Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fred Hamm - Leader, cornet player and singer

Frederick F. Hamm was born on September 7, 1889 in Newpoint, Missouri. By the time he was twelve he was residing with his widowed mother. He took an interest in music. He eventually began playing the cornet.

Fred was teaching music in St. Joseph, Missouri in January 1920 and lodging with the Welsh family on North Ninth Street. Sometime this year, possibly after relocating to Chicago, he married a woman named Alice.

Three years later in Chicago, in 1923, he had his own dance band managed by Edgar Benson, who had his own orchestra. The Fred Hamm Orchestra performed at the Marigold Garden from 1923 until 1925. Besides leading Hamm played cornet and sang.

1925 was a pivotal year for him, he took over the Benson Orchestra and cut many record sides for Victor in Camden, New Jersey. These included his own memorable co-composition with his reed player, David Bennett, Bye Bye Blues.

The band for these 1925 sessions included Chauncey Gray on piano, Joe Harris on trombone, and Bennett on clarinet or alto-sax. 

Things didn't go well with these recordings. The first day of recording was April 21st and the band recorded Stop Off Let’s Go, Ah-Ha!, She’s Got ‘Im,and Bye Bye Blues, all of which were rejected.

Six days later on April 27th Hamm and the band tried again, recording all the same pieces as previously and adding Just A Little Drink. Again, all the tunes were rejected by Victor.

Then on April 30th they tried all five tunes again. This time they were keepers but they did do second takes for She's Got 'Em and Bye Bye Blues the next day on the 1st of May. The other tunes recorded during this session included Flag that Train (to Alabam’) and Montmartre which was rejected.

Back in Chicago on December 17th, the band with some changes to the musicians, cut more sides for Victor, some of these being, Want A Little Lovin’? and Sugar Foot Stomp. The second tune recorded, Hangin' Around was rejected. Violinist Bert Lown was added and pianist Jack Gardner replaced Chancey Gray.

In 1928 when Hamm and the band was in New York they went into the Columbia recording studios and recorded Shout Hallelujah! Cause I'm Home, but, it was rejected. 

The next known recording session took place on February 26, 1929, when Hamm recorded True Blue and He, She and Me in Chicago this time for Brunswick under the name Fred Hamm and His Collegians. Two other band members during this date were Dusty Rhodes and Frank Sylvano. Interestingly when these sides were released under the Vocalion label the band was credited as the Original Wolverines.

More sides were recorded in Chicago on March 25, 1929. The tunes were, again, True Blue, My Castle In Spain Is A Shack In the Lane and finally Some Sweet Day. Again, it appears these titles were released by Vocalion under the Original Wolverines.

On December 13, 1929, Hamm made more recordings, the two of the tunes recorded were Remarkable Girl and We Love Us.

He and his wife Alice were living on Stony Island Avenue in Chicago in 1930.

His career may have continued unabated if he hadn’t died in Chicago at the age of 41 on July 15, 1931.

The band was quickly taken over by drummer Carl Moore and the name changed to Carl "Deacon" Moore and His Orchestra.

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