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Record Label Profiles

Jazz Oracle: Portal to Antiquity

By Published: October 8, 2010


"Life would be no better than candlelight tinsel and daylight rubbish if our spirits were not touched by what has been."—George Eliot

The world will never be able to hear exactly how Beethoven or Bach played their instruments, but it can hear how artists such as clarinetist Wilbur Sweatman and clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Fud Livingston played and improvised on their horns: at least for now. A recent study on sound (mandated by the US Congress in a 2000 preservation law), conducted by Rob Bamberger, said that many of American radio's first broadcasts, as well as sports broadcasts, have been lost or can't be accessed by the public. The study calls for legal reforms to enable more preservation. History in sound is important and one company which is actively fighting the good fight, and making comprehensive collections available for all-but-forgotten artists, is Jazz Oracle.


Jazz Oracle goes well beyond reproducing CDs of jazz artists who are already established in history. In fact, one glance at their catalog may have you asking yourself who most of these artists are. In a sense, consider Jazz Oracle the Indiana Jones or Ben Gates of the jazz world (and yes, the label is after a National Treasure). Jazz Oracle is committed to every aspect of early jazz recordings, and so you get much more than a disc of an artist with a couple of nice black and white photos: the liner notes to the discs are handled with such care and research that the listener gets more than a mere bio on the artist. Instead, the full perspective is offered of the artist's upbringing, influences, sidemen and recording conditions, along with quotes from friends, family and the musicians he or she influenced.

While the details in Jazz Oracle liner notes surpass most jazz history books, the auditory parts of their projects take no back seat. Each record is transferred and remastered with care and with the best sound quality in mind. It should also be said that this high standard was, in large part, set by John R. T. Davies and the deep attention he gave to his work. The music will speak for itself, so below are some descriptions of a few highlights from the label.

Wilbur Sweatman

Wilbur Sweatman

Wilbur Sweatman was a clarinetist who most people have never heard of, yet if it wasn't for him, Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
may have never made it to New York or learned of the importance of stage presence. He gave Ellington and Sonny Greer
Sonny Greer
Sonny Greer
1895 - 1982
drums
their starts in 1923. Sweatman came from the vaudeville era, when musicians' entertaining skills were as paramount as their musicality. He was mainly known for his ability to play three clarinets at once. But besides being the Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
1936 - 1977
reeds
of his day, Sweatman is usually overlooked by jazz historians because he generally played "gas-pipe" clarinet. Gas-pipe is a term used for the various effects musicians of the day used on their clarinet (laughing, crying, slap-tonguing, etc). For the time, it's really the equivalent to an electric guitarist using a multi-effects pedal (can you imagine music historians totally discrediting Tom Morello for his effects on the guitar 100 years from now?).

Sweatman broke a lot of barriers in that he was the first African-American to become nationally known through his vaudeville acts, records and work in syncopated musical groups alongside white musicians. He was also the first African-American to work on vaudeville in dress clothes while never having to appear in blackface.



Sweatman's clarinet style was deeply rooted in the 19th century style and he had as much influence over his generation as Johnny Dodds
Johnny Dodds
Johnny Dodds
1892 - 1940
clarinet
or Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
1909 - 1986
clarinet
did theirs. His musical career started in 1895, and by the turn of the century he was playing with one of the top minstrel shows led by W.C. Handy
W.C. Handy
W.C. Handy
1873 - 1958
arranger
. Sweatman was called in to record "Boogie Rag" on February 28th, 1917 in the same studio that the Original Dixieland Jazz Band had used to record the very first jazz records.

There are lots of other stories, such as Sweatman living in Scott Joplin's wife, Lottie's, boarding house along with Perry Bradford and Jelly Roll Morton
Jelly Roll Morton
Jelly Roll Morton
1890 - 1941
piano
arguing nightly about the origins of jazz music. Or the fact that Sweatman's final recordings are still incognito.

Standout tracks: Down Home Rag, Boogie Rag, Bluin' the Blues, Sweat Blues, Battleship Kate.

Fud Livingston

The Story of Joseph "Fud" Livingston

Joseph "Fud" Livingston was a "hot" clarinetist and tenor saxophonist, who also had uncanny arranging and composing skills. This triple threat penned the jazz standard "I'm Thru With Love" (featured in Some Like It Hot and Spiderman 3). Although he never really led his own band, his 1926-28 sides display modernism and brilliance that were slightly above his contemporaries at the time (Duke Ellington, Don Redman, Bill Chaliss). Everyone from Roger Wolfe Kahn to Jean Goldkette wanted use of Livingston's arranging skills in the 1920s, which he offered while still being an active member of Ben Pollack
Ben Pollack
b.1903
's Californians.

