DING!

VIC Forties Lucille Hall

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:

scatman-crothers-rare-mabel-the-lush-alcoholic-song-capitol-78_1340268

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!

8 responses to “DING!

  1. Don "Zoot" Conner

    Nice sides,Michael.I was lucky enough to catch Vic at George Wein’s last “Storyville” in Boston,circa 61-63.He was funny and very soulful.You caught him in the Apple shortly before his passing.He was one of a kind.

  2. Me and my friend, the late Mike Turner, used to do a routine based upon Vic’s vocal rendition of Sister Kate (“Ya Aughta … Ya Usta…” etc) in a trad band we were both, briefly members of: we ourselves would fall about laughing, but no-one else ever seemed to find it amusing. No wonder our tenure with the band was short-lived.
    And I once, as a school-kid, held Vic’s trombone while he signed autographs at the WGJB’s first UK gig in Bristol, 1971: “Keep hold of that slide, kid” he instructed me. I felt honoured to provide a small service to such a great man.

  3. “You needn’t-a!”

  4. Still my favorite trombone player.

  5. Daniel Gugolz

    Hi,
    the complete Capitol session of Scatman Crothers with Riff Charles and Vic Dicksonson was re-issued on the great Mosaic CD box set “Classic Capitol Jazz Sessions” MD 170…. see:

    https://www.amazon.com/Classic-Capitol-Jazz-Sessions-170/dp/B0007WV2CG/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1470647843&sr=1-1&keywords=Classic+Capitol+Jazz+sessions+Mosaic

    Cheers,
    Daniel

  6. Thanks for the memories. For more appreciation of Vic, check out the Chiaroscuro Records blog: http://chiaroscurojazz.com/wp/?p=25

  7. Peter Vacher

    Michael

    Intrigued by Ms Hall, I looked in Manfred Selchow’s Dickenson tome and it appears that she was Vic’s common-law wife in LA and lived with him for some four years. She supplied the lyrics to his song ‘Constantly’. All this would explain the photo caption ‘Solid harmony – Sliding Along Together – Vic and Lucille’. She had formerly been married to LA saxophonist Elmer Fain. No suggestion that she had played the trombone.

    Great picture! Best regards. Peter

  8. Peter, your curiosity makes you a superb researcher. I’m trying, now, to imagine the conversation that led up to that photo!

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