Provide any jazz fan with the first name “Benny” and leave the surname blank . . . and most listeners will respond with “Goodman.” Some will think of “Morton,” “Moten,” and stump-the-band types might reply “Meroff.” But how many people will immediately think of the brilliant, short-lived trumpeter Benny Strickler, who distinguished himself both in Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys and the early Yerba Buena Jazz Band . . . before dying of tuberculosis in his twenties.
I knew of Strickler as a legendary figure — revered by two of my jazz scholar-friends, Chris Tyle and Hal Smith — but I’d never had a substantial opportunity to hear his work before a friend told me about Dave Radlauer’s fascinating series of radio profiles, now available online here. Radlauer’s approach goes beyond assembling rare records and telling us their personnel: he has spoken at length with musicians who knew his subject — including Bob Helm, Bill Bardin, Danny Alguire. And the series goes in reverse: detailing Strickler’s playing days in San Francisco, then returning to his work with Wills in Tulsa. The delights of these programs are substantial: we get to discover a musician few of us knew, we hear first-hand testimony from people who were on the scene, and we hear both rare recordings by Strickler and later evocations of his compact, relaxed yet energized style, his shining sound. Dave’s JAZZ RHYTHM site presents four half-hour programs on Strickler, full of delightful music and deep research.
Do visit Dave Radlauer’s site here — you will find programs on everyone — famous and rare — from Charlie Christian to Eddie Condon, Spud Murphy, Emmett Miller, Bix, gypsy jazz . . . and more.
May your happiness increase.