One-of-a-kind signed letters/albums/contracts/sheet music from Nat King Cole, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong, B. B. King, Ethel Waters, Pearl Bailey, Miles Davis, Lindy Hoppers, Sarah Vaughan, Fats Domino, Quincy Jones, Earl Hines, Etta James, S. Coleridge-Taylor, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis, Jr., Grover Washington, Jr., Count Basie, Mills Brothers, Ozzie Davis, Lena Horne, Four Tops, Cicely Tyson, James Brown, Charley Pride, Bo Diddley, Bobby Blue, Chubby Checkers, and others...Negro Actor's Guild 1945 Program (NAG, with Noble Sissle as president) is pictured to the left.
-- AFTRA Contract signed by Cicely Tyson for her appearance on the Nancy Wilson Show pilot, Mar. 18, 1973. Paid $181.
-- AFTRA Contract signed by Lena Horne for her appearance on Kraft Music Hall, Nov. 17, 1969. Paid $7500 and $50 per diem, plus 2 First Class R/T air tickets from LA to NY.
-- AFTRA Contract signed by the Four Tops for their appearance on Kraft Summer Music Hall, signed April 10, 1968. Paid $2500 for show to be aired August 21, 1968.
-- Waiver for late AFTRA filing signed by Diahann Carroll on Dec. 9, 1987.
-- Employment contract signed by Ella Fitzgerald on October 31, 1960.
-- 1989 NBC contract signed by Lionel Hampton, no compensation for appearance. November 15, 1989.
-- American Federation of Musicians contract signed by Bo Diddley for his appearance in Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa Feb. 20 - March 1, 1970.
-- American Federation of Musicians contract signed by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra for appearance in Shrine Auditorium, LA on June 4th, 1960. Headline billing, paid $3000, but paid an extra $1000 if promoter grosses over $10,000.
-- Original signed engagement contract for jazz legend Lionel Hampton at Mansfield State College, PA on March 9, 1963 (band was paid $2000 for the gig!).
-- KABC radio contract for the Michael Jackson Show, signed by Robert Guillaune, states that "he discussed his career as Benson in Soap and as Benson in his own sit-con, Benson." No compensation for his appearance. November 19, 1979.
-- American Federation of Musicians contract signed by Charley Pride for an event at the Ozark Mountain Amphitheatre in Branson, MO. Rider states that he is to receive 100% top billing and that his name is to be spelled correctly (Charley). Paid $20,000 plus 60/40 split over $55,000. Neal McCoy is opening act. June 25, 1988.
-- Original 4-Page contract (1935) between the Lindy Hoppers and Samuel Goldwyn. Signing twice are George "Shorty" Snowden, Freddie Lewis, Madeline Lewis, Beatrice Gay, Beatrice Elam and Leroy Jones. They were paid $2500 for a week's service. Research has determined that this document is most probably the contract for the film short, "Ask Uncle Sol".
-- Actors Television Motion Picture contract signed by Leslie Uggams for her role as "Amanda Price" in the movie "Hotel -- Discoveries." Paid $10,000. October 13, 1986.
-- Standard AFTRA Engagement Contract for Single TV Broadcast signed by Leslie Uggams for her appearance on the Glen Campbell Show. Paid $7500. December 20, 1968. Show aired March 2, 1969.
-- American Federation of Musicians contract signed by jazz great, Donald Byrd (Blackbyrd Productions), to appear at the Great American Music Hall, San Francisco. Ticket price, $6, paid $3,000 against the rights to 70% of the gross. July 30, 1979.
-- Standard AFTRA Exclusive Agency Contract (1 year) with CNA & Associates, signed by Richard Roundtree (Shaft). June 6, 1989.
-- Contract signed by Sarah Vaughn for performing 100% Sole Star Billing at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Cebter, Sarasota, FL. Paid $20,000. Includes stage plot. May 1, 1987.
-- Standard AFTRA exclusive agency contract (3 years) with The Artists Agency signed by Ossie Davis. May 4, 1987.
-- American Federation of Musicians contract by blues great B.B. King for his appearance at Shea's Buffalo Theater, Buffalo, NY. Paid a flat $7500, with 100% top billing. Signed July 30, 1976. Show was March 19, 1977. Rider, with letter and check receipt included.
-- Standard AFTRA Network TV contract for the Harlem Globetrotters TV Special shot at The Forum in LA, signed by Pearl Bailey. Paid $1000. Jan. 28, 1972.
-- Agency For The Performing Arts agreement signed by Isaac Hayes for his appearance on the "Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour." July 16, 1973.
-- William Morris Agency contract (10%) signed by Pearl Bailey to represent her in relation to the motion picture industry and the Screen Actor's Guild (SAG). March 30, 1945.
-- 1971-Standard Aftra Engagement Contract, signed and agreed to by Pearl Bailey and Roncom Productions. Perry Como was producer of the Pearl Bailey Show. Pearl Bailey was paid $7,500 plus $2,500 in expenses for this show. The contract is dated Jan 28, 1971. Signed in blue ink by Pearl Bailey, (Pres). Exc. cond. This contract was part of the archives from the office of Perry Como.
- William Morris contract signed by Earl "Fatha" Hines vintage and dated January 15, 1941. Earl Hines was known as one of the most famous jazz pianist's of the 20th Century and created many standards of today. This vintage signed contract is in excellent condition with a bold autograph of Earl Hines in vintage fountain pen. The contract is also signed by Charles Carpenter sometimes known as Charlie Carpenter who wrote and worked closely with Earl Hines on many songs including the famous song "You Can Count On Me". He has signed under Earl Hines as Witness. The contract is actually signed by two famous Jazz musicians which makes this contract very rare and unique.
-- William Morris Agency contract, signed by Earl "Fatha" Hines (10% -- representing him from 10/1943 - 1/1948). Signed 10/12/1943. Signed contracts by Earl Hines are very rare.
-- AGVA Standard Form for Artists Engagements Contract, signed by Eartha Kitt (Catwoman) for an appearance in San Bernardino, CA on March 20, 1964. Paid $1500. This contract would've been cancelled if Las Vegas event opened up for her on the same day.
-- WPIX "Clay Cole's Diskotek Program" NY appearance signed by the Shirelles, Addie Harris (3/27/1967)
-- An historical 33 page recording contract (1983) between Jennifer Holliday and David Geffen. This was at the height of her career...for a six year period. The contract stated seven years, but Jennifer changed it to six years and initialed it in three different places. The contract discusses the number of masters Jennifer must complete and the payment from the Geffen Group. In 1979 Jennifer joined the Broadway show, Dreamgirls on its successful four year run...winning a Tony Award. Dreamgirls was followed by the Broadway show, Mahalia, and a Number One charted hit, And I Am Telling You. Jennifer won multiple Grammys as well as Tony Awards. She had many hits in the 1980s, including five Number One Billboard hits. Jennifer boldly signs on the last page of the contract.
-- Signed contracts for the Detroit music scene from 1956-1971 (R&B, Soul, Jazz and Blues): Ron Butler and the Ramblers (1971), James Holland and The Holidays (1971), Lloyd Sims & The Untouchables Promo Kit/Contracts (1961), Sammy Bryant Group Press Kit/Photo/Contract (1966)...Roulette recording artists, Lonnie Woods (1965), Jon Bartel & Soul Masters (1968), Jesse Ullmer (1966), Dwight (Jon D) Pettiford (1971), Billy Allyn "Laff of the Party" on Dooto Records, with appearances on Sanford & Son (1961), Bill Murry, Comic (1966), Tommy Hunt and The Flamingos (1956-1960), Albert King Promotional Lot -- Stax Records (1970).
T E S T P R E S S I N G S -- 78 rpm R E C O R D S (vintage, one-of-a-kind)
The following 78s came from the private collection of Mr. Rudy May who was an employee of Decca Records for about
40 years. During that time Rudy was involved in nearly every aspect of recording and record manufacturing at Decca.
A test pressing was generally heard by the artist and key decision-makers to determine if
the song was viable as the final take -- to be mass-produced for the general public.
The Freeman Institute Black History Collection owns well over 100 original test pressings:
LOUIS JORDAN ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- One-of-a-kind, original one-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of Louis Jordan & his Tympany Five, "I Like 'Em Fat Like That." Decca #71819, recorded in New York. Jordan's name and song title are hand-written in period ink. Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five: Eddie Roane, tp; Louis Jordan, as, voc; Arnold Thomas, p; Al Morgan, b; Wilmore "Slick" Jones, d.
