Signed by: Armstrong, Basie, Lunceford, James...

On ebay: album page signed by Armstrong, Basie, Lunceford, James... A piece of jazz history, a piece for collectors of jazz memorabilia.


William Morris Agency of big little (jazz) attractions

A few examples of William Morris Agency's portfolio ca. 1943-1944: Art Tatum ("'Tatum is a genius!' Paul Whiteman dixit"), Meade Lux Lewis ("recognized king of the boogie woogie"), Sidney Bechet and his New Orleans Footwarmers, Ellis Larkins, Adrian Rollini Trio ("the Nº1 Trio of the Nation")...

Ads published on Billboard (28aug43 & 9sep44).


Two pics: Bix and Whiteman, Mole & Morrow

From Linda Fitak's bottomless pit of early jazz treasures and, of course, with her permission:

- Trombonists Miff Mole and Buddy Morrow (born Moe Zudekoff, who played with the orchestras of Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw and Bob Crosby) with bandleader Paul Whiteman ("You too will smile with a Committe Model Martin"):

- Bix Beiderbecke in Atlantic City:


That's Got 'Em! - Wilbur Sweatman bio-disco

Reputed jazz scholar Mark Berresford has just published That's Got 'Em! The Life and Music of Wilbur C. Sweatman (University Press of Mississippi), his bio-discography of African American bandleader and clarinetist Wilbur Sweatman, a virtuoso showman who took an important role as a link between ragtime and jazz.

From Berresford's website, Jazz Hound:

Wilbur C. Sweatman (1882-1961) is one of the most important, yet unheralded, African American musicians involved in the transition of ragtime into jazz in the early twentieth century. In That's Got 'Em!, Mark Berresford tracks this energetic pioneer over a seven-decade career. His talent transformed every genre of black music before the advent of rock and roll--"pickaninny" bands, minstrelsy, circus sideshows, vaudeville (both black and white), night clubs, and cabarets. Sweatman was the first African American musician to be offered a long-term recording contract, and he dazzled listeners with jazz clarinet solos before the Original Dixieland Jazz Band's so-called "first jazz records."

Sweatman toured the vaudeville circuit for over twenty years and presented African American music to white music lovers without resorting to the hitherto obligatory "plantation" costumes and blackface makeup. His bands were a fertile breeding ground of young jazz talent, featuring such future stars as Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, and Jimmie Lunceford. Sweatman subsequently played pioneering roles in radio and recording production. His high profile and sterling reputation in both the black and white entertainment communities made him a natural choice for administering the estate of Scott Joplin and other notable black performers and composers.

That's Got 'Em! is the first full-length biography of this pivotal figure in black popular culture, providing a compelling account of his life and times.

Mark Berresford is a writer, rare record dealer, and editor of VJM's Jazz & Blues Mart, the world's oldest jazz and blues record trade magazine. He is the author of Parry Thomas and Pendine and co-author of Black Swan: The Record Label of the Harlem Renaissance.

240 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 24 b&w illustrations, foreword, bibliography, discography, 4 appendices, index

978-1-60473-099-9 Cloth $50.00


Early jazz commentators in the 1920s: some gems

In the 1920s, many critics of early jazz came from the classical field or were trained in reviewing dance orchestra dates. As jazz was developing, plenty of uninformed commentators raised their hands with something to say about it. In most cases, symphonic jazz was considered a significant advance upon primitive negro jazz and collective improvisation, and these writers were eager to see how jazz would divorce from dance and become part of the classical jazz idiom.

Here's a small selection of some priceless comments:

"The negro, with his unusual sense of rhythm, is no more accurately to be called musical than a metronome is to be called a Swiss music-box" (George Jean Nathan, Comedians All, Knopf, 1919, p. 133).

"We have before expressed our conviction that the trouble with Jazz -the best Jazz, according to the showing of the Palais Royal-ists themselves [Whiteman's band] is its conformity, its conventionality, its lack of daring... it seems to us that this music is only half alive. Its gorgeous vitality of rhythm and of instrumental color is impaired by melodic and harmonic anemia of a most pernicious kind. Listen to Mr. Archer's "I Love You" or to Mr. Kern's "Raggedy-Ann", or to Mr. Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" (Lawrence Gilman, Music, New York Tribune, February 13, 1924).

"Jazz rhythms shakes but it won't flow. There is no climax. It never gets anywhere emotionally. In the symphony it would either lose its character or wreck the structure. It is exactly analogous to the hoochee-coochee" (Virgil Thomson, Jazz, American Mercury, August, 1924).

"Jazz is lacking the most important source of rhythmic variety in serious music, namely, variation in the length and shape of phrases, with artistic use of figuration" (B. H. Haggin, The Pedant Looks At Jazz, The Nation, December 9, 1925).

"We should not, however, jump to the conclusion that because of its extraordinary rhythmic gift alone the Negro dancer and musician should be taken seriously as an artist. Rhythm is not, after all, an art in itself" (André Levinson, The Negro Dance Under European Eyes, Theatre Arts Monthly, January-June, 1927).

"There is not, and never can be, a specifically jazz technique of music, apart from orchestration" (Ernest Newman, Summing Up Music's Case Against Jazz, London, printed in New York Times Magazine, March 6, 1927).

"America is a purveyor of the most dreary, the most brainless, the most offensive form of music that the earth has ever known (jazz!!!)" (Ernest Newman, Music And International Amity, Vanity Fair, April, 1930).

And to end this list, here's the last word, the ultimate comment:

"American music if not jazz. Jazz is not music" (Paul Rosenfeld, An Hour With American Music, J. B. Lippincott, 1929, p. 160-166).

(selected comments taken from the essay Consider The Critics, by Roger Pryor Dodge, included in Jazzmen, edited by Frederick Ramsey, Jr. and Charles Edward Smith)


What they said about Pee Wee Russell [4]

"His playing was a kind of sad and childish piping and a musical nonsense set forth in phlegmy, rasping, 'spit' and 'growl' tones."

[Rudi Blesh]

"He was merely an imitator of Jimmie Noone, a constant part of Eddie Condon's two-beat repertory company" (...) "a company always featuring the wry squeaks and sometimes amusing departures from pitch of Pee Wee Russell's clarinet."

[Barry Ulanov]


"Su forma de tocar no es más que un soplido triste e infantil, además de un disparate musical basado en sonidos 'growl', llenos de flema, ásperos y similares a escupitajos de saliva."

[Rudi Blesh]

"No era más que un imitador de Jimmie Noone, un componente habitual de los 'grupos de repertorio' y ritmo binario de Eddie Condon" (...) "grupos en los que siempre destacan los irónicos chirridos y la forma de desafinar, a veces divertida, del clarinete de Pee Wee Russell."

[Barry Ulanov]

Jazz solidarity [1] - Hot Lips Page memorial (Nov. 1954)