In 1924, Ben Pollack
Ben Pollack
b.1903
's band recorded a test pressing of "Red Hot" and while it was never issued, a tape of a test pressing survived. "Red Hot" finally makes its debut on this CD as Livington's very first recording—84 years later. His clarinet style is heavily influenced by the New Orleans sound and is very reminiscent of Jimmie Noone or Leon Rappolo. He was also sitting in with Jimmy McPartland
Jimmy McPartland
Jimmy McPartland
1907 - 1991
cornet
's Wolverines and was part of Red Nichols' Five Pennies, in which he solidified his own style of playing clarinet, that many would copy for years to come. All of these things, along with his talent and personality, propelled Livingston into the musical forefront of New York City by the ripe age of 21.

While "Feelin' No Pain" was Livingston's most popular instrumental composition, it was the dream-esque "Humpty Dumpty" and "Imagination" that were so futuristic in harmony. These two songs sound harmonically closer to John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
's "Giant Steps" than to any song around at that time. In fact, his theme to "Humpty Dumpty" sounds almost identical to the theme George Gershwin would pen a year later for the successful "An American in Paris." Livingston's "Sax Appeal" contains a lengthy quote from Bix Beiderbecke
Bix Beiderbecke
Bix Beiderbecke
1903 - 1931
cornet
's "In a Mist" many, many months before it was published or recorded. This probably derived from the fact that Beiderbecke and he were lifelong friends since 1925.

At Nat Shilkret's suggestion, Beiderbecke wanted to team up with Livingston and Max Farley to come up with the "All-Star Orchestra" for Victor Records. This was a large orchestra that included Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman playing Livingston's arrangements. This group was playing very modernistic arrangements and was so successful that it made Paul Whiteman mad enough to abruptly leave Victor for their recording rival, Columbia Records (which offered Whiteman $100,000).

For all of Livingston's brilliance, he would get very frustrated at recording dates because he could not play everything he heard in his head, and turned to alcohol. This would turn out to be his Achilles heel. For more info on his hilarious "intervention," his encounter with Lily Pons, and his boss, ranked clarinetist, Jimmy Dorsey, check out Jazz Oracle's Livingston CD.

Standout tracks: Red Hot, Feelin' No Pain, Imagination, Humpty Dumpty, Sax Appeal, Alexander's Ragtime Band, Choo-Choo, I'm Thru With Love, The Blues Danube, Moo.

Ben Pollack

Volume 1

The easiest way to describe Ben Pollack, in a very generalized nutshell, would be to say that he was the Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
b.1933
producer
of his day. This guy worked with the best of the best and the best of the future best, and even had roles playing himself in Hollywood motion pictures. He had acute insight to what talents held great potential. This is one of the reasons why Jazz Oracle has dedicated multiple volumes to him. Although there's not a great deal of beefy information in this first volume of Pollack's catalog for Jazz Oracle, it still satisfies.

Besides having cats like Benny Goodman, Harry Goodman, Ray Bauduc
Ray Bauduc
Ray Bauduc
1909 - 1988
drums
, Glenn Miller, Jimmy McPartland, Bud Freeman, Fud Livingston and Jack Teagarden
Jack Teagarden
Jack Teagarden
1905 - 1964
trombone
in his earliest bands, Pollack would also subject them to hilarious and unbelievable stunts. Jack Teagarden talked with Len Guttridge about how Pollack made Harry Goodman don a tiger's head for a performance of "Tiger Rag." He also made Ray Bauduc wear a Hawaiian grass skirt for a rendition of "She's One Sweet Show Girl" and he was known on occasion to pick up a megaphone in order to sing vocals a la Rudy Vallee.

Teagarden also recalled a mystical alley in New York City on West 47th St. and said that he, Pollack and a couple of other guys in the band dubbed this place "Dream Alley" because whenever someone wished for something in "Dream Alley" it would come true. Many musicians hung out there when jobless. Teagarden wished for his own band, and Pollack wished for his own restaurant someday, and both wishes came true.

As to how Ben Pollack launched his successful career, one word comes to mind: brazen. One night early in his career, Pollack was out listening to the New Orleans Rhythm Kings live and the drummer (Ralph Snyder) was begging to be let out of a Sunday session. So Pollack just walked up to the bandstand (after overhearing the conversation) and asked to sit in on the Sunday session. After going back and forth, the musicians hesitantly agreed, telling Pollack to just lay back, take it easy and keep things simple. That wasn't Pollack's style and upon hearing him throw everything he had at them, the band fired Snyder and hired Pollack that very day. This guy could make a wolverine purr.

