A Tribute to the Late Tiny Bradshaw, the Great Composer (King LP 653)
Let us start the New Year of 2009 by paying tribute to a true giant of rhythm and blues: Myron “Tiny” Bradshaw, bandleader, drummer, blues shouter and tunesmith. If ever one musician encapsulated what Bebopwino is about then that musician is Tiny Bradshaw, a man whose musical career started in a college swing band in the 1920s, progressed through various big bands in the 1930s and 1940s, and then switched to small group jump and R&B in the late 1940s and thereafter had an influence on rock and roll in the 1950s via his song “The Train Kept A’Rollin’” which was covered by Johnny Burnette and the Rock’n’Roll Trio. Of course during the 1960s the Burnette version was covered in turn by The Yardbirds who then covered themselves by regurgitating the number as “Stroll On” in the Antonioni film “Blowup.” But I am getting somewhat ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the 1920s …
… back to Wilberforce University where we find young Tiny drumming and singing in Horace Henderson’s Collegians. Henderson (brother of Fletcher) broke up the band in 1928 and Bradshaw moved to New York where he played in a succession of big bands including Marion Hardy’s Alabamians, Duncan Mayer’s Savoy Bearcats and The Mills Blue Rhythm Band. When Bradshaw formed his own band in 1934, he took on the role of singing, dancing frontman inspired partly by Mills Blue Rhythm Band frontman Baron Lee, and partly by Cab Calloway. The band quickly secured a recording contract with Decca and although they had some success with “Shout Sister Shout” and “Darktown Strutters’ Ball”, the contract was not renewed and the Bradshaw band remained unrecorded for more than a decade.
Despite the lack of records being issued, the Bradshaw outfit remained a popular live attraction throughout the rest of the 1930s and into the wartime era. Tiny’s next recordings were Jubilee recordings for the Armed Forces in early 1944. Later that year his band was recording for the Regis and Manor labels in a jump-blues style. When Bradshaw signed with the Savoy label in 1947, he had slimmed the band down to a small group and was now recording tracks like “Take The Hands Off The Clock” in a rhythm and blues style.
In late 1949 Tiny Bradshaw signed for the King label and his powerful swing influenced R&B was soon hitting the charts. “Well Oh Well”, “Walking The Chalk Line”, “Soft” and “Heavy Juice” (the latter two tracks being instrumentals featuring Red Prysock on tenor sax) all charted between 1950 and 1953. Although there were no more chart hits for Tiny, his extremely danceable sax driven music was a big live attraction. When Red Prysock left the group in 1953, he was replaced by Sil Austin, who was replaced in turn by Noble Watts in mid-1954.
It was at this time that Tiny’s ever growing health problems forced him to cut back drastically on touring and recording. A stroke or heart attack left Tiny paralysed in both legs and although the band continued to record under his name until January 1958, he was actually present on only a handful of the recordings. In November 1958 it all came to an end when Tiny suffered a fatal heart attack.
This LP is a 1980s reissue on Sing of King LP 653 “A Tribute to the Late Tiny Bradshaw, the Great Composer” which was released in 1959. The 1959 tribute was in fact a reissue, with four additional tracks, of the 1958 King LP 395-501 “Tiny Bradshaw.” There are only two vocal tracks on the album, “Well Oh Well”, and “The Train Kept A’Rollin’”, with the bulk of the tracks made up of instrumentals recorded in 1953 and 1954. The three big hitting tenor sax men, Red Prysock, Sil Austin and Noble Watts are all well represented but we should also sing the praises of tenor sax man Rufus Gore who is present on most of these tracks.
Most of the above information on the career of Tiny Bradshaw was taken from Joop Visser’s sleevenotes to the “Tiny Bradshaw The EP Collection” CD. Label shots supplied by Joan K. If you are interested in investigating the early career of Tiny Bradshaw then CD1 of the Proper 2CD set “Breaking Up The House” has his pre-King recordings. CD2 of the set has a selection of his early King material. 43 tracks for a budget price – it has to be a bargain!
2. Off And On
3. Heavy Juice
4. Well Oh Well
5. Free For All
8. Stack Of Dollars
11. South Of The Orient
12. The Train Kept A’Rollin’
14. Ping Pong
15. Come on
16. Cat Fruit
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"The night is the corridor of history, not the history of famous people or great events, but that of the marginal, the ignored, the supressed, the unacknowledged; the history of vice, of error, of confusion, of fear, of want; the history of intoxication, of vainglory, of delusion, of dissipation, of delirium." Luc Sante - Low Life