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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

After Hour Jazz - Jonah Jones


Sam's Pretty Blues (Vocal: Sam Price)

After Hour Jazz
Jonah Jones
Hall Of Fame - Jazz Greats JG 613

Jonah Jones - Trumpet
Vic Dickenson - Trombone
Pete Brown - Alto Sax
Sammy Price - Piano
Milt Hinton - Bass
Cozy Cole - Drums

From the back cover: Jonah Jones nearly gave up the music business when his fortunes seemed at an unusually low ebb when jazz seemed to be forced underground with the emergence of rock nearly 20 years ago, but a chance shot at a feature spot on a Fred Astaire TV program renewed his career and made hime a commercial asset and since then he has earned sums unknown in his heyday as a jazz musician of the first rank.

His jazz days began on the riverboats operating out of Louisville back in the late 20's. His other apprentice jobs where with Horace Henderson, Jimmy Lunceford, McKinney's Cotton Pickers and Lil Armstrong, but his early fame came in the thirties with violinist Stuff Smith when that famous combo lit up 52nd Street. Firmly established as a stylist of note and power, he became a featured artist with Cab Calloway for 10 years, and then spent several more with jumping Earl Hines sextet. Since his renewal in the later 50's he has steadily led a quartet in leading nightclubs here and in Canada, Australia and Europe. He is featured on growl and open horn on Jonah Whales Again and Jumping' On 57th.

You might have heard musicians like these jazz men playing much in this style in after-hour clubs, in Harlem, on Chicago's South Side, in Kansas City (definitely) and in Detroit and in L.A.'s Central Avenue places like this don't exist anymore, and for that matter this kind of jazz has become sometimes, like gold coins, very, very precious and therefore much sought after.

Often these clubs were small, and as such, didn't have any specific or advertised entertainers working there regularly, but things would and did happen, usually in the hours after one in the morning.

This was the time when most entertainers and musicians had pretty much finished up on their downtown jobs, or sometimes it would be later, because years ago nightclubs had a habit of staying open regularly until four, and then the jamming which might commence somewhat earlier would likely go on until dawn.

Start with sometimes just a piano player (Sam Price would many times be that piano man) and possibly a drummer or a guitarist, and it wouldn't be long before all kinds of horn men would be crowding in to work off extra energy or to prove they worth as musicians. The bread and butter jobs often didn't allow much freedom of expression but instead on the written arrangements being followed to the letter.

Some clubs like Mexico's in Harlem would have things set up so each night in the week would be set aside for each horn (trumpet, trombone, saxophone, clarinet, etc.) and all the top men would be sure to be on hand blowing, with an audience of wildly appreciative fellow musicians who were usually the section men in the bands, plus a liberal sprinkling of hours girls, dancers, pimps, numbers men and a handful of the top sidemen of well-liked bandleaders from downtown.

In such exhibitions trombonist Vic Dickenson could be counted on to more than hold his own. The tall, slender Ohioan blew his exuberant yet wistful horn from bandstands as varied as Zach Whyte's, Blanche Calloway's, Claude Hopkins, Benny Carter's and Count Basie, before working with smaller groups led by Sidney Bechet, Fankie Newton, Eddie Heywood, Bobby Hackett, Red Allen, Wild Bill Davision and lately the World's Greatest Jazz Band. He is featured a length on Stormy Weather, Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone (the late great Bee Palmer's number) and If I Could Be With You.

Alto man Pete Brown played an usual style that seemed to be the epitome of "jump," an adjective applied to some of the more heated moments of swing style. He was from Baltimore and came to New York with Banjo Bernie Robinson in 1927, but it took him 10 more years to get downtown to 52nd Street where he began building an audience for his playing.  He led his own small bands regularly until the mid-50's when bad health and a weight problem forced him to give up regular playing. This is one of his last recordings and he is featured on Pete's Delta Bound and Jumping' On 57th. He died in 1963.

Bassist Milt Hinton from Vicksburg, Mississippi played with Freddie Keppard, Cass Simpson and Eddie South around Chicago before joining Cab Calloway in 1936. 15 years later he began doing studio work in New York and taking choice jobs like playing with Louis Armstrong's All-Stars and a short period with Count Basie. Milt is always in demand for any kind of jazz and any kind of pop session as well.

Cozy Cole's drums have had the diversified background of working with Wilbur Sweatman, Jelly Roll Morton, Blanche and Cab Calloway, Willie Bryant, Benny Carter and Stuff Smith (at the same time as Jonah Jones). He has appeared on Broadway in Carmen Jones and in The Seven Lively Arts, ran a drum school with Gene Krupa, played with Louis Armstrong's All-Stars, and had a hit single record with TOPSY and has since joined forces with his old friend Jonah Jones.

Sammy Price has doggedly pursued individuality and the retention of his blue-based style in the face of ever-changing musical fads. Starting in his native Texas as Charleston contest winner, he soon became an adept blues pianist and talent scout, serving in the latter capacity for Brunswick Records. He played in territory bands and small night clubs throughout the Southwest and wound up spending three fertile years in Kansas City, playing mainly at the famed Yellow Front night club until Prohibition ended. Then a short stay in Chicago led to five years up as house pianist for Decca's race record series for more than a decade, while working on 52nd Street and in Cafe Society. His appearances in Europe after World War II increased his following, and he has since gone into other non-musical ventures and politics, while not forsaking blues and boogie boogie.

Jumpin' On 57th
Sam's Pretty Blues (Vocal: Sam Price)
If I Could Be With You
Pete's Delta Bound
Jonah Whales Again
Stormy Weather
Walkin' And Shouting' The Boogie
Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone (Vocal: Sam Price)
Manhattan Blues

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