Standout tracks: Deed I Do, He's the Last Word, Waitin For Katie, Singapore Sorrows, Sweet Sue—Just You.

Douglas Williams

1928-1930

Douglas Williams is a musician who is shrouded in a cloak of mystery. The CD offered by Jazz Oracle is by Douglas A. Williams. The early life of Douglas A. Williams has not been documented, but Dick Raichelson of Jazz Oracle gives some examples / findings of different men who could be Williams. This makes the search for and the music of Douglas Williams all that more interesting, alluring and rare.

Victor Records used to record artists at the Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, Tennessee. The Douglas Williams Trio traveled to Memphis with a few vocalists in a medicine show from Alabama. They were hired by Loren Watson to record for Victor. Williams recorded 26 sides for Victor there, and was even lucky enough to have a local newspaper on hand when he was recording to document the session. Even given all of this, Douglas Williams fell into the cracks of obscurity and as aforementioned, little is documented or known about him.

After the Victor session, the members of Williams' trio (Blaine Elliott and Sam Sims) stayed around and lived in Memphis, but the vocalists moved shortly after the session. Some info suggests that Williams could have been approximately 30-35 years old when he came to Memphis and recorded in 1928. It has been said that he was a jokester and a prankster and had the nickname "Flipper." He could have been the same Douglas Williams who played in Howard Yancey's Orchestra for society and local parties. In 1935, Douglas and his wife Sula sold their home and moved to St. Louis. In fact, his final city directory listing was in 1942. There is no info for Douglas Williams after this date.

As far as Williams' clarinet style is concerned, he sounds very similar (or at least influenced by) the New Orleans style of clarinet players. Although he may have lacked fluidity, he would on occasion incorporate gas-pipe / vaudeville techniques into his playing. For those with theoretical ears, most of the cuts on the CD are in familiar keys: Bb, Eb, C and F. As a testament to Williams' compositional skills, he composed 21 of the 24 cuts on the disc. The last three cuts on the disc include an unknown trumpet and alto saxophonist who bring a new level of maturity to the group. It is speculated that the trumpet player could be Punch Miller
Punch Miller
b.1894
, but recent evidence suggests that both were probably members of Clarence Davis' Rhythm Aces (a local band from Memphis).

Standout tracks: Slow Death, One Hour Tonight (If I Could Be With You), Clarinet Jiggles, The Beale Street Sheik.

Jack Linx & Maurice Sigler

Jack Linx & his Birmingham Society Serenaders / Sigler's Birmingham Merrymakers

Before everyone starts laughing and thinking about beef jerky and sasquatch pranks, this band actually has a good bit of intrigue attached to it. Believe it or not, an area of very limited knowledge (if any at all) is about white bandleaders in remote locations. Jack Linx is an example of this. Some research can tell us that Jack Linx only played around Birmingham, Alabama and the surrounding region.

With this disc, Jazz Oracle has provided us with the only compilation known to exist of sides strictly dedicated to Jack Linx. Any information surrounding Linx (aside from recording info) is merely sketchy at best. We know that Linx was booked for 12 weeks at the Cascade Plunge, which happened to be Birmingham's leading dance resort. In 1930/31, Linx and his group were resident at the Thomas Jefferson Hotel.

Jack Linx and his group traveled to Atlanta, Georgia where they recorded a couple of sides for OKeh Records. Although Linx had some success with the sides, the listener can hear some striking similarities between "Don't You Try To High-Hat Me" and Jelly Roll Morton's "Milenberg Joys." The same can be deduced even closer with Linx's "Oh Me! Oh My!" and the New Orleans Owls' version six months previous. A fun rumor had gone around that King Oliver himself had sat in with Jack Linx and his group for their record of "Beale Street Blues," but unfortunately that was false. The trumpet player on the date just apparently played with enough power, force and bravura that it made listeners think that it was King Oliver (which is a testament to that trumpet player's abilities for the time).

Later on, Linx must have retired from being a bandleader, in the 1940s or 1950s, because by 1961, he was found to be a partner of a musical instrument store in New York.

In addition to the 23 Jack Linx sides on this disc, there are four that are credited to Maurice Sigler as Sigler's Birmingham Merrymakers. This is because the band traveled to Atlanta the exact same day as Jack Linx and his group, and the Birmingham Merrymakers were comprised of members of Linx's group, the Original Alabama Dominoes and the Eddie Miles Orchestra.

