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Alonzo Ross (And his Syncopators?)

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  • Nessa Church
    Here s another query. Does Anyone have any more info about this group? I know that they worked the Miami to New York circuit. Beyond that, I have no info.
    Message 1 of 18 , Sep 26, 2005
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      Here's another query. Does Anyone have any more info
      about this group? I know that they worked the Miami
      to New York circuit. Beyond that, I have no info.
      Does anyone know who was in the group? did they make
      any recordings? When did they form? When did they
      break up? This question comes from a listener and I
      am stumped.
      I love all the discussions about this, my favourite
      music!
      Thanks
      Nessa



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    • Agustín Pérez
      ... Check this page at RedHotJazz: http://www.redhotjazz.com/ross.html Best wishes, Agustín Pérez Madrid (Spain)
      Message 2 of 18 , Sep 26, 2005
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        --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, Nessa Church <TradjazzDJ@y...> wrote:
        > Here's another query. Does Anyone have any more info
        > about this group? I know that they worked the Miami
        > to New York circuit. Beyond that, I have no info.
        > Does anyone know who was in the group? did they make
        > any recordings? When did they form? When did they
        > break up? This question comes from a listener and I
        > am stumped.
        > I love all the discussions about this, my favourite
        > music!
        > Thanks
        > Nessa
        >


        Check this page at RedHotJazz:

        http://www.redhotjazz.com/ross.html


        Best wishes,
        Agustín Pérez
        Madrid (Spain)
      • Michael Rader
        The Ross de Luxe Syncopators recorded eight sides for Victor in Savannah on 22 August 1927. The band included Ed Hall on baritone and soprano saxes. Although
        Message 3 of 18 , Sep 26, 2005
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          The Ross de Luxe Syncopators recorded eight sides for Victor in Savannah on 22 August 1927. The band included Ed Hall on baritone and soprano saxes. Although not in the personnel for the recording session, the band once included Cootie Williams. The pivotal figure was a saxophonist called Robert Cloud. Cloud is the subject of a CD on Jazz Oracle, "Florida Rhythm", which includes the Ross band recordings and the booklet gives a potted history. The band seems to have originated in Jacksonville, Fla., toured the south during 1926 and 1927, making a trip north (to New York) in 1928. It apparently folded the same year.

          If you have a real interest, I would recommend buying the Jazz Oracle CD (no. BDW 8011). By the way, the Ross recordings are marred/enhanced by a pronounced echo (depending on your preferences).

          Kind regards,

          Michael Rader
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        • jazzguy1927
          ... wrote: The Ross de Luxe Syncopators recorded eight sides for Victor in Savannah on 22 August 1927. I wonder if the sides that a
          Message 4 of 18 , Oct 1, 2005
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            ---< In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, Michael Rader
            <Rader.Michael@w...> wrote: The Ross de Luxe Syncopators recorded
            eight sides for Victor in Savannah on 22 August 1927.>

            I wonder if the sides that a pianist named Sugar Underwood who
            recorded 2 piano solos the next day after the Ross sides also in
            Savannah for Victor had anything to do with the Ross sides. Alonzo
            Ross was the pianist leader of the band that recorded in Aug.22.Maybe
            he recorded the 2 piano solos the next day under that Sugar Underwood
            name or maybe Underwood might actually be someone else.
            One of the piano solos recorded is interesting. On Dew Drop Alley
            Stomp you can hear someone ringing a bell in the background at
            approximately 51 seconds into the recording.

            I couldn't find this recording at the redhotjazz site but it has been
            reissued on lp's:Herwin 406,Origin Jazz Library 16 and French RCA
            Black and White series 7205.

