Revision note:We have added information on Billy Ford's second release, United 167. We have added information on the Reverend Robert Anderson's recordings after he left United. We have corrected our information on the first Tommy Dean session of June 4, 1952, to reflect the existence of two takes of "Lonely Monday" as well as two of "Foolish"; our thanks to Dani Gugolz for identifying the different versions of "Lonely Monday." We have corrected the personnel for Junior Wells' first session of June 8, 1953; Odie Payne was the drummer on all tracks. We have added information about the Jimmy Hamilton/Emit Slay session of January 1953, and corrected our listing of tracks that were on the LP version of Honkers & Bar Walkers Volume One (Delmark DL-438). We have added a lot more about the Mil-Con-Bo Trio or the Mil-Combo, as it was variously known, and will be further upgrading our coverage of bassist Connie Milano. Courtesy of Marv Goldberg, we have significantly upgraded our bio on singer Bixie Crawford. We have added to our bio of Country musician Elbert R. "Tiny" Murphy.
United/States Records was founded by Leonard Allen, a tailor and neophyte in the record business, and Lew Simpkins, who had previous experience working A&R at Miracle and then Premium, two labels he ran with Lee Egalnick. When Premium was going broke in June 1951, Simpkins was itching to stay in the record business; he talked his friend Allen into getting involved and into providing the initial seed money for the operation.
The company was formed in July of 1951 with the establishment of the United imprint. In May 1952 the company added a second imprint, States. As was typical in the business in those days, each label had its own line-up of distributors.
Miracle and Premium were both hit-making labels, and their demise will forever remain a mystery. Simpkins took over a good portion of the Miracle/Premium artist stable, some of them after detours to other companies, and signed them to the United and States imprints: Tab Smith, Robert Anderson, Tommy Dean, Jack Cooley, Memphis Slim, Eddie Chamblee, Terry Timmons, and Browley Guy.
United/States recorded the whole gamut of African-American popular music styles of the day: blues, jazz, vocal groups, rhythm and blues jumps, and gospel. The jazz roster was fairly impressive. It included Tab Smith, Jimmy Forrest, Tommy Dean, Paul Bascomb, Jimmy Coe, Cozy Eggleston, Leo Parker, Chris Woods, Gene Ammons, the Mil-Con-Bo Trio, Debbie Andrews, Della Reese, Jimmy Hamilton, Eddie Chamblee, Tiny Grimes, and Lefty Bates. The operation recorded its jazz artists for the rhythm and blues singles marketplace, which meant beat-driven hook-laden jumps and smooth renditions of ballad standards. United, with a few exceptions, looked for complete melodies and catchy hooks from its jazz artists rather than adventurous bebopping. It was jazz as entertainment rather than art.
The company recorded an invaluable number of great blues. The focus was primarily on urban blues artists from the 1940s, such as Roosevelt Stykes, Memphis Slim, Grant Jones, and J.T. "Nature Boy" Brown. Especially outstanding were the sides recorded by Robert Nighthawk, whose Delta blues slide-guitar stylings represent one of the finest legacies in citified country blues. The famed Chicago bar band style of blues, which the rival Chess operation especially thrived on, was represented by such artists as Junior Wells, L. C. McKinley, Big Walter Horton, and Alfred "Blues King" Harris.
Vocal groups such as the Danderliers, Five C's, Moroccos, and Hornets filled a small part of the catalogue. Gospel acts included Robert Anderson, the Genesa Smith Singers, the Lucy Smith Singers, Singing Sammy Lewis, and the Caravans. The label also put out some of the first records by the Staple Singers, but fame for that group would not come until they signed with Vee-Jay. The Four Blazes and the Dozier Boys represented the vocal/instrumental group tradition of the 1940s.
Simpkins made Universal Recording the studio of choice for his operation; until 1956, nearly everything that United and States recorded in town would be done there. However, the company occasionally recorded at Boulevard Studios at 25 East Jackson to save a little money, and at least one session was cut at Balkan Studio—a cheap outfit, located on the West Side, that specialized in recording Serbian, Croatian, and Slovenian music, when it wasn't distributing records on such labels as Polkaland.
The company was essentially shaped byLew Simpkins, who was born Lewis Conrad Simpkins on November 7, 1918, in Mississippi. Proprietor from 1944 to 1947 of the S. & S. book store on the South Side, which sold records and had a studio for "auditions" in the back, Simpkins had been in the record business since June 1946, when he and Lee Egalnick started Miracle. Simpkins knew the music, had personally signed all the artists, and understood the record business. But the veteran record man took ill and died in Rochester, Minnesota, on April 27, 1953, at the age of just 34, leaving the unprepared Allen in charge. Simpkins had gone to the Mayo Clinic for a checkup and had been diagnosed with leukemia, then untreatable, from which he died a few days later ("Lew Simpkins Dies," Cash Box, May 9, 1953). Assisting Leonard Allen at the company was his nephew-in-law, Samuel Smith (Smitty), who did the A&R with the vocal groups, and Miss Harris, the secretary, who was the mainstay of the company's administrative work. Also working with United's recording artists was bandleader Al Smith (1923 - 1974), who would rehearse the acts in the basement of his house and then direct the musicians at the sessions. Smith, however, was an independent contractor who had no formal position at the company; he also worked at various times for Chance and Parrot, and his most extensive involvement after 1954 would be at sessions for the Vee-Jay label. After Simpkins' death, Allen also got some help for a few months from A&R man and publicist Dave Clark. United's headquarters were located at 5052 South Cottage Grove, in the heart of the South Side "record row."
Leonard Allen was born Storrs Leonard Allen, March 21, 1899, in Montgomery, Alabama (his Social Security entry says 1897, but the 1930 census and his World War I draft card are consistent with 1899). His mother was highly religious and his father was a Methodist minister. Young Leonard attended high school in Birmingham with the intention of entering the ministry. Alabama was a hotbed of gospel quartet singing and he began singing in such ensembles. In 1917 he moved up to Chicago, and for many years there likewise sang in various quartets, none of which recorded. Allen joined the Chicago police department in 1928 and remained in the force until the late 1940s. He then entered the tailoring and cleaning business, where he met Lew Simpkins as a customer.
The United label took off impressively, scoring two number one R&B hits among its first ten releases: Tab Smith's "Because of You," and Jimmy Forrest's "Night Train." United formally opened for business with a long recording session on July 12, 1951. According to some recollections, the electricity hadn't even been turned on yet in the new enterprise's office. This of course posed no deterrent to the session, which took place at old reliable Universal Recording.
Blues pianist/vocalist Roosevelt Sykes (1906-1983) was a long-time recording veteran by 1951, when Simpkins inked him to United, having first recorded in 1929 for OKeh. After several other label associations (Paramount, Victor, Melotone, Champion, Bluebird), often using different names, Sykes signed with Decca in 1935. At Decca, Sykes emerged as a star and became a mainstay of the label, recording such classics as "Driving Wheel," "Night Time Is the Right Time," and "44 Blues." He picked up with the Columbia subsidiary OKeh (1941-42), RCA Victor (1944-49), and before joining United had most recently been with the New Jersey-based Regal label (via Monroe Passis and Parkway), with his final sessions coming in April 1951. He probably moved to United as soon as his contract with Regal expired.
On his first session for the brand-new label Sykes enjoyed the hot saxophone support of "Little Sax" Crowder on tenor, Sax Mallard on alto, Ransom Knowling on bass, and Jump Jackson on drums. There is some controversy over the identity of the guitar player but we'll put our money on Robert Nighthawk, a versatile artist who ranged far beyond his trademark slide work.
United 101 was by Roosevelt Sykes, but the company was in no rush as far as its sesssion-mates were concerned. The other two sides were held for release till United 120.
Robert Nighthawk (1909-1967), whose real name was Robert Lee McCollum, was an extraordinary slide guitarist in the Mississippi Delta tradition, whose country blues manner diverged significantly from United's initial urban blues emphasis. He began recording as Robert Lee McCoy or Rambling Bob for Bluebird (1937-1939), and followed with a session as Peetie's Boy for Decca (1940). "Prowling Nighthawk," from his first Bluebird session, gave him his latter-day stage name. Robert did some rambling during the 1940s, precluding recording opportunities until Aristocrat caught up with him in late 1948. He cut three sessions for Aristocrat (through early 1950) under the "Nighthawks" name. During an extended stay in Chicago in 1951 (Musicians Union Local 208 posted his indefinite contract with the Qunicy Club on March 1; this was soon replaced by an indefinite contract with the 708 Club on March 15), McCollum signed on with United. The billing on his United releases was Robert Nighthawk and His Nighthawks Band.
John T. "Nature Boy" Brown (1918-1969) was a tenor sax player in the blues idiom who supplemented his robust blowing with rather rough-hewn singing. In his liner notes for the Brown United reissues on Delmark, Jim O'Neal remarked that he "was a bluesman. By jazz standards, he was not a great instrumentalist. His lack of sophistication, subtlety, and tonal variations prevented him from moving into more 'progressive' circles." Brown first performed as a member of the Rabbit Foot Minstrels in the South before moving to Chicago in the early 1940s. He first appears in the Board minutes of Musicians Union Local 208 on December 21, 1944, when his "indefinite" contract with the Boogie Woogie Inn was accepted and filed. When recording by the majors resumed in 1945, Brown began taking part in sessions for RCA Victor behind such artists as Roosevelt Sykes, Eddie Boyd, and Washboard Sam. He first recorded under his own name for Mayo Williams' Harlem label in 1949 (some of these items were dealt to Williams' former employer, Decca). Brown cut a session for Premium that saw no releases, but Simpkins did not forget him and he was one of the first signings for the United label. The July session was the first of two. United featured him on the label as "'Nature Boy' Brown and his Blues Ramblers." The lineup on Brown's part of the session has been subject to dispute, but besides Little Brother Montgomery on piano (Roosevelt Sykes can be heard providing "encouragement and zest," as the Delmark reissue CD puts it), Ransom Knowling doing some prominent slap-bass work, and Jump Jackson on drums, it appears to include King Kolax on trumpet. King K had toured with Brown from January through March of 1951 and was probably with Brown's group until after this session.
According to Leonard Allen, of the three earliest artists on United "Brown was the only one that sold records, with that honk he did."
The new label's second session turned out a good deal more lucrative.
The alto saxophonist Talmadge (Tab) Smith was born in Kinston, North Carolina, on January 11, 1909, and made his professional debut with the Carolina Stompers in 1929. In 1931 he joined Eddie Johnson and his Crackerjacks in Saint Louis, and in later years he worked with Lucky Millinder and Count Basie. By the time he began recording, with Millinder in 1936, he was a saxophonist of high technical accomplishment working in the tradition of Johnny Hodges; he would keep his idol's portamento for the rest of his life. From 1944 through 1949 he fronted his own combo, recording for a slew of small labels in New York area, including J. Mayo Williams' Southern and Harlem companies. (Williams sometimes referred to him as "Tubby," a sobriquet that fortunately did not stick.) Then he moved his base of operations back to St. Louis. Tab Smith enjoyed a little success with the faltering Premium label in early 1951 (the remnants were cannily snapped up by Chess when Premium went out of business). As soon as he could, Simpkins brought him over to the new label. When Smith joined United Records, his skill as an alto saxophonist was fully matured, and the result was a fine series of ballads, blues, and novelty numbers all superbly realized in full lush tone and masterful phrasing.
Besides his Fabulous Alto, as it was customarily billed in United's florid label copy, Tab Smith played a Velvet Tenor. His tenor saxophone sound was agile and polished to the nines, though on the light side—as might be expected from a career practitioner on a smaller horn. We don't know when Smith started doubling on the tenor sax, but his Harlem 1022, recorded in 1945, features the bigger horn on both sides. Tab Smith occasionally crooned a ballad, and probably did more vocalizing on club dates; United showed limited interest in his vocal features, though the company did issue a few of them. Later on, Smith would experiment with other singers. The only one he stayed with for more than one session was Ray King, who joined him in 1956.
Smith's first session took place on August 28, 1951. Obviously a lot was expected from him, as this was a double-length outing that produced eight usable sides. Judging from the take numbers (on his subsequent outings for the company, there rarely are any), he and the band and the production team needed a little time to get used to one another. Smith brought his regular rhythm section: Teddy Brannon on piano, Wilfred Middlebrooks on bass, and the great Walter Johnson (who had been a major figure in the evolution of Swing when he played in Fletcher Henderson's big band during the early 1930s) on drums. Teddy Brannon was an East Coast musician who had probably joined Smith in his move to Saint Louis. Apparently Smith was not carrying other horn players at the time, so two mainstays of the Red Saunders band were on hand in the studio. George "Sonny" Cohn (1925-2006) got an occasional lead or short statement on trumpet; Leon Diamond Washington (1909-1973), a solid tenor saxophone soloist in the Coleman Hawkins tradition, received no opportunities while backing a saxophone- playing leader.
"Because of You"—a suave alto sax rendering of the Tony Bennett hit, plumped up a little with that Universal Recording reverb—was promptly released on United 104; it lasted twenty weeks on the Billboard R&B chart and went to #1. The source of inspiration was unmistakably Johnny Hodges. But its diskmate, "Dee Jay Special," was a medium-fast number featuring the Velvet Tenor, and there the inspiration came from Lester Young, a section mate during a couple of Smith's brief stints in the Count Basie band, though even when playing in the Lestorian mode Smith tended to articulate his notes more sharply than the master. "Milk Train" (which was reissued on Delmark under its file title, "Slow Motion") is an insinuating slow blues featuring the Fabulous Alto; "Wig Song," which was left in the box at the time, is a Basie-inspired jump for the Velvet Tenor—but this time a few bop licks work their way into Tab's solo. (A major saxophone technician, Smith had the chops to play bop when he wanted to, though his bassist and drummer never adopted any bop practices. Once again, we're reminded that in Chicago, the boundaries between Swing and bop were more permeable than the standard historical accounts would have us believe.)
"One Man Dip," another excellent peformance left unissued, is an eloquent medium-slow blues for the Velvet Tenor; Teddy Brannon does the "After Hours" thing at the piano, and the backing horns lay out. "Down Beat" is a rocking medium blues, again featuring the tenor sax; it benefits from effective riffing by Cohn and Washington and strong drumming. The session concluded with two vocal features for the leader. "How Can You Say We're Thru" is a decently written ballad on which the leader's alto sax is inevitably more eloquent than his crooning. United decided to pass on it; the same thing happened with "Brown Baby," a slightly better tune that leaves less room for the Fabulous Alto.
Tab Smith would become United's most prolifically recorded artist. The company rushed him right back for 8 more sides on October 24 (in the meantime, Allen and Simpkins hadn't ponied up the funds to record anyone else). Smith used the same band (again with Cohn and Washington added), and this time it appears that most of the items were completed in one take.
The huge success of "Because of You" dictated a different balance on this session; Tab Smith left the Velvet Tenor in its case. The top item on the agenda was to lay down some ballads: "Can't We Take a Chance," "(It's No) Sin," "A Blanket of Blue," and "Hands across the Table," four better-than-average products of Tin Pan Alley done in the Hodges manner. Except for "Can't We Take a Chance," which was given a perked-up two-beat with a fair amount of call and response for Cohn and Washington, the ballads were played at strict slow-dance tempo. The propulsive yet laid-back "Boogie Joogie" was the sole jump. Closing the session with his own tune, "Love Is a Wonderful Thing," Tab Smith finally got his crooning onto a United single. His vocal was nicely framed with an alto sax intro and a transitional passage for a muted Sonny Cohn.
On the October session, Smith also tried out his first guest vocalist, uptown blues singer Lou Blackwell. Louis Blackwell had first recorded ballads for Aristocrat in August 1949, and ballads and blues for Chess on a session a few months earlier. But any release from the first session was apparently scratched during a rebuilding period for Aristocrat, whose office and warehouse were badly damaged by a fire on August 1, 1949, and the Chess brothers were unhappy with the results of the second session. Nothing was ever released from either. Here Blackwell's smooth baritone is put to good use on "Knotty-Headed Woman" with its extravagantly worded lyrics. "Ain't Got Nobody" is a low-down complaint that gets relaxed execution by the singer and the band. These were competitive with the sides that other standup blues singers would make for United, but the company decided not to use them. Lou Blackwell would finally get a single out on his fourth and final try, when he recorded for Chance around November of 1952.
In all, Tab Smith ended up being responsible for 48 issued sides, running from the United label's fourth release in 1951 to its very last in 1957. His total output was 85 tracks, too many for a company that never got very involved in LPs, so the rest nearly all had to wait till the 1990s. Smith's combo underwent a few personnel changes but on all but one of his sessions at United he enjoyed the services of famed jazz drummer Walter Johnson, who had been with him since 1944. Tab Smith became a steady if not spectacular seller for the company. In essence, he paid the bills for United, since the company had few hits after the early going.
Guitarist and bandleader Tiny Grimes was born Lloyd Grimes in 1917, in Newport News, Virginia. He played an unusual four-string guitar and experimented early with electrical amplification. In the late 1930s and early 1940s he worked in New York. He replaced Slim Gaillard in Slim and Slam when he teamed up with bowing, singing bassist Slam Stewart. From the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s Grimes regularly headed combos (one of his 1944 groups has caught extra recognition because it included Charlie Parker). Nearly all his work was done in New York and Philadelphia for such East Coast labels as Atlantic and Gotham, so this session in Chicago with New York musicians (tenorman Red Prysock and pianist Freddie Redd, an unidentified bassist, and drummer Jerry Potter) was somewhat an anomaly. The Board minutes of Local 208 of the Musicians Union indicate that Tiny Grimes had a contract to play the Brass Rail, a club in the Loop, for 2 weeks; it was accepted and filed on October 4, 1951. On November 15, Grimes posted a contract for 2 weeks at Club Silhouette. Allen and Simpkins approached Grimes during this stay in Chicago and got him to sign on the dotted line.
United's second national hit was Jimmy Forrest's "Night Train," which likewise lasted twenty weeks on the Billboard R&B chart and rose to #1 in early 1952. The record, one of the most memorable instrumentals in the history of rhythm and blues, became a jukebox standard for the next couple of decades. Forrest recorded many times after he laid down "Night Train" at Universal Recording, but if he had never done anything else his mark on popular music would still be assured.
Jimmy Forrest was a hard-swinging honker possessing splendid technique that was a joy to listen to on a pure visceral level. From Forrest and the other robust tenor sax men of the 1940s and 1950s—Coleman Hawkins, Illinois Jacquet, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, and Arnett Cobb—rhythm and blues inherited its basic sax sound.
Jimmy Forrest was born in Saint Louis on January 24, 1920. In high school he was already performing in the local bands of Eddie Johnson (the same bandleader Tab Smith had once worked for), Fate Marable, and Jeter-Pillars. He first made his mark in the jazz world in Don Albert's big band during 1938-39. Later he would play with Jay McShann (1942), Andy Kirk (1942-48), and Duke Ellington (1949-50). (For extensive coverage of Forrest's recordings, see the solography at http://www.jazzarcheology.com/?p=376. "Night Train" is, in fact, lifted right out of a 1946 composition by the Duke titled "Happy Go Lucky Local." In 1951 Leonard Allen and Lew Simpkins found Forrest honking the "Night Train" riff in a Saint Louis club and the rest is history. Forrest had given it a dirty name, so (as often happened in those days) United reconfigured the title to something more radio-friendly. For his first session with the label, Forrest appears to have used his regular St. Louis combo: Bunky Parker, piano; Johnny Mixon, bass; Oscar Oldham, drums; Percy James, congas and bongos. Some of the items from this session (such as "Swingin' and Rockin'") show substantial bebop influence.
One of the year's concluding sessions featured Grant "Mr. Blues" Jones, an uptown blues singer popular in the clubs at the time, notably the Club DeLisa (55th and South State), Joe's Rendezvous Lounge (2757 West Madison), Club 34 (3417 West Roosevelt), and New Apex Country Club (12614 Claire in Robbins). Jones had first recorded for J. Mayo Williams' Harlem label in 1949 (with some sides released on Apex and others farmed out to Decca); he subsequently cut for Decca in 1949. It appears that Jones first attempted two of his sides on November 27 (with which band? Jimmy Forrest's?) but these came out unsatisfactorily and had to be remade on December 1.
Kitty O'Day, also a blues singer, was occasionally mentioned in Chicago Defenderadvertisements during this period. It appears she recorded on the December 1 session with the same Red Saunders-led combo that backed Jones, and she could have contributed to his version of "Hi Yo Silver," which uses female backup singers. But all of this needs confirmation, as her tracks have never been released.
Robert Anderson was born on March 21, 1919 in Anguila, Mississippi. He began his career in 1935 or 1936, as a star member of the Roberta Martin Singers, and left Martin in 1939. Before going solo he toured for a time with pianist and singer R. L. Knowles. Anderson was one of the acts that Lew Simpkins "inherited" from the Miracle and Premium operations, for whom he had recorded from 1949 through early 1951. After four quick sides for Modern, Anderson signed with United toward the end of 1951. Allen put out eight sides on him during 1952 and 1953, a period during which he was Chicago's top male gospel soloist. The chorus on his sessions of December 12 and 21, 1951 was Anderson's Gospel Caravan, the original incarnation of the Caravans: chorus members were Elyse Yancy, Ora Lee Hopkins, and Irma Gwynn. The piano was by Edward Robinson and organ by Robert Wooten. For some reason, United rerecorded Anderson and his Gospel Caravan doing the same four numbers; the second efforts cannot strictly be referred to as remakes, because one of the versions selected for release came from the first session.
