- There was an interview with the Jonah Jones quartet in Jazz Journal decades ago. I remember it for Jonah's story of how he was ill and went to his doctor and was told to stop drinking and smoking -- and how he turned up on a gig as a member of Stuff Smith's band and Stuff stopped them just into one number with the accusation: one of you guys is SOBER! I can even remember Sonny White, who died not much later, so this would be c. 1971, asking Cozy Cole about Morton, Sonny being a great Morton fan with I suppose some effect on his Teddy Wilsonish piano style.
I don't recall any mention of Lil.
Jonah also did two or three good sides with Lil, amd Sid Catlett on drums, accompanying the bluesman Peetie Wheatstraw -- well, you could say there are more than three sides but the musical material is exhausted within less than three and is just repeated in the rest. Jonah was of course especially noted for his open playing, the magnificent tone, which he does deliver on some of the LPs made when he had managed to become a club act with three men and a harmon mute.
It seems a fairly ordinary thing to bill someone as Louis Armstrong No.2
especially since so many great trumpeters thought the best anybody could do was come second. Actually two or three bluesmen were billed on record in relation to Peetie Wheatstraw -- Peetie Wheatstraw's buddy etc. Not such a come-down if you know how good the best is and are hood enough yourself.
- --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "serapion@..." <serapion@...> wrote:
> It seems a fairly ordinary thing to bill someone as Louis Armstrong No.2 especially since so many great trumpeters thought the best anybody could do was come second...Not such a come-down if you know how good the best is and are (g)ood enough yourself.Absoulutely agreed, Robert, but you've introduced a moniker that was not mentioned previously! And I'm not sure why, since we were discussing "King Louis II", with the additional understanding that it was directed not at other musicians but at the general ticket buying public.
The ideas may seem similar-that of a skilled trumpeter in the Armstrong style-and that the billing was a commercial ploy is obvious, but my thoughts were about the context in which it occured. We know that Louis and Lil eventually settled into warm acceptance of each other (Jones and Chilton p.124-128 give quotes and a picture decades later that prove this). But in early 1935, Louis was just returned from Europe and resting his lip, in a period of reorganization and lessened activity, and more to the point, Lil was suing him for six thousand dollars. So separated since '31, not to be divorced until '38, and significant financial adversaries, this might well have been a low point in their relationship, and that is why the "Mrs. Armstrong and King Louis II" billing struck me as possibly including just a bit of a jab at King Louis I. Not really anything more, nor any commentary on Jonah's ability or role.
I am of course aware of Jonah's great lifelong open playing, but mentioned his later success in relation to his muted playing because of the irony that he had been doing so since before his earlier fame, from whence he still gets lumped into the "Armstrong followers" category. And his post war quartet's pop success was not equaled by any other member of that group that I can think of, thus I find it ironic that he did so using a capability that he'd had during the earlier time that some jazz taxonomists use in their assessments of him. Mild irony, that's all.
- Not edited since 2004... but to save you the pain of looking.
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