            This Suger Underwood if you listen to the recording has a fantastic
            technique on both hands and is quite a piano player.Has anyone else
            who has heard Dew Drop Alley Stomp care to comment on the ability of
            this pianist as i have a theory who it might actually be.This Suger
            Underwood's piano playing ability seems to even surpass James P.
            Johnson and Fats Waller at that time which may be a hint on who it
            possibly might be.
          • Howard Rye
            ... My theory about who Sugar Underwood is is that he was Sugar Underwood. Why on earth should he be anyone else? He also recorded with the innumerate
            Message 5 of 18 , Oct 2, 2005
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              on 2/10/05 0:08, jazzguy1927 at jazzguy1927@... wrote:

              > This Suger Underwood if you listen to the recording has a fantastic
              > technique on both hands and is quite a piano player.Has anyone else
              > who has heard Dew Drop Alley Stomp care to comment on the ability of
              > this pianist as i have a theory who it might actually be.This Suger
              > Underwood's piano playing ability seems to even surpass James P.
              > Johnson and Fats Waller at that time which may be a hint on who it
              > possibly might be.

              My theory about who Sugar Underwood is is that he was Sugar Underwood. Why
              on earth should he be anyone else? He also recorded with the innumerate
              Jacksonvile Harmony Trio (there were two of them).

              The theory that he was somebody else is well aired and is set out in detail
              in Jim Lyons, "Lost Man Blues: The Discovery of A 'Cloud" Under 'Wood'".
              This 'clever' title reveals that Lyons has concluded that Sugar Underwood
              was the saxophonist Robert Cloud. If you'll believe the 'arguments' he
              adduces, you'll believe anything. There are fairies at the bottom of my
              garden too, but I don't publish them.


              Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
              howard@...
              Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
            • Howard Rye
              ... Oops! I forgot the reference. Lyons s article is in 78 Quarterly 10, p.115. Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
              Message 6 of 18 , Oct 2, 2005
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                on 2/10/05 10:48, Howard Rye at howard@... wrote:

                > on 2/10/05 0:08, jazzguy1927 at jazzguy1927@... wrote:
                >
                >> This Suger Underwood if you listen to the recording has a fantastic
                >> technique on both hands and is quite a piano player.Has anyone else
                >> who has heard Dew Drop Alley Stomp care to comment on the ability of
                >> this pianist as i have a theory who it might actually be.This Suger
                >> Underwood's piano playing ability seems to even surpass James P.
                >> Johnson and Fats Waller at that time which may be a hint on who it
                >> possibly might be.
                >
                > My theory about who Sugar Underwood is is that he was Sugar Underwood. Why
                > on earth should he be anyone else? He also recorded with the innumerate
                > Jacksonvile Harmony Trio (there were two of them).
                >
                > The theory that he was somebody else is well aired and is set out in detail
                > in Jim Lyons, "Lost Man Blues: The Discovery of A 'Cloud" Under 'Wood'".
                > This 'clever' title reveals that Lyons has concluded that Sugar Underwood
                > was the saxophonist Robert Cloud. If you'll believe the 'arguments' he
                > adduces, you'll believe anything. There are fairies at the bottom of my
                > garden too, but I don't publish them.

                Oops! I forgot the reference.

                Lyons's article is in 78 Quarterly 10, p.115.



                Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                howard@...
                Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
              • Prof_Hi_Jinx
                Alonzo Ross (seemingly spelled Alonza ) was enumerated in the 1930 Census at Jacksonville, Florida, aged 34, Musician, Orchestry (sic).Sugar Underwood
                Message 7 of 18 , Oct 2, 2005
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                  Alonzo Ross (seemingly spelled "Alonza") was enumerated in the 1930 Census
                  at Jacksonville, Florida, aged 34, "Musician, Orchestry" (sic).

                  Sugar Underwood recorded the instrumental "Davis Street Blues" which
                  suggests he also came from Jacksonville, because Davis Street is apparently
                  one of the streets in the black section, whereas I understand there is none
                  of that name in the black section of Savannah.

                  Underwood is a common name in Jacksonville, but Sugar seems to have been a
                  nickname.

                  He accompanied the Jacksonville Harmony Trio (including Charles Frazier and
                  Lester Pratt), including "Jacksonville Blues".

                  Pratt was aged 33, in 1930. living on Julia Street, Jacksonville with his
                  wife Bell, but there's 3 possible in Jacksonville for Charles Frazier.