By the end of 1951, United had cut 56 masters (we count alternate takes in the total, but not gaps in the matrix series). United was looking to become the preeminent indie label in Chicago, judging from the number of hit records it had placed on the R&B charts. Chess, however, was coming up fast, even though it was yet to experience the huge hits that United got.
|Matrix||Artist||Title||Release Number||Recording Date||Release Date|
|1001-1||Roosevelt Sykes and his Honey Drippers||Fine and Brown||Delmark DE-642, Delmark DE-542||July 12, 1951||August 1951|
|1001-2||Roosevelt Sykes and his Honey Drippers||Fine and Brown||United 101, Vogue [Fr] V2389[?], Vogue [Fr] 3297, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Document BDCD 6050, Delmark DE-642 [CD]||July 12, 1951||August 1951|
|1002-1||Roosevelt Sykes and his Honey Drippers||Lucky Blues||United 101, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Document BDCD 6050, Delmark DE-642 [CD]||July 12, 1951||August 1951|
|1003-5||Roosevelt Sykes and his Honey Drippers||Raining in My Heart||United 120, P-Vine Special PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Document BDCD 6050, Delmark DE-642 [CD]||July 12, 1951||May 1952|
|1004-2||Roosevelt Sykes and his Honey Drippers||Heavy Heart||United 120, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Document BDCD 6050, Delmark DE-642 [CD]||July 12, 1951||May 1952|
|1005||Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band||Feel So Bad||United 105, Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711||July 12, 1951||late 1951|
|1006||Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band||Kansas City Blues||United 102, Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711||July 12, 1951||August 1951|
|1007||Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band||Crying Won't Help You||United 102, Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711||July 12, 1951||August 1951|
|1008||Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band||Take It Easy Baby||United 105, Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711||July 12, 1951||late 1951|
|1008 1/2||Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band||Nighthawk Boogie||Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711||July 12, 1951|
|1009-1||"Nature Boy" Brown and his Blue Ramblers||Rock-em||United 106, Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714||July 12, 1951||late 1951|
|1010-1||"Nature Boy" Brown and his Blue Ramblers||When I Was a Lad||United 106, Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714||July 12, 1951||late 1951|
|1011-1||"Nature Boy" Brown and his Blues Ramblers||Windy City Boogie||United 103, Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714||July 12, 1951||September1951|
|1012-1||"Nature Boy" Brown and his Blues Ramblers||Blackjack Blues||United 103, Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714||July 12, 1951||September 1951|
|Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Because of You||United 104, Vogue EPL. 7011, United LP 001, Delmark DL-429, Delmark DD-438, Delmark DD-903, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||August 28, 1951||September 1951|
|1014-4||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Milk Train [Slow Motion*]||United 113, Vogue V.3267, United LP 003, Delmark DL-429, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447*||August 28, 1951||c. April 1952|
|1015-2 (in vinyl)
1024 [sic] on label
|Tab Smith His Velvet Tenor and Orchestra||Down Beat||United 115, Saxophonograph BP509, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||August 28, 1951||April1952|
|1016-10||Tab Smith||One Man Dip||Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||August 28, 1951|
|1017-2||Tab Smith||Wig Song||Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||August 28, 1951|
|Tab Smith His Velvet Tenor and Orchestra||Dee Jay Special||United 104, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||August 28, 1951||September 1951|
|1019-2||Tab Smith (vocal by Tab Smith)||How Can You Say We're Thru||Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||August 28, 1951|
|1020-1||Tab Smith (vocal by Tab Smith)||Brown Baby||Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||August 28, 1951|
|1021||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Can't We Take a Chance||United 107, United LP 001, Saxophonograph BP511, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||October 24, 1951||November 1951|
|1022||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||(It's No) Sin||United 107, Vogue EPL. 7011, Saxophonograph BP511, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||October 24, 1951||November 1951|
|1023||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Hands across the Table||United 108, Vogue EPL. 7011, Saxophonograph BP511, United LP 001, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||October 24, 1951||April 1952|
|1024||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Boogie Joogie||United 108, Saxophonograph BP503, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||October 24, 1951||April 1952|
(1025-2 on some copies)
|Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||A Blanket of Blue||United 115, Saxophonograph BP509, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||October 24, 1951||April 1952|
|1025 1/3||Tab Smith (vocal by Lou Blackwell)||Ain't Got Nobody||Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||October 24, 1951|
|1025 2/3||Tab Smith (vocal by Lou Blackwell)||Knotty-Headed Women||Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||October 24, 1951|
|1026||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra (vocal by Tab Smith)||Love Is a Wonderful Thing||United 113, United LP 001, Saxophonograph BP511, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||October 24, 1951||c. April 1952|
|1028||unidentified vocal group||When I Lost My Baby, I Almost Lost My Mind||unissued||c. November 1951|
|1029||Tiny Grimes Quintet||Blue Roundup||United 170, B&F 1325||November 27, 1951||c. February 1954|
|1030||Tiny Grimes His Guitar and Rocking Highlanders||Solitude||United 109||November 27, 1951||March 1952|
|1031-2||Tiny Grimes Quintet||Tiny's Boogie||United 170, B&F 1325, Delmark DD-775||November 27, 1951||c. February 1954|
|1032||Tiny Grimes His Guitar and Rocking Highlanders||Rockin' the Blues Away||United 109||November 27, 1951||March 1952|
|1033-1||Jimmy Forrest, tenor and all star combo||Bolo Blues||United 110, United LP 002, UA 1545, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435||November 27, 1951||March 1952|
|1034-6||Jimmy Forrest, tenor and all star combo||Night Train||United 110, United LP 002, UA 1545, Delmark DL-435, P-Vine [J] PLP-9037, Demark DL-438, Delmark DD-435, Delmark DD-438||November 27, 1951||March1952|
|1035-2||Jimmy Forrest||Swinging and Rocking||United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435||November 27, 1951|
|1036-9||Jimmy Forrest||Coach 13||United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435||November 27, 1951|
|1037||Grant Jones||Hi Yo Silver||unissued||November 27, 1951|
|1038||Grant Jones||My Love Will Be Your Crown (Heartache Blues)||unissued||November 27, 1951|
|1039||Kitty O'Day||Young Man's Fool||unissued||December 1, 1951|
|1040||Kitty O'Day||I Want to Ride or Fall||unissued||December 1, 1951|
|1041||Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and Orchestra||Heartache Blues||States 114, RST 1580 [CD]||December 1, 1951||March 1953|
|1042||Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and his Orchestra||Strange Man||United 112, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9045, RST 1580 [CD]||December 1, 1951||March 1952|
|1043||Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and his Orchestra||Let's Get High||United 112, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9045, RST 1580 [CD]||December 1, 1951||March 1952|
|1044||Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and his Orchestra||Hi Yo Silver||P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9045, RST 1580 [CD]||December 1, 1951|
|1045||Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan||How I Got Over||unissued||December 12, 1951|
|1046||Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan||Trusting in Jesus||unissued||December 12, 1951|
|1047||Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan||My Expectations||unissued||December 12, 1951|
Some copies show1052 on label
|Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan||Sow Righteous Seeds||United 118, Delmark DE-702 [CD]||December 12, 1951||c. May 1952|
|1049||Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan||How I Got Over||United 111, Delmark DE-702 [CD]||December 21, 1951||c. March 1952|
|1050||Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan||Trusting in Jesus||United 111, Delmark DE-702 [CD]||December 21, 1951||c. March 1952|
|1051||Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan||Sow Righteous Seeds||unissued||December 21, 1951|
|1052||Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan||My Expectations||United 118, Delmark DE-702 [CD]||December 21, 1951||c. May 1952|
Emboldened by its initial success, United invested heavily in studio time during 1952, logging many hours at Universal Recording (and occasionally picking up material that had been done in Detroit). We have kept the sessions in chronological order. In June 1952 Universal opened a new block of master numbers (1200-1249) intended for the new States label. The 1200 numbers were applied to most States sessions during the second half of the year, while the 1100s were continued for most material intended for release on United. Not the best of bookkeeping, but organizing sessions by date reduces the confusion.
1952 opened for Allen and Simpkins with a real gift horse from Bill Putnam at Universal Recording Studio. A string-vocal band, the Four Blazes, went into the studio on January 4 to produce the hit "Mary Jo" and the venerable Duke Ellington number "Mood Indigo." The group had first recorded as the Five Blazes for Aristocrat in 1947. By the time of their session for Putnam, the group, slimmed down to four, consisted of Floyd McDaniel (guitar), William "Shorty" Hill (guitar), Tommy Braden (bass), and Paul Lindsley "Jelly" Holt (drums). Guesting on the session was tenor sax ace Eddie Chamblee. Putnam sold the two numbers to United. United 114 was released in March 1952; by August 1952, "Mary Jo" was #1 on the R&B charts. Later pressings of United 114 also give the names of all four members of the Blazes (with "F. McDaniels" for Floyd McDaniel) and add a credit "Lead Vocal - T. Braden" at the bottom of the "Mary Jo" side.
After months of steady work in South Side clubs, J. T. Brown was back in the studio on January 10, 1952. On this occasion, he probably used King Kolax (who had been in his band the previous year) on trumpet. The rest of the ensemble included Bob Call on piano, Big Crawford on bass, possibly Jump Jackson on drums, and an alto saxophonist named Huey Underwood who had recently arrrived in town from Pittsburgh. (Brown would regret recruiting him for the date, because Underwood was non-Union. On April 3, the Local 208 Board ended up fining Brown $100 for using him. Brown was also socked with a 90-day suspension.) United put out "Strictly Gone" b/w "House Party Groove" (again credited by Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers) but sat on the other two items from the session. One of the unissued compositions, "You Stayed Away Too Long," resurfaced in 1957 as a vehicle for Arbee Stidham under the title "I Stayed Away Too Long"—and that makes us wonder who actually wrote it.
As Daniel Gugolz has discovered, the issued takes of "Strictly Gone" and "House Party Groove" are not the same ones that have been used on Delmark reissues. Apparently the surviving session documentation didn't specify which takes had been chosen for issue. One wonders whether the same thing might have happened with some other sessions done for United and States...
Allen and Simpkins lost interest in Brown after this outing, despite his continuing popularity on the South Side. Simpkins, we may be sure, was none too pleased about being hauled in front of the Local 208 Board after Brown had falsely claimed that Underwood belonged to the Pittsburgh local, and got Simpkins to include this disinformation in the recording ledger. Meanwhile, Brown joined Elmore James' group, the Broomdusters, in the middle of 1952, touring with the group and recording with them for the Bihari brother's labels RPM, Flair, and Meteor. Brown also accompanied Elmore James on an off-contract session for Checker, in January 1953. And in April he would accompany Arbee Stidham on a session for the same label. By then, Brown had reappeared at United, as a sideman on the last Roosevelt Sykes session for United in March 1953. His next recording session as a leader still took some time; he cut a session for Parrot in August 1953, which was left unissued at the time, and a session for JOB in January 1954 that led to one poorly distributed single.
Alerted by his Louisville connection, deejay Cliff Butler, Lew Simpkins brought in the strangest assemblage ever to record for United, or for any other label in the 1950s: Johnny Wicks' Swinging Ozarks. What he recorded on February 18 was a Louisville jazz band accompanying a tuba-playing blues singer, with significant guesting by Chicago-based violinist Ramon "Remo" Biondi. Members of the Louisville group were John Wicks [short for Wickliffe] (bass), John "Preacher" Stephens (tuba and vocals), Scott Johnson (alto sax), Gerald Blue (piano), and Skip Everett (drums). Biondi, held down a full-time radio network job, recorded for Decca for a time, and put together a couple of pop sessions for ChanceHe also liked to assist Simpkins and Allen with arranging as well as rhythm guitar and violin playing on various sessions. Biondi was apparently asked to add an interesting flavor to the session, which already had many interesting flavors. The tubaist tired his lip while the band struggled to get the first two numbers into releasable shape, so there is less blues tuba on hand than one might hope for, but the overall results constitute an inspired oddity. Two rare singles (United 116 and 126) were all that came out during the lifetime of the company; the complete session finally made it onto the merely fairly rare Pearl PL-13 in 1989.
Smooth baritone balladeer Browley Guy was born around 1918 and graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in June 1936. From 1947 through 1949 he participated in six sessions (two of them unissued) for Miracle. "I Like Barbecue" is an uptempo Louis Jordan style blues. Browley Guy does most of the singing, but he and one of his brothers (we don't know his first name, but Browley addresses him as "Slim") partner on the Swing scatting that opens the number and on the "I like barbecue" refrain; they also exchange some dialogue. A third Guy brother makes a couple of remarks. "Marie," which despite the billing on the label is a solo vehicle for Browley Guy, is a remake of one of his unissued sides from 1949; it swings much harder than the Miracle recording. The band, consisting of alto, tenor, and baritone saxes, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, and drums, is unidentified on the label and in other sources that we know of. However, listening indicates that it is a Red Saunders unit. So the likely lineup is Fip Ricard, trumpet; Harlan "Booby'" Floyd, trombone; Riley Hampton, alto sax; Leon Washington, tenor sax; Mac Easton, baritone sax; Earl Washington, piano; Jimmy Richardson, bass; and Red, drums. There is a tenor sax solo by Leon Washington on "Barbecue." "Marie" features muted trumpet and trombone solos.
The terribly obscure Gilbert Holiday, who recorded on February 25, may have been one of those artists that Leonard Allen occasionally picked up from Detroit. His one other recording session was held in Detroit the previous year, for Regent records, in those days a subsidiary of Savoy. Holiday and his band (tenor sax, piano, string bass, and drums) turn in a couple of rough, vigorous R and B performances: "Late One Night" is a variant of "Wee Wee Baby." The sonics, though clear, are definitely not out of Universal Recording.
On February 26, Tab Smith picked up where he had left off, waxing his third session for United. Again he used Sonny Cohn and Leon Washington to augment his rhythm section of Teddy Brannon, Wilfred Middlebrooks, and Walter Johnson. No fewer than 8 sides were cut. Again no take numbers survive, and one wonders whether extra takes were evern needed. "All My Life," "Cottage for Sale," "'Tis Autumn," and "This Love of Mine" (the last recently made popular by its co-composer, Frank Sinatra) are lovely ballad performances in the Hodges tradition.
"Strange," a pining ballad from this session, was one of just 4 sides featuring the leader's vocals that the company decided to release. Tab croons acceptably though rather thinly (like Benny Carter in his occasional vocal efforts), but it's his brief statement on the alto sax gets to the heart of things.
"Cuban Boogie" lets everyone have fun with the Latin rhythms; the number sounds like a slightly simplified version of "Barbados" by Charlie Parker. On "Nursery Rhyme Jump," an excellent vehicle for the Velvet Tenor, Tab Smith sounds like a thinner-toned Wardell Gray, and Teddy Brannon feeds him some "modern" chords at the piano; the fact that a performance of this quality was left in the can tells us what a profusion of releasable material Tab Smith was providing. "Jumptime," which did get released, has a jump-ropey theme, partly redeemed by interludes for the alto sax and the piano, but what really saves it is Tab's driving tenor solo.
On March 3, tenor saxophonist Paul Bascomb came in to cut the first of three significant sessions for the company. Bascomb was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on February 12, 1910. He began to play the piano at age 7, and soon worked up to playing E-flat clarinet in his school band and clarinet and alto sax in a traveling show during the summer. Obtaining a scholarship to Alabama State College in Montgomery, he built up the college ensemble from 5 or 6 pieces up to a first-rate big band, and switched to tenor saxophone under the influence of Coleman Hawkins. On arriving in New York, the Bama State Collegians adopted trumpeter Erskine Hawkins as their leader. Leaving the popular Erskine Hawkins band in 1944, Bascomb formed his own combo to work the club scene in New York City. While in New York his band cut two singles for the Alert label in 1946 and five for Manor in 1946-1947. Bascomb also made a single for London, at a somewhat later date; other sides that he cut for London were left unreleased at the time. Around 1950 he began a long stand at El Sino Club in Detroit. In January 1953 he moved to Chicago, but was made to cool his heels waiting for Local 208 to accept his transfer; finally in July 1953 he was able to make a contract with the Strand Show Lounge in Chicago, opening there with a new band. Through the end of 1955 he commuted back and forth between the two cities, playing at the two venues with completely different bands.
Bascomb's Detroit group included Eddie Lewis (trumpet), Frank Porter (alto sax), Tommy Waters (alto sax), Harold Wallace (baritone sax), Duke Jordan (piano), James McCrary (bass), and George DeHart (drums); this is the group that recorded for States. Bascomb's sides could be either jazz or rhythm and blues, depending on the audience—so permeable is the line separating the styles.
Paul Bascomb's tenor sax could squall and squawk on the punchy swing numbers and it could be soulful and tender on the ballads. No matter how he played, his fine blowing was immensely popular with R&B audiences, especially on such standards as "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Body and Soul" (transparently retitled "Soul and Body" on States; Bascomb confessed to having learned Coleman Hawkins' celebrated 1939 paraphrase of the tune note for note.) The element of Swing is always in his music (he stuck closer to the Hawk model than most of the R&B saxophonists were accustomed to doing) and the eight sides released by Allen were typical of his output.
The surviving documentation from Bascomb's first session appears not to be in the best shape, leading to confusion over titles when the material was reissued on Delmark. "Blues and the Beat," as released on States 102, is, well, a close imitation of Red Saunders' "4 A. M. Blues." Harold Wallace's baritone sax solo is nearly a note-for-note copy of Mac Easton's on the original, but Bascomb also contributes on tenor sax.
What came to be called "More Blues-More Beat" is a jump tune with solos by all three saxes on 1087-2, but just tenor and alto sax on 1087-4. It turns out that the piece was first issued in 1953 on a French Vogue 78, under the title "False Alarm." (There were almost certainly other Vogue 78s derived from United and States during this period; they have not all been traced.) Then, when the Bascomb sessions were first gathered together on Delmark DL-431, Bad Bascomb, the titles of "Blues and the Beat" and "More Blues-More Beat" were reversed! The mistake was corrected when Bad Bascomb was reissued on CD. Our thanks to Armin Büttner for comparing Vogue V.3271, States 102, Delmark DL-431, and Delmark DD-431. A cross comparison with Delmark DD-438 is still needed.
On two excursions to Detroit on March 10 and 21, Leonard Allen and Lew Simpkins sought to add gospel artists to their roster. On both occasions they recorded a larger ensemble called The Veteran Singers, which originated before World War II in the Detroit area, and a quartet unit drawn from its ranks, the Southern Tornadoes. We know next to nothing about the personnel, although the lead singer for the Veterans was one Rev. Glover. Apparently, Allen and Simpkins went to Detroit to record these groups, which rarely performed outside of Michigan, on the recommendation of Al Benson, who had broken into radio with a gospel show. Indeed, The Veteran Singers turned up again in Chicago on Benson's own Parrot label, where they cut a session in the fall of 1953. The Veteran Singers broke up not long after the Parrot session. The company put out just one single on each group, and apparently both sold poorly; United and States never recorded either ensemble again, and the rest of their material remained in the vaults for 30 years, until the 1982 release—only in Japan—of P-Vine Special PLP 9035, Golden Bells of Gospel. Another 20 years would elapse before the 2002 release of Delmark DE-760, On the Battlefield... Great Gospel Quartets. Even then, a few tracks were withheld from release (including two versions of "Little David").
Jimmy Forrest was back for a second session on March 30, 1952, using the same lineup as on his first one, except that Chauncey Locke was added on trumpet and Bob Reagen took over on the Latin percussion. Musically, this outing was just as productive as the first. There was some benefit to the company as well: "Hey, Mrs. Jones" (released on United 130) hit #3 on the R&B charts in December 1952.
The Reverend Robert Anderson was back for his second session on April 18, which produced two singles, United 122 and 134. The legendary Caravans were formed as a separate act when Albertina Walker, Elyse Yancy, Ora Lee Hopkins, Nellie Grace Daniels, and pianist Edward Robinson stayed at Universal Recording after Anderson completed his numbers. The success of their first release, on States 103, enabled them to leave Anderson and strike out on their own. Anderson continued with a new, all-male group, but his popularity began to decline and his contract expired after one year, in December 1952. Anderson made a single for Specialty. Art Rupe announced his signing in Billboard on January 3, 1953 ("Biharis' Flair Disks Enter Country Field," p. 12), and Specialty 840 was released later that month. Later Anderson made at least three singles for Apollo (Apollo 296, with two solo performances, was reviewed in Cash Box on June 25, 1955, p. 23; he was also responsible for Apollo 283 and 307). Roberta Martin was one of the top artists on Apollo's gospel roster and perhaps she got the company to record him.
Anderson recorded one single for Vee-Jay in 1961 and a couple for Savoy (1962, 1965). During the 1960s he also cut a couple of singles for a very small Chicago-based company called Good Shepard. After his style of gospel went out of fashion, Anderson spent some years away from music, working as a housekeeper for columnist Ann Landers and delivering flowers for a shop owned by a friend. He was able to record again for the Spirit Feel label in the 1980s. Robert Anderson died in Chicago in June 1995.
Allen switched his attention to The Caravans, who sold pretty well for him. He kept releasing their material through his company's final year, but it was after he sold their contract to Savoy Records in 1957 that the group skyrocketed to success.
Pianist Tommy Dean was a seasoned leader of jazzy R&B combos when Lew Simpkins brought him to the new States imprint in June 1952. Dean was born in Franklin, Louisiana, on September 6, 1909, and grew up in Beaumont, Texas. He did his earliest work in carnivals and circuses. Moving northward to St. Louis in 1937 or 1938, he joined Eddie Randle's Seven Blue Devils, then began leading combos of his own. His groups often toured the Southwest, sometimes appearing in Mexico; his first known gig in Chicago did not take place until 1945. Dean made his first record for the small St. Louis label Town and Country in 1947. He next recorded for Miracle in 1949. By the time of his first session for States on June 4, he been leading a combo with stable personnel—Chris Woods, alto sax; Edgar Hayes, tenor; Gene Easton, baritone; Eugene Thomas, bass; Pee Wee Jernigan, drums—for several years and was a steady draw in St. Louis as well as a frequent visitor to Chicago's South Side. The rhythmwas tight and tasty and all three of his saxophonists were good bebop soloists; vocalist Jewel Belle was on hand for jukebox appeal.
On June 11, Tab Smith returned for his fourth session for United. This was the last one to use Leon Washington and Sonny Cohn in the front line; it may have been the last one for a while to use Teddy Brannon at the piano. At least we know who was responsible for a number called "Teddy's Brannin'," a medium blues whose opening and closing choruses feature the pianist doing the locked-hands thing. And Brannon's solo contributes to the drowsy 3 AM ambience of "A Bit of Blues." "Sunny Side of the Street" is small-group Ellingtonia, done at the perfect tempo; some of the leader's pecking embellishments suggest an intimate acquaintance with the soprano sax (which so far as we know he was not playing professionally during this period). "Bit" and "Sunny Side" were picked for the first release from the session; Cash Box declared United 124 its "Jazz 'n Blues Sleeper of the Week" (August 9, 1952, p. 16). "These Foolish Things" is a superb ballad performance that contrasts portamenti (slides between notes on the alto sax) with extra-sharp articulation in Smith's 1940s manner. "My Mother's Eyes" is a much more sentimental tune (check out that piano introduction and interlude) but the leader's heartfelt intensity makes up for it. (The song must have had a personal meaning to Tab Smith, because it is the only one he would record twice during his tenure at United—and both versions were released.)
The Caravans returned for their second session some time in June; obviously Simpkins and Allen had high expectations for them. On the labels to States 108, Robert Anderson is mentioned as the group's director, so the quartet had not stopped working with him just yet. On future releases, Anderson's name would no longer appear. For some reason, this session was never used in any reissue series; we wonder whether Savoy took posession of the masters when it took over the Caravans' contract and acquired their other sides for States. We hope the tapes have not been lost.
