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William McKinney's Cotton Pickers

William McKinney's Cotton Pickers
McKinney’s Cotton Pickers in 1928. left to right: Cuba Austin, Prince Robinson, George Thomas, Don Redman, Dave Wilborn, Todd Rhoades, Bob Escudero, seated: John Nesbitt, Claude Jones, Milton Senior, Langston Curl.

William McKinney, showman-drummer, formed his Cotton Pickers in Springfield, Ohio in 1922, but it was not until the summer of 1928 that they commenced their short but illustrious recording career for Victor.

In the autumn of 1931 Don Redman, who did most of the arrangements, took a band of his own, including in it several of the Cotton Pickers. The Cotton Pickers were based originally in the Greystone Ballroom in Detroit, opposite Jean Goldkette’s excellent White orchestra, but by the early part of 1929 we find them in Harlem at various nightspots.

Their personnel varied as any personnel in a band this size, but in it’s ranks were at one time such brilliant stars of the Harlem Jazz firmament as Benny Carter, Coleman HawkinsLonnie JohnsonJames P. Johnson, Joe Smith, Ed Cuffee, Claude Jones and Fats Waller.

The original policy of the band was to play hot numbers, many of which were composed by Redman and/or other musicians in the band, but once in New York, with a recording contract from Victor that was demanding of all its artists a more commerical approach to work, the Cotton Pickers included a repertoire of the better popular hits of the day, giving them a rich and rare treatment, with warm section work and beautifully executed soli.

Although the brass bass is supposed to be heavier than a string bass, in Billy Taylor’s hands it is a living thing, giving adequate support to Wilborn’s lively banjo and Austin’s crisp drumming.

Taken from the book Recorded Jazz: A Critical Guide by Rex Harris and Brian Rust.discography

TitleRecording DateRecording LocationCompany
After All, You’re All I’m After
Vocalrefrain by George Bias

(Newman / Young / Lorraine)
11-5-1930New York, New YorkVictor
23024-B
Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home
Vocal refrain by George Thomas

(Clarence Williams / Charles Warfield )
7-28-1930Camden, New JerseyVictor
22511-B
Victor
62-0084-B
Beedle-Um-Bum
(Thomas A. Dorsey)
4-9-1929New York, New YorkVictor
V-38052-A
Bluebird
B-6595-A
Blues Have Sure Got Me
(Stanton / Don Redman)
7-29-1930Camden, New JerseyVictor
62-0084-A
Come A Little Closer
(Jimmy Green / Frank Aquino)
11-18-1930Camden, New JerseyVictor
23035-B
Cotton Picker’s Scat
Vocal refrain by George Thomas and chorus

(Don Redman / William McKinney)
7-31-1930Camden, New JerseyVictor
23012-A
Cherry (2)
Vocal refrain by Jean Napier

(Don Redman)
7-12-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21730-A
Cherry (3)
Vocal refrain by Jean Napier

(Don Redman)
7-12-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21730-A
Crying And Sighing
(John Nesbitt)
7-11-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
V-38000-A
Do Something
(Bud Green / Sam Stept)
4-9-1929New York, New YorkVictor
V-38051-B
Do You Believe In Love At First Sight? (1)
(Gus Kahn / Ted Fiorito)
9-8-1931Camden, New JerseyRCA
430272
Do You Believe In Love At First Sight? (2)
(Gus Kahn / Ted Fiorito)
9-8-1931Camden, New JerseyVictor
22811-A
Four Or Five Times
(Byron Gay / Marceo H. Hellman)
7-11-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21583-A
Gee, Ain’t I Good To You?
(Don Redman / Andy Razaf)
11-5-1929New York, New YorkVictor
V-38097-A
Bluebird
B-10249-A
HMV
B.4967
Hello
(Don Redman / Wilson)
11-5-1930New York, New YorkVictor
23031-A
Honeysuckle Rose (1)
(Andy Razaf / Fats Waller)
2-3-1930New York, New YorkVictor
Honeysuckle Rose (2)
(Andy Razaf / Fats Waller)
2-3-1930New York, New YorkVictor
unissued
Hullabaloo
(From Warner Bros. picture “Dancing Sweeties”)
Vocal refrain by Dave Wilborn

