In July 2014, I found a comment on JAZZ LIVES on a post I had written about the 1929 Vitaphone short film Red Nichols and his Five Pennies had done — the personnel including Nichols, Tommy Thunen, John Egan, Pee Wee Russell, Herb Taylor, Eddie Condon, and others.  The commenter, one Patsy Ann Taylor, was someone I did not know personally, but she wrote, “The full name of the Herb Taylor who played trombone is George Herbert Taylor. More often known as Herb, he played with the Dorsey Brothers, Abe Lyman, and others during his long and successful career as a musician, arranger, and composer.”

I love new information, especially when it pertains to some unknown area — a musician whose name was most often offered in discographies with a question mark — so I contacted Patsy Ann, and found out that she and husband Lee were living in a California town about thirty minutes from where I was staying, and we made arrangements to meet.

But first — here’s the Vitaphone short, for those who have never seen it:

I knew about the short, and I knew something of the jazz recordings Herb Taylor had participated in — 1929, with Nichols, but what came before and after was news to me. So the Taylors very kindly sat on their living room couch in front of my camera, and here is what I found out:


Part Two — VIOLA / JUNE:

After the interview, I showed Lee and Patsy Ann the Vitaphone short, which they’d never seen (and they recognized Herb instantly).  Later, Patsy Ann, a diligent researcher and genealogist, provided some information about Herb’s early life:

Circa 1912: Age 6, Began to play cornet. Herb’s father, Herb Sr., was his teacher.

Circa 1914: Age 8, Began piano lessons with Prof. Glaymeyer, which continued for seven years.

May 19, 1917: First Record newspaper route 20A

Circa 1917: Joined the Record Boy’s Band. Herb played cornet, piano, drums, piano, trombone, or any other instrument the director, Charles D. Smith, asked him to play.

Circa 1920: Age 14, Admitted to the Musician’s Union by special dispensation from James C. Petrillo. He started playing for dances and other social functions.

1922: Married Viola Mae Gofield and began playing in San Francisco under Max Dolin at the California Theater and later with Ben Black’s orchestra at the Alexandria Theater. He also played with Henry Halstead’s Hotel St. Francis orchestra. He broadcast his piano solos from the St. Francis Hotel studio.
Halstead took his orchestra to Los Angeles when the contract with St. Frances Hotel expired. Herb went with him. After that summer, Herb returned to the Bay Area and in January, 1926 performed with Herbert Meyernik at the Lowe’s State Theater in Oakland, California.

These details are taken from the January 28, 1917 edition of the Stockton Record Family Log, which was published monthly for the newspaper’s employees.

And now, if you don’t mind, I am going to fix myself a Bloody Mary — even though Herb and June sold the company, it still has a deep sentimental meaning for me.

May your happiness increase!

5 responses to ““MR. and MRS. T'”S WELL-SEASONED JAZZ HISTORY

  1. Wonderful! What a wonderful piece of research

  2. Charlie Decker

    This is rich wonderful history! Thank you for pursuing it and sharing it with us.

    P.S. The West 20th St address of Bunk Johnson’s agent (per yesterday’s “find” on Ebay) is two blocks from where I live in the Chelsea neighbor of Manhattan!-not that ffar from what was Tin Pan Alley-West 26 and 27th St, between 5th and 6th Ave.

  3. DDn "Zoot" Conner

    The vitaphone clip was wonderful and the interview(which I thought would be boring,at best) was fascinating.Thank you,Michael for the presentions.

  4. Hi there, Michael. Because the links don’t show up next to their names, not sure of the contents. But… Do I assume that they are related to Herb Taylor because of the same name?

    By the way, a New York session man, Bob White, identified himself as the drummer in this short. I am fairly sure that this is the case, but have not “gone into print” because I have not made the time to verify this information.


  5. Hi Michael, Bob White was one of my father’s dearest friends from the mid-1930s and consequently, born in 1943 as I was, I was raised around him and his wife Velma. Since it was I who originally recognized him in this short and identified him to Mark, I’d thought I’d provide some background for this assertion. After seeing the short, and being very surprised at being able to identify him for Mark, I visited with Bob in Dallas and asked him about it. He related the circumstances surrounding the making of the film and verified that it is him. If Mark, or anyone else for the matter, needs further verification of his identity, I should be able to provide some older pictures of Bob that would make the case. By the way, he was also the drummer on a 1934 session with Wingy, as well as the NORK sessions, the 3 Ts session for Victor (as well as a Norvo and a Whiteman session all from 1936) after which he was with Freddie Martin for a long time. He was a great guy and I have a lot of casual photos of my parents and Bob & Velma…even some home movies. The pianist should also be noted and Mark reminded me recently that it is Irving Brodsky.

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