Allen recorded the Four Blazes on his own on July 4 (with some overdubs added on August 18); again Chamblee joined the quartet, sitting out only on "Stop Boogie Woogie," a guitar feature for Floyd McDaniel. United 125 was released in August 1952; as was typical on United and States releases, the actual take numbers did not appear on the record, but 78 and 45 rpm masters sometimes got numerical suffixes, as did remastering jobs. United 127 followed promptly in September 1952. The original label of United 127 incorrectly gives "1025" as the matrix for "Stop Boogie Woogie."
"Perfect Woman" was not released at the time, presumably because of the weird sonic impact of overdubbing a second Eddie Chamblee sax line over one already "enriched" with excessive studio reverb. Instead, the tune was redone from scratch at the next session.
Roosevelt Sykes returned for an unusual followup session on August 21, 1952. On hand was John "Schoolboy" Porter on guitar (instead of the tenor sax he played on his recordings for the Chance label—Sykes can be heard shouting "Schoolboy" on the session). Porter was about to make his exit from the Chicago scene; he joined the Air Force, and would remain in military service well into the 1960s, settling in Phoenix, Arizona after his retirement. The band was rounded out by Ransom Knowling on bass, and probably Jump Jackson on drums. Remo Biondi gave the session a unique flavor with his guest appearance on violin: "Toy Piano Blues," on which Sykes plays the celeste and Biondi is the featured soloist, is unique in Sykes' vast output. Sykes also experimented with backing vocals (not always in tune, and evidently the work of his sidemen). One of the items with rough vocal harmony, "Security Blues" (apparently intended as Sykes' response to Memphis Slim's "Mother Earth") is alleged to have sold respectably for Leonard Allen. It was on the first release from the session, United 129, which got a Cash Box "Award o' the Week" (November 15, 1952, p. 26). "Listen to My Song," on the other hand, seems to have been too schmaltzy for Allen's taste and was left unreleased.
"Listen to My Song" and "Toy Piano Blues" finally saw release in 1982, on a P-Vine Special LP. So did "Something like That," a preliminary version of "Toy Piano" on which Sykes hadn't yet moved to the celeste. "Something like That" has been ignored by subsequent reissue efforts.
Tenor sax player Cyril J. "Cozy" Eggleston (born May 12, 1920) emerged during the flourishing Chicago postwar scene. An early gig (October 1946 through January 1947) was at the Macomba Lounge (39th and Cottage Grove) where for a time he worked alongside Tom Archia. His first advertised appearance as a leader was in the Cozy Cottage (4019 Indiana) in late 1946 under the name Cozy Eggleston and His Imps of Swing. In 1947 he recorded for Columbia with a group called the Memphis Seven. For a time he played in Lil Green's band, and used a pianist named Sonny Blount (who had likewise been in the Green band) in his own combo. In 1949, he was appearing at the Manchester Grill (31st and Rhodes) with his wife, Marie Stone Eggleston (born March 3, 1918), who was described as a "blues singer, ace musician, and the bombshell of the alto sax." In August 1950 he was holding down a spot at the Victory Club, as his "indefinite" contract (accepted and filed by Musicians Union Local 208) indicates.
Late1950 saw Cozy and Marie at the Club Evergreen (1322 Clybourn), where they would "leave the stand and come down to blow among the guests," according to the caption of a December 30 Chicago Defender photo.
By the time of his States session on August 23, 1952, Eggleston had one hot and popular band. Despite holding off the release for over a year, United got something of a hit with "Big Heavy," which Alan Freed used as his theme on WINS in New York. The group on this session featured Cozy and Marie Eggleston, Jimmy Boyd on piano, Ellis Hunter on guitar, Curtis Ferguson on bass, and Chuck Williams on drums. We would have to assume that the session was meant to cover the usual four tunes, but only three remain. The third is the end of a performance on the ballad standard, "Willow Weep for Me," performed by just Cozy Eggleston and Jimmy Boyd. It clocks in at 1 minute and 9 seconds—a wasted opportunity, in light of the quality of what was preserved..
The Cozy Eggleston session has given reissue programmers fits. When the two releaed sides were first reissued in 1982, on P-Vine Special PLP-9037, Sax Blowers & Honkers, "Cozy's Boogie" was retitled "Fish Tail." The Japanese LP was followed in 1988 by Delmark DL-438, Honkers & Bar Walkers Vol. 1, which added two tracks to the P-Vine linuep. One was "Willow Weep for Me," oddly abbreviated on its first issue to "Willow Weep." The liner notes referred to "Cozy's Boogie" as "Fish Tail," while the credits on the back cover called it "Cozy's Beat," as did the label. Meanwhile, "Big Heavy" was called "Blue Lites Boogie" on the label.
While he was still holding forth at the Evergreen in 1954, the advertisement recognized Eggleston's recording activities at States, calling him "Cozy 'Boogie' Eggleston, and His Recording Band." We are mystified that Leonard Allen didn't bring Cozy Eggleston back into the studio; it would be quite a few years before the saxophonist got another chance to record as a leader. Not, in fact, until the 1970s, when Cozy and Marie Eggleston cut an LP for his self-produced Co-Egg label.
On August 25, Paul Bascomb was back for his second session, though for reasons that elude us so many years later, States didn't release any of the tracks at the time. One coupling, "Nona" b/w "Mumbles' Blues," actually ended up being licensed to Mercury instead. We don't know what the deal was, exactly, but Bascomb would lead studio bands (which were never credited on the label) for Mercury in 1953-1954. Meanwhile, United would get Memphis Slim from Mercury in November 1952; could Slim have still owed Mercury some sides? The vocal on "Mumbles," in a basso profondo that isn't Paul Bascomb's and isn't Browley Guy's (see below), has been attributed to Frank Porter. It's worth noting that "Mumbles Blues" was first recorded by Bobby Lewis, on August 6, 1952, and its release on Chess didn't take place till September. Somebody must have heard Lewis performing it, most likely in Detroit where Lewis and Bascomb were both resident at the time.
On the first three tracks from the session, Bascomb's band provided sterling backing for Browley Guy and his vocal group the Skyscrapers, who did get a States release out of the session. Guy and group tilted more toward blues and less toward lounge than usual (our thanks to Yves François Smierciak for alerting us to Bascomb's involvement on these). Guy and the Skyscrapers reappeared in June 1953 on a session supervised by Al Benson; two sides were released on Checker 779. Their last hurrah would be Mercury 70795, a single recorded in January 1956, by which time their vocal style made them sound terribly dated.
"Got Cool Too Soon" is intriguing, and not just on account of the band vocal. It is one of those paraphrases of "How High the Moon" that the beboppers went in for. According to stereotype, a Swing veteran like Bascomb wouldn't be interested in such a thing. (Steven Tamborski, who has been trying to track down the publisher of this piece, has discovered that its original title was "GotHigh Too Soon." In fact, it had previously been recorded under that title for London, but not released. A listen to the song as recorded for States will show how "high" fits better than "cool" in several spots. Obviously the original words were deemed not suitable for radio play.)
Reed player Ray McKinstry cut three sides for United on August 29. He had been on the Chicago scene for quite a while, though not often in high-profile roles. McKinstry was a member of the first edition of Muggsy Spanier's Ragtime Band, playing tenor saxophone on their Chicago session of July 7, 1939. He soloed on "Big Butter and Egg Man" and "Someday Sweetheart" in a style strongly influenced by Bud Freeman. Judging from "Dinah," which was included in a Delmark CD compilation from 2004 titled The United Records Story, McKinstry assembled three "one man band" recordings, making liberal use of multi-tracking. (He is duly credited, on the original United labels, with playing every instrument on the record.) Overdubbing was a lot easier to do with analog tape than had been the case with direct-to-disk recording, but "generation loss" was still a significant constraint. "Dinah" features nice fluid solo clarinet with accompaniment by two tenor saxes plus what sounds like a third tenor played at half speed to make a virtual bass sax, rhythm guitar, string bass, and drums (played with brushes). Although "Dinah" had been in the Ragtime Band's repertoire, the purposely saggy rhythm of the saxes, exacerbated with slap-back echo, makes this "Dinah" sound more like a Raymond Scott number than a Swing performance. The middle and end get more gimmicky, with sped-up tapes of the rhythm guitar and a clarinet and a couple of tenors run at double speed to make a virtual sopranino clarinet and soprano saxes, mixed with normal-speed tapes of the tenor saxes and the half-speed "bass sax."
Tab Smith was back on September 15 for his fifth session—just five tunes on this occasion. The front line was now staffed by Irving Woods on trumpet and Charlie Wright on tenor sax, both members of his working combo. And Lavern Dillon may have taken over on piano. Wilfred Middlebrooks and Walter Johnson continued to anchor the rhythm section.
A typical critical reaction of the time comes from Down Beat (February 25, 1953); in those days the magazine maintained separate jazz and rhythm and blues sections, classifying Tab Smith with the R&B. The review of United 140, "These Foolish Things" (from his fourth session; four stars) b/w "Red Hot and Blue" (three stars), declared, "Tab's full piercing sax follows the same pattern here as on his recent good sellers, and there is little reason to suspect that these won't do as well. "Things" is played straight, "Red" is forceful, neatly-swung riff item." A medium-tempo blues for Tab's alto, to be exact, but the riffing has a militant edge to it that comes from pushing the beat.
"Ace High" is another uptempo swinger, this one featuring the Velvet Tenor. (Of course, the Smith combo played for dancers, so for them uptempo never meant frenetic.) "Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart" is a sentimental tune that was going the rounds in 1952; Even Captain Stubby and the Buccaneers recorded the tune, for United's Chicago-based rival Rondo. The leader caresses it on the alto sax, but as sometimes happened to this group when the tempo was just medium-slow, the accompaniment keeps wandering into the cornfields. "You Belong to Me," a better tune taken slower, steers clear.
The Caravans returned for their third gospel session some time in September. On States 109, which came out in November, or thereabouts, the entire group was still listed on the label—and Robert Anderson was no longer mentioned. No fewer than 8 tracks were recorded (one of which was somehow passed over when master numbers were assigned) and the company dipped back into this session for three further States releases.
Tiny Murphy cut the first of two sessions for the company in late September. Elbert R. Murphy was born in Possum Trot, a hamlet southeast of Paducah, Kentucky, on March 20, 1929. If later accounts are accurate, he started playing the guitar at age 5, and presumably got his nickname as a child performer (we have encountered no photographic evidence of him weighing 300 pounds). Murphy was a Country artist who played a broad repertoire, including an occasional boogie. Tiny Murphy moved to Chicago in 1950. Known for his expertise on the steel guitar (as the title "Hot Steel," which demonstrates the styles of several prominent Country musicians of the period, was meant to signify), Murphy also played electric guitar. A 1951 photo of The Sage Riders, which included jazz violinist Johnny Frigo and accordion player Lino Frigo (a distant cousin of Johnny's)—see http://www.abar.net/photos.htm ) at the 8th Street Theatre in Chicago, shows Murphy playing lead guitar. The Sage Riders were the house band for the WLS Barn Dance. When WLS pulled the plug on live music in 1961, they followed the show to WGN where they remained till it finished its run.
Murphy probably had two records out under his own name before he signed with United. Folk Music Center (soon shortened to Folk Music) was a Chicago-based label active from 1950 to 1952, or thereabouts. Most of its releases were "double feature" 78 rpm EPs. These were mastered by Universal Recording, which had figured out how to squeeze two tracks onto one side (as long as they totaled no more than 4 and 1/2 minutes). Murphy's "Kissing Bug Boogie" and "Travelin' Blues" took up one side of Folk Music 135 (the other side was shared between Bob Ward and Don Johnson). Two more titles ("Alabama Jubilee" and "Music Makin' Mama") appeared on Folk Music 137 (with Al Harmon getting the other side).
The September 1952 session led to releases on United 132 and 136. "It's All Your Fault," which appeared on Murphy's first United, is co-credited to Remo Biondi and Bill Putnam. Whether Putnam (who ran Universal Recording) had a hand in writing the number we are entitled to doubt, but the other composer credit suggests that Biondi was present and finding other ways to contribute. Besides the leader's vocals (sometimes double-tracked; his voice was pleasant but thin while crooning) and fluid, Western-Swing-inflected steel guitar, we hear a fleet piano, a rhythm guitar (Biondi, we presume), string bass, and drums. The pianist lays out on "Hot Steel."
Three of Murphy's United sides have been reissued on White Label LP 2819, Boppin' Hillbilly's Vol. 19; the same three have more recently been included in a no-label cassette, Tiny Murphy Then & Now. Our thanks to Mark Seganish for help on this artist.
The final Paul Bascomb session for States took place on September 30, again with first-class results but less than the best documentation. Confusion still surrounds matrix numbers 1231 and 1232,"Matilda" (or "Mathilda") and a remake of "Got Cool Too Soon". Somehow, neither managed to get included in the Paul Bascomb reissues on Delmark. It was the remake of "Got Cool" that saw release on States 110, along with take 2 of "Coquette." But the LP and CD releases have used take 9 of "Coquette," along with a version of "Too Soon" from the previous session. For some reason, States 110 is not very common today, and Bascomb's last two releases, on States 121 and United 192, are more elusive still.
We find it mysterious that Simpkins and Allen didn't try to hold on to an artist who was obviously popular with their clientele Allen would put out United 192 long after Bascomb had left the company). What's more, he actually moved to Chicago in January 1953! Apparently Leonard Allen didn't want to record "Jan," a Latin-flavored composition by Norman Simmons who played piano in the new group that Bascomb assembled during the summer of 1953, and that is why Bascomb was induced to defect to Al Benson's new Parrot operation in September of that year. (Bascomb was also doing some moonlighting at Mercury during 1953-1954, but strictly providing uncredited accompaniment, for instance on a Dinah Wahshington session in 1953. This would hardly have disqualified him from continued involvement with Allen's company. In fact, the only item that Mercury released under Bascomb's own name had been preiviously recorded for United.)
Bascomb's Chicago groups at various times included Norman Simmons or Rozelle Claxton (piano), Gus Chappelle or Johnny Avant (trombone), Malachi Favors (bass), and Vernel Fournier or Marshall Thompson (drums). Pat Patrick (baritone sax) and Roland Faulkner (guitar) made briefer stops. From 1953 through 1955 three or four different editions of the Chicago band recorded for Parrot. The last session, in July 1955, would produce an entire LP that unfortunately has never seen release.
In 1956 and 1957, Bascomb's band worked steadily at such venues and Roberts Show Lounge. From 1958 through 1970, he adapted to the advent of rock 'n roll and soul music by holding sway at the Esquire (95th and Wentworth) with an organ trio. After that steady gig ended, Paul Bascomb scuffled for a time, even working as a garbage man. In 1976, his superb work for United was resurrected and released on Delmark LP-431, Bad Bascomb. In the mid-1970s Bascomb was able to tour Europe and in 1979 he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham. He was essentially retired when he joined in one last session in 1982, for Yves François Smierciak's Pinnacle label. Paul Bascomb died in Chicago on November 25, 1986.
Grant Jones followed him into the studio on October 7, again with the help of an uncredited Red Saunders combo featuring an alto saxophonist, probably Riley Hampton. Red was still under contract to OKeh at the time, so his presence on the record was once again not advertised. After his second and last session for United, Grant Jones would show up on a King Kolax session for Vee-Jay in 1954. His final session, which took place in 1958 for the Evanston-based Stepheny label, saddled him with titles like "Soda Pop Rock" in a futile effort by an adult blues singer to reach the now dominant teenage market.
The second session by the elusive Robert Nighthawk took place on October 25, 1952. It featured Curtis Jones at the piano, an unidentified second guitarist, Ransom Knowling at the bass, and a sonically prominent but unidentified drummer. Like Nighthawk's first session for United, it now figures among the classic blues recordings. However, Leonard Allen saw fit to release just one single from this outing (States 131, "Maggie Campbell" b/w "The Moon Is Rising"). "Maggie," a traditional Delta blues number associated with Tommy Johnson, apparently lacked mass appeal in 1953. Robert Nighthawk would not record again until the 1960s, when he was captured playing live on Maxwell Street in 1964, fortunately still at the peak of his powers. He was back on his home turf (Mississippi and Arkansas) when he succumbed to heart disease in 1967.
Four Kings and a Queen, who recorded on October 31, 1952, were a vocal group. None of their material has ever been released.
In November 1952, United was able to land the services of two legendary bebop saxophonists, Leo Parker and Gene Ammons, who both knew how to appeal to the R&B market; Parker's session on the 15th was followed closely by Ammons' studio visit on the 18th.
Baritone sax player Leo Parker, born in Washington DC on April 18, 1925, brought a wealth of experience to the company. Beginning in the early 1940s, he had recorded with such leaders as Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, and Sir Charles Thompson, and played in bands led by Billy Eckstine, Dizzy Gillespie, and Illinois Jacquet. The Thompson recording date included a number titled "Mad Lad," which became Parker's nickname. His first recordings under his own name came from three Detroit sessions for Savoy during 1947-48. These were followed by sessions for Prestige (1950), Gotham (1950), Chess (1951, in partnership with tenorman Eddie Johnson), and an obscure session for Mercury (behind vocalist Ray Snead, also in 1951), before he cut his one outing for United. In support of Parker were Ira Pettiford (bass), Andy Johnson (piano), and Jack Parker (drums). Guitarist Bill Jennings is said to have been a member of the combo but cannot be heard on the released sides from the session. According to information that Bob Koester provided to Anthony Barnett, four numbers were recorded, "Leo's Boogie" in 6 takes; "Cool Leo" in 4 takes; "Jam Leo" in a single take; and "Hey Good Lookin'" in 9 takes. United's secret weapon, Remo Biondi, sat in and played violin on all but "Cool Leo." Few, if any, of the non-master takes are likely to be extant.
"Cool Leo" and "Leo's Boogie" were released on United 141, which does not seem to have sold well. Leo Parker later recorded in Chicago for Parrot (a 1953 session that didn't see release till years later). Mounting a comeback after years lost to heroin addiction, he cut a farewell session for Blue Note (1961) before dying of cancer in New York City on February 11, 1962.
Tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons (1925 - 1974) was a native Chicagoan, the son of boogie woogie pianist Albert Ammons. He got local exposure while still in high school, playing in King Kolax's 1941 band. Like Leo Parker, he got further exposure in the Eckstine big band. Ammons did his first recordings in 1947 for Mercury and Savoy, followed by sessions for Aladdin (1948), Aristocrat (1948-49, one of them clandestine, another shared with his dueling partner Tom Archia, and a third with singer and pianist Christine Chatman), and Mercury (1949). After a few months in Woody Herman's band, Gene Ammons established a working group that often included his favorite dueling partner Sonny Stitt. The band alternated sessions for Chess and Prestige (1950-51), followed by a single appearance on Decca (1952).
For Chess he had produced an R&B hit, a smooth rendition of "My Foolish Heart," which helped launch the Chess brothers' new imprint in the summer of 1950. Obviously, United hoped Ammons would produce the same magic. By this time, the group that Ammons's group that often included Sonny Stitt had broken up for good; Stitt would spend the rest of his career as a single, playing with local rhythm sections wherever he met. The lineup for the late 1952 session was Ammons' current working group of Johnny Coles (trumpet), Lino Murray (trombone), John Houston (piano), Benny Stuberville (bass), George Brown (drums), and an unknown guitarist. McKinley Easton of the Red Saunders Orchestra was added on baritone sax.
Cliff Butler was a veteran deejay from the Louisville area. He was born on October 17, 1922, in Louisville, Kentucky. His early experience in music was with one of the many jug bands that made their home in Louisville. After serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II, he returned to his hometown and organized his first band to back his singing. His first recordings were with the Three Notes, for Signature (1948), followed by recordings for King (1949). Butler began recording for the States label with a session on November 17, 1952. On "Adam's Rib" he exhibits a strong Roy Brown influence. The session musicians included blind pianist Benny Holton, who regularly accompanied Butler, as well as Chicago stalwarts Leon Diamond Washington on tenor sax and Red Saunders in the drum chair. On another track from the session, "You’re My Honey, But the Bees Don’t Know It," Butler was accompanied by a vocal group from Louisville, The Doves.
Tommy Dean returned to the studio to cut four more tracks for States on November 19, 1952. His combo was about to break up, as it turned out. Either the leader or the label decided to experiment by bringing in a vocal group (a male quartet, not identified on the label or any other source that we know). States 120 coupled "How Can I Let You Go, " which features Pee Wee Jernigan's lead vocal and prominent backing by the vocal group with "Scammon Boogie," which Dean had previously recorded for Miracle. "Scammon" is a vehicle for tight ensemble work by the three saxes, but the two quick blues choruses that Jernigan had sung on the Miracle version were reassigned to the vocal group. States 120 seems to be quite rare, the other two sides remain unheard, and for some reason nothing from this session has ever been reissued (we hope the tapes aren't lost). Tommy Dean would never record with another vocal group.
After Chris Woods (whose vocal accompaniments and solo are major contributions to "How Can I Let You Go") defected and took the bassist and drummer from this group with him, Dean assembled a new aggregation that made one veiled appearance on Chance in 1953 (accompanying Freddie "Barrel House" Blott), then migrated to the new Vee-Jay label in 1954, where he would remain until his final session in 1958. The first Vee-Jay session included a remake of "How Can I Let You Go," in a more soulful rendition by Dean's new band singer, Joe Buckner; Dean also began playing the organ (which he may have already been using on gigs). Tommy Dean continued to tour with his combo until 1960; he subsequently worked in St. Louis as a single, playing the organ in supper clubs, until his sudden death, probably from a heart attack, in January 1965.
A most familiar name in the blues world first went to work for United on November 26, 1952. Memphis Slim had been recording since 1940. Based in Chicago during this phase of his career, he had been a mainstay at three postwar independents: first Hy-Tone, then Miracle, and finally Miracle's successor entity Premium. After Premium collapsed in the summer of 1951, Slim cut three sessions for Mercury in Chicago. Lew Simpkins, who knew Slim from the days when he was moving 78s for Miracle and Premium, brought him to United as soon as he could.
For his first session at United, Memphis Slim used his regular combo: Purcell Brockenborough and Neal Green (tenor saxes), Matt Murphy (newly added on electric guitar); Henry Taylor (bass); and Otho Allen (drums). Murphy was the first electric guitarist to be featured in Slim's groups; his post T-Bone Walker soloing is a major presence on all of Slim's United recordings. On "Midnight," which was left in the can at the time, Slim sang a duet with his then-girlfriend, Terry Timmons, whom he had previously accompanied on record during his stops at Premium and Mercury. (Terry Timmons was under contract to RCA Victor. This seems to be why Simpkins and Allen decided not to use her collaboration with Slim, as she was in great voice on the duet. She would sign with United the next year, after her RCA contract ran out.)
