WHAT A JUBILEE! — SIDNEY CATLETT, VIC DICKENSON, WILLIE SMITH, EDDIE HEYWOOD, LES PAUL, OSCAR PETTIFORD (January 1945)

I try to avoid hyperbole, but what I present here is twelve minutes of frankly incredible music — intense swing created by six masterful individualists.

The songs performed by the “All American Quintet [sic]” are JUST YOU, JUST ME, and I FOUND A NEW BABY — for a “Jubilee” broadcast in California, at the very beginning of 1945. “Jubilee” was a half-hour radio program aimed at an African-American audience, created and distributed on transcription discs by the Armed Forces Radio Service beginning in 1942.  Much more information, including an index to the programs until mid-1953, can be found here.

The musicians are Vic Dickenson, trombone; Willie Smith, alto saxophone; Eddie Heywood, piano; Les Paul, guitar; Oscar Pettiford, string bass; Sidney Catlett, drums. My copy of this music comes from a bootleg lp on the Jazum label purchased perhaps forty-five years ago.  The extended performances — longer than was possible on any commercial recording of the time — make for wonderful solos and a combination of intensity and ease.  The two songs were well-established vehicles for improvisation, JUST YOU, JUST ME, and I FOUND A NEW BABY.  Although the group technically had no leader — it’s a very egalitarian gathering — I’ve given Sidney Catlett pride of place for reasons you will hear, but everyone plays magnificently:

These performances are very dear to me.  I hope you find them equally thrilling.

May your happiness increase!

8 responses to “WHAT A JUBILEE! — SIDNEY CATLETT, VIC DICKENSON, WILLIE SMITH, EDDIE HEYWOOD, LES PAUL, OSCAR PETTIFORD (January 1945)

  1. Sordoni III, Andrew

    Michael,
    In today’s post you use the word Jubilee to energetically describe a remarkably worthwhile recording from 1945. The alto saxophone/ trombone voicing was rarely used but is wonderful in its impact; Duke Ellington used it and it deserves further attention; Bob Wilber used with soprano sax/trombone on Hank O’Neal’s terrific Chiaroscuro recording, CR(D) 150 which coincidentally features Vic Dickinson along with the leader Teddy Wilson. NB Wilber was not using his superb alto voice on recordings at that time.
    Regards,
    Andrew

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

  2. REMEMBER his last gig was with Bob Wilber..six weeks at Storeyville Boston..He died a few weeks later -what a loss!!!

  3. Michael

    This is sensational – thank you for making it available. Wow and a gold star to BSC himself. A veritable giant!

    Hope you’re keeping well away from this virus. It’s virulent here. Peter

  4. What incredibly joyous music. And yes … giving Bg Sid leadership credit makes complete sense.

  5. Thrilling, especially so given the extended recording time.

  6. Thanks for getting my day started in a FINE swinging manner, Michael! These tracks are wonderful. As Mark says, there is so much joy here and a VERY similar spirit to a lot of those Sunset sides which we were recently discussing. Swing forth, pal.

  7. Great playing from Les Paul.

  8. Wonderful. Have this from my 20s.

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