|Lionel Hampton With Illinois Jacquet||Flying Home||Flying Home|
|Duke Henderson w/ Wild Bill Moore||Boogie Man Blues||Get Your Kicks|
|Big Jay McNeely||California Hop||Big Jay McNeely 1948-1950|
|Joe Liggins||The Honeydripper||Joe Liggins & the Honeydrippers|
|Little Willie Jackson||There'll Be Some Changes Made||Jazz Me Blues|
|Joe Liggins||Little Joe's Boogie||Joe Liggins & the Honeydrippers|
|Jim Wynn||West Coast Lover||Jim Wynn 1947-1959|
|Jim Wynn||Wynn's Boogie||Jim Wynn 1945-1946|
|Buddy Banks||Bank's Boogie||Buddy Banks 1945-1949|
|Buddy Banks||Fluffy's Debut||Buddy Banks 1945-1949|
|Jack McVea||Inflation Blues||Jack McVea: With Alton Redd and George Vann|
|Jack McVea||Fightin' Mama Blues||Jack McVea: With Alton Redd and George Vann|
|Jack McVea||Wino||Jack McVea: With Alton Redd and George Vann|
|Big Joe Turner w/ Wild Bill Moore||My Gal's A Jockey||Have No Fear Big Joe Turner Is Here|
|Wild Bill Moore||Rock 'N' Roll||Let Me Tell You About The Blues; West Coast|
|Joe Houston||Jay's Boogie||Rockin' 'n' Boppin'|
|Chuck Higgins||Motor Head Baby||Blows His Wig|
|Chuck Higgins||Wet Back Hop||Honk! Honk! Honk!|
|Chuck Higgins||Big Fat Mama||Pachuko Hop|
|Johnny Otis w/ Big Jay McNeely||Barrelhouse Stomp||Johnny Otis 1945-1947|
|Big Jay McNeely||Roadhouse Boogie||Big Jay McNeely
|Jimmy Liggins & His Drops Of Joy||Teardrop Blues||Jimmy Liggins and His Drops of Joy|
|Jimmy Liggins & His Drops Of Joy||Cadillac Boogie||Jimmy Liggins and His Drops of Joy|
|King Perry||King Perry Blues||King Perry 1945-1949|
|King Perry||Going To California Blues||King Perry 1945-1949|
|King Perry||Everything's Gonna Be Alright||King Perry 1950-1954|
|Little Willie Littlefield||Happy Pay Day||Kat On The Keys|
|James Von Streeter||Chitlins||Jumpin' the Blues|
|Joe Lutcher||No Name Boogie||Joe Lutcher 1947|
|Joe Lutcher||Rockin' Boogie||Joe Lutcher 1947|
|Joe Lutcher||Joe Joe Jump||Joe Lutcher 1947|
|Joe Houston||All Night Long||Honk! Honk! Honk!|
|Joe Houston||Joe's Hot House||Rockin' at the Drive-In|
|Big Jay McNeely||Nervous Man Nervous||Big Jay McNeely 1953-1955|
|Big Jay McNeely, Los Angeles, 1951|
Today's show is a sequel to our tribute to L.A. sax blower/arranger Maxwell Davis who we spotlighted several weeks back. By the 1940's the saxophone was a well established and very popular instrument in both classical and jazz music. As the 40's brought more musical styles like jump blues, rhythm and blues and rock and roll the instrument would play a major roll in the new sound. Illinois Jacquet was a very good swing jazz player and like many others he was drawn to the new sounds. He was only 19 years old when he worked with Lionel Hampton's band and recorded his famous solo on "Flying Home" that jump started the era of the honkin' saxophone. One person he inspired was Big Jay McNeely who took the honkin' over the edge and made a show of it… laying on his back, strolling into the crowds and walking on top of bars. As McNeely said of "Flying Home:" "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." This new sound of the 40's rhythm and blues produced many honkin' saxophone stars. Today we spotlight several L.A. based sax blowers including Big Jay McNeely, Joe Houston, Chuck Higgins, Buddy Banks, Jack McVea, Joe Lutcher, Little Willie Jackson, Wild Bill Moore and others.
