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Thelma Terry and her Playboys
This band, whose entire output is included here, is surely one of the most remarkable in the history of Jazz and dance music, for it was directed by a winsomely attractive young lady. Nothing in that, you may say; there were other bands that were led by similarly attractive girls (Ina Ray Hutton’s was composed entirely of them) but Thelma Terry was no slinky figurehead; she played string bass of all things, and did so with the taste and assurance associated with male exponents of the instrument, such as Pops Foster, Joe Tarto, Steve Brown, John Kirby, Wellman Braud, Bill Johnson

Thelma Terry with Colosimo's Orchestra
Thelma Terry with Colosimo’s Orchestra Pictures courtesy of the family of Thelma Terry. Copyright Patti, daughter of Thelma Terry.

A glance at the personnel of the two sessions recorded shows that here were some of the great names of Chicago Jazz, playing largely non-vocal versions of popular tunes of the time, propelled with ease by the dynamic little lady* with the big fiddle. — by Brian Rust (from the liner notes of The Chicago Hot Bands 1924 – 1928 on Timeless Records)

* Brian Rust seems to have formed the impression that Thelma was tiny and petite when he refers to her as “the little lady.” He uses similar adjectives in a book of his from twenty years ago or so. I checked, and her daughter Patti says Thelma stood 5′ 7″. -David Apolloni

Thelma Terry with Colosimo's Orchestra
Thelma Terry with Colosimo’s Orchestra Picture courtesy of the family of Thelma Terry. Copyright Patti, daughter of Thelma Terry.

If you would like to order the Timeless Records’ CD of Chicago Hot Bands 1924 – 1928 you can do so direct from Timeless Records.

discography

Title Recording Date Recording Location Company
Dusky Stevedore
(Andy Razaf / J.C. Johnson)
9-27-1928 New York, New York Columbia 1588-D
Lady Of Havana
(Bernie / Val / VanLoan)
3-29-1928 Chicago, Illinois Columbia 1390-D
Mama’s Gone
(A. J. Piron / Peter Bocage)
3-29-1928 Chicago, Illinois Columbia 1706-D
Starlight And Tulips
(Wendling / Bryan)
3-29-1928 Chicago, Illinois Columbia 1532-D
The Voice Of The Southland
(Keeps Calling Me Home)

(Austin / Bloom / Ted Koehler)
3-29-1928 Chicago, Illinois Columbia 1390-D
When Sweet Susie Goes Steppin’ By
(Kaufman / Kelly / Bilbo)
9-27-1928 New York, New York Columbia 1588-D

Thelma Terry and her Playboys

Artist Instrument
Roy Campbell Banjo
Joe Davis Drums, Vocals
Pat Davies Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Charles Dornberger Clarinet, Alto Saxophone
Dub Fleming Cornet
Earl Gray Clarinet, Alto Saxophone
Gene Krupa Drums
Bud Jacobson Clarinet
Johnny Mendel Trumpet
Floyd O’Brien Trombone
Bill Otto Piano
Mike Platt Clarinet, Alto Saxophone
Carl Rinker Trumpet
Mike Platt Clarinet, Alto Saxophone
George Shirley Banjo
Phil Shukin Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Warren Smith Trombone
Thelma Terry Bass, Director
Bob Zurke Piano

 

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