: Louis Jordan (1908-1975) was one of the most successful African-American musicians of the 20th century, ranking fifth in the list of the all-time most successful black recording artists according to Billboard Magazine's chart methodology.
Lyrics: Let the cats all criticize, joke about my baby's size, she's reet with me because you see, I likes 'em fat like that.
When she bounces down the street, she's a whole heap of honey and ain't she sweet, feels so fine to know that she is mine, I likes 'em fat like that. You can have all those lean chicks tender and tall, but when it comes to mean kicks,
a big fat momma's the best of all, after I get through working well I reach and grab my hat, and I hurry home, don't want her to be alone, coz I likes 'em fat like that.
>>> A genuine Decca 78rpm record (#71819) with "I Like 'em Fat Like That" by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five. Part of the Decca Personality Series #23810.
LOUIS JORDAN & ELLA FITZGERALD ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- One-of-a-kind, genuine double sided acetate test pressing (10" 78rpm) of Louis Jordan and Ella Fitzgerald, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and "Don't Cry Baby." Decca #unknown, recording date is . Jordan's name and Fitzgerald's name and song title are hand-written in period ink. Possibly a unique item! The a-side is the classic "Baby, It's Cold Outside". I'm not sure what the standard version of this tune sounds like but this one is nearly all vocal with very subdued instrumental accompaniment barely audible through most. Piano is really the only instrument we can make out. The b-side has regular instrumental accompaniment. These could be alternate takes - We have no way of knowing for sure. One-of-a-kind? We think so!
MAURICE ROCCO ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Test pressing (10" 78rpm) of Maurice Rocco's song "Little Rock Getaway" Decca #93584A -- recorded . Rocco's name and song title are hand-written in period ink.
>>> A genuine Decca 78rpm record (#8544) with "Little Rock Getaway" by Maurice Rocco.
: Born in Oxford, Ohio, Maurice Rockhold (1915-1976) later became known as a jazz musician who played the piano while standing up. He performed briefly with Duke Ellington before adopting the stage name Maurice Rocco.
COLEMAN HAWKINS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Pre-war test pressing (10" 78rpm) of Coleman Hawkins with The Ramblers -- song "What Harlem is To Me." Decca #AM 179. Date of recording is . Coleman's name and song title are hand-written in pencil. Here are the musicians on this song: George Van Helvoirt, Jack Bulterman (tp), Marcel Thielemans (tb), Wim Poppink (cl, as, bar), Andre Van Den Ouderaa (cl, ts, vn), Coleman Hawkins (ts), Nico de Rooy (p), Jack Pet (g), Toon Diepenbroeck (sb), Kees Kranenburg (dm). Casino Hamdorff, Laren,
: Coleman Randolph Hawkins (1904–1969), nicknamed "Bean," or simply "Hawk," was the first important tenor saxophonist in jazz. Sometimes called the "father of the tenor sax," Hawkins is one of jazz's most influential and revered soloists. An improviser with an encyclopedic command of chords and harmonies, Hawkins played a formative role over a 40-year (1925-1965) career spanning the emergence of recorded jazz through the swing and bebop eras.
JIMMIE LUNCEFORD & HIS ORCHESTRA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Pre-war test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "For Dancer's Only" by Jimmie Lunceford & his Orchestra. Decca #62263, dated . Lunceford's name and song title are hand-written in period ink. One-sided. --- Scarce smaller master recording (8" 33 1/3rpm) of the songs "T'aint What You do, It's the Way Cha Do It" (Uptown Blues, Pro-533) and "Walkin' Thru
Heaven" (For Dancer's Only, Pro-534) by Jimmie Lunceford & his Orchestra. Capitol, dated . Lunceford's name is listed on both sides. --- Three test pressings (12" discs) of the song "Blues in the Night" aka "My Mama Done Told Me" by Jimmie Lunceford & his Orchestra for the Jerry Lawrence Show...to be aired on Saturday, August 20, 1955.
* Disc #1 -- (12" 78rpm) Part 1 Taped August 6th, 1954 and aired August 7th, 1954. #4932-S2 -- metal disc
* Disc #2 -- (12" 78rpm) Part 2. Taped on August 6th and aired August 7th, 1954 -- metal disc
* Disc #3 -- (12" 33rpm). Taped on August 19, 1955 and aired Saturday, August 20, 1955. #6110 (S411-HWB) acetate disc BACKGROUND: Jerry Lawrence, early radio and television quiz show host, disc jockey and announcer of such shows as "Truth or Consequences. Born in Rochester, N.Y., and brought up in Long Beach, CA, Lawrence developed his radio career in the 1930s at New York City radio stations WOR, WNEW and the CBS network. During World Was II he was recognized for hosting the music and interview show "Moonlight Savings Time," broadcast to troop ships and war industry workers from 2:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. As a disc jockey, he promoted the music of a young singer named Frank Sinatra and was an early announcer on "The Frank Sinatra Show" in 1944. Lawrence returned to the Los Angeles area in 1945 and worked in radio and early television at KTLA, KCOP and KFWB. He hosted CBS' "The Spade Cooley Show" featuring the orchestra leader in 1951, and helped develop local quiz shows, including "Play Marco" for KTLA. He was an announcer for television's popular game show "Truth or Consequences" when it was hosted by Jack Bailey on NBC in 1954 and 1955. --- Pre-war test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "My Blue Heaven" by Jimmie Lunceford & his Orchestra. Decca #60277, dated . Lunceford's name and song title are hand-written in period ink. One-sided. --- Another pre-war test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "The Melody Man" by Jimmie Lunceford & his Orchestra. Decca #60277, dated . Lunceford's name and song title are hand-written in period ink. One-sided. --- Yet another pre-war test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "Organ Grinder's Swing" by Jimmie Lunceford & his Orchestra. Decca #61246A, dated . Lunceford's name and song title are hand-written in period ink. One-sided. >>> A genuine Decca 78rpm record (#61246) with "Organ Grinder's Swing" by Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra. : James Melvin "Jimmie" Lunceford (1902–1947) was an American jazz alto saxophonist and bandleader of the swing era. Lunceford was born in Fulton, MO, but attended school in Denver and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Fisk University. In 1927, while teaching high school in Memphis, TN, he organized a student band, the Chickasaw Syncopaters, whose name was changed to the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra when it began touring. The orchestra made its first recording in 1930. In 1947, while playing in Seaside, Oregon, Lunceford collapsed and died from cardiac arrest during an autograph session. Allegations and rumors circulated that Jimmie had been poisoned by a fish-restaurant owner who was unhappy at having to serve a "Negro" in his establishment.
LIONEL HAMPTON ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "Pink Champagne" and "Oh Well Oh Well!" by Lionel Hampton & his Orchestra. Decca #5758, date is unknown. Lionel Hampton's name and song titles are hand-written in period ink. Rare and possibly one of a kind acetate test pressing of this jazz great! Label on the a-side only states the artist and the title "Oh! Well Oh! Well". "Pink Champagne" is written but has been crossed out. The b-side label states the title and a portion of it has been torn off.
FLOYD RAY & HIS ORCHESTRA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Single-sided shellac test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the immensely popular song "Skeleton in My Closet" recorded and released in 1939 by Floyd Ray and His Orchestra (1885-1941). Floyd Ray (1909-1985). Test pressing of Decca 2618-B, matrix 65393-A. Floyd Ray and his Orchestra formed and played around 1925-1950. There were 3 female singers (The V's), from whom it is said that the Andrew Sisters derived their singing style. Floyd Ray's son, Stephen Ray, recalls their names: Lavern (Vern) Whittaker; Willie Lee (Von) Floyd, and (Ivy) Jones. Floyd's first band was called "The Harlem Dictators". Floyd played saxophone and bass, but not in his bands. He was primarily the leader, arranger and songwriter. During the years 1918-1930, they played at New York's famed Apollo Theater and also at the Cottonwood Club, among other places.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG & HIS HOT FIVE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- AN ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE ITEM! --A single-sided acetate test pressing (10" 78rpm) of Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five, "Georgia Grind." This song is Louis Armstrong's first genuine vocal performance. No record matrix present, but it was listed as 9533A. The date is hand written on the label.