                  Also, Ruby Houston (whom Underwood backed for the unissued "Lost Man Blues")
                  seems more likely to have come from Savannah than Jacksonville, if Census
                  details are any guide (the Ruby Houston from Jacksonville in 1930 is white,
                  but the one from Savannah in 1920 is black, and born around 1900).

                  I'm not sure that Underwood has to be a pseudonym altogether, however. The
                  band personnel is at:

                  http://www.jazzoracle.com/catalogue/details2.asp

                  Casker Towie (there's a name to conjure with) had moved to NYC from Florida
                  by 1930 (aged 29, "Musician, Dance Halls").

                  The common thread between Ross' s session and the Harmony Trio is the
                  frequent composer credits to Robert H. Cloud, one of Ross's reed men.

                  Bob

                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: "jazzguy1927" <jazzguy1927@...>
                  To: <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com>
                  Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2005 7:08 AM
                  Subject: [RedHotJazz] Re: Alonzo Ross (And Sugar Underwood?)


                  > ---< In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, Michael Rader
                  > <Rader.Michael@w...> wrote: The Ross de Luxe Syncopators recorded
                  > eight sides for Victor in Savannah on 22 August 1927.>
                  >
                  > I wonder if the sides that a pianist named Sugar Underwood who
                  > recorded 2 piano solos the next day after the Ross sides also in
                  > Savannah for Victor had anything to do with the Ross sides. Alonzo
                  > Ross was the pianist leader of the band that recorded in Aug.22.Maybe
                  > he recorded the 2 piano solos the next day under that Sugar Underwood
                  > name or maybe Underwood might actually be someone else.
                  > One of the piano solos recorded is interesting. On Dew Drop Alley
                  > Stomp you can hear someone ringing a bell in the background at
                  > approximately 51 seconds into the recording.
                  >
                  > I couldn't find this recording at the redhotjazz site but it has been
                  > reissued on lp's:Herwin 406,Origin Jazz Library 16 and French RCA
                  > Black and White series 7205.
                  >
                  > This Suger Underwood if you listen to the recording has a fantastic
                  > technique on both hands and is quite a piano player.Has anyone else
                  > who has heard Dew Drop Alley Stomp care to comment on the ability of
                  > this pianist as i have a theory who it might actually be.This Suger
                  > Underwood's piano playing ability seems to even surpass James P.
                  > Johnson and Fats Waller at that time which may be a hint on who it
                  > possibly might be.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Yahoo! Groups Links
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >


                  Send instant messages to your online friends http://au.messenger.yahoo.com
                • Howard Rye
                  ... Passing thought, Bob. As the composer credits are to S. Underwood, perhaps his real name did begin with S . Like you, I take it for granted that Sugar
                  Message 8 of 18 , Oct 2, 2005
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                    on 2/10/05 11:24, Prof_Hi_Jinx at prof_hi_jinx@... wrote:

                    > Sugar Underwood recorded the instrumental "Davis Street Blues" which
                    > suggests he also came from Jacksonville, because Davis Street is apparently
                    > one of the streets in the black section, whereas I understand there is none
                    > of that name in the black section of Savannah.
                    >
                    > Underwood is a common name in Jacksonville, but Sugar seems to have been a
                    > nickname.

                    Passing thought, Bob.

                    As the composer credits are to S. Underwood, perhaps his real name did begin
                    with 'S'. Like you, I take it for granted that 'Sugar' is a nickname.

                    Some time it would be worth pursuing the copyrights, if any, on these
                    compositions, and I'll put it on the list, but don't hold your breath.

                    Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                    howard@...
                    Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                  • Bob Eagle
                    The main reason I suggested that Sugar is a nickname is that there is no Census listing (1920 or 1930) for Sugar as such, but I agree it *sounds* like a
                    Message 9 of 18 , Oct 2, 2005
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                      The main reason I suggested that Sugar is a nickname is that there is no Census listing (1920 or 1930) for Sugar as such, but I agree it *sounds* like a bragging nickname. I had thoughts of matching up an Underwood from the same part of Jacksonville as the other recorded participants at the 1927 sessions, but those were in a number of different Enumeration Districts (and some had already moved to New York). Robert Cloud, for one, continues to elude me, and may have been "on the road" at Census time in 1930.

