The United and States Labels
Part I (1951-1953)

© Robert Pruter, Robert L. Campbell, and Tom Kelly

Latest revision: February 13, 2016


Revision note: We have added information about "Mumbles Blues," a number that Paul Bascomb borrowed with amazing rapidity from Bobby Lewis. Lewis's original was cut in New York on August 6, 1952. On August 25, Bascomb was recording the same number in Chicago—before Chess had had time to release the Lewis version. Then for some reason not well understood today, States dealt "Nona" and "Mumbles Blues" to Mercury, leaving the rest of the session in the can.


United/States Records was founded by Leonard Allen, a tailor and neophyte in the record business, and Lew Simpkins, who had previous experience working A&R at Miracle and then Premium, two labels owned by Lee Egalnick. When Premium went bust in June 1951, Simpkins was itching to stay in the record business; he talked his friend Allen into getting involved and into providing the initial seed money for the operation.

The company was formed in July of 1951 with the establishment of the United imprint. In May 1952 the company added a second imprint, States. As was typical in the business in those days, each label had its own line-up of distributors.

Miracle and Premium were both hit-making labels, and their demise will forever remain a mystery. Simpkins took over a good portion of the Miracle/Premium artist stable, some of them after stays at other companies, and signed them to the United and States imprints: Tab Smith, Robert Anderson, Tommy Dean, Jack Cooley, Memphis Slim, Eddie Chamblee, Terry Timmons, and Browley Guy.

United/States recorded the whole gamut of African-American popular music styles of the day: blues, jazz, vocal groups, rhythm and blues jumps, and gospel. The jazz roster was fairly impressive. It included Tab Smith, Jimmy Forrest, Tommy Dean, Paul Bascomb, Jimmy Coe, Cozy Eggleston, Leo Parker, Chris Woods, Gene Ammons, the Mil-Con-Bo Trio, Debbie Andrews, Della Reese, Jimmy Hamilton, Eddie Chamblee, Tiny Grimes, and Lefty Bates. The operation recorded its jazz artists for the rhythm and blues singles marketplace, which meant beat-driven hook-laden jumps and smooth renditions of ballad standards. United, with a few exceptions, looked for complete melodies and catchy hooks from its jazz artists rather than adventurous bebopping. It was jazz as entertainment rather than art.

The company recorded an invaluable number of great blues. The focus was primarily on urban blues artists from the 1940s, such as Roosevelt Stykes, Memphis Slim, Grant Jones, and J.T. "Nature Boy" Brown. Especially outstanding were the sides recorded by Robert Nighthawk, whose Delta blues slide-guitar stylings represent one of the finest legacies in citified country blues. The famed Chicago bar band style of blues, which the rival Chess operation especially thrived on, was represented by such artists as Junior Wells, L. C. McKinley, Big Walter Horton, and Alfred "Blues King" Harris.

Vocal groups such as the Danderliers, Five C's, Moroccos, and Hornets served a small part of the catalogue. Gospel acts included Robert Anderson, the Genesa Smith Singers, the Lucy Smith Singers, Singing Sammy Lewis, and the Caravans. The label also put out some of the first records by the Staple Singers, but fame for that group would not come until they signed with Vee-Jay. The Four Blazes and the Dozier Boys represented the vocal/instrumental group tradition of the 1940s.

Simpkins made Universal Recording his studio of choice for his operation; until 1956, nearly everything that United and States recorded in town would be done there. However, the company occasionally recorded at Boulevard Studios at 25 East Jackson to save money, and at least one session was cut at Balkan Studio—a cheap outfit, located on the West Side, that specialized in recording music from Yugoslavia.

The company was essentially shaped by Lew Simpkins, who was born November 7, 1918, in Mississippi. He knew the music, had personally signed all the artists, and understood the record business. But the veteran record man took ill and died on April 27, 1953, at the age of 34, leaving the unprepared Allen in charge. Assisting Leonard Allen at the company was his nephew-in-law, Samuel Smith (Smitty), who did the A&R with the vocal groups, and Miss Harris, the secretary, who was the mainstay of the company's administrative work. Also working with United's recording artists was bandleader Al Smith (1923 - 1974), who would rehearse the acts in the basement of his house and then direct the musicians at the sessions. Smith, however, was an independent contractor who had no position at the company; he also worked at various times for Chance and Parrot, and his most extensive involvement after 1954 would be at sessions for the Vee-Jay label. United's headquarters were located at 5052 South Cottage Grove, in the heart of the South Side "record row."

Leonard Allen was born Storrs Leonard Allen, March 21, 1899, in Montgomery, Alabama (his Social Security entry says 1897, but the 1930 census and his World War I draft card are consistent with 1899). His mother was highly religious and his father was a Methodist minister. Young Leonard attended high school in Birmingham with the intention of entering the ministry. Alabama was a hotbed of gospel quartet singing and he began singing in such ensembles. In 1917 he moved up to Chicago, and for many years there likewise sang in various quartets, none of which recorded. Allen joined the Chicago police department in 1928 and remained in the force until the late 1940s. He then entered the tailoring and cleaning business and met Lew Simpkins as a customer.


1951


Jimmy Forrest,
One of the hits that launched a label. An early pressing of Jimmy Forrest's "Night Train," pressed on red vinyl. From the collection of Stephen Dikovics.

The United label took off impressively, scoring two number one R&B hits among its first ten releases: Tab Smith's "Because of You," and Jimmy Forrest's "Night Train." United formally opened for business with a long recording session on July 12, 1951. According to some recollections, the electricity hadn't even been turned on the new enterprise's office. This of course posed no deterrent to the session, which took place at old reliable Universal Recording.


Roosevelt Sykes,
The first single on a brand-new label. From the collection of Robert L. Campbell.

Roosevelt Sykes,
The French Vogue label reissued much R&B material, including several Uniteds. Here is a Vogue 78 from United's first session. From the collection of Jean-Marc Pezet.

Blues pianist/vocalist Roosevelt Sykes (1906 - 1983) was a long-time recording veteran by 1951, when Simpkins inked him to United, having first recorded in 1929 for OKeh. After several other label associations (Paramount, Victor, Melotone, Champion, Bluebird), often using different names, Sykes signed with Decca in 1935. At Decca, Sykes emerged as a star and became a mainstay of the label, recording such classics as "Driving Wheel," "Night Time Is the Right Time," and "44 Blues." He picked up with the Columbia subsidiary OKeh (1941-42), RCA Victor (1944-49), and Regal (1950), before joining United. On his first session for the brand-new label he enjoyed the hot saxophone support of "Little Sax" Crowder on tenor, Sax Mallard on alto, Ransom Knowling on bass, and Jump Jackson on drums. There is some controversy over the identity of the guitar player but we'll put our money on Robert Nighthawk, a versatile artist who ranged far beyond his trademark slide work.


Roosevelt Sykes,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

United 101 was by Roosevelt Sykes, but the company was in no rush as far as its sesssion-mates were concerned. The other two sides were held for release on United 120.


Roosevelt Sykes,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Roosevelt Sykes,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Robert Nighthawk,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Robert Nighthawk (1909 - 1967), whose real name was Robert Lee McCollum, was an extraordinary slide guitarist in the Mississippi Delta tradition, whose country blues manner diverged significantly from United's initial urban blues emphasis. He began recording as Robert Lee McCoy or Rambling Bob for Bluebird (1937 - 39), and followed with a session as Peetie's Boy for Decca (1940). "Prowling Nighthawk," from his first Bluebird session, provided his latter-day stage name. Robert did some rambling during the 1940s, precluding recording opportunities until Aristocrat caught up with him in late 1948. He cut three sessions for Aristocrat (through early 1950) under the "Nighthawks" name. During an extended stay in Chicago in 1951 (Musicians Union Local 208 posted his indefinite contract with the Qunicy Club on March 1; this was soon replaced by an indefinite contract with the 708 Club on March 15), McCollum signed on with United. The billing on his United releases was Robert Nighthawk and His Nighthawks Band.


Robert Nighthawk,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Nature Boy
Brown,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Nature Boy Brown,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

John T. "Nature Boy" Brown (1918 - 1969) was a tenor sax player in the blues idiom who supplemented his robust blowing with rather rough-hewn singing. In his liner notes for the Brown United reissues on Delmark, Jim O'Neal remarked that he "was a bluesman. By jazz standards, he was not a great instrumentalist. His lack of sophistication, subtlety, and tonal variations prevented him from moving into more 'progressive' circles." Brown first performed as a member of the Rabbit Foot Minstrels in the South before moving to Chicago in the early 1940s. He first appears in the Board minutes of Musicians Union Local 208 on December 21, 1944, when his "indefinite" contract with the Boogie Woogie Inn was accepted and filed. When recording by the majors resumed in 1945, Brown began taking part in sessions for RCA Victor behind such artists as Roosevelt Sykes, Eddie Boyd, and Washboard Sam. He first recorded under his own name for the Harlem label in 1950. He cut a session for Premium that saw no releases, but Simpkins did not forget him and he was one of the first signings for the United label. The July session was the first of two. United featured him on the label as "'Nature Boy' Brown and his Blues Ramblers." The lineup on Brown's part of the session has been subject to dispute, but besides Little Brother Montgomery on piano (Roosevelt Sykes can be heard providing "encouragement and zest," as the Delmark reissue CD puts it), Ransom Knowling doing some prominent slap-bass work, and Jump Jackson on drums, it appears to include King Kolax on trumpet. King K had toured with Brown from January through March of 1951 and appears to have stayed in his group until after this session.


Nature Boy Brown,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Nature Boy Brown,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

According to Leonard Allen, of the three earliest artists on United "Brown was the only one that sold records, with that honk he did."

The new label's second session turned out a good deal more lucrative.


Tab Smith and his
combo, New York City, late 1940s
The Tab Smith Combo, New York City, late 1940s. Tab Smith is in the center, behind the other musicians. From the collection of Billy Vera.

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

The alto saxophonist Talmadge (Tab) Smith was born in Kinston, North Carolina, on January 11, 1909, and made his professional debut with the Carolina Stompers in 1929. In 1931 he joined Eddie Johnson and his Crackerjacks in St. Louis, and in later years he worked with Lucky Millinder and Count Basie. By the time he began recording, with Millinder in 1936, he was a saxophonist of high technical accomplishment working in the tradition of Johnny Hodges; he would keep his idol's signature portamento for the rest of his life. From 1944 through 1949 he fronted his own combo, recording for various small labels in New York area, including J. Mayo Williams' Southern company. Then he moved his base of operations back to St. Louis. Tab Smith enjoyed a little success with the faltering Premium label in early 1951 (the remnants were cannily snapped up by Chess when Premium went out of business). As soon as he could, Simpkins brought him over to the new label. When Smith joined United Records, his skill as an alto saxophonist was fully matured, and the result was a fine series of ballads, blues, and novelty numbers all superbly realized in full lush tone and masterful phrasing.


Tab Smith,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Besides his Fabulous Alto, as it was customarily billed in United's florid label copy, Tab Smith played a Velvet Tenor. His tenor saxophone sound was agile and polished to the nines, though on the light side—as might be expected from a career practitioner on a smaller horn. Tab Smith occasionally crooned a ballad, and probably did more vocalizing on club dates; United showed only limited interest in his vocal features, though the company did issue a few of them. Later on, Smith would experiment with other singers. The only one he stayed with for more than one session was Ray King, who joined him in 1956.


Tab Smith,
A tenor sax feature from Tab Smith's first session. The wrong matrix number on the label makes it appear to be from his second. From the collection of Tom Kelly.

Smith's first session took place on August 28, 1951. Obviously a lot was expected from him, as this was a double-length outing that produced eight usable sides. Judging from the take numbers (there aren't any for his subsequent outings for the company), he and the band and the production team needed a little time to get used to one another. Smith brought his regular rhythm section: Teddy Brannon on piano, Wilfred Middlebrooks on bass, and the great Walter Johnson (who had been a major figure in the evolution of Swing when he played in Fletcher Henderson's big band during the early 1930s) on drums. Apparently Smith was not carrying other horn players at the time, so two mainstays of the Red Saunders band joined him in the studio. George "Sonny" Cohn (1925 - 2006) got an occasional lead or short statement on trumpet; Leon Diamond Washington (1909-1973), a solid tenor saxophone soloist in the Coleman Hawkins tradition, received no opportunities while backing a saxophone playing leader who stood in front of the band.


Tab Smith,
The original release of "Milk Train." From the collection of Tom Kelly.

Tab Smith,
As reissued on Vogue in 1953. From the collection of Armin Büttner.

"Because of You"—a suave alto sax rendering of the Tony Bennett hit, plumped up a little with that Universal Recording reverb—was promptly released on United 104; it lasted twenty weeks on the Billboard R&B chart and went to #1. The source of inspiration was unmistakably Johnny Hodges. But its diskmate, "Dee Jay Special," was a medium-fast number featuring the Velvet Tenor, and there the inspiration came from Lester Young, a section mate during a couple of Smith's brief stints in the Count Basie band, though even when playing in the Lestorian mode Smith tended to articulate his notes more sharply than the master. "Milk Train" (which was reissued on Delmark under its file title, "Slow Motion") is an insinuating slow blues featuring the Fabulous Alto; "Wig Song," which was left in the box at the time, is a Basie-inspired jump for the Velvet Tenor—but this time a few bop licks work their way into Tab's solo. (A major saxophone technician, Smith had the chops to play bop when he wanted to, though his bassist and drummer never adopted any bop practices. Once again, we're reminded that in Chicago, the boundaries between Swing and bop were more permeable than the standard historical accounts would have us believe.)

"One Man Dip," another excellent peformance left unissued, is an eloquent medium-slow blues for the Velvet Tenor; Teddy Brannon does the "After Hours" thing at the piano, and the backing horns lay out. "Down Beat" is a rocking medium blues, again featuring the tenor sax; it benefits from effective riffing by Cohn and Washington and strong drumming. The session concluded with two vocal features for the leader. "How Can You Say We're Thru" is a decently written ballad on which the leader's alto sax is inevitably more eloquent than his crooning. United decided to pass on it; the same thing happened with "Brown Baby," a slightly better tune that leaves less room for the Fabulous Alto.


Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith would become United's most prolifically recorded artist. The company rushed him right back for 8 more sides on October 24 (in the meantime, Allen and Simpkins hadn't ponied up the funds to record anyone else). Smith used the same band (again with Cohn and Washington added), and thistime it appears that most of the items were completed in one take.


Tab Smith, Vogue
EP
Four Tab Smith ballads, as reissued on a Vogue EP. From the collection of Armin Büttner

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

The huge success of "Because of You" dictated a different balance on this session; Tab Smith left the Velvet Tenor in its case. The top item on the agenda was to lay down some ballads: "Can't We Take a Chance," "(It's No) Sin," "A Blanket of Blue," and "Hands across the Table," four better-than-average products of Tin Pan Alley done in the Hodges manner. Except for "Can't We Take a Chance," which was given a perked-up two-beat with a fair amount of call and response for Cohn and Washington, the ballads were played at strict slow-dance tempo. The propulsive yet laid-back "Boogie Joogie" was the sole jump. Closing the session with his own tune, "Love Is a Wonderful Thing," Tab Smith finally got his crooning onto a United single. His vocal was nicely framed with an alto sax intro and a transitional passage for a muted Sonny Cohn.


Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

On the October session, Smith also tried out his first guest vocalist, uptown blues singer Lou Blackwell. Blackwell had first recorded ballads and blues for Chess on a session a few months earlier, but the Chess brothers were apparently unhappy with the results and nothing has ever been released. Here Blackwell's smooth baritone is put to good use on "Knotty-Headed Woman" with its extravagantly worded lyrics. "Ain't Got Nobody" is a low-down complaint that gets relaxed execution by the singer and the band. These were competitive with the sides that other standup blues singers would make for United, but the company decided not to use them. Lou Blackwell would finally get a single out when he recorded for Chance around November of 1952.


Tab Smith,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

In all, Tab Smith ended up being responsible for 48 issued sides, running from the United label's fourth release in 1951 to its very last in 1957. His total output was 85 tracks, many of which were released only during the last decade. Smith's combo underwent a few personnel changes but on all but one of his sessions at United he enjoyed the services of famed jazz drummer Walter Johnson, who had been with him since 1944. Tab Smith became a steady if not spectacular seller for the company. In essence, he paid the bills for United, since the company had few hits after the early going.


Tiny Grimes,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Guitarist and bandleader Tiny Grimes was born Lloyd Grimes in 1917, in Newport News, Virginia. He played an unusual four-string guitar and experimented early with electrical amplification. In the late 1930s and early 1940s he worked in New York. He replaced Slim Gaillard in Slim and Slam when he teamed up with bowing, singing bassist Slam Stewart. From the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s Grimes regularly headed combos (one of his 1944 groups has caught extra recognition because it included Charlie Parker). Nearly all his work was done in New York and Philadelphia for such East Coast labels as Atlantic and Gotham, so this session in Chicago with New York musicians (tenorman Red Prysock and pianist Freddie Redd, an unidentified bassist, and drummer Jerry Potter) was somewhat an anomaly. The Board minutes of Local 208 of the Musicians Union indicate that Tiny Grimes had a contract to play the Brass Rail, a club in the Loop, for 2 weeks; it was accepted and filed on October 4, 1951. On November 15, Grimes posted a contract for 2 weeks at Club Silhouette. Allen and Simpkins approached Grimes during this stay in Chicago and got him to sign on the dotted line.


Tiny Grimes,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Jimmy Forrest,
A later pressing of "Night Train," with the second version of the United logo. From the collection of Stephen Dikovics.

United's second national hit was Jimmy Forrest's "Night Train," which likewise lasted twenty weeks on the Billboard R&B chart and rose to #1 in early 1952. The record, one of the most memorable instrumentals in the history of rhythm and blues, became a jukebox standard for the next couple of decades. Forrest recorded many times after he laid down "Night Train" at Universal Recording, but if he had never done anything else his mark on popular music would still be assured.


Jimmy Forrest,
How many copies of this hit record were pressed on blue vinyl? From the collection of Tom Kelly

Jimmy Forrest was a hard-swinging honker possessing splendid technique that was a joy to listen to on a pure visceral level. From Forrest and the other robust tenor sax men of the 1940s and 1950s—Coleman Hawkins, Illinois Jacquet, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, and Arnett Cobb—rhythm and blues inherited its basic sax sound.


Jimmy Forrest, St. Louis
1950
Jimmy Forrest and combo around 1950. Photo supplied by Frank Driggs for Delmark DD-435.

Jimmy Forrest was born in Saint Louis on January 24, 1920. In high school he was already performing in the local bands of Eddie Johnson, Fate Marable, and Jeter-Pillars. He first made his mark in the jazz world in Don Albert's big band during 1938-39. Later he would play with Jay McShann (1942), Andy Kirk (1942-48), and Duke Ellington (1949-50). (For extensive coverage of Forrest's recordings, see the solography at http://www.jazzarcheology.com/?p=376. "Night Train" is, in fact, lifted right out of a 1946 composition by the Duke titled "Happy Go Lucky Local." In 1951 Leonard Allen and Lew Simpkins found Forrest honking the "Night Train" riff in a St. Louis club and the rest is history. Forrest had given it a dirty name, so (as often happened in those days) United reconfigured the title to something more radio-friendly. For his first session with the label, Forrest appears to have used his regular St. Louis combo: Bunky Parker, piano; Johnny Mixon, bass; Oscar Oldham, drums; Percy James, congas and bongos. Some of the items from this session (such as "Swingin' and Rockin'") show substantial bebop influence.


Jimmy Forrest,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Grant Jones,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Grant Jones,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

One of the year's concluding sessions featured Grant "Mr. Blues" Jones, an uptown blues singer popular in the clubs at the time, notably the Club DeLisa (55th and South State), Joe's Rendezvous Lounge (2757 West Madison), Club 34 (3417 West Roosevelt), and New Apex Country Club (12614 Claire in Robbins). Jones had first recorded for J. Mayo Williams' Ebony label in 1949; he subsequently cut twice for Decca during 1949-50. It appears that Jones first attempted two of his sides on November 27 (with which band? Jimmy Forrest's?) but these came out unsatisfactorily and had to be remade on December 1.


Grant Jones,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Kitty O'Day, also a blues singer, was occasionally mentioned in Chicago Defender advertisements during this period. It appears she recorded on the December 1 session with the same Red Saunders-led combo that backed Jones, and she could have contributed to his version of "Hi Yo Silver," which uses female backup singers. But all of this needs confirmation, as her tracks have never been released.


Robert Anderson,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Robert Anderson,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Robert Anderson was born on March 21, 1919 in Anguila, Mississippi. He began his career in 1935 or 1936, as a star member of the Roberta Martin Singers, and left Martin in 1939. Before going solo he toured for a time with pianist and singer R. L. Knowles. Anderson was one of the acts that Lew Simpkins "inherited" from the Miracle and Premium operations, for whom he had recorded from 1949 through early 1951. After four quick sides for Modern, Anderson signed with United toward the end of 1951. Allen put out eight sides on him during 1952 and 1953, a period during which he was Chicago's top male gospel soloist. The chorus on his sessions of December 12 and 21, 1951 was Anderson's Gospel Caravan, the original incarnation of the famed Caravans: chorus members were Elyse Yancy, Ora Lee Hopkins, and Irma Gwynn. The piano was by Edward Robinson and organ by Robert Wooten. For some reason, United rerecorded Anderson and his Gospel Caravan doing the same four numbers; the second efforts cannot strictly be referred to as remakes, because one of the versions selected for release came from the first session.