Armstrong recorded this song with the Hot Five in Chicago on this date. This is the first line-up featuring Kid Ory, Johnny Dodds, Johnny St. Cyr, and Louis' wife, Lil Armstrong. Armstrong's name and song title are hand-written in period ink on a blank white label. The entire album that was produced around that time had a great set of great recordings including Louis' first genuine vocal performances on Georgia Grind and Heebie Jeebies. Armstrong's wife Lil also does vocal work on Georgia Grind. Following this day's work, four two-sided discs are ready for release. Oriental Strut / You're Next and Muskrat Ramble / Heebie Jeebies are given consecutive release numbers by OKeh; Georgia Grind is paired with Come Back, Sweet Papa (from February 22); and Cornet Chop Suey finds its mate with My Heart, recorded back in November. This group of songs includes some truly landmark recordings, especially Kid Ory's Muskrat Ramble, which immediately takes its place as a jazz standard.
>>> A genuine Hot Jazz Club of America 78rpm record (#HC21) with "Georgia Grind" by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five.
A two-sided acetate test pressing (10" 78rpm) of Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five, "You Made Me Love You" and "Irish Black Bottom." No record number is listed and no matrix present, but it is listed as 9980A and 9981A. The date. Armstrong recorded these songs with the Hot Five in Chicago on this date. These songs featured Louis Armstrong (Cornet, Vocal), Henry Clark (Trombone), Johnny Dodds (Clarinet), Johnny St. Cyr (Banjo), and Louis' wife, Lil Armstrong (piano).
LOUIS ARMSTRONG ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Louis Armstrong: Elder Eatmore's Sermon on Throwing Stones
------- Single-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of Louis Armstrong & his Orchestra, "Mahogany Hall Stomp." Decca #6111A, recording date is (Chicago). Armstrong's name and song title are hand-written in period ink.
------- A genuine (British) Parlaphone 78rpm record (#01691B) with "Mahogany Hall Stomp" by Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra.
------- Original one-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of Louis Armstrong & his Orchestra, "Elder Eatmore's Sermon on Generosity." Decca #64437, recording date is . Armstrong's name and song title are hand-written in period ink. This song was on the Louis and the Good Book album.
------- One-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of Louis Armstrong & his Orchestra, "Elder Eatmore's Sermon on Throwing Stones." Decca #64436A, recording date is . Armstrong's name and song title are hand-written in period ink. This song was also on the Louis and the Good Book album.
--- Single-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of Louis Armstrong & his Orchestra, "She's the Daughter of a Planter from Havana." Decca #62335, recording date is (New York City, Chaplin; Kahn). Armstrong's name and song title are hand-written in period ink.
--- Single-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of Louis Armstrong & his Orchestra, "Yours and Mine." Decca #62329, recording date unknown. Armstrong's name and song title are hand-written in period ink.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG & HIS FIRST APPEARANCE IN FILM ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- A GROUND-BREAKING ITEM! --A single-sided acetate test pressing (10" 78rpm) of Louis Armstrong, "Skeleton in The Closet." This song is Louis Armstrong's first featured role in a Hollywood musical -- alongside Bing Crosby. No record matrix present, but it was listed as Decca DLA 539-A. The date. Louis Armstrong with Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra. Louis Armstrong plays trumpet and does the vocals.
BACKGROUND: Armstrong plays Henry, a hired musician at the Haunted House Cafe. Servants and subserviant roles were pretty much the only options available to blacks in the pre-civil-rights Hollywood - even for as big a star as Armstrong. The song comes from Pennies From Heaven, Armstrong’s first major studio picture. He was hired for the film at the insistence of its star, Bing Crosby, a lifelong student, friend, collaborator and admirer of Pops. When the film came out, Armstrong got his own credit during the main titles, making him the first African-American to get featured billing alongside white actors. So Pops was pioneering, though some critics have frowned upon the way Armstrong was used in the film.
Playing a bandleader who is hired by Crosby to perform at his nightclub, Armstrong’s “role, as written, makes one cringe,” according to Lawrence Bergreen. Bergreen quotes an exchange between Armstrong and Crosby in the film, comedically playing on the ignorance of Armstrong’s character, who asks for seven percent instead of accepting Bing’s offering of ten percent because his is a seven-piece band, “And none of us knows how to divide ten percent up by seven.” Bergreen writes that this banter dwells “on black inferiority and subservience” but what he doesn’t mention is that Pops legitimately loved this scene, quoting it in front of friends on one of his later private tapes. One of Armstrong’s last television appearances was made with Crosby on the David Frost Show from February 10, 1971. During the interview portion, Armstrong talks about how much fun they had making the film and though 35 years had gone by, Armstrong quotes the entire “percent” scene, line by line, as it originally appeared in the film. Thus, it’s easy for us to “cringe” while watching Pennies From Heaven but for Pops, funny was funny and he cherished the gags he was asked to deliver. Armstrong gets one music number to himself in the film and it’s a great one.
“The Skeleton in the Closet” was written by Arthur Johnston and Johnny Burke, the same two men wrote the rest of the Pennies From Heaven score. Filmed in California, Armstrong was seen leading a contingent of some of the finest west coast jazzmen, including trumpeter (and Armstrong disciple) Teddy Buckner, saxophonist Caughey Roberts, future Nat Cole bassist Wesley Pince and as already advertised, the grand reunion of Armstrong and Lionel Hampton. Hampton was in the midst of a steady engagement as a leader at the Paradise Nightclub in Los Angeles and was just about to explode. Pennies From Heaven was filmed in August 1936 and while out there, Armstrong asked Hampton to sit in on drums and vibes on two Hawaiian cuts made with “The Polynesians” on August 18. One week later, on August 24, Hampton took part in a Teddy Wilson session with Benny Goodman on clarinet and just a few months later, in November, Hampton joined Goodman’s Quartet and, well, you know the rest! But for “Skeleton in the Closet,” Hamp sticks to the drums, wearing a mask to keep the whole “haunted house” motif going. This is Armstrong at his finest: storytelling, acting, singing, swinging and playing beautifully. On January 14, 1937, Armstrong underwent a throat operation, spending the next two weeks in the hospital. Satchmo was having throat issues (perhaps polyps?) because he sounds a hundred times more raspy later than he did on the original “Skeleton” record of just a few months earlier. The surgery might have been a success but when he returned, Armstrong’s voice was still pretty raspy and well, that was pretty much it for that. The rasp turned to gravel over the years, resulting in the true Satchmo voice most of the human race associates with Armstrong.
--- WINIFRED ATWELL - "Piano Liner's Boogie" was a ragtime piece recorded in London by Winifred Atwell in 1956 (one-sided, 10" 78rpm shellac test pressing -- #F10681, Decca Records).
BACKGROUND: Born in Trinidad (1914), Winifred Atwell was an accomplished and versatile pianist who was idolized by the British public throughout the 1950s. She had studied the piano since she had been a small child although she later became trained as a dispenser in the expectation that she would be employed in her father's pharmacist shop. By the age of 30 she became aware that other local musicians had gained further musical training abroad and, encouraged by this, in 1945 she left for the USA. By the late 1940s she had gained a place at London's Royal Academy of Music with ambitions of becoming a concert pianist. However, in order to finance this initiative she worked during the evenings at London's clubs playing piano rags. By 1950 her popularity had spread nationally and she began recording with Decca during 1951- before the advent of any record sales 'chart'. Her music also worked well on TV where she made regular appearances. She would normally start her act by playing a classical piece on a grand before transferring herself to what she called 'my other piano' which was an old 'honky tonk' upright. It was on this that she recorded many of her most successful numbers including her two #1's and the now legendary 'Black And White Rag' which has been used as the signature tune of BBC's 'Pot Black' snooker program for several decades.
--- JIMMY RUSHING with COUNT BASIE & HIS ORCHESTRA - "The Blues I Like to Hear" (one-sided shellac test). This song was recorded in New York City with Jimmy Rushing on vocals -- November 16, 1938 (released on Decca 2284, Matrix #64748. Composed by Jimmy Rushing and arranged by Buster Smith. Count Basie and his Orchestra : Ed Lewis, Harry Edison, Buck Clayton, tp; Dicky Wells, Dan Minor, BennyMorton, tb; Earl Warren, as; Lester Young,Herschel Evans, ts; Jack Washington, bs, as; Count Basie, p; Freddie Green, g; Walter Page, b; Jo Jones, drums.