                      Bob

                      Howard Rye <howard@...> wrote:
                      on 2/10/05 11:24, Prof_Hi_Jinx at prof_hi_jinx@... wrote:

                      > Sugar Underwood recorded the instrumental "Davis Street Blues" which
                      > suggests he also came from Jacksonville, because Davis Street is apparently
                      > one of the streets in the black section, whereas I understand there is none
                      > of that name in the black section of Savannah.
                      >
                      > Underwood is a common name in Jacksonville, but Sugar seems to have been a
                      > nickname.

                      Passing thought, Bob.

                      As the composer credits are to S. Underwood, perhaps his real name did begin
                      with 'S'. Like you, I take it for granted that 'Sugar' is a nickname.

                      Some time it would be worth pursuing the copyrights, if any, on these
                      compositions, and I'll put it on the list, but don't hold your breath.

                      Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                      howard@...
                      Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098






                      Yahoo! Groups Links








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                    • Howard Rye
                      ... I was just playing Jazz Oracle s Florida Rhythm set (BDW8011) which includes all four of the Jacksonville Harmony Trio sides, and noted that note writer
                      Message 10 of 18 , Oct 13, 2005
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                        on 2/10/05 11:24, Prof_Hi_Jinx at prof_hi_jinx@... wrote:

                        > Sugar Underwood recorded the instrumental "Davis Street Blues" which
                        > suggests he also came from Jacksonville, because Davis Street is apparently
                        > one of the streets in the black section, whereas I understand there is none
                        > of that name in the black section of Savannah.
                        >
                        > Underwood is a common name in Jacksonville, but Sugar seems to have been a
                        > nickname.
                        >
                        > He accompanied the Jacksonville Harmony Trio (including Charles Frazier and
                        > Lester Pratt), including "Jacksonville Blues".

                        I was just playing Jazz Oracle's Florida Rhythm set (BDW8011) which includes
                        all four of the Jacksonville Harmony Trio sides, and noted that note writer
                        Mark Miller (a very good researcher indeed) has located a Matthew Underwood,
                        black, musician, in a 1927 Jacksonville City Directory. I agree him that
                        Matthew is a pretty good candidate for Sugar Underwood and would make a good
                        starting point for further research.


                        Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                        howard@...
                        Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                      • Howard Rye
                        ... And indeed can be found in the 1930 census at 625 and a half West Ashley, Jacksonville, aged 31, described as Musician, Club. He was born in Florida, both
                        Message 11 of 18 , Oct 13, 2005
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                          on 13/10/05 16:04, Howard Rye at howard@... wrote:

                          > on 2/10/05 11:24, Prof_Hi_Jinx at prof_hi_jinx@... wrote:
                          >
                          >> Sugar Underwood recorded the instrumental "Davis Street Blues" which
                          >> suggests he also came from Jacksonville, because Davis Street is apparently
                          >> one of the streets in the black section, whereas I understand there is none
                          >> of that name in the black section of Savannah.
                          >>
                          >> Underwood is a common name in Jacksonville, but Sugar seems to have been a
                          >> nickname.
                          >>
                          >> He accompanied the Jacksonville Harmony Trio (including Charles Frazier and
                          >> Lester Pratt), including "Jacksonville Blues".
                          >
                          > I was just playing Jazz Oracle's Florida Rhythm set (BDW8011) which includes
                          > all four of the Jacksonville Harmony Trio sides, and noted that note writer
                          > Mark Miller (a very good researcher indeed) has located a Matthew Underwood,
                          > black, musician, in a 1927 Jacksonville City Directory. I agree him that
                          > Matthew is a pretty good candidate for Sugar Underwood and would make a good
                          > starting point for further research.
                          >
                          >
                          And indeed can be found in the 1930 census at 625 and a half West Ashley,
                          Jacksonville, aged 31, described as Musician, Club. He was born in Florida,
                          both parents in Georgia. Wife Lottie, 37, is a cook in a restaurant.

                          Short of absolute proof, but better than much of what is in discographies!

