player, and singer . He began his career in Springfield, Ohio, as the tuba player in the Synco Jazz Band (1923). In autumn 1926 he joined Fletcher Henderson in New York; he played tuba and sang on many of Henderson’s recordings (1926–8). He traveled to Europe in 1929 to tour with Benny Peyton, and later that year joined Sam Wooding; during his time with Wooding (until late 1931) he changed to double bass. For the remainder of the 1930s he toured with Willie Lewis, though he was seriously ill from early 1936 to late 1938 and spent much time in the American Hospital in Paris. After returning to the USA in September 1941, Cole worked for the rest of his career in New York with his own groups and others, including a period in ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

(b Pittsburgh, Feb 7, 1924; d Pittsburgh, Dec 30, 1997). Guitarist. He played clarinet and tenor saxophone with Fletcher Henderson (1942–3), then, after suffering from tuberculosis, took up guitar. He performed and recorded with Ahmad Jamal’s first trio in Pittsburgh and Chicago (1951–6); on many tracks of Jamal’s album Chamber Music of the New Jazz (1955, Argo 602), in addition to playing guitar in a conventional bop style, he adopted Tal Farlow’s manner of producing a convincing electronic imitation of bongos by tapping on the strings. In the late 1950s he performed and recorded in New York with Jamal (1956), Jimmy Smith and Babs Gonzales (both 1958), and Gil Evans (early 1959); he also worked with Tony Scott. In February 1960 Crawford moved to California. He traveled to Chicago for a reunion with Jamal in August 1960 and then to New York, where he appeared at the Jazz Gallery (late summer – autumn ...

Article

(b Greensboro, NC, March 25, 1915; d Vancouver, March 6, 2003). American pianist and arranger, brother of Erroll Garner. He grew up in Pittsburgh and took piano lessons from the age of eight. Two years later he took up cornet, and he played trumpet through his high school years, but dental problems forced his return to the piano. From 1941 to September 1943 he toured and recorded with a band of which Fletcher Henderson became the leader in March 1942. After serving in the US Army he wrote arrangements for and performed and recorded with Billy Eckstine (1946–7) and recorded with Earl Coleman (1948), Fats Navarro (1948), Babs Gonzales (1949), and Una Mae Carlisle (1950). In 1959 he recorded as the leader of a trio, the other members of which were Al Hall and Jimmie Crawford (Garner Plays Garner...

Article

James Lincoln Collier

(Hamilton jr) [Smack]

(b Cuthbert, GA, Dec 18, 1897; d New York, Dec 29, 1952). American jazz and dance-band leader, arranger and pianist.

Henderson was born into a middle-class black family, and studied European art music with his mother, a piano teacher. He later took a degree in chemistry and mathematics at Atlanta University. In 1920 he moved to New York, where he picked up work as a song demonstrator with the Pace-Handy Music Company, an early black publishing firm. When Harry Pace founded Black Swan, the first black recording company, Henderson joined it as musical factotum. He began to put together groups to back the company’s singers, and in this way drifted into a career as a bandleader. Probably in January 1924 he began to perform in Club Alabam on Broadway. The same year he was offered a position at the Roseland Ballroom, later to become the best-known dance hall in New York. (These clubs were restricted to white customers.) Henderson’s band remained there for a decade, using the Roseland Ballroom as a springboard to national fame....

Article

Frank Driggs

(Melvin) [The Lamb]

(b New York, Aug 31, 1907; d Englewood, NJ, Jan 16, 1973). American saxophonist, violinist, composer, and arranger. He began playing violin as a child and took up alto saxophone as a teenager. His first engagement was with the pianist Joe Coleman (1924), after which he worked with Duke Ellington (briefly, spring 1926), Bingie Madison and the saxophonist Billy Fowler (both also in 1926), the pianist Arthur Gibbs (1927–8), Charlie Johnson (1928–30), and the bass saxophonist Alex Jackson (1930). He then played with Fletcher Henderson (June 1931 – c September 1932), and recorded as solo violinist on The House of David Blues (1931). Sampson began composing tunes and writing arrangements while working with Rex Stewart (1933): Stomping at the Savoy and Don’t be that way, which were written for Stewart’s band, are among the best-known standards of the swing era; they were recorded while Sampson was a member of Chick Webb’s orchestra (late ...

Article

Howard Rye

[Vernon Haven ]

(b Oakland, CA, Aug 3, 1916; d Los Angeles, March 25, 1993). American trumpeter and record producer. He began playing violin in 1923 and changed to cornet in 1925. Between 1931 and 1939 he worked with bands in the San Francisco Bay area; in 1938–9 he was with Saunders King. Porter moved in 1940 to Los Angeles, where he performed with Cee Pee Johnson and Slim Gaillard, among others. In 1942–3 he served in the 10th Cavalry Band at Camp Lockett near San Diego, and following his discharge in May 1943 he played with Benny Carter and Fats Waller. During 1944 he worked with Noble Sissle, Fletcher Henderson, with whom he made a tour of the Southwest in the spring, Lionel Hampton, with whom he played trombone from around June until October (during which time he took part in a recording session), and, from November, Horace Henderson, with whose band he recorded accompanying the singer Lena Horne. While a member of Fletcher Henderson’s band (...

