THE ELUSIVE FRANK NEWTON, SEEN TWICE

Taken at a 1937 jam session at the Brunswick Studios, New York City, in celebration of the new label, Variety Records.  Newton is protected by George Wettling from the sounds of Mezz Mezzrow.  Knowing Mezz, we can guess that he is playing along while Newton solos, which might account for the expression on Newton’s face:

And ten years later, from October 1947 (the source is http://www.tedgoddard.com/) is this photo of Newton’s clearly integrated band — presumably taken in Boston, with Ted Goddard on tenor saxophone at the far right:

Any scrap of evidence showing us more of Newton is welcome.  I was delighted to find a Cafe Society program in Terry Trilling-Josephson’s book, CAFE SOCIETY — especially because the program was autographed by Newton, Vic Dickenson, and Eddie Barefield.  And a Newton signature also appears in the Bob Inman / Ken Vail SWING ERA SCRAPBOOK.  Can anyone identify the musicians in the picture above?  At one point Flip Phillips played clarinet with Newton, but in 1947, he was already a star.  Suggestions, anyone?

And I’m still looking for a printable copy of the photograph (late Forties or the early Fifties) of Newton by Weegee.  Newton is sitting in the basement of the apartment building of which he was the janitor, playing his trumpet next to the boiler.  It’s heartbreaking, a study of a man exiled from “the music business” but with so much to give us.

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4 responses to “THE ELUSIVE FRANK NEWTON, SEEN TWICE

  1. A few years ago the UK label Jasmine brought out an excellent double-CD entitled “Frank Newton – The Story of a Forgotten Jazz Trumpeter”, with a good cross-section of his work including sides with Cecil Scott, Bessie Smith, Art Karle, Mezzrow, Teddy Hill, Buster Bailey, Billie Holiday, Charlie Barnett, Willie The Lion, The Port of Halem Jazzmen, The Buck Ram All Stars and various groups under Newton’s own leadership. The selection was by Sally-Ann Worsfold who also wroter the extensive booklet notes. It’s well worth seeking out.
    One of the many aspects of Newton’s personality noted by Worsfold, was his active involvement on left-wing politics and the civil rights movement. I have long suspected that it was no coincidence that when the well-known Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote about jazz he did so under the name “Francis Newton.”

  2. It is truly great to see Newton in these photographs. They are well taken. This is some great information and thanks for posting.

  3. The bassist looks a little like Artie Bernstein, but I’ll do more research to be sure.

  4. In the second photo, the guitarist is Don Alessi, the clarinetist is Howie Gadboys, and the bassist is John Field.

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