                          Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                          howard@...
                          Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                        • Mordechai Litzman
                          Came across a real fingerbreaker : Dew Alley Drop Stomp, played by Brad Kay, who is an excellent performer and until now unknown to me:
                          Message 12 of 18 , Apr 3, 2008
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                            Came across a real "fingerbreaker": Dew Alley Drop Stomp, played by Brad Kay, who is an excellent performer and until now unknown to me:
                            http://youtube.com/watch?v=W7SH3ojlOj8

                            The notes state that the original recording was made by Sugar Underwood (in Savannah, GA on March 17, 1927). Could not find anything with this name on RHJA, but this site has the original recording: (OJL16): http://www.juneberry78s.com/sounds/ojl16-01.mp3

                            Could not find any information about this artist - anybody knows anything?





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                          • Howard Rye
                            I am pretty sure (well certain actually) that this group has discussed Underwood before in the recurring context that he is so good he must be somebody else.
                            Message 13 of 18 , Apr 4, 2008
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                              I am pretty sure (well certain actually) that this group has discussed
                              Underwood before in the recurring context that he is so good he must be
                              somebody else. He isn't.

                              Both Bob and I have information but I'm sure we've already posted it so can
                              someone please look in the archives first. Thanks.


                              on 4/4/08 1:17, Mordechai Litzman at folke613@... wrote:

                              Came across a real "fingerbreaker": Dew Alley Drop Stomp, played by Brad
                              Kay, who is an excellent performer and until now unknown to me:
                              http://youtube.com/watch?v=W7SH3ojlOj8

                              The notes state that the original recording was made by Sugar Underwood (in
                              Savannah, GA on March 17, 1927). Could not find anything with this name on
                              RHJA, but this site has the original recording: (OJL16):
                              http://www.juneberry78s.com/sounds/ojl16-01.mp3

                              Could not find any information about this artist - anybody knows anything?




                              Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                              howard@...
                              Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098




                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Mordechai Litzman
                              Looked up the old posts but did not find out much information about Underwood himself. It is encouraging that somebody plays his music today and in the same
                              Message 14 of 18 , Apr 4, 2008
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                                Looked up the old posts but did not find out much information about Underwood himself. It is encouraging that somebody plays his music today and in the same superlative way.

                                ----- Original Message ----
                                From: Howard Rye <howard@...>
                                To: RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
                                Sent: Friday, April 4, 2008 5:04:18 AM
                                Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Sugar Underwood

                                I am pretty sure (well certain actually) that this group has discussed
                                Underwood before in the recurring context that he is so good he must be
                                somebody else. He isn't.

                                Both Bob and I have information but I'm sure we've already posted it so can
                                someone please look in the archives first. Thanks.

                                on 4/4/08 1:17, Mordechai Litzman at folke613@yahoo. com wrote:

                                Came across a real "fingerbreaker" : Dew Alley Drop Stomp, played by Brad
                                Kay, who is an excellent performer and until now unknown to me:
                                http://youtube. com/watch? v=W7SH3ojlOj8

                                The notes state that the original recording was made by Sugar Underwood (in
                                Savannah, GA on March 17, 1927). Could not find anything with this name on
                                RHJA, but this site has the original recording: (OJL16):
                                http://www.juneberr y78s.com/ sounds/ojl16- 01.mp3

                                Could not find any information about this artist - anybody knows anything?

                                Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                                howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
                                Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098

                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




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                              • yves francois
                                There is speculation that Sugar Underwood is actually sax/piano player (and arranger) Robert Cloud (he of those wonderful 1927 Ross De Luxe Syncopaters
                                Message 15 of 18 , Apr 4, 2008
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                                  There is speculation that "Sugar Underwood" is
                                  actually sax/piano player (and arranger) Robert Cloud
                                  (he of those wonderful 1927 Ross De Luxe Syncopaters
                                  recorded about the same time as the Sugar Underwood
                                  solos, and a couple rather mundane big band recordings
                                  done in NYC circa 1930), a bit about this is discussed
                                  on the Cloud CD on Jazz Oracle, listen to the piano
                                  wherever it may be him and wonder, could it be?
                                  Regards, Yves Francois
                                  --- Howard Rye <howard@...> wrote:

