The Legends of the Rocking Dutchman - episode 233


This transcript of the radio show is an approximation of what I said in the show. The real spoken parts may differ slightly.

And today no witty lyrics, no dirty blues, no songs of heartbreak or hardship - no voices at all but from the trumpets, saxophones, drums and guitars. Today is instrumentals day and they deserve more of a spotlight than only as the background of my talking. I'll get you a wide range of them today - from the rocking fifties to the roaring twenties.

And I start with saxophonist Buddy Lucas and he fronted the studio band of the Gone label. This is from 1958 - here are the Gone Allstars with Hoppin' Bop.

01 - Gone Allstars - Hoppin' Bop
02 - Griffin Brothers - Shuffle Bug

On the Dot label the Griffin Brothers with the Shuffle Bug. These Griffin Brothers were the band of the brothers Jimmy and Buddy Griffin - on trombone and piano, together with musicians that were not family. They were from Norfolk, VA and they are most remembered for backing Margie Day - she was from the same city. The group broke up when the contract with the Dot label ended.

Next from a 1947 session in Los Angeles, the band of Jack McVea. I found it on an 80s re-issue album - I don't think it got released in '47. Here is Tatoe Pie.

03 - Jack McVea - Tatoe Pie
04 - Wild Bill Moore - Top And Bottom


05 - Tiny Grimes & his Rocking Highlanders - Rockin' And Sockin'
07 - Todd Rhodes - Belle Isle Boogie

That was a whole lotta honking, blowing and plonking with after Jack McVea's Tatoe Pie, Wild Bill Moore with Top and Bottom on the Savoy label from 1947. This is done in the same session as his famous We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll that disc jockey Alan Freed played in one of his first Moondog radio shows.

Then came the jingle and after that, Rockin' and Sockin' of Tiny Grimes and his Rocking Highlanders - a name he got his band after recording a jazzy version of the Scottish traditional Loch Lomond. Appearing on gigs in kilt, they were definitely a sensation these days.

And the last one of the four, that was Todd Rhodes and his Toddlers with the Belle Isle Boogie, on the Detroit based Sensation label. Rhodes well made it through the Rhythm & Blues years, but he actually was from another generation, being born in 1899. He served thirtheen years in McKinney's Cotton Pickers and played in several Detroit bands and only in 1943 he formed his own band. His first recording was in '47 with the Sensation label, a small record company of the owner of the Sensation club.

Rhodes had a few top notch vocalists fronting his band - Kitty Stevenson, who died in '48, Connie Allen, Pinocchio James and a young LaVern Baker. His Blues For The Red Boy became the opening tune of Alan Freed's Moondog Show - and that's the second time I get a connection with that groundbreaking radio program that was so important for popularizing Rhythm & Blues with the white audience - a key ingredient in the making of Rock 'n Roll.

Now the Sensation label was too small to give Rhodes exposure outside the Motor City. For the Chicago market, the Vicacoustic label re-released a few masters. This label just had had a smash pop hit giving it a great headstart, but it's now completely forgotten because it went bankrupt in '48 due to financial mismanagement. More important are the re-releases that the King label did - and from 1951, when Sensation had closed its doors, Rhodes kept on recording for King. In the late fifties Rhodes style seemed outdated, and in '65 he died of complications of diabetes.

Next on the Black and White label the Blackout Boogie of Jack McVea and his Door Openers - the name he gave his band for a short while after the smash hit Open The Door Richard.

08 - Jack McVea - Blackout Boogie
09 - Lucky Millinder - Little John Special

The band of Lucky Millinder with the Little John Special and that was a recording from 1942 - featuring Dizzy Gillespie on the trumpet, Tab Smith on the alto sax and Bill Doggett on the piano. And just in case you want to know what instrument Millinder played - none. Millinder was a rare band leader who didn't play an instrument, didn't sing but on a few odd tracks and he couldn't read or write a note of music.

Millinder started his career as a dancer and master of ceremonies, and from the early thirties he started leading a band. In 1938 he teamed up with pianist Bill Doggett and he took over the leadership of the band. Bill wasn't that keen on leading a big orchestra and so he gave it to Millinder. The story has it that they settled for a coke - as Millinder said, the best deal since the Indians sold Manhatten.

Next - and we're making a step to the fifties for a moment - on the King label Tiny Bradshaw with Choice.

