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Storyville 105 0016

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SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE PALAIS -’21 Some Notes by Edward S. Walker
Messrs. Mitchell and Booker opened the Hammersmith Palais de Danse on 28 November 1919 with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. However, it should be appreciated that the management of the Palais operated a two-band system, so that whenever the number one stand was occupied by the ODJB, Benny Peyton’s Jazz Kings or Billy Arnold’s Novelty Band, there was a second band opposite.
Although Booker left for France about October 1920 (it is uncertain whether the partnership split or whether Booker went to run Rector’s Club in Paris which was part of the enterprise [as was Rector’s Club in Tottenham Court Road]), W.F. Mitchell went on to open the Birmingham Palais de
HAMMERSMITH PALAIS DE DANSE MitcheU’s Syncopated No. 1 Orchestra In 1920/21 this was the house band of Jack Blake, t; Lew Davis, tb; Ben Davis, ts; Ted Sinclair, vn; Billy Jones, p; Eddie Gross Bart, d. Jack Blake had played with the SSO, and this personnel presumes that BUly Jones was doubling with the ODJB if the two bands were at the Palais at the same time.
Hammersmith Palais de Danse Band
In 1921 the house band changed as above and included Lew Davis, tb; Ben Davis, ts; Harry Lyons, d. For dates as yet unidentified it included Bill Shakespeare, t; Leslie Murfitt, as/cl, and possibly Jack Payne, p.
No contemporary 78s have been traced, but there is Regal G 8091 (November 1923) of Crying For You/Who's Sorry Now, both sides of which have that pleasantly ‘thick’ sound of acoustic Regals with embellishment from the reeds, and which may represent Jack Jackson’s first recording since he had, at the age of 18 in 1923, just joined the Hammersmith Palais as his first London booking.
The Original American Five (see Storyville 102)
At the Palais in 1920. They arrived from America in January 1920, where they were known as Yerke’s Novelty Five: Eddie Lapp, tb; Phil Romano (Romaine), vn; Albert ‘Babe’ Fuller, p; Dave Wallace, bj; Eddie Gross Bart, d.
The Rag Pickers.
Jacke Raine, c; Stanley Jones, tb; Phil Goodman, sax; Billy Gerhardi. vn; Emile Grimshaw, bj; Chas. ‘Dinty’ Moore, d; Harry Howard, p (later replaced by Billy Jones).
There were rejected tests of Dardanella and Bo-Bo-Beedle-Um-Bo for HMV in February 1920.
Broadway Sextette.
At the Palais in 1920/21. Only personnel known are Emile Christian, tb; Johnny Rosen, vn, and Ronnie Gubertini, d.
The Red Devils Jazz Band
R.E. Bennett, cl/bj; Sam Richardson, sax/bj; Opal Cooper, banjolin; C.C. Thompson, d/v.
For further details see Storyville 51, p.95.
Opened in December 1920 with the Frisco Jazz Band. Presumably this should not be confused with the band of the same name and unknown personnel which recorded for Edison in New York in 1917. The Birmingham band was led by Johnny Stein (not the drummer who led the Dixie Band in New York before World War I which included some of the ODJB personnel) whom Eddie Gross Bart recalls as an Englishman who stuttered and who later led a variety of provincial dance bands in the 1920’s.
During 1921 there appeared:
The Ragpickers — see above.
The Broadway Sextette — see above.
Danse in Monument Road on 21 December 1920, continuing the two-band policy.
It is possible to piece together some fragments of information concerning the bands which worked under him, which is not only interesting for its own sake, but which shows that Mitchell was one of the principal agencies by which jazz was introduced to the British public immediately after World War I. It also demonstrates how employment was provided for a number of musicians after the disintegration of the Southern Symphony Orchestra and how a number of British musicians gained entry into their ranks.
Such bands and personnels as are known are set out below:
The Albany Band
Jock Myers, t; Bernard Tipping, tb; Billy Jones, p; — Gubertini, d, remainder unknown. There was an Albany Dance Orchestra which recorded Arabianna/When It's Night Time In Italy for HMV in January 1924. The matrices tie in with the Romaine Orchestra, and are said to be aliases for the Savoy Orpheans. Against this, and whether the Romaine Orchestra had any association with Phil Romaine one might raise a question mark.
The Louisiana Jazz Band.
Unknown, c; Bernard Tipping, tb; Jack Pearce, as; Jack Clapper, vn; Billy Lewis, p; Ted Caselli, bj; Lionel Clapper, d.
Rector’s Capitol Orchestra
This band was reputedly ‘of New Orleans’ and had Victor Sell, t; Leon Van Straten, vn/ldr; Teddy Sinclair, vn; Tracey Mumma, as. No further personnel are known, but given the presence of Victor Sell on trumpet this raises the question of a possible association with the Original Capitol Orchestra who recorded for Zonophone in 1923 and who had one V. Sell in their personnel.
Birmingham Palais closed for the summer of 1921, and re-opened in the September with, opposite each other, Benny Peyton’s Jazz Kings and the Southern Rag-a-Jazz Band; both well known in terms of personnel and 78s both rejected for Columbia and issued on Edison Bell Winner respectively.
During the second half of 1921, there appeared at Birmingham also:
The Paramount Six
Only two names are known: James Caulk, bj; Billy Southard, d. But is this the precurser of the Original Paramount Orchestra on EBW in 1923? Two tests — After A While/Everybody Stop made for HMV in February 1922, were rejected.
Mitchell’s Rag-a-Jazz Band
Obviously formed from the group of musicians who made up the ‘house’ personnel as it comprised Jock Myers, t; Lew Davis, tb; Ben Davis, ts; Teddy Sinclair, vn; Billy Jones or Jack Payne, p; Eddie Gross Bart, d.
When playing at Mitchell’s other establishment. Rector’s Club, they were known as The Happy Six. Early 1922 saw the return of Benny Peyton’s Jazz Kings and Rector’s Ambassador’s Five, together
Billy Madden’s Crescent City Orchestra
Ed Poggi, c; A1 Savarese, t/as; Lou Savarese, tb; Joe Candullo, vn; Nick Jones, p; Billy Madden, d.
During 1921 and into early 1922, there was also a Birmingham Palais house band of: Jack Blake, t; Emile Christian or Bernard Tipping, tb; Jack Raine or Johnny Rosen, vn; Billy Jones or Horace Adams, p; Bill Blanche, bj; Ronnie Gubertini, d. The to and fro between the two dance halls must have been somewhat frequent!
I have noted references to 78s above, but can anyone add to the comments of Lew Davis for whom the ODJB were “an entirely new sound”, and of Sid Phillips for whom they had a “remarkable thickness of sound”.
The only person I have been able to trace who was there at the time is Sidney de Peyser, now of Nottingham, who was on the dancing staff at Hammersmith Palais, who confirms that Mitchell controlled the Palais and Rector's Club in Tottenham Court Road and says, “at this period many of the coloured musicians playing in England (at the Palais and Rector’s) stemmed from the Southern Syncopated Orchestra. Billy Jones, a Londoner, took over the piano with the ODJB at Hammersmith. Also, he did play with another small outfit at Hammersmith after the ODJB left for America in June 1920. Sidney Bechet came to Europe with Will Marion Cook’s set-up in 1919 and stayed three years. I heard him at Hammersmith Palais about 1921.”
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