Sunday, May 31, 2015

Remembering Bassist Eddie Jones by George A. Borgman

Bassist Edward Jones, also known as "Eddie" or "Jonesy," was originally from Greenwood, Mississippi where he was born on March 1, 1929. He grew up in Redbank, New Jersey, where he lived two doors from William "Count" Basie's childhood home. He studied music at Howard University and worked in Washington with tenor saxophonists Benny Golson and Frank Wess.

Jones, on Wess's recommendation, joined the Basie band in 1953, and in 1961, he was named bassist of the year in the Playboy All-Star Jazz Poll. While in the Basie band, Jones studied computer science on his own, and he left Basie in 1963 to join IBM as a systems engineer. He later worked 22 years for the Cigna Corporation, and he retired as vice president of computer support technology.

Jones made numerous recordings with top jazz artists, he played with small groups at various clubs in this country and Europe, he performed with the Manchester (Conn.) Symphony, and he was a member of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra's board of directors.
I met Eddie at a Connecticut club, where he worked with Harry Allen, Warren Vache', Jr., John Bunch, and the late Alan Dawson, and I was impressed with his playing and genial personality.

He died at age 68 of cancer at his home in West Hartford, Connecticut, on May 31, 1997.

Count Basie - Live in '62
Count Basie - piano
Marshal Royal, Frank Wess - alto sax
Eric Dixon, Frank Foster, Frank Wess - tenor sax
Charlie Fowkes - baritone sax
Al Aarons, Sonny Cohn, Thad Jones, Snooky Young - trumpet
Henry Coker, Quentin "Butter" Jackson, Benny Powell - trombone
Freddie Green - guitar
Eddie Jones - bass
Sonny Payne - drums
Irene Reid - vocal

1. Easin' It
2. You Are Too Beautiful
3. Corner Pocket
4. Stella By Starlight
5. Back To The Apple
6. I Needs To Be Bee'd With
7. I Got Rhythm
8. Back Water Blues
9. Alexander's Ragtime Band
10. Old Man River
11. One O'Clock Jump

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Peter "Pete" S. Peligian - Jazz Clarinetist - Dead at 91

Peter Sarkis Peligian, whom George A. Borgman wrote a preliminary story on years ago, which can be read HERE, died at Epoch Assisted Living in Providence, Rhode Island, on Monday, May 18, 2015 at the age of 91. 

Pete was born in Providence, Rhode Island on March 20, 1924, to Sarkis and Vartini (Bourgoujian) Peligian. He graduated from Mount Pleasant High School. 

He served a tour of duty in the U.S. Army infantry during World War II. In January 1951 he married Rose Aykanian.

He worked at the was the American Universal Insurance Company, and later was the Assistant Director in the Department of Planning and Urban Development.

Pete who played both the clarinet and piano, was a longtime member of the Federation of Musicians. He performed everywhere in the Providence, New York and Boston areas. He was the last member of  the “Tony Tomasso and the Jewels of Dixie” jazz band.

The Boyle & Son Funeral Home  reported that, "Peter leaves behind his three children, Peter Peligian and Eva Peligian, of Florida, David Peligian, of Rhode Island; seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren; two siblings, Boghos Peligian and Rose Derderian, both of Massachusetts. 

His funeral will be held on Friday, May 22, 2015 at 9:45 am, from the Russell J. Boyle & Son Funeral Home, 331 Smith Street, followed by a funeral service at 11:00 am, in Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church, 402 Broadway, Providence. Interment with military honors will be in Swan Point Cemetery, 585 Blackstone Boulevard, Providence. Visiting hours, Thursday, May 21, 2015 from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations in Peter’s memory can be made to Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church, 402 Broadway, Providence, RI 02909." 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Jazz Performance Saturday! Fati Live Band playing "When the Saints Go Marching In"

Fati Live Band

Today's jazz performance is by the Fati Live Band out of Hong Kong. They bill themselves as an all around band that can play multiple of styles for corporate events, banquets and private functions. On their website they say that they have already performed over 5000 shows!

