If cornetist Max Kaminsky (1908-1994) is known at all today, he might be categorized as “one of the Condon mob,” or, “a Dixieland musician.”  The first title would be true: Max worked with Eddie frequently from 1933 on, but the second — leaving the politics of “Dixieland” aside, please — would be unfair to a musician who played beautifully no matter what the context.

Here’s an early sample of how well Max played alongside musicians whose reputations have been enlarged by time, unlike his:

Here he is with friends Bud Freeman and Dave Tough as the hot lead in Tommy Dorsey’s Clambake Seven (Edythe Wright, vocal):

and a great rarity, thanks to our friend Sonny McGown — Max in Australia, 1943:

From 1954, a tune both pretty and ancient, with Ray Diehl, Hank D’Amico, Dick Cary, possibly Eddie Condon, Jack Lesberg, Cliff Leeman:

Hank O’Neal, writer, photographer, record producer, talks about Max, and then recalls the record, WHEN SUMMER IS GONE, he made to showcase Max’s lyrical side, with a side-glance at Johnny DeVries and the singer Mary Eiland:

You know you can hear the entire Chiaroscuro Records catalogue for free here, don’t you?

Back to Max, and a 1959 treat from a rare session with (collectively) Dick Cary, Cutty Cutshall, Bob Wilber, Phil Olivella, Dave McKenna, Barry Galbraith, Tommy Potter, and Osie Johnson, to close off the remembrance of someone splendid:

Let us not forget the worthy, alive in memory or alive in person.

May your happiness increase!



    Maxie indeed! Certainly no “Dixielander.” Of particular interest to me: His work and presence on some l933-34 sessions of an integrated nature: The Chocolate Dandies and the two Mezzrow big bands. His solo on the Dandies’ “Blue Interlude” is a fave of mine. And let’s not forget his big band section work with TD, and Artie, in that great band with Dave Tough and Hot Lips Page—Lips a great influence, as Max told me, notably on his plunger work. There’s a late LP Maxie would sell at Jimmy Ryan’s, I think self-produced, have it somewhere in storage. And don’t forget his autobio! PS: Maxie never lost his Boston accent….


  2. John Jamie Evans

    Lovely memoir of a great musician. Heard him in London in the late ’50s when he had been brought over to tour with a band led by Jack Teagarden, Regrettably I was still in my teens then, never kept a diary and can’t remember the venue where the group was featured but recall vividly how good Max was and I had never even heard him before at that point in time. Many thanks Hank O’Neal and, of course, the indomitable Michael whose continuing enthusiasm to record and propagate beautiful music leaves me astounded but grateful….Jamie

  3. Michael,
    Thanks for another fine remembrance of one of our revered heroes. I first saw Max at Jimmy Ryan’s on 54th St. in 1968 leading a band that included Tony Parenti and Freddie Moore. Later I was fortunate to see him at the 1985 Manassas Jazz Festival. He played just as well then and in my opinion he was a model of consistency throughout his career; a consummate professional.

  4. Audrey VanDyke

    He wrote one of the best ever music autobiographies. The description of how the farmers scattered in remote, snow covered farmhouses, would listen to the music going on in a house in town over the party line, was brilliantly evocative of a time and place. A book worth reading. And then rereading.

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