LOU McGARITY ArgoTrombonist and very occasional violinist and singer Lou McGarity, who died in 1971, was both reliable and inspiring.  I think I first heard him on recordings with Eddie Condon, with Lawson-Haggart, and with a wild 1941 Goodman band that included Mel Powell, Billy Butterfield, and Sidney Catlett, who gave McGarity the most extravagant backing.  Lou was a delightful presence, someone who could electrify a performance with a shouting yet controlled eight bars.  I also gather from his discography that he was an expert section player and reader, for many of his sessions have him surrounded by other trombonists.  But Lou very rarely got to lead a session on his own aside from two late-Fifties ones.
He traveled in very fast company, though, as in this gathering at the Ertegun party, held at the Turkish Embassy in 1940.  (Photo by William P. Gottlieb):
LOU McGARITY Turkish Embassy 1940
Let us have a long pause to imagine what that band sounded like, and to lament that it wasn’t recorded.
But onwards to 1955.  I imagine that someone at M-G-M, not the most jazzy of labels, decided that it would be a good idea to have some “Dixieland” to compete with the product that other labels were making money on.  I don’t know who arranged this session (Leroy Holmes? Hal Mooney?) but McGarity was an unusual choice: a thorough professional with fifteen years’ experience, however with no name recognition as a leader.  Was he chosen as nominal leader because he wasn’t under contract to any other label or leader?  And, to make the session more interesting, the four titles are all “originals,” suggesting that M-G-M wanted to publish the compositions themselves or, at the very least, pay no royalties for (let us say) MUSKRAT RAMBLE.  I’d guess that the compositions and arrangements were by the very talented Bill Stegmeyer.
Most of the personnel here is connected, on one hand, to Eddie Condon sessions of the Fifties, on the other to the Lawson-Haggart Jazz Band. There’s Lou, Yank Lawson, both Peanuts Hucko and Bill Stegmeyer on reeds, Gene Schroeder, Jack Lesberg, and Cliff Leeman.  And here’s the music.  I say gently that it is more professional than explosive, but I delight in hearing it, and hope you will too.



BIRMINGHAM SHUFFLE (not SUFFLE as labeled here):

A mystery solved, with pleasing results.

May your happiness increase!

8 responses to “ONCE RARE, NOW HERE: LOU McGARITY and FRIENDS, 1955

  1. Hi
    I’m afraid none of these videos is available they say. Is that because I’m in England? Can you make the tracks available to download please.
    Love all your posts. Many thanks

  2. Dear Paul, in reverse order, thanks for the kind words. My tech abilities are far smaller than you might assume, so I don’t know how to download the music and send it along. Perhaps a much more hip US reader can / will help you out. And, yes, YouTube does not share everything in every country — copyright issues? — which is strange, because the trail from M-G-M to LoneHill to YouTube to Orchard Enterprises winds its own way, without, I fear, paying musicians or their estates a cent. Sorry to be of so little assistance, but keep checking in! Michael

  3. Don "Zoot" Conner

    This is my kind of jazz,swinging and unpretentious.Good work,Michael.

  4. I expect he had the opportunity to record because he was by then Arthur Godfrey’s house trombonist, the man who played “Seems Like Old Times,” the Godfrey radio theme, every day for years and years.

  5. Red:

    Assuming you can get on to the Utube channel from which this stuff comes…


    You can use a tool like VDownloader (google it) to convert it from video to .mp3 and play them on almost any audio-capable device till the cows come home… or you are harassed by the ghost of Lou McGarity.

    In the latter case let me know, I have some questions for him (relating to the Bust of Attaturk.)

  6. Matthew Jones

    How do I purchase cd.,or video.No takes me to a link!

  7. The CD is issued on the LoneHillJazz label under McGarity’s name; it should be easy to find on Amazon and the usual sources. Be brave; Google will guide you!

  8. Franz Hoffmann

    its a pity that this pictured important jam-session is always wrong dated, other better photos are to be found at Gottlieb´s or by his courtesy detailed in
    2/8/43 Mo., Washington; Press Club Auditorium – jam session: Red Allen, Sidney De Paris (t) Lou McGarity, J.C. Higginbotham (tb) Mezz Mezzrow (cl) Joe Marsala (reeds) Lester Young (ts) Art Hodes, Pete Johnson (p) Tommy Potter (b) Adele Girard (harp)& two local men, Mert Oliver (b) Ralph Hawkins (d) http://www.rainerjazz.de/pdf/AllenBioDisco-chapters-6+7-1940-47-1954+Index(May-12).pdf — pp49,49a+b

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