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!

4 responses to “THAT LUNCEFORD RHYTHM (1939, 1936)

  1. My fave of all the Big Bands!

  2. Francis Dance

    Great video! Thanks for sharing. Lunceford was always one of Stanley Dance’s favorite swing bands; underrated, but not forgotten. See the many Lunceford references in his book “World of Swing”

  3. My favourite clip of one of my favourite bands. If I could go back in time to see one band live it would be the Lunceford’s Orchestra here at its peak. Great photo too!

  4. Don "Zoot" Conner

    Love it.It’s a five star on Zoot’s private rating system-how about that?

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