Robert Anderson,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Robert Anderson,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

By the end of 1951, United had cut 56 masters (we count alternate takes in the total, but not gaps in the matrix series). United was looking to become the preeminent indie label in Chicago, judging from the number of hit records it had placed on the R&B charts. Chess, however, was coming up fast, even though it was yet to experience the huge hits that United got.


Matrix Artist Title Release Number Recording Date Release Date
1001-1 Roosevelt Sykes and his Honey Drippers Fine and Brown Delmark DE-642, Delmark DE-542 July 12, 1951 August 1951
1001-2 Roosevelt Sykes and his Honey Drippers Fine and Brown United 101, Vogue [Fr] V2389[?], Vogue [Fr] 3297, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Document BDCD 6050, Delmark DE-642 [CD] July 12, 1951 August 1951
1002-1 Roosevelt Sykes and his Honey Drippers Lucky Blues United 101, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Document BDCD 6050, Delmark DE-642 [CD] July 12, 1951 August1951
1003-5 Roosevelt Sykes and his Honey Drippers Raining in My Heart United 120, P-Vine Special PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Document BDCD 6050, Delmark DE-642 [CD] July 12, 1951 May 1952
1004-2 Roosevelt Sykes and his Honey Drippers Heavy Heart United 120, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Document BDCD 6050, Delmark DE-642 [CD] July 12, 1951 May 1952
1005 Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band Feel So Bad United 105, Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711 July 12, 1951 late 1951
1006 Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band Kansas City Blues United 102, Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711 July 12, 1951 August 1951
1007 Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band Crying Won't Help You United 102, Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711 July 12, 1951 August 1951
1008 Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band Take It Easy Baby United 105, Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711 July 12, 1951 late 1951
1008 1/2 Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band Nighthawk Boogie Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711 July 12, 1951
1009-1 "Nature Boy" Brown and his Blue Ramblers Rock-em United 106, Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714 July 12, 1951 late 1951
1010-1 "Nature Boy" Brown and his Blue Ramblers When I Was a Lad United 106, Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714 July 12, 1951 late 1951
1011-1 "Nature Boy" Brown and his Blues Ramblers Windy City Boogie United 103, Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714 July 12, 1951 September1951
1012-1 "Nature Boy" Brown and his Blues Ramblers Blackjack Blues United 103, Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714 July 12, 1951 September 1951
1013-C
[1013-3]
Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Because of You United 104, Vogue EPL. 7011, United LP 001, Delmark DL-429, Delmark DL-438, Delmark DD-438, Delmark DD-903, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 August 28, 1951 September 1951
1014-4 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Milk Train [Slow Motion*] United 113, Vogue V.3267, United LP 003, Delmark DL-429, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447* August 28, 1951 c. April 1952
1015-2 (in vinyl)
1024 [sic] on label
Tab Smith His Velvet Tenor and Orchestra Down Beat United 115, Saxophonograph BP509, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 August 28, 1951 April1952
1016-10 Tab Smith One Man Dip Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 August 28, 1951
1017-2 Tab Smith Wig Song Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 August 28, 1951
1018-C
[1018-1]
Tab Smith His Velvet Tenor and Orchestra Dee Jay Special United 104, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 August 28, 1951 September 1951
1019-2 Tab Smith (vocal by Tab Smith) How Can You Say We're Thru Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 August 28, 1951
1020-1 Tab Smith (vocal by Tab Smith) Brown Baby Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 August 28, 1951
1021 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Can't We Take a Chance United 107, United LP 001, Saxophonograph BP511, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 October 24, 1951 November 1951
1022 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra (It's No) Sin United 107, Vogue EPL. 7011, Saxophonograph BP511, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 October 24, 1951 November 1951
1023 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Hands across the Table United 108, Vogue EPL. 7011, Saxophonograph BP511, United LP 001, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 October 24, 1951 April 1952
1024 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Boogie Joogie United 108, Saxophonograph BP503, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 October 24, 1951 April 1952
1025-1
(1025-2 on some copies)
Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra A Blanket of Blue United 115, Saxophonograph BP509, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 October 24, 1951 April1952
1025 1/3 Tab Smith (vocal by Lou Blackwell) Ain't Got Nobody Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 October 24, 1951
1025 2/3 Tab Smith (vocal by Lou Blackwell) Knotty-Headed Women Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 October 24, 1951
1026 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra (vocal by Tab Smith) Love Is a Wonderful Thing United 113, United LP 001, Saxophonograph BP511, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 October 24, 1951 c. April 1952
1027




1028 unidentified vocal group When I Lost My Baby, I Almost Lost My Mind unissued c. November 1951
1029 Tiny Grimes Quintet Blue Roundup United 170, B&F 1325 November 27, 1951 c. February 1954
1030 Tiny Grimes His Guitar and Rocking Highlanders Solitude United 109 November 27, 1951 March 1952
1031-2 Tiny Grimes Quintet Tiny's Boogie United 170, B&F 1325, Delmark DD-775 November 27, 1951 c. February 1954
1032 Tiny Grimes His Guitar and Rocking Highlanders Rockin' the Blues Away United 109 November 27, 1951 March 1952
1033-1 Jimmy Forrest, tenor and all star combo Bolo Blues United 110, United LP 002, UA 1545, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435 November 27, 1951 March 1952
1034-6 Jimmy Forrest, tenor and all star combo Night Train United 110, United LP 002, UA 1545, Delmark DL-435, P-Vine [J] PLP-9037, Demark DL-438, Delmark DD-435, Delmark DD-438 November 27, 1951 March1952
1035-2 Jimmy Forrest Swinging and Rocking United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435 November 27, 1951
1036-9 Jimmy Forrest Coach 13 United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435 November 27, 1951
1037 Grant Jones Hi Yo Silver unissued November 27, 1951
1038 Grant Jones My Love Will Be Your Crown (Heartache Blues) unissued November 27, 1951
1039 Kitty O'Day Young Man's Fool unissued December 1, 1951
1040 Kitty O'Day I Want to Ride or Fall unissued December 1, 1951
1041 Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and Orchestra Heartache Blues States 114, RST 1580 [CD] December 1, 1951 March 1953
1042 Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and his Orchestra Strange Man United 112, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9045, RST 1580 [CD] December 1, 1951 March 1952
1043 Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and his Orchestra Let's Get High United 112, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9045, RST 1580 [CD] December 1, 1951 March 1952
1044 Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and his Orchestra Hi Yo Silver P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9045, RST 1580 [CD] December 1, 1951
1045 Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan How I Got Over unissued December 12, 1951
1046 Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan Trusting in Jesus unissued December 12, 1951
1047 Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan My Expectations unissued December 12, 1951
1048
Some copies show1052 on label
Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan Sow Righteous Seeds United 118, Delmark DE-702 [CD] December 12, 1951 c. May 1952
1049 Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan How I Got Over United 111, Delmark DE-702 [CD] December 21, 1951 c. March 1952
1050 Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan Trusting in Jesus United 111, Delmark DE-702 [CD] December 21, 1951 c. March 1952
1051 Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan Sow Righteous Seeds unissued December 21, 1951
1052 Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan My Expectations United 118, Delmark DE-702 [CD] December 21, 1951 c. May 1952

1952

Emboldened by its initial success, United invested heavily in studio time during 1952, logging many hours at Universal Recording (and occasionally picking up material that had been done in Detroit). We have kept the sessions in chronological order. In June 1952 Universal opened a new block of master numbers (1200-1249) intended for the new States label. The 1200 numbers were applied to most States sessions during the second half of the year, while the 1100s were continued for most material intended for release on United. Not the best of bookkeeping, but organizing sessions by date reduces the confusion.


Four Blazes,
Bill Putnam hands United a monster hit. The original issue of "Mary Jo," from the collection of Tom Kelly.

1952 opened for Allen and Simpkins with a real gift horse from Bill Putnam at Universal Recording Studio. A string-vocal band, the Four Blazes, went into the studio on January 4 to produce the hit "Mary Jo" and the venerable Duke Ellington number "Mood Indigo." The group had first recorded as the Five Blazes for Aristocrat in 1947. By the time of their session for Putnam, the group, slimmed down to four, consisted of Floyd McDaniel (guitar), William "Shorty" Hill (guitar), Tommy Braden (bass), and Paul Lindsley "Jelly" Holt (drums). Guesting on the session was tenor sax ace Eddie Chamblee. Putnam sold the two numbers to United. United 114 was released in March 1952; by August 1952, "Mary Jo" was #1 on the R&B charts. Later pressings of United 114 also give the names of all four members of the Blazes (with "F. McDaniels" for Floyd McDaniel) and add a credit "Lead Vocal - T. Braden" at the bottom of the "Mary Jo" side.


Four Blazes,
The big hit on 45 rpm. From the collection of Steve Dikovics.

Nature Boy Brown,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

After months of steady work in South Side clubs, J. T. Brown was back in the studio on January 10, 1952. On this occasion, he probably used King Kolax (who had been in his band the previous year) on trumpet. The rest of the ensemble included Bob Call on piano, Big Crawford on bass, possibly Jump Jackson on drums, and an alto saxophonist named Huey Underwood who had recently arrrived in town from Pittsburgh. (Brown would regret recruiting him for the date, because Underwood was non-Union. On April 3, the Local 208 Board ended up fining Brown $100 for using him. Brown was also socked with a 90-day suspension.) United put out "Strictly Gone" b/w "House Party Groove" (again credited by Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers) but sat on the other two items from the session. One of the unissued compositions, "You Stayed Away Too Long," resurfaced in 1957 as a vehicle for Arbee Stidham under the title "I Stayed Away Too Long"—and that makes us wonder who actually wrote it.

As Daniel Gugolz has recently discovered, the issued takes of "Strictly Gone" and "House Party Groove" are not the same ones that have been used on Delmark reissues. Apparently the surviving session documentation didn't specify which takes had been chosen for issue. One wonders whether the same thing might have happened with some other sessions done for United and States...


Nature Boy Brown,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Allen and Simpkins lost interest in Brown after this outing, despite his continuing popularity on the South Side. Simpkins, we may be sure, was none too pleased about being hauled in front of the Local 208 Board after Brown had falsely claimed that Underwood belonged to the Pittsburgh local, and got Simpkins to include this disinformation in the recording ledger. Meanwhile, Brown joined Elmore James' group, the Broomdusters, in the middle of 1952, touring with the group and recording with them for the Bihari brother's labels RPM, Flair, and Meteor. Brown would reappear as a sideman on the last Roosevelt Sykes session for United in March 1953, but his next recording session as a leader would have to wait a good while; he cut a session for Parrot in August 1953, which was left unissued at the time, and a session for JOB in January 1954 that led to one poorly distributed single.


Johnny Wicks,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Johnny Wicks,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Alerted by his Louisville connection, deejay Cliff Butler, Lew Simpkins brought in the strangest assemblage ever to record for United, or for any other label in the 1950s: Johnny Wicks' Swinging Ozarks. What he recorded on February 18 was a Louisville jazz band accompanying a tuba-playing blues singer, with significant guesting by Chicago-based violinist Ramon "Remo" Biondi. Members of the Louisville group were John Wicks [short for Wickliffe] (bass), John "Preacher" Stephens (tuba and vocals), Scott Johnson (alto sax), Gerald Blue (piano), and Skip Everett (drums). Biondi, who held down a full-time radio network job but liked to assist Simpkins and Allen with arranging as well as rhythm guitar and violin playing on various sessions, was apparently asked to add an interesting flavor to the session, which already had many interesting flavors. The tubaist tired his lip while the band struggled to get the first two numbers done, so there is less blues tuba on hand than one might hope for, but the overall results constitute an inspired oddity. Two rare singles (United 116 and 126) were all that came out during the lifetime of the company; the complete session finally made it onto the merely fairly rare Pearl PL-13 in 1989.


Johnny Wicks,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Johnny Wicks,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Browley Guy in 1948
Browley Guy in his Miracle days. From the collection of Paul Ressler.

Guy Brothers,
Courtesy of George Paulus

Smooth baritone balladeer Browley Guy was born around 1918 and graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in June 1936. From 1947 through 1949 he participated in six sessions (two of them unissued) for Miracle. "I Like Barbecue" is an uptempo Louis Jordan style blues. Browley Guy does most of the singing, but he and one of his brothers (we don't know his first name, but Browley addresses him as "Slim") partner on the Swing scatting that opens the number and on the "I like barbecue" refrain; they also exchange some dialogue. A third Guy brother makes a couple of remarks. "Marie," which despite the billing on the label is a solo vehicle for Browley Guy, is a remake of one of his unissued sides from 1949; it swings much harder than the Miracle recording. The band, consisting of alto, tenor, and baritone saxes, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, and drums, is unidentified on the label and in other sources that we know of. However, listening indicates that it is a Red Saunders unit. So the likely lineup is Fip Ricard, trumpet; Harlan "Booby'" Floyd, trombone; Riley Hampton, alto sax; Leon Washington, tenor sax; Mac Easton, baritone sax; Earl Washington, piano; Jimmy Richardson, bass; and Red, drums. There is a tenor sax solo by Leon Washington on "Barbecue." "Marie" features muted trumpet and trombone solos.


Guy Brothers,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Gilbert Holiday,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

The terribly obscure Gilbert Holiday, who recorded on February 25, may have been one of those artists that Leonard Allen occasionally picked up from Detroit. His one other recording session was held in Detroit the previous year, for Regent records. Holiday and his band (tenor sax, piano, string bass, and drums) turn in a couple of rough, vigorous R and B performances: "Late One Night" is a variant of "Wee Wee Baby." The sonics, though clear, are definitely not out of Universal Recording.


Gilbert Holiday,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

On February 26, Tab Smith picked up where he had left off, waxing his third session for United. Again he used Sonny Cohn and Leon Washington to augment his rhythm section of Teddy Brannon, Wilfred Middlebrooks, and Walter Johnson. No fewer than 8 sides were cut. Again no take numbers survive, and one wonders how many extra takes were needed. "All My Life," "Cottage for Sale," "'Tis Autumn," and "This Love of Mine" (the last recently made popular by its co-composer, Frank Sinatra) are lovely ballad performances in the Hodges tradition.

"Strange," a pining ballad from this session, was one of just 4 sides featuring the leader's vocals that the company decided to release. Tab croons acceptably though rather thinly (like Benny Carter in his occasional vocal efforts), but it's his brief statement on the alto sax gets to the heart of things.

"Cuban Boogie" lets everyone have fun with the Latin rhythms; the number sounds like a slightly simplified version of "Barbados" by Charlie Parker. On "Nursery Rhyme Jump," an excellent vehicle for the Velvet Tenor, Tab Smith sounds like a thinner-toned Wardell Gray, and Teddy Brannon feeds him some "modern" chords at the piano; the fact that a performance of this quality was left in the can tells us what a profusion of releasable material Tab Smith was providing. "Jumptime," which did get released, has a jump-ropey theme, partly redeemed by interludes for the alto sax and the piano, but Tab redeems it with a driving tenor solo.


Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Paul Bascomb,
States 45s had not settled on the familiar blue background yet. From the collection of Billy Vera.

Paul Bascomb,
But the 78s had. From the collection of Tom Kelly.

On March 3, tenor saxophonist Paul Bascomb came in to cut the first of three significant sessions for the company. Bascomb was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on February 12, 1910. He began to play the piano at age 7, and soon worked up to playing E-flat clarinet in his school band and clarinet and alto sax in a traveling show during the summer. Obtaining a scholarship to Alabama State College in Montgomery, he built up the college ensemble from 5 or 6 pieces up to a first-rate big band, and switched to tenor saxophone under the influence of Coleman Hawkins. On arriving in New York, the Bama State Collegians adopted trumpeter Erskine Hawkins as their leader. Leaving the popular Erskine Hawkins band in 1944, Bascomb formed his own combo to work the club scene in New York City. While in New York his band cut two singles for the Alert label in 1946 and five for Manor in 1946-1947. Bascomb also made a single for London, at a somewhat later date; other sides that he cut for London were left unreleased at the time. Around 1950 he began a long stand at El Sino Club in Detroit. In January 1953 he moved to Chicago, but was made to cool his heels waiting for Local 208 to accept his transfer; finally in July 1953 he was able to make a contract with the Strand Show Lounge in Chicago, opening there with a new band. Through the end of 1955 he commuted back and forth between the two cities, playing at the two venues with completely different bands.

Bascomb's Detroit group included Eddie Lewis (trumpet), Frank Porter (alto sax), Tommy Waters (alto sax), Harold Wallace (baritone sax), Duke Jordan (piano), James McCrary (bass), and George DeHart (drums); this is the group that recorded for States. Bascomb's sides could be either jazz or rhythm and blues, depending on the audience—so permeable is the line separating the styles.


Paul Bascomb,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Paul Bascomb's tenor sax could squall and squawk on the punchy swing numbers and it could be soulful and tender on the ballads. No matter how he played, his fine blowing was immensely popular with R&B audiences, especially on such standards as "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Body and Soul" (transparently retitled "Soul and Body" on States; Bascomb confessed to having learned Coleman Hawkins' celebrated 1939 paraphrase of the tune note for note.) The element of Swing is always in his music (he stuck closer to the Hawk model than most of the R&B saxophonists were accustomed to doing) and the eight sides released by Allen were typical of his output.

The surviving documentation from Bascomb's first session appears not to be in the best shape, leading to confusion over titles when the material was reissued on Delmark. "Blues and the Beat," as released on States 102, is, well, a close imitation of Red Saunders' "4 A. M. Blues." Harold Wallace's baritone sax solo is nearly a note-for-note copy of Mac Easton's on the original, but Bascomb also contributes on tenor sax.


Paul Bascomb,
The unheralded first release of "False Alarm," retitled "More Blues-More Beat" on reissues. From the collection of Armin Büttner

What came to be called "More Blues-More Beat" is a jump tune with solos by all three saxes on 1087-2, but just tenor and alto sax on 1087-4. It turns out that the piece was first issued in 1953 on a French Vogue 78, under the title "False Alarm." (There were almost certainly other Vogue 78s derived from United and States during this period; they have not all been traced.) Then, when the Bascomb sessions were first gathered together on Delmark DL-431, Bad Bascomb, the titles of "Blues and the Beat" and "More Blues-More Beat" were reversed! The mistake was corrected when Bad Bascomb was reissued on CD. Our thanks to Armin Büttner for comparing Vogue V.3271, States 102, Delmark DL-431, and Delmark DD-431. A cross comparison with Delmark DD-438 is still needed.


On two excursions to Detroit on March 10 and 21, Leonard Allen and Lew Simpkins sought to add gospel artists to their roster. On both occasions they recorded a larger ensemble called The Veteran Singers, which originated before World War II in the Detroit area, and a quartet unit drawn from its ranks, the Southern Tornadoes. We know next to nothing about the personnel, although the lead singer for the Veterans was one Rev. Glover. Apparently, Allen and Simpkins went to Detroit to record these groups, which rarely performed outside of Michigan, on the recommendation of Al Benson, who had broken into radio with a gospel show. Indeed, The Veteran Singers turned up again in Chicago on Benson's own Parrot label, where they cut a session in the fall of 1953. The Veteran Singers broke up not long after the Parrot session. The company put out just one single on each group, and apparently both sold poorly; United and States never recorded either ensemble again, and the rest of their material remained in the vaults for 30 years, until the 1982 release—only in Japan—of P-Vine Special PLP 9035, Golden Bells of Gospel. Another 20 years would elapse before the 2002 release of Delmark DE-760, On the Battlefield... Great Gospel Quartets. Even then, a few tracks were withheld from release (including two versions of "Little David").


Jimmy Forrest,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Jimmy Forrest,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Jimmy Forrest was back for a second session on March 30, 1952, using the same lineup as on his first one, except that Chauncey Locke was added on trumpet and Bob Reagen took over on the Latin percussion. Musically, this outing was just as productive as the first. There was some benefit to the company as well: "Hey, Mrs. Jones" (released on United 130) hit #3 on the R&B charts in December 1952.


Jimmy Forrest,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Jimmy Forrest,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

United 134,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

The Caravans,
The Caravans go solo for the first time. From the collection of Tom Kelly

The Reverend Robert Anderson was back for his second session on April 18, which produced two singles, United 122 and 134. The legendary Caravans were formed as a separate act when Albertina Walker, Elyse Yancy, Ora Lee Hopkins, Nellie Grace Daniels, and pianist Edward Robinson stayed at Universal Recording after Anderson completed his numbers to make further sides. The success of their first release, on States 103, enabled the Caravans to leave Anderson and strike out on their own. Anderson continued with a new, all-male group, but his popularity began to decline and the company did not keep him on the roster. After his style of gospel went out of fashion, Anderson spent some years away from music, working as a housekeeper for columnist Ann Landers and delivering flowers for a shop owned by a friend. He was able to record again for the Spirit Feel label in the 1980s. Robert Anderson died in Chicago in June 1995.


United 134,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

The Caravans,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Allen switched his attention to The Caravans, who sold pretty well for him. He kept releasing their material through his company's final year, but it was after he sold their contract to Savoy Records in 1957 that the group skyrocketed to success.

Pianist Tommy Dean was a seasoned leader of jazzy R&B combos when Lew Simpkins brought him to the new States imprint in June 1952. Dean was born in Franklin, Louisiana, on September 6, 1909, and grew up in Beaumont, Texas. He did his earliest work in carnivals and circuses. Moving northward to St. Louis in 1937 or 1938, he joined Eddie Randle's Seven Blue Devils, then began leading combos of his own. His groups often toured the Southwest, sometimes appearing in Mexico; his first known gig in Chicago did not take place until 1945. His made his first record for the small St. Louis label Town and Country in 1947. Dean next recorded for Miracle in 1949. By the time of his first session for States on June 4, he been leading a combo with stable personnel—Chris Woods, alto sax; Edgar Hayes, tenor; Gene Easton, baritone; Eugene Thomas, bass; Pee Wee Jernigan, drums—for several years and was a steady draw in St. Louis as well as a frequent visitor to Chicago's South Side. The rhythm was tight and tasty and all three of his saxophonists were good bebop soloists; vocalist Jewel Belle was on hand for jukebox appeal.


Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith,
A reissue of "My Mother's Eyes" from 1953. From the collection of Armin Büttner.

On June 11, Tab Smith returned for his fourth session for United. This was the last one to use Leon Washington and Sonny Cohn in the front line; it may have been the last one for a while to use Teddy Brannon at the piano. At least we know who was responsible for a number called "Teddy's Brannin'," a medium blues whose opening and closing choruses feature the pianist doing the locked-hands thing. And Brannon's solo contributes to the drowsy 3 AM ambience of "A Bit of Blues." "Sunny Side of the Street" is small-group Ellingtonia, done at the perfect tempo; some of the leader's pecking embellishments suggest an intimate acquaintance with the soprano sax (which so far as we know he was not playing professionally during this period). "These Foolish Things" is a superb ballad performance that contrasts portamenti (slides between notes on the alto sax) with extra-sharp articulation in Smith's 1940s manner. "My Mother's Eyes" is a much more sentimental tune (check out that piano introduction and interlude) but the leader's heartfelt intensity makes up for it. (The song must have had a personal meaning to Tab Smith, because it is the only one he would record twice during his tenure at United—and both versions were released.)


Tab Smith,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

The Caravans,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

The Caravans returned for their second session some time in June; obviously Simpkins and Allen had high expectations for them. On the labels to States 108, Robert Anderson is mentioned as the group's director, so the quartet had not stopped working with him just yet. On future releases, Anderson's name would no longer appear. For some reason, this session was never used in any reissue series; we wonder whether Savoy took posession of the masters when it took over the Caravans' contract, and we hope the tapes have not been lost.


The Caravans,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Four Blazes,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Allen recorded the Four Blazes on his own on July 4 (with some overdubs added on August 18); again Chamblee joined the quartet, sitting out only on "Stop Boogie Woogie," a guitar feature for Floyd McDaniel. United 125 was released in August 1952; as was typical on United and States releases, the actual take numbers did not appear on the record, but 78 and 45 rpm masters sometimes got numerical suffixes, as did remastering jobs. United 127 followed promptly in September 1952. The original label of United 127 incorrectly gives "1025" as the matrix for "Stop Boogie Woogie."


Four Blazes,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell.

"Perfect Woman" was not released at the time, presumably because of the weird sonic impact of overdubbing a second Eddie Chamblee sax line over one already "enriched" with excessive studio reverb. Instead, the tune was redone from scratch at the next session.


Roosevelt Sykes,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Roosevelt Sykes,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Roosevelt Sykes returned for an unusual followup session on August 21, 1952. On hand was John "Schoolboy" Porter on guitar (instead of the tenor sax he played on his recordings for the Chance label—Sykes can be heard shouting "Schoolboy" on the session). Porter was about to make his exit from the Chicago scene; he joined the Air Force, and would remain in military service well into the 1960s, settling in Phoenix, Arizona after his retirement. The band was rounded out by Ransom Knowling on bass, and probably Jump Jackson on drums. Remo Biondi gave the session a unique flavor with his guest appearance on violin: "Toy Piano Blues," on which Sykes plays the celeste and Biondi is the featured soloist, is unique in Sykes' vast output. Sykes also experimented with backing vocals (not always in tune, and evidently the work of his sidemen). One of the items with rough vocal harmony, "Security Blues" (apparently intended as Sykes' response to Memphis Slim's "Mother Earth") is alleged to have sold respectably for Leonard Allen. "Listen to My Song," on the other hand, seems to have been too schmaltzy for Allen's taste and was left unreleased.

"Listen to My Song" and "Toy Piano Blues" finally saw release in 1982, on a P-Vine Special LP. So did "Something like That," a preliminary version of "Toy Piano" on which Sykes hadn't yet moved to the celeste. "Something like That" has been ignored by subsequent reissue efforts.


Roosevelt Sykes,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Roosevelt Sykes,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Roosevelt Sykes,
A previously undocumented reissue on the French Vogue label. Courtesy of Jean-Marc Pezet.

Cozy Eggleston,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tenor sax player Cyril J. "Cozy" Eggleston (born May 12, 1920) emerged during the flourishing Chicago postwar scene. An early gig (October 1946 through January 1947) was at the Macomba Lounge (39th and Cottage Grove) where for a time he worked alongside Tom Archia. His first advertised appearance as a leader was in the Cozy Cottage (4019 Indiana) in late 1946 under the name Cozy Eggleston and His Imps of Swing. In 1947 he recorded for Columbia with a group called the Memphis Seven. For a time he played in Lil Green's band, and used a pianist named Sonny Blount (who had likewise been in the Green band) in his own combo. In 1949, he was appearing at the Manchester Grill (31st and Rhodes) with his wife, Marie Stone Eggleston (born March 3, 1918), who was described as a "blues singer, ace musician, and the bombshell of the alto sax." In August 1950 he was holding down a spot at the Victory Club, as his "indefinite" contract (accepted and filed by Musicians Union Local 208) indicates.


Cozy and Marie Eggleston, Hue, 1954
Cozy and Marie Eggleston, from Hue magazine, 1954. Courtesy of Simon Evans.

Late1950 saw Cozy and Marie at the Club Evergreen (1322 Clybourn), where they would "leave the stand and come down to blow among the guests," according to the caption of a December 30 Chicago Defender photo.


Cozy Eggleston,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

By the time of his States session on August 23, 1952, Eggleston had one hot and popular band. Despite holding off the release for over a year, United got something of a hit with "Big Heavy," which Alan Freed used as his theme on WINS in New York. The group on this session featured Cozy and Marie Eggleston, Jimmy Boyd on piano, Ellis Hunter on guitar, Curtis Ferguson on bass, and Chuck Williams on drums. We would have to assume that the session was meant to cover the usual four tunes, but only three remain. The third is the end of a performance on the ballad standard, "Willow Weep for Me," performed by just Cozy Eggleston and Jimmy Boyd. It clocks in at 1 minute and 9 seconds—a wasted opportunity, in light of the quality of what was preserved..

The Cozy Eggleston session has given reissue programmers fits. When the two releaed sides were first reissued in 1982, on P-Vine Special PLP-9037, Sax Blowers & Honkers, "Cozy's Boogie" was retitled "Fish Tail." The Japanese LP was followed in 1988 by Delmark DL-438, Honkers & Bar Walkers Vol. 1, which added two tracks to the P-Vine linuep. One was "Willow Weep for Me," oddly abbreviated on its first issue to "Willow Weep." The liner notes referred to "Cozy's Boogie" as "Fish Tail," while the credits on the back cover called it "Cozy's Beat," as did the label. Meanwhile, "Big Heavy" was called "Blue Lites Boogie" on the label.

While he was still holding forth at the Evergreen in 1954, the advertisement recognized Eggleston's recording activities at States, calling him "Cozy 'Boogie' Eggleston, and His Recording Band." We are mystified that Leonard Allen didn't bring Cozy Eggleston back into the studio; it would be quite a few years before the saxophonist got another chance to record as a leader. Not, in fact, until the 1970s, when Cozy and Marie Eggleston cut an LP for his self-produced Co-Egg label.



Browley Guy,
Browley Guy got uncredited backing from the Paul Bascomb band on this single. From the collection of Tom Kelly.

On August 25, Paul Bascomb was back for his second session, though for reasons that elude us so many years later, States didn't release any of the tracks at the time. One coupling, "Nona" b/w "Mumbles' Blues," actually ended up being licensed to Mercury instead. We don't know what the deal was, exactly, but Bascomb would lead studio bands (which were never credited on the label) for Mercury in 1953-1954. Meanwhile, United would get Memphis Slim from Mercury in November 1952; could Slim have still owed Mercury some sides? The vocal on "Mumbles," in a basso profondo that isn't Paul Bascomb's and isn't Browley Guy's (see below), has been attributed to Frank Porter. It's worth noting that "Mumbles Blues" was first recorded by Bobby Lewis, on August 6, 1952, and its release on Chess didn't take place till September. Somebody must have heard Lewis performing it, most likely in Detroit where Lewis and Bascomb were both resident at the time.

On the first three tracks from the session, Bascomb's band provided sterling backing for Browley Guy and his vocal group the Skyscrapers, who did get a States release out of the session. Guy and group tilted more toward blues and less toward lounge than usual (our thanks to Yves François Smierciak for alerting us to Bascomb's involvement on these). Guy and the Skyscrapers reappeared in June 1953 on a session supervised by Al Benson; two sides were released on Checker 779. Their last hurrah would be Mercury 70795, a single recorded in January 1956, by which time their vocal style made them sound terribly dated.

"Got Cool Too Soon" is intriguing, and not just on account of the band vocal. It is one of those paraphrases of "How High the Moon" that the beboppers went in for. According to stereotype, a Swing veteran like Bascomb wouldn't be interested in such a thing. (Steven Tamborski, who has been trying to track down the publisher of this piece, has discovered that its original title was "GotHigh Too Soon." In fact, it had previously been recorded under that title for London, but not released. A listen to the song as recorded for States will show how "high" fits better than "cool" in several spots. Obviously the original words were deemed not suitable for radio play.)


Browley Guy,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Reed player Ray McKinstry cut three sides for United on August 29. He had been on the Chicago scene for quite a while, though not often in high-profile roles. McKinstry was a member of the first edition of Muggsy Spanier's Ragtime Band, playing tenor saxophone on their Chicago session of July 7, 1939. He soloed on "Big Butter and Egg Man" and "Someday Sweetheart" in a style strongly influenced by Bud Freeman. Judging from "Dinah," which was included in a Delmark CD compilation from 2004 titled The United Records Story, McKinstry assembled three "one man band" recordings, making liberal use of multi-tracking. (He is duly credited, on the original United labels, with playing every instrument on the record.) Overdubbing was a lot easier to do with analog tape than had been the case with direct-to-disk recording, but "generation loss" was still a significant constraint. "Dinah" features nice fluid solo clarinet with accompaniment by two tenor saxes plus what sounds like a third tenor played at half speed to make a virtual bass sax, rhythm guitar, string bass, and drums (played with brushes). Although "Dinah" had been in the Ragtime Band's repertoire, the purposely saggy rhythm of the saxes, exacerbated with slap-back echo, makes this "Dinah" sound more like a Raymond Scott number than a Swing performance. The middle and end get more gimmicky, with sped-up tapes of the rhythm guitar and a clarinet and a couple of tenors run at double speed to make a virtual sopranino clarinet and soprano saxes, mixed with normal-speed tapes of the tenor saxes and the half-speed "bass sax."


Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith was back on September 15 for his fifth session—just five tunes on this occasion. The front line was now staffed by Irving Woods on trumpet and Charlie Wright on tenor sax, both members of his working combo. And Lavern Dillon may have taken over on piano. Wilfred Middlebrooks and Walter Johnson continued to anchor the rhythm section.

A typical critical reaction of the time comes from Down Beat (February 25, 1953); in those days the magazine maintained separate jazz and rhythm and blues sections, classifying Tab Smith with the R&B. The review of United 140, "These Foolish Things" (from his fourth session; four stars) b/w "Red Hot and Blue" (three stars), declared, "Tab's full piercing sax follows the same pattern here as on his recent good sellers, and there is little reason to suspect that these won't do as well. "Things" is played straight, "Red" is forceful, neatly-swung riff item." A medium-tempo blues for Tab's alto, to be exact, but the riffing has a militant edge to it that comes from pushing the beat.


Tab Smith,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

"Ace High" is another uptempo swinger, this one featuring the Velvet Tenor. (Of course, the Smith combo played for dancers, so for them uptempo never meant frenetic.) "Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart" is a sentimental tune that was going the rounds in 1952; Even Captain Stubby and the Buccaneers recorded the tune, for United's Chicago-based rival Rondo. The leader caresses it on the alto sax, but as sometimes happened to this group when the tempo was just medium-slow, the accompaniment keeps wandering into the cornfields. "You Belong to Me," a better tune taken slower, steers clear.


Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

The Caravans,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Caravans,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

The Caravans returned for their third gospel session some time in September. On States 109, which came out in November, or thereabouts, the entire group was still listed on the label—and Robert Anderson was no longer mentioned. No fewer than 8 tracks were recorded (one of which was somehow passed over when master numbers were assigned) and the company dipped back into this session for three further States releases.


The Caravans,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

The Caravans,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tiny Murphy,
From the collection of Mark Seganish

Tiny Murphy cut the first of two sessions for the company in late September. Murphy was a Country artist who played a broad repertoire, including an occasional boogie. Born in Kentucky, Murphy had relocated to Chicago by 1950. Known for his expertise on the steel guitar (as the title "Hot Steel," which demonstartes the styles of several prominent Country musicians of the period, was meant to signify), Murphy also played electric guitar. In 1951, he was the guitarist in a group called The Sage Riders, which included jazz violinist Johnny Frigo and accordion player Lino Frigo (a distant cousin of Johnny's)—see http://www.abar.net/photos.htm for a photo of the group in action. "It's All Your Fault," which appeared on Murphy's first United release, is co-credited to Remo Biondi and Bill Putnam. Whether Putnam (who ran Universal Recording) had a hand in writing the number we are entitled to doubt, but the other composer credit suggests that Biondi was sitting in, on rhythm guitar, and finding other ways to contribute as well.


Tiny Murphy,
From the collection of Mark Seganish

Three of Murphy's United sides have been reissued on White Label LP 2819, Boppin' Hillbilly's Vol. 19; the same three have more recently been included in a no-label cassette, Tiny Murphy Then & Now. Our thanks to Mark Seganish for help on this artist.


Paul Bascomb,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Paul Bascomb,
The Vogue release of "Coquette." From the collection of Armin Büttner.

The final Paul Bascomb session for States took place on September 30, again with first-class results but less than the best documentation. Confusion still surrounds matrix numbers 1231 and 1232,"Matilda" (or "Mathilda") and a remake of "Got Cool Too Soon". Somehow, neither managed to get included in the Paul Bascomb reissues on Delmark. It was the remake of "Got Cool" that saw release on States 110, along with take 2 of "Coquette." But the LP and CD releases have used take 9 of "Coquette," along with a version of "Too Soon" from the previous session. For some reason, States 110 is not very common today, and Bascomb's last two releases, on States 121 and United 192, are more elusive still.


Paul Bascomb,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

We find it mysterious that Simpkins and Allen didn't try to hold on to an artist who was obviously popular with their clientele Allen would put out United 192 long after Bascomb had left the company). What's more, he actually moved to Chicago in January 1953! Apparently Leonard Allen didn't want to record "Jan," a Latin-flavored composition by Norman Simmons who played piano in the new group that Bascomb assembled during the summer of 1953, and that is why Bascomb was induced to defect to Al Benson's new Parrot operation in September of that year. (Bascomb was also doing some moonlighting at Mercury during 1953-1954, but strictly providing uncredited accompaniment, for instance on a Dinah Wahshington session in 1953. This would hardly have disqualified him from continued involvement with Allen's company. In fact, the only item that Mercury released under Bascomb's own name had been preiviously recorded for United.)

Bascomb's Chicago groups at various times included Norman Simmons or Rozelle Claxton (piano), Gus Chappelle or Johnny Avant (trombone), Malachi Favors (bass), and Vernel Fournier or Marshall Thompson (drums). Pat Patrick (baritone sax) and Roland Faulkner (guitar) made briefer stops. From 1953 through 1955 three or four different editions of the Chicago band recorded for Parrot. The last session, in July 1955, would produce an entire LP that unfortunately has never seen release.

In 1956 and 1957, Bascomb's band worked steadily at such venues and Roberts Show Lounge. From 1958 through 1970, he adapted to the advent of rock 'n roll and soul music by holding sway at the Esquire (95th and Wentworth) with an organ trio. After that steady gig ended, Paul Bascomb scuffled for a time, even working as a garbage man. In 1976, his superb work for United was resurrected and released on Delmark LP-431, Bad Bascomb. In the mid-1970s Bascomb was able to tour Europe and in 1979 he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham. He was essentially retired when he joined in one last session in 1982, for Yves François Smierciak's Pinnacle label. Paul Bascomb died in Chicago on November 25, 1986.


Grant Jones,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Grant Jones,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Grant Jones followed him into the studio on October 7, again with the help of an uncredited Red Saunders combo featuring an alto saxophonist, probably Riley Hampton. Red was still under contract to OKeh at the time, so his presence on the record was once again not advertised. After his second and last session for United, Grant Jones would show up on a King Kolax session for Vee-Jay in 1954. His final session, which took place in 1958 for the Evanston-based Stepheny label, saddled him with titles like "Soda Pop Rock" in a futile effort by an adult blues singer to reach the now dominant teenage market.


Grant Jones,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Robert Nighthawk,
No relation to the second author! From the collection of Tom Kelly

The second session by the elusive Robert Nighthawk took place on October 25, 1952. It featured Curtis Jones at the piano, an unidentified second guitarist, Ransom Knowling at the bass, and a sonically prominent but unidentified drummer. Like Nighthawk's first session for United, it now figures among the classic blues recordings. However, Leonard Allen saw fit to release just one single from this outing (States 131, "Maggie Campbell" b/w "The Moon Is Rising"). "Maggie," a traditional Delta blues number associated with Tommy Johnson, apparently lacked mass appeal in 1953. Robert Nighthawk would not record again until the 1960s, when he was captured playing live on Maxwell Street in 1964, fortunately still at the peak of his powers. He was back on his home turf (Mississippi and Arkansas) when he succumbed to heart disease in 1967.


Robert Nighthawk,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Four Kings and a Queen, who recorded on October 31, 1952, were a vocal group. None of their material has ever been released.

In November 1952, United was able to land the services of two legendary bebop saxophonists, Leo Parker and Gene Ammons, who both knew how to appeal to the R&B market; Parker's session on the 15th was followed closely by Ammons' studio visit on the 18th.

Baritone sax player Leo Parker, born in Washington DC on April 18, 1925, brought a wealth of experience to the company. Beginning in the early 1940s, he had recorded with such leaders as Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, and Sir Charles Thompson, and played in bands led by Billy Eckstine, Dizzy Gillespie, and Illinois Jacquet. The Thompson recording date included a number titled "Mad Lad," which became Parker's nickname. His first recordings under his own name came from three Detroit sessions for Savoy during 1947-48. These were followed by sessions for Prestige (1950), Gotham (1950), Chess (1951, in partnership with tenorman Eddie Johnson), and an obscure session for Mercury (behind vocalist Ray Snead, also in 1951), before he cut his one outing for United. In support of Parker were Ira Pettiford (bass), Andy Johnson (piano), and Jack Parker (drums). Guitarist Bill Jennings is said to have been a member of the combo but cannot be heard on the released sides from the session. According to information that Bob Koester provided to Anthony Barnett, four numbers were recorded, "Leo's Boogie" in 6 takes; "Cool Leo" in 4 takes; "Jam Leo" in a single take; and "Hey Good Lookin'" in 9 takes. United's secret weapon, Remo Biondi, sat in and played violin on all but "Cool Leo." Few, if any, of the non-master takes are likely to be extant.

"Cool Leo" and "Leo's Boogie" were released on United 141, which does not seem to have sold well. Leo Parker later recorded in Chicago for Parrot (a 1953 session that didn't see release till years later). Mounting a comeback after years lost to heroin addiction, he cut a farewell session for Blue Note (1961) before dying of cancer in New York City on February 11, 1962.


Gene Ammons publicity
photo
From the collection of Billy Vera

Tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons (1925 - 1974) was a native Chicagoan, the son of boogie woogie pianist Albert Ammons. He got local exposure while still in high school, playing in King Kolax's 1941 band. Like Leo Parker, he got further exposure in the Eckstine big band. Ammons did his first recordings in 1947 for Mercury and Savoy, followed by sessions for Aladdin (1948), Aristocrat (1948-49, one of them clandestine, another shared with his dueling partner Tom Archia, and a third with singer and pianist Christine Chatman), and Mercury (1949). After a few months in Woody Herman's band, Gene Ammons established a working group that often included his favorite dueling partner Sonny Stitt. The band alternated sessions for Chess and Prestige (1950-51), followed by a single appearance on Decca (1952).


Gene Ammons,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Gene Ammons,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

For Chess he had produced an R&B hit, a smooth rendition of "My Foolish Heart," which helped launch the Chess brothers' new imprint in the summer of 1950. Obviously, United hoped Ammons would produce the same magic. By this time, the group that Ammons's group that often included Sonny Stitt had broken up for good; Stitt would spend the rest of his career as a single, playing with local rhythm sections wherever he met. The lineup for the late 1952 session was Ammons' current working group of Johnny Coles (trumpet), Lino Murray (trombone), John Houston (piano), Benny Stuberville (bass), George Brown (drums), and an unknown guitarist. McKinley Easton of the Red Saunders Orchestra was added on baritone sax.


Gene Ammons,
From the collection of Armin Büttner

Gene Ammons,
From the collection of Armin Büttner

Cliff Butler,
From the collection of Armin Büttner

Cliff Butler was a veteran deejay from the Louisville area. He was born on October 17, 1922, in Louisville, Kentucky. His early experience in music was with one of the many jug bands that made their home in Louisville. After serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II, he returned to his hometown and organized his first band to back his singing. His first recordings were with the Three Notes, for Signature (1948), followed by recordings for King (1949). Butler began recording for the States label with a session on November 17, 1952. On "Adam's Rib" he exhibits a strong Roy Brown influence. The session musicians included blind pianist Benny Holton, who regularly accompanied Butler, as well as Chicago stalwarts Leon Diamond Washington on tenor sax and Red Saunders in the drum chair. On another track from the session, "You’re My Honey, But the Bees Don’t Know It," Butler was accompanied by a vocal group from Louisville, The Doves.