Cecil McNeely grew up in Los Angeles, where jazz reigned on Watts' bustling nightlife strip. Inspired by Illinois Jacquet and tutored by Jack McVea, McNeely struck up a friendship with Johnny Otis, co-owner of the popular Barrelhouse club. Ralph Bass, a friend of Otis, produced McNeely's debut date for Savoy Records in 1948. McNeely's raucous one-note honking on "The Deacon's Hop" gave him and Savoy an R&B chart-topper in 1949, and his follow-up, "Wild Wig," also hit big. From Savoy, McNeely moved to Exclusive in 1949, Imperial in 1950-1951, King's Federal subsidiary in 1952-1954 and Vee-Jay in 1955.
Wild Bill Moore was a honking tenor sax player, influenced by Chu Berry and Illinois Jacquet. He was first noticed in Chicago in 1944, the year he made his first recording with Christine Chatman (Decca). The next year he first recorded under his own name, for Apollo. He relocated to Los Angeles, where he gradually began to build a name for himself, recording with Jack McVea, Big Joe Turner, Helen Humes (Moore blows the solo on "Be-Baba-Leba"), Slim Gaillard, Dexter Gordon, and Wardell Gray.
Between 1943 and 1946, Joe Houston toured with King Kolax's band through Kansas City and Chicago and throughout the Mid-West. After World War II Houston returned to Texas, and recorded with the pianist Amos Milburn and singer Big Joe Turner. Initially playing alto sax, he switched to tenor in the wake of such "honking" saxophonists as Big Jay McNeely and others. Turner got Houston his first recording contract on Freedom Records in 1949. Houston moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and played with Betty Roche and Wynonie Harris. Eventually, Houston formed his own band The Rockets, and moved to Los Angeles in 1952. He scored his only two chart hit singles in 1952 with "Worry, Worry, Worry", and "Hard Time Baby." He recorded for many record labels, including Modern and Crown, and contributed vocals as well as saxophone on some of his records.
Chuck Higgins relocated from his birthplace of Gary, Indiana to Los Angeles in his teens. He penned the single "Pachuko Hop" (1952), which became popular among American Latinos on the West Coast. The "Pachuko Hop" single's B-side, "Motorhead Baby" featured vocals by Johnny "Guitar" Watson. He recorded for Aladdin Records, Caddy Records, Lucky Records, Specialty Records, and Dootone Records.
Born in Oklahoma, Jimmy Liggins moved to San Diego in 1932. He moved to Los Angeles in 1939 and played with various outfits. Liggins cut "The Honeydripper"for Leon René's Exclusive label which was an R&B chart-topper. Nine more hits followed on Exclusive over the next three years. In 1950, Joe joined his brother Jimmy at Specialty Records. More hits immediately followed: "Rag Mop," the number one R&B smash "Pink Champagne," "Little Joe's Boogie," and "Frankie Lee." During this period, the Honeydrippers prominently featured saxophonists Little Willie Jackson and James Jackson, Jr. Liggins stuck around Specialty into 1954, later turning up with solitary singles on Mercury and Aladdin. Little Willie Jackson cut some sides under his own name for the Bihari Brothers in 1947. Jackson's band was actually the Honeydrippers and Joe Liggins is believed to be featured on piano on several of these tracks. The Ace label has issued two-dozen of these sides on the CD Jazz Me Blues.
Inspired by the success of his brother Jimmy, Joe Liggins jumped into the recording field in 1947 on Art Rupe's Specialty logo. His "Tear Drop Blues" pierced the R&B Top Ten the next year, while "Careful Love" and "Don't Put Me Down" hit for him in 1949. His last his was "Drunk" in 1953. His roaring sax section at Specialty was populated by first-rate reedmen such as Harold Land, Charlie "Little Jazz" Ferguson, and Maxwell Davis. Liggins left Specialty in 1954, stopping off at Aladdin long enough to wax the classic-to-be "I Ain't Drunk" (much later covered by Albert Collins) before fading from the scene.
