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Saturday, 2 June 2018

Paul Gayten & Annie Laurie - Creole Gal

Side 1:
01. Your Hands Ain't Clean - Paul Gayten
02. True - Paul Gayten
03. Peter Blue And Jasper Too - Paul Gayten
04. I Still Love You - Paul Gayten
05. One Sweet Letter From You - Annie Laurie
06. Hey, Little Girl - Paul Gayten
07. Annie's Blues - Annie Laurie
08. Gayten's Nightmare - Paul Gayten

Side 2:
01. Creole Gal - Paul Gayten
02. My Rough And Ready Man - Annie Laurie
03. You Ought To Know - Paul Gayten
04. Cuttin' Out - Annie Laurie
05. I Ain't Gonna Let You In - Annie Laurie & Paul Gayten
06. Broadway's On Fire - Broadway Bill
07. Goodnight Irene - Paul Gayten
08. Cow Cow Blues - Paul Gayten
09. Nervous Boogie - Paul Gayten

Time for a revival of this fab Route 66 comp of Paul Gayten and Annie Laurie sides recorded mainly for the DeLuxe and Regal labels from 1947 to 1950. It's no exaggeration to say that New Orleans R&B starts here for Paul Gayten's "True" was the first Crescent City R&B recording to hit the national charts back in 1947. Nowadays we tend to think that the wildly successful New Orleans brand of R&B was launched by Fats Domino or maybe by Professor Longhair or even by Roy Brown. Nope, Paul Gayten was there first.

Early Days

Pianist, singer, bandleader, songwriter, producer and arranger Paul Gayten was born on January 29th 1920. Most sources give his place of birth as Kentwood, Louisiana, but in John Broven's sleevenotes to this LP which are based on a 1975 interview, Paul was clear that he was actually born in New Orleans. His extended family were natives of Kentwood and he lived there for part or perhaps all of his childhood. They were a musical family - his uncles, aunts, and his mother all played piano and Paul played from the age of twelve. His mother's brother was the blues pianist Little Brother Montgomery and their father, Harper Montgomery, played violin and ran juke joints.

According to a Blues Heaven online article, Harper Montgomery along with other family members relocated from Kentwood to Norfield, Mississippi, during the 1920's. Among the family members who made the move were Paul Gayten's parents, so we may assume that young Paul was along too. Harper, who had been running a juke joint in Kentwood, made the move to Norfield in order to work in the lumber industry. When the Norfield sawmill closed down, members of the Montgomery family relocated to Canton, Mississippi.

Sometime afterwards, members of the family moved to Jackson, Mississippi. Little Brother Montgomery had a small swing style band based there from around 1932 to 1939. Known as The Southland Troubadours and also The Collegiate Ramblers, they toured extensively in the Mid West and the South. The band broadcast regularly on local radio stations but were never recorded. In the mid 1930's  Little Brother Montgomery recorded sides for Vocalion, Decca and Bluebird either as a solo or with minimal accompaniment, usually a guitarist and extra vocalist.

According to John Broven's sleeve notes, Paul Gayten moved to Jackson in 1934 where he stayed with a "godfather" who owned a nightclub there. Perhaps this was Harper Montgomery. Paul started gigging in the club then had a spell with the Doc Parmley band for a year in 1935. Doc Parmley was the trumpet player in Little Brother Montgomery's band which he finally took over in 1939, so perhaps Paul's spell with the band was as a temporary replacement for his uncle who may have been busy with his recording activities. Paul also played with another Jackson based band, that of Don Dunbar and also toured with the Royal American Shows and then Silas Green.

Founded in 1923, The Royal American Shows (The World's Largest Midway) was a travelling carnival which toured the U.S.A. and Canada for most of the 20th Century, lasting until 1997. Silas Green From New Orleans was another long lived travelling attraction, being an African American owned tent show which toured the Southern States from 1904 to 1957 (although there are reports of them still operating as late as 1962).

Above: the Silas Green band assembles outside the tent in 1937

After leaving the Silas Green show in 1938, Paul returned to Jackson where he put together a band of his own (Paul Gayten's Sizzling Six) which included local sax man and future be bop star Teddy Edwards. In 1940 Paul was drafted into the forces, spending the war at Biloxi Army Airforce base where he led the base band. After the war, having met and married a New Orleans girl, he relocated to the Crescent City.