Cliff Butler,
From the collection of Armin Büttner

Tommy Dean,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Tommy Dean returned to the studio to cut four more tracks for States on November 19, 1952. His combo was about to break up, as it turned out. Either the leader or the label decided to experiment by bringing in a vocal group (a male quartet, not identified on the label or any other source that we know). States 120 coupled "How Can I Let You Go, " which features Pee Wee Jernigan's lead vocal and prominent backing by the vocal group with"Scammon Boogie," which Dean had previously recorded for Miracle. "Scammon" is a vehicle for tight ensemble work by the three saxes, but the two quick blues choruses that Jernigan had sung on the Miracle version were reassigned to the vocal group. States 120 seems to be quite rare, the other two sides remain unheard, and for some reason nothing from this session has ever been reissued (we hope the tapes aren't lost). Tommy Dean never recorded with another vocal group, either.


Tommy Dean,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

After Chris Woods (whose vocal accompaniments and solo are major contributions to "How Can I Let You Go") defected and took the bassist and drummer from this group with him, Dean assembled a new aggregation that made one veiled appearance on Chance in 1953 (accompanying a singer known to posterity as Barrel House Blott), then migrated to the new Vee-Jay label in 1954, where he would remain until his final session in 1958. The first Vee-Jay session included a remake of "How Can I Let You Go," in a more soulful rendition by Dean's new band singer, Joe Buckner; Dean also began playing the organ (which he may have already been using on gigs). Tommy Dean continued to tour with his combo until his sudden death, probably from a heart attack, in January 1965.


Memphis Slim in his United days
From the collection of Billy Vera

A most familiar name in the blues world first went to work for United on November 26, 1952. Memphis Slim had been recording since 1940. Based in Chicago during this phase of his career, he had been a mainstay at three postwar independents: first Hy-Tone, then Miracle, and finally Miracle's successor entity Premium. After Premium collapsed in the summer of 1951, Slim cut three sessions for Mercury in Chicago. Lew Simpkins, who knew Slim from the days when he was moving 78s for Miracle and Premium, brought him to United as soon as he could.

For his first session at United, Memphis Slim used his regular combo: Purcell Brockenborough and Neal Green (tenor saxes), Matt Murphy (newly added on electric guitar); Henry Taylor (bass); and Otho Allen (drums). Murphy was the first electric guitarist to be featured in Slim's groups; his post T-Bone Walker soloing is a major presence on all of Slim's United recordings. On "Midnight," which was left in the can at the time, Slim sang a duet with his then-girlfriend, Terry Timmons, whom he had previously accompanied on record during his stops at Premium and Mercury. (Terry Timmons was under contract to RCA Victor. This seems to be why Simpkins and Allen decided not to use her collaboration with Slim, as she was in great voice on the duet. She would sign with United the next year, after her RCA contract ran out.)


Edward Gates White,
From the collection of Dr. Robert Stallworth

Philadelphia-born Edward "The Great Gates" White (1918 - 1992) was a standup blues-ballad singer with a smooth voice. Every one of his other recordings was made in Los Angeles, for such labels as Selective (1949), Kappa (1949), Miltone (1949), 4 Star (ca. 1950), Rex Hollywood (1950), Combo (1952), Aladdin (1955), 4 Star again (1957), and Specialty (1959). His States session of November 26, 1952—which represented an increasingly passé Charles Brown cocktail-lounge blues style—was accompanied by a group that included Eddie Williams and Tom Archia on the dueling tenor saxes, Ike Perkins on guitar, and Red Saunders at the drums. How White came to do this lone session in Chicago is unknown, but we are grateful to get a rare glimpse at Tom Archia after his Aristocrat days—caught in splendid fidelity, too.


Edward Gates White,
From the collection of Dr. Robert Stallworth

The Mil-Com Bo Trio cranked out a lot of sides for the company but for its pains earned one solitary release on United, on which the band's name was misrendered as "Mil-ConBo." The combo directory in the July 15, 1953 Down Beat describes the group as "instrumental-vocal. Vocal material of Connie Milano is featured; instrumentation is piano, bass, guitar; unit hails from Milwaukee, has been playing in Wisconsin area." According to Gary E. Myers' book On That Wisconsin Beat (Downey, CA: MusicGem, 2006), the trio consisted of Sig Millonzi (1925 - 1977) on piano, Don Momblow (1920 - 1989) on guitar, and Connie Milano (born 1927) on bass and vocals.

Most likely the trio's one session took place on December 23, 1952. The original master numbers were not in United's series at Universal Recording. They probably did come from the same studio, however: the U2000 series used by Chance and some other small labels reached U2301 in late December 1952, just in time for this session. Koester's discography gives the recording date as December 23, 1953 but the Work Order number from Universal Recording (#1618) belongs to January 1953, United 159 was released in the late summer of 1953, and the new master numbers (1262-1265) assigned to four of the sides would slot into mid-February 1953 if all had been done in strict chronological order.

According to Myers, the Mil-Com Bo Trio went on to make an LP for Capitol in 1955 as the “Mil-Combo Trio.” Millonzi later formed The Sig Millonzi Trio, with Lee Burrows on bass and Jack Carr on drums, which recorded for the Milwaukee-based Stacy label in 1968.

Possibly recorded in late 1952 was Reverend Robert Ballinger (1921 - 1965). Nothing is known about the session, which carries no master numbers, except that it was recorded in one night at the Balkan Studio. Leonard Allen's voice can be heard on the tapes, which lay unreleased until 1997 when 5 of Ballinger's 7 performances were included in Delmark DE-702. In contrast to Robert Anderson, Ballinger represents the more impassioned sanctified form of gospel singing that originated in the celebrated Pentecostal denomination, the Church of God in Christ. He was born in Cincinnati and spent some of his career in Detroit, but it was in Chicago, where he served as an assistant to Bishop J. E. Watley, Sr., of the COGIC, that he made his reputation. On his United session, Ballinger accompanied himself with rough-hewn piano; an unidentified drummer was also present. In January 1955, Ballinger made one single for Chess; a second session, done in the middle of that year, was left unreleased. In 1958, he cut one single for the Artistic label. In 1961, he recorded more than an album's worth of material in two sessions for Chess, but the project was shelved. He signed with the Houston-based Peacock label in 1962. Still based in Chicago, he recorded extensively for Peacock through 1964 and enjoyed several gospel hits.


Despite adding a second imprint, the States label, in June to handle its burgeoning output (214 sides all told), the company had difficulty building on the success it had achieved in 1951. After "Night Train" and "Mary Jo," United charted one more record on the national Billboard surveys: "Hey, Mrs. Jones" by Jimmy Forrest.


Matrix Artist Title Release Number Recording Date Release Date
1057-3 on 78; 1057-2 on 45; 1057 Four Blazes Mood Indigo United 114, P-Vine Special PLP 9044, Delmark DE-704 [CD], United U-114 [CD] January 4, 1952 March 1952
1058-3 on 78; 1058-2 on 45; 1058-7 Four Blazes Mary Jo United 114, P-Vine Special PLP 9044, Delmark DE-704 [CD], United U-114 [CD] January 4, 1952 March 1952
1053-? Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers Strictly Gone United 121, B&F 1341 January 10, 1952 July 1952
1053-10 Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers Strictly Gone Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714 [CD] January 10, 1952
1054-4 Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers Walking Home Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714 [CD], Delmark DE-542 [CD], Delmark DD-775 January 10, 1952
1055-4 Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers You Stayed Away Too Long Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714 [CD] January 10, 1952
1056-2 on 78
1056-1
Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers House Party Groove United 121, B&F 1341 January 10, 1952 July 1952
1056 [alt.] Nature Boy Brown and his Blues Ramblers House Party Groove Pearl PL-9, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-378, Delmark DE-714 [CD] January 10, 1952
1059-2 on 78
1059-9
Johnny Wick [sic] and his Swingin' Ozarks Featuring "Preacher Man" on Tuba and Vocal Jockey Jack Boogie United 116, Pearl PL-13, Delmark DD-775 February 18, 1952 April 1952
1060-2 on 78
1060-12
Johnny Wick and his Swinging Ozarks Featuring "Preacher Man" on Tuba and Vocal Big Horn Blues United 116, Pearl PL-13 February 18, 1952 April 1952
1061-1 Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks Glasgow KY Blues United 126, Pearl PL-13 February 18, 1952 September 1952
1062-1 Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks Joliet Blues Pearl PL-13 February 18, 1952
1062-2 Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks Joliet Blues Pearl PL-13 February 18, 1952
1063-2 Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks Hey Pretty Baby Pearl PL-13 February 18, 1952
1064-1 Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks Blue Dawn United 126, Pearl PL-13 February 18, 1952 September1952
1065-1 Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks Bongo Wig Pearl PL-13 February 18, 1952
1066-4 Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks Erogenous Dissipated Expression Pearl PL-13 February 18, 1952
1067-1 Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks Remo Blues Pearl PL-13 February 18, 1952
1067-3 Johnny Wicks and his Swingin' Ozarks Biondi Bounce Pearl PL-13 February 18, 1952
1068 The Guy Brothers and Orchestra Wrong Wrong unissued February 1952
1069 The Guy Brothers and Orchestra Featuring Browley Guy on vocal Marie States 101 February 1952 June 1952
1070 The Guy Brothers and Orchestra Cool Cool Road unissued February 1952
1071 The Guy Brothers and Orchestra I Like Barbecue States 101 February 1952 June 1952
1072 Gilbert Holiday and His Combo Late One Night States 104 Feburary 25, 1952 September 1952
1073 Gilbert Holiday and His Combo Let's Drink States 104 February 25, 1952 September 1952
1074 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra All My Life United 162, Vogue EPL. 7011, Saxophonograph BP511, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 February 26, 1952 October 1953
1075 Tab Smith Nursery Rhyme Jump Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 February 26, 1952
1076 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra This Love of Mine United 162, Apollo [J] PCD-4709, Delmark DD-447 February 26, 1952 October 1953
1077 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra | Vocal by Tab Smith Strange United 171, Saxophonograph BP509, Delmark DD-455 February 26, 1952 c. February 1954
1078 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Jumptime United 171, United LP 003, Delmark DL-429, Delmark DD-447 February 26, 1952 c. February 1954
1079 Tab Smith Tis Autumn Delmark DD-455 [CD] February 26, 1952
1080 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Cuban Boogie United 147, United LP 001, Delmark DD-455 [CD] February 26, 1952 May 1953
1081 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Cottage for Sale United 187, Saxophonograph BP511, Delmark DD-455 [CD] February 26, 1952 February 1955
1082-1 Southern Tornadoes When They Ring the Golden Bells United 117, P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760 [CD] March 10, 1952 [Detroit] August 1952
1083-1 Southern Tornadoes Satisfied United 117, Delmark DE-760 March 10, 1952 [Detroit] August 1952
1084 The Veteran Singers Jesus, the Light of the World unissued March 10, 1952 [Detroit]
1085 The Veteran Singers Little David unissued March 10, 1952 [Detroit]
1086-3 Paul Bascomb Blues and the Beat Delmark DL-438, Delmark DD-438, Delmark DD-431 March 3, 1952
1086-4 Paul Bascomb and his All Star Orchestra Blues and the Beat
(More Blues-More Beat*)
States 102, Delmark DL-431*, Delmark DD-431 March 3, 1952 June 1952
1087-2 Paul Bascomb More Blues-More Beat (Blues and the Beat*) Delmark DL-431*, Delmark DD-431 March 3, 1952
1087-4 Paul Bascomb his tenor sax and his all star band More Blues-More Beat (False Alarm*) Vogue V.3271*, Delmark DL-438, Delmark DD-438, Delmark DD-431 March 3, 1952 Spring or Summer1953
1088-4 Paul Bascomb and his All Star Orchestra Blackout States 102, Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431 March 3, 1952 June 1952
1089-4 Paul Bascomb Pink Cadillac Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431 March 3, 1952
1089-7 Paul Bascomb Pink Cadillac P-Vine [J] PLP-9037, Delmark DL-438, Delmark DD-438, Delmark DD-431 March 3, 1952
1090-3 Southern Tornadoes Another Building P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760 March 21, 1952 [Detroit]
1091-1 Southern Tornadoes Toll the Bell Easy United 123, P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760 March 21, 1952 [Detroit] August 1952
1092-1 Southern Tornadoes How about You United 123, Delmark DE-760 March 21, 1952 [Detroit] August 1952
1093-1 SouthernTornadoes Will The Circle Be Unbroken P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760 March 21, 1952 [Detroit]
1094-1 Southern Tornadoes All I Need P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760 March 21, 1952 [Detroit]
1095-1 Southern Tornadoes Precious Memories Delmark DE-760 March 21, 1952 [Detroit]
1096-2 Veteran Singers Glory to His Name P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760 March 21, 1952 [Detroit]
1097-1 Veteran Singers Leaning on Jesus P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760 March 21, 1952 [Detroit]
1098-1 Veteran Singers He'll Never Let Go Delmark DE-760 March 21, 1952 [Detroit]
1099-1 Veteran Singers How Much More Delmark DE-760 March 21, 1952 [Detroit]
1100-1 The Veteran Singers Lord Is Riding States 105, P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760 March 21, 1952 [Detroit] c. September 1952
1101-1 The Veteran Singers On the Battlefield States 105, P-Vine [J] PLP-9035, Delmark DE-760 March 21, 1952 [Detroit] c. September 1952
1102 The Veteran Singers Little David unissued March 21, 1952 [Detroit]
1103 The Veteran Singers In the Wilderness unissued March 21, 1952 [Detroit]
1104-3 on 78; 1104 on 45 Jimmy Forrest, Tenor and All Star Combo Big Dip United 119, United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435 March 30, 1952 Summer 1952
1105-2 Jimmy Forrest and Orchestra Blue Groove United 130, United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435 March 30, 1952 October 1952
1106-2 on 78; 1106 on 45; 1106-3 Jimmy Forrest, Tenor and All Star Combo My Buddy United 119, Delmark DD-435 March 30, 1952 Summer 1952
1106-4 Jimmy Forrest, Tenor and All Star Combo My Buddy Delmark DL-438, Delmark DD-438 March 30, 1952
1107-2 on 45 and 78; 1107-5 Jimmy Forrest and Orchestra Hey Mrs. Jones United 130, United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435 March 30, 1952 October 1952
1108-3 Jimmy Forrest Song of the Wanderer United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435 March 30, 1952
1109-3 Jimmy Forrest There Will Be No Other You[There Will Never Be Another You*] United LP 002, Delmark DL-435*, Delmark DD-435* March 30, 1952
1110-1 Jimmy Forrest and His All Star Combo Sophisticated Lady United 173, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435 March 30, 1952 c. March 1954
1110-7 Jimmy Forrest Sophisticated Lady Delmark DD-775 March 30, 1952
1111 Robert Anderson and His Gospel Caravan Come in the Room United 122, Delmark DE-702 [CD], Delmark DD-775 April 18, 1952 August 1952
1112 Robert Anderson O Lord Is It I United 134, Delmark DE-702 [CD] April 18, 1952 December 1952
1113 [alt.] Robert Anderson and His Gospel Caravan How Could It Be Delmark DE-702 [CD] April 18, 1952
1113 Robert Anderson and His Gospel Caravan How Could It Be United 122, Delmark DE-702 [CD] April 18, 1952 August 1952
1114 [alt.] Robert Anderson and His Gospel Caravan He's Pleading in Glory Delmark DE-702 [CD] April 18, 1952
1114 Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan Pleading in Glory for Me United 134, Delmark DE-702 [CD] April 18, 1952 December 1952
1115 The Caravans | Nellie G. Daniels, Ora Lee Hopkins Elyse Yancy & Albertine [sic] Walker Think of His Goodness to You States 103, Sharp 602, Sharp LP 2000 April 18, 1952 c. June 1952
1116 The Caravans | Nellie G. Daniels, Ora Lee Hopkins Elyse Yancy & Albertine Walker | Albertine Walker (Soloist) Tell the Angels States 103, Sharp 602, Sharp LP 2000 April 18, 1952 c. June 1952
1200-2
1200-15
Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders Raining States 111, Delmark DL-434 June 4, 1952 December 1952
1201 Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders Just Right unissued June 4, 1952
1202-2 on 78 and 45
1202-8
Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders | Vocal by Jewel Belle Lonely Monday States 106, Delmark DL-434, Official 6038, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-554 [CD] June 4, 1952 July 1952
1203-1 Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders Foolish Delmark DL-434 June 4, 1952
1203
1203-4
Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders (Vocal: Jewell Belle) Foolish States 111, Delmark DE-554 [CD] June 4, 1952 December 1952
1204-4 Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders Cool One-Groove Two States 106, Official 6038, Delmark DL-434, Delmark DL-438, Delmark DD-438 June 4, 1952 July 1952

Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders Raining unissued June 4, 1952
1117 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra A Bit of Blues United 124, Saxophonograph BP509, Delmark DD-455 [CD] June 11, 1952 July 1952
1118 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Sunnyside of the Street United 124, United LP 001, Delmark DD-455 [CD] June 11, 1952 July 1952
1119 Tab Smith Teddy's Brannin' Delmark DD-455 [CD] June 11, 1952
1120 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra These Foolish Things United 140, Saxophonograph BP511, Delmark DD-455 [CD] June 11, 1952 January 1953
1121-2 on 78
1121 on 45
Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra My Mother's Eyes United 147, Vogue V.3267, United LP 001, Delmark DD-455 [CD] June 11, 1952 May 1953
1205 The Caravans Why Should I Worry unissued June 1952
1206 The Caravans | Nellie Daniels Ora Lee Hopkins Elyse Yancy and Albertina Walker | Albertina Walker (Soloist) | Robert Anderson, Director Stranger of Galilee States 108 June 1952 c. November 1952
1207 The Caravans My Soul Is a fWitness unissued June 1952
1208 The Caravans | Nellie Daniels Ora Lee Hopkins Elyse Yancy and Albertina Walker | Albertina Walker (Soloist)| Robert Anderson, Director Count Your Blessings States 108 June 1952 c. November 1952
1122-19 Four Blazes Night Train United 125, P-Vine Special PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD] July 4, 1952 August 1952
1123-1 Four Blazes Rug Cutter United 125, P-Vine Special PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD] July 4, 1952 August 1952
1124 Four Blazes | L. Holt, T. Braden, F. McDaniels [sic] and W. Hill | Vocal by T. Braden Please Send Her Back to Me United 127, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD] July 4, 1952
(remade August 18, 1952)
September 1952
1125 (1025 on label) Four Blazes | L. Holt, T. Braden, F. McDaniels [sic] and W. Hill | Vocal by F. McDaniels Stop Boogie Woogie United 127, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD] July 4, 1952 September 1952
1126 Four Blazes Perfect Woman Delmark DE-704 [CD] July 4, 1952
(remade August 18, 1952)

1127




1128 on 78
1128-2 on 45
1128-4
Roosevelt Sykes (The Honeydripper) Walkin' This Boogie United 129, Negro Art [F] M-12-SB-367, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 August 21, 1952 October 1952
1129-4 Roosevelt Sykes Four O'Clock Blues Delmark DE-642 August 21, 1952
1129-12 Roosevelt Sykes and The Honeydrippers Four O'Clock Blues United 139, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD] August 21, 1952 January 1953
1130-9 Roosevelt Sykes and The Honeydrippers To Hot to Hold [sic]
Too Hot to Hold*
Too Hot to Handle**
(Hot Boogie)
United 139, Vogue [Fr] 3297*, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039*, Delmark DL-642**, Delmark DE-642 [CD]** August 21, 1952 January 1953
1131-4 Roosevelt Sykes Something like That P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039 August 21, 1952
1131-9 Roosevelt Sykes Toy Piano Blues P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD] August 21, 1952
1132 on 78
1132-2 on 45
1132-3
Roosevelt Sykes (The Honeydripper) Security Blues United 129, Negro Art [F] M-12-SB-367, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD] August 21, 1952 October 1952
1133-2 Roosevelt Sykes Listen to My Song (She's the One for Me) Delmark DE-642 [CD] August 21, 1952
1133-17 Roosevelt Sykes Listen to My Song (She's the One for Me) P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD] August 21, 1952
1209-8 Cozy Eggleston and his Combo Cozy's Boogie
[Fish Tail*]
[Cozy's Beat#]
States 133, P-Vine [J] PLP-9037*, Delmark DL-438#, Delmark DD-438# August 23, 1952 February 1954
1210-3 Cozy Eggleston and his Combo Big Heavy [Blue Lites Boogie*] States 133, P-Vine [J] PLP-9037, Delmark DL-438*, Delmark DD-438 August 23, 1952 February 1954
1211 Cozy Eggleston and his Combo Willow Weep for Me [Weep for Me*] Delmark DL-438*, Delmark DD-438* August 23, 1952
1212 Browley Guy and the Skyscrapers Rosalie unissued August 25, 1952
1213 Browley Guy and the Skyscrapers Blues Train States 107 August 25, 1952 November 1952
1214 Browley Guy and the Skyscrapers You Ain't Gonna Worry Me States 107 August 25, 1952 November 1952
1215-4
YB9093 on Mercury
Paul Bascomb Nona Mercury 8299, Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431 August 25, 1952
1216-6 Paul Bascomb Liza's Blues United 192 [?], Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431 August 25, 1952
1217-1
YB9094 on Mercury
Paul Bascomb Mumbles Blues Mercury 8299, Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431 August 25, 1952
1218-12 Paul Bascomb Got Cool Too Soon Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431 August 25, 1952
1219-2 Paul Bascomb Indiana Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431 August 25, 1952
1220-2 Paul Bascomb I Know Just How You Feel Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431 August 25, 1952
1134-2 Ray McKinstry Dinah United 128, Delmark DD-775 August 29, 1952 September 1952
1135 Ray McKinstry Hora Staccato United 128 August 29, 1952 September 1952