                                  > I am pretty sure (well certain actually) that this
                                  > group has discussed
                                  > Underwood before in the recurring context that he is
                                  > so good he must be
                                  > somebody else. He isn't.
                                  >
                                  > Both Bob and I have information but I'm sure we've
                                  > already posted it so can
                                  > someone please look in the archives first. Thanks.
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > on 4/4/08 1:17, Mordechai Litzman at
                                  > folke613@... wrote:
                                  >
                                  > Came across a real "fingerbreaker": Dew Alley Drop
                                  > Stomp, played by Brad
                                  > Kay, who is an excellent performer and until now
                                  > unknown to me:
                                  > http://youtube.com/watch?v=W7SH3ojlOj8
                                  >
                                  > The notes state that the original recording was made
                                  > by Sugar Underwood (in
                                  > Savannah, GA on March 17, 1927). Could not find
                                  > anything with this name on
                                  > RHJA, but this site has the original recording:
                                  > (OJL16):
                                  > http://www.juneberry78s.com/sounds/ojl16-01.mp3
                                  >
                                  > Could not find any information about this artist -
                                  > anybody knows anything?
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17
                                  > 7HB
                                  > howard@...
                                  > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been
                                  > removed]
                                  >
                                  >



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                                • Bob Eagle
                                  Nothing concrete, but the reverse of Dew Drop Alley is Davis Street Blues . One Ben Underwood, born 1891, was residing on, and living on, Davis Street,
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Apr 4, 2008
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                                    Nothing concrete, but the reverse of "Dew Drop Alley" is "Davis Street Blues".

                                    One Ben Underwood, born 1891, was residing on, and living on, Davis Street, Jacksonville when he registered for the draft in 1917. He is shown as a shoe repairer. Presumably he lived above or behind the repair shop. If this is him, he was born in Thomasville, GA, over near Valdosta.

                                    "Sugar" sounds like a nickname and, in any event, does not seem to appear in any official records.

                                    Bob

                                    Mordechai Litzman <folke613@...> wrote:
                                    Came across a real "fingerbreaker": Dew Alley Drop Stomp, played by Brad Kay, who is an excellent performer and until now unknown to me:
                                    http://youtube.com/watch?v=W7SH3ojlOj8

                                    The notes state that the original recording was made by Sugar Underwood (in Savannah, GA on March 17, 1927). Could not find anything with this name on RHJA, but this site has the original recording: (OJL16): http://www.juneberry78s.com/sounds/ojl16-01.mp3

                                    Could not find any information about this artist - anybody knows anything?

                                    __________________________________________________________
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                                  • rag1916
                                    Brilliant research! You guys are geniuses! Major kudos to Mr. Rye and Mr. Miller for digging up data on this guy. With that kind of technique and musicianship,
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Apr 1, 2009
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                                      Brilliant research! You guys are geniuses! Major kudos to Mr. Rye and Mr. Miller for digging up data on this guy. With that kind of technique and musicianship, there is no way this guy was a shoe reparier, so the "Matthew Underwood" listed as a professional musician must be him. I thought that Matthew was an unusual name for a black man, but then again I am no expert in these matters.

                                      Does he have any surviving relatives?

                                      One thing's for sure, "Sugar"'s few records reveal him to be a consumate, first-rate musician and a fantastic pianist who probably held his own quite well in the "cutting contests" (in fact, when I first heard the original recording of "...Stomp", my jaw hit the floor and I instantly thought of Art Tatum).

                                      After reading through books like "They All Played Ragtime" and "Music on My Mind" [Willie the Lion Smith's memoirs], you get a bit jaded with the dozens of pianists' names that get thrown at you which don't mean anything because there are apparently no recordings, piano rolls, or sheet music exisiting by many of said legendary pianists. Or is there? I propose that for those pianists who lived past 1950 and continued playing piano to any extent in that time (for example, Walter "One-Leg Shadow" Gould died in 1959 in upstate New York), we try to locate any surviving relatives, or at least what became of the person's personal memorabilia when they died.