Here we see a video where they play the old chestnut, When the Saints Go Marching In. The tune obviously started out as a Gospel hymn, however, it's true history has become obscured by time. Louis Armstrong remembered the tune from the streets of New Orleans played by bands when a deceased was being brought to the cemetery.

In November 1923 a group called the Paramount Jubilee Singers recorded the traditional song.

But it wasn't until May 13, 1938 when Louis Armstrong, made the first popular recording of it that it became a jazz standard. Considered over played now by some musicians, it is still a commonly requested tune and most Dixieland bands will have it in their repertoire.

 Fati Live Band at the Hong Kong Opitical Fair, 2013
Now that we've heard the Fati Live Band's performance of the number, let's hear Louis Armstrong's original recording!
Louis Armstrong's 1938/1939 recording.

Friday, May 15, 2015

B. B. King is Dead

89 year old Blues guitarist B. B. King passed away.

B. B. King in 1949

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Jazz at the Bella Costa - Neville Dickie, Stan McDonald, Steve Taddeo, Jeff Hughes and Ross Petot

I really hadn't any plans to write about the 14th appearance of British Boogie Woogie and Stride piano master Neville Dickie in Massachusetts, but it was such an exciting venue that I have to share some of the experience.

Backing up Neville Dickie during the night was drummer extraordinaire Steve Taddeo. During the break New England's own master pianist Ross Petot tickled the ivories, playing some quite interesting pieces. At one point Dickie joined him at the piano for a lively piece.

Dickie announced at the beginning of his performance that just twelve hours before he was in Surrey, England. That morning he arrived at Boston's Logan Airport. Before the show he told an amusing story on how the automatic fingerprinting machines wouldn't acknowledge his fingerprints! Of all the people landing from Europe, he was the very, very last person to be processed, causing him to miss two buses. My father, George always loved Dickie's sense of humor and fun, on top of his exceptional playing!

Adding to Dickie and Taddeo's performances was Dickie's friend and fellow musician, the band leader and reed player Stan McDonald. He was in very fine form playing tunes by Jelly Roll Morton and his idol Sidney Bechet.

The New England cornet and trumpet player Jeff Hughes played up a storm. Hughes who plays with several bands including the Wolverine Jazz Band leads his own group the Jazz Jesters. The Jesters will soon be recording an album.

George's widow, Janet, my mother, asked him if he was going to play Nagasaki. He hadn't planned on it, but, sure enough, he played it near the end of the night.

The crowd consisted of many of the usuals including Marce Enright who runs the terrific New England Jazz website and newsletter, and some new people who were bowled over by the fantastic jazz of the night.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Jazz Performance Saturday - "Some Of These Days" - Traditional Jazz Orchestra

Today we have the Traditional Jazz Orchestra of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois performing the Shelton Brooks classic, "Some Of These Days," from a 2011 video.
I'm not sure how long the Traditional Jazz Orchestra has been around exactly, possibly since the 1990s, as references to earlier area Trad bands were mentioned up to 1994. Check out and "Like" their Facebook Page!
Shelton Brooks
The song "Some Of These Days" was originally published in 1910! It was written by Shelton Brooks(1886-1975), who was more than just a composer. He acted, danced, sang and played piano in vaudeville. Brooks was born in Canada and began performing professionally as a teenager in 1901. He moved to Chicago in 1905 where he started performing on stage eventually doing comedy and imitating the famous comic Bert Williams.
Some of  other compositions are Walking the Dog (1916), Darktown Strutters' Ball (1917), and Don't Leave Your Little Blackbird Blue (1930).
There are scores of recordings of Some of These Days. Perhaps the earliest recording was the one recorded on December 27, 1910 for Victor.
Another early recording was by the singer Sophie Tucker who recorded it for Edison on February 24, 1911 and another by her with Ted Lewis from 1926. It became Tucker's theme song over the years and she even titled her autobiography, Some of These Days.
Tucker writes in her book that it was her maid Mollie who brow beat her into agreeing to meet Brooks to hear his new song. Tucker writes, "The minute I heard Some of These Days I could have kicked myself for almost losing it. A song like that. It had everything. Hasn't it proved it? I've been singing it for thirty years, made it my theme song. I've turned it inside out, singing it every way imaginable, as a dramatic song, as a novelty number, as a sentimental ballad, and always audiences have loved it and asked for it. Some of These Days is one of the great songs that will be remembered and sung for years and years to come, like some of Stephen Foster's."