Standout tracks: It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo,' Don't You Try to High-Hat Me, O Me! O My!, Beale Street Blues, Pardon the Glove.

Sam Manning

Volume 1

Sam Manning's recorded sides are truly fascinating in their sound and in the subjects being discussed in the lyrics. This is really groundbreaking music in that it is truly one of the first jazz "fusions" to occur. It fuses a West Indian inspired vibe with the hot jazz that was popular at the time. In fact, some of Sam Manning's sidemen play "hotter" than leading jazz musicians of the day. Many of the songs on this disc contain little snippets of musical and sung quotes of older, more traditional songs from the West Indies. This type of mosaic effect made Manning's songs feel familiar with listeners and thus contributed to his popularity.

As stated above, the subject material for these songs is unbelievable for its day: economic survival, New York winters, longing for home, indulging in current fashion, displaying pride and self esteem, battered women, female adultery and sexual promiscuity, as well as lesbianism (take that Lady Gaga). "Amba Cay La" is about a young girl's early sexual experiences and "Baby" is similar in its adult content. "Mabel (See What You've Done)" talks about a female adulterer's husband literally cutting off the head of the man who had just slept with her. "The Bargee" (through its language) tells a story of calling prostitutes to perform oral sex on American sailors. The lyrics of "Lignium Vitae" discuss how certain tea can be made from the bark of lignium vitae wood and this helps increase blood flow and is used in herbal medicine as an anti-pregnancy tea (along with caraili bush and Ti-Marie), thus giving a young Trinidadian woman sexual freedom. "Sly Mongoose" has many references to Alexander Bedward and trickery, and uses a clarinet slide to express sexual innuendo. "Hold Him Joe" of course is the same song that inspired Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
to do a cover. To hear a version that Rollins could have heard is quite fulfilling, when comparing how far Rollins took it.

Manning's reedmen were very, very good. They were not only versed in West Indian techniques but also the jazz techniques of the day. In fact, these could very well be the very first recordings of Trinidadians playing saxophone. This was a great foil for Manning because he was more of a showman and comedian than a crooner. It has been recorded that his favorite stage outfit consisted of a pink vest, white top hat and a checkered grey suit with trousers that weren't quite long enough. Unfortunately no film footage exists of Manning (the paparazzi occupation wasn't as trendy back then).



Manning's musical career started after his military experience in World War I doing "concert party" work. In the 1920s, he gravitated to New York City and convinced a Brooklyn theatre owner to let him rent the premises in order to stage a vaudeville program based on his Caribbean expertise. Manning filled the theatre up with expatriates who knew of his talents in the West Indies and the show was a great success. This solidified his name and reputation as an actor and vaudeville specialist. This particular brand of jazz quickly died out during the Great Depression due to Manning going back to England, and fellow composer Cyril Monrose leaving for Trinidad.

Standout tracks: Amba Cay La, Baby, Mabel (See What You've Done), The Bargee, Lignium Vitae, Sly Mongoose, Hold Him Joe.

New Orleans Jazz Band

Recorded in New York 1924-1925

There is some confusion surrounding the New Orleans Jazz Band. It is not to be confused with a group by the same name that was led by Jimmy Durante on the piano. Little historical information is available about the New Orleans Jazz Band because it was mainly made up of obscure musicians.

In 1923, the band first appeared on record. Trombonist Andy Russo went on to work regularly in the swing era of the 1930s with many, many bandleaders. Clarinetist Sidney Arodin worked with big bands during the swing era, and then he returned to New Orleans. Most people have never heard of Arodin, although they are probably familiar with his most famous melody: "Lazy River." By 1924, so many of the original members left, that drummer Tommy de Rose was the only one who remained. Recordings were released on the Domino label. The very first recordings were musically rough because the band had not had time to gel yet, but it was ambitious and by its next recording date it had added a banjo player. Some personnel changes occurred (including the addition of trumpeter Harry Gluck), because many of the members left to join the newly re-organized version of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band
Original Dixieland Jazz Band
Original Dixieland Jazz Band
1914 - 1936
band/orchestra
, who happened to be appearing at the New York Cinderella Ballroom.

While these recordings are not so valuable for their musicality, they are valuable in that they give the listener insight into an example of white Dixieland jazz through the influence of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. An additional note of importance is that these are the first recorded sides of clarinetists Sidney Arodin and Brad Gowans
Brad Gowans
b.1903
, who both turned out very fine and respective jazz careers.

