If you like your R&B stripped down to the basics, if you dig a late night smoky club atmosphere with a small group groovin' on lowdown blues and boogie, if Sonny Thompson's "Long Gone" is your bag, then this is the stuff for you.
"The Beale Street Gang" (occasionally "The Beale Street Boys") was the moniker of several small groups led by pianist Milt Buckner which recorded for Savoy in 1946-48 and again in 1951. While recording these sessions Milt's main musical activity was with the Lionel Hampton big band of which he was an original member, having joined as pianist and arranger in 1941. In 1949 and early 1950 Milt recorded for MGM with his own short lived big band (the sides had a similar sound to that of Hamp), but by October 1950 Milt was back with the Hampton outfit.
The sides on this little comp could therefore be regarded as very much a "side project" and they certainly have a spontaneous feel about them as they consist mainly of basic blues riffing and boogies. It's R&B the way I like it!
In 1952 Milt changed over from piano to the Hammond organ and embarked on a long career playing small group jazz. In the 1950s into the early 1960s he cut material for Capitol, Argo and Bethlehem. From 1966 until his death in 1977 he recorded many LPs for European labels, especially the French label Black & Blue.
The Beale Street Gang sides represent a brief outbreak of raw R&B in between Milt's more well known stints as big band arranger / pianist and organ combo leader. Here's the details, groovers:
"Lights Out" and "Raising The Roof" were recorded in NYC on October 28th, 1946. Personnel: Milt Buckner (piano) with: Pazzuza Simon (tenor sax); Curly Russell (bass); Arthur Herbert (drums).
Lights Out / Raising The Roof was issued on Savoy 653 in July 1947. Credited to The Beale St. Boys then on later issues to The Beale Street Gang.
"Jelly Roll Jan," "Raisin' The Roof" and "Teddy Bear" were recorded in NYC on December 8th, 1947. Personnel: Milt Buckner (piano) with: unknown (trumpet); Ray Abrams (tenor sax); possibly Curly Russell (bass) and possibly Arthur Herbert (drums).
Jelly Roll Jan / Jumpin' In Jack's House was issued on Savoy 669 in August 1948.
"Teddy Bear" was issued as the B Side of Regent 129, probably in October 1948, credited to The Beale Street Gang. The A Side was "Killer Diller" by Gene Coy And His Killer Dillers. This disc was very popular in Jamaica where it was released on Savoy 5555 and later as a 45 on Top Rank.
"Fatstuff Boogie," "Lazy Joe" and "Back Alley Blues" were recorded in NYC on July 11th 1948. Personnel: Milt Buckner (piano) with unknown trumpet, tenor sax, bass and drums.
Fatstuff Boogie / Lazy Joe was issued on Savoy 693 in May 1949.
"Back Alley Blues" was issued as the B Side of "Double Crossin' Blues" by the Johnny Otis Quintette on Savoy 731 in February / March 1950. The original review issue of this disc had "Ain't Nothin' Shakin'" by Leon Sims coupled with the Johnny Otis side, but this seems to have been quickly replaced by The Beale Streeters' opus.
"Double Crossin' Blues" which featured Little Esther and The Robins was a number 1 R&B hit in March and April 1950. In May 1950 it was replaced at the top of the R&B charts by another Johnny Otis disc - "Mistrustin' Blues" which featured Little Esther and Mel Walker.
"Red, Red Wine" and "Boogie Grunt" were recorded in NYC on April 5th, 1951. Personnel: Milt Buckner (piano, vocal) with: Tyree Glenn (trombone); Harold Clark (tenor sax); Reuben Phillips (baritone sax); Aaron Bell (bass); Tim Kennedy (drums).
Red, Red Wine / Boogie Grunt was issued on Savoy 785 in May 1951. Credited to Milton Buckner And His Beale Street Gang.
I first came across The Beale Street Gang when I was reading up on the background to the Savoy LP "Rhythm and Blues Volume 1" which had "Lights Out" credited to Milton Buckner. Read that post for details of how "Lights Out" reappeared in 1954 as "Blue Nights" credited to The Hot Shots.
For an in depth look at this phase of Milt Buckner's career see this website:
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This is a site dedicated to rockin' 1940s and 1950s music, ripped from vinyl. Some cuts are a bit on the rough side. If you're looking for audio perfection you're on the wrong site baby! If you like what you hear on this site please buy this kind of music. There are many reasonably priced reissues available from web dealers or perhaps from your local record shop, if it still exists. These reissues will be in far better sound quality than the vinyl rips on this site and they will usually have more up to date liner notes and info, so go out and splash a little cash now and again. Help keep those reissue labels going in these difficult times.
No in-print CDs will be posted here. In fact no CDs will be posted here. I will occasionally list recommended purchases to help you hear more from artists featured on the blog.
26th February 2018
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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