The photograph below comes from Helen Ward’s collection, courtesy of my friend Sonny McGown.  It’s amazing — an onstage jam session from one of the 1953 concerts that began with the Benny Goodman Orchestra and the Louis Armstrong All-Stars.  After Benny chose not to go on with the tour, Gene Krupa led his band — and obviously a good time was had by all.  See who you can identify:

From the left, I see George Auld and three other saxophone players, Steve Jordan (guitar), Israel Crosby (bass), a Goodman trombonist and bespectacled Vernon Brown, Trummy Young behind Vernon, a short fellow in a light suit whose name escapes me, Cozy Cole behind him, Ziggy Elman, an unidentified trumpeter and Charlie Shavers in front of Arvell Shaw.

I think I hear an uptempo blues . . . but whatever it is, the sound I imagine is angelic.  Wow!

P.S.  Sonny pointed out to me that Willie Smith (on left) has his back to the camera, Al Stewart is the unidentified trumpeter . . . and the closing jam session was typically THE SAINTS.  So now I know what I’m hearing.

9 responses to “THE ANGELS SWING, 1953

  1. That shorter man with the light suit does look awfully familiar, doesn’t he? Must be Bigard’s rather full forehead behind Shaw…

  2. Great pic! An “uptempo blues” is a good guess but I can tell you definitively that it’s “The Saints.” Louis was proud of this finale and talked about it on his private tapes, with members of the Goodman/Krupa band marching out to join the All Stars (well, not Goodman; this finale never happened when he was there, only when Gene took over). One performance was broadcast and sure enough, I shared it on my blog way back when. Go there to listen to it then stare at the pic to make it come alive. Thanks, Michael! Here’s the link:

  3. Great photography!… Another All Stars members: Arvell Shaw behind Charlie Shavers, Barney Bigard behind Arvell Shaw.

  4. I forgot to suggest: the tenor player on left looks a little bit like Stan Getz.

  5. How could you forget Louis Armstrong among the aforementioned?
    Why don’t you tell the story behind Goodman leaving the tour?


  6. It was a joke, Erik. The day I don’t recognize Louis I am in serious medical trouble.

  7. I saw this concert and the “Saints” finale in Public Hall in Cleveland when I was fifteen and was hooked for life on jazz!!
    Tom Duncan aka Dr. Dubious

  8. Cynthia Peer Green

    My dad, Rex Peer, is the Goodman trombonist. This picture was taken by my grandfather (mother’s side) Claire Benton. Dad told us kids later that he was so excited to run down and get a program to see his name there with the big guys and when he got the program he was listed as ‘Ray Pete’. Poor dad. This picture hung on the wall of our home for as long as I can remember. Miss him.

  9. My uncle, Rex Peer, is the Goodman trombonist. My mom, his sister, was there when Uncle Rex played. They all had a great time which translates into many warm memories.. Sure do miss both of them!

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