A precious artifact, recently spotted on eBay*: a publicity photograph from 1939, of the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra’s rhythm section. Ed Wilcox, piano; Jimmy Crawford, drums, Moses Allen, string bass; Al Norris, guitar:
This rhythm section stayed together from 1933 to 1941.
Since the Lunceford band is not as well-remembered as its contemporaries, here is the 1936 Vitaphone short (slightly edited to focus on the band) in which all its virtues are on display: a complete show in itself.
Please be prepared for some period offensiveness at the start: if one has to go to Hell in search of hot rhythms, does it then stand to reason that the Heavenly soundtrack is celestially sweet? I don’t know, but I am prepared to avert my eyes to get to the rewarding music that follows:
It’s a completely different musical presentation — not Ellington, not Basie — but it’s impossible to imagine an audience member in 1939 going home unfulfilled from a Lunceford show.
*The opening bid for the photograph was $125; the winning bid was $229.59.
May your happiness increase!