February 2024

On the Cover


Swingtime in the Movies: The Musicals of the War Years

Who knew a World War could be so entertaining? As the 1940s got underway, the Swing Era in music was, shall we say, in full swing. Once America entered the war in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941 (keeping in mind that the war had already

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Nelson Argueso: The Virtuoso Who Walked Away

On July 28, 1954, The Reporter Dispatch ran a feature on Mr. Nelson Argueso of 38 Ridgeway Circle, White Plains, New York. “City Collector of Clocks Has All Types of Tick-Tocks” focused almost entirely on this resident’s affinity for timekeeping machines. It shares his birthplace in Puerto Rico and his

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Benny Goodman’s Vocalists: From Helen Ward to Martha Tilton

During the big band era, nearly every orchestra (swing or sweet) was comprised of male instrumentalists, a male vocalist (who was sometimes one of the horn players), and a female singer. A traveling big band employing a female vocalist became such a natural part of swing orchestras that it was

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The Golden Jazz Band from California

Jeff Barnhart: Welcome! This month we’re taking a break from poring over recordings created 95+ years ago and concentrating on a Californian group that had its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s and greatly influenced my co-author. Hal, could you share your first impressions of the El Dorado Jazz Band

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Jazz in San Francisco, Pt. 3: Bagdad-by-the-Bay, 1940s, ‘50s & ‘60s

West Coast Blues & Russell City; Fillmore venues; Sugar Pie DeSanto, Vince Guaraldi; Ralph J. Gleason & Jazz Casual TV San Francisco was a crossroads for dynamic developments in Jazz and ethnic entertainment. A rich mid-century efflorescence of Jazz and Popular music emerged on diverging vectors of Dixieland, Modern and

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Terry Waldo's Gotham City Jazz Band FB
Jazz Travels

A night in NYC: David Ostwald and Terry Waldo

On October 4, I made one of my periodic jaunts to New York to indulge my passion for traditional jazz. Before Covid I used to go once or twice a month in the spring and fall, when bad weather was not as likely to affect my travel plans. Now I

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Blowing Off The Dust

String Groups at the 1974 Scott Joplin Fest

News from Galen Wilkes that Dennis Pash was rushed to the hospital in December brought back a flash of memories and of course great concern for Dennis. During the First Sedalia Joplin festival, two young visitors from Kansas City, Dennis Pash and Kevin Sanders caught the attention of several audience

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Justin Ring and Fred Hager in 1902.
Recording Pioneers

Coming Soon: A Biography of Justin Ring

Since I moved to the Bronx back in September, I have been more inspired than ever to write and to draw. Living in the very place where much of the essential history in ragtime and recording happened is truly a privilege, and it is exceptionally motivating. There is nothing quite

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Quarter Notes

Quarter Notes February 2024

And The Band Played On… The venerable 62-year old Preservation Hall has announced an expansion of its facilities to further support the 12-year old Preservation Hall Foundation and its mission. A message from its Creative Director, Ben Jaffe, explained their latest venture: We’ve embarked on so many exciting new projects

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James Reese Europe by Joe Busam
Jazz Birthday

James Reese Europe

James Reese Europe was born in Mobile, Alabama, on February 22, 1881. James learned piano from his mother, and banjo and fiddle under his father’s encouragement. After the death of his father, James moved to New York and, by the fall of 1904, he had sold five of his compositions

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Jazz Jottings

Jazz Jottings February 2024

Larry Linkin has the unique distinction of having had an extensive and varied career as a performing musician, and who has also made a substantial contribution to the business side of the industry through his 24-year leadership of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), a worldwide organization that represents

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jelly roll morton
Rudiments of Ragtime

Rudiments of Ragtime Installment 13: Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941)

After the original Classic Ragtime composers those who improvised on their syncopation came next, and Jelly Roll Morton in New Orleans was one of the best known. He was self-taught and began playing in the city’s brothels to support himself at the age of 14. Next, he toured the country

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Ragtime Vignettes 

James Scott’s Evergreen Rag

My favorite James Scott composition has long been Evergreen Rag, published by Stark Music Co. in 1915. The G major opening section is bright and cheerful. The B section—recapitulated at the end of the piece, like in most Scott rags—is one of Scott’s most interesting: the bassline countermelody in this

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It Was a Gas!

