In Jan. 1934, trombonist Jack Teagarden, in what he thought was a very good move that would let him ride out the Depression, signed a five-year contract to become a member of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. While Teagarden was featured on an occasional number with Whiteman, he was mostly buried anonymously in the large ensembles as the swing era took off.
In December 1936 when the Paul Whiteman band was on vacation, C-melody saxophonist Frank Trumbauer (who had recently left Whiteman) teamed up with Jack Teagarden and his brother trumpeter Charlie Teagarden (also employed by the orchestra) as the Three T’s. They played much of the month at the Hickory House in New York and were featured on three radio broadcasts.
While the band initially got surprisingly negative reviews, they improved quickly and were one of the top jazz combos of that month. The three co-leaders were joined by Caspar Reardon (who was succeeded by Adele Girard) on harp, pianist Herman Crone, bassist Min Leibrook and drummer Stan King.
The Three T’s is a single disc that contains the three broadcasts. While the first aircheck is brief, the band gets to stretch out on the other two dates and displays quite a bit of potential. Jack Teagarden takes a few vocals, Charlie Teagarden is heard at his best, and Trumbauer shows his versatility, excelling on both the cooking pieces and semi-classical works including a remarkable “Eclipse.” Highlights include a few hot medleys (including one of “Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea” and “I Got Rhythm”), an inventive arrangement of “’S Wonderful,” and “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans.”
Unfortunately Jack Teagarden became seriously ill (soon recovering) later in the month and Whiteman called back both the Teagardens when his orchestra went on the road in early 1937, ending the Three T’s. Trumbauer would soon lead a new if less successful group with the same rhythm section and two other horn players. This valuable Jazz Oracle CD shows what could have been if Jack Teagarden had not signed that contract.
The Three T’s (Jazz Oracle BDW 8056, 28 selections, TT = 68:02)