Here's Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra's version of the tune recorded on November 13, 1924.

It has been a jazz favorite ever since the earliest days of jazz. 
Now, here is the Traditional Jazz Orchestra's version of Some of These Days featuring Tom Birkner on cornet, Carlyle Johnson on clarinet, Morgan Powell on trombone, Mike Miller on banjo and Dan Anderson on tuba. It was recorded on July 5, 2011.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Article on Trombonist Sam Lewis from the May 1921 issue of Jacobs' Band Monthly

Sam Lewis
The joy of doing a thing well is in itself ample compensation for most people, if they are really sincere in whatever their undertakings may be. The exploitation of all of one's best faculties, and the realization that they count for a whole lot, is bound to put one in the best of happy moods — and what could be a luckier combination to induce the smiles of Dame Fortune! 
Of the many men in the trombone world, the man who is before the readers in this issue of the Trombone Hall of Fame possesses a vast amount of the gratification to be found in well-doing, as his ever happy mood attests. A performer on the slide trombone is called upon to do many kinds of work. Whether it be symphony, opera or concert, or the higher sort of reception or dance work, he must prepare himself for whatever certain goal from which he desires to reap success.
Considering artistic (and I dare say great financial) achievement, Sam Lewis, about whom these lines are written, may be rated as one of the most successful dance trombonists in this country today. When one's services are accepted and in demand by dozens of the paramount hotel and dance leaders in a city like New York, and also by as many phonograph recording companies, it is safe to assert that the party who is in demand is doing his work well. No better proof of this assertion can be found than on the phonograph records themselves, for records do not lie. They tell the truth, and they record whatever transpires when being made. They cannot be doctored and touched up like a photograph, and whatever goes in must come out. If there should be a doubt in the minds of my readers as to the truth of these remarks, I can but refer them to the late Victor records made by Paul Whiteman and his orchestra. He is the present leader with whom Mr. Lewis is fulfilling a two years contract at the Palais Royal, one of New York City's most popular rendezvous for the elite and people of wealth.

