***Due to the Rochester Jazz Festival, today's show is shorter than usual. We'll be playing some of things we didn't get to next week***
|Monkey Joe||Must I Break 'em on Down?||Monkey Joe Vol. 1 1935-1939|
|Big Bill Broonzy||Going Back to Arkansas||Good Times Tonight|
|Big Bill Broonzy||Trucking Little Woman No. 2||Warm, Witty & Wise|
|Minnie Mathes||Chicago Men Blues||Blue Ladies 1934-1941|
|Merline Johnson||Got A Mind To Ramble||Merline Johnson Vol. 2 1938-1939|
|Monkey Joe||Mountain Baby Blues||Monkey Joe Vol. 2 & Roosevelt Scott 1939-1940|
|Monkey Joe||Trouble Comin' On||Monkey Joe Vol. 1 1935-1939|
|Washboard Sam||Block And Tackle||Washboard Sam Vol. 4 1939-1940|
|Washboard Sam||Jersey Cow Blues||Washboard Sam Vol. 4 1939-1940|
|Washboard Sam||Diggin' My Potatoes||Washboard Sam Vol. 4 1939-1940|
|Ramona Hicks||Evil and Blues||Swingin' The Blues 1931-1939|
|Washboard Sam||Chiselin' Blues||Washboard Sam Vol. 5 1940-1941|
|Jimmy Gordon||(Roll 'Em Dorothy) Let 'Em jump For Joy||Jimmie Gordon Vol. 3 1939-1946|
|Big Bill Broonzy||I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town||Big Bill Broonzy: The War & Postwar Years|
|Big Bill Broonzy||Cell No. 13||Big Bill Broonzy: The War & Postwar Years|
|Buster Bennett||Leap Frog Blues||Buster Bennett 1945-1947|
|Roosevelt Sykes||Living In a Different World||Washboard Sam Vol. 8 1945-1947|
|Roosevelt Sykes||Flames of Jive||Washboard Sam Vol. 8 1945-1947|
|Tampa Red||She's a Solid Killer Diiller||Tampa Red Vol. 13 1945-1947|
|Big Bill Broonzy||I Can't Write||Big Bill Broonzy: The War & Postwar Years|
|Eddie Boyd||Rosa Lee Swing||Eddie Boyd 1947-1950|
|Eddie Boyd||Why Did She Leave Me||Eddie Boyd 1947-1950|
|Washboard Sam||Three Different Women||Buster Bennett 1945-1947|
|Tampa Red||Big Bill's Boogie||Big Bill Broonzy: The War & Postwar Years|
|Washboard Sam||She's Just My Size||Washboard Sam Vol. 7 1942-1949|
|Lavern Baker||Easy Baby||Lavern Baker 1949-1954|
|Arbee Stidham||You'll Be Sorry||Arbee Stidham Vol. 1 1947 - 1951|
|Roosevelt Sykes||Fine and Brown||The United Records Story|
|Big Bill Broonzy||Tomorrow||Andrew Tibbs 1947-1951|
|Earl Hooker & Bobby Saxton||Dynamite||Andrew Tibbs 1947-1951|
|Roosevelt Sykes||Honey Child||Sings The Blues|
|Roosevelt Sykes||Feel like Blowing My Horn||Feel like Blowing My Horn|
|Sax Mallard||Teen Town Strut||78|
As writer Mike Rowe notes "it was a white businessman, Lester Melrose, who was really responsible for shaping the Chicago sound of the late 30's and 40's." From March 1934 to February 1951 he recorded at least 90 percent of all rhythm-and-blues talent for RCA Victor and Columbia Records…" The "Bluebird Sound", as it's been called, anticipated the Chicago blues of the post-war era featuring tight, smooth small band arrangements that were filled out with piano, bass drums and often clarinet or saxophone. Among the horn players in demand in the 30's and 40's were Buster Bennett who made his debut in 1938 and his successor Sax Mallard, who hit his stride in the mid-to-late 40's. The music they made evolved into the Chicago R&B and jump music scene of the 1940's and '50's that we spotlighted last week. Bennett's career divides into two phases; In the first part of his career he worked as a blues accompanist in the studios backing artists such as Monkey Joe, Big Bill Broonzy, Merline Johnson, Washboard Sam and Jimmie Gordon; during the second part, after being signed as a leader, he was presented as a gut-bucket instrumentalist and blues singer. Sax Mallard led his own combos and did some recording under his own name but was best known as a reliable session artist backing some of the same artists as Bennett as well as working with likes of Tampa Red, Roosevelt Sykes, Eddie Boyd and others.
