Today would have been Vic Dickenson’s birthday. And although I would get worn out using JAZZ LIVES to celebrate births and mourn deaths, I can’t let this one go by.
For the story behind the photograph, please click here.
Vic was the master of Sounds. He didn’t push himself to the forefront — in fact, when I saw him called upon to lead his own group in a concert setting, he seemed uncomfortable making announcements, choosing songs, being in charge. It required too much talking, something he preferred not to do if he could avoid it.
But he added special flavors to any group, was instantly recognizable in any ensemble, and — like Sid Catlett and Eddie Condon (these three a small mutual admiration society) — he made any group sound better. People who know Vic know his work with Louis, Billie, Lester, Ruby, Bobby (we could make the list much longer) but I don’t think many people know these Capitol sides. I apologize for not being able to present all four, and I apologize even more for their dubious provenance (it’s clear that they were taken from the glorious Mosaic Records Capitol set) but hearing the music counts for a great deal. I’ve included the personnel at the bottom, and whether they were recorded during the ban or not, I can’t say — but they come from Vic’s mid-Forties sojourn on the West Coast.
A ghost story:
and a prayer with a very odd ending:
and another minor etude:
I can’t offer the fourth side, just the 78 label, which will satisfy no one:
The details, according to Tom Lord, with an amended date, are Scat Man Crothers With Riff Charles And His Friends : Scat Man Crothers, vocal; Vic Dickenson, trombone; Riff Charles, piano; others (guitar, bass, drums) unknown. Los Angeles, late 1947.
I saw Vic as often as I could in the years 1971-81 in New York City, and he was always memorable. I miss him today, and think that I could spend a pleasant week playing nothing but recordings (and private sessions) on which he appeared. He was never histrionic, but he was never dull or predictable, even when playing IN A SENTIMENTAL MOOD for the thousandth time. (Think of the lyrical mindset that would make a musician choose that for a feature, and you will understand more about the great “singer” — and singer — who had labels hung on him throughout his life, by people who couldn’t hear more than his “sly wit” and “naughty asides.” His was, and is, a beautiful soul.
May your happiness increase!