Modeste Alloo
Sam Lewis was a pupil of Mr. Modeste Alloo — formerly solo and first trombonist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, but now the assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. It was Mr. Alloo who gave Lewis his first real inspiration to become a trombonist, who instilled in him a feeling of confidence (which is half of success), and who enabled him to realize the joy of doing a thing well. It has been said that "Youth must have its fling," and it is a sad truism that thereby much valuable time is lost through neglect of study during the best time for it. But I assure you, as you will gather from reading this article, that as a youth Lewis improved every moment of his time, and as a result he is now enjoying full compensation and a rich reward for his sincere efforts. He really has not yet passed out of the youthful period, as just lately he has celebrated the twenty-third anniversary of his birth.
Sam Lewis was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1897. At the age of four years he was placed in an orphan asylum known as the Leopold Morse Home in Mattapan, Mass., his mother, upon the death of his father, having decided to leave the boy in the care of this institution. At this age music did not bother the youngster much, and it was not until his eighth year that music entered into his young life. At this time an alto horn was introduced to "Sammy." The institution had also organized a brass band from among its inmates and Sammy became one of its members. One lesson on this alto horn to the boy, and into the band he went.
But Sam quickly became dissatisfied. He wanted to be on the beat and not after it, so in a week's time he was given a cornet and placed on the eighth chair — Sam personally told me that this business of starting on the eighth is an absolute fact. Lewis' ability soon brought him up to the solo cornet chair, where the work held his enthusiastic interest. The two following years are very pleasant memories in Sammy's mind to this day — not alone because of his connection with the band of that institution, but also on account of the many friendships which he formed during the happy days he spent there. The bandmaster in particular, Mr. Emil Posselt, was one of Mr. Lewis' nearest friends. His kindness to the boys and girls who came under his care made them feel toward him as if he were their own parent.
At the age of thirteen years, and much to his regret, Sam was transferred from this institution to the English High School in Boston, and it was while attending this school that (as previously stated) he took up the study of the slide trombone under the able tutorship of Mr. Modeste Alloo in that city. Mr. Lewis now aspired to become a symphony man. To travel this road was no easy task, and in order to accomplish it he was compelled to work five hours a day after school in a wholesale men's furnishing place. There he did everything, from running errands to keeping books, and for which he received the munificent sum of five dollars per week — this money helping towards the support of his mother.
The work did not bother Sam in the least. He had but one thing in his mind, and that was to play trombone and to play it well. This one absorbing ambition was greatly inspired and aided through Mr. Alloo's kindness. Not only did he teach the young man trombone, but also gave him his initial knowledge of harmony, solfeggi and tympani — this was done mostly to give Lewis a good ear training. Besides giving up many precious hours to help the boy's advancement, Mr. Alloo also furnished him with a trombone upon which to study. One can readily comprehend the magnitude of the unselfish interest bestowed upon Sam Lewis by Mr. Alloo, when it is taken into consideration that all the knowledge gained through this man by Sam was given without any compensation whatsoever.
After graduating from the English High School Sam came to New York City, where he secured a position on trial in a moving-picture theatre. The trial proved a success, for it was six months before he got out of there. The Olympic Theatre in Brooklyn, a vaudeville house, was the next stopping place, where another six months was spent. After sixteen months of this sort of work in different theatres around New York, he decided to give up that end of the business and make another effort to gain the goal of his ambition, which was to play music for music's sake. A glowing advertisement appeared in one of the daily newspapers, in reference to an organized band over in the town of Morris Plains in New Jersey. The advertisement told all about the wonderful tuition, free board, laundry, etc., and nothing to do but play in the band and practice. It looked like heaven to him, but being at low ebb financially it took his last remaining dollar to secure a ticket to the town where this organization was located.
Upon his arrival in Morris Plains Lewis encountered a shock that will remain clear in his memory throughout his life — the band was made up of the attendants in an insane hospital, the home of the mentally unsound. Being financially embarrassed he was compelled to remain, although considerably scared and decidedly uncomfortable. The following morning another shock came, for he was ordered into the violent ward. I will relate his experience in this violent ward in his own words, which are taken from a letter I received from Lewis some time ago: "My duty was to see that no harm befell these poor creatures, but between you and me I wasn't worrying much about what happened to them! At the end of eight hours I left the ward — pale-faced, dripping with sweat and shaking like a man with the St. Vitas Dance. My hopes were shattered, for the only playing I did there was a weekly rehearsal along with two dances a week, and very little time to practice. The band consisted of twenty such attendants as myself. After four months of this I decided to leave before I, like the others, should start talking out of my turn and be taken for a product of Brazil."
Back to New York came Lewis, and many substituting engagements came his way which gave him an insight into all branches of the musical and theatrical business. After a short time he returned to Boston, because of his mother who had been taken ill, and soon after his arrival there he was engaged by Charles Frank to play at the Boston Theatre. This was in 1918, and it was while playing with Mr. Frank that he received an offer from Mr. Earl Fuller in New York City, where at that time Mr. Fuller and his orchestra were all the rage. Lewis accepted the engagement and returned to New York, where Mr. Fuller placed him in Rector's Restaurant at 48th Street and Broadway, and where Sam Lewis learned the gentle art of jazzing and playing artistically for the dance end of the music profession. After a sixteen-weeks' engagement at Rector's, his work there and at individual engagements with different leaders soon became the talk of the town — so much so, that such prominent leaders in this branch of the business as Joseph C. Smith and Mike Markels were quick to grasp the value of Sam's artistic playing and between these two men he had little time that he could call his own, for they kept him a very busy man.