Standout tracks: Tin Roof Blues, It Had to Be You, Some of These Days, The Camel Walk.

The Original Indiana Five

Volume 1

For many years the Original Indiana Five have gone neglected as far as historical research goes. It wasn't until February 1999 that Frog Records released the Original Indiana Five's complete Harmony sides on CD. By April 1999, film of the Five with matching sound was found. Through arduous internet research, Jazz Oracle has been able to find friends and family members in order to learn more about the history of the Original Indiana Five, and intends to release everything the band recorded (excluding the Harmony sides of course) in a series of discs. This is merely the first volume.

In 1947, Robert H. Miller wrote about the history of the Original Indiana Five for an Australian magazine, but the problem is he never contacted any of the members. There was no excuse for this as they were all alive at the time. Thus, his article was full of false information claiming that the players all came from Gary, Indiana (perhaps a crystal ball warned him about the Jackson 5?), when they all came from New York City and merely used Indiana in their name as a marketing ploy, a ploy which was very common at the time.

The music on this disc is broken into three separate categories by record label: Olympic, Pathe and Gennett Records. As far as the Olympic sides go, clarinetist Nick Vitalo's playing is exceptionally strong on "Bees Knees," while the group take Johnny Dunn
Johnny Dunn
1897 - 1937
trumpet
's "Sweet Lovin' Mama" much faster than his recording. These two tracks alongside "Louisville Lou" and " Slow Poke" really demonstrate Johnny Sylvester's trumpet (which is reminiscent of Frank Guarente's trumpet playing in the Georgians). "Two Time Dan" and "Bebe" showcase Vitalo again, but this time on alto saxophone.

The listener can tell when the Five went over to the Pathe label because the band has the addition of a banjo, and as a whole, it sounds more comfortable and relaxed as a unit. "Stavin' Change" and "Mean Mean Mama" show a fire that was only rivaled by the Original Memphis Five. "Tin Roof Blues" displays Pete Pellizzi taking a solo that is based around George Brunie's version for the New Orleans Rhythm Kings
New Orleans Rhythm Kings

band/orchestra
.

James Christie on trumpet marks the beginning of the Gennett period for the Original Indiana Five. Christie played trumpet on the very first Gennett session. "Everything is Hotsy Totsy Now" is a very up-tempo ditty that is chocked full of Charleston rhythms. The cut of "Seminola" is quite interesting in that it comes off having lots of energy while maintaining a Native American vibe to it (after all they are the Indiana Five), which is a rarity for the day. "Sweet Georgia Brown" is a tour de force for clarinetist Vitalo.

Standout tracks: Bees Knees, Sweet Lovin' Mama, Two Time Dan, Mean Mean Mama, Tin Roof Blues, Hot-Hot-Hottentot, Everything is Hotsy Totsy Now, Seminola.

Joe Robichaux

Joe Robichaux & his New Orleans Rhythm Boys (1933) / Christina Gray (1929)

The really great thing about the liner notes to Joe Robichaux 1929-1933 is that Jazz Oracle gives a concise history of the different musical ethnicities of New Orleans (white, black, creole) and how Robichaux's uncle (John) played a part in the early development of the creation of jazz (even beating Buddy Bolden in a band showdown at Lincoln Park in 1906). John was a violinist who had terrific sight-reading abilities and even kept up with popular songs of the day by ordering them from New York City. He also played bass drum in the Excelsior Brass Band. Unfortunately John never recorded because he felt recorded music was "canned music." When he died in 1939, he left 350 compositions and a reputation as one of the city's greatest musicians. His two nephews, Joe and John, were left to carry on the family tradition and legacy.

Robichaux was interested in music, particularly the piano, by the age of 10. He went on to receive formal training in music theory and piano at the New Orleans University. Steve Lewis (from A.J. Piron's Orchestra) became his mentor and teacher. Prior to 1917-18, Joe was playing piano with Punch Miller and Oscar "Papa" Celestin among others, which wasn't bad training for a teenage pianist. Robichaux's father was living in Chicago at the time and he decided to go and try his luck out there for a little bit. Robichaux went at a time when there was a mass exodus of jazz musicians leaving New Orleans for Chicago, and while he was in Chicago, he heard all the greats of the day: King Oliver (at the time with Lil Hardin and Johnny Dodds), Freddie Keppard
Freddie Keppard
Freddie Keppard
1890 - 1933
cornet
and Fess Williams
Fess Williams
b.1894
.





