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.
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.