BACKGROUND: Born James Andrew Rushing on August 26, 1903, in Oklahoma City, OK; died June 8, 1972, in New York, NY. Jazz vocalist. Pianist. Played in Southern California with Jelly Roll Morton, Harvey Brooks, and Paul Howard, 1920s; member of Walter Page Blue Devils band, 1927-29; joined Bennie Moten's orchestra, 1929-35; member of Count Basie Orchestra, 1935-50; toured with his own septet, 1950-52; as a solo act, 1952-72; Europe with Humphrey Littleton, Buck Clayton, Benny Goodman, 1961; Japan and Australia with Eddie Condon, 1964; appeared in film The Learning Tree, 1969; appeared at the Half Note in New York City playing with Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, early 1970s. Jimmy Rushing, also known as "Mr. Five by Five," (short height and wide girth) possessed ajoyous, booming voice that could be clearly heard over the swinging jazz orchestras of the big band era and beyond. He began his career as a piano player in the 1920s, but soon found his voice. He made his name with the Count Basie Orchestra in the 1940s, and enjoyed an active career singing solo and with jazz and big-band greats such as Humphrey Lyttleton, Buck Clayton, Benny Goodman, Eddie Condon, Al Cohn, and Zoot Sims, among others. He toured the United States and abroad, and his voice can be heard on countless recordings, including the most recent compilations The Essential Jimmy Rushing (1978), Mister Five by Five (1980), and The Classic Count (1982).
LOUIS ARMSTRONG & HIS APPEARANCE IN THE FILM, NEW ORLEANS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Acetate test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the classic Louis Armstrong song, "When The Saints Go Marching In." This song is for Louis Armstrong's role in the film, New Orleans. Record matrix number is C-19, with C. Webb (Chick Webb) hand written on the label. Record Disc corporation recording disc is used. The date . There have been over 1,000 recorded versions of this famous song, but Louis Armstrong's version is the best.
BACKGROUND: This version of "When The Saints Go Marching In" was for the motion picture New Orleans, a piece of Hollywood fluff that purported to tell the story of the origins of jazz in the titular city. It’s a mess of a movie but Pops lights up the screen and the music is often good. Three short takes of “The Saints” exist, all strictly instrumental and featuring Pops mainly playing the melody in a band that featured his former boss Kid Ory on trombone and future All Star Barney Bigard on clarinet. Armstrong sounds in wonderful form but the large group doesn’t exactly swing, instead marching along on top of heavy tuba beats. Armstrong sounds great riding over the ensemble. By April of 1947, New Orleans was getting ready to make its debut so Armstrong did a lot of promotion including an appearance on Rudi Blesh’s WOR radio show This is Jazz. The broadcast reunited Armstrong with many of his New Orleans cohorts, including clarinetist Albert Nicholas, bassist Pops Foster and drummer Baby Dodds. The song hadn’t exactly become a staple yet and Armstrong doesn’t seem to have played it much since the original recording nine years earlier. Thus, the arrangement follows the Decca record to a tee.
================= TEST PRESSINGS FROM OTHER LABELS =================
NAT KING COLE TRIO ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- One-of-a-kind, historic test pressing (10" 78rpm) of Nat's first big hit "Straighten Up and Fly Right" (sold over 500,000 copies) and on the other side, I Just Can't See For Lookin' by the Nat King Cole Trio. Recorded in Los Angeles on the brand new label, Capital Records (CAP 142A / CAP 123B), date is .
BACKGROUND: Nathaniel Adams Coles (March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965), known professionally as Nat "King" Cole, was an African American musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. Although an accomplished pianist, he owes most of his popular musical fame to his soft baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres. He was one of the first African Americans to host a television variety show, and has maintained worldwide popularity since his death; he is widely considered one of the most important musical personalities in United States history.
Nat King Cole's first mainstream vocal hit was his 1943 recording of one of his compositions, "Straighten Up and Fly Right," based on a black folk tale that his father had used as a theme for a sermon. Johnny Mercer invited him to record it for the fledgling Capital Records label. It sold over 500,000 copies, proving that folk-based material could appeal to a wide audience. Although Cole would never be considered a rocker, the song can be seen as anticipating the first rock and roll records. Indeed, Bo Diddley, who performed similar transformations of folk material, counted Cole as an influence.
RACISM: Cole fought racism all his life and refused to perform in segregated venues. In 1956, he was assaulted on stage during a concert in Birmingham, AL, (while singing the song "Little Girl") by three members of the North Alabama White Citizens Council (a group led by Education of Little Tree author, Asa "Forrest Carter, himself not among the attackers), who apparently were attempting to kidnap him. The three male attackers ran down the aisles of the auditorium towards Cole and his band. Although local law enforcement quickly ended the invasion of the stage, the ensuing melée toppled Cole from his piano bench and injured his back. Cole did not finish the concert and never again performed in the South. A fourth member of the group who had participated in the plot was later arrested in connection with the act. All were later tried and convicted for their roles in the crime.
In 1956 he was contracted to perform in Cuba and wanted to stay at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana, but was not allowed to because it operated a color bar. Cole honored his contract, however, and the concert at the Tropicana was a huge success. The following year, he returned to Cuba for another concert, singing many songs in Spanish. There is now a tribute to him in the form of a bust and a jukebox in the Hotel Nacional.
DAN GRISSOM ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Hard-to-find two-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the songs, "Recess in Heaven" and "Why I Must Adore You" by Dan Grissom -- Matrix #JRC 275 and JRC 276, on the relatively new label, Columbia Records. Recorded in Los Angeles on . On the songs are Bumps Myers (ts), Sylvester Scott (p), Buddy Harper (g, hca, ldr), Joe Comfort, and (b) Earl Hyde (d) -- with Dan Grissom on vocals.
>>> Two genuine Columbia Records 78rpm record (#38351) with "Recess in Heaven" and "Why I Must Adore You" by Dan Grissom.
BACKGROUND: Dan Grissom is best-known as a vocalist and alto sax player with the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra, but also sang with Duke Ellington for a half-dozen years and released an occasional single under his own name on labels such as Imperial. He was rather uncharitably nicknamed “Dan Gruesome” by jazz fans who were less than enamored by his song stylings. From 1945 onwards he made records as a vocalist for various small labels in Los Angeles. Actually, Grissom represented a new type of jazz vocalist who came about more because of technological innovations than progressive musical thinking.
Around 1933, microphones came into use, allowing singers such as Dan Grissom or the Claude Hopkins frontman Orlando Robeson to carry on over the sound of a full band; neither man had the lungs to belt out lyrics over the top of the band the way pre-microphone "blues shouters" did. There was nothing loud about Grissom's singing style, described in a survey of Ellington vocalists as displaying "pinched-tones and heavy vibrato." Actually, he wasn't the only big-band singer in the Grissom lineage. His uncle Jimmy Grissom also sang with Lunceford, and was just about as busy on records as his nephew, with somewhat less negative critical feedback. Dan Grissom joined the Lunceford band in 1935 and stayed on through the early '40s. The Sy Oliver arrangement of "By the River Sainte Marie" was supposedly Grissom's personal favorite amongst the stacks of songs he interpreted for Lunceford, though that might not mean it is any less gruesome. It was roughly a decade later that Grissom joined Ellington, staying through 1957, and among other accomplishments, recording a version of Ellington's tune "Love (My Everything)," also known as "My Heart, My Mind, My Everything." Vocal wonder boy Johnny Mathis was reportedly influenced by Grissom from this period. Under his own name, Grissom pitied the "Poor Butterfly" in the mid-'40s with backing from the Flennoy Trio, a combo led by Lorenzo Flennoy on piano. Dan Grissom & the Ebb Tones put out a single on Million in 1955 featuring the same song on this test pressing "Recess in Heaven," and there is also a rare Imperial single featuring Grissom's tribute to the "King of Fools."