Philadelphia-born Edward "The Great Gates" White (1918 - 1992) was a standup blues-ballad singer with a smooth voice. Every one of his other recordings was made in Los Angeles, for such labels as Selective (1949), Kappa (1949), Miltone (1949), 4 Star (ca. 1950), Rex Hollywood (1950), Combo (1952), Aladdin (1955), 4 Star again (1957), and Specialty (1959). His States session of November 26, 1952—which represented an increasingly passé Charles Brown cocktail-lounge blues style—was accompanied by a group that included Eddie Williams and Tom Archia on the dueling tenor saxes, Ike Perkins on guitar, and Red Saunders at the drums. How White came to do this lone session in Chicago is unknown, but we are grateful to get a rare glimpse at Tom Archia after his Aristocrat days—caught in splendid fidelity, too.
The Mil-Com Bo Trio cranked out 10 sides for the company but for its pains earned one solitary release on United, on which the band's name was rendered as "Mil-Con Bo." (We're not inclined to blame the company, as both spellings appeared in contemporary articles about the trio.) The combo directory in the July 15, 1953 Down Beat describes the group as "instrumental-vocal. Vocal material of Connie Milano is featured; instrumentation is piano, bass, guitar; unit hails from Milwaukee, has been playing in Wisconsin area." According to Gary E. Myers' book On That Wisconsin Beat (Downey, CA: MusicGem, 2006), the trio consisted of Sigmund (Sig or Ziggie) Millonzi (born in 1925) on piano, Don Momblow (born in 1920) on guitar, and Constantine "Connie" Milano (born in 1927) on bass and vocals. Connie Milano had spent some time in the big bands of Shep Fields and Jan Garber.
Most likely the trio's sessions took place around December 23, 1952. The original master numbers were not from United's series at Universal Recording. They probably did come from the same studio, however: the U2000 series used by Chance and some other small labels reached U2301 in late December 1952, just in time for two sessions (the 2300 series numbers fall into two blocks). Koester's discography gives the recording date as December 23, 1953 but United's Work Order number from Universal Recording (#1618) belongs to January 1953, United 159 was released in the fall of 1953, and the new master numbers (1262-1265) assigned to four of the sides would slot into mid-February 1953, if all had been done in strict chronological order. Only 1264 and 1265 in United's series were issued (on United 159, which coupled "Don't Pay to Gamble," featuring a Connie Milano vocal in the Nat King Cole vein, and "Stompin' at the Savoy"). 1262 and 1263 must have been intended for a second single that never materialized. The total known output (10 tracks) suggests that the group had an LP in mind.
After their recording session, the trio appeared at a charity event for the Milwaukee Jewish Nursery School (March 28, 1953), at the Preview Lounge in Chicago, and at the Zebra Lounge in Green Bay, Wisconsin (starting May 19). In Feburary 1954, now billed as "recording stars," they were at the Crest Lounge in Detroit, on a bill with Ken Griffin. In March 1954 they were at the Streamliner in Chicago; the Mil-Con-Bo Trio was expected to handle the vocal duties, as the other artists were Don Shirley, piano, and Johnnie Pate, bass, with no singers advertised by name.
And the trio did get to make an LP, for another label. On November 29, 1954, they recorded 16 sides in Los Angeles for Capitol, 12 of which were issued on a 12-inch LP in late April 1955. (One of the tracks on the LP, Momblow's composition "Soft Touch," had originally been titled "Streamliner," but the reference was apparently considered too local; see http://popculturefanboy.blogspot.com/2011/11/november-29-2011-happy-birthdays-1917.html). Capitol billed them as the “Mil-Combo.” This must have looked like their big break, but it didn't turn out that way.
By July 1956, when the Connie Milano Trio shared a booking with King Fleming at the Sutherland Louge, the Mil-Combo was history. In the late 1950s Milano was frequently working in a duo with a pianist. In 1959, he was the bassist in the Charlotte Politte Trio, which opened at the Evergreen Park Restaurant in Chicago on April 1, with Politte on piano and Bill Thresto at the drums ("New Chi Jazz Spot," Cash Box, March 28, 1959, p. 47; supposedly the group was also scheduled to record). Sig Millonzi formed a trio with Lee Burrows on bass and Jack Carr on drums, which recorded an LP for the Milwaukee-based Stacy label in 1968 and remained active in the area for several more years; Millonzi also led an occasional big band. Sig Millonzi suffered a heart attack on February 3, 1977, and died in Milwaukee on April 6. Don Momblow taught guitar in the 1960s, also working with Dixieland bands and leading his own trios and quartets. In 1969, he moved to South Florida, where he died in 1989. During the 1960s, Connie Milano often performed in Dixieland groups (the one he put on his résum&eactue; was Jack Teagarden's, but he was also in Bob Scobey's and several others), and led other ensembles as well; by 1977, he was living in Florida and had updated his nickname to Conti. Constantine Milano died in Miami Beach, Florida, in August 2008; his obituary ran in the Chicago Tribune, indicating that he may have been from Chicago originally.
Possibly recorded in late 1952 was Reverend Robert Ballinger (1921 - 1965). Nothing is known about the session, which carries no master numbers, except that it was recorded in one night at the Balkan Studio. Leonard Allen's voice can be heard on the tapes, which lay unreleased until 1997 when 5 of Ballinger's 7 performances were included in Delmark DE-702. In contrast to Robert Anderson, Ballinger represents the more impassioned sanctified form of gospel singing that originated in the celebrated Pentecostal denomination, the Church of God in Christ. He was born in Cincinnati and spent some of his career in Detroit, but it was in Chicago, where he served as an assistant to Bishop J. E. Watley, Sr., of the COGIC, that he made his reputation. On his United session, Ballinger accompanied himself with rough-hewn piano; an unidentified drummer was also present. In January 1955, Ballinger made one single for Chess; a second session, done in the middle of that year, was left unreleased. In 1958, he cut one single for the Artistic label. In 1961, he recorded more than an album's worth of material in two sessions for Chess, but the project was shelved. He signed with the Houston-based Peacock label in 1962. Still based in Chicago, he recorded extensively for Peacock through 1964 and enjoyed several gospel hits.
Despite adding a second imprint, the States label, in June to handle its burgeoning output (214 sides all told), the company had difficulty building on the success it had achieved in 1951. After "Night Train" and "Mary Jo," United charted one more record on the national Billboard surveys: "Hey, Mrs. Jones" by Jimmy Forrest.
|Matrix||Artist||Title||Release Number||Recording Date||Release Date|
|1057-3 on 78; 1057-2 on 45; 1057||Four Blazes||Mood Indigo||United 114, P-Vine Special PLP 9044, Delmark DE-704 [CD], United U-114 [CD]||January 4, 1952||March 1952|
|1058-3 on 78; 1058-2 on 45; 1058-7||Four Blazes||Mary Jo||United 114, P-Vine Special PLP 9044, Delmark DE-704 [CD], United U-114 [CD]||January 4, 1952||March 1952|
|1053-?||Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers||Strictly Gone||United 121, B&F 1341||January 10, 1952||July 1952|
|1053-10||Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers||Strictly Gone||Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714 [CD]||January 10, 1952|
|1054-4||Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers||Walking Home||Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714 [CD], Delmark DE-542 [CD], Delmark DD-775||January 10, 1952|
|1055-4||Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers||You Stayed Away Too Long||Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714 [CD]||January 10, 1952|
|1056-2 on 78
|Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers||House Party Groove||United 121, B&F 1341||January 10, 1952||July 1952|
|1056 [alt.]||Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers||House Party Groove||Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714 [CD]||January 10, 1952|
|Johnny Wick [sic] and his Swingin' Ozarks Featuring "Preacher Man" on Tuba and Vocal||Jockey Jack Boogie||United 116, Pearl PL-13, Delmark DD-775||February 18, 1952||April 1952|
|1060-2 on 78
|Johnny Wick and his Swinging Ozarks Featuring "Preacher Man" on Tuba and Vocal||Big Horn Blues||United 116, Pearl PL-13||February 18, 1952||April 1952|
|1061-1||Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks||Glasgow KY Blues||United 126, Pearl PL-13||February 18, 1952||September 1952|
|1062-1||Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks||Joliet Blues||Pearl PL-13||February 18, 1952|
|1062-2||Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks||Joliet Blues||Pearl PL-13||February 18, 1952|
|1063-2||Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks||Hey Pretty Baby||Pearl PL-13||February 18, 1952|
|1064-1||Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks||Blue Dawn||United 126, Pearl PL-13||February 18, 1952||September1952|
|1065-1||Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks||Bongo Wig||Pearl PL-13||February 18, 1952|
|1066-4||Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks||Erogenous Dissipated Expression||Pearl PL-13||February 18, 1952|
|1067-1||Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks||Remo Blues||Pearl PL-13||February 18, 1952|
|1067-3||Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks||Biondi Bounce||Pearl PL-13||February 18, 1952|
|1068||The Guy Brothers and Orchestra||Wrong Wrong||unissued||February 1952|
|1069||The Guy Brothers and Orchestra Featuring Browley Guy on vocal||Marie||States 101||February 1952||June 1952|
|1070||The Guy Brothers and Orchestra||Cool Cool Road||unissued||February 1952|
|1071||The Guy Brothers and Orchestra||I Like Barbecue||States 101||February 1952||June 1952|
|1072||Gilbert Holiday and His Combo||Late One Night||States 104||Feburary 25, 1952||September 1952|
|1073||Gilbert Holiday and His Combo||Let's Drink||States 104||February 25, 1952||September 1952|
|1074||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||All My Life||United 162, Vogue EPL. 7011, Saxophonograph BP511, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||February 26, 1952||October 1953|
|1075||Tab Smith||Nursery Rhyme Jump||Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||February 26, 1952|
|1076||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||This Love of Mine||United 162, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447||February 26, 1952||October 1953|
|1077||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra | Vocal by Tab Smith||Strange||United 171, Saxophonograph BP509, Delmark DD-455||February 26, 1952||c. February 1954|
|1078||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Jumptime||United 171, United LP 003, Delmark DL-429, Delmark DD-447||February 26, 1952||c. February 1954|
|1079||Tab Smith||Tis Autumn||Delmark DD-455 [CD]||February 26, 1952|
|1080||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Cuban Boogie||United 147, United LP 001, Delmark DD-455 [CD]||February 26, 1952||May 1953|
|1081||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Cottage for Sale||United 187, Saxophonograph BP511, Delmark DD-455 [CD]||February 26, 1952||February 1955|
|1082-1||Southern Tornadoes||When They Ring the Golden Bells||United 117, P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760 [CD]||March 10, 1952 [Detroit]||August 1952|
|1083-1||Southern Tornadoes||Satisfied||United 117, Delmark DE-760||March 10, 1952 [Detroit]||August 1952|
|1084||The Veteran Singers||Jesus, the Light of the World||unissued||March 10, 1952 [Detroit]|
|1085||The Veteran Singers||Little David||unissued||March 10, 1952 [Detroit]|
|1086-3||Paul Bascomb||Blues and the Beat||Delmark DD-438, Delmark DD-431||March 3, 1952|
|1086-4||Paul Bascomb and his All Star Orchestra||Blues and the Beat
(More Blues-More Beat*)
|States 102, Delmark DL-431*, Delmark DD-431||March 3, 1952||June 1952|
|1087-2||Paul Bascomb||More Blues-More Beat (Blues and the Beat*)||Delmark DL-431*, Delmark DD-431||March 3, 1952|
|1087-4||Paul Bascomb his tenor sax and his all star band||More Blues-More Beat (False Alarm*)||Vogue V.3271*, Delmark DD-438, Delmark DD-431||March 3, 1952||Spring or Summer1953|
|1088-4||Paul Bascomb and his All Star Orchestra||Blackout||States 102, Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431||March 3, 1952||June 1952|
|1089-4||Paul Bascomb||Pink Cadillac||Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431||March 3, 1952|
|1089-7||Paul Bascomb||Pink Cadillac||P-Vine [J] PLP-9037, Delmark DL-438, Delmark DD-438, Delmark DD-431||March 3, 1952|
|1090-3||Southern Tornadoes||Another Building||P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]|
|1091-1||Southern Tornadoes||Toll the Bell Easy||United 123, P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]||August 1952|
|1092-1||Southern Tornadoes||How about You||United 123, Delmark DE-760||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]||August 1952|
|1093-1||SouthernTornadoes||Will The Circle Be Unbroken||P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]|
|1094-1||Southern Tornadoes||All I Need||P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]|
|1095-1||Southern Tornadoes||Precious Memories||Delmark DE-760||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]|
|1096-2||Veteran Singers||Glory to His Name||P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]|
|1097-1||Veteran Singers||Leaning on Jesus||P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]|
|1098-1||Veteran Singers||He'll Never Let Go||Delmark DE-760||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]|
|1099-1||Veteran Singers||How Much More||Delmark DE-760||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]|
|1100-1||The Veteran Singers||Lord Is Riding||States 105, P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]||c. September 1952|
|1101-1||The Veteran Singers||On the Battlefield||States 105, P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]||c. September 1952|
|1102||The Veteran Singers||Little David||unissued||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]|
|1103||The Veteran Singers||In the Wilderness||unissued||March 21, 1952 [Detroit]|
|1104-3 on 78; 1104 on 45||Jimmy Forrest, Tenor and All Star Combo||Big Dip||United 119, United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435||March 30, 1952||Summer 1952|
|1105-2||Jimmy Forrest and Orchestra||Blue Groove||United 130, United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435||March 30, 1952||October 1952|
|1106-2 on 78; 1106 on 45; 1106-3||Jimmy Forrest, Tenor and All Star Combo||My Buddy||United 119, Delmark DD-435||March 30, 1952||Summer 1952|
|1106-4||Jimmy Forrest, Tenor and All Star Combo||My Buddy||Delmark DD-438||March 30, 1952|
|1107-2 on 45 and 78; 1107-5||Jimmy Forrest and Orchestra||Hey Mrs. Jones||United 130, United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435||March 30, 1952||October 1952|
|1108-3||Jimmy Forrest||Song of the Wanderer||United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435||March 30, 1952|
|1109-3||Jimmy Forrest||There Will Be No Other You
[There Will Never Be Another You*]
|United LP 002, Delmark DL-435*, Delmark DD-435*||March 30, 1952|
|1110-1||Jimmy Forrest and His All Star Combo||Sophisticated Lady||United 173, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435||March 30, 1952||c. March 1954|
|1110-7||Jimmy Forrest||Sophisticated Lady||Delmark DD-775||March 30, 1952|
|1111||Robert Anderson and His Gospel Caravan||Come in the Room||United 122, Delmark DE-702 [CD], Delmark DD-775||April 18, 1952||August 1952|
|1112||Robert Anderson||O Lord Is It I||United 134, Delmark DE-702 [CD]||April 18, 1952||December 1952|
|1113 [alt.]||Robert Anderson and His Gospel Caravan||How Could It Be||Delmark DE-702 [CD]||April 18, 1952|
|1113||Robert Anderson and His Gospel Caravan||How Could It Be||United 122, Delmark DE-702 [CD]||April 18, 1952||August 1952|
|1114 [alt.]||Robert Anderson and His Gospel Caravan||He's Pleading in Glory||Delmark DE-702 [CD]||April 18, 1952|
|1114||Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan||Pleading in Glory for Me||United 134, Delmark DE-702 [CD]||April 18, 1952||December 1952|
|1115||The Caravans | Nellie G. Daniels, Ora Lee Hopkins Elyse Yancy & Albertine [sic] Walker||Think of His Goodness to You||States 103, Sharp 602, Sharp LP 2000||April 18, 1952||c. June 1952|
|1116||The Caravans | Nellie G. Daniels, Ora Lee Hopkins Elyse Yancy & Albertine Walker | Albertine Walker (Soloist)||Tell the Angels||States 103, Sharp 602, Sharp LP 2000||April 18, 1952||c. June 1952|
|Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders||Raining||States 111, Delmark DL-434||June 4, 1952||December1952|
|1201||Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders||Just Right||unissued||June 4, 1952|
|1202-2||Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders | Vocal by Jewel Belle||Lonely Monday||States 106, Official 6038, United U-114 [CD]||June 4, 1952||July 1952|
|1202-8||Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders | Vocal by Jewel Belle||Lonely Monday||Delmark DL-434, Delmark DE-554 [CD]||June 4, 1952|
|1203-1||Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders||Foolish||Delmark DL-434||June 4, 1952|
|Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders (Vocal: Jewell Belle)||Foolish||States 111, Delmark DE-554 [CD]||June 4, 1952||December 1952|
|1204-4||Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders||Cool One-Groove Two||States 106, Official 6038, Delmark DL-434||June 4, 1952||July 1952|
|1117||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||A Bit of Blues||United 124, Saxophonograph BP509, Delmark DD-455 [CD]||June 11, 1952||July 1952|
|1118||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Sunnyside of the Street||United 124, United LP 001, Delmark DD-455 [CD]||June 11, 1952||July 1952|
|1119||Tab Smith||Teddy's Brannin'||Delmark DD-455 [CD]||June 11, 1952|
|1120||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||These Foolish Things||United 140, Saxophonograph BP511, Delmark DD-455 [CD]||June 11, 1952||January 1953|
|1121-2 on 78
1121 on 45
|Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||My Mother's Eyes||United 147, Vogue V.3267, United LP 001, Delmark DD-455 [CD]||June 11, 1952||May 1953|
|1205||The Caravans||Why Should I Worry||unissued||June 1952|
|1206||The Caravans | Nellie Daniels Ora Lee Hopkins Elyse Yancy and Albertina Walker | Albertina Walker (Soloist) | Robert Anderson, Director||Stranger of Galilee||States 108||June 1952||c. November 1952|
|1207||The Caravans||My Soul Is a Witness||unissued||June 1952|
|1208||The Caravans | Nellie Daniels Ora Lee Hopkins Elyse Yancy and Albertina Walker | Albertina Walker (Soloist)| Robert Anderson, Director||Count Your Blessings||States 108||June 1952||c. November 1952|
|1122-19||Four Blazes||Night Train||United 125, P-Vine Special PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD]||July 4, 1952||August 1952|
|1123-1||Four Blazes||Rug Cutter||United 125, P-Vine Special PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD]||July 4, 1952||August 1952|
|1124||Four Blazes | L. Holt, T. Braden, F. McDaniels [sic] and W. Hill | Vocal by T. Braden||Please Send Her Back to Me||United 127, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD]||July 4, 1952
(remade August 18, 1952)
|1125 (1025 on label)||Four Blazes | L. Holt, T. Braden, F. McDaniels [sic] and W. Hill | Vocal by F. McDaniels||Stop Boogie Woogie||United 127, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD]||July 4, 1952||September 1952|
|1126||Four Blazes||Perfect Woman||Delmark DE-704 [CD]||July 4, 1952
(remade August 18, 1952)
|1128 on 78
1128-2 on 45
|Roosevelt Sykes (The Honeydripper)||Walkin' This Boogie||United 129, Negro Art [F] M-12-SB-367, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642||August 21, 1952||October 1952|
|1129-4||Roosevelt Sykes||Four O'Clock Blues||Delmark DE-642||August 21, 1952|
|1129-12||Roosevelt Sykes and The Honeydrippers||Four O'Clock Blues||United 139, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD]||August 21, 1952||January 1953|
|1130-9||Roosevelt Sykes and The Honeydrippers||To Hot to Hold [sic]
Too Hot to Hold*
Too Hot to Handle**
|United 139, Vogue [Fr] 3297*, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039*, Delmark DL-642**, Delmark DE-642 [CD]**||August 21, 1952||January 1953|
|1131-4||Roosevelt Sykes||Something like That||P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039||August 21, 1952|
|1131-9||Roosevelt Sykes||Toy Piano Blues||P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD]||August 21, 1952|
|1132 on 78
1132-2 on 45
|Roosevelt Sykes (The Honeydripper)||Security Blues||United 129, Negro Art [F] M-12-SB-367, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD]||August 21, 1952||October 1952|
|1133-2||Roosevelt Sykes||Listen to My Song (She's the One for Me)||Delmark DE-642 [CD]||August 21, 1952|
|1133-17||Roosevelt Sykes||Listen to My Song (She's the One for Me)||P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD]||August 21, 1952|
|1209-8||Cozy Eggleston and his Combo||Cozy's Boogie
|States 133, P-Vine [J] PLP-9037*, Delmark DL-438#, Delmark DD-438#||August 23, 1952||February 1954|
|1210-3||Cozy Eggleston and his Combo||Big Heavy [Blue Lites Boogie*]||States 133, P-Vine [J] PLP-9037, Delmark DL-438*, Delmark DD-438||August 23, 1952||February 1954|
|1211||Cozy Eggleston and his Combo||Willow Weep for Me
[Weep for Me*]
|Delmark DL-438*, Delmark DD-438*||August 23, 1952|
|1212||Browley Guy and the Skyscrapers||Rosalie||unissued||August 25, 1952|
|1213||Browley Guy and the Skyscrapers||Blues Train||States 107||August 25, 1952||November 1952|
|1214||Browley Guy and the Skyscrapers||You Ain't Gonna Worry Me||States 107||August 25, 1952||November 1952|
YB9093 on Mercury
|Paul Bascomb||Nona||Mercury 8299, Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431||August 25, 1952|
|1216-6||Paul Bascomb||Liza's Blues||United 192 [?], Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431||August 25, 1952|
YB9094 on Mercury
|Paul Bascomb||Mumbles Blues||Mercury 8299, Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431||August 25, 1952|
|1218-12||Paul Bascomb||Got Cool Too Soon||Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431||August 25, 1952|
|1219-2||Paul Bascomb||Indiana||Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431||August 25, 1952|
|1220-2||Paul Bascomb||I Know Just How You Feel||Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431||August 25, 1952|
|1134-2||Ray McKinstry||Dinah||United 128, Delmark DD-775||August 29, 1952||September 1952|
|1135||Ray McKinstry||Hora Staccato||United 128||August 29, 1952||September 1952|
|Ray McKinstry||Ricky Tick||unissued||August 29, 1952|
|1221||The Caravans | Nellie G. Daniels, Ora Lee Hopkins Elyse Yancy, and Albertine [sic] Walker | Ora Lee Hopkins (Soloist) | Arr. by Evelyn S. Beavers||Get Away Jordan||States 109, Gospel MG 3007||September 1952||c. November 1952|
|1222||The Caravans | Nellie G. Daniels, Ora Lee Hopkins Elyse Yancy, and Albertine [sic] Walker | Albertine Walker (soloist)||He'll Be There||States 109, Gospel MG 3007||September 1952||c. November 1952|
|1223||The Caravans | Nellie G. Daniels, Ora Lee Hopkins, Albertine [sic] Walker & Elyse Yancy | 1st Solo by: Ora Lee Hopkins | 2nd Sol by: Albertine Walker||God Is Good to Me||States 116, Gospel MG 3007||September 1952||c. April 1953|
|1224||The Caravans||What Do You Need||Gospel MG 3007||September 1952|
|1225||The Caravans | Solo - Albertina Walker||I Know the Lord Will Make a Way||States 128, Gospel MG 3007||September 1952||October 1953|
|1226||The Caravans | Nellie G. Daniels, Ora Lee Hopkins, Albertine [sic] Walker & Elyse Yancy | Albertine Walker (soloist)||Blessed Assurance||States 116, Gospel MG 3007||September 1952||c. April 1953|
|1227||The Caravans||Witness||States 140, Gospel MG 3008||September 1952||Summer 1954|
|The Caravans||All Night, All Day||Gospel MG 3008||September 1952|
