The Frog Blues & Jazz Annual No 1 - the Musicians, the Records & the Music of the 78 Era

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The Frog Blues & Jazz Annual No 1 - The Musicians, the Records & the Music of the 78 Era edited by Paul Swinton 178pp , illustrated softback with bonus 26-track CD Frog Records Ltd, £30 - ISBN 978-0-9564717-0-3 Via: 1 Foxwood, Fleet, Hants GU51 2TY, frogrecords.co.uk

This lavishly-produced full-sheet anthology will be a joy for enthusiasts of vintage jazz. It evokes the pioneering `little' magazines produced by the evolving collector movement that proliferated in the post-war years. Many rare period advertisements from the black press are included, plus record labels and posters too, many in colour! Its whole ethos echoes the dedication of Frog's founder, the late David French, in the tradition established by Laurie Wright with his authoritative Storyville magazine and annuals. That's high praise because Storyville is still a benchmark for original and accurate research.

Among the rich blend of fresh articles and reprints by contemporary writers, there is a fascinating selection of clippings, 'A Glimpse at the Past', assembled by Joe Moore. Some are from Walter C. Allen's files, and one that hit my eye was the Chicago Defender (June 22, 1929) mentioning that:

"Morgan's famous orchestra of New Orleans gave the gang in Chicago a chance to hear their music last Tuesday night at Warwick Hall. The boys really brought us some red hot stuff from the Southland. Kid Oray (sic), trombonist in Boyd Atkins' Sunset orchestra, was the sponsor for the affair".

This confirms Sam Charters' account in his invaluable Jazz New Orleans 1885-1963, where he states that the Sam Morgan band were hired to play dance music on the train to Chicago for an L&N Railroad excursion, and appear for a week at various venues before playing on the return train.

There are other intriguing snippets of gossip from such newspapers that reported on music, primarily black, as The New York Age, Pittsburgh Courier and Harlem-based Amsterdam News. The Baltimore Afro-American, for example, on May 4, 1935 proclaims, if somewhat inaccurately:

"Louis Armstrong in his last recording made while in England, Knockin' a Jug, LA is accompanied by an ofay band under the leadership of Jack Teagarden, popular British maestro". (It seems that Walt Allen, a stickler for accurate research, had annotated, `So help me, that's what it says!'). Somehow a slightly more risqué cutting was also gleaned from an unidentified and undated paper, illustrating that racial segregation was alive in the US, headlined:

"NUDE PARTY MAKES JAZZERS LOSE JOBS".

"Sydney Australia: caught Sunday night in a nude party with several white Australian girls at Melbourne, Sonny Clay and his jazz band, an organisation from the Pacific Coast in the states, had its tour here cancelled . …