Thanks to “atticus 70,” here are two wonderful hot sides from the glory days of searing Chicago jazz featuring two sadly short-lived and legendary players, pianist Frank Melrose and clarinetist Frank Teschmacher.  The other musicians on the session had longer lives: trumpeter (or cornetist?) Wingy Manone, tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman, drummer George Wettling, accordionist “Charles Melrose.”*  Recorded January 24, 1930.

The musicians took their name from the club (the “joint,” I think) they were playing in, which was called MY CELLAR.

The first selection is BARREL HOUSE STOMP (take A), and Frank Melrose appears right after the accordion solo; he’s propulsive throughout.  And Tesch is clear-toned and rasping as the spirit moves him.  Both Freeman and Manone are instantly recognizable, and although Wettling’s drums aren’t recorded as they would be in the Forties through the Sixties, he and his bass drum are solidly in there:

The other side was — no, IS — WAILING BLUES (also take A), reminiscent of KING OF THE ZULUS (without the vamp).  In the video slide show, the first picture is from 1932 (I think) showing a very serious Jess Stacy and George Wettling, seated, with a quizzically somber Tesch standing in back of them; other photos depict Wettling, Bud, Tesch, and even Jimmy McPartland.  In both displays Frank Melrose is shown in a hand-tinted photograph.  His boater is appropriately cocked to the side; his eyes stare, somewhat narrowed, away from the camera.  A serious man, the craft of playing barrelhouse piano a vocation not to be taken lightly:

This post is for all the devotees of Hot and especially for Aunt Ida Melrose Shoufler, one of this blog’s most cherished readers.  More about the Melroses in good time!  (Frank always kept good time . . . )

*Aunt Ida told Hal Smith that there was no “Charles Melrose”; Hal thinks the accordionist is Bennie Moten’s brother Bus, sitting in.  Any comments on this mystery?




  2. Thank you so much, my beloved nephew, Michael.
    With much love and appreciation,
    Aunt Ida

  3. Neat stuff! Deeply enjoyed the moving gallery of photos in particular the one of George with his arm over the back of a chair. Handsome man. Plenty of gray by this time. Undoubtedly taken at an exhibit of his paintings. Anyone have any insight on that? Where the show might have been? The Gallery? I’m aware a mentor of his was Stuart Davis and one of his paintings decorated his 10” Columbia lp “GW Jazz Band”… “Indiana” – “Collier’s Climb” etc. I am privileged to own one of his paintings “The Chinese Drummer” given to me by Ginny Kaminsky. MORE IMPORTANTLY—A beautiful AJ Sammut article about you and Jazz Lives- all true!

  4. Teschmacher? Any relation to your Francine Teschmacher?

  5. Ida told me once that “Charles Melrose” did not exist. I have always wondered if that might be Bus Moten sitting in with the band, under an assumed name?
    Remember Frank’s nickname, and sometime listen to “Kater Street Rag” by Moten, then the trio section of “Market Street Jive” by Kansas City Frank. Similarities? Was he thinking of Market Street in Kansas City? Bennie’s piano???
    Ida hears the similarities too…

  6. I’m researching jazz accordion history for a book, and these are great tracks. It’s interesting that all the other players are known. Would they have kept Moten’s name hidden because he was Black? Jazz and dance band accordionists were not uncommon, so it really could have been any number of people, but very little has been written about them. Unfortunately during the time when most of the pop culture (including jazz) history has been written, the accordion was at the bottom of its popularity. We get dismissive reviews like this sort of amusing one from a 1988 Dictionary of Jazz, certainly opinionated, but not entirely accurate: “The accordion has a long, undistinguished history in jazz…”
    On the Moten question, I don’t know. Would one of many white accordionist be more likely? Again, so few people ever bothered to ask (because by the time people were asking, the accordion wasn’t cool) that many of these players have left little trace. Similar complaints from my friend who plays tuba.
    I’m really happy to hear these tracks though. It gets us a new name to look for and maybe we’ll find out more together now that we’ve started to ask.
    I would love to have these sides to play on my Accordion Noir radio show in Vancouver, Canada

  7. Hi again, While researching further, I got these tracks on a swell Teschemacher / Condon compilation with everything Tesch recorded – online for $6.00! Deal. (“Frank Teschemacher / Eddie Condon 1928-30, The Encyclopedia of Jazz, vol 61”)

    A review reminded me about Condon’s biography, We Called it Music, which has pictures of Condon playing banjo/guitar with Peavey’s Jazz Bandits (in 1924 or so), with Doris Peavey on accordion. Condon says, “Doris was beautiful and a fine musician. She spent a lot of time teaching me chords and modulations.” (pg 71).

    So there’s just one example of another accordionist around when these tracks were cut. Could it have been Doris Peavey? I don’t know. That would be really cool, since I don’t know of other recordings she made.

  8. Anything is possible, although I think that dance bands and hot bands might have had pianists who doubled on accordion for strolling gigs or in places too small for a piano. The delightful part of JAZZ LIVES is that someday Doris Peavey’s great-grandniece will write in to tell us more! Until then . . .

  9. Pingback: PRESTO : The American Music Trade Weekly, Online Library — 1920 – 1941 « Accordion Uprising

  10. The accordion was defiantly a second (or third) string instrument behind the piano. Pianos were everywhere, so free to borrow and no transportation. Accordions had their own sound, which could be useful or at least novel, but it never developed into a “necessity.”

    I added a bit about Peavey (with a photo), and linked back to your post here when I discovered the amazing American Music Trade Weekly on-line searchable archives, (1920-1940), lots of fun.

  11. Hi again, I’m writing a short bit on the Cellar Boys for my book on accordion history, and hoping to track down a reference or so.

    I found this about Frank Melrose:

    In it Ida Melrose Shoufler is quoted as saying she remembers her mom talking about an “Uncle Lee” who played accordion. That seems like quite a likely candidate for the Charles (Charlie/Lee) Melrose playing accordion on the Cellar Boys tracks, no?

    I like the mystery actually, to me it helps show how fragile our knowledge is, and maybe how important it is to do good oral history while we can.

    I wonder if there’s a way for me to connect with Hal Smith to see if that jibes with his interview with Ida where she didn’t recall a “Charles” Melrose? It would be swell to be able to be able to give a solution to this little mystery.

  12. Well, from communicating with Ida she says her uncle didn’t play with her dad in the Cellar Boys.

    But then today I stumbled on another 1930s accordionist, Charlie Creath. He played trumpet and recorded with his Jazz-o-Maniacs (great name) in the 20s, but was sick with TB from 1928-1930. Later he played sax and accordion, but isn’t know to have recorded after that. He worked mostly on riverboats from St. Louis to New Orleans, but in later years had a nightclub in Chicago, so he might have spent other time there. And his name’s Charlie! Another suspect! That’d be cool, eh?

    Oh, and he was African American I think, so if he needed to use a fake name, maybe he took on Melrose? A curious possibility, though here we are asking the question probably forty or fifty years too late.

    Fine little piece on Creath in here:

  13. Pingback: Accordion Noir Radio playlist 2016-06-22: Midsummer Wednesday | Accordion Uprising

  14. Pingback: Accordion Noir radio playlist 2018-10-10: Falling Into Autumn | Accordion Uprising

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