10 - Tiny Bradshaw - Choice
11 - Benny Goodman feat. Charlie Christian - Solo Flight

Charlie Christian in the band of Benny Goodman with the Solo Flight from 1941 released on the Columbia label. As one of the few great pioneers on the electrical guitar Christian has been tremendously important for the development of the amped instrument and for the single-note playing style - cause that made it an instrument for solos instead of the rhythm section only.

Benny Goodman initially was not interested in Christian, but producer John Hammond was insistent in getting him in Goodman's band, and with succes. Hammond had put Christian on the bandstand of the Los Angeles Victor Hugo restaurant without telling Goodman, and the leader was pretty much not amused about this. But when the band started playing Rose Room, Christian came up with a total of twenty improvisations on the theme, in wat became a forty minutes marathon of the number. That was enough to convince Goodman.

Next to the Goodman recordings, some jam session recordings survived from Minton's Playhouse, the famous club where bebop was born, and Clark Monroe's Uptown House. These recordings were done by a Columbia University student on a portable recorder.

By the time he got famous in the small circle of jazz avantgardists in New York, his health was already declining. He'd contracted tuberculosis in the late thirties and died in March of '42 at age 25. His body was brought to his birth town, Bonham, TX and he was buried there in an unmarked grave. A headstone was placed in 1994, but as later turned out, it was at the wrong place and a concrete slab had been poured over his grave.

Next from 1935 the band of Blanche Calloway. She was the sister of Cab Calloway and the two were pretty comparable when it comes to talent and personality. Unfortunately, Blanche never got the recognition and the success of her brother.

Here she is with the all-male band she led, the Joy Boys. Listen to I Gotta Swing.

12 - Blanche Calloway - I Gotta Swing
13 - Carolina Cotton Pickers - Marie

Irving Berlin's composition Marie done by the Carolina Cotton Pickers, one of the Jenkins Orphanage bands that toured the country and even in Europe to raise funds to support the orphanage in Charleston, SC. These bands existed from the late 1890s to the 1980s - with as much as five bands at the same time in the twenties. They played at the inauguration of both Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, the St. Louis World Fair, and they brought several musicians that made in in their own right.

Next on Vocalion what seems to be the only record that was released of an obscure band of Nate Leslie. Recorded in 1937 in Hollywood, here is Shake Yo Bones.

14 - Nate Leslie - Shake Yo' Bones
15 - Earl 'Fatha' Hines - Blue Drag

The standard Blue Drag in an instrumental version of Earl 'Fatha' Hines and his band recorded in 1932. In these days Hines had a large band - he rather called it his Organization - and that played the Grand Tarrace in Chicago and it was so popular it helped him through the worst years of the Depression. The cafe was owned by Al Capone and Hines had that 'hear nothing, see nothing and say nothing' agreement with the gangster boss. The place it featured a $3,000 Bechstein grand piano, and many of the performances of Hines were broadcasted all over the nation - influencing young aspiring musicians like Jay McShann and Nat King Cole. As Jay McShann said - when Fatha went off the air, I went to bed.

Next another great pianist and bandleader - Fletcher Henderson. Here he is on the Columbia label with a 1930 recording - What Good Am I Without You.

16 - Fletcher Henderson - What Good Am I Without You
17 - Jelly Roll Morton Trio - Wolverine Blues
18 - Tiny Parham And His Musicians - Sud Buster's Dream

From 1929 the Sud Buster's Dream of Tiny Parham on the Victor label and before that on the same label from 1927, the Wolverine Blues of Jelly Roll Morton. Morton had recorded it before in 1923 for Gennett - when he was one of the cats that had come fresh from New Orleans and who frequented the music shop of Lester Melrose - they had specialized in sheet music from African-American songwriters. Now Morton had proclaimed himself the inventor of jazz - somewhat of a big claim, but then he was far away from where it originated, New Orleans, and maybe up in Chicago some people believed it.

He's definitely one of these colorful legends that I have here, on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman - I always have material for good stories and I hope you like them. Well of course, you can let me know and send e-mail to - feedback is greatly appreciated. And if you just missed out on the point of one of these stories, you can always find them back on the website of this program - just google for the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman and it will show up first. In that long, long list of episodes, watch for show number 233 to find it - or use the search button on my home page.

I guess you got it - time's up. Next week there'll be more of my Legends - so I hope to see you then, here on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman!