AllenLowe

ok; is this a history changer? In need of more research

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listen to Whitby on the Jimmy Noone session from 1936 - some very fascinating refinement of Coleman Hawkins' style - almost Prez-like. But it's 1936 - and a little research (not sure if it's accurate) shows that Whitby may have preceded Lester Young in King Oliver's band - and he was from Oklahoma. An early, heretofore unmentioned influence on Lester? Or just one more sign that the Southwest was an early hotbed of unorthodox ideas about swing? This one really threw me, and I'm sorry I missed it before writing Devilin' Tune. Att Jeff Crompton: what do you think?

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This is a great swinging side:

There sure is something to Whitby, but I was also impressed by trumpeter Guy Kelly.

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listen to Whitby on the Jimmy Noone session from 1936 - some very fascinating refinement of Coleman Hawkins' style - almost Prez-like. But it's 1936 - and a little research (not sure if it's accurate) shows that Whitby may have preceded Lester Young in King Oliver's band - and he was from Oklahoma. An early, heretofore unmentioned influence on Lester? Or just one more sign that the Southwest was an early hotbed of unorthodox ideas about swing? This one really threw me, and I'm sorry I missed it before writing Devilin' Tune. Att Jeff Crompton: what do you think?

Have you checked Laurie Wright's bible "King Oliver" (Storyville Publications, 1987)? If not, I could check my copy tonight to look for any mention of Whitby.

I think I have Storyville #110. Will check tonight.

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Yeah, I saw that Storyville reference - I was going to call Rutgers, but let me know if you find it. And yes, Guy Kelly is excellent; Preston Jackson is nice, too, a little Dickey Wells-ish.

there's just something about Whitby's playing which is very different than any other Hawk-influenced tenor player I have heard from this period.

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There's some information on line that suggests that Whitby played with Erskine Hawkins for a while in late 1944 and may appear on some Jubilee broadcasts.

I also have Storyville 110 (and the King Oliver discography) at home, but I suspect you'll be home before I will tonight.

listen to Whitby on the Jimmy Noone session from 1936 - some very fascinating refinement of Coleman Hawkins' style - almost Prez-like. But it's 1936 - and a little research (not sure if it's accurate) shows that Whitby may have preceded Lester Young in King Oliver's band - and he was from Oklahoma. An early, heretofore unmentioned influence on Lester? Or just one more sign that the Southwest was an early hotbed of unorthodox ideas about swing? This one really threw me, and I'm sorry I missed it before writing Devilin' Tune. Att Jeff Crompton: what do you think?

Have you checked Laurie Wright's bible "King Oliver" (Storyville Publications, 1987)? If not, I could check my copy tonight to look for any mention of Whitby.

I think I have Storyville #110. Will check tonight.

Edited by jazztrain

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there's just something about Whitby's playing which is very different than any other Hawk-influenced tenor player I have heard from this period.

From the sample Larry posted, it sounds a lot more clarinet-ish than most, in both tone & execution.

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there's just something about Whitby's playing which is very different than any other Hawk-influenced tenor player I have heard from this period.

From the sample Larry posted, it sounds a lot more clarinet-ish than most, in both tone & execution.

Yes, but doesn't he barrel through and/or past the changes at times in a very melodic-linear Pres-like manner?

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that's what got to me -

I wonder if he's mentioned in any of those Southwest jazz histories -

it is interesting that he's from Oklahoma - like, I think, Charlie Christian and Eddie Durham.

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there's just something about Whitby's playing which is very different than any other Hawk-influenced tenor player I have heard from this period.

From the sample Larry posted, it sounds a lot more clarinet-ish than most, in both tone & execution.

Yes, but doesn't he barrel through and/or past the changes at times in a very melodic-linear Pres-like manner?

I guess, but the only real "Lester-ism" I hear is in the first part of the second A-Section. Otherwise it sounds pretty much like a clarinet player playing a tenor solo.

Which is not to say that it's not interesting (it is) or that he wasn't an influence on Pres (seems that he might have been). I just don't hear anything really "radical" there. If it would have been a clarinet instead of a tenor, I don't know that any eyebrows would have been raised. Although it maybe does raise again the issue of Pres and the clarinet, an issue which is often raised but never really settled, and may never be due to the lack of a coherent, linear body of evidence.

Now, that Guy Kelley guy, he sounded to me like a just-learning-to-play Buddy Anderson in terms of vocabulary.

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FWIW, Kelly (b. 1906) was almost 15 years older than Anderson (b. 1919) Quite likely, Eldridge (b. 1911), though younger than Kelly, was the middle term in the equation.

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Interesting how swiftly things changed. Listen to tenorman Bob Mabane on "Lady Be Good" with Jay McShann in 1940 -- and of course there's Bird's solo!

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his tenor solo is radically different than most of what we hear at that time, clarinet-like or not - more even (and so modern) eighths, less insistent rhythm, mor internal rhythm play, lighter tone. That's the way I hear it. Compare it to (later) Hershal Evans, Chu Berry, contemporary Hawk.

