ARTISTSONGALBUM
Hal Singer & Carl Davis I Feel So GoodHal Singer 1948-1951
Hal SingerDisc Jockey BoogieHal Singer 1948-1951
Wynonie Harris w/ Frank Culley & Hal Singer I Feel That Old Age Coming OnRockin' The Blues
Ruth Brown w/ Freddie MitchellI Would If I CouldI'm A Bad, Bad Girl
Eunice Davis & Freddie Mitchell OrchestraRock Little DaddyBaby, That's Rock 'n' Roll
Freddie Mitchell Rockin' With CoopFreddie Mitchell 1949-1950
Big Joe Turner w/ Sam Taylor In The EveningThe Rhythm & Blues Years
Bull Moose Jackson w/ Sam TaylorCherokee BoogieThe Big Horn: Honkin' And Screamin' Saxophone
Bull Moose Jackson w/ Red PrysiockBig Ten Inch RecordThe R&B Hits Of 1952
Wynonie Harris w/ Red Prysiock -Down Boy DownLovin' Machine
Red Prysock Jump Red, JumpHandclappin' Foot Stompin'
Willis JacksonGood To The BoneFire/Fury Records Story
Eddie Mack w/ Willis Jackson Mercenary PapaEddie Mack 1947-1952
Big Joe Turner w/ Al Sears Ti - Ri – LeeThe Rhythm & Blues Years
Nappy Brown w/ Big Al SearsWell Well Well Baby LaNight Time Is The Right Time
Big Al SearsMarshall PlanThe Big Horn: Honkin' And Screamin' Saxophone
King CurtisMovin' On King's Rock
Mr. Bear & The Bearcats w/ Sam Taylor & King CurtisMr. Bear Comes To TownHonkin' 'N' Hollerin'
Sammy Price w/ King CurtisRib Joint Rib Joint
Ruth Brown w/ Budd JohnsonI KnowRuth Brown 1949-1950
Mabel Scott w/ Budd JohnsonCatch 'Em Young, Treat 'Em Rough, Tell 'Em NothingMabel Scott 1951-1955
Edna McGriff w/ Buddy Lucas Edna's BluesI'm A Bad, Bad Girl
Buddy Lucas High Low JackStill Groove Jumping
Paul “Hucklebuck” WilliamsWomen Are the Root of All Evil Paul Williams Vol. 3 1952-1956
Paul “Hucklebuck” WilliamsThe Hucklebuck (Hucklebuck)Paul Williams Vol. 2 1949-1952
Paul “Hucklebuck” WilliamsYoung Man BluesPaul Williams Vol. 2 1949-1952
Noble “Thin Man” Watts Jookin'Fire/Fury Records
Margie Day w/ Noble “Thin Man” Watts Take Out Your False Teeth DaddyJumpin' The Blues Vol. 2
Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson w/ Buddy Tate Queen Bee Blues Honk For Texas
Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson Bald Head Blues Honk For Texas
Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson Mr. Cleanhead Steps OutHonk For Texas
Cousin Joe w/ Earl Bostic Fly Hen BluesCousin Joe Vol. 1 1945-1947
Earl BosticLet's Ball Tonight - Part 1Earl Bostic 1945-48
Earl BosticEarl Blows A FuseEarl Bostic Blows a Fuse

Show Notes:

Hal "Cornbread" Singer

Today's show is a part one of our look at some great New York based sax men who's honkin' sound was heard on hundreds of records in the 40's and 50's. This show is one of several sax based shows this year starting a few months ago with a two-part show of Chicago horn men , followed by two spotlighting some great L.A. Horn blowers. Illinois Jacquet is cited as the one who kicked off the era of honkin' sax in 1945 with his famous solo on "Flying Home" while working with Lionel Hampton's band. As Big Jay McNeely said of of the song, "every time we picked up our horns we were just elaborating on that, trying to make it bigger, wilder, give it more swing, more kick. If you want to know where rhythm and blues began, that's it brother."  Today we spin some great honkin' sax records, some cut by the horn men themselves and others featuring their raucous playing behind some great blues singers, both well known and obscure. The records were issued on a myriad of small New York independent labels labels such as Atlas, Derby, Coral,  Apollo, Groove, Fire/Fury, Savoy and bigger players such as King and Atlantic. Along the way we'll hear some exciting instrumentals and hear them back some terrific blues singers, both famous like Wynonie Harris, Big Joe Turner and Ruth Brown, to the obscure such as Eddie Mack, Mr. Bear and Edna McGriff. Among those featured today are legendary horn men such as Hal Singer and Freddie Mitchell who played on countless sessions as well as recording some exciting sides under their own names. Then there were sax men primarily know for their session work such as the prolific Sam “The Man” Taylor, Budd Johnson and Big Al Sears. There were the sax men who led their own bands and were stars in their own right such as Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams, Red Prysock, Earl Bostic and Bullmoose Jackson. Others heard today include the incendiary Noble “Thin Man” Watts, the rising star King Curtis, Willis “Gator” Jackson, Buddy Lucas, Frank Culley and others. On part two we'll spin more great tracks by theses sax men as well as hearing form others such as Sil Austin, Buddy Tate, Charlie Singleton and more. We'll provide some background on some of today's artists and fill in details about the rest next week.

