I have a problem.  Having posted an excerpt from the short film by Walt Roesner and the Capitolians, featuring every Hot soloist you can imagine, I followed the text that accompanied the video (as well as my own eyes) for the identification of the players.  And since I couldn’t take my eyes off of the drummer — identified as the very original Vic Berton.

Now I find from a reputable percussion authority and several colleagues that they think the drummer is NOT Vic Berton.

What to do?

Here are pictures (verified by drummer / scholar Hal Smith) of Vic Berton.

and, finally, everyone’s favorite Dionysian figure:

Now, if you would look back to the posting of the Vitaphone excerpt: TEARING IT UP (Vic Berton and Friends)

I’m usually stubborn about these things, but the drummer in the Vitaphone short is substantial, perhaps verging on the rotund, and he may have a mustache.  Vic seems slimmer in both body and face.

What do my readers think?  If the man in the short film IS Vic, explain; if not, who’s playing drums with the Capitolians?  He swings, whatever his name may be!


  1. I agree with Hal that the drummer is not Vic Berton. Unfortunately, I cannot come up with the drummer’s identity.
    Nat Brusilof (sp?) is trombonist Dave Sager granduncle.
    I am not certain about this. I believe the Capitolians short is not a Vitaphone film but a Metro Movietone one.

  2. I think you are correct in these things, Albert, as always. So I apologize to David Sager, to Vic Berton (if he’s offended), and to my late father, who worked for Fox Movietone in the late Fifties and perhaps early Sixties.

    Cheers to you, you accurate fellow — Michael

  3. ” Dionysian figure”: I believe Vic did go in for some form of weird black-magic or devil-worship, though I don’t know the details.

    Is his brother Ralph (who wrote a lot about Bix and early white jazz) still alive? Probably not, sadly. He’d have been able to claer this up.

    I agree that it doesn’t look like Vic on the film.

  4. Could it have been Stan King? From the few photos I’ve seen of him (including one here: https://jazzlives.wordpress.com/2009/08/29/charles-petersons-vision/ admittedly from about ten or twelve years later), it would seem possible.

  5. Anything’s possible, Jim — although I have in my mind’s eye a picture of SK as short and bespectacled. Can anyone help us out? Michael

  6. Werner Bläser

    The drummer in the short has a kettledrum, and Berton was one of the extremely few drummers who played this thing in jazz. I think it`s him.

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