Ray McKinstry Ricky Tick unissued August 29, 1952
1221 The Caravans | Nellie G. Daniels, Ora Lee Hopkins Elyse Yancy, and Albertine [sic] Walker | Ora Lee Hopkins (Soloist) | Arr. by Evelyn S. Beavers Get Away Jordan States 109, Gospel MG 3007 September 1952 c. November 1952
1222 The Caravans | Nellie G. Daniels, Ora Lee Hopkins Elyse Yancy, and Albertine [sic] Walker | Albertine Walker (soloist) He'll Be There States 109, Gospel MG 3007 September 1952 c. November 1952
1223 The Caravans God Is Good to Me States 116, Gospel MG 3007 September 1952 c. April 1953
1224 The Caravans What Do You Need Gospel MG 3007 September 1952
1225 The Caravans | Solo - Albertina Walker I Know the Lord Will Make a Way States 128, Gospel MG 3007 September 1952 October 1953
1226 The Caravans Blessed Assurance States 116, Gospel MG 3007 September 1952 c. April 1953
1227 The Caravans Witness States 140, Gospel MG 3008 September 1952 Summer 1954

The Caravans All Night, All Day Gospel MG 3008 September 1952
1136 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Red Hot and Blue United 140, United LP 003, Delmark DL-429, Delmark DD-455 [CD] September 15, 1952 January 1953
1137 on 78; 1137-2 on 45 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart United 131, Vogue [F] LD 148, Delmark DD-455 [CD] September 15, 1952 October 1952
1138 on 78; 1138-2 on 45 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra You Belong to Me United 131, Vogue [F] LD148, Saxophonograph BP511, Delmark DD-455 [CD] September 15, 1952 October1952
1139 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Ace High United 178, Vogue [F] LD148, Delmark DL-438, Saxophonograph BP511, Delmark DD-438, Delmark DD-455 [CD] September 15, 1952 June 1954
1140 Tiny Murphy and his Bar 69 Boys Nicotine Fits United 132, White Label LP 2819 late September 1952 December 1952
1141 Tiny Murphy and his Bar 69 Boys It's All Your Fault United 132, White Label LP 2819 late September 1952 December 1952
1142 Tiny Murphy Don't You Know, Don't You Care unissued late September 1952
1143 Tiny Murphy and The Bar 69 Boys Dangerous Ground United 136 late September 1952 January 1953
1144-2-2 Tiny Murphy and The Bar 69 Boys Hot Steel United 136, White Label LP 2819 late September 1952 January 1953

Tiny Murphy Night Train unissued late September 1952
1228-1 Paul Bascomb Love's an Old Story Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431 September 30, 1952
1229-2 Paul Bascomb Soul and Body Delmark DD-431 September 30, 1952
1229-8 Paul Bascomb Soul and Body States 121, Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431 September 30, 1952 c. July 1953
1230-2 Paul Bascomb and his All-Star Band
Paul Bascomb his tenor sax and his all star band
Coquette States 110
Vogue V.3271
September 30, 1952 December 1952
Spring or Summer 1953
1230-9 Paul Bascomb Coquette Delmark DL-431, Delmark DD-431 September 30, 1952
1231 Paul Bascomb Matilda States 121
United 192
September 30, 1952 c. July 1953
c. September 1955
1232 Paul Bascomb and his All-Star Band Got Cool Too Soon States 110 September 30, 1952 December 1952
1145 Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and his Orchestra Hello Stranger United 133 October 7, 1952 December 1952
1146 Grant Jones Thunder unissued October 7, 1952
1147-2 Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and his Orchestra In the Dark United 133 October 7, 1952 December 1952
1148 Grant (Mr. Blues) Jones and Orchestra Stormy Monday States 114 October 7, 1952 March 1953
1149-1 Robert Nighthawk Bricks in My Pillow Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711 October 25, 1952
1150-9 Robert Nighthawk You Missed a Good Man Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711 October 25, 1952
1151-1 Robert Nighthawk Maggie Campbell Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711 October 25, 1952
1151-11 Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band Maggie Campbell States 131, Nighthawk LP 102, Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515 October 25, 1952 c. January 1954
1152-1 Robert Nighthawk The Moon Is Rising Delmark DD-711 October 25, 1952
1152-3 Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band The Moon Is Rising States 131, Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711 October 25, 1952 c. January 1954
1153-6 Robert Nighthawk Seventy-Four Delmark DD-711 October 25, 1952
1153-7 Robert Nighthawk Seventy-Four Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711, Delmark DD-775 October 25, 1952
1154-1 Robert Nighthawk U/S Boogie Pearl PL-11, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 515, Delmark DD-711 October 25, 1952
1155 Four Kings and a Queen Wheelin' and Dealin' unissued October 31, 1952
1156 Four Kings and a Queen Lean Pretty Baby unissued October 31, 1952
1157 Four Kings and a Queen Grass in Your Own Backyard unissued October 31, 1952
1158 Four Kings and a Queen Just a Fool unissued October 31, 1952
1159-6 Leo Parker and His Mad Lads Leo's Boogie United 141, Vogue [Fr] V.3279, Swing Time [It] ST1002 November 15, 1952 January 1953
1160-1 Leo Parker and His Mad Lads Cool Leo United 141, Vogue [Fr] V.3279, Swing Time [It] ST1002, Delmark DD-775 November 15, 1952 January 1953
1161-1 Leo Parker Jam Leo unissued November 15, 1952
1162-8 Leo Parker Hey Good Lookin' unissued November15, 1952
1233 Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys (You're Honey but the) Bees Don't Know States 148 November 17, 1952 c. June 1955
1234 Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys Got Me on My Mind, Love Me [?] unissued November17, 1952
1235-2 Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys Adam's Rib States 112, Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717 November 17, 1952 January 1953
1236 Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys Benny's Blues States 112 November 17, 1952 January 1953
1237 Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys Boogie unissued November 17, 1952
1238 Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys Butler's Rock unissued November 17, 1952
1163 Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra Just Chips United 149, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD] November 18, 1952 May 1953
1164-2 on 78; 1164 on 45 Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra Street of Dreams United 137, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD] November 18, 1952 January 1953
1165-2 on 78; 1165 on 45 Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra The Beat [Good Time Blues*] United 137, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103*, Savoy SV-0242* [CD] November 18, 1952 January 1953
1166 Gene Ammons his Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra Traveling Light United 185, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD] November 18, 1952 c. December 1955
1239 Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders If You Ever Change unissued November 19, 1952
1240 Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders Scammon Boogie States 120 November 19, 1952 c. July 1953
1241 Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders | Vocal Jewell Belle [sic] How Can I Let You Go States 120 November 19, 1952 c. July 1953
1242 Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders I Lost My Man unissued November 19, 1952
1167-4 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers Midnight Delmark DE-762 [CD] November 26, 1952
1168-5 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers Back Alley United 138, Vogue [Fr] V3280, Official LP 6006, Delmark DE-762 [CD] November 26, 1952 January 1953
1169-6 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers Only a Fool Has Fun Delmark DE-762 [CD] November 26, 1952
1170-2 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers The Come Back Delmark DE-762 [CD] November 26, 1952
1171-1 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers (Vocal: Matt Murphy) Cool Down Baby Delmark DE-762 [CD] November 26, 1952
1172-3 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers Shuffleboard Delmark DE-762 [CD] November 26, 1952
1173-5 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers Nat Dee Special Delmark DE-762 [CD] November 26, 1952
1174-3 (-2 on 78) Memphis Slim and his House Rockers Living the Life I Love United 138, Vogue [Fr] V.3280, Official LP 6006, Delmark DE-762 [CD] November 26, 1952 January 1953
1243-5 Edward Gates White Tired of Being Mistreated Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717 [CD] November 26, 1952
1244-7 Edward Gates White Love Is a Mistake Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717 [CD] November 26, 1952
1245-4 Edward Gates White Mother-in-Law States 124, Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717 [CD] November 26, 1952 July 1953
1246-9 Edward Gates White Rockabye Baby States 124, Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717 [CD] November 26, 1952 July 1953

Reverend Robert Ballinger Working the Road [Walking the Road*] P-Vine [J] PLP-9035*, Delmark DE-702 [CD] 1952? [Balkan Studio]

Reverend Robert Ballinger Going Home unissued 1952? [Balkan Studio]

Reverend Robert Ballinger Standing in the Safety Zone Delmark DE-702 1952? [Balkan Studio]

Reverend Robert Ballinger John Saw the Number Delmark DE-702 [CD] 1952? [Balkan Studio]

Reverend Robert Ballinger Drop Your Net Delmark DE-702 [CD] 1952? [Balkan Studio]

Reverend Robert Ballinger I Got to Tell It unissued 1952? [Balkan Studio]

Reverend Robert Ballinger My Soul Loves Jesus Delmark DE-702 [CD] 1952? [Balkan Studio]
1262
[2304]
The Mil-Com Bo Trio Sweet Georgia Brown unissued December 23, 1952
1263
[2318]
The Mil-Com Bo Trio Japanese Sandman unissued December 23, 1952
1264
[2301]
The Mil-ConBo Trio Don't Pay to Gamble United 159 December 23, 1952 October 1953
1265
[2318?]
The Mil-Con Bo Trio Stompin at the Savoy United 159 December 23, 1952 October 1953
[2302] Mil-Com Bo Trio Look Out unissued December 23, 1952
[2303] Mil-Com Bo Trio Coleen unissued December 23, 1952
[2305] Mil-Com Bo Trio Long Ago unissued December 23, 1952
[2315] Mil-Com Bo Trio Look Out [remake] unissued December 23, 1952
[2316] Mil-Com Bo Trio Goober Boogie unissued December 23, 1952
[2317] Mil-Com Bo Trio Do Dos Tunes unissued December 23, 1952

1953


Billy Ford,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Billy Ford and the Night Riders, who recorded on January 6, 1953, featured the same individual who later formed the duo Billy and Lillie with Lillie Bryant. Billy and Lillie's big number was "La Dee Dah" (1958). Ford, a trumpet player and band leader, was born March 9, 1925, in Bloomfield, New Jersey. He had been active as a bandleader since the end of World War II, first recording for the New York-based Hub label in 1946. These sides were followed by four for a small label called Coleman (probably 1948), followed by two sides for a major (Columbia, 1949) and two more for Regal (1951). The United session was the first that Ford would make in Chicago. He would return at some point in the mid-1960s, cutting a couple of tracks for the final incarnation of Mayo Wiiliams' Ebony label.


Billy Ford,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Singer Debbie Andrews was born in New Orleans, but raised in Detroit. In March 1952, Duke Ellington discovered her in St. Louis and hired her for his band. After she performed "September Song" on a national radio broadcast by the Ellington band, Mercury signed her; she apparently did just one session (that produced one single) before the label dropped her. By 1953 Andrews was based in Chicago. She took part in the big celebration on January 13 for Red Saunders after 15 years as band leader at the Club DeLisa (Duke Ellington, whose band was playing the Regal Theater that week, was the honorary chairman). Andrews went right into the studio for United, making the first of her two sessions on January 15. She was backed by a vocal group called the Musketeers; allowing for some creative spelling, choral director Jack Halloran appears to have been in charge. Halloran's main gig was with CBS radio, but he was active in pop music recording during this period. Anderson's first release on United rated the attention of Down Beat, which ran a review in its Rhythm and Blues section on March 25, 1953. Of Debbie Andrews, the reviewer said, "The very promising former Ellington band singer impresses strongly here, though the backing vocal group distracts from her singing." "Don't Make Me Cry" was given four stars; "Love Me, Please Love Me" got three.


Jack Halloran with Mahalia Jackson, Jet, September 30, 1954
Jack Halloran does a radio show with Mahalia Jackson. Jet, September 30, 1954; couresy of Simon Evans.

Jimmy Hamilton,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Jimmy Hamilton was born in Dillon, South Carolina on May 25, 1917, and raised in Philadelphia, where his family moved when he was five years old. He started out as a brass player, but by the late 1930s was playing tenor sax and clarinet. He worked in the bands of Lucky Millinder, Jimmy Mundy, Teddy Wilson, and Eddie Heywood. In 1943 he got a call from Duke Ellington, who needed a solo clarinetist to replace Barney Bigard (Chauncey Haughton and Sax Mallard had served as temporary replacements). Hamilton would remain in the Ellington orchestra until 1968, doing the bulk of his recording with Duke while making very occasional sessions as a leader. One of these was done in Detroit with the Emmit Slay Trio: Bob White (organ), Slay (electric guitar) and Lawrence Jackson (drums); a string bass player was brought on board for the session. Two sides were released on States 113 (one of the scarcer items on that label, and it has never been reissued) and two are still in the vault. "Rockaway Special" is a medium-tempo blues featuring Hamilton's tenor sax and Slay's guitar. The relaxed "Big Fifty," on which the organ is more prominent and the guitar is replaced by a piano, intrudes on turf more often occupied by Hamilton's former bandmate Ben Webster or his future bandmate Harold Ashby. The emphasis given to his tenor playing is quite unusual (Hamilton played the saxophone in the Ellington reed section but did most of his soloing on clarinet). The actual recording date could have been a little earlier than our list implies: January 15, 1953 may be when the tapes were logged at Universal Recording for mastering.


Jimmy Hamilton,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Jimmy Hamilton would return to United on one further occasion, as the leader of a studio band backing Della Reese. (His session for States did more to advance the career of Sax Kari, the co-composer of '"Big Fifty." Kari would be featured on several of the label's Detroit-based recordings.) On leaving Duke Ellington in 1968, Hamilton moved to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, where he remained for the rest of his life, making occasional forays to the mainland to work and record with a variety of leaders. During the 1980s, he was a member of John Carter's Clarinet Summit, where he had no diffficulty fitting in with younger players such as Carter, Alvin Batiste, and David Murray. Jimmy Hamilton died on St. Croix on September 20, 1994.

The Dozier Boys recordings for United have turned out to be unexpectedly complicated. After an unsuccessful sojourn with OKeh's Chicago operation, which recorded the group in 1951 but eventually decided not to release the material because the Doziers allegedly sounded "too white," the ensemble signed with United in August 1952, when they were still a quartet of Bill Minor, Eugene Teague, Pee Wee Branford, and Cornell Wiley. A September 1952 release was announced, but then nothing happened. In fact, the group's signing was re-announced in February 1953, followed by releases in March and November of that year.

Apparently (this is Benny Cotton and Cornell Wiley's best recollection) the four-man Doziers group actually did record four sides in August 1952. BennyCotton recalls four titles in this session that had already been recorded without him when he rejoined the group. But for some reason the sides were not deemed ready for release at that time (perhaps Leonard Allen and Lew Simpkins decided that they should overdub additional instruments, particularly Tab Smith's alto sax?). So two further sessions were organized at Universal on January 15 and 22, 1953 in order to record four new items and carrying out further dubbing. By this time, Benny Cotton had been discharged from the army and the Dozier Boys had expanded to a quintet. With a session pianist whose name no one remembers, and Tab Smith overdubbed on several of the numbers, they enjoyed the richest instrumental backing they would ever get on record. The multiple sessions help to explain the nonconsecutive matrix numbers in our listing. For ease of reading we have consolidated the tracks originally recorded in August 1952 with those first laid down in January 1953.


Jimmy Coe
photo
From the collection of Billy Vera

Jimmy Coe,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Jimmy Coe,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Jimmy Coe,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

On February 1, 1953, States recorded another jazz horn man, James R. Coe, born in Tompkinsville, Kentucky, on March 20, 1921. His family moved to Indianapolis in 1922, and except for periods on the road and service in World War II, he stayed home in Naptown for his entire career. At age 20 he was already touring with the Jay McShann band (he played baritone sax while a fellow named Charlie Parker was responsible for the alto solos). Coe served in the Army from 1943 to 1945.

Coe worked with Tiny Bradshaw's band in 1952, also making a session for King under his own name (though King rendered it "Cole"). When he signed with Leonard Allen in 1953, his band was billed as Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm. Coe played strictly tenor sax on his States dates (he'd been featured on alto for King). Besides Coe the band included James Palmer (piano /organ); John Wittcliffe (bass); Earl "Fox" Walker (drums), Helen Fox (vocals), and Max Bailey (vocals). Intrestingly, there are composer credits to "Cole" on both sides of States 118.

On their second and last session for States, which took place on October 17, Coe and his band were joined by Remo Biondi, who had the unique privilege of sitting in on virtually any United or States session that interested him. (It helped that he had a regular studio job for a radio network, and expected no pay for these guest appearances.) His rhythm guitar is heard on all but the first track from this session, and on "Lady Take Two" he contributes a violin solo to the band's version of "Lady Be Good." The two Helen Fox ballads without matrix numbers are from October 17 (not the February 1 session as stated on Delmark's LP and CD releases); we know this because Biondi's rhythm guitar can be heard on both "A Fool Was I" and "How Deep Is the Ocean."


Jimmy Coe,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Jimmy Coe,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Jimmy Forrest was back for a follow-up session on February 3, 1953. By now his lineup had mutated slightly to Chauncey Locke (trumpet), Charles Fox (piano), possibly Herschel Harris (bass), Oscar Oldham (drums), and possibly Bob Reagen (congas, bongos). For some reason the company left half of this session in the can.


Jimmy Forrest,

The Four Blazes,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Four Blazes,

From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Allen also brought the Four Blazes back into the studio on February 3, along with unofficial fifth member Eddie Chamblee. Matrix numbers 1255 and 1256, which went unreleased until 2002, were instrumentals by Chamblee with backing by the Blazes (who were certainly capable of handling the work). "My Hat's on the Side of My Head," issued on United 146 in March 1953, got some play on R&B radio.


Four Blazes,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

The Four Blazes,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Uptown blues chanteuse Bixie Crawford had a few years of performing and recording under her belt by the time United waxed her on February 12, 1953. She was born Birdie Crawford August 2, 1923 in Oklahoma City. She attended Fisk and Lincoln Universities, where she majored in music, studying the piano, the alto sax, and the congas. Benny Carter heard her singing at a picnic in a park one day and hired her the next day.


Bixie Crawford,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

As Bixie Harris, she recorded "Patience and Fortitude" (a vocal duet with the leader) on Benny Carter's January 5, 1946 record date for DeLuxe (which took place in New York City). After about a year in Carter's band, she worked in the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra shortly before the leader died in 1947. She did three months with Count Basie and gigged with Louis Jordan in 1949-1950, then became a schoolteacher in Los Angeles. When Count Basie reestablished his big band in 1951, she was invited to join and remained with him for about three years.


Bixie Crawford,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Bixie Crawford recorded under her own name in 1949 for the King label, followed by a session with the Ernie Freeman Orchestra in 1951 for RCA Victor.


Bixie Crawford, Jet, September 4, 1952
Bixie Crawford during her Basie days. Jet, September 4, 1952; courtesy of Simon Evans.

In 1952 she appeared on a Count Basie big band session for Clef (this was recorded in New York; her vocal number on the session was not released till years later). Bixie Crawford was singing with the Basie band when it went on tour at the end of January 1953; the first stop was the Blue Note in Chicago, where Basie held forth from at least January 31 through February 14. The tour continued through March (according to Down Beat for March 25), then the band returned to New York where it worked the Band Box and the Apollo Theater in April. According to her own recollection, Crawford's United session featured top musicians from the Basie band: Joe Newman (trumpet), Ernie Wilkins (alto sax), Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (tenor sax), Charlie Fowlkes (baritone sax), Gene Ramey (bass), Gus Johnson (drums); taking the Count's place was a Chicago pianist whose name she couldn't remember. (Our thanks to Chris DeVito for information about the Basie band tour and Otto Flückiger—who met Bixie Crawford when she appeared in Basel with the Count Basie Band in April 1954—for biographical information on the singer.)

After her United session, Crawford recorded for Empire (1956), Indigo (1960), and C-Note (unknown date). All of these were done in Los Angeles.


Jack Cooley,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

When he laid down two cuts for States on February 16, 1953, vocalist / drummer Jack Cooley was a veteran of the vibrant South Side nightclub scene, where he had worked as a waiter and a singer. He was popularly known as "Cowboy Jack" after his preference for 10-gallon hats, and some of his titles (like "Mr. Two-Gun Pete") played up the reference. He first recorded on his own for J. Mayo Williams' Chicago imprint in 1945, and worked various sessions for other artists, most notably boogie-woogie legend Albert Ammons on three sessions for Mercury in 1946. In 1947, he sang and played drums on an Israel Crosby session with uncredited accompaniment by Buster Bennett that ended up being released on Apollo. In 1948 or 1949, he appeared on the tiny Square Deal label. 1950, he cut two singles as a leader for his own C&G company; Lew Simpkins was involved in some way, and one for the records also appeared on the Master label. In 1951, Cooley recorded a session for Nashboro with Tommy Jones on tenor sax, resulting in two obscure singles, before taking up with the States imprint in early 1953. His very last recording would be for J. Mayo Williams' Ebony label in 1956. Although Cooley's recordings were sporadic, nightclub owners and patrons obviously liked him; contract lists from Musicians Union Local 208 show that he was regularly employed on the South Side from 1944 through at least 1960.