|1136||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Red Hot and Blue||United 140, United LP 003, Delmark DL-429, Delmark DD-455 [CD]||September 15, 1952||January 1953|
|1137 on 78
1137-2 on 45
|Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart||United 131, Vogue [F] LD 148, Delmark DD-455 [CD]||September 15, 1952||October 1952|
|1138 on 78
1138-2 on 45
|Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||You Belong to Me||United 131, Vogue [F] LD148, Saxophonograph BP511, Delmark DD-455 [CD]||September 15, 1952||October1952|
|1139||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Ace High||United 178, Vogue [F] LD148, Delmark DL-438, Saxophonograph BP511, Delmark DD-438, Delmark DD-455 [CD]||September 15, 1952||June 1954|
|1140||Tiny Murphy and his Bar 69 Boys||Nicotine Fits||United 132, White Label LP 2819||late September 1952||December 1952|
|1141||Tiny Murphy and his Bar 69 Boys||It's All Your Fault||United 132, White Label LP 2819||late September 1952||December 1952|
|1142||Tiny Murphy||Don't You Know, Don't You Care||unissued||late September 1952|
|1143||Tiny Murphy and The Bar 69 Boys||Dangerous Ground||United 136||late September 1952||January 1953|
|1144-2-2||Tiny Murphy and The Bar 69 Boys||Hot Steel||United 136, White Label LP 2819||late September 1952||January 1953|
|Tiny Murphy||Night Train||unissued||late September 1952|
|1228-1||Paul Bascomb||Love's an Old Story||Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431||September 30, 1952|
|1229-2||Paul Bascomb||Soul and Body||Delmark DD-431||September 30, 1952|
|1229-8||Paul Bascomb||Soul and Body||States 121, Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431||September 30, 1952||c. July 1953|
|1230-2||Paul Bascomb and his All-Star Band
Paul Bascomb his tenor sax and his all star band
|September 30, 1952||December 1952
Spring or Summer 1953
|1230-9||Paul Bascomb||Coquette||Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431||September 30, 1952|
|1231||Paul Bascomb||Matilda||States 121
|September 30, 1952||c. July 1953
c. September 1955
|1232||Paul Bascomb and his All-Star Band||Got Cool Too Soon||States 110||September 30, 1952||December 1952|
|1145||Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and his Orchestra||Hello Stranger||United 133||October 7, 1952||December 1952|
|1146||Grant Jones||Thunder||unissued||October 7, 1952|
|1147-2||Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and his Orchestra||In the Dark||United 133||October 7, 1952||December 1952|
|1148||Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and Orchestra||Stormy Monday||States 114||October 7, 1952||March 1953|
|1149-1||Robert Nighthawk||Bricks in My Pillow||Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711||October 25, 1952|
|1150-9||Robert Nighthawk||You Missed a Good Man||Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711||October 25, 1952|
|1151-1||Robert Nighthawk||Maggie Campbell||Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711||October 25, 1952|
|1151-11||Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band||Maggie Campbell||States 131, Nighthawk LP 102, Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515||October 25, 1952||c. January 1954|
|1152-1||Robert Nighthawk||The Moon Is Rising||Delmark DD-711||October 25, 1952|
|1152-3||Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band||The Moon Is Rising||States 131, Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711||October 25, 1952||c. January 1954|
|1153-6||Robert Nighthawk||Seventy-Four||Delmark DD-711||October 25, 1952|
|1153-7||Robert Nighthawk||Seventy-Four||Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711, Delmark DD-775||October 25, 1952|
|1154-1||Robert Nighthawk||U/S Boogie||Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711||October 25, 1952|
|1155||Four Kings and a Queen||Wheelin' and Dealin'||unissued||October 31, 1952|
|1156||Four Kings and a Queen||Lean Pretty Baby||unissued||October 31, 1952|
|1157||Four Kings and a Queen||Grass in Your Own Backyard||unissued||October 31, 1952|
|1158||Four Kings and a Queen||Just a Fool||unissued||October 31, 1952|
|1159-6||Leo Parker and His Mad Lads||Leo's Boogie||United 141, Vogue [Fr] V.3279, Swing Time [It] ST1002||November 15, 1952||January 1953|
|1160-1||Leo Parker and His Mad Lads||Cool Leo||United 141, Vogue [Fr] V.3279, Swing Time [It] ST1002, Delmark DD-775||November 15, 1952||January 1953|
|1161-1||Leo Parker||Jam Leo||unissued||November 15, 1952|
|1162-8||Leo Parker||Hey Good Lookin'||unissued||November15, 1952|
|1233||Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys||(You're Honey but the) Bees Don't Know||States 148||November 17, 1952||c. June 1955|
|1234||Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys||Got Me on My Mind, Love Me [?]||unissued||November17, 1952|
|1235-2||Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys||Adam's Rib||States 112, Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717||November 17, 1952||January 1953|
|1236||Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys||Benny's Blues||States 112||November 17, 1952||January 1953|
|1237||Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys||Boogie||unissued||November 17, 1952|
|1238||Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys||Butler's Rock||unissued||November 17, 1952|
|1163||Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra||Just Chips||United 149, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD]||November 18, 1952||May 1953|
|1164-2 on 78
1164 on 45
|Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra||Street of Dreams||United 137, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD]||November 18, 1952||January 1953|
|1165-2 on 78; 1165 on 45||Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra||The Beat [Good Time Blues*]||United 137, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103*, Savoy SV-0242* [CD]||November 18, 1952||January 1953|
|1166||Gene Ammons his Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra||Traveling Light||United 185, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD]||November 18, 1952||c. December 1955|
|1239||Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders||If You Ever Change||unissued||November 19, 1952|
|1240||Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders||Scammon Boogie||States 120||November 19, 1952||c. July 1953|
|1241||Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders | Vocal Jewell Belle [sic]||How Can I Let You Go||States 120||November 19, 1952||c. July 1953|
|1242||Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders||I Lost My Man||unissued||November 19, 1952|
|1167-4||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||Midnight||Delmark DE-762 [CD]||November 26, 1952|
|1168-5||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||Back Alley||United 138, Vogue [Fr] V3280, Official LP 6006, Delmark DE-762 [CD]||November 26, 1952||January 1953|
|1169-6||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||Only a Fool Has Fun||Delmark DE-762 [CD]||November 26, 1952|
|1170-2||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||The Come Back||Delmark DE-762 [CD]||November 26, 1952|
|1171-1||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers (Vocal: Matt Murphy)||Cool Down Baby||Delmark DE-762 [CD]||November 26, 1952|
|1172-3||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||Shuffleboard||Delmark DE-762 [CD]||November 26, 1952|
|1173-5||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||Nat Dee Special||Delmark DE-762 [CD]||November 26, 1952|
|1174-3 (-2 on 78)||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||Living the Life I Love||United 138, Vogue [Fr] V.3280, Official LP 6006, Delmark DE-762 [CD]||November 26, 1952||January 1953|
|1243-5||Edward Gates White||Tired of Being Mistreated||Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717 [CD]||November 26, 1952|
|1244-7||Edward Gates White||Love Is a Mistake||Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717 [CD]||November 26, 1952|
|1245-4||Edward Gates White||Mother-in-Law||States 124, Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717 [CD]||November 26, 1952||July 1953|
|1246-9||Edward Gates White||Rockabye Baby||States 124, Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717 [CD]||November 26, 1952||July 1953|
|Reverend Robert Ballinger||Working the Road [Walking the Road*]||P-Vine [J] PLP-9035*, Delmark DE-702 [CD]||1952? [Balkan Studio]|
|Reverend Robert Ballinger||Going Home||unissued||1952? [Balkan Studio]|
|Reverend Robert Ballinger||Standing in the Safety Zone||Delmark DE-702||1952? [Balkan Studio]|
|Reverend Robert Ballinger||John Saw the Number||Delmark DE-702 [CD]||1952? [Balkan Studio]|
|Reverend Robert Ballinger||Drop Your Net||Delmark DE-702 [CD]||1952? [Balkan Studio]|
|Reverend Robert Ballinger||I Got to Tell It||unissued||1952? [Balkan Studio]|
|Reverend Robert Ballinger||My Soul Loves Jesus||Delmark DE-702 [CD]||1952? [Balkan Studio]|
|The Mil-Com Bo Trio||Sweet Georgia Brown||unissued||December 23, 1952|
|The Mil-Con Bo Trio||Japanese Sandman||unissued||December 23, 1952|
|The Mil-ConBo Trio||Don't Pay to Gamble||United 159||December 23, 1952||October 1953|
|The Mil-Con Bo Trio||Stompin at the Savoy||United 159||December 23, 1952||October 1953|
|||Mil-Con Bo Trio||Look Out||unissued||December 23, 1952|
|||Mil-Con Bo Trio||Coleen||unissued||December 23, 1952|
|||Mil-Con Bo Trio||Long Ago||unissued||December 23, 1952|
|||Mil-Con Bo Trio||Look Out [remake]||unissued||December 23, 1952|
|||Mil-Con Bo Trio||Goober Boogie||unissued||December 23, 1952|
|||Mil-Con Bo Trio||Do Dos Tunes [sic]||unissued||December 23, 1952|
Billy Ford and the Night Riders, who recorded on January 6, 1953, featured the same individual who later formed the duo Billy and Lillie with Lillie Bryant. Billy and Lillie's big number would be "La Dee Dah" (1958). Ford, a trumpet player and band leader, was born March 9, 1925, in Bloomfield, New Jersey. He had been active as a bandleader since the end of World War II, first recording for the New York-based Hub label in 1946. These sides were followed by four for a small label out of Newark called Coleman (probably 1948), followed by two sides for a major (Columbia, 1949) and two more for Regal (1951). The United session was the first that Ford would make in Chicago. "You Foxie Thing" on United 142 was already being talked up on Cash Box on February 14, 1953, when Lew Simpkins announced Ford's signing. Billy Ford would return to Chicago at some point in the mid-1960s, cutting a couple of tracks for the final incarnation of Mayo Wiiliams' Ebony label.
Singer Debbie Andrews was born in New Orleans, probably in 1926, but raised in Detroit. In March 1952, Duke Ellington discovered her in St. Louis and hired her for his band. After she performed "September Song" on a national radio broadcast by the Ellington band, Mercury signed her; she apparently did just one session (that produced one single) before the label dropped her. Cash Box gave "I've Lost You" on Mercury a plug in July 1952, noting that "Gal recently at Flame Show Bar with Todd Rhodes and Maurice King's orchestra" (Sam Evans, "Kickin' the Blues Around," Cash Box, July 5, 1952, p. 13). By 1953 Andrews was based in Chicago. She took part in the big celebration on January 13 for Red Saunders after 15 years as band leader at the Club DeLisa (Duke Ellington, whose band was playing the Regal Theater that week, was the honorary chairman). Andrews went right into the studio for United, making the first of her two sessions on January 15. (As was then the custom, her signing with the company was announced in Cash Box on February 14, 1953, when she had a record about to come out.) She was backed by a vocal group called the Musketeers; allowing for some creative spelling, choral director Jack Halloran was in charge. Halloran's main gig was with CBS radio, and he was active in pop music recording during this period. Anderson's first release on United rated the attention of Down Beat, which ran a review in its Rhythm and Blues section on March 25, 1953. Of Debbie Andrews, the reviewer said, "The very promising former Ellington band singer impresses strongly here, though the backing vocal group distracts from her singing." "Don't Make Me Cry" was given four stars; "Love Me, Please Love Me" got three.
Jimmy Hamilton was born in Dillon, South Carolina on May 25, 1917, and raised in Philadelphia, where his family moved when he was five years old. He started out as a brass player, but by the late 1930s was playing tenor sax and clarinet. He worked in the bands of Lucky Millinder, Jimmy Mundy, Teddy Wilson, and Eddie Heywood. In 1943 he got a call from Duke Ellington, who needed a solo clarinetist to replace Barney Bigard (Chauncey Haughton and Sax Mallard had served as temporary replacements). Hamilton would remain in the Ellington orchestra until 1968, doing the bulk of his recording with the Duke while making very occasional sessions as a leader. One of these was done in Detroit with the Emmit Slay Trio: Bob White (organ), Slay (electric guitar) and Lawrence Jackson (drums); a string bass player was brought on board for the session. Two sides were released on States 113 (one of the scarcer items on that label, reissued only on a Japanese P-Vine Special LP) and two appeared on the P-Vine, which is unusually rare in its own right. "Rockaway Special" is a medium-tempo blues featuring Hamilton's tenor sax and Slay's guitar. The relaxed "Big Fifty," on which the organ is more prominent and the guitar is replaced by a piano, intrudes on turf more often occupied by Hamilton's former bandmate Ben Webster or his future bandmate Harold Ashby. The emphasis given to his tenor playing is quite unusual (Hamilton played the saxophone in the Ellington reed section but did most of his soloing on clarinet). The actual recording date could have been a little earlier than our list implies: January 15, 1953 may be when the tapes were logged at Universal Recording for mastering.
Jimmy Hamilton would return to United on one further occasion, as the leader of a studio band backing Della Reese. (His session for States did more to advance the career of Sax Kari, the co-composer of '"Big Fifty." Kari would be featured on several of the label's Detroit-based recordings.) On leaving Duke Ellington in 1968, Hamilton moved to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, where he remained for the rest of his life, making occasional forays to the mainland to work and record with a variety of leaders. During the 1980s, he was a member of John Carter's Clarinet Summit, where he had no diffficulty fitting in with younger players such as Carter, Alvin Batiste, and David Murray. Jimmy Hamilton died on St. Croix on September 20, 1994.
The Dozier Boys recordings for United have turned out to be unexpectedly complicated. After an unsuccessful sojourn with OKeh's Chicago operation, which recorded the group in 1951 but eventually decided not to release the material because the Doziers allegedly sounded "too white," the ensemble signed with United in August 1952, when they were still a quartet of Bill Minor, Eugene Teague, Pee Wee Branford, and Cornell Wiley. A September 1952 release was announced, but then nothing happened. In fact, the group's signing was re-announced in February 1953 (Cash Box, February 14), in connection with a relese that month. Their second release followed in November of that year.
Apparently (this is Benny Cotton and Cornell Wiley's best recollection) the four-man Doziers group actually did record four sides in August 1952. BennyCotton recalls four titles in this session that had already been recorded without him when he rejoined the group. But for some reason the sides were not deemed ready for release at that time (perhaps Leonard Allen and Lew Simpkins decided that they should overdub additional instruments, particularly Tab Smith's alto sax?). So two further sessions were organized at Universal on January 15 and 22, 1953 in order to record four new items and carrying out further dubbing. By this time, Benny Cotton had been discharged from the army and the Dozier Boys had expanded to a quintet. With a session pianist whose name no one remembers, and Tab Smith overdubbed on several of the numbers, they enjoyed the richest instrumental backing they would ever get on record. The multiple sessions help to explain the nonconsecutive matrix numbers in our listing. For ease of reading we have consolidated the tracks originally recorded in August 1952 with those first laid down in January 1953.
On February 1, 1953, States recorded another jazz horn man, James R. Coe, born in Tompkinsville, Kentucky, on March 20, 1921. His family moved to Indianapolis in 1922, and except for periods on the road and service in World War II, he stayed home in Naptown for his entire career. At age 20 he was already touring with the Jay McShann band (he played baritone sax while a cat named Charlie Parker was responsible for the alto solos). Coe served in the Army from 1943 to 1945.
Coe made a Naptown appearance with Tiny Bradshaw's band in 1947 and was a regular member in 1952, also making a session for King under his own name (though King thought it more commercial to call him Jimmy "Cole"). When he signed with Leonard Allen in 1953 (the signing announced after the recording, as was then customary; Cash Box, Febuary 14, 1953), his band was billed as Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm. Coe played strictly tenor sax on his States dates (he'd been featured on alto for King). Besides Coe the band included James Palmer (piano/organ); John Wittcliffe (bass); Earl "Fox" Walker (drums), Helen Fox (vocals), and Max Bailey (vocals). Intrestingly, there are composer credits to "Cole" on both sides of States 118.
On their second and last session for States, which took place on October 17, Coe and his band were joined by Remo Biondi, who had the unique privilege of sitting in on virtually any United or States session that interested him. (It helped that he had a regular studio job for a radio network, led studio band for Decca and Chance, and expected no pay for these guest appearances.) His rhythm guitar is heard on all but the first track from this session, and on "Lady Take Two" he contributes a violin solo to the band's version of "Lady Be Good." The two Helen Fox ballads without matrix numbers are from October 17 (not the February 1 session as stated on Delmark's LP and CD releases); we know this because Biondi's rhythm guitar can be heard on both "A Fool Was I" and "How Deep Is the Ocean."
Jimmy Forrest was back for a follow-up session on February 3, 1953. By now his lineup had mutated slightly to Chauncey Locke (trumpet), Charles Fox (piano), possibly Herschel Harris (bass), Oscar Oldham (drums), and possibly Bob Reagen (congas, bongos). For some reason the company left half of this session in the can.
Allen also brought the Four Blazes back into the studio on February 3, along with unofficial fifth member Eddie Chamblee. Matrix numbers 1255 and 1256, which went unreleased until 2002, were instrumentals by Chamblee with backing by the Blazes (who were certainly capable of handling the work). "My Hat's on the Side of My Head," issued on United 146 in March 1953, got some play on R&B radio.
Uptown blues chanteuse Bixie Crawford had a few years of performing and recording under her belt by the time United waxed her on February 12, 1953. A woman of many names (according to Marv Goldberg in his entertaining "reality article" on her, she used at least seven), the singer was born Birdie Marjorie Hairston, in Guthrie Oklahoma, on August 20, 1920 (we previously gave a birth date three years too late). Her family moved to Tulsa in 1930, and in 1937 she was living with her mother in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She attended Lincoln University (Jefferson City, Missouri), where she majored in sociology. She probably minored in music, playing the cello in the string ensemble, and (so she claimed) studying the piano, the alto saxophone, and the congas. Then she moved to Fisk University in Nashville, probably to work on a Masters in sociology (which she may not have finished). Supposedly Benny Carter heard her singing at a picnic in a park one day and hired her the next. This would have been in 1945, though the exact date and location are not clear. Carter also suggested "Bixie" as a stage name, though "Harris" may have been her own idea after her parents divorced.
As Bixie Harris, she appeared with Carter's band at the Apollo in December 1945 and recorded "Patience and Fortitude" (a vocal duet with the leader) on his January 5, 1946 record date for DeLuxe (which took place in New York City). She was out of Carter's band by the end of January, appearing in the show at Club Sudan (the former Cotton Club) for a few weeks. In the spring of 1947, she joined the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra, leaving it shortly after Lunceford's sudden death in July 1947. After some solo appearances she joined the revived Lunceford band in March 1948 (now going as Birdie Harris), staying for a few months, then moving to Count Basie's for a few months. At the end of the year, she joined Louis Jordan for a brief spell; as Bixie Crawford, she appeared on an AFRS record with him that was recorded in February 1949. By April, she was out of Jordan's band and making her own session for King (again as Bixie Crawford) with Buddy Banks' combo. Supposedly she then became a schoolteacher in Los Angeles (after she rejoined the Count Basie band, there were references to her having worked as such).
In 1950 she appeared, along with "Choo Choo Trane" (Claude Trenier) on a session for RCA Victor by Gene Gilbeaux's Orchestra, then landed one of her own for Victor in 1951 with the Ernie Freeman Orchestra. Her first release with Freeman, RCA Victor 22-0119, was reviewed in Cash Box on April 28, 1951 (p. 11; she was said, at age 30, to be "coming out of retirement"). The second single to result from the session came out in July (RCA Victor 22-0135, reviewed in Cash Box on July 14, 1951, p. 13).
When Count Basie reestablished his big band in 1951, she was invited to join (probably in September) and remained with him for nearly three years.
In 1952 she appeared on one or more Count Basie big band sessions for Clef (these were recorded in New York; she cut 8 vocal sides in all but none were released on singles). Bixie Crawford was singing with the Basie band when it went on tour at the end of January 1953; the first stop was the Blue Note in Chicago, where Basie held forth from at least January 31 through February 14. The tour continued through March (according to Down Beat for March 25), then the band returned to New York where it worked the Band Box and the Apollo Theater in April.
According to her own recollection, Crawford's United session featured top musicians from the Basie band: Joe Newman (trumpet), Ernie Wilkins (alto sax), Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (tenor sax), Charlie Fowlkes (baritone sax), Gene Ramey (bass), Gus Johnson (drums); taking the Count's place was a Chicago pianist whose name she couldn't remember. Three of the titles ("I'm Still in Love with You," "Never to Cry Again," and "Fallen") had already been done for Clef.
After her United session, Crawford remained with the Basie band until July 1954. In March and April 1954, the Basie band toured Europe and there are surviving recordings of her singing with the band in Sweden and in the Netherlands. Her departure—she gave notice while the band was finishing a run in San Francisco—was, er, eventful. Bixie and Count Basie had allegedly been having an affair, a "compromising" letter or letters were discovered, Catherine Basie obtained the final say in any future choices of vocalists for the band, and their next encounter ended with Catherine Basie flinging her drink in Bixie's face. Besides, after Basie picked up Joe Williams in December 1954, he probably didn't feel a need for another female vocalist. Bixie Crawford subsequently recorded for C-Note (with Fletcher Smith, who had been in Buddy Banks' group) and Empire (with Ernie Freeman), both singles released in March 1956. In November 1957, she married James Wyatt, a civil engineer for the Los Angeles Board of Eduction. After two or three years of concentrating on teaching, Bixie Wyatt made another one-off single for a company called Indigo (released in June 1960). All of these were done in Los Angeles.