--- A British test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "The Boll Weevil" (side A) and "The Bourgeois Blues" (side B) by blues musician, Huddie Ledbetter...better known as Leadbelly (1885-1949), , Both songs were written and performed by Leadbelly. Working as a driver and field assistant, Leadbelly recorded the song, Boll Weevil for Alan Lomax in Shreveport, LA and again the following year in Wilton, CT. This version has since been covered by dozens of artists, from Tex Ritter to Woodie Guthrie to the White Stripes, who ended almost every live performance with the tune. A 1961 version by Brook Benton became a #2 pop hit.
>>> A genuine Musicraft 78rpm record with "The Bourgeois Blues" and "The Boll Weevil" by Leadbelly.
"The Bourgeois Blues" was written after Lead Belly went to Washington, DC at the request of Alan Lomax, to record a number of songs for the Library of Congress. After they had finished, they decided to go out with their wives to celebrate, but were thrown out of numerous establishments for being an interracial party. The song rails against racism, classism, and discrimination in general, with such verses as "The home of the Brave / The land of the Free / I don't wanna be mistreated by no "bourgeoisie."
Lyrics: Me and my wife went all over town, And everywhere we went people turned us down. Lord, in a bourgeois town. It's a bourgeois town, I got the bourgeois blues. Gonna spread the news all around. Well, me and my wife we were standing upstairs, We heard the white man say'n I don't want no niggers up there. Lord, in a bourgeois town. Uhm, bourgeois town. I got the bourgeois blues. Gonna spread the news all around. Home of the brave, land of the free. I don't wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie. Lord, in a bourgeois town. Uhm, the bourgeois town. I got the bourgeois blues. Gonna spread the news all around. Well, them white folks in Washington they know how To call a colored man a nigger just to see him bow. Lord, it's a bourgeois town. Uhm, the bourgeois town. I got the bourgeois blues. Gonna spread the news all around. I tell all the colored folks to listen to me. Don't try to find you no home in Washington, DC, 'Cause it's a bourgeois town. Uhm, the bourgeois town. I got the bourgeois blues. Gonna spread the news all around.
--- Test Pressing (10" 78rpm) of Lead Belly's "Frankie and Albert (Part One)" and the acapella version of "Looky, Looky, Yonder / Black Betty / Yellow Woman's Doorbell" medley. . Lyrics: Looky looky yonder, Looky looky yonder, Looky looky yonder, Where the sun done gone. The cap'in' (captain) can't hold 'em ("him" or "them"), Cap'in' can't hold 'em, Cap'in' can't hold 'em, The way I do. Yes Addie gotta (got a) gold mine, Addie gotta gold mine, Addie gotta gold mine, Way above her knee.
"Frankie and Albert" tells the story of a woman, Frankie, who finds that her man Johnny was "making love to" another woman and shoots him dead. Frankie is then arrested; in some versions of the song she is also executed. The first published version of the music to "Frankie and Johnny" appeared in 1904, credited to and copyrighted by Hughie Cannon. At least 256 different recordings of "Frankie and Johnny" have been made since the early 20th century, including the Leadbelly version with "Frankie and Albert."
BIO: Ledbetter, born on Jan. 29, 1885 on the Jeter Plantation near Mooringsport, La., would spend several stints in jail, once reportedly lived as a recluse from the law under an assumed name, and was known to resolve every-day conflict with violence right up until his early passing on Dec. 6, 1949. He had a huge impact upon British rock-n-roll musicians.
LIONEL HAMPTON & LOUIE JORDAN ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Extremely rare test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song (unissued take) "On The Sunny Side of the Street" by Lionel Hampton & his Orchestra and on the other side "Ain't That Just Like a Woman" by Louie Jordan & his Tympany Five, which was #4 on the "Most Played Juke Box Race Records" Billboard charts in 1947. Recorded on Duo Disc, date is . Lionel Hampton and Louie Jordan's names and song titles are hand-written in period ink. Rare and possibly one of a kind acetate (aluminum) test pressing of two jazz greats on one test pressing! Acetate only has a certain number of plays before it becomes unsable.
>>> A genuine RCA/Victor 78rpm record (#25592) with "On The Sunny Side of the Street" by Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra.
Lionel Hampton: “On the Sunny Side of the Street” appeared on the pop charts first by Ted Lewis and His Orchestra in February of 1930. Shortly after, Harry Richman’s recording (which had “Exactly Like You” on the B-side) climbed to number thirteen. The strength of “On the Sunny Side of the Street” is its surprising and inventive melody. Regardless of who wrote the music, there is no denying the song’s tone is cheerful, buoyant, and bouncy. With Dorothy Fields’ casual, optimistic lyrics, “On the Sunny Side of the Street” was a perfect pick-me-up for depression-weary listeners. In spite of its occasional characterization as a bumptious novelty song, “On the Sunny Side of the Street” has been a favorite of jazz greats, musicians and instrumentalists since its publication -- including Lionel Hampton!
Louie Jordan: His first recordings were released under the name "Louie Jordan and his Elks Rendez-vous Band" but by the time of the next recording session, the name became "Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five" This new name maintaining the misspelling of "tympani" from their club billing. From this time forward, his band was always known as the "Tympany Five" regardless of the actual number of members. As early as 1946 Jordan was adding electric guitar to the mix resulting in songs such as "Ain't That Just Like a Woman." The humor and energy that permeates so many of Jordan's recordings is a hallmark of the early Rock 'n' Roll sound.
SARAH VAUGHAN ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Scarce one-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song, "Make Yourself Comfortable," #10745 Mercury Records. Sarah Vaughan with orchestra conducted by Hugh Peretti, dated . Recorded in New York City. Vaughan's commercial success at Mercury began with this particular song...one of her biggest hits.
>>> A genuine Mercury 78rpm records with "Make Yourself Comfortable" by Sarah Vaughan.
SARAH VAUGHAN with the GEORGE TREADWELL BAND ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Acetate test pressing (10" 78rpm) of one of her signature tunes of surrender, "Everything I Have Is Yours," #C-19 Musicraft Records. Sarah Vaughan with the George Treadwell Band, dated . Matrix #5615. George was Sarah's first husband and she was married to him from 1946-1957. This song was recorded during their first year of marriage.
>>> Two genuine Musicraft 78rpm records (#5615) with "Everything I Have is Yours" by Sarah Vaughan.
BIO: Possessor of one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century, Sarah Vaughan ranked with Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday in the very top echelon of female jazz singers. She often gave the impression that with her wide range, perfectly controlled vibrato, and wide expressive abilities, she could do anything she wanted with her voice. Sarah Vaughan's legacy as a performer and a recording artist will be very difficult to match in the future. Her parents were Asbury, a carpenter, and Ada, a laundress. She began studying music when she was seven, taking eight years of piano lessons (1931-39) and two years of organ. As a child, she sang in the choir at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Newark, and played piano and organ in high school productions at Arts High School. She developed into a capable keyboardist. After she won an amateur contest at the Apollo Theater, she was hired for the Earl Hines big band as a singer and second vocalist. Unfortunately, the musicians' recording strike kept her off record during this period (1943-44). When lifelong friend Billy Eckstine broke away to form his own orchestra, Vaughan joined him, making her recording debut. She loved being with Eckstine's orchestra, where she became influenced by a couple of his sidemen, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, both of whom had also been with Hines during her stint. Vaughan was one of the first singers to fully incorporate bop phrasing in her singing, and to have the vocal chops to pull it off on the level of a Parker and Gillespie. Other than a few months with John Kirby from 1945-46, Sarah Vaughan spent the remainder of her career as a solo star. Although she looked a bit awkward in 1945 (her first husband George Treadwell would greatly assist her with her appearance), there was no denying her incredible voice.
ELLA FITZGERALD with CHICK WEBB & HIS ORCHESTRA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Single-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "All My Life" by a very young 18-year-old Ella Fitzgerald with Chick Webb and His Orchestra (1905-1935). Recorded in New York City on . The orchestra included Mario Bauza, Bobby Stark, Taft Jordan, tp; Sandy Williams, Nat Story, tb; Pete Clark, Edgar Sampson, as; Teddy McRae, ts; Wayman Carver, ts; fl; Don Kirkpatrick, p; John Trueheart, g; Bill Thomas, b; Chick Webb, d; Ella Fitzgerald, voc.
