Who Am I?—Jazz Edition

In Stephen’s post from last November 6, New Orleans, 1945, he mentioned a set of big band photos (featuring Benny Goodman) that Morton took sometime in/around his college years. Having sorted through most of the negatives at least once, I’ve been wondering where the heck those big band photos were . . . until last Thursday, when I found at least some of them, in an envelope labeled “Orchestras” and smushed in the bottom of a particularly dirty, messy box of film. [Editor’s Note: You may not find “smush” in your dictionary, but a Google search found 384,000 references in 0.07 seconds and a jazz piece must be hep—even if the word goes back to the early 19th century.]

Benny Goodman orchestra performing in Washington, DC, late 1930s-early 1940s

None of the “Orchestras” photos are labeled, however, and my knowledge of jazz history is severely limited. I was able to identify Goodman (above) thanks to the clarinet, the big “G,” and—duh—the fact that Morton photographed a poster for the event that touts the Benny Goodman Orchestra’s “First Time on Any Washington Stage”:

Poster for Benny Goodman orchestra performance in Washington, DC, late 1930s-early 1940s

The strip of images below proved a little more tricky, but not much. When I zoomed in on the kick drum, I was able to read this inscription: “‘To The Bobcats—Jeff Keate.” A bit of Googling revealed that Jeff Keate was a cartoonist, and the Bobcats (or Bob Cats) were a Dixieland group made up of members from the Bob Crosby (brother of Bing Crosby) Orchestra. This information led me to identify Ray Bauduc on drums and Bob Haggart on bass, and to discover that Bauduc and Haggart wrote two big hits in the late 1930s: “South Rampart Street Parade,” and “Big Noise from Winnetka” (a bass and drums duet, which they were probably performing when Morton took these very photos). Thanks to YouTube, you can watch a fully orchestrated 1943 performance of the song! (Keep an eye out for that kick drum, and stay tuned for the Haggart/Bauduc solo in the middle). [OK, another Editor’s Note: you just have to check out the YouTube clip!]

Unidentified jazz drummer and upright bassist, circa late 1930s-early 1940s

Unfortunately, such helpful visual clues are few and far between. So, I decided to make this the inaugural post in a series I am inventively titling “Who Am I?” I picked out a few of Morton’s jazz photos, and am hoping to enlist readers’ help in identifying some of the musicians pictured below. I’m not sure if these were groups/artists that played in North Carolina (e.g., at UNC-Chapel Hill), or if Morton traveled to see them (as he did Goodman in Washington DC). I have no idea if these are big name players or unknown locals, but I am fairly certain that they were taken in the 1940s or early 1950s. Any ideas?

Unidentified jazz drummer, circa 1940s-early 1950s

Unidentified jazz saxophonist, circa 1940s-early 1950s

Unidentified jazz drummer, circa 1940s-early 1950s

UPDATE, 3/3/08: Here are two more photos that may shed additional light on the Jo Jones/Herschel Evans/Count Basie Orchestra possibility. The first image below was taken at the same event as the saxophonist image above (looks like a house party of some kind), and shows some of the other players. The second image below was taken at the same event as the image above with the drummer (Jones?) sitting behind his kit. (This event appears to be in an auditorium).

Unidentified jazz group, circa 1940s-early 1950s

Unidentified jazz drummer, circa 1940s-early 1950s, with man (bass player?) looking on

7 thoughts on “Who Am I?—Jazz Edition”

  1. Top photo is RayMckinley. Played drums with Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller Army Air Corps band, had own band after WWII, and eventually led the Glenn Miller “ghost” orchestra.
    Don’t recognize last 2 gentlemen.
    I’ve been a big band fan since 1946, while in high school. Moved to LA after Korean War to be near the Palladium in order to see the last of the big bands in person. Loved it.

  2. I think the drummer on the bottom is Jo Jones of the Count Basie Orchestra: http://www.drummerworld.com/drummers/Papa_Joe_Jones.html
    He looks pretty young in the photo–could have been from the mid 1930s possible, early ’40s?
    Going off that theory, I started looking for some pictures of Herschel Evans, one of the tenor sax players w/Basie’s Band at the time (since I could spot Lester Young from a mile away!). The sax player might be Herschel Evans, I can’t really tell for sure.
    hope this helps!

  3. I’ve been a big band fan since 1946, while in high school. Moved to LA after Korean War to be near the Palladium in order to see the last of the big bands in person. Loved it

  4. I just happened across an article in the February 1st, 1942 issue of The Daily Tar Heel announcing that Ray McKinley “Featured attraction of the Will Bradley band,” would be playing on the Carolina campus on Saturday, 6 February for a public concert and the final informal dance of the Interdorms set. The ‘”boogie woogie” band was to play the concert from 5:00 to 6:00 in Memorial Hall (“35 cents a couple, 20 cents stag”). The Daily Tar Heel for February 10th says 1,600 tickets were sold for the boogie-woogie concert.

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