(Walter O’Keefe / Bobby Dolan)
7-30-1930Camden, New JerseyVictor
22511-A
I’d Love It (1)
(Don Redman / Will Hudson)
11-5-1929New York, New YorkVictor
V-38133-B
HMV
B.4967
I’d Love It (2)
(Don Redman / Will Hudson)
11-5-1929New York, New YorkVictor
V-38133-B
Victor
62-0059-B
If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight (1)
Vocal refrain by George Thomas

(Henry Creamer / James P. Johnson)
1-31-1930New York, New YorkVictor
V-38118-A
If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight (2)
Vocal refrain by George Thomas

(Henry Creamer / James P. Johnson)
1-31-1930New York, New YorkVictor
V-38118-A
I’ll Make Fun For You1-31-1930New York, New YorkVictor
V-38142
I Miss A Little Miss
(Who Misses Me In Sunny Tennessee)

Vocal refrain by George Bias

(Tod Seymour / J. Fred Coots)
11-5-1930New York, New YorkVictor
23024-A
It’s A Lonesome Old Town
(When You’re Not Around)
 (1)
Vocal refrain by Lois Deppe

(Harry Tobias / Charles Kisco)
2-12-1931Camden, New JerseyVictor
22628-A
It’s A Lonesome Old Town
(When You’re Not Around)
 (2)
Vocal refrain by Lois Deppe

(Harry Tobias / Charles Kisco)
2-12-1931Camden, New JerseyVictor
22628-A
It’s A Percious Thing Called Love
(Davis / Coots)
4-8-1929Camden, New JerseyVictor
V-38051-A
It Feels So Good4-9-1929New York, New YorkVictor
It’s Tight Like That
(Thomas A. Dorsey / Hudson Whittaker)
11-23-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
V-38013-A
Bluebird
B-6304
I’ve Found A New Baby
(Spencer Williams)
4-8-1929Camden, New JerseyVictor
V-38061-B
Bluebbird
B-7695-B
I Want A Little Girl (2)
with vocal refrain by George Thomas

(Billy Moll / Mencher)
7-30-1930Camden, New JerseyVictor
23000-B
I Want A Little Girl (3)
with vocal refrain by George Thomas

(Billy Moll / Mencher)
7-30-1930Camden, New JerseyVictor
23000-B
I Want A Little Girl (4)
(Billy Moll / Mencher)
7-30-1930Camden, New JerseyVictor
23000-B
I Want Your Love (1)
Vocal refrain by Dave Wilborn

(Don Redman / Palmer)
11-5-1930New York, New YorkVictor
22638-A
I Want Your Love (2)
Vocal refrain by Dave Wilborn

(Don Redman / Palmer)
11-5-1930New York, New YorkVictor
22638-A
Just A Shade Corn
Vocal refrain by Dave Wilborn

(Abe Maule)
7-28-1930Camden, New JerseyVictor
23012-B
Laughing At Life (1)
(N. Kenny / C. Kenny / “Cornell” Todd)
11-4-1930New York, New YorkVictor
23020-B
Laughing At Life (2)
(N. Kenny / C. Kenny / “Cornell” Todd)
11-4-1930New York, New YorkVictor
23020-B
Milenberg Joys (2)
(Jelly Roll Morton)
7-11-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21611-A
Milenberg Joys (3)
(Jelly Roll Morton)
7-11-1928Chicago, IllinoisRCA X
Miss Hannah
Vocal refrain by Don Redman

(Don Redman / John Nesbitt)
11-5-1929New York, New YorkVictor
V-38102-A
Never Swat A Fly
(from the FOX picture “Just Imagine”)

(Buddy De Sylva / Lew Brown / Ray Henderson)
11-4-1930New York, New YorkVictor
23020-A
Victor
62-0085-B
Nobody’s Sweetheart
(Gus Kahn / Ernie Erdman / Elmer Schoebel/ Billy Meyers)
7-12-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
V-38000-B
Bluebird
B-5728-B
Okay, Baby
vocal refrain by George Thomas

(Tracey / Maceo Pinkard)
7-29-1930Camden, New JerseyVictor
23000-A
Peggy
(Bismer / Buckley / Head)
11-7-1929New York, New YorkVictor
V-38133-A
Victor
62-0059-A
Plain Dirt
(C. Stanton)
11-5-1929New York, New YorkVictor
V-38097-B
Put It There
(Todd Rhodes)
7-11-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
V-38025-B
Rocky Road
(Arthur Gibbs / Joe Gray)
11-3-1930New York, New YorkVictor
62-0085-A
Save It, Pretty Mama
(Don Redman)
4-8-1929Camden, New JerseyVictor
V-38061-A
Victor
B-7695-A
Bluebird
7695-A
Sellin’ That Stuff
(Thomas A. Dorsey)
4-9-1929New York, New YorkVictor
V-38052-A
Bluebird
B-6595-B
She’s My Secret Passion
Vocal refrain by Donald King

