HOLLYWOOD’S FIRST SWING CONCERT: A TRIBUTE TO JOE SULLIVAN (1937)

Before anyone gets too excited, I do not have acetates or videos of this event to share with you.  All I can offer is the souvenir program, which was on sale a month ago on eBay here for $300.  This item does not seem to have sold, but the seller ended the sale.  If someone were interested, I’d suggest contacting the seller and opening negotiations again.

This program was from a benefit for Joe, ill with tuberculosis, from which he recovered.  I had never seen this paper treasure before; I thought you, too, would be intrigued.  And I’ve inserted some contemporaneous recordings by Joe to keep the display from being silent.  Since I’ve never seen or heard evidence that this concert was broadcast or that airshots or transcription discs exist, this paper chronicle is all we have.  It must have been a lovely evening of music and feeling.

and this, from 1945 (Archie Rosati, clarinet; Ulysses Livingston, guitar; Artie Shapiro, string bass; Zutty Singleton, drums — on the SUNSET label):

and

and SUMMERTIME, 1941, Commodore:

and

another Decca solo from 1935:

and (Larry and Everett were Crosby brothers; Bing had a large role in this):

and Joe’s Cafe Society Orchestra, with Ed Anderson, Big Joe Turner, Benny Morton, Ed Hall:

and

and the Cafe Society Orchestra with Helen Ward:

and what an assortment of stars and bands!

and LADY BE GOOD from the same band, in a performance I’d bet stretched out longer when live (Danny Polo takes the tenor solo):

and

and I CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE by the same band, with Ed Anderson building on Louis and Big Joe Turner making it a blues:

and

and

and

and

and

and

Joe recovered and lived on until October 1971, which to me shows the sustaining power of community in times of stress and despair.

May your happiness increase!

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9 responses to “HOLLYWOOD’S FIRST SWING CONCERT: A TRIBUTE TO JOE SULLIVAN (1937)

  1. The Bob Crosby Orchestra participated via broadcast. Some of the performances were issued years ago on LP. I haven’t found CD reissues…

  2. Don "Zoot' Conner

    Joe was one the most under-rated pianists in history.Thanks for posting these sides,Michael.I loved the cameos by Big Joe and others.

  3. Part of the problem, of course, is that Joe was in LA, where jazz pianists go to hide in plain sight, and to eventually die. Artistically as well as physiologically. Jelly Roll Morton, as well as Joe’s successor with Bob Crosby, Bob Zurke. Jess Stacy and Johnny Guarnieri also come to mind.

  4. Maybe so, but your logic acts as if it’s all that city’s fault. Joe could have stayed in Chicago, New York, or Boston, but he chose the warm climate of LA. Do we know that he would have fared better once Fifty-Second Street closed, Mark? Do you blame California for Fats Waller’s death, too?

  5. admathesoncanada

    Hi Michael, Thanks so much for this piece on the Joe Sullivan tribute concert. It was great to see inside the programme for this amazing concert. I really enjoyed your notes on the Joe Sullivan tracks for the Mosaic Records “Savory Collection” as well. By the way, do you have or have your heard the 1955 “Mr. Piano Man” recording he did for the Verve subsidiary label Down Home? I had my LP copy digitized and would be happy to send you a CD copy. Sullivan’s a big influence on my piano playing… All the best, Alan http://www.alanmatheson.com >

  6. That is very generous of you! I think I have the lp, so no need, and if I want to rebuke myself, I can look around and say, “I have more music to listen to that I could possibly pour in my ears in the next forty years.” But I appreciate it, and I’m impressed to find a Sullivan acolyte. Good dear!

  7. Sordoni III, Andrew

    Michael, A jazz connection…Bill Goodwin was emcee on part of this entry, his daughter, Jill, widow of Phil Woods and son, Bill, longtime master drummer, are residents of the Poconos. Regards, Andrew

    Andrew J. Sordoni, III 45 Owen Street Forty Fort, PA 18704 (570) 283-6202

  8. Ida Melrose Shoufler

    Joe Sullivan is probably my favorites of the early years. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to sit in the audience, wherever, and listen to him play. The songs you picked for this post were such a delight for me! How I wish Mr Piano Man was still with us, Thank you so much for this awesome post Nephew!

  9. He lives on in Mister Skjelbred!

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