That’s written on the back of this snapshot — originally taken by drummer Walt Gifford, later held by jazz enthusiast Joe Boughton:


I am assuming that it was taken in the Boston area, but Wettling is the main attraction.  In the great tradition, Wettling played drums for the band — caring more for that than for any extended solo, although his four-bar breaks at the end of Eddie Condon recordings (Commodore, Decca, and Columbia) are justly famous.  He wasn’t as dramatic as some of his more celebrated peers, but any group that had Wettling in the rhythm section could relax, secure that the tempo would be steady, that every accent or sound would make sense as a complementary part of the whole.

Here are two samples of George at work — atypically visible as well — along with Wild Bill Davison, Billy Butterfield, Cutty Cutshall, Vic Dickenson, Ed Hall, Willie “the Lion” Smith, Al Hall, and Eddie himself — from a 1964 television program:


and — nearly a quarter-century earlier, sounds only:


If you follow the recordings he left behind — with Bunny Berigan, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman, Fats Waller, Joe Sullivan, Hot Lips Page, Lou McGarity, Pee Wee Russell, Bobby Hackett, Lee Wiley, Louis Armstrong, Chu Berry, Teddy Wilson, Muggsy Spanier, Jess Stacy, Frank Teschemacher, Frank Melrose, Boyce Brown, Paul Mares, Omer Simeon, Wingy Manone, Jimmy McPartland, Joe Marsala, Red Norvo, Mildred Bailey, Pete Brown, Jack Teagarden, Joe Bushkin, Willie “the Lion” Smith, Paul Whiteman, Coleman Hawkins, Max Kaminsky, Danny Polo, Herman Chittison, Joe Thomas, Mezz Mezzrow, Benny Carter, Miff Mole, Brad Gowans, Marty Marsala, George Brunis, Ed Hall, Wild Bill Davison, Rod Cless, James P. Johnson, Yank Lawson, Jerry Jerome, Billy Butterfield, Una Mae Carlisle, Dick Cary, Benny Morton, Jonah Jones, Errol Garner, Billie Holiday, Bujie Centobie, Red McKenzie, Chuck Wayne, Lucky Thompson, Ella Fitzgerald, Jo Stafford, Martha Tilton, Connee Boswell, Sidney Bechet, Frank Newton, Bing Crosby, Art Hodes, Doc Evans, Bob Wilber, Tony Parenti, Charlie Parker, Ralph Sutton, Barbara Lea, Vic Dickenson, Ruby Braff, Kenny Kersey, Frank Signorelli, Milt Hinton, George Duvivier, Urbie Green, Marian McPartland, Stuff Smith, Big Joe Turner, Buck Clayton, Claude Hopkins, Nat Pierce, Jimmy Jones, Marty Napoleon, Buster Bailey, Shorty Baker, Tyree Glenn, Kenny Davern, and many others — you will always hear rewarding music.

May your happiness increase!

8 responses to ““GEORGE WETTLING, MARCH 1953”

  1. jOhn P. Cooper

    The parking lot behind him looks familiar from a recent photo you posted, Michael.

  2. Best swing Dixie drummer ever My idol

    I will be paying tribute to Condon this year at sacramento with the original Vince Bartels Allstars Condon band member Johnny Varro piano, Dan Barrett cornet, Russ Philips t-bone Alan Vaché clarinet Dave Stone on bass Myself on drums please come and record the band for posterity Thanks for what you go you perform a very important service to all who love Jazz Sincerely, Vince Bartels Sent from my iPhone


  3. For what’s it’s worth, it looks like a car show at the Washington Monument…

  4. As to the location, anything’s possible. Wettling recorded in New York in March, so I put it somewhere in the East, but DC is more than plausible.

  5. Willie “the Lion” Smith, Born in next town over from Warwick Goshen, NY

  6. Agree w/Eric – looks like the Washington Monument where, in 1953, you could probably park your car on the around the base. No more, of course. Wettling was a master of clean and simple.

  7. Ida Melrose Shoufler

    This is some really fine listening! That has to be Jess Stacy playing in the last song. No one had his fantastic style,,,not that I’ve heard. I love listening to him. How wonderful to see my father’s name in that great group of musicians. Thank you so much, NM.


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