(Val Valentine / Arthur Young)
2-12-1931Camden, New JerseyVictor
22628-B
Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble
(Spencer Williams)
7-12-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21611-B
Some Sweet Day
(Rose / Jackson / Olman)
7-12-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21730-B
Stop Kidding
(Neckbones And Sauerkraut)
 (1)

(John Nesbitt)
7-12-1928Chicago, IllinoisRCA X
Stop Kidding (2)
(John Nesbitt)
7-12-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
V-38025-A
Talk To Me (1)
Vocal refrian by Don Redman

(Don Redman)
11-3-1930New York, New YorkVictor
22640-A
Talk To Me (2)
Vocal refrian by Don Redman

(Don Redman)
11-3-1930New York, New YorkVictor
22640-A
There’s A Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder
(Jolson / Rose / Dreyer)
11-23-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
V-38013-B
The Way I Feel Today
(Howdy Quicksell / Don Redman / Andy Razaf)
11-5-1929New York, New YorkVictor
V-38102-B
Then Someone’s In Love
(Prival / Pollack)
1-31-1930New York, New YorkVictor
To Whom It May Concern
Vocal refrain by Lois Deppe

(Mitchell / Gottier / Meyer)
11-17-1930Camden, New JerseyVictor
23035-A
Travelin’ All Alone
Vocal refrain by George Thomas

(J.C. Johnson)
2-3-1930New York, New YorkVictor
V-38112-B
Bluebird
5647
Where Ever There’s A Will Baby (2)
(Don Redman)
11-7-1929New York, New YorkVictor
22736-B
Bluebird
B-10249-B
Where Ever There’s A Will Baby (3)
(Don Redman)
11-7-1929New York, New YorkRCA
RA 5314
Will You, Won’t You Babe?4-8-1929Camden, New JerseyVictor
Words Can’t Express The Way I Feel (1)
Vocal refrain by George Thomas

(Stanton / Don Redman / Andy Razaf)
1-31-1930New York, New YorkBluebird
5647
Words Can’t Express The Way I Feel (2)
Vocal refrain by George Thomas

(Stanton / Don Redman / Andy Razaf)
1-31-1930New York, New YorkVictor
V-38112-A
Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
(And Dream Your Troubles Away)

(Ted Koehler / Harry Barris / Billy Moll)
9-8-1931Camden, New JerseyVictor
22811-B
You’re Driving Me Crazy
Vocal Wilborn by Dave Wilborn

(Walter Donaldson)
11-17-1930Camden, New JerseyVictor
23031-B
Zonky
Vocal refrain by Dave Wilborn

(Andy Razaf / Fats Waller)
2-3-1930New York, New YorkVictor
V-38118-B
Bluebird
B-5728-A

ArtistInstrument
Cuba AustinDrums, Vocals
George BiasVocals
Benny CarterClarinet, Alto Saxophone
Doc CheathamTrumpet
Bill CotiVocals
Langston CurlTrumpet
Ed CuffeeTrombone
Sidney de ParisTrumpet
Lois DeppeVocals
Leonard DavisTrumpet
Jimmy DudleyClarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Ralph EscuderoTuba
Coleman HawkinsClarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Robert IngeClarinet, Alto Saxophone
Quentin JacksonTrombone
Moxey-Hilton JeffersonClarinet, Alto Saxophone
James P. JohnsonPiano
Claude JonesTrombone
Buddy LeeTrumpet
Donald KingVocals
Kaiser MarshallDrums
Frank MarvinVocals
Theodore McCordClarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Jim NapierVocals
John NesbittTrumpet, Arranger
Don RedmanArranger, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Vocals, Leader
Todd RhodesPiano, Celeste
Prince RobinsonClarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Milton SeniorTrumpet
Joe SmithTrumpet, Cornet
Rex StewartCornet
Billy TaylorTuba
George ThomasClarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals
Fats WallerPiano, Celeste
Dave WilbornBanjo, Vocals

 

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