Tag Archives: Herb Taylor

“MR. and MRS. T'”S WELL-SEASONED JAZZ HISTORY

In July 2014, I found a comment on JAZZ LIVES on a post I had written about the 1929 Vitaphone short film Red Nichols and his Five Pennies had done — the personnel including Nichols, Tommy Thunen, John Egan, Pee Wee Russell, Herb Taylor, Eddie Condon, and others.  The commenter, one Patsy Ann Taylor, was someone I did not know personally, but she wrote, “The full name of the Herb Taylor who played trombone is George Herbert Taylor. More often known as Herb, he played with the Dorsey Brothers, Abe Lyman, and others during his long and successful career as a musician, arranger, and composer.”

I love new information, especially when it pertains to some unknown area — a musician whose name was most often offered in discographies with a question mark — so I contacted Patsy Ann, and found out that she and husband Lee were living in a California town about thirty minutes from where I was staying, and we made arrangements to meet.

But first — here’s the Vitaphone short, for those who have never seen it:

I knew about the short, and I knew something of the jazz recordings Herb Taylor had participated in — 1929, with Nichols, but what came before and after was news to me. So the Taylors very kindly sat on their living room couch in front of my camera, and here is what I found out:

Part One — ALL ABOUT HERB:

Part Two — VIOLA / JUNE:

After the interview, I showed Lee and Patsy Ann the Vitaphone short, which they’d never seen (and they recognized Herb instantly).  Later, Patsy Ann, a diligent researcher and genealogist, provided some information about Herb’s early life:

Circa 1912: Age 6, Began to play cornet. Herb’s father, Herb Sr., was his teacher.

Circa 1914: Age 8, Began piano lessons with Prof. Glaymeyer, which continued for seven years.

May 19, 1917: First Record newspaper route 20A

Circa 1917: Joined the Record Boy’s Band. Herb played cornet, piano, drums, piano, trombone, or any other instrument the director, Charles D. Smith, asked him to play.

Circa 1920: Age 14, Admitted to the Musician’s Union by special dispensation from James C. Petrillo. He started playing for dances and other social functions.

1922: Married Viola Mae Gofield and began playing in San Francisco under Max Dolin at the California Theater and later with Ben Black’s orchestra at the Alexandria Theater. He also played with Henry Halstead’s Hotel St. Francis orchestra. He broadcast his piano solos from the St. Francis Hotel studio.
Halstead took his orchestra to Los Angeles when the contract with St. Frances Hotel expired. Herb went with him. After that summer, Herb returned to the Bay Area and in January, 1926 performed with Herbert Meyernik at the Lowe’s State Theater in Oakland, California.

These details are taken from the January 28, 1917 edition of the Stockton Record Family Log, which was published monthly for the newspaper’s employees.

And now, if you don’t mind, I am going to fix myself a Bloody Mary — even though Herb and June sold the company, it still has a deep sentimental meaning for me.

May your happiness increase!

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RED NICHOLS MEETS THE CHICAGOANS, 1929

I stumbled on this Red Nichols Brunswick record from 1929 on YouTube while searching for Red McKenzie vocals — a rewarding quest, except I am oddly discomposed by the idea of McKenzie providing part of the soundtrack for something (a computer simulation / game?) called Bioshock.  Well, anything that lets people hear him sing THE TROUBLE WITH ME IS YOU shouldn’t be scoffed at.

Then I encountered this recording — charitably posted by “Atticus70” and when I looked closer, I saw it wasn’t the Gershwin WHO CARES? but a more self-pitying pop song by Yellen and Ager.

But look and listen to the personnel: all those “Chicagoan” ruffians who took their Nichols paychecks as long as he would put up with their (presumably) hard-drinking disdain for things like clean clothes and punctuality.

The band is Red Nichols, Mannie Klein, Tommy Thunen, trumpets;  Glenn Miller, cornet, trombone;  Jack Teagarden, ? Herb Taylor, trombones;  Pee Wee Russell, clarinet;  Bud Freeman, tenor sax;  Joe Sullivan, piano;  Tommy Felline, banjo;  Art Miller, bass;  Dave Tough, drums;  Red McKenzie, vocal.

New York, June 12, 1929: for all its melancholy, this is pre-Crash pop music.

And the sounds of Teagarden, Russell, Sullivan, and Tough are elixirs.  Condon isn’t there, but perhaps Nichols found him to be the primary ringleader; Tommy Felline (or is it Fellini?) was no doubt much more tractable.  And McKenzie croons so beautifully, making even the odd lyrics work reasonably well.

But here’s the music!

WE CARE!  CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO SHOW THE MUSICIANS THAT WE DO.

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