In 1924, Robichaux returned to New Orleans from Chicago (because Chicago became too cold for him in the winter) and, after befriending Bunk Johnson, started playing with trumpeter Lee Collins. Joe was part of the Astoria Gardens Grand Opening (four sides recorded by Victor Records), which became the first sides recorded by a mixed New Orleans group featuring Sidney Arodin on clarinet.

Following the break-up of the Collins / Jones band in 1931, Joe was asked to form a band to play at the Entertainer's Night Club in the Storyville district. After the band developed a following, it moved to the Paradise. That's when it was heard by a New York City talent scout, which resulted in a few recorded sides. Upon returning to New Orleans, Robichaux kept expanding his band size until he had a big lineup which included Earl Bostic. In 1936, the big band recorded four sides for Decca Records, and unfortunately all four sides were rejected, although the band continued to tour until 1941. In 1941, Robichaux returned once again to New Orleans to pick up solo gigs. In 1950, he accompanied singer Lizzie Miles, and that took him out west where he met up with his old friend, the legendary clarinetist George Lewis. He wound up touring with Lewis from 1957-1964, truly carrying on his uncle's musical legacy and outstanding reputation.

Standout tracks: The Reverend Is My Man, Just Like You Walked In You Can Walk Out, St. Louis Blues, You Keep Me Always Living in Sin, Shake It and Break It.

Wilton Crawley

Showman, Composer & Clarinetist

Within the jazz idiom, Wilton Crawley is a "novelty act" in the truest sense. Besides playing wonderful jazz clarinet, he could contort his body into numerous shapes, all while playing the clarinet. At the time, this was not considered kitschy, but rather standard fare. King Oliver used to play a novelty number ("Eccentric") in his live acts, but it was never recorded. Freddie Keppard's novelty number was "So This is Venice," Bennie Moten's was "Yazoo Blues." Usually for clarinetists, the novelty consisted of various "gas-pipe" effects. Even a star such as Benny Goodman did his best Ted Lewis imitation on "Shirt Tail Stomp," as well as Jimmy Dorsey on "Tiger Rag" with the Whoopee Makers. There were plenty of black novelty clarinetists besides Crawley. These included Wilbur Sweatman, Ernest Elliott, Bob Fuller, Fess Williams, Jimmy O'Bryant and George McClennon.

Crawley is not as historically invisible as other instrumentalists of the era due to his later recordings with Jelly Roll Morton. After signing with OKeh Records, he hooked up his talents with Harrison Smith, who used to manage Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington (prior to Irving Mills). He worked consistently with pianist Eddie Heywood Sr. and guitarist Eddie Lang.

Allegedly, Crawley never recorded under anyone else's name besides his own. It was even speculated that he put Jelly Roll Morton in his place at a recording session. Although George "Pops" Foster recalls the session saying that Morton was supposed to play the session behind Crawley. Morton went out and recruited the best men he could find (which included Foster), only to find out that Crawley had been drunk the night before the session and had hired Luis Russell on piano and members of his band (which included Foster as well). When both bands showed up for the session, mass confusion broke out and everyone argued for two hours before the first note was played. The union wound up having to pay both of the bands (Foster actually got paid twice). Foster recalls Crawley contorting himself in knots and propelling himself across the floor on one of the tunes, all the while squawking. This made Morton laugh as well as Crawley, and the remainder of the session was finished with a sense of hilarity. Crawley left for England shortly after this session and eventually returned to the States to Maryland.

Crawley toured around Europe and New York, and in 1932 both his father and Eddie Lang passed away, which hit him on a personal level extremely hard. He found both of these losses to be very difficult to deal with and he slowly drifted out of the public eye, becoming more and more reclusive. Crawley died in November of 1967. No exact date is known, nor are any circumstances of death. His last address was listed as 21061 Glen Burnie, Anne Arundel, Maryland. His social security number was 378-16-1813, issued in Michigan. If any readers happen to know any information regarding the death of Wilton Crawley, please respond to Jazz Oracle at http://www.jazzoracle.com.

Standout tracks: Crawley Clarinet Moan, She's Forty With Me, Put a Flavor to Love, Futuristic Blues, Irony Daddy Blues.

Listening to these discs, it's apparent that this music of yesteryear is full of the same stuff people crave today: happiness, romance, heartache, sex, violence, idolatry, coolness, swagger, fashion, nonchalance, etc. Without these artists' contributions, the jazz giants of today would not be quite the same. Consider it a ripple effect. In order to fully comprehend the present or tread forward to the future, homage and respect must be given to the past.


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