Edited by AllenLowe

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Well, I'm somebody who thinks that Herschel & Pres ultimately sounded more alike than different, so...

I do hear the smoother eights, though, and that might well be a "Southwestern" thing. Different regions, different speech patterns, different topography (I was just thinking today on a short drive how flat, open, and horizontal things are here, even after urbanization, and how weird it would feel to live everyday compressed and vertical...nice place to visit, etc.), it all comes into play eventually.

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Att Jeff Crompton: what do you think?

Dang, Allen! I've got all of Jimmie Noone's recordings, but I'm 500 miles away from them, and the Laurie Wright King Oliver book, right now. Dang!

I was this close to loading all my Noone CDs into my iPod before I left, but I ran out of time.

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well, when you get back, let me know what you think - this guy's solos really threw me. Very different for '36.

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FWIW, the first time I heard the YouTube video posted by Larry Kart it instantly reminded me of Ben Webster with Bennie Moten (1932). I compared them and it's not the same thing, but I'd go with the idea of a regional trait more than a personal one of Mr. Whitby.

F

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but you know what makes it different? There's a constant hint at that old-style gruff tone, which he keeps pulling back from - it's lighter - and the even eighths are really unusual.

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And on top of everything, one recording only is not representative of anything. Will have to listen to more of his stuff.

F

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FWIW, Kelly (b. 1906) was almost 15 years older than Anderson (b. 1919) Quite likely, Eldridge (b. 1911), though younger than Kelly, was the middle term in the equation.

Kelly died young (in his mid-30s) of alcoholism, according to "Hear Me Talkin" to You". He was featured on only a handful of records, but imo his 1936 recording of Early Morning Blues with Albert Ammons is a small masterpiece.

Edited by Brownian Motion

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First, some notes from Laurie Wright's King Oliver book. There's more than I have time or energy to type at the moment, so I'll summarize what's relevant.

Odie Cromwell joined the Art Bronson Bostonians, based in Wichita, Kansas, around June/July 1929.

Cromwell arranged for the band and a sax section that was created by the addition of Sam Allen on alto and, a few weeks later, by Lester Young who came in from Phoenix, Arizona.

The group worked for about 18 months. Cromwell left when work was getting scarce and was replaced by Francis Whitby. Lester Young left about the same time and was replaced by Jack Holt.

The band returned to Wichita where it was fronted by Tiny Taylor. King Oliver heard the group and convinced its managers, the Frederick Brother's Agency, to let him take over what was left of the band.

According to Cromwell, Francis Whitby was replaced by Lester Young before Oliver took over the group.

The Oliver band eventually headed north to South Bend, Michigan and worked their way to Battle Creek, Michigan (Cromwell's home town) where Cromwell joined. Cromwell left when the band was going to hit the road again. Lester Young left at about this time and was replaced by, you guessed it, Francis Whitby.

Whitby quit Oliver in May 1933 when Oliver refused to buy him a new gold-plated Conn tenor sax. Guess who was hired as his replacement? Yep, Lester Young. Whitby later rejoined Oliver as part of an enlarged sax section, but Young had left by then.

Whitby eventually left Oliver with several other sidemen and formed a cooperative unit.

So, at first reading, it would seem that there was little or no overlap of Young and Whitby with King Oliver or in the Bronson group.

Here's a few tidbits from a Frank Driggs interview with Sam Allen from August 5, 1973:

>>>

"Doc is from Oklahoma City . . . we picked ihim up there with Bronson . . . his dad is a dentist. He got hurt over in Honoulu in a defence plant and he fell off something and injured his back, and I guess he's had fifteen different operations, but he's in good spirits.

Whitby was kind of a happy-go-lucky guy. His biggest trouble was making time. He could write like a dog; he could write beautifully, but the thing with it was, he'd be liable to be a year putting it together. But when he did, it would be right. He was with Walter Barnes too, you know. He left the outfit I was with in Portsmouth, Ohio.

King was real happy to have Lester, but the Frederick Brothers had booked a tour down south, and Lester didn't want to go. We were getting ready to go into the Ridgeway Inn in Nashville, he couldn't see going south. Period! So he stayed in Kansas City and we picked up Whitby again."

>>>

The article in Storyville by Harold Kaye is long but interesting. A few items. There's the well known story that appears in "The Jazz Makers" by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff. Lester Young is quoted: "But this fellow Art Bronson from Salina, Kansas, who had a band called the Bostonians, accommodated me. The only horn he could get me was a baritone, so I joined the Bostonians and later on, when the tenor man goofed off, they switched me. The way I switched to tenor with the Bostonians was the tenor player kept grandstanding all the time. So I told the leader, if you buy a tenor for me, I'll play it. You see, the regular tenor was a boy from a well-to-do family. He didn't have to play. I remeber we'd go by his house sometimes and beg him to play. I got sick of it."

