I stumbled on this Red Nichols Brunswick record from 1929 on YouTube while searching for Red McKenzie vocals — a rewarding quest, except I am oddly discomposed by the idea of McKenzie providing part of the soundtrack for something (a computer simulation / game?) called Bioshock.  Well, anything that lets people hear him sing THE TROUBLE WITH ME IS YOU shouldn’t be scoffed at.

Then I encountered this recording — charitably posted by “Atticus70” and when I looked closer, I saw it wasn’t the Gershwin WHO CARES? but a more self-pitying pop song by Yellen and Ager.

But look and listen to the personnel: all those “Chicagoan” ruffians who took their Nichols paychecks as long as he would put up with their (presumably) hard-drinking disdain for things like clean clothes and punctuality.

The band is Red Nichols, Mannie Klein, Tommy Thunen, trumpets;  Glenn Miller, cornet, trombone;  Jack Teagarden, ? Herb Taylor, trombones;  Pee Wee Russell, clarinet;  Bud Freeman, tenor sax;  Joe Sullivan, piano;  Tommy Felline, banjo;  Art Miller, bass;  Dave Tough, drums;  Red McKenzie, vocal.

New York, June 12, 1929: for all its melancholy, this is pre-Crash pop music.

And the sounds of Teagarden, Russell, Sullivan, and Tough are elixirs.  Condon isn’t there, but perhaps Nichols found him to be the primary ringleader; Tommy Felline (or is it Fellini?) was no doubt much more tractable.  And McKenzie croons so beautifully, making even the odd lyrics work reasonably well.

But here’s the music!



  1. When I see the name Dave Tough, it always kind of jumps out at me! My mother, Frances Melrose, used to tell me of the times he would come to our house, and what a fantastic drummer he was,,,Also some really funny stuff, Thanks for the post,,I enjoyed.

  2. All of my all-stars! Love it!!!!!!!!

  3. About the cut being used in “Bioshock,” I’m never sure if that is a testament to the fortitude of this music, or a reminder of pop culture’s ability to instrumentalize any work of art. Well, let’s see who’s blogging about “Bioshock” in 80 years!
    Yours, etc.
    Pseudo-Philosophical Figg

  4. The roster of musicians Atticus gave is that in Rust’s Jazz Records. Lord gives a slightly different roster: Eddie Condon instead of Felline on banjo; and instead of ?HerbTaylor, tb, Lord gives Bill Trone (mellophone) or Charlie Butterfield (mellophone).

  5. I forgot to mention this. I think the c (cornet) after Glenn Miller’s s name is an error copied from Rust’s discography. As far as I know, Miller played only trombone. Moreover, with three trumpet players already present, why would Miller play cornet? My guess is that c is a typo for a (arranger). Miller was the arranger for “Rose of Washington Square,” the other tune recorded on the same day as “Who Cares?”

  6. @ M. Figg: I certainly appreciate your comment, but perhaps it is more constructive for us to talk about these musicians’ ability to “artilize” any instrument of pop culture. I must admit, I missed the last issue of Variety, but I haven’t heard of anyone with plans to resurrect “Bombo.” I imagine, thankfully I’m sure, that no one is blogging about the show either. Just a thought…

  7. @ Eric Elder: that is an excellent point you make, and one that opens up a lot of music that academics may dismiss as “pop” or “novelty” rather than “True…Authentic…Jazz.” And apologies if my comment came off a little more smarmy than I intended; in all honesty I really don’t know if they’ll be blogging about “Bioshock” in the future, or for that matter running graduate seminars in it!

    Thanks for your very thoughtful reply.

  8. If I may intrude here, I just read somewhere that blogs themselves are obsolete, as in “That’s so five years ago.” So who knows what any of us — certainly not me — will be doing in eighty years? I like William Maxwell’s comment shortly before his death (the great novelist and editor had for a time taken piano lessons): “In the next life I will not be making music. I will BE music.” OK with you gents as something to aim for? Cheers, Michael

  9. Reading back, it is my comment that was poorly worded. Please accept my apology. I am fairly certain that I will never know what “Bioshock” is, but I’m sure that many of my young peers coming out of jazz programs (the next generation of jazz educators) do. My girlfriend’s nephews (the next generation of potential jazz converts) probably already have the thing, assuming it is loud, fast and expensive… Suffice it to say that I strongly agree with the above statement that “anything that lets people hear [Red McKenzie] sing THE TROUBLE WITH ME IS YOU shouldn’t be scoffed at.”

    Your Friend in Figg-dom.

  10. Pingback: Pop Goes the Timeless | Aesthetic, Not Anesthetic

  11. @ Albert Haim: Actually Glenn Miller did play cornet in the early days on some recordings. This wasn’t unusual by the way; others, including Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, and even Benny Goodman (!) would sometimes double on cornet or trumpet, and all have recordings with them on that instrument.

  12. Patsy Ann Taylor

    The full name of the Herb Taylor who played trombone is George Herbert Taylor. More often know as Herb, he played with the Dorsey Brothers, Abe Lyman, and others during his long and successful career as a musician, arranger, and composer.

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