                                      Usually, this stuff gets thrown out, but you never know what is hiding in a drawer of an old family cabinet, etc. There could be one-of-a-kind home recordings (on 78 or reel-to-reel tape) of the pianist playing, there could be handwritten sheet music, there could be photos or even a scrapbook. All of this stuff is very important no matter how obscure the pianist was, because relatively little of this stuff survives for ANY pianist of the ragtime/early jazz eras.

                                      I am constantly amazed at how much commercially-issued stuff certain pianists DID manage to leave behind, as a good documentation of their work and musicianship.

                                      For example, Clarence "Jelly" Johnson was one of the VERY BEST pianists of the 1920's, yet on records he is only present accompanying a few blues singers (perhaps maybe two dozen such accompaniments in all). HOWEVER, he made over 200 piano rolls which, generally with tasteful editing and little embellishment, are an excellent document of his personal and exciting playing.

                                      We may not see some of the pianists rattled off in Willie's harlem stride lists present on any recording dates, but we do see some equally interesting pianists (whom he fails to mention) recording a few things here and there; such as Fred Longshaw and Everett Robbins.

                                      Of course, most of the white pianists recorded in droves, and if they didn't record solo, it was with a band and (usually) also on piano roll. Black pianists had a much harder time of it because the studios didn't want to give them the time to record, except if it was "blues" for the "race" label. This is why we stereotype so many fine early musicians as "blues" musicians, because that's all the recording engineers would let them play.

                                      The flip side of that "Sugar" Underwood record; "Davis Street Blues" is a fantastic recording and reveals many other facets of his musicianship not heard in the more famous number. Still, I'm sure glad the Victor engineers consented to let him record his "stomp", since [to paraphrase Lemuel Fowler]: "That stomp just won't don't, and that's that!"

                                      -Andrew


                                      --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, Howard Rye <howard@...> wrote:
                                      >
                                      > on 13/10/05 16:04, Howard Rye at howard@... wrote:
                                      >
                                      > > on 2/10/05 11:24, Prof_Hi_Jinx at prof_hi_jinx@... wrote:
                                      > >
                                      > >> Sugar Underwood recorded the instrumental "Davis Street Blues" which
                                      > >> suggests he also came from Jacksonville, because Davis Street is apparently
                                      > >> one of the streets in the black section, whereas I understand there is none
                                      > >> of that name in the black section of Savannah.
                                      > >>
                                      > >> Underwood is a common name in Jacksonville, but Sugar seems to have been a
                                      > >> nickname.
                                      > >>
                                      > >> He accompanied the Jacksonville Harmony Trio (including Charles Frazier and
                                      > >> Lester Pratt), including "Jacksonville Blues".
                                      > >
                                      > > I was just playing Jazz Oracle's Florida Rhythm set (BDW8011) which includes
                                      > > all four of the Jacksonville Harmony Trio sides, and noted that note writer
                                      > > Mark Miller (a very good researcher indeed) has located a Matthew Underwood,
                                      > > black, musician, in a 1927 Jacksonville City Directory. I agree him that
                                      > > Matthew is a pretty good candidate for Sugar Underwood and would make a good
                                      > > starting point for further research.
                                      > >
                                      > >
                                      > And indeed can be found in the 1930 census at 625 and a half West Ashley,
                                      > Jacksonville, aged 31, described as Musician, Club. He was born in Florida,
                                      > both parents in Georgia. Wife Lottie, 37, is a cook in a restaurant.
                                      >
                                      > Short of absolute proof, but better than much of what is in discographies!
                                      >
                                      > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                                      > howard@...
                                      > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                                      >
                                    • ROBERT R. CALDER
                                      I ve wondered about Sugar Underwood since I first heard Dew Drop Alley Stomp during my schooldays. Delighted to read the information and approve the wise
                                      Message 18 of 18 , Oct 23, 2010
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                                        I've wondered about Sugar Underwood since I first heard Dew Drop Alley Stomp
                                        during my schooldays.
                                        Delighted to read the information and approve the wise comments!

                                        All the very best to the Ragtime professor of Professors!#

                                        Robert R. Calder
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