Joseph Buster Bennett was born in Pensacola, Florida, on March 19, 1914. As the Red Suanders Research page notes: "We know nothing about his early days. When he cut his first recordings in 1938, he was a highly distinctive, gutbucket stylist with many 1920s features still adhering to his playing (not least of them his continued use of the soprano sax, which was way out of fashion by this time). All of this suggests that he learned early and was playing professionally in his teens. …Our very first written record of Buster Bennett, who by then was 24 years old and had been playing professionally for at least 8 years, is a one-paragraph blurb in the Chicago Defender, from July 9, 1938." Bennett got his recording start for Lester Melrose in September 1938. He would work the studios with Big Bill Broonzy, Merline Johnson, Monkey Joe and Washboard Sam. He also did two non-Melrose sessions with Jimmie Gordon, under the direction of Sammy Price.
A 1939 Washboard Sam session marks the first time that Buster's voice is heard on a record; besides his contribution to the dialogue, on "Block and Tackle" (the title commemorates a variety of moonshine whiskey) and participates in the ensemble vocal on "We Gonna Do Some Rug Cuttin'." A 1945 session with Big Bill was the last session work Buster would before starting a recording career under his own name which began the same year.
Bennett was obviously a favorite of Jesse Coleman AKA Monkey Joe appearing on over twenty sides. Coleman was most likely born in Mississippi, and though the year of birth is not known. He worked locally in Jackson, Mississippi in juke joints in the 1930's, and recorded with Little Brother Montgomery in 1935 on Bluebird Records. Late in the 1930's he worked as a session musician for Lester Melrose, and recorded under his own name with Charlie McCoy, Fred Williams, Big Bill Broonzy, and Buster Bennett as backing musicians. Coleman also appears to have worked under several other names. He also recorded on Okeh Records for a time. He worked often in Chicago blues clubs in the 1960's & 70's and made his final recordings in 1961.
Bennet made his last recording in December 1947 an dropped off the scene completely after 1954. Bennett died in Houston on July 3, 1980. By then he was long retired from music. The Houston newspapers did nothing to commemorate his passing—no obituary, no notice in "area deaths." His later years remain a complete blank to us.
Oett M. Mallard was born on September 2, 1915, in Southern Illinois. While Mallard was still a boy his mother brought him to Chicago. He got his first saxophone at 16, while still at Wendell Philips High School and almost immediately landed a gig playing on the radio with vocalist Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon. After graduation Mallard toured the US and Canada with Nat "King" Cole. Up through the beginning of World War II, Sax Mallard seems to have been on the road a lot, working at various times with Fats Waller, the Deep River Boys, the Original Ink Spots, the Andy Kirk Band, and the Mary Lou Williams Quartet. In 1942, Mallard was a member of a 12-piece band in Chicago led by drummer and singer Floyd Campbell. Mallard worked with Duke Ellington on five broadcasts, all originating in New York City, from April and May 1943.
Like so many Swing musicians, Mallard had to contend with changing popular tastes as the war ended and the Big Bands wound down. When he returned to Chicago, after a stint in the navy, and picked up studio work, it was for the Melrose combine, and the music was urban blues or R&B. It appears that his ticket to the studios was his membership in Armand "Jump" Jackson's combo. In the studios Mallard took over a role that had belonged to Buster Bennett before the war. He became an extremely active participant in blues recordings for Victor and Columbia through the end of 1947. His skills as a clarinetist and arranger and his extremely reliable work habits him repeat calls for session work. Mallard was well enough liked by some of these blues artists (notably Big Bill Broonzy and Roosevelt Sykes) to pick up work with them after Victor and Columbia had retreated from blues recording and they had moved to other labels.
There was a lull in Mallard's recording activities for the first 5 months of 1947 when Mallard reappeared on record, it was for a new independent called Aristocrat.He recorded with Jump Jackso for Aristocrat and Columbia during this period. The same year he recorded with Eddie Boyd. Boyd refers to Sax Mallard by name on all three of Mallard's solo features: "You Got to Love That Gal," "Rosa Lee Swing" and "Blue Monday Blues."
Mallard made his debut as leader for Aristocrat in December 1947.During this period he also worked with singer Andrew Tibbs and The Dozier Boys with label credits to Sax Mallard's Combo. Mallard also appeared during this period on Arbee Stidham's first session as a leader. "My Heart Belongs to You" was a sizeable R&B hit. So sizeable, in fact, that it ended up being released three times. Mallard cut more sides as leader in 1951 for Mecury and in 1951 and 1952 for Checker. He continued recording as a session artists with various vocal groups as well as Roosevelt Sykes, Earl Hooker, Sunnyland Slim and others. Sax Mallard died of cancer on August 29, 1986, at West Side Veterans Administration Hospital. He was 70 years old.