Article

Howard Rye

[Columbus ]

(b Cape Charles, VA, April 25, 1913; d Oct 18, 1995). American double bass player. The name Fred Sturgis, which had been thought to be an error made by early discographers, does appear in some contemporary sources; the explanation for this is not known. Sturgis began playing piano at the age of five. In 1934 he moved to New York and worked with Roy Eldridge and Jacques Butler (both 1935), Blanche Calloway (1936), Tommy Stevenson (1936–7), and the trumpeter Eddie Mallory (1937–8), in whose band he doubled on alto saxophone. Late in 1939 he rejoined Eldridge at the Arcadia Ballroom and made his first recordings. In the early 1940s he was with the bandleader Bardu Ali (1940), Benny Carter (1940–41), Fletcher Henderson (1941), and Louis Armstrong (1942–3), with whom he may be seen in the film ...

Article

Chip Deffaa

[Tortoriello, Vincent Joseph ]

(b Newark, NJ, Feb 22, 1902; d Morristown, NJ, Aug 24, 1986). American tuba and double bass player and arranger. He performed with several lesser-known bandleaders in the early 1920s, then from 1925 played with Red Nichols, Miff Mole, the Dorsey Brothers, Eddie Lang, Phil Napoleon, Bix Beiderbecke, and others. As an arranger Tarto worked with a number of bandleaders, including Fletcher Henderson and Chick Webb; he composed and arranged Black Horse Stomp, which Henderson recorded in 1926 (Har. 153). I must have that man, recorded by Joe Venuti, is an excellent example of his skill as an arranger, and includes one of his better solos. Tarto recorded with such singers as Ethel Waters, Sophie Tucker, Bing Crosby, and the Boswell Sisters. After 1930 he played jazz only occasionally, and worked mostly with radio, theater, pit, and symphony orchestras. He also played with Nichols (1935–6), and was associated intermittently for some 25 years with Paul Whiteman. During the late 1940s he performed at Nick’s, New York. Thereafter he led a band, the New Jersey Dixieland Brass Quintet, periodically into the 1980s, and also worked with other traditional jazz musicians. In ...

Article

Howard Rye

(b Brunswick, GA, Oct 18, 1907). American trombonist and arranger. He grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. After studying at Edward Waters College (in Jacksonville) (1922) he worked locally and in Philadelphia. His first important engagements were with Luckey Roberts, the pianist Arthur Gibbs, and Charlie Johnson in New York during the mid- and late 1920s. He worked with Don Redman in 1931 and the following year became associated with Benny Carter; he recorded with Carter’s band under the leadership of Spike Hughes. Thereafter he played with and wrote arrangements for the Mills Blue Rhythm Band (intermittently to 1936, worked as a staff arranger for Irving Mills, and made recordings with Henry “Red” Allen. Later he played with Fletcher Henderson (c December 1936 – May 1937) and Louis Armstrong (mid-1937–1943). Washington then moved to the West Coast, where he worked in 1945 with Horace Henderson and Carter, with whom he recorded. From ...

Article

Howard Rye

[Chabania, Jacinto ]

(b Gary, IN, Jan 23, 1908; dc 1961). American saxophonist, clarinetist, arranger, and singer. He studied violin, then alto saxophone and clarinet. After playing briefly with Charlie Turner’s Arcadians he took ship for Europe with Sam Wooding (1928), with whom he recorded in Barcelona and Paris (1929). He then moved to New York, played with Chick Webb, toured with Zack Whyte’s Chocolate Beau Brummels, performed and recorded with Don Redman (late 1933 – late spring 1934) and Willie Lewis (in Europe, to c spring 1935), and worked with Claude Hopkins, both in New York and on tour (mid-1936). In October 1936 he joined Fletcher Henderson’s group, with which he made several recordings in 1937, but around February 1938 he left the group to become Cab Calloway’s music director. In April 1942 he recorded with Count Basie, and later that year, having left Calloway’s employ, he played briefly with Basie (June) and with Earl Hines (September) before rejoining Henderson (October–November). In ...

Article

Howard Rye and Barry Kernfeld

[Tone]

(b Red Bank, NJ, 1905; d Red Bank, June 1962). American tenor saxophonist and clarinetist. He worked from 1926 to 1928 with Horace Henderson and from 1928 to 1935 with Chick Webb, with whom he appeared in the short film After Seben (1929); he also played briefly with McKinney’s Cotton Pickers in summer 1931 and with Lucky Millinder early in 1932. Williams spent two lengthy periods in Fletcher Henderson’s band (October 1935 – November 1936, February 1937 – spring 1939) and was then again with the latter’s brother Horace (June 1939 – September 1940). He performed and recorded as a tenor saxophonist with Ella Fitzgerald (1942) and Millinder (1944–5) and worked with Claude Hopkins (1946) and once more with Fletcher Henderson (July 1950), this last just before a tour with the drummer Herbert Cowens. In the late 1950s he played in Milan with the tenor saxophonist Freddy Mitchell....

Article

Howard Rye

[Dave ]

(b Nashville, Jan 14, 1912; d Dec 25, 1992). American tenor saxophonist. As a child he moved with his family to Chicago, where he studied music as a member of the Chicago Defender Newsboy Band under the direction of Major N. Clark-Smith. He played with various leaders from 1932, among them Frankie “Half Pint” Jaxon (1933), Carroll Dickerson (1936), and Roy Eldridge (1936–8). After working with Fletcher Henderson (c November 1938 – June 1939) he was a member of Horace Henderson’s band (June 1939 – August 1940). In the early 1940s he played with Walter Fuller and Eldridge and recorded with Lucky Millinder and Sammy Price (1942). In 1944–5 he was in a navy band, and after his military service he led his own band in Chicago; it recorded with Dinah Washington (1947) and accompanied her at the Ritz Lounge. Young then ceased full-time performing and became an advertising executive for ...