With an isolated exception (a single on Ranwood, released in 1976; one side was a remake of "I'm Still in Love with You"), Bixie Crawford Wyatt spent the rest of her working life teaching school in Los Angeles. Birdie Wyatt, as she was by then known, died in Los Angeles on August 12, 1988.
Our thanks to Chris DeVito for information about the Basie band tour dates in 1952. The late Otto Flückiger met Bixie Crawford when she appeared in Basel with the Count Basie Band in April 1954. His biographical information about the singer was partly based on her own accounts, which as it turns out left out a few things. Marv Goldberg's "reality article" Bixie Crawford is by far the best-researched source on a performer who used many names and didn't stay very long with any band except Count Basie's.
When he laid down two cuts for States on February 16, 1953, vocalist / drummer Jack Cooley was a veteran of the vibrant South Side nightclub scene, where he had worked as a waiter and a singer. He was popularly known as "Cowboy Jack" after his preference for 10-gallon hats, and some of his titles (like "Mr. Two-Gun Pete") played up the reference. He first recorded on his own for J. Mayo Williams' Chicago imprint in 1945, and worked various sessions for other artists, most notably boogie-woogie legend Albert Ammons on three sessions for Mercury in 1946. In 1947, he sang and played drums on an Israel Crosby session with uncredited accompaniment by Buster Bennett that ended up being released on Apollo. He also appeared on an October 1947 session for Hy-Tone that resulted in one extremely obscure release. In 1948 or 1949, he appeared on the tiny Square Deal label; two releases resulted. 1950, he cut two singles as a leader for his own C&G company; Lew Simpkins was involved in some way, and one for the records also appeared on the Master label. In 1951, Cooley recorded a session for Nashboro with Tommy Jones on tenor sax, resulting in two obscure singles, before taking up with the States imprint in early 1953. His very last recording would be for J. Mayo Williams' Ebony label in 1955 or 1956, when he did some overdubbing on sides by Tab Smith and others. Although Cooley's recordings were sporadic, nightclub owners and patrons obviously liked him; contract lists from Musicians Union Local 208 show that he was regularly employed on the South Side from 1944 through at least 1960.
One of the few records released by Allen's operation that proved to be a national hit was "Daughter (That's Your Red Wagon)" by the Sax Kari band with vocals by Gloria Irving. (Kari had already shown up on the label as a composer on the first Debbie Andrews session.) The Kari/Irving session was recorded in Detroit on February 23, 1953. Besides Kari on tenor sax, the band included Lester Shackleford (tenor sax), Terry Pollard (piano), Ernie Farrell (bass), and and unidentified drummer. To interviewer Dan Kochakian, Kari noted that "Gloria Irving was a Detroit girl who had a tremendous voice and she was a fast learner." Irving toured with Kari later in May, presumably off the success of the record, which in April had gone to #8 on Billboard's R&B chart. The instrumental flip side, "Down for Debbie," was reissued in 2002 in a Delmark Honkers and Bar Walkers compilation, onthe strength of Shackelford and Kari's sax soloing; it is a classic "tenor battle" number with both bebop and R&B components. (The credits to the CD unfortunately claim that Kari played guitar on the session and that Dezie McCullers played trumpet. As Bob Porter mentions in his liner notes, neither instrument is present, but there is a second tenor sax. Porter thinks that Shackleford is the darker-toned tenorist who takes the first solo.)
Sax Kari (who despite his nickname also played guitar) was born Isaac Saxton Kari Toombs on February 6, 1920, in Chicago. He was raised in New Orleans, and went to high school in Gary, Indiana. He formed his first combo while in his late teens to play in clubs in Calumet City, Illinois, and during the 1940s toured the South. At one point he inherited the musicians from the famed Carolina Cotton Pickers, and recorded with them in New York on Apollo. He also played in a variety of big bands, notably those of Coleman Hawkins and Tiny Bradshaw. He was also in the house band at the Rhumboogie Café in Chicago (probably in 1946-1947, when Floyd Campbell led it). In the late 1940s he became one of the Hi De Ho Boys at the Club DeLisa, working alongside Lefty Bates. In the early 1950s he shifted his base of operations to Detroit.
Tiny Murphy's second and last session for United took place on February 23. His eclectic repertoire included some light classics on this occasion, which eventually led to his third and last single for United. As often happened with United releases, Murphy's last (United 169) is by far the hardest to find today. In 1956, Murphy would release a single on Ronel, another indie operation in Chicago. He was based in Chicago until the early 1970s. Murphy was still performing regularly in 1992, when he told a writer for the Southern Illinoisan that he had been performing in public for 58 years.
On Feburary 24, 1953 United recorded an alumnus from the 1952 Tommy Dean sessions—alto sax player Chris Woods. Born on December 25, 1925 in Memphis, Woods relocated to St. Louis after service in the armed forces. He worked with the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra and George Hudson; starting in 1947 Woods was a sideman for St. Louis-based pianist Tommy Dean, but this group broke up after Dean's second session for States in November of 1952. Woods had made a name for himself in St. Louis and decided to go off on his own, taking Dean's bassist and drummer with him. In fact, he took over what had been Dean's regular gig at the Twentieth Century club.
Chris Woods made his own session for United on February 24, 1953. Reportedly Lew Simpkins heard his band on a trip through St. Louis, then, after a long delay, summoned the group to a recording session with three days' notice. The lineup was Arthur "Pete" Redford (trombone), David Wright (baritone sax), and Charles Fox (piano), plus Tommy Dean's former rhythm players Eugene Thomas (bass) and Pee Wee Jernigan (drums). Tom Lord's Jazz Discography indicates that one "Gene" Wright was responsible, but this was a confusion of David Wright with the better known bass player. Yves François Smierciak recalls Pete Redford and David Wright visiting the Jazz Record Mart around 1980, when he obtained their autographs . "Brazil," a bebop number with a Latin rhythm, was released on United 151, which was reviewed in Billboard on July 4, 1953 (p. 46). It sold locally in St. Louis and was featured in Woods' publicity for some time. Woods managed to work in some serious bebopping between the R&B ensembles; we hope this wasn't a discouragement factor to Leonard Allen, who put out just one single on Woods.
Woods' St. Louis group broke up in 1955, when he turned to bus driving to make a living. After some years of part-time work in the St. Louis area, he moved to New York in 1962. He would develop an extensive recording career during the 1960s and 1970s, while living in New York, Paris, and Los Angeles; in his later years he also played the flute. He recorded with Les DeMerle, Ernie Wilkins, Clark Terry, Ted Curson, Sy Oliver, Charles Williams, and Dizzy Gillespie, and was also a member of the Buddy Rich Orchestra. He recorded four albums as a leader during his Paris period (for Futura, Black & Blue, Modern Jazz Records, and Promophone, between 1973 and 1976). His final recording as a leader was Modus Operandi (Delmark 437), a 1978 recording made in New York. In 1983 he was a member of the last Count Basie band. He died in New York City on July 4, 1985. A skilled bebopper who could rip out lightning-fast runs while swinging ferociously, Woods was always welcome with bandleaders but has never gotten full credit for his jazz work.
On March 19, 1953, Roosevelt Sykes returned to Universal Recording for his third and last United session. On this occasion he brought J. T. Brown on tenor sax, Big Crawford on bass, up-and-coming blues drummer Fred Below, and a guitarist who remains unidentified. Of the six numbers, just two were selected for release; "Come Back Baby" b/w "Tell Me True" appeared on United 152. "Come Back Baby," a variant of "Wee Wee Baby," features group vocalizing, and Brown lays out; "Tell Me True" is a ballad with more restrained playing than was typical of the tenorist. (We can understand why Allen passed on Sykes' remake of "44 Blues," the very first number he ever recorded. The pianist had grown pretty tired of the piece in the years since 1929; on this rendition members of the band cut in with choral responses of calculated silliness.) Afterwards Leonard Allen seems to have lost interest in Sykes, despite the top quality nearly everything the pianist laid down for him. It appears that Sykes' variety of blues was increasingly seen as dated by Chicago club patrons. Again, significant tracks from this session had to wait for P-Vine (1982) and Delmark (1987) LPs. Roosevelt Sykes moved to New Orleans in 1954 and continued to record extensively; he would be responsible for several LPs on Delmark, among other labels.
Blues vocalist and pianist Eddie Ware recorded two sessions for Chess Records during 1951 and 1952 without producing anything that would sell. Simpkins did not have much luck either with his session on Ware, which took place after the Sykes outing on March 19. Ware was doing some business in the lower-end blues clubs, playing as "Eddie 'Lima Bean' Ware" at the New Club Plantation (328 East 31st) and the Harmonia Lounge (3000 Indiana), for example. There were good musicians in support on the Ware-composed session—namely J. T. Brown's wailing tenor sax, Big Crawford's bass, and Fred Below's swinging drums—but the infectious boogie-beat number "The Stuff I Like," featuring Ware's spirited keyboard work, garnered no interest. Neither did "Lonely Broken Heart," with outstanding ballad work by Ernest Cotton.
On March 31, on the strength of his hit, Sax Kari recorded a second session, now featuring vocals by Gloria Irving on all four sides. But the company failed to catch more lightning in a bottle; despite two strong performances, States 117 did not make the charts. During the 1950s Kari was based mainly in Detroit, and both of his sessions for States were done in the Motor City, according to the discography on Kari published in Blues & Rhythm, September 2001. Other Kari sessions during the decade were for Avenue (in Detroit, 1952 or so), Great Lakes (Detroit, 1954), Chess and Checker (two sessions in Chicago, 1954), Spotlight (Detroit, c. 1955-56), Chess again (unknown locale, 1956), and JOB (Chicago, 1959).
Gloria Irving made just one other session that we know of, in Chicago for Cobra in 1957. She was accompanied on that occasion by a studio band assembled by Willie Dixon.
On April 15, Gene Ammonsreturned to the studio with the same combo he'd used in November 1952. Oddly, though, only one track was completed, a version of his signature number "Red Top." Maybe somebody showed up late?
Discographers have generally assumed that Jug used the same lineup as on his November 1952 session. However, a little over a month after laying down this one track, Ammons was arrested in Columbus, Ohio, after narcotics officers allegedly caught him dropping a home-made syringe on the floor of his car; his manager, Richard Carpenter, and the remaining members of his band were also held by the police. As noted Jet magazine (May 28, 1953, p. 53; our thanks to Nikolaus Schweizer for the reference), his sidemen on that road trip were Willie F. Wells (trumpet); Eutrice "Prince" Shell (valve trombone); Eugene Easton (baritone sax); John C. Huston (as Jet spelled it; piano); John W. Wright (bass); and George H. Brown (drums). Obviously, Gene Easton (who up through the end of 1952 had been a member of the Tommy Dean band) would be easy to confuse with the unrelated Mac Easton. As Allan Chase put it (post on the Saturn listserv, August 15, 1995), Shell "became disillusioned with the road after Ammons had a run-in with police."
In June the Ammons combo returned to cut four more tracks. The ballad "Stairway to the Stars" appeared on one side of United 164, with a lot of studio reverb applied. The other side, a blues, was titled "Jim Dog" on the original labels, but has been rendered "Jim Dawgs" ever since. "Jim Dog" was credited to an Easton, presumably Mac. On "Big Slam," a 7-minute marathon originally trimmed to 5 minutes and released on two sides of a 78, Mac Easton was persuaded to give up his native horn and pick up the tenor sax so he and Ammons could wage the de rigueur tenor battle. Mac was at a major disadvantage (he can't open up his tone on the tenor, and sounds uncharacteristically stiff), so the results can't be compared with the legendary Ammons-Stitt or Ammons-Archia contests.
At least, we've assumed it was Mac Easton. However, the session took place not long after Jug and combo's ill-fated trip to Columbus. And Gene Easton kept working with him for a while; Jug would get busted again in July 1954, shortly after starting a gig at the Powelton Bar in Baltimore, and Gene Easton, who was arrested along with him, was released after testing negative for opiates (Baltimore Afro-American, July 24, 1954, p. 9; again, we thank Nikolaus Schweizer for turning up this item). We suspect the lineup on this date was similar to the personnel on the Columbus gig, though perhaps Prince Shell had made his exit by this time (in his conversations with Allan Chase, he did not recall recording with Jug). However, Gene Easton would have been more comfortable on the tenor sax than the second tenorist sounds on "Big Slam."
United sought to release its Ammons material promptly, expecting decent sales. We'd given January 1954 as the month of release for United 164, but as Charles Edward Rogers recently pointed out to us, the single was being promoted in Billboard in November 1953. The company must have regretted Ammons' decision to return to the East Coast and renew his relationship with Prestige Records, where he would remain for the rest of his life. (If the identifications are accurate, Ammons remembered Mac Easton from his United sessions and brought him to New Jersey for his first two studio visits under the new contract, in November 1954 and Feburary 1955.) After United foundered, the three Gene Ammons sessions in its inventory would be snapped up by Savoy, which needed material to fill out an LP on him.
Despite heroin addiction and a major toll in prison time under draconian drug laws (he was behind bars from 1962 to 1969), Gene Ammons became a standard-bearer for soul jazz. The combo that he led after being released from prison for the second time (1969-1970) included his one-time employer King Kolax. Gene Ammons died of cancer in Chicago on August 6, 1974.
Tab Smith had been away for several months when he cut 7 tunes at his sixth session, on April 23, 1953; he used the lineup of Woods, Wright, probably Dillon, Middlebrooks, and Johnson. "Seven Up" is a pure bop vehicle for the Velvet Tenor: bop soloing and bop riffing, except for the one that the piece fades out on. (United messed up the label, crediting this number to the Fabulous Alto.) By this point in his development, Tab Smith had listened carefully to Charlie Parker and borrowed what appealed to him, but saw no need for revisionism in his approach to ballads (he never played tenor sax on them, either). Indeed, on "Cherry" he reproclaims his allegiance to Johnny Hodges. "Closin' Time" is another tenor sax vehicle, but now on the Lester Young model; it concludes with a duet for tenor and drums, discreetly egged on vocally by other members of the band. So far as we know, Tab Smith never shared a stage with Tom Archia; too bad, as they could have had fun with this one.
A smooth baritone vocalist named Johnny Harper sang a duet with Smith on "I've Had the Blues All Day" (which was released). This was a remake of a number Smith had done (in a vocal duet with Riff Washington, featuring an early turn by the Velvet Tenor) as "Believe Me When I Tell You" (Harlem 1022, recorded in August 1945). Complementing the extremely urbane vocalizing on this uptempo blues was a hot solo, full of bop licks, on the Velvet Tenor, and a surprise bop trumpet solo by Irving Woods. Harper also appeared solo on a rather morose rendition of "Pennies from Heaven" (which wasn't released, and has sustained a few flecks of tape damage over the years); Tab's alto statement partly redeems it. (The Delmark CD reissue confuses Harper with Lou Blackwell, who had appeared on Tab's second session back in October 1951.) "I Live True to You," a new, decently written lounge ballad, is vehicle for the leader's crooning. It wasn't released, but another lounge ballad called "My Baby" did reach the store shelves, making it the last Tab Smith vocal that Leonard Allen would put out.
Tasso the Great was a proto-soul singer; "My Sympathy" is a musical cousin of "I'm Not Your Fool Anymore," which Walter Spriggs would cut for Blue Lake in 1954. "Ebony at Midnight" is a rather slick blues instrumental featuring a pretty good pianist, who we assume was Tasso himself. Tasso and band were responsible for two sides cut in late April 1953. United 150 was reviewed in Billboard on May 30, 1953 (p. 48). Besides the leader on piano the other pieces were alto sax, tenor sax (no solos from either), bass, and drums. The composer credits on both sides went to someone named Zachary. Dave Penny identified him as the same individual who put out an obscure release on Rosemay 605 at some point in the early 1950s; it included a jump number called "Louisville, KY," credited to Tasso Zachary & His Orch. (There was no connection between "our" Tasso and one H. C. Cain, who recorded some Latin music for the Kain label out of Mobile, Alabama, as "Tasso (The Great) Kain and His Big Orch.").
After United went under, Bud Brandom would see enough commercial potential in the Tasso single to reissue it on his B&F label.
Debbie Andrews got her second opportunity on May 11, 1953, when she sang on four more sides for United. Remo Biondi (getting paid this time) helped out as arranger and conductor. The three sides that we have heard feature orchestral arrangements (for English horn and two clarinets, strings, guitar, and bass; on "When Your Lover Has Gone" an alto flute is the only wind, and a celeste is added) that venture beyond the usual pop trimmings of the day, and first-rate singing influenced by Ella Fitzgerald. It is a shame that Andrews' career apparently went no further than this session. The gloomy-Sunday number "Please Wait for Me" was written by Sax Kari.
The reissue of "Please Wait for Me" (on a 2004 Delmark CD of female vocalists who recorded for United and Regal) gives the matrix number as 1312—but the original release on United 154 says 1315, and the numbers in the vinyl match the numbers on the label.
Later in May the Caravans returned for another gospel session (their fourth for States).
On June 8, the company, which would have had to be blind not to notice the success Chess was enjoying with Little Walter Jacobs, decided to record its own down-home blues harpist. Amos Wells Blakemore, Jr. was born in Memphis on December 9, 1934. After taking harmonica lessons from Junior Parker, who lived across the street, Junior Wells came to Chicago with his mother in 1947. Junior's squalling harmonica blowing and gritty, spunky blues singing epitomized Chicago bar band blues. After a youthful apprenticeship in the Aces and then the Muddy Waters band (when Little Walter went out on his own he took over the Aces, while Junior moved into his chair in Muddy's band, appearing on one of Muddy's sessions for Chess), he was ready to make his first sides as a leader for the States subsidiary. On a 6-tune session, Wells was accompanied by the crème de la crème of Chicago blues musicians: Johnnie Jones on piano, Elmore James, Louis Myers, and David Myers on guitars, Willie Dixon on bass, and Odie Payne in the drum chair.
The first release from the session, States 122, came out in August 1953 with "Cut That Out" and an instrumental titled "Eagle Rock." The company waited a while on States 134, "Somebody Hoodooed the Hoodoo Man" and a second instrumental, "Junior's Wail"; by the time 134 hit the shelves, it was April 1954 and Wells was in the studio for his second session. "Tomorrow Night" was saved for his final single, States 143.
When both of Junior Wells' sessions for States were released, in close to their entirety, on LP in 1977 (Blues Hit Big Town, Delmark DL 640), for some reason the notes claimed that this session had been shared between Fred Below and Odie Payne, Jr.: three tracks each. Although we previously made the same claim on this page, it never did made a whole of lot of sense. Especially when we consider how Payne worked regularly with two of the senior figures on the session, Elmore James and Johnnie Jones. The verdict of knowledgeable listeners is that the drumming is Odie Payne all the way, using brushes all the way (our thanks to Steve Franz and Scott Dirks for raising and resolving this issue).
The result was some truly classic sides, most outstandingly Wells' first performance of "Somebody Hoodooed the Hoodoo Man," which features as an added attraction ringing slide work by Elmore James. (The labels on the initial issue spelled it "Hodo Man." The white-label DJ copies also give the title as "Hodo Man." Later pressings corrected it to "Somebody Hoodooed the Hoodoo Man"). Contemporary listeners may have to remind themselves that Junior was only 18 when the session was cut.
Cliff Butler brought The Doves up from Louisville again to back him on his second and last session for States, which took place on June 29. Although the tenor saxophonist may have been Dick Davis this time around, Butler once again used Red Saunders on drums and Jimmy Richardson on bass, along with Benny Holton at the piano. Butler made further recordings for Dot in 1953 (in Nashville) and around 1956 recorded a single for the Chicago-based Favorite label. Back in Nashville, he recorded for Nashboro (on the Nasco and Excello imprints) during 1957-58, ifollowed by a variety of one-off recordings for such labels as Zil, Nu-Sound, and Kit. Butler during the 1960s gravitated to gospel music and the ministry, and eventually headed his own church. He died in Louisville, on January 13, 1982.
For biographical and discographical information on Butler we drew from Keith S. Clements, "The Cliff Butler Story," Blues & Rhythm: The Gospel Truth 195 (December 2004), plus a sidebar in the same issue with discographical notes from Dan Kochakian and Bob Eagle.
Leonard Allen contended that Memphis Slim only started selling for the company when he recorded the second, released version of "The Come Back" at his session of June 29, 1953. Maybe it just took record buyers a while to notice Slim's presence at United; artistically the blues veteran performed at a consistently high level throughout his association with the label. At his second session for United Slim carried a lineup of Jim Conley and Neal Green (tenor saxes), Matt Murphy (guitar), Curtis Mosely (bass), and Otho Allen (drums). Conley was the featured soloist on "The Cat Creeps," which may have been left on the shelf on account of its close relationship to "Night Train." It is hard to believe that this session was almost entirely passed over by reissue programs until the 2002 release of Delmark DE-762. (In our opinion, Slim did his very best work for Chicago indies: Hy-Tone, Miracle, Premium, and United—and the United sides have the best sonics of all.)
On June 30, 1953, Duke Ellington's band was in Chicago, cutting four sides for Capitol at Universal Recording. Leonard Allen took advantage by booking time the same day and using Jimmy Hamilton, who had recorded for him back in January, as leader of a studio band to accompany a rising vocalist named Della Reese. In fact, this session was her recording debut.
The singer, whose full name was Delloreese Taliafaro, had previously performed at the Flame Lounge in Detroit. She came to Allen's attention while she was working the Idlewild resort on the opposite shore of Lake Michigan. Hamilton used some of the Duke's men and some of Red Saunders' musicians for the date. The personnel apparently consisted of Cat Anderson and Clark Terry (trumpets), Quentin Jackson (trombone—he is not mentioned on the Delmark releases but is clearly audible on the vocal sides, with and without plunger mute), Porter Kilbert (alto sax), Jimmy Hamilton (tenor sax and clarinet), Earl Washington (piano), and unidentified bass and drums. Hamilton, by the way, plays hardly any clarinet on the vocal numbers, just managing to sneak it into the tag on "Yes Indeed."
The two instrumental sides first appeared in the 1970s, when they were used to fill out a Delmark big band LP that mostly consisted of tracks that Ernie Fields and Cab Calloway had recorded for Regal.