Kaye mentions that Lester's description of the tenor man might or might not have matched Whitby. Later in the article, Kaye suggests that both tenors may have been in Bronson's group at the same time but goes on to note: "Whitby was strangely reticent about the whole matter and emphatically denied knowing Lester Young during this period, including both of Whitby's later tours with Joe "King" Oliver. This is very interesting because Lester Young also played with Oliver during that period, possibly replacing Whitby after one of his stints with Oliver."

Later in the article, there is a description of the January 15, 1935 recording session with Jimmie Noone. Kaye suggests that this was Whitby's only recording session. According to Kaye:

"Whitby's solos are confident, tight, and well-constructed. He demonstrates a fluency of thought and imagination. There is no lack of technical virtuosity."

Kaye mentions Albert McCarthy's assessment of the records in Jazz on Record 1917-1967: "In 1936 Noone again recorded to advantage, his group including a good but almost unknown tenor player, Francis Whitby, very much influenced by Chu Berry..."

Kaye continues:

"In an interview, Whitby took violent exception to this characterization of this playing, and the author upholds Whitby's disavowal of the description. In the opinion of the author, the solos demonstrate an almost complete independence of the major saxophone influence of the time, Coleman Hawkins, and followers like Chu Berry. Lester Young had not yet made his impact on the Tenor sax scene. Paradoxically, given his origin, Francis's playing was the antithesis of the hard-driving, gutty, bluesy, South-Western style of tenor sax playing, as exemplified by Herschel Evans, Buddy Tate, and others. If anything, Whitby's tone and attack were light and airy, more like an alto saxophone."

listen to Whitby on the Jimmy Noone session from 1936 - some very fascinating refinement of Coleman Hawkins' style - almost Prez-like. But it's 1936 - and a little research (not sure if it's accurate) shows that Whitby may have preceded Lester Young in King Oliver's band - and he was from Oklahoma. An early, heretofore unmentioned influence on Lester? Or just one more sign that the Southwest was an early hotbed of unorthodox ideas about swing? This one really threw me, and I'm sorry I missed it before writing Devilin' Tune. Att Jeff Crompton: what do you think?

Have you checked Laurie Wright's bible "King Oliver" (Storyville Publications, 1987)? If not, I could check my copy tonight to look for any mention of Whitby.

I think I have Storyville #110. Will check tonight.

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Very interesting dicussion and information! Of course, if there was some direct influence between Whitby and Pres, it is still not clear what direction that influcene was going. By 1936, Pres had already reached his mature style, as witnessed by his first recordings that year.

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with all that overlapping, it's clear they knew each other's playing - and what Kaye says about Whitby is very much what I said earlier:

"In the opinion of the author, the solos demonstrate an almost complete independence of the major saxophone influence of the time, Coleman Hawkins, and followers like Chu Berry. Lester Young had not yet made his impact on the Tenor sax scene. Paradoxically, given his origin, Francis's playing was the antithesis of the hard-driving, gutty, bluesy, South-Western style of tenor sax playing, as exemplified by Herschel Evans, Buddy Tate, and others. If anything, Whitby's tone and attack were light and airy, more like an alto saxophone."

thanks for copying those sections. Interesting stuff. There's no way of telling who was moving in that direction first. The alto comparison was also sometimes made with Prez.

Edited by AllenLowe

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Allen:

It's clear that they were at least aware of each other. What's less clear is the extent to which they overlapped at all in the Bronson or Oliver bands; they may have been more like ships passing in the night, so it's somewhat speculative to ascribe any influence of one on the other as tempting as that might be.

It's unfortunate that Whitby did not record other than on the Noone session. As I mentioned earlier, he appears to have been on some Jubilee of by Frankie Trumbauer. There's a quote somewhere by Young that describes how his sound and approach to the tenor changed over time. Early on it was somewhat light and airy, more like an alto. As he aged, his tone deepened and he played more in lower registers. I'll try to find the quote later if I have time. Anyone else remember it?

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One thing, please - Pres never sounded "like an alto". His "light" tone was actually the result of a darkening of his sounds' upper partials, as well as sending a "wider" air-column (best way I can describe it) through the horn (but still supporting it fully, that tone of Pres' ain't gonna get swallowed up by anything).. If anything, his tone was less like an alto, although if the only real point of reference was Hawk (or the beloved Bud Freeman), then they wouldn't yet have the baseline to figure that out. But even in his early days, Pres's tone was always "darker" than Hawk & Co., because of the de-emphasis of the upper partials of his sound, which is a fundamentally different thing than upper register of the horn. Hell, you could say that it was Hawkins & Co. who were more "alto-like" in that regard!

Whitby, it sounds like to me, has as bright a tone as the norm of the time, but not as "full". This is probably the result of using a setup that still emphasizes the upper partials in the tone, but using a less dense airstream. As I've said before, it sounds to me as if his embouchure and concept of airstream is rooted in clarinet playing, but maybe not.

Tone is one of those things that stir a wide variety of emotional responses (just as many people think of Coltrane's tone as "dark as they do of it as "bright"), but the physics of how any given tone is achieved are pretty much objective.

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