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Re: [RedHotJazz] Re: Alonzo Ross (And Sugar Underwood?)

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  • 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 1 of 18 , Oct 2, 2005
      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 2 of 18 , Oct 2, 2005
        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 3 of 18 , Oct 2, 2005
          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 4 of 18 , Oct 13, 2005
            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 5 of 18 , Oct 13, 2005
              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 6 of 18 , Apr 3, 2008
                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 7 of 18 , Apr 4, 2008
                  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 8 of 18 , Apr 4, 2008
                    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 9 of 18 , Apr 4, 2008
                      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 10 of 18 , Apr 4, 2008
                        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 11 of 18 , Apr 1, 2009
                          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 12 of 18 , Oct 23, 2010
                            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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