BIO: Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996). A performance at the Apollo Theater’s famed Amateur Night in 1934 set Fitzgerald’s career in motion. Over the next seven decades, she worked with some of the most important artists in the music industry including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Sinatra. She was dubbed “The First Lady of Jazz” for her mainstream popularity and unparalleled vocal talents—even though her less–than–svelte appearance and upbeat singing style was in contrast to the sultry and bluesy female singers of her day. Her unique ability for mimicking instrumental sounds helped popularize the vocal improvisation of “scatting,” which became her signature technique. Ella recorded over 200 albums and around 2,000 songs in her lifetime, singing the works of some of the most popular composers such as Cole Porter, Gershwin and Irving Berlin. Ella Fitzgerald died in 1996 at the age of 79, and is remembered as one of the most influential jazz artists of the 20th century.
ELLA FITZGERALD with RANDY BROOKS & HIS ORCHESTRA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Single-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "A Kiss Goodnight" by Ella Fitzgerald with Randy Brooks and His Orchestra (MX #73020 Decca, Label #18713). This song was recorded on August 29, 1945. There is a slight hairline crack on one half of the disc, but it still playes.
MORTON'S RED HOT PEPPERS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Two-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the songs, "Beale Street Blues" and "The Pearls" -- #20948-A & #20948-B, Victor Records. Morton's Red Hot Peppers, dated Recorded in Chicago. The recordings made in Chicago featured some of the best New Orleans sidemen like Kid Ory, Barney Bigard, Johnny Dodds, Johnny St. Cyr and Baby Dodds. A native of New orleans, Jelly Roll Morton was the first great composer and piano player of Jazz. He was a talented arranger who wrote special scores that took advantage of the three-minute limitations of the 78 rpm records. But more than all these things, he was a real character whose spirit shines brightly through history, like his diamond studded smile.
--- Two-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the songs "Beale Street. Blues" and "The Pearls" (vinyl test for a HJCA reissue)
LEROY CARR ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Single-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "Black Gal (What Makes Your Head So Hard?)" by Leroy Carr (1905-1935), blues singer, songwriter and pianist, best known for his first release on Vocalion in 1928 at 23 years of age. Bluebird #15646, .Joe Pullem wrote this particular song and recorded it first, but Leroy came out with his own version that very same year -- a year before he died. Lyrics: Black gal, black gal, What makes yo' head so hard? Black gal, woman, What makes yo' head so hard? Lord, I would come to see you, But your bad man has got me barred.
BENNIE MOTEN'S KANSAS CITY ORCHESTRA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Very rare acetate test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the unreleased tune "My Old Flame" by band leader Bennie Moten (1894-1935), noted American jazz pianist and band leader born in Kansas City, MO. Dated May 15, 1946. On the label is written that the other players on this song are: Ben Webster, Barney Bigard, Ben Webster and the super bassist, Israel Crosby (Ahmad Jamal and George Shearing fame).
--- Hard-to-find single-sided vinyl test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song, "South" by Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra (1894-1935). Bennie was a noted American jazz pianist and band leader born in Kansas City, Missouri. Moten's popular 1928 recording of "South" (V-38021) stayed in Victor's catalog over the years (as #24893) and became a big jukebox hit in the late 1940s (by then, reissued as #44-0004). It remained in print (as a vinyl 45) until RCA stopping making records.
>>> A genuine Victor 78rpm record (#24893) with "South" by Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra.
BIO: Bennie Moten led the Kansas City Orchestra, the most important of the itinerant, blues-based orchestras active in the Midwest in the 1920s, and helped to develop the riffing style that would come to define many of the 1930s Big Bands. His first recordings were made (for Okeh Records) in 1923, and were rather stiff interpretations of the New Orleans style of King Oliver and others. They also showed the influence of the Ragtime that was still popular in the area. His OKeh sides (recorded 1923-1925) are some of the more valuable acoustic jazz 78's of the era and continue to be treasured records in many serious jazz collections. They next recorded in 1926 for Victor Records in NJ, and were influenced by the more sophisticate style of Fletcher Henderson, but more often than not featured a hard stomp beat that was extremely popular. Moten remained one of Victor's most popular orchestras through 1930. By 1928 Moten's piano was showing some Boogie Woogie influences, but the real revolution came in 1929 when he recruited Count Basie, Walter page and Oran "Hot Lips" Page. Walter Page's walking bass lines gave the music an entirely new feel compared to the 2/4 tuba of his predecessor Vernon Page, colored by Basie's understated, syncopated piano fills.
REV. J. M. GATES ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Rare single-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the sermon "Scat to the Cat and Suie to the Hog" recorded in 1930 by Rev. J. M. Gates (1885-1941), Master test pressing of Okeh matrix 480014-A, which is a transfer of matrix 403932-B. It was issued on Okeh 8844. Why did the curiously titled "Scat to the Cat and Suie to the Hog" get such a limited release? Perhaps it was too much comedy and charm to match Okeh's idea of even a rustic sermon? The main message of the sermon was simply that people ought not to snap, nark, and claw at one another.
BIO: The Baptist preacher J. M. Gates was one of the most prolifically recorded black artists of the early century, with over 200 sides on wax between the mid-'20s and his death in 1940 (he once recorded 23 titles in a week, at just two sessions). His sermons and musical numbers appeared on a variety of labels (Victor, Bluebird, Okeh, Gennett), though Gates often re-recorded his most popular sermons — "Death's Black Train Is Coming," "Oh Death Where Is Thy Sting," "Goin' to Die with the Staff in My Hands" — for multiple labels. Gates ministered at Atlanta's Calvary Church and first recorded in 1926. Beginning in April, he recorded almost 100 sides by the end of the year. Understandably, his output slowed slightly during the rest of the late '20s, and the advent of the Great Depression resulted in a four-year period off records. He returned in 1934, and recorded about 20 more sides until his death in 1941. Experts estimate that Gates recorded at least a quarter of all the sermons that appeared before 1943. Gates is credited with introducing the gospel music of former blues artist, Thomas A. Dorsey, into the black gospel market via his crusades. His funeral drew the largest crowd of any memorial service in the city before Martin Luther King, Jr.
CLARENCE WILLIAMS' BLUE FIVE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Single-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "Thriller Blues" by Clarence Williams' Blue Five. (1893 - 1965), with wife, Eva Taylor on vocals. RCA/Victor #BS-071199-1, .
>>> A genuine Bluebird 78rpm record (#11368) with "Thriller Blues" by Clarence William's Five, with vocals by Eva Taylor.
BIO: Although he was quite spirited playing jug, Clarence Williams was a decent pianist, composer and dancer. He was a likable but limited vocalist. He was also a business manager for other Black entertainers, and an independent entrepreneur (who had his own Music Publishing firm). A fascinating figure and one of the most successful black businessmen of the era, Clarence Williams had a real ear for talent. During 1923 to 1928, he was the artist and repertoire director for Okeh Records. Before he was in his teens, he had decided upon a career in show business and ran away from home to work with a traveling minstrel show. By the time he was 21 he had started composing, formed his first publishing company, and was married to Blues singer Eva Taylor (1923).
At the height of his power in the early '30s, Clarence Williams' importance waned as the decade continued and swing took over. After 1937, he only appeared on one final session (two songs in 1941), concentrating on the business side of music. In 1943, he sold his company to Decca and became a shop owner in Harlem. Williams was seriously injured when hit by a taxi in 1956 and passed away in 1965.
EARL HINES ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Fascinating single-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "Rosetta" by Earl "Fatha" Hines. (1903 - 1983), RCA/Victor #BS-040480-3, . Pianist/composer/bandleader Earl “Fatha” Hines first recorded “Rosetta” with his orchestra on October 21, 1939. The lyrics were written by his band’s arranger Henri Woode. Western swing bandleader Bob Wills contributed to the popularity of “Rosetta,” which he first recorded in 1938 and which became the theme song of his Texas Playboys as well as the name of his daughter, born in 1940. As the simple lyric attests, “Rosetta” is a love song: Rosetta, my Rosetta, In my heart, dear, there’s no one but you. You made my whole life a dream, and I pray you’ll make it come true...
>>> A genuine RCA/Victor 78rpm record (#040480-3) with "Rosetta" by Earl "Fatha" Hines.