Jack McVea will always be most famous for his big hit "Open the Door, Richard." McVea mostly gigged in the Los Angeles area until joining Lionel Hampton in 1940 as a baritonist. He was with Hamp for three years and played with Snub Mosley, but McVea made a much stronger impression when he played on the first Jazz at the Philharmonic Concert. From 1944 on, McVea led his own group most of the time.
Buddy Banks played in Charlie Echols's band in Los Angeles from 1933 to 1937 and remained in the group after it was taken over by Claude Kennedy and then by Emerson Scott after Kennedy's death. The group then scored a gig at the Paradise Cafe, and Cee Pee Johnson became its leader; Banks played in Johnson's ensemble until 1945. Following this Banks led his own group. The ensemble played throughout southern California and recorded until 1949. Banks led a new group in 1950, but disbanded it quickly. In 1950 he began playing piano, and though he accompanied Fluffy Hunter on tenor saxophone in 1953, he spent most of the rest of his life on piano.
In 1945 King Perry went to Los Angeles, appearing in a show with Dorothy Donegan and Nat King Cole; while there he made his first recordings as a leader. He led a band called the Pied Pipers through the middle of the 1950s, making many records for labels such as Melodisc, United Artists, Excelsior, De Luxe, Specialty, Dot, RPM, Lucky, Unique, Look, and Hollywood during this period.
Taken as an infant to live in Los Angeles, Jim Wynn began he began playing piano and clarinet, switching to tenor sax in his early teens. By the mid 1930s, Wynn had formed his own band and was playing tenor sax at a Watts club called Little Harlem where he first met T-Bone Walker. Walker began sitting in with the Wynn band; the beginning of an association that was to last for over 17 years. Wynn, with his band made their first recordings in late 1945 for the 4Star and Gilt Edge Records, leaving to join the Bihari's Modern label the following year. The Wynn band recorded sporadically thereafter for Specialty, Supreme and Modern again, Peacock, Mercury and Recorded In Hollywood and Million recording a final single in 1959. By the late 1940s, Wynn's innovative performance style, involving dancing, stomping and other on-stage histrionics, was being widely copied by the next generation of L.A. tenor wild men and in an effort to maintain variety in his act he began playing the more cumbersome baritone saxophone. Wynn disbanded his regular combo in the mid 1950s', becoming an indispensable session saxophonist on many of the blues, r&b, pop and soul recordings commissioned by the myriad California independent labels through the late 1950's and 1960's. During the same period, Big Jim Wynn was also an integral part of Johnny Otis' big r&b revue band, a post he would maintain until the mid 1970's.
Joe Lutcher was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana and moved to Los Angeles joining his sister Nellie who had relocated there in the mid-1930s. He led the house band at the Look Café in Los Angeles, before relocating to the more prestigious Café Society, where his band were renamed The Society Cats. He also worked as a bandleader for Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr. and the Mills Brothers. In 1947 he was heard by Art Rupe, who signed him to his new record label, Specialty. However, Lutcher was unhappy with Rupe's request that he only record slow blues, and at the behest of his sister Nellie also recorded (as "Joe Lutcher's Jump Band") for Capitol Records. Lutcher's first hit was "Shuffle Woogie" on the Capitol label, which reached # 10 on the Billboard "Race Records" chart in March 1948. "Rockin' Boogie", on Specialty, reached # 14 in September 1948. In 1949 he signed with Modern Records, where he recorded his own composition, "Mardi Gras". Lutcher's version reached # 13 on the R&B chart, but the tune became better known in later modified versions by Professor Longhair and Fats Domino. He later recorded for Peacock Records in Houston, Texas, and for several smaller labels, but with diminishing success.