The phonograph companies were the next ones to inquire about Sam's work, and it was not long before his services were in demand for the phonograph records. His work is now recorded with the following phonograph companies: The Victor, Columbia, Emerson, Aeolian, Paramount, Starr, Jones, Arto, Puritan, Pathe, Okeh, Edison, and the Gray Gull of Boston, Mass. The records are made with the following orchestras and leaders who are engaged by the companies mentioned: Benny Selvin, Joseph C. Smith, Rudy Wiedoeft, Bennie Krueger, Nicholas Orlando, Max Fells, Sam Lannon, Earl Fuller, Chris Chapman, Hazay Natzy, Oscar Adler, Jules Levy, Jr., Julius Lensberg and Paul Whiteman.
After playing for a season or so with the many different leaders in New York City, Mr. Hazay Natzy, musical director at the Hotel Biltmore in New York, tendered Mr. Lewis an exceptional contract which was accepted.
Paul Whiteman
Then, fresh from their Western triumphs, Paul Whiteman and his world-famous orchestra came to town, and Mr. Whiteman's trombonist had decided to hand that director his resignation. Of course Mr. Whiteman was compelled to accept the resignation, but the important question with which Mr. Whiteman was confronted was — where to find another man!
Good fortune now smiled upon the man who had always experienced the joy of doing a thing well, for it was Sammy Lewis who was sought for the job.

The outcome of it all is, as I have previously stated, that Sam Lewis has signed a contract which has two years to run, and which makes him a member of one of the greatest dance orchestras in this country — known as "Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra." This organization is composed of men who are musicians of the highest standard, and with their work Mr. Whiteman has proved himself to be in the dance world what Heifitz is to the violin world —A Genius. And it has all come about through the joy of doing a thing well!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Potomac River Jazz Club

George A. Borgman had a lifelong association and appreciation for music, especially jazz and swing. In the late 1940s and early 1950s he played with several Swing bands. When he landed a government job in Washington, D.C. his love for jazz led him to seek out a venue for his interest.

In about early 1983 George A. Borgman who was living in Suitland, Maryland became a member of The Potomac River Jazz Club (PRJC)  when it was under the leadership of President Gary Wilkinson and Vice President Roy Hostetter. The group is still in existence.

The Potomac River Jazz Club was formed in 1971 the year Louis Armstrong died. It was created for the preservation of Traditional Jazz, Ragtime and the Blues which the organizers considered a unique American art form.

Members of this organization admired musicians like Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Sidney Bechet, Jack Teagarden and many others. They also promoted the later revivalist Dixielanders such as Turk Murphy, Lu Watters and Bob Scobey.

The Jazz Club was one of the founders of the American Federation of Jazz Societies as well as being a founding member of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington.

Although membership is currently under a thousand it has members all across the United States and Canada. The group is mainly made up of members concentrated in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland area.

George permanently moved to Massachusetts in April of 1985, but continued his membership well into 1987.

While in Maryland George attended many of the club's events including the 1983 Easter Seals Dixieland Jubilee on February 19th where over 500 people were in attendance for a twelve hour dose of jazz from noon to midnight. Some of the bands in attendance were Fat Cat's Festival Jazzers, Southern Comfort, Bob Greene's New Orleans Quartet, and the Buck Creek JazzBand.

Then on June 19, 1983 George attended the Manassas Jazz Festival at the Ramada Inn in Alexandria, Virginia. The festival was presenting a benefit for pianist Dillwyn "Dill" Jones. The bands on show were Butterfield-Jones and the Jazz Connection, Buck Creek Jazz Band, Fat Cat's Festival Jazzers and the Princeton Bix Reunion Band. The musicians included drummer Johnny Blowers, trumpeter Billy Butterfield, cornetist Tommy Pletcher, Clarinetist Gary Gregg, pianist Rick Cordrey, and banjo players Jerry Addicott and Steve Jordan as well as numerous others.

Only about 150 people showed up for the five hour entertainment. By all accounts Butterfield's first set, with pianist John Eaton standing in for Dill Jones was winner. Later Butterfield and Tommy Pletcher played chase choruses. Singer Barbara Lea  accompanied the musicians for some tunes.

Manassas Jazz Festival Nov. 26, 1983 - "If I Could Be With You"
George was to enjoy many jazz performances, festivals and jazz picnics during his year working in Washington.