Jack Cooley,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Gloria Irving with Sax Kari,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

One of the few records released by Allen's operation that proved to be a national hit was "Daughter (That's Your Red Wagon)" by the Sax Kari band with vocals by Gloria Irving. (Kari had already shown up on the label as a composer on the first Debbie Andrews session.) The Kari/Irving session was recorded in Detroit on February 23, 1953. Besides Kari on tenor sax, the band included Lester Shackleford (tenor sax), Terry Pollard (piano), Ernie Farrell (bass), and and unidentified drummer. To interviewer Dan Kochakian, Kari noted that "Gloria Irving was a Detroit girl who had a tremendous voice and she was a fast learner." Irving toured with Kari later in May, presumably off the success of the record, which in April had gone to #8 on Billboard's R&B chart. The instrumental flip side, "Down for Debbie," was reissued in 2002 in a Delmark Honkers and Bar Walkers compilation, on the strength of Shackelford and Kari's sax soloing; it is a classic "tenor battle" number with both bebop and R&B components. (The credits to the CD unfortunately claim that Kari played guitar on the session and that Dezie McCullers played trumpet. As Bob Porter mentions in his liner notes, neither instrument is present, but there is a second tenor sax. Porter thinks that Shackleford is the darker-toned tenorist who takes the first solo.)


Gloria Irving with Swinging Sax Kari,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Swinging Sax
Kari,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Sax Kari (who despite his nickname also played guitar) was born Isaac Saxton Kari Toombs on February 6, 1920, in Chicago. He was raised in New Orleans, and went to high school in Gary, Indiana. He formed his first combo while in his late teens to play in clubs in Calumet City, Illinois, and during the 1940s toured the South. At one point he inherited the musicians from the famed Carolina Cotton Pickers, and recorded with them in New York on Apollo. He also played in a variety of big bands, notably those of Coleman Hawkins and Tiny Bradshaw. He was also in the house band at the Rhumboogie Café in Chicago (probably in 1946-1947, when Floyd Campbell led it). In the late 1940s he became one of the Hi De Ho Boys at the Club DeLisa, working alongside Lefty Bates. In the early 1950s he shifted his base of operations to Detroit.


Sax Kari,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tiny Murphy's second and last session for United took place on February 23. His eclectic repertoire expanded to includes some light classics on this occasion, which eventually led to his third and last single for United. In 1956, Murphy would release a single on Ronel, another indie operation in Chicago.

On Feburary 24, 1953 United recorded an alumnus from the 1952 Tommy Dean sessions—alto sax player Chris Woods. Born on December 25, 1925 in Memphis, Woods relocated to St. Louis after service in the armed forces. He worked with the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra and George Hudson; starting in 1947 Woods was a sideman for St. Louis-based pianist Tommy Dean, but this group broke up after Dean's second session for States in November of 1952. Woods had made a name for himself in St. Louis and decided to go off on his own, taking Dean's bassist and drummer with him. In fact, he took over what had been Dean's regular gig at the Twentieth Century club.


Chris Woods,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Chris Woods made his own session for United on February 24, 1953. Reportedly Lew Simpkins heard his band on a trip through St. Louis, then, after a long delay, summoned the group to a recording session with three days' notice. The lineup was Arthur "Pete" Redford (trombone), David Wright (baritone sax), and Charles Fox (piano), plus Tommy Dean's former rhythm players Eugene Thomas (bass) and Pee Wee Jernigan (drums). Tom Lord's Jazz Discography indicates that one "Gene" Wright was responsible, but this was a confusion of David Wright with the better known bass player. Yves François Smierciak recalls Pete Redford and David Wright visiting the Jazz Record Mart around 1980, when he obtained their autographs . "Brazil," a bebop number with a Latin rhythm, was released on United 151, which was reviewed in Billboard on July 4, 1953 (p. 46). It sold locally in St. Louis and was featured in Woods' publicity for some time. Woods managed to work in some serious bebopping between the R&B ensembles; we hope this wasn't a discouragement factor to Leonard Allen, who put out just one single on Woods.

Woods' St. Louis group broke up in 1955, when he turned to bus driving to make a living. After some years of part-time work in the St. Louis area, he moved to New York in 1962. He would develop an extensive recording career during the 1960s and 1970s, while living in New York, Paris, and Los Angeles; in his later years he also played the flute. He recorded with Les DeMerle, Ernie Wilkins, Clark Terry, Ted Curson, Sy Oliver, Charles Williams, and Dizzy Gillespie, and was also a member of the Buddy Rich Orchestra. He recorded four albums as a leader during his Paris period (for Futura, Black & Blue, Modern Jazz Records, and Promophone, between 1973 and 1976). His final recording as a leader was Modus Operandi (Delmark 437), a 1978 recording made in New York. In 1983 he was a member of the last Count Basie band. He died in New York City on July 4, 1985. A skilled bebopper who could rip out lightning-fast runs while swinging ferociously, Woods was always welcome with bandleaders but has never gotten full credit for his jazz work.


Chris Woods,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

The Woods session was followed by an uncharacteristic venture into pop music. The singer, Johnny Holiday, had a strong, nearly operatic tenor but was rather lachrymose in his delivery. Dennis Farnon, a well-known leader of sweet bands and studio ensembles, was brought in to recruit the musicians and conduct. Besides a violin section with some heft, the orchestra featured French horn, oboe, flute, and harp. On "With All My Heart," a solo violinist is prominent. Artistically the results were better than the rival Chance label usually got on its pop dates, but Holiday's one release on United 148 is hard to find today, suggesting that sales were not encouraging. The company would make just a couple more efforts in this area, with Debbie Andrews and the DiMara Sisters.
Roosevelt Sykes,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

On March 19, 1953, Roosevelt Sykes returned to Universal Recording for his third and last United session. On this occasion he brought J. T. Brown on tenor sax, Big Crawford on bass, up-and-coming blues drummer Fred Below, and a guitarist who remains unidentified. Of the six numbers, just two were selected for release; "Come Back Baby" b/w "Tell Me True" appeared on United 152. "Come Back Baby," a variant of "Wee Wee Baby," features group vocalizing, and Brown lays out; "Tell Me True" is a ballad with more restrained playing than was typical of the tenorist. (We can understand why Allen passed on Sykes' remake of "44 Blues," the very first number he ever recorded. The pianist had grown pretty tired of the piece in the years since 1929; on this rendition members of the band cut in with choral responses of calculated silliness.) Afterwards Leonard Allen seems to have lost interest in Sykes, despite the top quality nearly everything the pianist laid down for him. It appears that Sykes' variety of blues was increasingly seen as dated by Chicago club patrons. Again, significant tracks from this session had to wait for P-Vine (1982) and Delmark (1987) LPs. Roosevelt Sykes moved to New Orleans in 1954 and continued to record extensively; he would be responsible for several LPs on Delmark, among other labels.


Roosevelt Sykes,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Blues vocalist and pianist Eddie Ware recorded two sessions for Chess Records during 1951 and 1952 without producing anything that would sell. Simpkins did not have much luck either with his session on Ware, which took place after the Sykes outing on March 19. Ware was doing some business in the lower-end blues clubs, playing as "Eddie 'Lima Bean' Ware" at the New Club Plantation (328 East 31st) and the Harmonia Lounge (3000 Indiana), for example. There were good musicians in support on the Ware-composed session—namely J. T. Brown's wailing tenor sax, Big Crawford's bass, and Fred Below's swinging drums—but the infectious boogie-beat number "The Stuff I Like," featuring Ware's spirited keyboard work, garnered no interest. Neither did "Lonely Broken Heart," with outstanding ballad work by Ernest Cotton.


Sax Kari,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

On March 31, on the strength of his hit, Sax Kari recorded a second session, now featuring vocals by Gloria Irving on all four sides. But the company failed to catch lightning in a bottle another time; despite two more strong performances, States 117 did not make the charts. During the 1950s Kari was based mainly in Detroit, and both of his sessions for States were done in the Motor City, according to the discography on Kari published in Blues & Rhythm, September 2001. Other Kari sessions during the decade were for Avenue (in Detroit, 1952 or so), Great Lakes (Detroit, 1954), Chess and Checker (two sessions in Chicago, 1954), Spotlight (Detroit, c. 1955-56), Chess again (unknown locale, 1956), and JOB (Chicago, 1959).

Gloria Irving made just one other session that we know of, in Chicago for Cobra in 1957. She was accompanied on that occasion by a studio band assembled by Willie Dixon.


Sax Kari,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Gene Ammons,
From the collection of Armin Büttner

On April 15, Gene Ammonsreturned to the studio with the same combo he'd used in November 1952. Oddly, though, only one track was completed, a version of his signature number "Red Top." Maybe somebody showed up late?

Discographers have generally assumed that Jug used the same lineup as on his November 1952 session. However, a little over a month after laying down this one track, Ammons was arrested in Columbus, Ohio, after narcotics officers allegedly caught him dropping a home-made syringe on the floor of his car; his manager, Richard Carpenter, and the remaining members of his band were also held by the police. As noted Jet magazine (May 28, 1953, p. 53; our thanks to Nikolaus Schweizer for the reference), his sidemen on that road trip were Willie F. Wells (trumpet); Eutrice "Prince" Shell (valve trombone); Eugene Easton (baritone sax); John C. Huston (as Jet spelled it; piano); John W. Wright (bass); and George H. Brown (drums). Obviously, Gene Easton (who up through the end of 1952 had been a member of the Tommy Dean band) would be easy to confuse with the unrelated Mac Easton. As Allan Chase put it (post on the Saturn listserv, August 15, 1995), Shell "became disillusioned with the road after Ammons had a run-in with police."


Gene Ammons,
From the collection of Armin Büttner

Gene Ammons,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

In June the Ammons combo returned to cut four more tracks. The ballad "Stairway to the Stars" appeared on one side of United 164, with a lot of studio reverb applied. The other side, a blues, was titled "Jim Dog" on the original labels, but has been rendered "Jim Dawgs" ever since. "Jim Dog" was credited to an Easton, presumably Mac. On "Big Slam," a 7-minute marathon originally trimmed to 5 minutes and released on two sides of a 78, Mac Easton was persuaded to give up his native horn and pick up the tenor sax so he and Ammons could wage the de rigueur tenor battle. Mac was at a disadvantage in the contest (he can't open up his tone on the tenor, and sounds uncharacteristically stiff), so the results can't be compared with the legendary Ammons-Stitt or Ammons-Archia contests.

At least, we've assumed it was Mac Easton. However, the session took place not long after Jug and combo's ill-fated trip to Columbus. And Gene Easton stayed in the group for a while; Jug would get busted again in July 1954, shortly after starting a gig at the Powelton Bar in Baltimore, and Gene Easton, who was arrested along with him, was released after testing negative for opiates (Baltimore Afro-American, July 24, 1954, p. 9; again, we thank Nikolaus Schweizer for turning up this item). We suspect the lineup on this date was similar to the personnel on the Columbus gig, though perhaps Prince Shell had made his exit by this time (in his conversations with Allan Chase, he did not recall recording with Jug). However, Gene Easton should have been more comfortable on the tenor sax than the second tenorist sounds on "Big Slam."

United sought to release its Ammons material promptly, expecting decent sales. The company must have regretted Ammons' decision to return to the East Coast and renew his relationship with Prestige Records, where he would remain for the rest of his life. (If the identifications are accurate, Ammons remembered Mac Easton from his United sessions and brought him to New Jersey for his first two studio visits under the new contract, in November 1954 and Feburary 1955.) After United foundered, the three Gene Ammons sessions in its inventory would be snapped up by Savoy, which needed material to fill out an LP on him.


Gene Ammons,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Despite heroin addiction and a major toll in prison time under draconian drug laws (he was behind bars from 1962 to 1969), Gene Ammons became a standard-bearer for soul jazz. The combo that he led after being released from prison for the second time (1969-1970) included his one-time employer King Kolax. Gene Ammons died of cancer in Chicago on August 6, 1974.


Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith had been away for several months when he cut 7 tunes at his sixth session, on April 23, 1953; he used the lineup of Woods, Wright, probably Dillon, Middlebrooks, and Johnson. "Seven Up" is a pure bop vehicle for the Velvet Tenor: bop soloing and bop riffing, except for the one that the piece fades out on. (United messed up the label, crediting this number to the Fabulous Alto.) By this point in his development, Tab Smith had listened carefully to Charlie Parker and borrowed what appealed to him, but saw no need for revisionism in his approach to ballads (he never played tenor sax on them, either). Indeed, on "Cherry" he reproclaims his allegiance to Johnny Hodges. "Closin' Time" is another tenor sax vehicle, but now on the Lester Young model; it concludes with a duet for tenor and drums, discreetly egged on vocally by other members of the band. So far as we know, Tab Smith never shared a stage with Tom Archia; they could have had fun with this one.

A smooth baritone vocalist named Johnny Harper sang a duet with Smith on "I've Had the Blues All Day" (which was released); complementing the extremely urbane vocalizing on this uptempo blues was a hot solo, full of bop licks, on the Velvet Tenor, and a surprise bop trumpet solo by Irving Woods. Harper also appeared solo on a rather morose rendition of "Pennies from Heaven" (which wasn't released, and has sustained a few flecks of tape damage over the years); Tab's alto statement partly redeems it. (The Delmark CD reissue confuses Harper with Lou Blackwell, who had appeared on Tab's second session back in October 1951.) "I Live True to You," a new, decently written lounge ballad, is vehicle for the leader's crooning. It wasn't released, but another lounge ballad called "My Baby" did reach the store shelves, making it the last Tab Smith vocal that Leonard Allen would put out.


Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tab Smith,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tasso the Great,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Tasso the Great,
From thecollection of Tom Kelly

Tasso the Great was a proto-soul singer; "My Sympathy" is a musical cousin of "I'm Not Your Fool Anymore," which Walter Spriggs would cut for Blue Lake in 1954. "Ebony at Midnight" is a rather slick blues instrumental featuring a pretty good pianist, who we assume was Tasso himself. Tasso and band were responsible for two sides cut in late April 1953. United 150 was reviewed in Billboard on May 30, 1953 (p. 48). Besides the leader on piano the other pieces were alto sax, tenor sax (no solos from either), bass, and drums. The composer credits on both sides went to someone named Zachary. Dave Penny suggests that this was the same individual who put out an obscure release on Rosemay 605 at some point in the early 1950s; it included a jump number called "Louisville, KY," credited to Tasso Zachary & His Orch. (There was no apparent connection between "our" Tasso and one H. C. Cain, who recorded some Latin music for the Kain label out of Mobile, Alabama, as "Tasso (The Great) Kain and His Big Orch.").

After United went under, Bud Brandom would see enough commercial potential in the Tasso single to reissue it on his B&F label.


Tasso the Great,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Tasso the Great,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Debbie Andrews,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Debbie Andrews got her second opportunity on May 11, 1953, when she sang on four more sides for United. Remo Biondi helped out as arranger and conductor. The three sides that we have heard feature orchestral arrangements (for English horn and two clarinets, strings, guitar, and bass; on "When Your Lover Has Gone" an alto flute is the only wind, and a celeste is added) that venture beyond the usual pop trimmings of the day, and first-rate singing influenced by Ella Fitzgerald. It is a shame that Andrews' career apparently went no further than this session. The gloomy-Sunday number "Please Wait for Me" was written by Sax Kari.

The reissue of "Please Wait for Me" (on a 2004 Delmark CD of female vocalists who recorded for United and Regal) gives the matrix number as 1312—but the original release on United 154 says 1315, and the numbers in the vinyl match the numbers on the label.


Debbie Andrews,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Caravans,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Later in May the Caravans returned for another gospel session (their fourth for States).


The Caravans,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Junior Wells,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Junior Wells,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

On June 8, the company, which would have had to be blind not to notice the success Chess was enjoying with Little Walter Jacobs, decided to record its own down-home blues harpist. Amos "Junior" Wells was born in Memphis on December 9, 1934. After taking harmonica lessons from Junior Parker, who lived across the street, Junior Wells came to Chicago with his mother in 1947. Junior's squalling harmonica blowing and gritty, spunky blues singing epitomized Chicago bar band blues. After a youthful apprenticeship in the Aces and then the Muddy Waters band (when Little Walter went out on his own he took over the Aces, while Junior moved into his chair in Muddy's band, appearing on one of Muddy's sessions for Chess), he was ready to make his first sides as a leader for the States subsidiary. Wells was accompanied by the crème de la crème of Chicago blues musicians: Johnnie Jones on piano, Elmore James, Louis Myers, and David Myers on guitars, Willie Dixon on bass, and (we're not sure why) Odie Payne and Fred Below taking turns in the drum chair. (To our ears, Below is handling the drum kit on "Cut That Out," "Hoodoo Man" and "Junior's Wail," and Payne, his sound somewhat altered by being restricted to brushes, takes over on "Ways like an Angel," "Tomorrow Night," and "Eagle Rock.").


Junior Wells,
The first pressing of States 134. From the collection of Robert L. Campbell.

The result was some truly classic sides, most outstandingly Wells' first performance of "Hoodoo Man," which features as an added attraction ringing slide work by special guest guitarist Elmore James. (The labels on the initial issue spelled it "Hodo Man"; as Tom Ball has pointed out to us. In fact, the white-label DJ copies also give the title as "Hodo Man." Later pressings corrected it to "Somebody Hoodooed the Hoodoo Man"). Contemporary listeners may have to remind themselves that Junior was only 18 when the session was cut.


Junior Wells,
The later pressing, with a corrected title. From the collection of Robert L. Campbell.


Junior Wells,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Junior Wells,
The later pressing of States 134. From the collection of Robert L. Campbell.

Cliff Butler,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Cliff Butler brought The Doves up from Louisville again to back him on his second and last session for States, which took place on June 29. Although the tenor saxophonist may have been Dick Davis this time around, Butler once again used Red Saunders on drums and Jimmy Richardson on bass, along with Benny Holton at the piano. Butler made further recordings for Dot in 1953 (in Nashville) and around 1956 recorded a single for the Chicago-based Favorite label. Back in Nashville, he recorded for Nashboro (on the Nasco and Excello imprints) during 1957-58, ifollowed by a variety of one-off recordings for such labels as Zil, Nu-Sound, and Kit. Butler during the 1960s gravitated to gospel music and the ministry, and eventually headed his own church. He died in Louisville, on January 13, 1982.

For biographical and discographical information on Butler we drew from Keith S. Clements, "The Cliff Butler Story," Blues & Rhythm: The Gospel Truth 195 (December 2004), plus a sidebar in the same issue with discographical notes from Dan Kochakian and Bob Eagle.


Memphis Slim,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Memphis Slim,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Memphis Slim,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Leonard Allen contended that Memphis Slim only started selling for the company when he recorded the second, released version of "The Come Back" at his session of June 29, 1953. Maybe it just took record buyers a while to notice Slim's presence at United; artistically the blues veteran performed at a consistently high level throughout his association with the label. At his second session for United Slim carried a lineup of Jim Conley and Neal Green (tenor saxes), Matt Murphy (guitar), Curtis Mosely (bass), and Otho Allen (drums). Conley was the featured soloist on "The Cat Creeps," which may have been left on the shelf on account of its close relationship to "Night Train." It is hard to believe that this session was almost entirely passed over by reissue programs until the 2002 release of Delmark DE-762. (In our opinion, Slim did his very best work for Chicago indies: Hy-Tone, Miracle, Premium, and United—and the United sides have the best sonics of all.)


Memphis Slim,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Memphis Slim,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

On June 30, 1953, Duke Ellington's band was in Chicago, cutting four sides for Capitol at Universal Recording. Leonard Allen took advantage by booking time the same day and using Jimmy Hamilton, who had recorded for him back in January, as leader of a studio band to accompany a rising vocalist named Della Reese. In fact, this session was her recording debut.

The singer, whose full name was Delloreese Taliafaro, had previously performed at the Flame Lounge in Detroit. She came to Allen's attention while she was working the Idlewild resort on the opposite shore of Lake Michigan. Hamilton used some of the Duke's men and some of Red Saunders' musicians for the date. The personnel apparently consisted of Cat Anderson and Clark Terry (trumpets), Quentin Jackson (trombone—he is not mentioned on the Delmark releases but is clearly audible on the vocal sides, with and without plunger mute), Porter Kilbert (alto sax), Jimmy Hamilton (tenor sax and clarinet), Earl Washington (piano), and unidentified bass and drums. Hamilton, by the way, plays hardly any clarinet on the vocal numbers, just managing to sneak it into the tag on "Yes Indeed."

The two instrumental sides first appeared in the 1970s, when they were used to fill out a Delmark big band LP that mostly consisted of tracks that Ernie Fields and Cab Calloway had recorded for Regal.

Leonard Allen never released any of the vocal sides—this has to be one of the bigger missed opportunities during his company's history. Instead, as we have just learned in 2013, Sax Kari put them out on Great Lakes 1203. Whether Kari was supposed to get the sides initially, or released them only after Allen decided to pass on them, we don't know. But the Great Lakes 78 was mastered in Chciago and carries the matrix numbers from Universal Recording. In his liners to a recent CD collection of female vocalists who recorded for United and Regal, Bob Koester complained that "Yes Indeed" and "Blue and Orange Birds" "somehow got out the side door at United and appeared on a dollar LP," which he didn't care to name. We haven't located the LP, but if there was one, it was derived from the Great Lakes release, of which Koester seems unaware. At last, in 2004, all three vocal sides were made available on a Delmark CD. The bop-flavored "Blue and Orange Birds and Silver Bells" (a song that Della Reese has said she couldn't stand, although you would never know that from her performance on it) is another Sax Kari composition. Or so we have been told on the Delmark reissues; on the Great Lakes label, it is credited to Roswick and Hunt. The publication credit, however, goes to Kencee, which was Kari's house music company.


Nelda Dupuy,
From the collection of Dr. Robert Stallworth

Nelda Dupuy was born June 3, 1916 in New Orleans and raised in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Her mother, Delphine Jones, "taught me to play the classics on the piano. She played operas and sang, but I wasn't into that at all" (Dan Kochakian and Steve Gronda, "The Nelda Dupuy Story," Blues & Rhythm 256, January 2011, p. 12). Nelda wanted to play jazz. After graduating from Southern University, she moved to Chicago in 1937.

