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!