TITUS TURNER ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Scarce double-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the songs "Jambalaya" (side A) and "Please, Baby" (side B) by Titus Turner (1933 - 1984), with Danny Kessler orchestra while he was only 19 years of age. Okeh #4-6907, . Turner – though no slouch in the performing department – made his mark as a writer of some of absolutely dynamite songs, among them ‘Sticks and Stones’, ‘All Around the World’ (aka Grits Ain’t Groceries), and ‘Leave My Kitten Alone’. Turner himself had a two decade long career as a recording artist, spending most of the 50s recording mostly for Okeh and King, and then the 60s recording for no less than a dozen different imprints. Turner originally recorded ‘People Sure Act Funny’ for the Enjoy label in 1962.
MERLINE JOHNSON "THE YAS YAS GIRL" ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- An almost-impossible-to-find single-sided shellac test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "Squeeze Me Tight" by Merline Johnson "The Yas Yas Girl" (1912 - ?), with George Barnes (el guitar) prob. Blind John Davis (piano) and unknown (bass) Apparently made by or for Vocalion #C-2170-1, .
BIO: During the late '30s, one Chicago-based blues woman cut more records than either Memphis Minnie or Georgia White, and even edged in on Blue Lu Barker with a smart cover of her most famous hit, "Don't You Make Me High." The aunt of R&B vocalist LaVern Baker, Merline Johnson was usually billed as the Yas Yas Girl, a bawdy nickname that utilized a favorite early blues euphemism for your butt. Little is known of this singer's origins, her life during a brief but productive heyday, or her eventual fate. Legend has it she first saw the light of day somewhere in the state of Mississippi during the year 1912. After making her way to Chicago, she established herself as a sanguine, straightforward blues vocalist whose backup bands were often peppered with seasoned jazz musicians who were capable of swinging hard when necessary, and sometimes launched into full-strength boogie-woogie. After cutting six sides as Merline Johnson for Bluebird in May 1937, she commenced recording for the American Record Corporation a few weeks later as the Yas Yas Girl, already demonstrating an innate ability to put across blues and jazzy dance tunes convincingly, with a combination of honesty and warmth that is still very effective. Between 1938 and 1941 Merline Johnson waxed more than 50 titles for Vocalion and OKeh, covering the standard topical range of Chicago blues. She sang of passionate and at times turbulent interpersonal relationships, of unencumbered sexuality, and of unapologetic alcohol consumption. Her accompanists, drawn from a pool of experts from New Orleans and Chicago, included trumpeters Punch Miller and Lee Collins; saxophonists Buster Bennett and Bill Owsley; guitarists Big Bill Broonzy, George Barnes, and Lonnie Johnson; Vocalion's resident steel guitarist Casey Bill Weldon; pianists Blind John Davis, Black Bob Hudson, and Aletha Robinson; string bassists Ransom Knowling and Bill Settles; an interesting character named Alfred Elkins who carried a bassline really well using only his voice; and a rock-solid drummer by the name of Fred Williams. Aside from one final session in 1947, most of this woman's recorded legacy dates from the years and months prior to the U.S.A.'s direct involvement in the Second World War.
ERNIE WILKINS & HIS ORCHESTRA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "Blue Jeans Blues" (side A) and "Have You Ever Been Lonely?" (side B) by Ernie Wilkins & his Orchestra. Savoy #1524, , recorded in New York City. Ernie's orchestra members: Jim Dahl, Al Grey, Rod Levitt, Melba Liston (tb) Ernie Wilkins (as, arr, dir) Don Abney (p) Al Lucas (b) Charlie Persip (d) 6 unknown (vo)
DUKE ELLINGTON & HIS ORCHESTRA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Extremely rare test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song, "Blue Ramble," #B11866B. Duke Ellington and his orchestra, dated . Columbia.
MARVIN GAYE & SISTER SLEDGE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Test pressing remix import (12'' LP) B-Boy House edit #HEDIT001A. Side A: Marvin Gaye -- "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby." Side B: Sister Sledge -- "All American Girls."
ANITA BAKER ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- One-sided test pressing (12" LP) of "Watch Your Step" by Anita Baker. Specialty Records #ED-5132, dated .
BILLIE HOLIDAY & HER ORCHESTRA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Extremely rare test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song "All of Me" (side A) and "Romance in the Dark" (side B) by Billie Holiday & her Orchestra. Okeh #6214, , written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons. Lyrics: You took my kisses and all my love. You taught me how to care. Am I to be just remnant of a one side love affair. All you took, I gladly gave, There is nothing left for me to save. All of me, Why not take all of me, Can't you see I'm no good without you. Take my lips, I want to loose them. Take my arms, I'll never use them. Your goodbye left me with eyes that cry. How can I go on dear without you. You took the part that once was my heart, So why not take all of me.
ETHEL WATERS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- One-of-a-kind test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song, "Come Up and See Me Sometime," Brunswick #6885, Matrix: B-14956-C. Ethel Waters and the Brunswick Studio Band, in New York City, dated . Brunswick. Frank Guarante or Charlie Margulis, Bunny Berigan (tp), Frank Luther Trio (Frank Luther, Zora Layman, Leonard Stokes).
BIO: Ethel Waters was one of the most popular African-American singers and actresses of the 1920s. She moved to New York in 1919 after touring in vaudeville shows as a singer and a dancer. She made her recording debut in 1921 on Cardinal records with "The New York Glide" and "At the New Jump Steady Ball," but switched over to African-American owned Black Swan label, and recorded "Down Home Blues" and "Oh Daddy" the first Blues numbers for that company. She frequently sang with Fletcher Henderson during the early 1920s, but by the mid-1920s Waters had became more of a pop singer. She performed in a number of musical revues throughout the rest of the decade and appeared a couple of films, including "Check and Double Check" with Amos 'n' Andy and Duke Ellington. By the end of the 1930s she was a big star on Broadway. In 1949, she was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actress in the film "Pinky", and the next year she won the New York Drama Critics Award for best actress. Waters became a Christian in the late Fifties and performed and toured with evangelist Billy Graham until her death in 1977.
TINY BRADSHAW, HIS PIANO AND BAND ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the jazz/blues songs, "Powder Puff," and "Ping Pong" #4687, Matrix #K9320. Tiny Bradshaw, his Piano and Band, dated . Dee Jay King Special. Sylvester Austin on tenor sax.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG & HIS ORCHESTRA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Extremely rare master single-sided test pressing (11" 78rpm) of the song "Home (When Shadows Fall)" by Louis Armstrong & his Orchestra. Columbia control #405132, , recorded in Chicago, IL. with Louis Armstrong (Trumpet, Vocal). Zilner Randolph (Trumpet), Preston Jackson (Trombone), Lester Boone (Clarinet, Alto Saxophone), George James (Reeds), Albert Washington (Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone), Charlie Alexander (Piano), Mike McKendrick (Banjo, Guitar), John Lindsay (Bass) and Tubby Hall (Drums).
LUIS RUSSELL'S HOT SIX ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Scarce double-sided test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the songs "Sweet Mumtaz" (side A) and "Dolly Mine" (side B) by Luis Russell and his Hot Six. Okeh #8454, . Turner – though no slouch in the performing department – made his mark as a writer of some of absolutely dynamite songs, among them ‘Sticks and Stones’, ‘All Around the World’ (aka Grits Ain’t Groceries), and ‘Leave My Kitten Alone’. Turner himself had a two decade long career as a recording artist, spending most of the 50s recording mostly for Okeh and King, and then the 60s recording for no less than a dozen different imprints. Turner originally recorded ‘People Sure Act Funny’ for the Enjoy label in 1962.
BACKGROUND: The Luis Russell Orchestra started in Chicago and then moved to New York. They were one of the most innovative bands of their day, but never had the commercial success that they deserved. They are generally considered to be one of the first Swing bands. The outfit featured some of the best hot musicians from New Orleans, such as Barney Bigard, Omer Simeon and Pops Foster. The band first backed up Louis Armstrong in 1929 on the record "Mahogany Hall Stomp" -- which this collection also owns (see above).
SUGAR RAY ROBINSON ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- One-sided audio test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the famous boxer, Sugar Ray Robinson's appearance in "Excursion" an NBC TV series of 26 shows for young people ages 8-16, designed to give them stimulating views of world literature, science, sports, art, theater, career-building, and government, with Americans who have made distinguished contributions in these fields acting as guests. This particular show aired during the week of . Dick Charles Recording Studios, located at 729 Seventh Avenue, New York. These were test scenes for the 1953 TV Episode of Huckleberry Finn, which co-starred boxing champion Sugar Ray Robinson as Jim. Sugar Ray Robinson was expanding on his career by branching out in print advertising, television and film. Mr. Robinson was a handsome natural, that the cameras adored. Robinson retired from professional boxing in December 1953 to become a dancer.