One of her first gigs was playing piano and singing at the Capitol Cocktail Lounge, next to the Chicago Theater. In 1941, she sang with a band led by trumpeter Walter Fuller; other band members were Omer Simeon (clarinet and alto sax), Rozelle Claxton (piano), Quinn Wilson (bass), and Joe Marshall, later replaced by Wilbert "Buddy" Smith (drums). In 1941, the band had a long engagement at Kelly's Stables in New York. When the gig ended, the band returned to Chicago and she stayed in New York for a while, playing and singing at Kelly's Stables and the Queens Terrace.

Returning to Chicago, she joined (more likely, rejoined) Local 208 in October 1942. Her 2-week contract with the 1111 Club was accepted and filed by Local 208 on October 15, 1942 (although the recording secretary spelled her last name "Dupree"); on November 5, her contract for 9 weeks at the 2530 Club was posted. She must have been a hit there because she signed another contract for 5 months that was posted on May 6, 1943. On October 5, 1944, she posted a 2-week contract with the Elbow Room. On April 19, 1945, she filed a 1-week contract at Silver Frolics (and finally got her last name spelled right). Dupuy continued to work regularly in Chicago.

In 1945, she married fellow pianist Jesse Purnell. After their son Ronnie died of cancer (in 1948 at the age of 2), Purnell's drinking worsened and they were divorced around 1951. "I left Jesse," she told Dan Kochakian, "because I couldn't live with no liquorhead" (p. 15).

By the time she recorded for Leonard Allen, on July 9, 1953, she had been performing in Chicago for 15 years, usually as a solo act. Allen recorded Dupuy because she was a friend (not his girlfriend, as has been previously reported). She lived next door to him for a number of years. The session was done at Boulevard Studio, and, related Allen, "We didn't put them out for sale. She just wanted some records to give to people where she played. She got the masters, because she paid for all of it." Contrary to his later recollection, Allen did put some promotion behind his friend. The Defender ran rare United promos on August 13 and 20, 1953, hailing the release of her disc of two original tunes, "Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself" and "Riding with the Blues." Billboard's "Rhythm and Blues Tattler" (a short paid column written by Dave Clark) had already mentioned the release in the August 1, 1953 issue (p. 38). And on August 22, Billboard reviewed the single (p. 46), albeit tepidly.

When the recording was done, Dupuy was probably playing the Character Club (indefinite contract accepted and filed on June 4). When the promos ran, "Nalda" Dupuy was working the Vanity Lounge; her indefinite contract, for a run that started August 12, was posted by Local 208 on August 20, 1953.

Dupuy stayed on the scene for many years after her one session for United. In the mid-1950s she enjoyed a long run in the Sirloin Lounge of the Stock Yard Inn. In June 1956, she was working Chez Paree (indefinite contract posted on June 7), and in September of that year she could be found at the Hucksters Club (2-week contract accepted and filed on September 6) and the Patio (indefinite contract posted on September 20). She would remain at the Patio for 10 years.

Nelda Dupuy's only other recording would be an extremely obscure LP that she made for JOB,in 1958, when United had closed it doors and Leonard Allen was in a temporary alliance with Joe Brown. She never played package shows or did much touring, but held down gigs in Chicago until 1996, when she decided to retire after a run at the Essex Hotel. Retaining her union membership, she received a 60 year certificate from the Chicago Federation of Musicians in 2002. When interviewed by Dan Kochakian, she was still living in Chicago at the age of 94.


Nelda Dupuy,
From the collection of Dr. Robert Stallworth

Guitarist Ikey "Ike" Perkins was born Ellsworth Perkins June 30, 1912, in St. Louis, and joined Local 208 in Chicago on April 4, 1940. At the time of this session he was leading a combo that played such clubs as the Majestic Lounge (4710 South Indiana), Strand Show Lounge (6325 South Cottage Grove), Avenue Lounge (64th and South Parkway), and the A&B Lounge (6310 South Cottage Grove). Rarely a headliner on recordings, he had been active in session work since 1946 (when he accompanied Big Joe Turner as a member of a Red Saunders combo). Perkins was still active in the music business into the early 1960s, but by time of his death (March 29, 1966) he was working as a mail clerk with an insurance company.


The Hornets,
From the collection of Dr. Robert Stallworth

The Hornets became famous in the 1980s for just one thing—singing on the most expensive vocal group collectible of all time. This was "I Can't Believe" b/w "Lonesome Baby" on States 127, the only record the group ever made. In 1988 three copies of their single surfaced on 45, and a copy was sold by a collector to a more well-heeled collector for the astronomical sum of $18,000. Or it may have been that two copies were sold to the same collector for $9,000 each, no one knows for sure. The rarity is certainly indicative of how many records Allen pressed up. States 127 is still rare on 78, though not nearly so much as on 45—and the surviving 78s appear to be white-label DJ copies.

The Hornets got together around 1951 at Cleveland Central High. Members were James "Sonny" Long (lead), Johnny Moore (tenor), Ben Iverson (baritone), and Gus Miller (bass). Their break, such as it was, came when an owner of a skating rink in Cleveland heard their performance and then took them to Chicago to United Records. The group recorded five sides at their one session, on August 12, 1953. Two of them—"Lonesome Baby," a driving jump tune, and "I Can't Believe," an Atlantic Records-style ballad—were released in November. The record did nothing and perhaps that is why Allen chose not to record the Hornets again.


The Hornets,
From the collection of Dr. Robert Stallworth

Their other three other songs—"Big City Bounce" (which probably was supposed to be titled "Big City Bound"), a jump with a nice bass lead by Gus Miller, "You Played the Game," a fine slow understated ballad, and "Reelin' and Rockin'," a rousing swinging jump—might have done something if released. But they did not come out till 1981, when all surviving Hornets tracks were included in a Japanese LP, along with material from the three sessions by Five C's.

Despite a tour of the Midwest, nothing much was happening for the Hornets, so when the Drifters asked Johnny Moore to join them he leaped at the opportunity, around Thanksgiving of 1954. His departure finished off the Hornets. Moore went on to become a mainstay in the legendary Drifters for some thirty years.

The Four Blazes were back for their fourth session on August 17, 1953; again, Eddie Chamblee was on hand as a guest. The emphasis on Tommy Braden's lead vocals was now set, though "All Night Long" is an exuberant Latin number with an ensemble vocal. "Air Mail Special" (which sat unreleased until 2002) is the Swing number originated by Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian; Eddie Chamblee is joined by the Blazes and, in Benny's honor, an unidentified clarinetist; Floyd McDaniel, using his best Charlie Christian manner, is a featured soloist on guitar.


Eddie Chamblee,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

After the Four Blazes finished work for the day, tenor sax man Eddie Chamblee completed the date with the group that had been his regular combo since 1951: John Young at the piano, Walter Scott on guitar, Ernie Shepard on bass, and Osie Johnson on drums. Leonard Allen put out just 4 sides on tenor sax man Chamblee, though he recorded a total of 10.

Edwin Leon Chamblee was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 24, 1920. He was brought up in Chicago, where he attended Wendell Phillips High and studied law at Chicago State University. From 1941 to 1946 he worked as a musician in Army bands; after his discharge he put together his own combo. His first notable work was on the Miracle label, particularly on the huge hit "Long Gone" by Sonny Thompson, which recorded for 1947. After Chamblee went out on his own in 1948, his records for Miracle and Premium sold well, and Lew Simpkins no doubt remembered him. (Chamblee also made an isolated session as a leader in January 1952 for Coral, a subsidiary of Decca; it used the same band as on this United session, with the addition of several horns.)


Eddie Chamblee,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Helen Thompson,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Helen Thompson,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

On August 31, Allen traveled to Detroit and recorded two female vocalists at the United Sound Studio: Helen Thompson and Terry Timmons. Thompson, who was from Atlanta, had earlier sung with Count Basie. Allen had high praise for "Going Down to Big Mary's." (We don't know who accompanied Thompson and Timmons, but the "M. King" who got half the composer credit for "All by Myself" was Maurice King, an established bandleader in Detroit.) Both tunes on Helen Thompson's second and last release, on States 138, were credited to her.


Helen Thompson,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Helen Thompson,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

A story in the Defender for September 17, 1953 reports on Timmons coming to Chicago's South Side to play at the Club Bagdad. Allowing for some schedule slippage before the press release appeared, the story refers to the August 31 recording session: "She recorded a session in Detroit last week for United Records. Included in the session was the Maurice King-Dave Clark tune, "My Last Cry," which looms to be a rhythm and blues hit." A&R man Dave Clark is the prime suspect as far as authorship is concerned. Also on the bill at the Club Bagdad were the Four Blazes. The release made sure to mention that they too were a United Recording act, their latest release being "The Perfect Woman."


Helen Thompson,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Helen Thompson,
The 45 version, on red vinyl. From the collection of Tom Kelly

About recording Terry Timmons, Leonard Allen said, "she could sing her can off." Timmons was born Teresa Walker in Cleveland, Ohio on April 12, 1927, and began singing while in high school. Her first professional experience was with the widely touring Paul Gayten, whose home base was New Orleans. Prior to recording for United, she appeared on Premium (which cut her first session in 1950), Mercury, and RCA Victor. By the time she signed with States, her career was already past its peak. She had been overshadowed by Dinah Washington, and RCA had dropped her from its roster after disappointing sales.


Terry Timmons
Terry Timmons. From the collection of Robert Pruter.

Jimmy Forrest
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

The last Jimmy Forrest session took place on September 7, 1953. Just two sides were cut, apparently in Saint Louis (supporting evidence: the sonics aren't up to Universal Recording's standards). The personnel isn't 100% clear here but appears to include Bart Dabney on trombone, Charles Fox on piano, Johnny Mixon on bass (some sources say Herschel Harris), and an unidentified drummer and percussionist. A "Night Train" derivative called "Flight 3-D" was released; another bebop outing, "Calling Dr. Jazz," was left in the box. United was about to lose Jimmy Forrest's services.


Jimmy Forrest pleads guilty, Jet, November 5, 1953
From Jet, November 5, 1953. Courtesy of Simon Evans.

The saxophonist's heroin habit had caught up with him. In November, Jet reported that he had pled guilty to selling narcotics and been sentenced to two years in jail. By the time Forrest got out, United was in its final decline and not in a good position to re-sign him.

Jimmy Forrest did very little recording over the next five years. He and his combo cut a single for Dot (said to be from 1954, but this is questionable) , and a single for Triumph around 1956 (some sources say the Triumph was made in Chicago). Both companies wanted him to recycle "Night Train"—on the Dot it was recast as a mambo. Forrest's career didn't recover till he moved to New York City in the late 1950s. From 1958 to 1963 his regular gig was in Harry Edison's group.

In December 1959, Forrest recorded two LPs worth of material for Bob Koester's Delmark label, which had recently moved to Chicago from St. Louis. The sessions included Harold Mabern on piano, Gene Ramey on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums; guitarist Grant Green also appeared on some of the tracks. From 1960 to 1962 Forrest recorded five LPs as a leader for Prestige. But two heart attacks would sideline him during the second half of the decade. From 1972 to 1977 he was a member of the Count Basie band, where he replaced Lockjaw Davis; in 1977 he left Basie to work in a combo with trombonist Al Grey. Jimmy Forrest recorded his last album as a leader in 1978 and died in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on August 26, 1980.


The Staple
Singers,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

The Staple Singers—Roebuck ("Pop") Staples, Pervis, Cleo, and Mavis Staples—were not a big act when they were with Allen, who first recorded them in September 1953. The company saw fit to release only two sides by the group, in 1954. Leonard Allen could not see their potential, making no use of Roebuck's magnificent blues guitar accompaniment. Surely the Staple Singers represent the biggest of United's missed opportunities. After moving on to Vee-Jay, they became one of the most famous acts in gospel music.


The Staple Singers,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Jimmy Coe,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

For his second and last session for States, which took place on October 17, Jimmy Coe used the same lineup as on February 1, with the addition of superguest Remo Biondi on rhythm guitar and violin (Biondi is a featured soloist on "Lady Take Two"). The LP that Delmark eventually assembled from Coe's sessions is one of the high points in the United/States legacy; it seamlessly blends excellent jazz with humorous novelty R&B. (On "Raid on the After Hours Joint" Leonard Allen takes a cameo role as a policeman.)


Jimmy Coe,
From the collection of Robert L. Campbell

Jimmy Coe recorded only sporadically after his year with States. He spent many years teaching music in the Indianapolis public schools, during which time he remained attentive to changes in jazz and R&B and continued to play on the side. He began working with his 17-piece big band around 1965. He recorded as a leader in 1987 and 1993 for the Time label, and appeared on CDs by drummer Jack Gilfoy and guitarist Paul Weeden (each recorded and issued in 2000). He undertook his first tour of Europe in 2002, when he was over 80. Jimmy Coe died in Indianapolis on February 26, 2004.


Jimmy Coe,
From the collection of Billy Vera

T. J. Fowler,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

Blues pianist T. J. Fowler was born 18 September 1910 in Columbus, Georgia. He was a Detroit-based musician, who prior to hooking up at States, recorded in Detroit for Paradise and Sensation during 1948-49 (some of the Sensation material was unloaded to National and later Savoy). He recorded for Savoy in 1952.

Fowler brought his own group for the States session, which took place on November 10. Billed as "The Band That Rocks the Blues," it consisted of Detroit musicians Frank Taylor (vocals and alto sax), Dezi McCullers (trumpet), Walter Cox (tenor sax), Eugene Taylor (bass), and Floyd "Bubbles" McVay (drums). "What's the Matter Now" featured Frank Taylor's vocal; the other material that we have been able to hear was instrumental. A previously unissued item from the Fowler session, "Take Off," appeared in 2002 on a Delmark collection titled Honkers and Bar Walkers Volume 3, on the strength of Walter Cox's tenor sax solo.

Back home in Detroit, on December 21, 1953 Fowler and a somewhat different lineup (still featuring Walter Cox on tenor sax) backed T-Bone Walker on four sides for Imperial. Fowler would record just one more session as a leader after laying down the States sides, for Bow in 1958.


T. J. Fowler,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

On November 17, Tab Smith was back to cut six more sides with Irving Woods (trumpet), Charlie Wright and Robert Darby (tenor and baritone saxes), Teddy Brannon (piano), Wilfred Middlebrooks (bass), and Walter Johnson (drums). "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," a heartfelt tribute to Tab's idol that would make any Ellingtonian proud, wouldn't see issue for 44 years. "Imagination" and "Don't Take Your Love from Me" are two more great slow-dancing ballads, although Teddy Brannon's piano solo on the latter is strictly cocktail. Tab was trying out singers on this occasion. "I'm a Bouncing Mama" features an excellent female vocalist (and a Lestorian alto solo) on an updated version of Count Basie's "Boogie Woogie." It's too bad the combo didn't record more numbers like this. The same singer turns in a good rendition of the old sentimental ballad "For Only You," joined by Tab himself on the final A section, and does nicely with "They Call Me a Fool," a more contemporary sentimental ballad.


A second Terry Timmons session, done on November 30 in Chicago, was left in the can. Allen explained that Al Smith was carrying on a relationship with Timmons, and insisted on playing bass on the session. Allen wanted veteran Ransom Knowling, but said Allen, "I know Al can't play no bass. So he screwed up the goddam session with the girl, and I ain't got enough spunk to tell him to get off and let Ransom get on." While Al lacked distinction on his instrument, which a host of musical witnesses have said he did not know how to tune, there are plenty of released tracks from other sessions that he manages not to drag down. The two tracks that are finally available on CD reveal a band that is too recessed in the studio, with a dull, thudding bassist, but the singer is in excellent voice, the songs are right for her, and the results are quite listenable. The lineup seems to be Harold Ashby, tenor sax; Mac Easton, baritone sax; unidentified, piano; probably Lefty Bates, guitar; Al Smith, bass; and probably Al Duncan, drums. It's hard to believe, but this session, which lay completely unreleased till 2004, was the very last that Terry Timmons would make. In fact, by 1955 she was no longer performing regularly. Terry Timmons died of cirrhosis of the liver on August 3, 1970, in Cleveland.

On the same date, Allen also became the first to record Ernie K-Doe (1936 - 2001), who was living and performing in Chicago at the time under his real name, Ernest Kador. K-Doe spent nearly his entire life in New Orleans, but in 1953, after winning several singing and dancing competitions back home, he came to Chicago for a brief time to live with his mother. He met the Four Blazes at the Crown Propeller Lounge; the Blazes introduced him to A&R man Dave Clark, who was doing some work for United at the time and supervised the session. In early November he was singing at the Apex Counry Club in Robbins, Illinois (13624 Claire Blvd) as "Ernest Kado." The Chicago Defender ad (12 November) was already billing him as "United Recording Artist."

Apparently the teenaged performer did not show enough promise, because Allen left the session in the can. Besides, this was the same session on which Al Smith allegedly messed up the four Terry Timmons numbers. It appears to use the same band as the Timmons sides, minus the baritone saxophonist; once again, the sound and balance are not up to Universal's customary standard. K-Doe was still somewhat immature as a singer; on the session he seems to be emulating the tenor voice of Andrew Tibbs, who was also 17 when he first recorded for Aristocrat. Changes in styles over the years have turned "Process Blues" (in which the singer celebrates the irresistible appeal of his newly straightened hair) unintentionally comical. The only number with a New Orleans flavor is the bouncy "Get out of Here Woman." Ernie K-Doe scored a huge hit in 1961 with "Mother in Law," recorded in New Orleans.


The Five C's,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

The Five Cs, from Gary, Indiana, were brought to Allen by local deejay Sam Evans of "Jam with Sam" fame. The Five Cs were Clarence Anderson, Curtis "Tab" Nevils, Melvin Carr, Carlos Patterson, and Harvey "Clyde" Honey. The Five Cs started out as the Three Cs in Froebel High. Upon graduation in 1953, they came under the management of Sam Evans (a friend of Anderson was a close relative of Evans), who added two more members to make the Five Cs. Unlike the others, Honey had not attended Froebel (he went to Roosevelt High), and was lacking a "C" in his name, so the group nicknamed him "Clyde." The group found employment in the local steel mills. They hired a local band in Gary to accompany them for a session they booked themselves at Universal on December 4. (The bassist may be playing the new-fangled "electronic" instrument; the guitarist lays down some excellent blues.) Evans took the sides to United.


The Five C's,
From the collection of Tom Kelly

"Tell Me" is a bouncy poppish doowop, which received good play in Los Angeles, and it got the group its first notices during the initial months of 1954. In Gary, the group played a teen dance at the Majestic; they also appeared with Muddy Waters at the Playdium Ballroom.