New Orleans, DeLuxe and Regal

On arrival in New Orleans Paul Gayten organised a trio which had Edgar Blanchard on guitar, George Pryor on bass and Robert Green on drums. A residency was secured at the Club Robin Hood and when Jules and David Braun, the owners of DeLuxe Records of Linden, New Jersey, came looking for New Orleans acts in early 1947, the Paul Gayten band was quickly signed up and the first recording session took place in January. The first Gayten record, "True" was a hit and around this time a female vocalist, Annie Laurie was added to the band. Her DeLuxe recording with the Gayten band of "Since I Fell For You" was an even bigger hit than "True."

Billboard, October 25th, 1947

The Gayten band had further success with "Hey Little Girl" in early 1948. As well as being on their own issues, and on those of Annie Laurie, the group also appeared on sides by Chubby Newsom and Eddie Gorman. In 1947-48 DeLuxe had a virtual monopoly on New Orleans talent, putting out discs by Smiley Lewis, Dave Bartholomew, and biggest of them all, Roy Brown. A double blow weakened the company in late 1947 and early 1948 when a fire in their pressing plant destroyed a large number of masters in November 1947, and the AFM recording ban followed at the beginning of 1948.

The company was rescued from financial ruin by the purchase of 51% of its shares by Syd Nathan of King Records. The relationship between Nathan and DeLuxe proved to be stormy and it ended with a complete takeover by King in mid 1949. Roy Brown transferred to King while the Braun brothers along with new partner Fred Mendelsohn set up a new label in New Jersey, Regal Records. The Gayten band along with Annie Laurie and new male vocalist Larry Darnell signed for the new label.

Back at the beginning of 1949 the Gayten band had expanded from a trio to a more substantial outfit which included trumpeter Wallace Davenport and tenor sax player Lee Allen. The move to Regal brought more chart success with Annie Laurie hitting with "Cuttin' Out" in late 1949 and two Gayten / Laurie duets selling well in 1950 - "I'll Never Be Free" and "I Ain't Gonna Let You In." However the biggest successes for the Gayten outfit were fronted by Larry Darnell - "For You My Love" (written by Gayten) and "I'll Get Along Somehow."

The Cash Box December 17th 1949

In 1991 the Regal recordings of Paul Gayten and Annie Laurie (but not Larry Darnell) were compiled by Billy Vera on a CD originally released on Specialty in the U.S and Ace in the U.K., "Regal Records In New Orleans." Sadly this collection is now out of print.

In mid-1951 Regal Records fell victim to financial problems. Paul Gayten, Annie Laurie and Larry Darnell's contracts were taken up by the newly reactivated OKeh label which had been set up as the R&B subsidiary of Columbia Records.

OKeh And Chess

Paul Gayten's first session for OKeh was on October 31st 1951, with Annie Laurie and Larry Darnell having their first OKeh sessions in November 1951. Neither of the two vocalists ever recorded with Paul for OKeh, as they were backed by bands under the direction of Howard Biggs and Leroy Kirkland. The sleeve notes on this LP record Paul's dissatisfaction at OKeh but there were a couple of good sellers in "They All Ask For You (Down At The Zoo)" in the autumn of 1952, and "Cow Cow Blues" (especially in Los Angeles and New Orleans) in the autumn of 1953.

Paul's last OKeh session was in November 1953. In 1954 he joined Chess Records as a producer, songwriter and talent scout. He also recorded for the label intermittently between 1954 and 1959, with his records being released on Chess subsidiaries Checker, Argo and Anna. Some of these mainly instrumental records did have limited success - "The Hunch," "Nervous Boogie" and "Windy" with the last named just about scraping into The Hot Hundred. South African and U.K. fans may recognize the tune of "Windy" as "Tom Hark" which was a big hit for SA group Elias And His Zigzag Jive Flutes. This original version reached number two in the UK charts in April 1958 and a rowdy vocal version by The Piranhas charted in the UK in 1980.

Among the records Paul produced at Chess were "Later Alligator" by Bobby Charles, "But I Do" (which he co-wrote with Eddie Bo) and "Ain't Got No Home," by Clarence "Frogman" Henry, and "Flat Foot Sam" by T.V. Slim. When Chess opened an office in Los Angeles, Paul was put in charge and he moved to LA where he spent the rest of his life. He worked for Chess until 1969, then started his own label, Pzzaz. Unfortunately the label only lasted a few years and when it went under, Paul retired from the music business. He died in LA on the 26th March 1991 from heart failure.