DICK CHARLES RECORDING STUDIOS: By the 1950s, Dick Charles had opened a recording studio on Seventh Avenue in New York City, a block away from Broadway. It was here that a good number of demos of up and coming stars were cut before the stars were signed by the big record labels. Here, both Dick Charles (Richard Krieg and Richard Waldspurger) worked with many famous and not quite so famous musicians and performers.
FATS WALLER ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Scarce double-sided Gramophone test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the songs "Breakin' The Ice" (side A) and "Honeysuckle Rose" (side B) by Fats Waller and His Rhythm (1904 - 1943). A British test pressing. Brunswick #24826, .
BACKGROUND: Born in New York City with the given name Thomas Wright Waller, "Fats" Waller was the son of a churchman. He learned how to play the organ in church with his mother, Adeline Waller, who gave him a background in classical music. Fats' first musical experience was playing harmonium for his father's Abyssinian Baptist Church at 10 years of age. The music which Fats later picked up around Harlem was viewed by his father as "music from the Devil's workshop."
In 1918 Waller won a talent contest playing James P. Johnson's "Carolina Shout" which he learned from watching a pianola play the song. Later, when Johnson met Fats for the first time and heard him play the pipe organ, he told his wife, "I know I can teach that boy." So Johnson took Waller under his wing and within months had improved his play and introduced him to his first Harlem rent party. Waller was such a diligent and lonesome pupil that he would practice on the Johnson's piano until 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning--when Mrs. Johnson would finally order him to go home. In 1922, Johnson had been asked to take over the piano at Leroy's, a club at Fifth Avenue and 135th Street where Willie the Lion Smith had been playing. But Johnson was going out of town with a show and he recommended his 18 year old protégé for the job. This was Waller's night club debut. But he was ready because by this time, Fats had developed into an all-around keyboard dynamo who was playing theater organ for silent movies and stage shows (at Harlem's Lincoln Theater), accompanying singers, backing up dancers in chorus lines, vaudeville revues and nightclubs, and playing blistering stride piano at rent parties. Though his skills on the piano introduced him to fame, it wasn't until after Fats started to sing that he became famous. From 1930 to 1943, Fats made over five hundred recordings and he was recognized from the streets of Harlem to Danish nightclubs as he toured extensively and appeared on numerous radio broadcasts as well as in some Hollywood feature films. Fats unexpectedly died on board a train near Kansas City, Missouri of pneumonia on Dec 15, 1943. Usually remembered as a genial clown, he is of lasting importance as one of the greatest of all jazz pianists and as a gifted songwriter, whose work in both fields was rhythmically contagious.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ MANY MORE "TEST PRESSING" RARITIES ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Music reviewer, Paghat writes about this song and arrangement that can be seen here. >>> "Offensive to a forgiveable degree, the Mills Brothers perform this song in the garb of hillbillies as they vocally recreate Duke Ellington's classic instrumental Caravan (1942). It's doubtful the brothers had anything to do with the costuming, but had done their arrangement of the swing tune strictly in honor of Ellington, thus sophisticated rather than hick imagery would've been more apropos. To recreate a big band swing sound with just their mouths is damned clever, but they've also given us a very fine piece of classic harmony. Given the sophistication of Ellington's composition and the cosmopolitan wittiness of the Mills Brothers' vocal arrangement, dressing them up in a hick setting seems hardly to fit the music. To heighten the unfortunate stereotype there are three 'lazy darkies' lounging nearby, a guy and two gals. These lazy persons have complained that a dance band was supposed to show up for a dance, but isn't going to make it. Only when the Mills Brothers recreate the band vocally does everyone perk up."
Paghat continues, "Slowy one and then the other two and then additional dancers from off screen all get up to dance to "Caravan." It pretty much turns into a 'dancie' instead of a soundie, and if you overlook the stereotyping costuming, this is pretty fine performing, including some breakdance moves from the guy who wins a trophy, though he has to stop eatin' dat watermelon to receive it. Director Josef Berne worked with many black entertainers and should've known better. But in the context of soundie content of the time, one of the most popular 'thread' of soundies content was fake hillbilly music by the likes of the Korn Kobblers and scores of others. So rather than thinking 'lets have some lazy rural darkies with watermelons' I'm sure the point was to have black entertainers horn in on the generally popular honky-hillbillie imagery in many a soundie. And without the weight of history of such imagery crushing down upon it, it would've been no worse (but also no more clever) than when white performers did such acts. The music at least is good, and the later Mills Brothers soundies to come would forgo storytelling in favor of recording the performance." (review by Paghat)
Her voice was remarkable, filling the largest hall without amplification and reaching out to each listener in beautiful, earthy tones. Born into poverty in Chattanooga, TN, Bessie Smith began singing for money on street corners and eventually rose to become the largest-selling recording artist of her day. So mesmerizing was her vocal style - reinforced by her underrated acting and comedic skills - that near-riots frequently erupted when she appeared. Those outside the theaters clamored to get in; those inside refused to leave without hearing more of Smith. Guitarist Danny Barker as saying: "Bessie Smith was a fabulous deal to watch. She was a large, pretty woman and she dominated the stage. You didn't turn your head when she went on. You just watched Bessie. If you had any church background like people who came from the [U.S.] South as I did, you would recognize a similarity between what she was doing and what those preachers and evangelists from there did, and how they moved people. She could bring about mass hypnotism." With her earnings, Smith was able to purchase a custom-designed railroad car for herself and her troupe in 1925. This luxury allowed her to circumvent some of the dispiriting effects of the racism found in both northern and southern states as she traveled with her own tent show or with the Theater Owners' Booking Association (TOBA) shows, commanding a weekly salary that peaked at $2,000. Twice she was instrumental in helping save Columbia Records from bankruptcy.
--- DEEP RIVER BOYS - "What Did He Say?" (The Mumbles Song). This is a rare original 10"/78 RPM test pressing of the famous "Mumbles Song" by the Deep River Boys on RCA Records -- serial # D7-VA-2057-1A. This recording was found in a storage facility not far from the original recording studio in Camden, NJ.
BACKGROUND: The Deep River Boys had their genesis on the campus of Hampton Institute in Virginia in the mid thirties. They found their first success in winning radio's "Amateur Hour" competition. This notoriety led to opportunities to appear on stage and in radio. During the Second World War the group did extensive touring for the USO and provided entertainment for American troops overseas. The members for most of the life of the group were Harry Douglas, Jimmy Lundy, Ed Ware, and Vernon Gardner.
In 1948 they released two songs for RCA -- "I'm Sorry I Didn't Say I'm Sorry" and “What Did He Say,” written by Cy Coben. Could this have been the first rap song ever recorded?
There are two types of 78 pressing: Stock Shellac and Laminated:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
--- Stock shellac pressings are those produced from a shellac and filler mix (the fillers were put in to both increase the resistance to wear and to keep the price down - shellac was and is expensive!). Because of the quantity of filler used, stock shellac surfaces tend to be noisy and prone to grittiness, e.g. Victor, Brunswick, Vocalion, Decca etc. Most records pressed in the US, Europe and Britain were stock shellac.
--- Laminated pressings used a low quality filler core but then had a high quality playing surface bonded to it. This playing surface was shellac rich which meant that the surface noise was reduced massively. The main users of Laminated Pressings in the US were Columbia (1923-33 and again in the 1940s) and OKeh (1926-33 and again later in the 1940s). In Britain Columbia (1923-31)and Parlophone (1928-31) used laminated pressings until the merger with HMV into EMI in 1931. Thereafter all EMI records were produced on stock shellac. In continental Europe many Columbia and HMV (1928-1940s) pressings were also laminated. The most interesting exception was Australia, where laminated pressings were the rule rather than the exception from 1923 (Columbia) and 1931 (HMV) right through to the end of 78s. Because of limited pressing facilities, even labels such as Decca appeared as laminated pressings. The superior surfaces of the Australian laminated pressings have thus long been prized by collectors.