If you pour through the session details of the hundreds of New York City R&B sessions that took place in the mid-40's through the 50's you'll run across several sax men time and again, including Hal Singer, Freddie Mitchell, Sam "The Man" Taylor, Big Al Sears  and Budd Johnson. Hal Singer played with the legendary South Western and Mid Western territory bands of T Holder, Ernie Fields, Tommy Douglas and Jay McShann. He lent his torrid tenor saxophone style to R&B hits from Wynonie Harris' "Good Rockin' Tonight" in 1947 to Little Willie John's "Talk To Me, Talk To Me" in 1958, and conducted his own successful recording career from 1948, kicking off with "Cornbread" – a title that would provide his nickname for the next several years. Singer formed his own quartet, which played on some blues sessions for Savoy Records eventually recording signing a contract with the label in 1948 which lasted until 1949. He would record again for the label for a longer term from 1952 to1956 – and in the meantime Singer recorded for Mercury (1950) and Coral (1951/52), as well as playing back-up on countless R&B and rock 'n' roll sessions. rom the late 1950s into the early 1960s, in addition to touring extensively with many jazz, R&B and rock 'n' roll package shows, Singer recorded for DeLuxe and Prestige and between 1958 and 1961 he played in the famous New York club Metropole with Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Shavers, Henry "Red" Allen, Cozy Cole and Claude Hopkins.

Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams

Born in Orlando, Florida, in 1918, young Freddie Mitchell became a blues pianist in nearby Tampa before moving to New York City with his family at about 13 years of age. Upon leaving high school he joined Benny Carter's Orchestra in late 1940 and in 1941 joined Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra and also briefly played with Hot Lips Page and Louis Armstrong.  By 1949 Mitchell was approached by Larry Newton, owner of Derby Records, to be a contracted artist and the in-house bandleader. Leaving Derby after three years, Mitchell recorded for Mercury (1952), Coral, Brunswick and Gem (1953), Jubilee (1954), Rock 'n' Roll (1955), ABC Paramount (1956-61) and a one-off session for Herb Abramson in 1959. y 1952 he had become a top New York session musician and can be heard on many hits, particularly those from Atlantic: Joe Turner's "Sweet Sixteen", Ray Charles' "It Should've Been Me", Ruth Brown's "Wild, Wild Young Men" and LaVern Baker's "Soul On Fire" to name a fraction.

Sam Taylor began working with Scat Man Crothers and the Sunset Royal Orchestra in the late '30s. He played with Cootie Williams and Lucky Millinder in the early '40s, then worked six years with Cab Calloway. Taylor toured South America and the Caribbean during his tenure with Calloway. Taylor began to get work as a session musician in 1952 and did work for Atlantic, Savoy, and Apollo Records. In November of that year he was signed by former MGM record man Joe Davis who has a stable of labels including Beacon, Joe Davis, and Jay-Dee. Taylor became the saxophonist of choice for many R&B dates through the '50s, recording with Ray Charles, Buddy Johnson, Louis Jordan, and Big Joe Turner, among others.

Al Sears had actually had his first important job in 1928 replacing Hodges with the Chick Webb band. However, despite associations with Elmer Snowden (1931-1932), Andy Kirk (1941-1942), Lionel Hampton (1943-1944), and with his own groups (most of 1933-1941), it was not until Sears joined Duke Ellington's Orchestra in 1944 that he began to get much attention. Sears worked with Johnny Hodges' group during 1951-1952, recorded a variety of R&B-oriented material in the 1950s backing artists such as Big Joe Turner, Nappy Brown, Piano Red, Cousin Joe and others. He cut two excellent albums for Swingville in 1960 before going into semi-retirement.

Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson

In the 1920's Budd Johnson performed in Texas and parts of the Midwest, working with Jesse Stone among others. Johnson had his recording debut while working with Louis Armstrong's band in 1932-33 but he is more known for his work, over many years, with Earl Hines. Johnson was also an early figure in the bebop era, doing sessions with Coleman Hawkins in 1944. In the 1950s he led his own group and did session work for Atlantic Records – he is the featured tenor saxophone soloist on Ruth Brown's hit "Teardrops from My Eyes."

Several sax men spent time leading their own bands and became quite famous during this era. Among those were Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams and Earl Bostic. Eddie Vinson first picked up a horn while attending high school in Houston. During the late '30s, he was a member of an incredible horn section in Milton Larkins's orchestra, sitting next to Arnett Cobb and Illinois Jacquet. Vinson joined the Cootie Williams Orchestra from 1942 to 1945. His vocals on trumpeter Williams' renditions of "Cherry Red" and "Somebody's Got to Go" were big hits. Vinson struck out on his own in 1945, forming his own large band, signing with Mercury, and enjoying a double-sided smash in 1947 with "Old Maid Boogie" and  "Kidney Stew Blues." Between 1949-1952 he did a stint at King Records.  Vinson steadfastly kept one foot in the blues camp and the other in jazz, waxing jumping R&B for Mercury (in 1954) and Bethlehem (1957), jazz for Riverside in 1961 (with Cannonball Adderley), and blues for Blues Time and ABC-BluesWay.

Saxophonist and bandleader Paul Williams scored one of the first big hits of the R&B era in 1949 with "The Hucklebuck," an adaption of Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time." The song topped the R&B charts for 14 weeks in 1949, and was one of three Top Ten and five other Top 20 R&B instrumental hits that Williams scored for Savoy in 1948 and 1949. He was later part of Atlantic Records' house band in the '60s, and directed the Lloyd Price and James Brown orchestras until 1964.

Earl Bostic played around the Midwest during the early '30s, studied at Xavier University, and toured with several bands before moving to New York in 1938. In the early '40s, he worked as an arranger and session musician, and began leading his own regular large group in 1945. Cutting back to a septet the next year, Bostic began recording regularly, scoring his first big hit with 1948's "Temptation." He soon signed with the King label, the home of most of his biggest jukebox hits. In 1951, Bostic landed a number one R&B hit with "Flamingo," plus another Top Ten in "Sleep." Subsequent hits included "You Go to My Head" and "Cherokee." Bostic's bands became important training grounds for up-and-coming jazzmen like John Coltrane, Blue Mitchell, Stanley Turrentine, Benny Golson, Jaki Byard, and others.

Share