On September 15, 1984 he attended the 14th Annual PRJC Jazz Picnic at Blob's Park in Jessup, Maryland. The event went from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM with Any Ol' Time Jazz Band starting off the festivities and ending with the Village Jazz Band. Some of the groups in-between consisted of the Royal Blue Orchestra; Federal Jazz Commission; Capital City Jazz Band; and the Ponchartrain Causeway New Orleans Jazz Band.

George's experiences as a member of the Potomac River Jazz Club and the opportunity to attend the numerous events where Traditional Jazz was one display prepared him for his future career as a jazz researcher, writer and reviewer.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Remembering Pianist Marie Marcus - by George A. Borgman

In the 1930s, Marie Marcus, then known by her maiden name of Marie Doherty, worked on a children's radio program that was broadcast nationally out of New York City. One of her jobs was to audition girls to play the part on the show of squeaky-voiced Betty Boop, of movie cartoon fame. since no one passed the audition, it was decided that Marie herself play Betty Boop, and she did it quite sucessfully.

She went on become a popular jazz pianist and singer at various clubs and cabarets in the Big Apple, including those owned and operated by such infamous characters as Frank Costello and Dutch Schultz, and she was alos acquainted with Legs Diamond and Bugsy Siegel (before he moved to the West Coast).

Fats Waller heard her sit in on piano at an after-hours chicken house in Harlem, he liked her playing, and whenever he was in New York, he called her up, and off and on for two years they got together at a practice studio and played stride together. As a result, Marie became quite a stride piano player. In addition, she worked on the road with Wild Bill Davison, and anyone on the bandstand with Wild Bill had to be a good player.

Like a fine wine, Marie Marcus seems to have improved with age and she was indeed the grand dame of jazz piano.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Jazz Performance Saturday - "Maple Leaf Rag" - Neville Dickie

On the first Saturday of the month piano performances are the focus. Since George A. Borgman was a friend of the British pianist Neville Dickie and since he will be performing in Massachusetts this month on the 12th, let's look at a video I took of Neville Dickie playing Maple Leaf Rag from a private performance he gave while giving a talk on the history of jazz piano in 2014.
Scott Joplin c. June 1903
Scott Joplin, most likely the greatest ragtime piano composer, wrote Maple Leaf Rag early in his career. It was copyrighted on September 8, 1899. It became a sensation and the model for most ragtime compositions afterwards. Over the next twenty years Joplin wrote about four dozen ragtime piano compositions. Although quotes of how many pieces of the sheet music sold may have been an exaggerated the Maple Leaf Rag still out sold every other musical piece that John Stark published and Joplin survived on the royalties from it until his death in 1917.
Neville Dickie was born on January 1, 1937 in Durham Co., England. He played in pubs, clubs and taverns for many years. He then began a long stint of BBC radio appearances which made him a household name. In 1969 he had a hit single The Robins Return and in 1975 his album Back To Boogie sold over a 100,000 copies.
Here's a small sampling of some of what George A. Borgman had to say about Dickie.
Neville Dickie is a world renowned stride and boogie-woogie pianist from Surrey, England. He is known worldwide in festival, concert and recording circles as a gentle giant of stride piano and also a giant among boogie piano players. His strong left hand provides a steady boogie ostinato while the right hand emits delightful melodic variations. 
George wrote an extensive article on Dickie for The Mississippi Rag and was also invited to write the liner notes for one of Dickie's CDs.

Upon George's death Dickie wrote, "My first meeting with George was when he interviewed me for the Mississippi Rag in 1998. He didn’t do anything by half, and thoroughly researched his subject. Proof of this was an 18 page booklet he wrote for one of my CDs. Earlier this year (2009) he told me he wasn’t in good health but he was determined he and Janet would be at the Sherborn in August to see my performance with Stan McDonald – that was the last time I saw him. George loved the dry English sense of humour and he laughed at many of the stories I told him. It was a privilege to know this wonderful man."
So now watch and listen to Neville Dickie speaking about and playing Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag.