Tag Archives: Billy Mackel


This photograph from the Burt Goldblatt collection was recently for sale on eBay.  Sidney Catlett, Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong, Buddy Rich . . . and presumably members of Lionel’s big band, (guitarist Billy Mackel over Sid’s shoulder) —  the scene is apparently the middle-to-late Forties.  Louis is taking a breath between phrases or getting ready to play . . . half paying attention to something offstage?

A keen observer pointed out to me that Lionel is wearing raised heels . . . Tall was always good.

LOUIS, SID, HAMP from Burt Goldblatt

The photograph doesn’t come from the January 1944 Metropolitan Opera House concert (the more famous photographs from that occasion show a different stage and dark suits) but the soundtrack — for those who have the recordings — must have resembled the DRUM DUET that came late in the concert.

I’m happy to report that this photograph is now owned by someone who not only knows how to hear the music but how to play it as well.


Anyone want to begin manufacturing Catlett – Hampton – Rich – Armstrong t-shirts?

May your happiness increase!


More eBay autographs . . . some surprises! Of course, Louis signed his name how many thousand times from the middle Twenties to 1971 . . . but each one is its own treasure.  Lucky Bill! The seller describes this as signed in green ink (a mark of authenticity) even though it reproduces as blue. Here’s something much more unusual.  At first, it looks only like an antique check (1936) but then you see it’s made out to trombone legend Miff Mole, and the person handing over the thirty-two dollars is Rudy Vallee.  Not to be mean-spirited, but Rudy had a reputation for being reluctant to let money out of his possession, so this is doubly or triply rare — and thirty-two 1936 dollars are a substantial sum. And the reverse, where Miff endorsed the check over to one Louis Mussi.  The story?: Here are the signatures of one version of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Narvin Kimball (banjo); Willie Humphrey (clarinet); “Sing” Miller (piano, in a rebus); Percy Humphrey (trumpet); Allan Jaffe (tuba); Josiah “Cie” Frazier (drums); Frank Demond (trombone): That in itself would be pretty good — as satisfying as a half-pint of Mrs. Circe’s gin . . . but the “unidentified” signatures on the back of this page are also intriguing: Some of those might remain mysterious — I have trouble turning my head to the required angle . . . but top left (March 15, 1978) is Arnett Cobb and long-time Lionel Hampton guitarist Billy Mackel; to the left is Andy McKee, and in the middle I am certain that Robert Sage Wilber — otherwise known as Bob — signed in.  My intuition tells me that this page comes from a Nice Jazz Festival . . .

May your happiness increase.