MR. RUSSELL FELT BETTER ALREADY: EDDIE CONDON, WILD BILL DAVISON, CUTTY CUTSHALL, EDMOND HALL, GENE SCHROEDER, BOB CASEY, BUZZY DROOTIN, RALPH SUTTON, ERNIE CACERES, AL HALL, JOE BUSHKIN, RAY McKINLEY (Town Hall, New York, February 21, 1951)

Pee Wee Russell hadn’t taken good care of himself, and his body had rebelled in 1951. Thank goodness for the medical acumen of the times that enabled him to live almost twenty years more. But I also think that knowing that he was so loved — Jack Teagarden and Louis Armstrong visiting him in the hospital — and events such as this concert must have helped. Music and love were so intertwined that it would be silly to ask where one starts and the other one ends, because neither one of them ends.

Pee Wee, distorted, by Weegee, c. 1955.

It’s odd to write that good things came out of the Cold War. But the belief that one of the best ways to exhibit the happiness possible under capitalism was to share hot music as an emblem of freedom may seem naive now, but it had sweet results. The Voice of America, an active propaganda medium, beamed live American jazz “behind the Iron Curtain,” hoping for conversion experiences.

In 2021, those of us old enough to remember Khruschev’s shoe and the Bay of Pigs, hiding under our desks, terrified of a thermonuclear device, can listen to some rich “Americondon” music. And for those who have no idea what those historical references might mean are encouraged to learn a little history and listen to the joys.

Here’s the menu:

JAZZ CLUB USA (Voice of America): from Town Hall, New York City, February 21, 1951: Tribute to Pee Wee Russell.

FIDGETY FEET / I’M FOREVER BLOWING BUBBLES Wild Bill Davison, Cutty Cutshall, Ed Hall, Gene Schroeder, Eddie Condon, Bob Casey, Buzzy Drootin / UNDER A BLANKET OF BLUE Ernie Caceres, Schroeder, Al Hall, Buzzy / I CAN’T GET STARTED – HALLELUJAH! Joe Bushkin, Ray McKinley / IN A MIST Ralph Sutton / BASIN STREET BLUES as FIDGETY FEET:

And Pee Wee got better. Isn’t that lovely?

May your happiness increase!

4 responses to “MR. RUSSELL FELT BETTER ALREADY: EDDIE CONDON, WILD BILL DAVISON, CUTTY CUTSHALL, EDMOND HALL, GENE SCHROEDER, BOB CASEY, BUZZY DROOTIN, RALPH SUTTON, ERNIE CACERES, AL HALL, JOE BUSHKIN, RAY McKINLEY (Town Hall, New York, February 21, 1951)

  1. Hello Michael, thanks for your post about Pee Wee Russell. As a gastroenterologist and a fan of Pee Wee Russell, I was enchanted to read some years ago about his abdominal problems necessitating abdominal surgery.As you allude in the text, his problem was severe and the thought was that it was gallstones.  This was in early days before even abdominal ultrasound, much less CAT scans and other complex diagnostic measures.So, decision was made to operate with view of removing gallbladder is that was the problem.The problem was not gallstones but alcoholic pancreatitis.  An incidental problem was pyloric stenosis…a fancy term for narrowing of the stomach were it empties into the duodenum..or first portion of small intestine.Pylori stenosis is usually diagnosed and treated in infancy or early childhood. Children tend to vomit after feeding and fail to thrive. Operation is fairly simple to divide the musculature in that area and that is permanently curative. A few patients, such as Pee Wee have a relatively mild case which persists to adulthood.Obviously it didn’t cure his alcoholism but allowed him to survive more comfortably without severe vomiting episodes.If this is repeating old information for you, please indulge me. It’s  not often that my gastrointestinal and jazz interests coincide!Thanks.Norman F. Norman Vickers5429 Dynasty Dr.Pensacola, FL 32504Cell 850-324-5022www.jazzpensacola.comMEMBER JAZZ JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION

  2. Our insides thank you! As do our outsides.

  3. Sublime. These guys never fail to impress, inspire and entertain. I miss their voices.

  4. I would seriously contend that this 1950’s Condon stuff is the apex of pre-bop jazz. I hate the term “dixieland” (as did Condon) but, that said, I rather like the description I read recently, of Condon’s music as “hard Dixieland”.

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