Put that Dog on Ice

The New Gig The young band of Gassers had only been together for four years when they were offered their first, regular paying job at the Alvarado Inn, a local restaurant, bar, roadhouse, motel complex. After their past few formative years with compensation of only free drinks and tips, this

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Static From My Attic

This Is All on Me

This is my Eighth Anniversary Issue of The Syncopated Times, and I suppose I should be eating cake or something. I find myself preoccupied with a number of different matters (some of which are not fit for print) and I doubt I could actually taste cake at this point. Still,

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Festival Roundup

The Festival Roundup February 2024

NORTH CAROLINA JAZZ FESTIVAL (Wilmington, NC) – Feb. 1-4 Wilmington gives a warm welcome to all of the jazz lovers attending our 43rd North Carolina Jazz Festival. NCJF will fill your evenings with exciting performances by some of the greatest traditional jazz musicians from around the globe. All evening concerts

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My Inspirations

Celebrating the Other Editor of TST

Throughout history, duos have accomplished great things together. Perhaps not adversarial pairings such as Cain and Abel, David and Goliath, or the Democratic and Republican parties, but teams of two who were facing in the same direction often created more together than they would’ve done separately. For instance, where would

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News and More

Odd or Unusual Venues, Part 2

Among the odd venues in which I played, the following are some additional ones. Private homes are occasionally the site of a gig. One memorable one I played at with the Jelly Roll Jazz Band was the home of Francis Ford Coppola, maker of The Godfather movies and others. It

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The Prescott Jazz Summit: 2024 Preview

The Prescott Jazz Summit, held in Prescott, Arizona, is celebrating its 23rd year this August 23-25, 2024. Musicians from all over the United States will perform for the entire weekend. Our Friday night concert will be at Elks Performing Arts Center. The Saturday big band concert will be at Ruth

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Templeton Ragtime & Jazz Fest, Gatsby Gala Set for Feb. 22-24

A highly anticipated line-up of musical entertainers will highlight the 2024 Charles H. Templeton Sr. Ragtime & Jazz Festival scheduled for Feb. 22-24, 2024. Sponsored by the Mississippi State University Libraries and the Charles H. Templeton, Sr. Music Museum, the 18th annual festival will feature a combination of returning favorites

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Nights at the Turntable

New Orleans Night Owls • St. Louis Rag

New Orleans Night Owls • St. Louis Rag

Drummer Hal Smith is involved with so many overlapping bands and projects (both as a leader and a sideman) that the only predictable aspect to his activities is that everything he works on is quite rewarding. The New Orleans Night Owls, a septet consisting of Smith, cornetist T.J. Muller, trombonist

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Come Fly With Me Judy Whitmore

Judy Whitmore • Come Fly With Me

Over Christmas, I bought myself a new car. Well, nearly new—enough that I drive it everywhere like a partially-sighted senior, terrified of even the lightest contact with anything but fresh air. To help avoid any paintwork-punishing incidents, I’ve switched up my driving music: nu metal, classic jungle, and hot jazz

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Angie Wells • Truth Be Told

“Oof.” That’s my one-word review of Angie Wells’ second album. What does it mean? Why, all manner of things… Oh, you want me to elaborate? But I’m supposed to knock off for Christmas at five and there’s a lot to unpack… Okay, okay—one last critique for 2023. Wells is a

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The “Complete” Rivermont CD Collection

I visited the Rivermont website to order music. I discovered a plethora of other artists, both new and old of interest and a recently purchased new CD player made it practically deja vu to order The Complete Rivermont CD Collection. It has been a busy month listening to it all.

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Classic Don Byas Sessions 1944-1946

Classic Don Byas Sessions 1944-1946

Don Byas (1913-72) was one of the greatest jazz tenor saxophonists of all time, but because he was in the shadow of Coleman Hawkins (his main inspiration) and Lester Young in the 1930s and ’40s and moved permanently to Europe in 1946, he has always been underrated if not totally

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Sidney Bechet In Switzerland

Sidney Bechet (1897-1959) was a brilliant musician whose fascinating and sometimes dramatic life could make a great Hollywood movie. Born in New Orleans and self-taught on the clarinet when he was eight, Bechet was playing in public by the time he was ten and was soon working with Freddie Keppard,

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The Final Chorus

Forrest Helmick

Forrest Helmick of the Blue Street Jazz Band has died.

Forrest Helmick, trumpet player and founder of the Blue Street Jazz Band, died at home on December 29th. He was 66 years old. He was an elementary school music teacher in Clovis California until his retirement in 2021, passing on his love of music to several generations. Forrest founded the

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Chicago area reedman Ron Dewar has died.

Chicago area saxophonist/clarinetist Ron Dewar died on January 4th, he was 82. Dewar had a long association with the University of Illinois Jazz Band as a student and in faculty and guest artist capacities later in his career. It was while playing with the Chicago Hot Six in the early

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Illustrator Robert Andrew Parker has died 

Visual artist Robert Andrew Parker died on December 27th at age 96. Among an extensive body of work he painted record covers for labels including Columbia, which often focused on jazz. Subjects included Jelly Roll Morton, George Wallington, Duke Ellington, the Newport International Youth Band, Mahalia Jackson, Dave Brubeck, Billy

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