Joe Rushton was an eminent bass saxophonist and clarinetist.  You can hear him on a variety of recordings — perhaps most often with Red Nichols’ later Pennies.

home movie camera

But he also owned a home movie camera in 1943 and onwards, as many people did.  However, where the average amateur films show Mom and the kids at holiday meals, or perhaps the new puppy on the lawn, Joe’s films show his jazz friends goofing around — on the West Coast, as members of the Benny Goodman band, on their way to play the gig and to appear in THE GANG’S ALL HERE.

Joe’s son, Josh, has not only rescued these film clips — black and white and silent — from oblivion, but he’s taken good care of them, annotated them, and put a few on YouTube here for us to marvel at and be amused by.  Here are two recent gifts to us and an astonishing one — in case you haven’t seen it recently. The odd allure of these films is strong yet hard to define.  Is it that the people captured here almost always come to us as sound, occasionally with a still picture — and those sounds have come to represent the whole men or women.  So when we see, for instance, that Miff Mole actually had a corporeal reality in some ways larger and more human than his notes coming out of the speaker, that’s a pleasure and a surprise.  When we see him in motion, putting on one suspender for the camera, not wearing his suit or his tiny eyeglasses, we might think, “They were human, too!”  Always a valuable realization.

Thank you, Joe!  Thank you, Josh!

Saxophonists Herbie Haymer (who played with Norvo as well as BG and showed up on a fine Keynote Records date around this time:

Any expert lip readers in the worldwide JAZZ LIVES audience?

And this group of playful jazz icons, captured at their ease:

So far the best guess at “the mystery man” is that he is Chummy MacGregor . . .

Finally, what may have been the most astonishing find in the Rushton archives, something I’ve already written about here:

May your happiness increase.


  1. Great stuff! Can you believe me that I walked into Stuyvesant Casino with Miff Mole? Eric Offner

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Richard A. Hill

    Wonderful stuff. Seeing Miff Mole is a treat. The “Gangs All Here” has a bit of Miff in the BG orch. Any others? Fun to see Jess Stacy & Lee Wiley together as well. Keep up your great site.

  3. Hi Michael,


    The “mystery man” is definitely not Chalmers MacGregor. For a moment, I thought it might be Joe Sullivan, but then…

    Michael P. Zirpolo,
    “Mr. Trumpet…the Trials,
    Tribulations and Triumph of
    Bunny Berigan”

  4. Very cool!

  5. From my pal and great jazz drummer Michael Burgevin: JIMMY MCPARTLAND

    I knew Jimmy McPartland very well. During the late sixties and into the mid-seventies I worked frequently with Jimmy, often with pianist Chuck Folds, sometimes with Marian. The Joe Rushton film is quite wonderful- Seeing Jimmy that young, in uniform, kissing that beautiful woman Gloria Faye… is telling. What I know about him, whether he or someone else shared with me… IS: He took part in the invasion of Europe on D-Day and went ashore on one of the most difficult and treacherous beachheads- the one where the soldiers had to shoot grappling hooks up to the top and then climb the cliffs using heavy ropes. He survived that! When I knew him he still had heavy arms and I remember them being covered with bumps (cyst like)- These I saw when I went out to his home on Long Island (Merrick) and he came to the door in a T-shirt. He lived in half of the house and wife Marian in the other half. I bought a pound of MJ for him from the bartender who worked at O’Connor’s Beef & Ale House in NJ. (I was never a dealer so let’s get that shite straight right now)- I just appreciated the wonderfulness of the herb, as did many of us during that time… and I was young (30’s) and had many friends. Jimmy was ever appreciative of that find. So obviously Jimmy kissing that lovely woman (Gloria) in the film here (‘43) was before D-Day (‘44). And he met dear Marian in England (I think). Without a doubt the most important conversation I had with Jimmy was about drummer Dave Tough where he used the word “relentless” to describe his driving beat. Most drummers today who admire DT think of his ride cymbal work… but (imo) the track to listen to is “Friar’s Point Shuffle” – especially on the out-chorus where Dave is “relentless” on his snare-presses with punching cymbal accents on the four- and then switching to a cymbal steadily on the 1, 2, 3 & 4- Jimmy knew- of course he would- he was there. I wonder if the editor of these wonderful film shorts has Marian accompanying the sound track (?) How appropriate if so. A priceless post for sure, Michael.

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