Leonard Allen never released any of the vocal sides—this has to be one of the bigger missed opportunities during his company's history. Instead, as we have just learned in 2013, Sax Kari put them out on Great Lakes 1203. Whether Kari was supposed to get the sides initially, or released them only after Allen decided to pass on them, we don't know. But the Great Lakes 78 was mastered in Chciago and carries the matrix numbers from Universal Recording. In his liners to a recent CD collection of female vocalists who recorded for United and Regal, Bob Koester complained that "Yes Indeed" and "Blue and Orange Birds" "somehow got out the side door at United and appeared on a dollar LP," which he didn't care to name. We haven't located the LP, but if there was one, it was derived from the Great Lakes release, of which Koester seems unaware. At last, in 2004, all three vocal sides were made available on a Delmark CD. The bop-flavored "Blue and Orange Birds and Silver Bells" (a song that Della Reese has said she couldn't stand, although you would never know that from her performance on it) is another Sax Kari composition. Or so we have been told on the Delmark reissues; on the Great Lakes label, it is credited to Roswick and Hunt. The publication credit, however, goes to Kencee, which was Kari's house music company.
Nelda Dupuy was born June 3, 1916 in New Orleans and raised in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Her mother, Delphine Jones, "taught me to play the classics on the piano. She played operas and sang, but I wasn't into that at all" (Dan Kochakian and Steve Gronda, "The Nelda Dupuy Story," Blues & Rhythm 256, January 2011, p. 12). Nelda wanted to play jazz. After graduating from Southern University, she moved to Chicago in 1937.
One of her first gigs was playing piano and singing at the Capitol Cocktail Lounge, next to the Chicago Theater. In 1941, she sang with a band led by trumpeter Walter Fuller; other band members were Omer Simeon (clarinet and alto sax), Rozelle Claxton (piano), Quinn Wilson (bass), and Joe Marshall, later replaced by Wilbert "Buddy" Smith (drums). In 1941, the band had a long engagement at Kelly's Stables in New York. When the gig ended, the band returned to Chicago and she stayed in New York for a while, playing and singing at Kelly's Stables and the Queens Terrace.
Returning to Chicago, she joined (more likely, rejoined) Local 208 in October 1942. Her 2-week contract with the 1111 Club was accepted and filed by Local 208 on October 15, 1942 (although the recording secretary spelled her last name "Dupree"); on November 5, her contract for 9 weeks at the 2530 Club was posted. She must have been a hit there because she signed another contract for 5 months that was posted on May 6, 1943. On October 5, 1944, she posted a 2-week contract with the Elbow Room. On April 19, 1945, she filed a 1-week contract at Silver Frolics (and finally got her last name spelled right). Dupuy continued to work regularly in Chicago.
In 1945, she married fellow pianist Jesse Purnell. After their son Ronnie died of cancer (in 1948 at the age of 2), Purnell's drinking worsened and they were divorced around 1951. "I left Jesse," she told Dan Kochakian, "because I couldn't live with no liquorhead" (p. 15).
By the time she recorded for Leonard Allen, on July 9, 1953, she had been performing in Chicago for 15 years, usually as a solo act. Allen recorded Dupuy because she was a friend (not his girlfriend, as has been previously reported). She lived next door to him for a number of years. The session was done at Boulevard Studio, and, related Allen, "We didn't put them out for sale. She just wanted some records to give to people where she played. She got the masters, because she paid for all of it." Contrary to his later recollection, Allen did put some promotion behind his friend. The Defender ran rare United promos on August 13 and 20, 1953, hailing the release of her disc of two original tunes, "Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself" and "Riding with the Blues." Billboard's "Rhythm and Blues Tattler" (a short paid column written by Dave Clark) had already mentioned the release in the August 1, 1953 issue (p. 38). And on August 22, Billboard reviewed the single (p. 46), albeit tepidly.
When the recording was done, Dupuy was probably playing the Character Club (indefinite contract accepted and filed on June 4). When the promos ran, "Nalda" Dupuy was working the Vanity Lounge; her indefinite contract, for a run that started August 12, was posted by Local 208 on August 20, 1953.
Dupuy stayed on the scene for many years after her one session for United. In the mid-1950s she enjoyed a long run in the Sirloin Lounge of the Stock Yard Inn. In June 1956, she was working Chez Paree (indefinite contract posted on June 7), and in September of that year she could be found at the Hucksters Club (2-week contract accepted and filed on September 6) and the Patio (indefinite contract posted on September 20). She would remain at the Patio for 10 years.
Nelda Dupuy's only other recording would be an extremely obscure LP that she made for JOB,in 1958, when United had closed it doors and Leonard Allen was in a temporary alliance with Joe Brown. She never played package shows or did much touring, but held down gigs in Chicago until 1996, when she decided to retire after a run at the Essex Hotel. Retaining her union membership, she received a 60 year certificate from the Chicago Federation of Musicians in 2002. When interviewed by Dan Kochakian, she was still living in Chicago at the age of 94.
Guitarist Ikey "Ike" Perkins was born Ellsworth Perkins June 30, 1912, in St. Louis, and joined Local 208 in Chicago on April 4, 1940. At the time of this session he was leading a combo that played such clubs as the Majestic Lounge (4710 South Indiana), Strand Show Lounge (6325 South Cottage Grove), Avenue Lounge (64th and South Parkway), and the A&B Lounge (6310 South Cottage Grove). Rarely a headliner on recordings, he had been active in session work since 1946 (when he accompanied Big Joe Turner as a member of a Red Saunders combo). Perkins was still active in the music business into the early 1960s, but by time of his death (March 29, 1966) he was working as a mail clerk with an insurance company.
The Hornets became famous in the 1980s for just one thing—singing on the most expensive vocal group collectible of all time. This was "I Can't Believe" b/w "Lonesome Baby" on States 127, the only record the group ever made. In 1988 three copies of their single surfaced on 45, and a copy was sold by a collector to a more well-heeled collector for the astronomical sum of $18,000. Or it may have been that two copies were sold to the same collector for $9,000 each, no one knows for sure. The rarity is certainly indicative of how many records Allen pressed up. States 127 is still rare on 78, though not nearly so much as on 45—and the surviving 78s appear to be white-label DJ copies.
The Hornets got together around 1951 at Cleveland Central High. Members were James "Sonny" Long (lead), Johnny Moore (tenor), Ben Iverson (baritone), and Gus Miller (bass). Their break, such as it was, came when an owner of a skating rink in Cleveland heard their performance and then took them to Chicago to United Records. The group recorded five sides at their one session, on August 12, 1953. Two of them—"Lonesome Baby," a driving jump tune, and "I Can't Believe," an Atlantic Records-style ballad—were released in November. The record did nothing and perhaps that is why Allen chose not to record the Hornets again.
Their other three other songs—"Big City Bounce" (which probably was supposed to be titled "Big City Bound"), a jump with a nice bass lead by Gus Miller, "You Played the Game," a fine slow understated ballad, and "Reelin' and Rockin'," a rousing swinging jump—might have done something if released. But they did not come out till 1981, when all surviving Hornets tracks were included in a Japanese LP, along with material from the three sessions by Five C's.
Despite a tour of the Midwest, nothing much was happening for the Hornets, so when the Drifters asked Johnny Moore to join them he leaped at the opportunity, around Thanksgiving of 1954. His departure finished off the Hornets. Moore went on to become a mainstay in the legendary Drifters for some thirty years.
The Four Blazes were back for their fourth session on August 17, 1953; again, Eddie Chamblee was on hand as a guest. The emphasis on Tommy Braden's lead vocals was now set, though "All Night Long" is an exuberant Latin number with an ensemble vocal. "Air Mail Special" (which sat unreleased until 2002) is the Swing number originated by Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian; Eddie Chamblee is joined by the Blazes and, in Benny's honor, an unidentified clarinetist; Floyd McDaniel, using his best Charlie Christian manner, is a featured soloist on guitar.
After the Four Blazes finished work for the day, tenor sax man Eddie Chamblee completed the date with the group that had been his regular combo since 1951: John Young at the piano, Walter Scott on guitar, Ernie Shepard on bass, and Osie Johnson on drums. Leonard Allen put out just 4 sides on tenor sax man Chamblee, though he recorded a total of 10.
Edwin Leon Chamblee was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 24, 1920. He was brought up in Chicago, where he attended Wendell Phillips High and studied law at Chicago State University. From 1941 to 1946 he worked as a musician in Army bands; after his discharge he put together his own combo. His first notable work was on the Miracle label, particularly on the huge hit "Long Gone" by Sonny Thompson, which recorded for 1947. After Chamblee went out on his own in 1948, his records for Miracle and Premium sold well, and Lew Simpkins no doubt remembered him. (Chamblee also made an isolated session as a leader in January 1952 for Coral, a subsidiary of Decca; it used the same band as on this United session, with the addition of several horns.)
On August 31, Allen traveled to Detroit and recorded two female vocalists at the United Sound Studio: Helen Thompson and Terry Timmons. Thompson, who was from Atlanta, had earlier sung with Count Basie. Allen had high praise for "Going Down to Big Mary's." (We don't know who accompanied Thompson and Timmons, but the "M. King" who got half the composer credit for "All by Myself" was Maurice King, an established bandleader in Detroit.) Both tunes on Helen Thompson's second and last release, on States 138, were credited to her.
A story in the Defender for September 17, 1953 reports on Timmons coming to Chicago's South Side to play at the Club Bagdad. Allowing for some schedule slippage before the press release appeared, the story refers to the August 31 recording session: "She recorded a session in Detroit last week for United Records. Included in the session was the Maurice King-Dave Clark tune, "My Last Cry," which looms to be a rhythm and blues hit." A&R man Dave Clark is the prime suspect as far as authorship is concerned. Also on the bill at the Club Bagdad were the Four Blazes. The release made sure to mention that they too were a United Recording act, their latest release being "The Perfect Woman."
About recording Terry Timmons, Leonard Allen said, "she could sing her can off." Timmons was born Teresa Walker in Cleveland, Ohio on April 12, 1927, and began singing while in high school. Her first professional experience was with the widely touring Paul Gayten, whose home base was New Orleans. Prior to recording for United, she appeared on Premium (which cut her first session in 1950), Mercury, and RCA Victor. By the time she signed with States, her career was already past its peak. She had been overshadowed by Dinah Washington, and RCA had dropped her from its roster after disappointing sales.
The last Jimmy Forrest session took place on September 7, 1953. Just two sides were cut, apparently in Saint Louis (supporting evidence: the sonics aren't up to Universal Recording's standards). The personnel isn't 100% clear here but appears to include Bart Dabney on trombone, Charles Fox on piano, Johnny Mixon on bass (some sources say Herschel Harris), and an unidentified drummer and percussionist. A "Night Train" derivative called "Flight 3-D" was released; another bebop outing, "Calling Dr. Jazz," was left in the box. United was about to lose Jimmy Forrest's services.
The saxophonist's heroin habit had caught up with him. In November, Jet reported that he had pled guilty to selling narcotics and been sentenced to two years in jail. By the time Forrest got out, United was in its final decline and not in a position to re-sign him.
Jimmy Forrest did very little recording over the next five years. He and his combo cut a single for Dot (said to be from 1954, but this is questionable) , and a single for Triumph around 1956 (some sources say the Triumph was made in Chicago). Both companies wanted him to recycle "Night Train"—on the Dot it was recast as a mambo. Forrest's career didn't recover till he moved to New York City in the late 1950s. From 1958 to 1963 his regular gig was in Harry Edison's group.
In December 1959, Forrest recorded two LPs worth of material for Bob Koester's Delmark label, which had recently moved to Chicago from St. Louis. The sessions included Harold Mabern on piano, Gene Ramey on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums; guitarist Grant Green also appeared on some of the tracks. From 1960 to 1962 Forrest recorded five LPs as a leader for Prestige. But two heart attacks would sideline him during the second half of the decade. From 1972 to 1977 he was a member of the Count Basie band, where he replaced Lockjaw Davis; in 1977 he left Basie to work in a combo with trombonist Al Grey. Jimmy Forrest recorded his last album as a leader in 1978 and died in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on August 26, 1980.
The Staple Singers—Roebuck ("Pop") Staples, Pervis, Cleo, and Mavis Staples—were not a big act when they were with Allen, who first recorded them in September 1953. The company saw fit to release only two sides by the group, in 1954. Leonard Allen could not see their potential, making no real use of Roebuck's magnificent blues guitar accompaniment. Surely the Staple Singers represent the biggest of United's missed opportunities. After moving on to Vee-Jay, they became one of the most famous acts in gospel music. After their success with Vee-Jay, Herman Lubinsky of Savoy snapped up their United tracks; those previously unissued first saw release on an LP on his Gospel label.
For his second and last session for States, which took place on October 17, Jimmy Coe used the same lineup as on February 1, with the addition of superguest Remo Biondi on rhythm guitar and violin (Biondi is a featured soloist on "Lady Take Two"). The LP that Delmark eventually assembled from Coe's sessions is one of the high points in the United/States legacy; it seamlessly blends excellent jazz with humorous novelty R&B. (On "Raid on the After Hours Joint" Leonard Allen takes a cameo role as a policeman.)
Jimmy Coe recorded only sporadically after his year with States. He spent many years teaching music in the Indianapolis public schools, during which time he remained attentive to changes in jazz and R&B and continued to play on the side. He began working with his 17-piece big band around 1965. He recorded as a leader in 1987 and 1993 for the Time label, and appeared on CDs by drummer Jack Gilfoy and guitarist Paul Weeden (each recorded and issued in 2000). He undertook his first tour of Europe in 2002—when he was over 80. Jimmy Coe died in Indianapolis on February 26, 2004.
Blues pianist T. J. Fowler was born 18 September 1910 in Columbus, Georgia. He was a Detroit-based musician, who prior to hooking up at States, recorded in Detroit for Paradise and Sensation during 1948-49 (some of the Sensation material was unloaded to National and eventually landed with Savoy). He also recorded for Savoy in 1952.
Fowler brought his own group for the States session, which took place on November 10. Billed as "The Band That Rocks the Blues," it consisted of Detroit musicians Frank Taylor (vocals and alto sax), Dezi McCullers (trumpet), Walter Cox (tenor sax), Eugene Taylor (bass), and Floyd "Bubbles" McVay (drums). "What's the Matter Now" featured Frank Taylor's vocal; the other material that we have been able to hear was instrumental. A previously unissued item from the Fowler session, "Take Off," appeared in 2002 on a Delmark collection titled Honkers and Bar Walkers Volume 3, on the strength of Walter Cox's tenor sax solo.
Back home in Detroit, on December 21, 1953 Fowler and a somewhat different lineup (still featuring Walter Cox on tenor sax) backed T-Bone Walker on four sides for Imperial. Fowler would record just one more session as a leader after laying down the States sides, for Bow in 1958 (Fred Mendelsohn, formerly of Regal and later with Savoy, picked it up from a local producer in Detroit while he was running the Bow and Arrow labels).
On November 17, Tab Smith was back to cut six more sides with Irving Woods (trumpet), Charlie Wright and Robert Darby (tenor and baritone saxes), Teddy Brannon (piano), Wilfred Middlebrooks (bass), and Walter Johnson (drums). "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," a heartfelt tribute to Tab's idol that would make any Ellingtonian proud, wouldn't see issue for 44 years. "Imagination" and "Don't Take Your Love from Me" are two more great slow-dancing ballads, although Teddy Brannon's piano solo on the latter is strictly cocktail. Tab was trying out singers on this occasion. "I'm a Bouncing Mama" features an excellent female vocalist (and a Lestorian alto solo) on an updated version of Count Basie's "Boogie Woogie." It's too bad the combo didn't record more numbers like this. The same singer turns in a good rendition of the old sentimental ballad "For Only You," joined by Tab himself on the final A section, and does nicely with "They Call Me a Fool," a more contemporary sentimental ballad.
A second Terry Timmons session, done on November 30 in Chicago, was left in the can. Allen explained that Al Smith was carrying on a relationship with Timmons, and insisted on playing bass on the session. Allen wanted veteran Ransom Knowling, but said Allen, "I know Al can't play no bass. So he screwed up the goddam session with the girl, and I ain't got enough spunk to tell him to get off and let Ransom get on." While Al lacked distinction on his instrument, which a host of musical witnesses have said he did not know how to tune, there are plenty of released tracks from other sessions that he managed not to drag down. The two tracks that are finally available on CD reveal a band that is too recessed in the studio, with a dull, thudding bassist, but the singer is in excellent voice, the songs are right for her, and the results are quite listenable. The lineup seems to be Harold Ashby, tenor sax; Mac Easton, baritone sax; unidentified, piano; probably Lefty Bates, guitar; Al Smith, bass; and probably Alrook "Al" Duncan, drums. It's hard to believe, but this session, which lay completely unreleased till 2004, was the very last that Terry Timmons would make. In fact, by 1955 she was no longer performing regularly. Terry Timmons died of cirrhosis of the liver on August 3, 1970, in Cleveland.
On the same date, Allen also became the first to record Ernie K-Doe (1936 - 2001), who was living and performing in Chicago at the time under his real name, Ernest Kador. K-Doe spent nearly his entire life in New Orleans, but in 1953, after winning several singing and dancing competitions back home, he came to Chicago for a brief time to live with his mother. He met the Four Blazes at the Crown Propeller Lounge; the Blazes introduced him to A&R man Dave Clark, who was doing some work for United at the time and supervised the session. In early November he was singing at the Apex Counry Club in Robbins, Illinois (13624 Claire Blvd) as "Ernest Kado." The Chicago Defender ad (12 November) was already billing him as "United Recording Artist."
Apparently the teenaged performer did not show enough promise, because Allen left the session in the can. Besides, this was the same session on which Al Smith allegedly messed up the four Terry Timmons numbers. It appears to use the same band as the Timmons sides, minus the baritone saxophonist; once again, the sound and balance are not up to Universal's customary standard. K-Doe was still somewhat immature as a singer; on the session he seems to be emulating the tenor voice of Andrew Tibbs, who was also 17 when he first recorded for Aristocrat. Changes in styles over the years have turned "Process Blues" (in which the singer celebrates the irresistible appeal of his newly straightened hair) unintentionally comical. The only number with a New Orleans flavor is the bouncy "Get out of Here Woman." Ernie K-Doe scored a huge hit in 1961 with "Mother in Law," recorded in New Orleans.
The Five Cs, from Gary, Indiana, were brought to Allen by local deejay Sam Evans of "Jam with Sam" fame. The Five Cs were Clarence Anderson, Curtis "Tab" Nevils, Melvin Carr, Carlos Patterson, and Harvey "Clyde" Honey. The Five Cs started out as the Three Cs in Froebel High. Upon graduation in 1953, they came under the management of Sam Evans (a friend of Anderson was a close relative of Evans), who added two more members to make the Five Cs. Unlike the others, Honey had not attended Froebel (he went to Roosevelt High), and was lacking a "C" in his name, so the group nicknamed him "Clyde." The group found employment in the local steel mills. They hired a local band in Gary to accompany them for a session they booked themselves at Universal on December 4. (The bassist may be playing the new-fangled "electronic" instrument; the guitarist lays down some excellent blues.) Evans took the sides to United.
"Tell Me" is a bouncy poppish doowop, which received good play in Los Angeles, and it got the group its first notices during the initial months of 1954. In Gary, the group played a teen dance at the Majestic; they also appeared with Muddy Waters at the Playdium Ballroom.