In 1989 Billy Vera compiled a collection of Paul Gayten's Chess sides, entitled "Paul Gayten: Chess King Of New Orleans." It appeared firstly as a 10 track LP and then as a 12 track CD. Both versions are long out of print.

Fax On The Trax

"True" and "Your Hands Ain't Clean" recorded in New Orleans in January 1947. Personnel: Paul Gayten (vocal, piano); Edgar Blanchard (guitar); Warren Stanley (bass); Robert Green (drums).

"True" / "Your Hands Ain't Clean" released on DeLuxe 1063 in March 1947. Reviewed in Billboard, July 1947. Number 5 in the Billboard Juke Box Race Records chart, October 18th, 1947.

"I Still Love You" - recorded in New Orleans in August / September 1947. Personnel: Annie Laurie (vocal); acc by Paul Gayten and his Trio: Paul Gayten (piano); Jack Scott (guitar); George H. Pryor (bass); Robert Green (drums).

"Ghost Of A Chance" / "I Still Love You" released on DeLuxe 1106 in October 1947. A Side credited to Annie Laurie with Paul Gayten & His Trio. B Side credited to Paul Gayten & His Trio with Annie Laurie.

"Peter Blue & Jasper Too" recorded in New Orleans in September 1947. Personnel: Paul Gayten (vocal, piano) with Jack Scott (guitar); George Pryor (bass); Robert Green (drums).

"Peter Blue & Jasper Too" / "In The Evening When The Sun Goes Down" by Paul Gayten & His Trio released on DeLuxe 1118 in March 1948.

Cash Box March 20th 1948

"One Sweet Letter From You" recorded in New Orleans in November 1947. Personnel: Annie Laurie (vocal); with Paul Gayten (piano); Jack Scott (guitar); George H. Pryor (bass); Robert Green (drums).

"I Love You Yes I Do" / "One Sweet Letter From You" by Annie Laurie and the Paul Gayten Trio released on DeLuxe 1131 in January 1948.

label shots adapted from

"Hey Little Girl" recorded in New Orleans in November 1947. Personnel: Paul Gayten (vocal, piano); Jack Scott (guitar); George H. Pryor (bass); Robert Green (drums).

"I Love You, Yes I Do" / "Hey, Little Girl" by Paul Gayten And His Trio released on DeLuxe 1138 in January 1948.

Confusion reigns here. There was a release on DeLuxe 1170 in March / April 1948 with "Hey, Little Girl" on the A Side and "One Sweet Letter From You" (Annie Laurie) on the B Side. We shall move swiftly on to 1949.

"Annie's Blues" was recorded in New York (?) in January 1949. Personnel: Annie Laurie (vocal); with Paul Gayten and Band: Wallace Davenport (trumpet); unknown trombone, alto sax; Lee Allen (tenor sax); Paul Gayten (piano); Peter "Chuck" Badie (bass); Robert Green (drums).

"Waiting For You" / "Annie's Blues" released in January / February 1949 on DeLuxe 1211, then Deluxe 3211. "Annie's Blues" was number 6 in the "Hot In New Orleans" chart in The Cash Box, February 26th, 1949.
Billboard 5th March, 1949

"Gayten's Nightmare" and "Creole Gal" recorded in New Orleans, February 1949. Personnel: Paul Gayten (vocal, piano); with Wallace Davenport (trumpet); unknown trombone, alto sax; Lee Allen (tenor sax); Peter "Chuck" Badie (bass); Robert Green (drums).

"Hard To Go Through Life Alone" / "Gayten's Nightmare" issued on DeLuxe 1210 and 3210, probably February / March 1949. "Gayten's Nightmare" number 9 in Hot In Other Cities" Atlanta chart, 23rd April 1949.

"Can't Help Lovin' That Gal" / "Creole Gal" issued on DeLuxe 1215, 3215 in first half of 1949.

The above was the last Paul Gayten session for DeLuxe which was bought over by King Records. A successor company to DeLuxe called Regal was set up and Paul Gayten and Annie Laurie started recording for the new label in August / September 1949.

