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Ben Pollack and his Californians

Ben Pollack and his Californians 1927

Returning to Chicago with the nucleus of the group, Ben Pollack soon had success playing at hotels. He landed a recording contract with the Victor label, recording four numbers in December 1926.

In those performances, one gets the idea of the sound that Pollack was after. He wanted to balance the artistic with the commercial, leaving room for hot solos from his key sidemen along with period vocals and melodic ensembles that included two violinists. He loved jazz but he also wanted some fame and fortune. The hottest number from these dates is “He’s The Last Word” which has a catchy vocal by the Williams Sisters plus the first significant recorded solos by Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller.

Ben Pollack CaliforniansIt would be a year before the band recorded again. By then Pollack had added cornetist Jimmy McPartland as the third major soloist in the group. Despite its potential quality, Pollack’s orchestra only cut two songs that year: “Waitin’ For Katie” which includes Benny Goodman’s only recorded trumpet solo (a few short breaks) and “Memphis Blues.

Excerpt from Ben Pollack:Profiles in Jazz, by Scott Yanow

Thanks to Owen Miller and Richard Unger for the recordings on this page.

Ben Pollack and his Californians

Title Recording Date Recording Location Company
‘Deed I Do
(Walter Hirsch / Fred Rose)
12-17-1926 Chicago, Illinois Victor
20408-A
He’s The Last Word
(Gus Kahn / Walter Donaldson)
12-17-1926 Chicago, Illinois Victor
20425

37261-2
He’s The Last Word
(Gus Kahn / Walter Donaldson)
12-17-1926 Chicago, Illinois RCA X
LX-3003

37261-3
Memphis Blues
(W.C. Handy)
12-7-1927 New York, New York Victor
21184

41343-1
Memphis Blues
(W.C. Handy)
12-7-1927 New York, New York Victor
21184

41343-2
Singapore Sorrows
(Jack Le Soir / Ray Doll)
4-6-1928 New York, New York Victor
unissued

43540-2
Singapore Sorrows
(Jack Le Soir / Ray Doll)
4-6-1928 New York, New York Victor
unissued

43540-3
Singapore Sorrows
(Jack Le Soir / Ray Doll)
4-6-1928 New York, New York Victor
unissued

43540-4
Singapore Sorrows
(Jack Le Soir / Ray Doll)
4-26-1928 New York, New York Victor
21437-B

43540-6
Sweet Sue – Just You
(Will J. Harris / Victor Young)
4-26-1928 New York, New York Victor
21437-A
Waitin’ For Katie
(Kahn / Shapiro)
12-7-1927 New York, New York Victor
21184
When I First Met Mary
(Little / Verges / Shay)
12-9-1926 Chicago, Illinois Victor
20394
You’re The One For Me
(Paul Ash / Walter Donaldson)
12-17-1926 Chicago, Illinois Victor
20461

Ben Pollack and his Californians

Artist Instrument
Wayne Allen Piano
Ilomay Bailey Vocals
Earl Baker Cornet
Franklyn Baur Vocals
Al Beller Violin
Ed Bergman Violin
Vic Briedis Piano
Bud Freeman Tenor Saxophone
Benny Goodman Clarinet
Harry Goodman Brass Bass
Harry Greenberg Cornet
Al Harris Cornet
John Kurzenknabe Banjo
Fud Livingston Tenor Saxophone
Jimmy McPartland Cornet
Glenn Miller Trombone
Dick Morgan Banjo
Ben Pollack Drums, Leader, Vocals
Joey Ray Vocals
Gil Rodin Alto Saxophone
Dorothy Williams Vocals
Hannah Williams Vocals
Victor Young Violin

 

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