|Matrix||Artist||Title||Release Number||Recording Date||Release Date|
|1175||Billy Ford and His Night Riders||You Foxie Thing||United 142||January 6, 1953||February 1953|
|1176||Billy Ford and His Night Riders||Smooth Rocking||United 142||January 6, 1953||February 1953|
|1177||Billy Ford and his Night Riders||Confessing||United 167||January 6, 1953||c. January 1954|
|1178||Billy Ford and his Night Riders||untitled||unissued||January 6, 1953|
|1179||Billy Ford and his Night Riders||Old Age||United 167||January 6, 1953||c. January 1954|
|1180||Billy Ford and his Night Riders||Fool around with You||unissued||January 6, 1953|
|1181||Debbie Andrews and the Musketeers | Jack Hellerin [sic], Vocal Director||Don't Make Me Cry||United 144||January 15, 1953||March 1953|
|1182||Debbie Andrews and the Musketeers | Jack Hellerin, Vocal Director||Love Me Please Love Me||United 144||January 15, 1953||March 1953|
|1183-7||The Dozier Boys Featuring Voices and Alto||Linger Awhile||United 143, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD]||August 1952 / January 22, 1953||February 1953|
|1185-3||The Dozier Boys||Laughing in Rhythm||P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD]||August 1952/ January 22, 1953|
|1193-11||The Dozier Boys||Do You Ever Think of Me?||P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD]||August 1952 / January 22, 1953|
|1194||The Dozier Boys||Just My Speed||unissued||August 1952 / January 22, 1953|
|1184-1||The Dozier Boys||Early Morning Blues [Woke Up One Early Morning*]||United 163, P-Vine [J] Special PLP 9044*, United U-114 [CD]||January 15/22, 1953||December 1953|
|1186||The Dozier Boys||Jitterbug Waltz||unissued||January 15, 1953|
|1187-2-2 on 78
|The Dozier Boys Featuring Voices and Alto||I Keep Thinking of You||United 143, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD]||January 15/22, 1953||February 1953|
|1192-8||The Dozier Boys||Cold, Cold Rain [Cold Rain Is Falling*]||United 163, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9044*, United U-114 [CD]||January15/22, 1953||December 1953|
|1188||Jimmy Hamilton with Emit Slay Trio||All Too Soon||P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9042||January 15, 1953 [Detroit]|
|1189-2||Jimmy Hamilton||Ellington Theft||P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9042||January 15, 1953 [Detroit]|
|1190-1 or -6||Jimmy Hamilton | Mighty Man of The Tenor Sax||Big Fifty||States 113, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9042||January 15, 1953 [Detroit]||c. February1953|
|1191-3||Jimmy Hamilton with Emit [sic] Slay and The Slay Riders||Rockaway Special||States 113, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9042||January 15, 1953 [Detroit]||c. February 1953|
|1195-2 on 78; 1195 on 45; 1195-8||Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm||After Hour Joint* [After Hours Joint]||States 118*, P-Vine [J] PLP-9037, Delmark DL-438, Delmark DL-443, Delmark DD-438||February 1, 1953||June 1953|
|1196||Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm||Run Jody Run||States 155, Delmark DL-443, Blue Moon BMCD 6010, United U-163 [CD]||February 1, 1953||c. March 1956|
|1197-2 on 78; 1197 on 45||Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm | Vocal by Helen Fox||Baby I'm Gone||States 118, Delmark DL-443||February 1, 1953||June1953|
|1198||Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm||What Will I Tell My Heart?||Delmark DL-443||February 1, 1953|
|1199; 1199-2||Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm||The Jet
|States 155, P-Vine [J] PLP-9037*, Delmark DL-438*, Delmark DL-443*, Delmark DD-438*||February 1, 1953||c. March 1956|
|1247-7||Jimmy Forrest His Tenor and All Star Combo||Mrs. Jones' Daughter||United 145, United LP 002, Delmark DD-435||February 3, 1953||March 1953|
|1248-2||Jimmy Forrest||Dig Those Feet||Delmark DD-435||February 3, 1953|
|1249-4||Jimmy Forrest His Tenor and All Star Combo||Mr. Goodbeat||United 145, United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435||February 3, 1953||March 1953|
|1250-4||Jimmy Forrest||Begin the Beguine||Delmark DD-435||February 3, 1953|
|1251||The Four Blazes | Lindsley Holt Floyd McDaniels William Hill | Thomas Braden, Vocal||Not Any More Tears||United 146, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD]||February 3, 1953||March 1953|
|1252-6||The Four Blazes | Lindsley Holt Floyd McDaniels William Hill | Thomas Braden, Vocal||My Hats [sic] on the Side of My Head* [My Hat's On the Side of My Head]||United 146*, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD]||February 3, 1953||March 1953|
|1253||Four Blazes (Vocal by Thomas Braden)||Ella Louise||United 158, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD]||February 3, 1953||September1953|
|1254||Four Blazes (Vocal by Thomas Braden)||Perfect Woman||United 158, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD]||February 3, 1953||September 1953|
|1255-3||Eddie Chamblee||Caravan||Delmark DE-542 [CD]||February 3, 1953|
|1256-2||Eddie Chamblee||It Ain't Necessarily Blues||Delmark DE-542 [CD]||February 3, 1953|
|1257||Four Blazes||Snag the Britches||Delmark DE-704 [CD]||February 3, 1953|
|1258-4||Bixie Crawford||I'm Still in Love with You||United 155, Delmark DE-554 [CD]||February 12, 1953||August 1953|
|1259-1||Bixie Crawford||Never to Cry Again||United 155, Delmark DE-554 [CD]||February 12, 1953||August 1953|
|1260-6||Bixie Crawford||Fallen||Delmark DE-554 [CD]||February 12, 1953|
|1261||Bixie Crawford||Bixie's Blues||unissued||February 12, 1953|
|1266-12||Jack Cooley and his Orchestra||Could But I Ain't||States 125, B&F 1342, Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717 [CD]||February 16, 1953||October 1953|
|1267-9||Jack Cooley and his Orchestra||Rain on My Window||States 125, B&F 1342, Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717 [CD]||February 16, 1953||October 1953|
|1268||Tiny Murphy||Merry Widow||unissued||February 23, 1953|
|1269||Tiny Murphy||Blue Roses||United 169||February 23, 1953||February 1954|
|1270||Tiny Murphy||Boogie Jive||unissued||February 23, 1953|
|1271||Tiny Murphy||I Haven't Got a Teardrop Left to Care||unissued||February 23, 1953|
|1272||Tiny Murphy||Honky Tonk Angels||United 169||February 23, 1953||February 1954|
|1273||Tiny Murphy||Liebestraum||unissued||February 23, 1953|
(1274-2 on 78)
|Swinging Sax Kari and Orchestra (vocal: Gloria Irving)||Daughter (That's Your Red Wagon)||States 115||February 23, 1953 [Detroit]||March 1953|
(1275-2 on 78)
|Swinging Sax Kari and Orchestra||Down for Debbie||States 115, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9042, Delmark DE-542||February 23, 1953 [Detroit]||March 1953|
|1276-4||Chris Woods and his Orchestra||Brazil||United 151, Delmark DL-434||February 24, 1953||June 1953|
|1277-2||Chris Woods and his Orchestra||Somebody Done Stole My Blues||Delmark DL-434, Delmark DD-775||February 24, 1953|
|1277-6||Chris Woods and his Orchestra||Somebody Done Stole My Blues||Delmark DL-434||February 24, 1953|
|1278-2||Chris Woods and his Orchestra||Bo Bo||Delmark DL-434||February 24, 1953|
|1279-6||Chris Woods and his Orchestra||You Got to Move||Delmark DL-434||February 24, 1953|
|1280-2||Chris Woods and his Orchestra||Where or When||Delmark DL-434||February 24, 1953|
|1280-3||Chris Woods and his Orchestra||Where or When||Delmark DL-434||February 24, 1953|
|1281-2||Chris Woods and his Orchestra||Blues for Lew||United 151, Delmark DL-434||February 24, 1953||June 1953|
1284 on label (on 78)
|Johnny Holiday |
Arranged and Conducted by Dennis Farnow [sic] (on 78)
Arranged and Conducted by Dennis Farnon (on 45)
|With All My Heart||United 148||Feb-Mar. 1953||March 1953|
|1283||Johnny Holiday||unidentified title||unissued||Feb.-Mar. 1953|
1282 on label (on 78)
|Johnny Holiday |
Arranged and Conducted by Dennis Farnow [sic] (on 78)
Arranged and Conducted by Dennis Farnon (on 45)
|Why Should I Cry||United 148||Feb.-Mar. 1953||March 1953|
|1286||Tab Smith||Music Styled by Tab Smith||United LP 001 (10" LP Side A)|
|1287||Tab Smith||Music Styled by Tab Smith||United LP 001 (10" LP Side B)|
|1290-3||Roosevelt Sykes and his Honeydrippers||Come Back Baby||United 152, Delmark DE-642 [CD]||March 19, 1953||July 1953|
|1291-1||Roosevelt Sykes||Been through the Mill||Delmark DE-642 [CD]||March 19, 1953|
|1292-3||Roosevelt Sykes||Ruthie Lee||P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD]||March 19, 1953|
|1293-7||Roosevelt Sykes and his Honeydrippers||Tell Me True||United 152, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD]||March 19, 1953||July 1953|
|1294-5||Roosevelt Sykes||44 Blues||Delmark DE-642 [CD]||March 19, 1953|
|1295-3||Roosevelt Sykes||Boogie Sykes||P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD]||March 19, 1953|
|1296-1||Eddie Ware||The Stuff I Like [That's the Stuff I Love*]||States 130, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9040, Delmark DE-717 [CD]||March 19, 1953||c. December 1953|
|1297-3||Eddie Ware||Lonely Broken Heart||States 130, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9040, Delmark DE-717 [CD]||March 19, 1953||c. December 1953|
|1298-2||Swinging Sax Kari and Orchestra | Vocal by: Gloria Irving||Henry||States 117||March 31, 1953 [Detroit]||May 1953|
|1299||Sax Kari||Money Money||unissued||March 31, 1953 [Detroit]|
|1300-2||Swinging Sax Kari and Orchestra | Vocal by: Gloria Irving||You Let My Love Grow Cold||States 117||March 31, 1953 [Detroit]||May 1953|
|1301||Sax Kari||One Room Blues||unissued||March 31, 1953 [Detroit]|
|1302||Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra||Red Top||United 149, Savoy 14033, Savoy1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD]||April 15, 1953||May 1953|
|1303||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Seven Up||United 162, Saxophonograph BP511, Delmark DD-455||April 23, 1953||October 1953|
|1304||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra | Vocal by Johnny Harper & TabSmith||I've Had the Blues All Day||United153, Delmark DD-455||April 23, 1953||July 1953|
|1305||Tab Smith||Pennies from Heaven||Delmark DD-455||April 23, 1953|
|1306||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra||Cherry||United 153, Saxophonograph BP511, Delmark DD-455||April 23, 1953||July 1953|
|1307||Tab Smith||I Live True to You||Delmark DD-455||April 23,1953|
|1308||Tab Smith||Closin' Time||Delmark DD-455||April 23, 1953|
|1309||Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra | Vocal by Tab Smith||My Baby||United 174, Saxophonograph BP 511, Delmark DD-455||April 23, 1953||c. April 1954|
|1310||Tasso the Great and his Combo
(on some 78s: Tasso the Great and his Combo;
on others: Tasso the Great and his Combo and Orchestra)
|Ebony after Midnight||United 150, B&F 1338||April 1953||May 1953|
|1311||Tasso the Great and his Combo
(on some 78s: Tasso the Great;
on others: Tasso the Great and his Combo)
|My Sympathy||United 150, B&F 1338||April 1953||May 1953|
|1312||Vocal by Debbie Andrews | Arr. and Conducted by Remo Biondi||Call Me Darling||United 154, Delmark DE-554 [CD]||May 11, 1953||July 1953|
|1313-5||Debbie Andrews||When Your Lover Has Gone||Delmark DE-554 [CD]||May 11, 1953|
|1314||Debbie Andrews||Little Brown Book||unissued||May 11, 1953|
|1315-10||Vocal by Debbie Andrews | Arr. and Conducted by Remo Biondi||Please Wait for Me||United 154||May 11, 1953||July 1953|
|1316||Caravans (Solo Nellie G. Daniels)||What a Friend We Have in Jesus||States 128, Gospel MG 3009||May 1953||1953|
|1317||Caravans||It's Real||Gospel MG 3009||May 1953|
|1318||Caravans | Nellie Grace Daniels, Soloist||Why Should I Worry||States 119, Gospel MG 3009||May 1953||July 1953|
|1319||Caravans||When I Get Home||Gospel MG 3009||May 1953|
|1320||Caravans||I Wanna See Jesus||Gospel MG 3009||May 1953|
|1321||Caravans||In a Little While||unissued||May 1953|
|1322||Caravans||Jesus Knows||unissued||May 1953|
|1323||Caravans | Albertina Walker, Soloist||On My Way Home||States 119||May 1953||July 1953|
|1324||Caravans||Do You Know Jesus||unissued||May 1953|
|1325-3||Junior Wells||Cut That Out||Delmark DD-775||June 8, 1953||August 1953|
|1325-4||Junior Wells||Cut That Out||States 122, Delmark DL-640, P-Vine [J] PLP-379, Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164||June 8, 1953||August 1953|
|1326-5||Junior Wells||Ways like an Angel||Delmark DL-640, P-Vine [J] PLP-379, Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164||June 8, 1953|
|1327-2||Junior Wells and his Eagle Rockers||Hodo Man (first pressing)
Somebody Hoodooed the Hoodoo Man (later pressings)
|States 134, Delmark DL-640*, P-Vine [J] PLP-379*, Delmark DD-640*, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164*||June 8, 1953||April 1954|
|1328-4||Junior Wells||Tomorrow Night||States 143, Boogie Disease BD 101/102, Delmark DL-640, P-Vine [J] PLP-379, Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164||June 8, 1953||c. December 1954|
|1329-4||Junior Wells||Eagle Rock||Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164||June 8, 1953||August 1953|
|1329-5||Junior Wells||Eagle Rock||States 122, Delmark DL-640, P-Vine [J] PLP-379, Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164||June 8, 1953||August 1953|
|1330-2||Junior Wells||Junior's Wail||Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164||June 8, 1953||April 1954|
|1330-3||Junior Wells and his Eagle Rockers||Junior's Wail||States 134, Delmark DL-640, P-Vine [J] PLP-379, Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164||June 8, 1953||April 1954|
|1331||Gene Ammons his Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra||Fuzzy||United 185, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD]||June 1953||c. November 1954|
|1332||Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra||Stairway to the Stars||United 164, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD]||June 1953||November 1953|
|1333||Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra||Jim Dog||United 164, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD]||June 1953||November 1953|
|1334A||Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra||Big Slam Part I||United 175, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD]||June 1953||c. April 1954|
|1334B||Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra||Big Slam Part II||United 175, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD]||June 1953||c. April 1954|
|1335-3||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||The Come Back||United 156, Delmark DE-762 [CD]||June 29, 1953||July 1953|
|1336-1||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||Five O'Clock Blues||Delmark DE-762 [CD]||June 29, 1953|
|1336-2||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||Five O'Clock Blues||United 156, Delmark DE-762 [CD]||June 29, 1953||July 1953|
|1337-3||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||Call before You Go Home||United 166, Delmark DE-762 [CD]||June 29, 1953||c. January 1954|
|1338-5||Memphis Slim and His House Rockers||This Is My Lucky Day||United 166, Delmark DE-762 [CD]||June 29, 1953||c. January 1954|
|1339-2||Memphis Slim and His House Rockers||Smooth Sailin'||Delmark DE-762 [CD]||June 29, 1953|
|1340-3||Memphis Slim and His House Rockers||St. Louis Woman||Delmark DE-762 [CD]||June 29, 1953|
|1341-1||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||I Love My Baby||United 182, Vogue [Fr] 17004||June 29, 1953||c. September1954|
|1342-1||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||The Cat Creeps||Delmark DE-542 [CD]||June 29, 1953|
|1342-2||Memphis Slim and his House Rockers||The Cat Creeps||Delmark DE-762 [CD]||June 29,1953|
|1343||Cliff Butler and his Doves||People Will Talk||States 123, United U-163 [CD]||June 29, 1953||July 1953|
|1344||Cliff Butler||TB||unissued||June 29, 1953|
|1345-2||Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys||Jealous Hearted Woman||States 148, P-Vine Special PLP 9045, Pearl PL-17, United U-163 [CD], Delamark DE-717 [CD]||June 29, 1953||c. May 1955|
|1346||Cliff Butler and his Doves||When You Love||States 123, United U-163 [CD]||June 29, 1953||July 1953|
|1347-6||Della Reese with Jimmie Hamilton [sic] & Orch.||Blue and Orange Birds (and Silver Bells)||Great Lakes 1203, Delmark DE-554 [CD]||June 30, 1953|
|1348-6||Della Reese with Jimmy Hamilton Orchestra||There Will Never Be Another You||Delmark DE-554 [CD]||June 30, 1953|
|1349||Jimmy Hamilton Orchestra||Love Comes but Once||Delmark DL-439, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9041||June 30, 1953|
|1350-5||Della Reese with Jimmy Hamilton Orchestra||Yes Indeed [alt.]||Delmark DE-554 [CD]||June 30, 1953|
|1350-6||Della Reese with Jimmie Hamilton [sic] & Orch.||Yes Indeed||Great Lakes 1203, Delmark DE-554 [CD], Delmark DD-775||June 30, 1953|
|1351||Jimmy Hamilton Orchestra||Blues in Your Flat||Delmark DL-439, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9041||June 30, 1953|
|1352||Nelda Dupuy and Ike Perkins Orchestra||Can I Depend on You||unissued||July 9, 1953
|1353||Nelda Dupuy and Ike Perkins Orchestra||I Didn't Do Nothin' Wrong||unissued||July 9, 1953
|1354||Nelda Dupuy and Ike Perkins Orchestra||Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself||United 157||July 9, 1953
|1355||Nelda Dupuy and Ike Perkins Orchestra||Riding with the Blues||United 157||July 9, 1953
|1356-8||The Hornets and Orchestra||Lonesome Baby||States 127, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9036, Delmark DE-703 [CD], United U-163 [CD]||August 12, 1953||November 1953|
|1357-1||The Hornets||You Played the Game||P-Vine [J] Special PLP-9036, Delmark DE-703 [CD], United U-163 [CD]||August 12, 1953|
|1358-9||The Hornets||Ridin' and Rockin'||P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9036, Delmark DE-703 [CD], United U-163 [CD]||August 12, 1953|
|1359-2||The Hornets and Orchestra||I Can't Believe||States 127, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9036, Delmark DE-703 [CD], United U-163 [CD]||August 12, 1953||November 1953|
|1360-5||The Hornets||Big City Bound||P-Vine [J] Special PLP-9036, Delmark DE-703 [CD], United U-163 [CD]||August 12, 1953|
|unidentified blues artist||It||unissued||August 1953|
|unidentified blues artist||Chicago||unissued||August 1953|
|1361||The Four Blazes||Never Start Living||Delmark DE-704 [CD]||August 17, 1953|
|1362||The Four Blazes||Lovin' Man||Delmark DE-704 [CD]||August 17, 1953|
|1363-8||The Four Blazes | Vocal by Thomas Braden||My Great Love Affair||United 168, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD]||August 17, 1953||January 1954|
|1364-1||Eddie Chamblee||Air Mail Special||Delmark DE-542 [CD]||August 17, 1953|
|1365||The Four Blazes||All Night Long||United 168, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD]||August 17, 1953||January 1954|
|1366-4||The Four Blazes||Raggedy Ride||Delmark DE-704 [CD], Delmark DD-775||August 17, 1953|
|1367-2||The Rockin' and Walkin' Rhythm of Eddie Chamblee||Walkin' Home||United 160, Delmark DE-542 [CD]||August 17, 1953||October 1953|
|1368-3||Eddie Chamblee||Spider Web||Delmark DE-542 [CD]||August 17, 1953|
|1369-2||The Rockin' and Walkin' Rhythm of Eddie Chamblee||Lonesome Road||United 160, Delmark DE-542 [CD]||August 17, 1953||October 1953|
|1370||Helen Thompson||You Better Watch That Man||unissued||August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
|1371||Helen Thompson and Orchestra||All by Myself||States 126||August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
|1372-1||Helen Thompson and Orchestra||Going Down to Big Mary's [alt.]||Delmark DE-554 [CD]||August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
|1372-?||Helen Thompson and Orchestra||Going Down to Big Mary's||States 126||August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
|1373||Helen Thompson and Orchestra||My Baby's Gone||States 138||August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
|1374||Helen Thompson and Orchestra||Troubled Woman||States 138||August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
|1375||Terry Timmons||My Last Cry||United 161||August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
|1376||Terry Timmons||Hold Me||United 161||August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
|1377-2||Jimmy Forrest and his All Star Combo||Flight 3-D||Delmark DD-438||September 7, 1953
|1377-4||Jimmy Forrest and His All Star Combo||Flight 3-D||United 173, United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435||September 7, 1953
|c. March 1954|
|1378-2||Jimmy Forrest||Calling Dr. Jazz||Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435||September 7, 1953
|1379||The Staple Singers||Revive Us Again||Gospel MG 3001||September 1953|
|1380||The Staple Singers||Won't You Sit Down||United 165, Gospel MG 3001||September 1953||December 1953|
|1381||The Staple Singers||Tell Heaven||Gospel MG 3001||September 1953|
|1382||The Staple Singers||It Rained Children||United 165, Gospel MG 3001||September 1953||December 1953|
|1383||The Staple Singers||I Just Can't Keep It to Myself||Gospel MG 3001||September 1953|
|1384-5||Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm||Organ Grinder||Delmark DL-443, Delmark DD-775||October 17, 1953|
|1385||Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm||Empty Bed||Delmark DL-443||October 17, 1953|
|1386||Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm | Vocal by Helen Fox||He's Alright with Me||States 129, Delmark DL-443||October 17, 1953||December 1953|
|1387||Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm||Raid on the After Hour Joint||States 129, Delmark DL-443||October 17, 1953||December 1953|
|Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm | Vocal by Helen Fox||A Fool Was I||Delmark DL-443, Delmark DE-554 [CD]||October 17, 1953|
|Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm | Vocal by Helen Fox||How Deep Is the Ocean?||Delmark DL-443, Delmark DE-554 [CD]||October 17, 1953|
|Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm||Lady Take Two||Delmark DL-443||October 17, 1953|
|1388||T. J. Fowler||Liza||unissued||November 10, 1953|
|1389-1||T. J. Fowler and his Band That Rocks the Blues||The Queen||States 132, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9042, Delmark DE-542||November 10, 1953||c. February 1954|
|1390-5||T. J. Fowler||Take Off||P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9042, Delmark DE-542||November 10, 1953|
|1391||T. J. Fowler||Black Clouds||unissued||November 10, 1953|
|1392||T. J. Fowler||Calhoun Love Joy||unissued||November 10, 1953|
|1393||T. J. Fowler and his Band That Rocks the Blues | Vocal Frank Taylor||Tell Me What's the Matter||States 132||November 10, 1953||c. February 1954|
|1394||Tab Smith||Don't Get around Much Anymore||Delmark DE-499 [CD]||November17, 1953|
|1395||Tab Smith||They Call Me a Fool||Delmark DE-499 [CD]||November 17, 1953|
|1396||Tab Smith||I'm a Bouncin' Mama||Delmark DE-499 [CD]||November 17, 1953|
|1397||Tab Smith||For Only You||Delmark DE-499 [CD]||November 17, 1953|
|1398||Tab Smith||Don't Take Your Love from Me||Delmark DE-499 [CD]||November 17, 1953|
|1399||Tab Smith||Imagination||Delmark DE-499 [CD]||November 17, 1953|
|1400||Terry Timmons||Cool Wailing||unissued||November 30, 1953|
|1401||Terry Timmons||Early Every Morning||unissued||November 30, 1953|
|1402-6||Terry Timmons||I Can't Forget||Delmark DE-554 [CD]||November 30, 1953|
|1403-1||Terry Timmons||Somebody Will Understand||Delmark DE-554 [CD]||November 30, 1953|
|1404-7||Ernest Kador||Process Blues||P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9045, Delmark DE-715 [CD]||November 30, 1953|
|1405-4||Ernest Kador||Get out of Here Woman||P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9045, Delmark DE-715 [CD]||November 30, 1953|
|1406-3||Ernest Kador||Too Drunk to Drink||Delmark DE-715 [CD]||November 30, 1953|
|1407-5||Ernest Kador||Talking to the Blues||Delmark DE-715 [CD]||November 30, 1953|
|1408-7||The Five C's||Tell Me||United 172, P-Vine [J] PLP-9036, United U-143 [CD], Delmark DE-776 [CD]||December 4, 1953||February 1954|
|1409-4||The Five C's||Whoo-wee Baby||P-Vine [J] PLP-9036, United U-143 [CD]||December 4, 1953|
|1409-5||The Five C's||Whoo-wee Baby||United 172, P-Vine [J] PLP-9036, United U-143 [CD], Delmark DE-776 [CD]||December 4, 1953||February 1954|
In 1953, United and States laid down 199 sides, if we count usable alternate takes. But the firm's recording activity slackened in the second half of the year, after Lew Simpkins' death. And some commercially viable sessions (starting with Della Reese's debut) were allowed to sit unused. Much of the material recorded during the fourth quarter was left in the can: not just the Terry Timmons and Ernest Kador sides allegedly spoiled by Al Smith, but an entire 6-tune session by old reliable Tab Smith that sounds great on CD. (Maybe Leonard Allen didn't care for the female vocalist on the three of the sides, but she sounds pretty good to us.) As it turns out, the two labels had four more years to go, but they would never again produce so much in the studio.
Click here for Part II of the United/States story.