Daily Archives: January 18, 2010

IT’S WONDERFUL: COMING SOON!

Jazz fans like myself grew up with only a small portion of the music preserved on records available to them.  There were complete sets of Ellington issued, one by one, on French lps, but much of the music seemed hidden until the last decade or so, where complete projects seemed to spring up everywhere.  Want the complete Django , Condon broadcasts, or Fats?  A Mosaic box with unissued takes you never knew existed?  Move that mouse and it’s yours.  So occasionally I feel as if every meal was an all-you-can-eat affair.

But magnificent jazz recordings few people had known about are still being emerging. 

On the basis of what I’ve heard already, an upcoming compact disc on Anthony Barnett’s AB Fable label will be spectacular. (Barnett is not only a scrupulous researcher but a splendid writer — his reissue projects are superb.)

Imagine, if you will, a 1937 swing band — its members drawn from the Chick Webb band, the Cab Calloway band, and Stuff Smith’s ensemble — playing pop tunes with arrangements by Edgar Sampson. 

Imagine that the soloists include Ben Webster, Jonah Jones, Sandy Williams. 

Imagine that the band is led by Stuff Smith. 

Finally, imagine that the vocalist is a youthful, pert Ella Fitzgerald.

You can open your eyes now.

It’s not available yet, but it will be . . . visit  http://www.abar.net/.  And in the US, you’ll be able to ourchase it through CADENCE: www.cadencebuilding.com

P.S.  The radio programs were sponsored by an eye lotion (I believed it was advertised as providing for relief for red, dry eyes — something that bloggers know all too well!) called LUCIDIN.  Are any of my readers collectors of archaic pharmaceuticals, and has anyone ever seen a Lucidin bottle?  I don’t think it was a long-lived product, alas.  Send word, please.

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VIC DICKENSON by MACEO BRUCE SHEFFIELD

Sharp-eyed reader, long-time friend, and diligent collector Rob Rothberg noticed that the photograph of Lucille Hall and Vic Dickenson showsn in an earlier post was credited to the Sheffield studios.  with typical generosity, he offers his Sheffield portrait study of a handsome Vic. 

Rob wants to know if the “Maceo B. Sheffield” credited here is also the pioneering African-American actor, 1897-1959.

I also would like to know more about Maceo Bruce Sheffield (or Scheffield), who appeared as “Chief of Wazini” in the 1921 silent THE ADVENTURES OF TARZAN.  He also acted in and produced films between 1939 and 1947. 

Patt Morrison, writing in the Los Angeles Times in 1999, confirms that he was multi-talented: “movie serial stuntman, the West’s first Negro aviator, LAPD cop and opera impresario.”  I read elsewhere that Sheffield was a police officer before he became an actor. 

A man who knew something of photography, backgrounds, and poses might have opened his own portrait studio.  In the University of Massachusetts at Amherst W.E.B. DuBois archive, there’s a photograph of DuBois and others credited to Sheffield in 1951.  I found that Vera Jackson (a pioneering Black woman photojournalist) first worked in Sheffield’s studios.  But does anyone know more?

For now, I’ll just gaze happily at Vic.  Thanks, Rob!

 

“TIRE INSPECTION”

For those of us who love Louis Armstrong, this might be a familiar picture.  Someone took a snapshot of the musicians in a Forties band visiting the men’s room, and Louis annotated it in the upper left corner (in fountain pen).

Some readers will think this childish; others will think it points to the way the subject of sexuality and its attendant machineries turn grown men into little boys — I just find it funny.  And rest stops on a long road trip are delightful interludes, even if they aren’t being photographically documented.