Matrix Artist Title Release Number Recording Date Release Date
1175 Billy Ford and His Night Riders You Foxie Thing United 142 January 6, 1953 c. February 1953
1176 Billy Ford and His Night Riders Smooth Rocking United 142 January 6, 1953 c. February 1953
1177 Billy Ford and His Night Riders Confessin' United 167 January 6, 1953 c. January 1954
1178 Billy Ford and His Night Riders untitled unissued January 6, 1953
1179 Billy Ford and His Night Riders Old Age United 167 January 6, 1953 c. January 1954
1180 Billy Ford and His Night Riders Fool around with You unissued January 6, 1953
1181 Debbie Andrews and the Musketeers | Jack Hellerin [sic], Vocal Director Don't Make Me Cry United 144 January 15, 1953 March 1953
1182 Debbie Andrews and the Musketeers | Jack Hellerin, Vocal Director Love Me Please Love Me United 144 January 15, 1953 March1953
1183-7 The Dozier Boys Featuring Voices and Alto Linger Awhile United 143, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD] August 1952 / January 22, 1953 March 1953
1185-3 The Dozier Boys Laughing in Rhythm P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD] August 1952/ January 22, 1953
1193-11 The Dozier Boys Do You Ever Think of Me? P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD] August 1952 / January 22, 1953
1194 The Dozier Boys Just My Speed unissued August 1952 / January 22, 1953
1184-1 The Dozier Boys Early Morning Blues [Woke Up One Early Morning*] United 163, P-Vine [J] Special PLP 9044*, United U-114 [CD] January 15/22, 1953 December 1953
1186 The Dozier Boys Jitterbug Waltz unissued January 15, 1953
1187-2-2 on 78
; 1187-16
The Dozier Boys Featuring Voices and Alto I Keep Thinking of You United 143, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD] January 15/22, 1953 March 1953
1192-8 The Dozier Boys Cold, Cold Rain [Cold Rain Is Falling*] United 163, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9044*, United U-114 [CD] January15/22, 1953 December 1953
1188 Jimmy Hamilton Too Soon unissued January 15, 1953 [Detroit]
1189 Jimmy Hamilton Ellington Theft unissued January 15, 1953 [Detroit]
1190 Jimmy Hamilton | Mighty Man of The Tenor Sax Big Fifty States 113 January 15, 1953 [Detroit] c. February 1953
1191 Jimmy Hamilton with Emit [sic] Slay and The Slay Riders Rockaway Special States 113 January 15, 1953 [Detroit] c. February 1953
1195-2 on 78; 1195 on 45; 1195-8 Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm After Hour Joint* [After Hours Joint] States 118*, P-Vine [J] PLP-9037, Delmark DL-438, Delmark DL-443, Delmark DD-438 February 1, 1953 June 1953
1196 Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm Run Jody Run States 155, Delmark DL-443, Blue Moon BMCD 6010, United U-163 [CD] February 1, 1953 c. March 1956
1197-2 on 78; 1197 on 45 Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm | Vocal by Helen Fox Baby I'm Gone States 118, Delmark DL-443 February 1, 1953 June1953
1198 Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm What Will I Tell My Heart? Delmark DL-443 February 1, 1953
1199; 1199-2 Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm The Jet
[Fast Blues*]
States 155, P-Vine [J] PLP-9037*, Delmark DL-438*, Delmark DL-443*, Delmark DD-438* February 1, 1953 c. March 1956
1247-7 Jimmy Forrest His Tenor and All Star Combo Mrs. Jones' Daughter United 145, United LP 002, Delmark DD-435 February 3, 1953 March 1953
1248-2 Jimmy Forrest Dig Those Feet Delmark DD-435 February 3, 1953
1249-4 Jimmy Forrest His Tenor and All Star Combo Mr. Goodbeat United 145, United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435 February 3, 1953 March 1953
1250-4 Jimmy Forrest Begin the Beguine Delmark DD-435 February 3, 1953
1251 The Four Blazes | Lindsley Holt Floyd McDaniels William Hill | Thomas Braden, Vocal Not Any More Tears United 146, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD] February 3, 1953 March 1953
1252-6 The Four Blazes | Lindsley Holt Floyd McDaniels William Hill | Thomas Braden, Vocal My Hats [sic] on the Side of My Head* [My Hat's On the Side of My Head] United 146*, P-Vine Special [J] PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD] February 3, 1953 March 1953
1253 Four Blazes (Vocal by Thomas Braden) Ella Louise United 158, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD] February 3, 1953 September1953
1254 Four Blazes (Vocal by Thomas Braden) Perfect Woman United 158, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD] February 3, 1953 September 1953
1255-3 Eddie Chamblee Caravan Delmark DE-542 [CD] February 3, 1953
1256-2 Eddie Chamblee It Ain't Necessarily Blues Delmark DE-542 [CD] February 3, 1953
1257 Four Blazes Snag the Britches Delmark DE-704 [CD] February 3, 1953
1258-4 Bixie Crawford I'm Still in Love with You United 155, Delmark DE-554 [CD] February 12, 1953 August 1953
1259-1 Bixie Crawford Never to Cry Again United 155, Delmark DE-554 [CD] February 12, 1953 August 1953
1260-6 Bixie Crawford Fallen Delmark DE-554 [CD] February 12, 1953
1261 Bixie Crawford Bixie's Blues unissued February 12, 1953
1266-12 Jack Cooley and his Orchestra Could But I Ain't States 125, B&F 1342, Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717 [CD] February 16, 1953 October 1953
1267-9 Jack Cooley and his Orchestra Rain on My Window States 125, B&F 1342, Pearl PL-17, Delmark DE-717 [CD] February 16, 1953 October 1953
1268 Tiny Murphy Merry Widow unissued February 23, 1953
1269 Tiny Murphy Blue Roses United 169 February 23, 1953 February 1954
1270 Tiny Murphy Boogie Jive unissued February 23, 1953
1271 Tiny Murphy I Haven't Got a Teardrop Left to Care unissued February 23, 1953
1272 Tiny Murphy Honky Tonk Angels United 169 February 23, 1953 February 1954
1273 Tiny Murphy Liebestraum unissued February 23, 1953
1274
(1274-2 on 78)
Swinging Sax Kari and Orchestra (vocal: Gloria Irving) Daughter (That's Your Red Wagon) States 115 February 23, 1953 [Detroit] March 1953
1275
(1275-2 on 78)
Swinging Sax Kari and Orchestra Down for Debbie States 115, Delmark DE-542 February 23, 1953 [Detroit] March 1953
1276-4 Chris Woods and his Orchestra Brazil United 151, Delmark DL-434 February 24, 1953 June 1953
1277-2 Chris Woods and his Orchestra Somebody Done Stole My Blues Delmark DL-434, Delmark DD-775 February 24, 1953
1277-6 Chris Woods and his Orchestra Somebody Done Stole My Blues Delmark DL-434 February 24, 1953
1278-2 Chris Woods and his Orchestra Bo Bo Delmark DL-434 February 24, 1953
1279-6 Chris Woods and his Orchestra You Got to Move Delmark DL-434 February 24, 1953
1280-2 Chris Woods and his Orchestra Where or When Delmark DL-434 February 24, 1953
1280-3 Chris Woods and his Orchestra Where or When Delmark DL-434 February 24, 1953
1281-2 Chris Woods and his Orchestra Blues for Lew United 151, Delmark DL-434 February 24, 1953 June 1953
1282
1284 on label (on 78)
Johnny Holiday |
Arranged and Conducted by Dennis Farnow [sic] (on 78)
Arranged and Conducted by Dennis Farnon (on 45)
With All My Heart United 148 Feb-Mar. 1953 March 1953
1283 Johnny Holiday unidentified title unissued Feb.-Mar. 1953
1284
1282 on label (on 78)
Johnny Holiday |
Arranged and Conducted by Dennis Farnow [sic] (on 78)
Arranged and Conducted by Dennis Farnon (on 45)
Why Should I Cry United 148 Feb.-Mar. 1953 March 1953
1285




1286 Tab Smith Music Styled by Tab Smith United LP 001 (10" LP Side A)

1287 Tab Smith Music Styled by Tab Smith United LP 001 (10" LP Side B)

1288




1289




1290-3 Roosevelt Sykes and his Honeydrippers Come Back Baby United 152, Delmark DE-642 [CD] March 19, 1953 July 1953
1291-1 Roosevelt Sykes Been through the Mill Delmark DE-642 [CD] March 19, 1953
1292-3 Roosevelt Sykes Ruthie Lee P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD] March 19, 1953
1293-7 Roosevelt Sykes and his Honeydrippers Tell Me True United 152, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD] March 19, 1953 July 1953
1294-5 Roosevelt Sykes 44 Blues Delmark DE-642 [CD] March 19, 1953
1295-3 Roosevelt Sykes Boogie Sykes P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9039, Delmark DL-642, Delmark DE-642 [CD] March 19, 1953
1296-1 Eddie Ware The Stuff I Like [That's the Stuff I Love*] States 130, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9040, Delmark DE-717 [CD] March 19, 1953 c. December 1953
1297-3 Eddie Ware Lonely Broken Heart States 130, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9040, Delmark DE-717 [CD] March 19, 1953 c. December 1953
1298-2 Swinging Sax Kari and Orchestra | Vocal by: Gloria Irving Henry States 117 March 31, 1953 [Detroit] May 1953
1299 Sax Kari Money Money unissued March 31, 1953 [Detroit]
1300-2 Swinging Sax Kari and Orchestra | Vocal by: Gloria Irving You Let My Love Grow Cold States 117 March 31, 1953 [Detroit] May 1953
1301 Sax Kari One Room Blues unissued March 31, 1953 [Detroit]
1302 Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra Red Top United 149, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD] April 15, 1953 May 1953
1303 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Seven Up United 162, Saxophonograph BP511, Delmark DD-455 April 23, 1953 October 1953
1304 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra | Vocal by Johnny Harper & TabSmith I've Had the Blues All Day United153, Delmark DD-455 April 23, 1953 July 1953
1305 Tab Smith Pennies from Heaven Delmark DD-455 April 23, 1953
1306 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra Cherry United 153, Saxophonograph BP511, Delmark DD-455 April 23, 1953 July 1953
1307 Tab Smith I Live True to You Delmark DD-455 April 23,1953
1308 Tab Smith Closin' Time Delmark DD-455 April 23, 1953
1309 Tab Smith His Fabulous Alto and Orchestra | Vocal by Tab Smith My Baby United 174, Saxophonograph BP 511, Delmark DD-455 April 23, 1953 c. April 1954
1310 Tasso the Great and his Combo
(on some 78s: Tasso the Great and his Combo;
on others: Tasso the Great and his Combo and Orchestra)
Ebony after Midnight United 150, B&F 1338 April 1953 May 1953
1311 Tasso the Great and his Combo
(on some 78s: Tasso the Great;
on others: Tasso the Great and his Combo)
My Sympathy United 150, B&F 1338 April 1953 May 1953
1312 Vocal by Debbie Andrews | Arr. and Conducted by Remo Biondi Call Me Darling United 154, Delmark DE-554 [CD] May 11, 1953 July 1953
1313-5 Debbie Andrews When Your Lover Has Gone Delmark DE-554 [CD] May 11, 1953
1314 Debbie Andrews Little Brown Book unissued May 11, 1953
1315-10 Vocal by Debbie Andrews | Arr. and Conducted by Remo Biondi Please Wait for Me United 154 May 11, 1953 July 1953
1316 Caravans (Solo Nellie G. Daniels) What a Friend We Have in Jesus States 128, Gospel MG 3009 May 1953 1953
1317 Caravans It's Real Gospel MG 3009 May 1953
1318 Caravans | Nellie Grace Daniels, Soloist Why Should I Worry States 119, Gospel MG 3009 May 1953 July 1953
1319 Caravans When I Get Home Gospel MG 3009 May 1953
1320 Caravans I Wanna See Jesus Gospel MG 3009 May 1953
1321 Caravans In a Little While unissued May 1953
1322 Caravans Jesus Knows unissued May 1953
1323 Caravans | Albertina Walker, Soloist On My Way Home States 119 May 1953 July 1953
1324 Caravans Do You Know Jesus unissued May 1953
1325-3 Junior Wells Cut That Out Delmark DD-775 June 8, 1953 August 1953
1325-4 Junior Wells Cut That Out States 122, Delmark DL-640, P-Vine [J] PLP-379, Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164 June 8, 1953 August 1953
1326-5 Junior Wells Ways like an Angel Delmark DL-640, P-Vine [J] PLP-379, Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164 June 8, 1953
1327-2 Junior Wells and his Eagle Rockers Hodo Man (first pressing)
Somebody Hoodooed the Hoodoo Man (later pressings)
[Hoodoo Man*]
States 134, Delmark DL-640*, P-Vine [J] PLP-379*, Delmark DD-640*, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164* June 8, 1953 April 1954
1328-4 Junior Wells Tomorrow Night States 143, Boogie Disease BD 101/102, Delmark DL-640, P-Vine [J] PLP-379, Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164 June 8, 1953 c. December 1954
1329-4 Junior Wells Eagle Rock Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164 June 8, 1953 August 1953
1329-5 Junior Wells Eagle Rock States 122, Delmark DL-640, P-Vine [J] PLP-379, Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164 June 8, 1953 August 1953
1330-2 Junior Wells Junior's Wail Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164 June 8, 1953 April 1954
1330-3 Junior Wells and his Eagle Rockers Junior's Wail States 134, Delmark DL-640, P-Vine [J] PLP-379, Delmark DD-640, P-Vine [J] PCD-20164 June 8, 1953 April 1954
1331 Gene Ammons his Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra Fuzzy United 185, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD] June 1953 c. November 1954
1332 Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra Stairway to the Stars United 164, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD] June 1953 c. January 1954
1333 Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra Jim Dog United 164, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD] June 1953 c. January 1954
1334A Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra Big Slam Part I United 175, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD] June 1953 c. April 1954
1334B Gene Ammons His Golden Toned Tenor and Orchestra Big Slam Part II United 175, Savoy 14033, Savoy 1103, Savoy SV-0242 [CD] June 1953 c. April 1954
1335-3 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers The Come Back United 156, Delmark DE-762 [CD] June 29, 1953 July 1953
1336-1 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers Five O'Clock Blues Delmark DE-762 [CD] June 29, 1953
1336-2 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers Five O'Clock Blues United 156, Delmark DE-762 [CD] June 29, 1953 July 1953
1337-3 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers Call before You Go Home United 166, Delmark DE-762 [CD] June 29, 1953 c. January 1954
1338-5 Memphis Slim and His House Rockers This Is My Lucky Day United 166, Delmark DE-762 [CD] June 29, 1953 c. January 1954
1339-2 Memphis Slim and His House Rockers Smooth Sailin' Delmark DE-762 [CD] June 29, 1953
1340-3 Memphis Slim and His House Rockers St. Louis Woman Delmark DE-762 [CD] June 29, 1953
1341-1 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers I Love My Baby United 182, Vogue [Fr] 17004 June 29, 1953 c. September1954
1342-1 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers The Cat Creeps Delmark DE-542 [CD] June 29, 1953
1342-2 Memphis Slim and his House Rockers The Cat Creeps Delmark DE-762 [CD] June 29,1953
1343 Cliff Butler and his Doves People Will Talk States 123, United U-163 [CD] June 29, 1953 July 1953
1344 Cliff Butler TB unissued June 29, 1953
1345-2 Cliff Butler and his Blue Boys Jealous Hearted Woman States 148, P-Vine Special PLP 9045, Pearl PL-17, United U-163 [CD], Delamark DE-717 [CD] June 29, 1953 c. May 1955
1346 Cliff Butler and his Doves When You Love States 123, United U-163 [CD] June 29, 1953 July 1953
1347-6 Della Reese with Jimmie Hamilton [sic] & Orch. Blue and Orange Birds (and Silver Bells) Great Lakes 1203, Delmark DE-554 [CD] June 30, 1953
1348-6 Della Reese with Jimmy Hamilton Orchestra There Will Never Be Another You Delmark DE-554 [CD] June 30, 1953
1349 Jimmy Hamilton Orchestra Love Comes but Once Delmark DL-439, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9041 June 30, 1953
1350-5 Della Reese with Jimmy Hamilton Orchestra Yes Indeed [alt.] Delmark DE-554 [CD] June 30, 1953
1350-6 Della Reese with Jimmie Hamilton [sic] & Orch. Yes Indeed Great Lakes 1203, Delmark DE-554 [CD], Delmark DD-775 June 30, 1953
1351 Jimmy Hamilton Orchestra Blues in Your Flat Delmark DL-439, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9041 June 30, 1953
1352 Nelda Dupuy and Ike Perkins Orchestra Can I Depend on You unissued July 9, 1953
[Boulevard Studios]

1353 Nelda Dupuy and Ike Perkins Orchestra I Didn't Do Nothin' Wrong unissued July 9, 1953
[Boulevard Studios]

1354 Nelda Dupuy and Ike Perkins Orchestra Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself United 157 July 9, 1953
[Boulevard Studios]
July 1953
1355 Nelda Dupuy and Ike Perkins Orchestra Riding with the Blues United 157 July 9, 1953
[Boulevard Studios]
July 1953
1356-8 The Hornets and Orchestra Lonesome Baby States 127, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9036, Delmark DE-703 [CD], United U-163 [CD] August 12, 1953 November 1953
1357-1 The Hornets You Played the Game P-Vine [J] Special PLP-9036, Delmark DE-703 [CD], United U-163 [CD] August 12, 1953
1358-9 The Hornets Ridin' and Rockin' P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9036, Delmark DE-703 [CD], United U-163 [CD] August 12, 1953
1359-2 The Hornets and Orchestra I Can't Believe States 127, P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9036, Delmark DE-703 [CD], United U-163 [CD] August 12, 1953 November 1953
1360-5 The Hornets Big City Bound P-Vine [J] Special PLP-9036, Delmark DE-703 [CD], United U-163 [CD] August 12, 1953

unidentified blues artist It unissued August 1953

unidentified blues artist Chicago unissued August 1953
1361 The Four Blazes Never Start Living Delmark DE-704 [CD] August 17, 1953
1362 The Four Blazes Lovin' Man Delmark DE-704 [CD] August 17, 1953
1363-8 The Four Blazes | Vocal by Thomas Braden My Great Love Affair United 168, P-Vine Special PLP 9044, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD] August 17, 1953 January 1954
1364-1 Eddie Chamblee Air Mail Special Delmark DE-542 [CD] August 17, 1953
1365 The Four Blazes All Night Long United 168, United U-114 [CD], Delmark DE-704 [CD] August 17, 1953 January 1954
1366-4 The Four Blazes Raggedy Ride Delmark DE-704 [CD], Delmark DD-775 August 17, 1953
1367-2 The Rockin' and Walkin' Rhythm of Eddie Chamblee Walkin' Home United 160, Delmark DE-542 [CD] August 17, 1953 October 1953
1368-3 Eddie Chamblee Spider Web Delmark DE-542 [CD] August 17, 1953
1369-2 The Rockin' and Walkin' Rhythm of Eddie Chamblee Lonesome Road United 160, Delmark DE-542 [CD] August 17, 1953 October 1953
1370 Helen Thompson You Better Watch That Man unissued August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]

1371 Helen Thompson and Orchestra All by Myself States 126 August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
November 1953
1372-1 Helen Thompson and Orchestra Going Down to Big Mary's [alt.] Delmark DE-554 [CD] August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]

1372-? Helen Thompson and Orchestra Going Down to Big Mary's States 126 August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
November 1953
1373 Helen Thompson and Orchestra My Baby's Gone States 138 August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
May 1954
1374 Helen Thompson and Orchestra Troubled Woman States 138 August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
May 1954
1375 Terry Timmons My Last Cry United 161 August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
October 1953
1376 Terry Timmons Hold Me United 161 August 31, 1953
[United Sound Studio, Detroit]
October 1953
1377-2 Jimmy Forrest and his All Star Combo Flight 3-D Delmark DL-438, Delmark DD-438 September 7, 1953
[St. Louis]

1377-4 Jimmy Forrest and His All Star Combo Flight 3-D United 173, United LP 002, Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435 September 7, 1953
[St. Louis]
c. March 1954
1378-2 Jimmy Forrest Calling Dr. Jazz Delmark DL-435, Delmark DD-435 September 7, 1953
[St. Louis]

1379 The Staple Singers Revive Us Again Gospel MG 3001 September 1953
1380 The Staple Singers Won't You Sit Down United 165, Gospel MG 3001 September 1953 December 1953
1381 The Staple Singers Tell Heaven Gospel MG 3001 September 1953
1382 The Staple Singers It Rained Children United 165, Gospel MG 3001 September 1953 December 1953
1383 The Staple Singers I Just Can't Keep It to Myself Gospel MG 3001 September 1953
1384-5 Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm Organ Grinder Delmark DL-443, Delmark DD-775 October 17, 1953
1385 Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm Empty Bed Delmark DL-443 October 17, 1953
1386 Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm | Vocal by Helen Fox He's Alright with Me States 129, Delmark DL-443 October 17, 1953 December 1953
1387 Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm Raid on the After Hour Joint States 129, Delmark DL-443 October 17, 1953 December 1953

Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm | Vocal by Helen Fox A Fool Was I Delmark DL-443, Delmark DE-554 [CD] October 17, 1953

Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm | Vocal by Helen Fox How Deep Is the Ocean? Delmark DL-443, Delmark DE-554 [CD] October 17, 1953

Jimmy Coe and his Gay Cats of Rhythm Lady Take Two Delmark DL-443 October 17, 1953
1388 T. J. Fowler Liza unissued November 10, 1953
1389-1 T. J. Fowler and his Band That Rocks the Blues The Queen States 132, Delmark DE-542 November 10, 1953 c. February 1954
1390-5 T. J. Fowler Take Off Delmark DE-542 November 10, 1953
1391 T. J. Fowler Black Clouds unissued November 10, 1953
1392 T. J. Fowler Calhoun Love Joy unissued November 10, 1953
1393 T. J. Fowler and his Band That Rocks the Blues | Vocal Frank Taylor Tell Me What's the Matter States 132 November 10, 1953 c. February 1954
1394 Tab Smith Don't Get around Much Anymore Delmark DE-499 [CD] November17, 1953
1395 Tab Smith They Call Me a Fool Delmark DE-499 [CD] November 17, 1953
1396 Tab Smith I'm a Bouncin' Mama Delmark DE-499 [CD] November 17, 1953
1397 Tab Smith For Only You Delmark DE-499 [CD] November 17, 1953
1398 Tab Smith Don't Take Your Love from Me Delmark DE-499 [CD] November 17, 1953
1399 Tab Smith Imagination Delmark DE-499 [CD] November 17, 1953
1400 Terry Timmons Cool Wailing unissued November 30, 1953
1401 Terry Timmons Early Every Morning unissued November 30, 1953
1402-6 Terry Timmons I Can't Forget Delmark DE-554 [CD] November 30, 1953
1403-1 Terry Timmons Somebody Will Understand Delmark DE-554 [CD] November 30, 1953
1404-7 Ernest Kador Process Blues P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9045, Delmark DE-715 [CD] November 30, 1953
1405-4 Ernest Kador Get out of Here Woman P-Vine Special [J] PLP-9045, Delmark DE-715 [CD] November 30, 1953
1406-3 Ernest Kador Too Drunk to Drink Delmark DE-715 [CD] November 30, 1953
1407-5 Ernest Kador Talking to the Blues Delmark DE-715 [CD] November 30, 1953
1408-7 The Five C's Tell Me United 172, P-Vine [J] PLP-9036, United U-143 [CD], Delmark DE-776 [CD] December 4, 1953 February 1954
1409-4 The Five C's Whoo-wee Baby P-Vine [J] PLP-9036, United U-143 [CD] December 4, 1953
1409-5 The Five C's Whoo-wee Baby United 172, P-Vine [J] PLP-9036, United U-143 [CD], Delmark DE-776 [CD] December 4, 1953 February 1954

In 1953, United and States laid down 199 sides, if we count usable alternate takes. But the firm's recording activity slackened in the second half of the year, after Lew Simpkins' death. And some commercially viable sessions (starting with Della Reese's debut) were allowed to sit unused. Much of the material recorded during the fourth quarter was left in the can: not just the Terry Timmons and Ernest Kador sides allegedly spoiled by Al Smith, but an entire 6-tune session by old reliable Tab Smith that sounds great on CD. (Maybe Leonard Allen didn't care for the female vocalist on the three of the sides, but she sounds pretty good to us.) As it turns out, the two labels had four more years to go, but they would never again produce so much in the studio.

Click here for Part II of the United/States story.


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