"My Rough And Ready Man" and "Cuttin' Out" were recorded in New Orleans in early September 1949. Personnel: Annie Laurie (vocal) with Wallace Davenport (trumpet); Frank Campbell (alto sax); Buddy Tate (tenor sax); Cecil Payne (baritone sax); Paul Gayten (piano); Jack Scott (guitar); George H. Pryor (bass); Robert Green (drums).

"Cuttin' Out" / "My Rough And Ready Man" released on Regal 3235 in October 1949. Annie Laurie with the Paul Gayten Orchestra.

"You Ought To Know" was recorded in New Orleans in early September 1949. Personnel: Paul Gayten (vocal,p) withTaft Jordan (trumpet); Eddie Barefield (alto sax); Buddy Tate (tenor sax); Cecil Payne (baritone sax); unknown guitar and bass; Denzil Best (drums).

"I'll Never Be Free" / "You Ought To Know" released on Regal 3258 in March 1950. Side A by Annie Laurie, Paul Gayten and His Orchestra. Side B by Paul Gayten and His Orchestra.

"Broadway's On Fire" was recorded in New Orleans in February 1950. Personnel: "Broadway Bill" Cook (vocal) with Paul Gayten (piano); unknown tenor sax, guitar, bass; Sam Woodyard (drums).

"Broadway's On Fire" by Broadway Bill with Paul Gayten and orchestra / "Bellboy Boogie" by Paul Gayten and orchestra released on Regal 3255 in March (?) 1950.

adapted from

"I Ain't Gonna Let You In" was recorded in New Orleans in February 1950. Personnel: Annie Laurie (vocal) with Paul Gayten (vocal, piano); John Hunt (trumpet); "Chippy" Outcalt (trombone); Eddie Barefield (alto sax); Ray Abrams (tenor sax); Aaron Bell (bass); Sam Woodyard (drums); Howard Biggs (arranger).

"I Ain't Gonna Let You In" / "I Need Your Love" released on Regal 3273, May / June (?) 1950. "I Ain't Gonna Let You In" credited to Annie Laurie - Paul Gayten with the Paul Gayten Orchestra.

Cash Box, 22nd July 1950

"Goodnight Irene" recorded in New York in early August 1950. Personnel: Paul Gayten and his Orchestra: Wallace Davenport (trumpet); Eddie Barefield (alto sax); Hank Mobley (tenor sax); Frank Campbell (baritone sax) Paul Gayten (vocal, piano); Larry Goines (bass); unknown (drums); The Coleman Brothers (vocal group).

"Goodnight Irene" / "Ooh La La" released on Regal 3281 in August / September 1950.

"Cow Cow Blues" recorded in New Orleans on May 4th, 1953. Personnel: Paul Gayten (piano) with unknown (bass, drums).

"Cow Cow Blues" / "Ooh-Boo" by Paul Gayten and his Orchestra released on Okeh 6982 in June 1953.

adapted from

"Nervous Boogie" recorded in New Orleans in March 1957. Personnel: Paul Gayten (piano) with Lee Allen (tenor sax); Alvin "Red" Tyler {baritone sax); Edgar Blanchard (guitar); Roland Cook or Frank Field (bass); Charles "Hungry" Williams (drums).

"Nervous Boogie" by Paul Gayten and his Band / "Flatfoot Sam" by Oscar Wills with Paul Gayten Orch. released on Argo 5277 in August 1957.


Billy Vera became friends with Paul Gayten in 1979. He wrote the liner notes for the two CDs he compiled - "Regal Records In New Orleans" and "Chess King Of New Orleans." He also wrote an article "Remembering Paul Gayten" for Blues And Rhythm Magazine (number 202 - September 2005).

John Broven wrote the notes for this LP "Creole Gal" and also covered Paul Gayten in his book "Rhythm & Blues In New Orleans."

Other sources - Bruyninckx discography, "Big Band Jazz" by Albert McCarthy, Big Al Pavlow's The R&B Book,,, Billboard, The Cash Box,

Recommended purchase -

Probably the only CD which is still available is the El Toro compilation "Ain't Nothin' Happenin' - Cool Jump Blues 1947 - 1957." 30 tracks spanning Paul Gayten's career including sides by Annie Laurie and Larry Darnell. Doesn't quite include every biggie, but it's your best bet for digging up some cool Gayten.