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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Joe Turner and Pete Johnson - Jumpin' The Blues


Side 1:
01. Wine-O-Baby Boogie - Joe Turner
02. B & O Blues - Joe Turner
03. Rocket Boogie "88" Part 1 - Pete Johnson & His Orchestra
04. Old Piney Brown's Gone - Joe Turner
05. Baby, Won't You Marry Me - Joe Turner
06. Skid Row Boogie - Pete Johnson & His Orchestra

Side 2:
01. Christmas Date Boogie - Joe Turner
02. Radar Blues - Joe Turner
03. Tell Me Pretty Baby - Joe Turner
04. Rocket Boogie "88" Part 2 - Pete Johnson & His Orchestra
05. Trouble Boogie - Joe Turner
06. Half Tight Boogie - Pete Johnson & His Orchestra






When Big Joe Turner left Decca in 1944 having recorded a series of classic sides from November 1940 to October 1944, he couldn't have foreseen that he would spend nearly seven years hopping from label to label in the search for recording success. In 1945 and 1946 he was with National, in July 1947 he recorded a couple of sides for Imperial ("Ice Man Blues" and "Roll 'em Pete"). In November 1947 he recorded a version of "Around The Clock Blues" for Stag under the pseudonym Big Vernon and in the same month he had a session for Aladdin, and at the end of that month and in early December he had his final sessions for National.

At the end of 1947 he was recorded live at a Gene Norman promoted "Just Jazz" concert for RPM. The AFM recording ban brought a temporary halt to Joe's discographic wanderings, but when he resumed recording in June 1948, it was for yet another label, Jack Lauderdale's Down Beat which was renamed Swing Beat in October 1949 and then six months later Swing Time.

On June 28th, 1948, in Los Angeles, Joe Turner and his longtime collaborator, boogie pianist Pete Johnson, recorded eight sides for release on Down Beat. They were accompanied by what was essentially the Jay McShann band at that time. Personnel - Joe Turner (vocals) with: James Ross, Art Farmer (trumpets); Frank Sleet (alto sax); Pete Peterson (tenor sax); Milburn Newman (baritone sax); Pete Johnson (piano); unknown (guitar); Addison Farmer (bass) Robert Brady (drums).

Four singles were released from the session. Tracking down the original release dates of these singles has proved to be more difficult than usual and indeed there seems to be some contradiction in the information I found. For once I've failed to find label shots for all of the original discs, so I can't be sure of the original artist attribution on the first of these records. Anyway, here goes -

Down Beat 151 - Radar Blues / Trouble Blues presumably issued in 1948.

Down Beat 152 - Wine-O-Baby Boogie / B&O Blues - Joe Turner with orchestral accompaniment featuring Pete Johnson at the "88". This disc was reviewed in Billboard on 28th May 1949 and also featured in an ad in Billboard on 9th April 1949. The take of "B&O Blues" on this LP is probably a different take to the one issued on 78rpm single.

Down Beat 153 - Tell Me Pretty Baby / Christmas Date Boogie - Joe Turner's Orchestra with Pete Johnson at the "88". Release date unknown. Presumably before Christmas 1948. This disc was re-released on Swing Time 269 as "How D'Ya Want Your Rollin' Done" / "Christmas Date" in December 1951 and was credited to Joe Turner, with no mention of Pete Johnson.

Down Beat 154 - Baby Won't You Marry Me / Old Piney Brown's Gone - Joe Turner's Orchestra with Pete Johnson. "Old Piney Brown Is Gone" was number 10 in the Hot In New Orleans chart in The Cash Box magazine on October 9th, 1948. Either this disc was issued before Down Beat 152 or else "Wine-O-Baby Boogie" was issued earlier than the Billboard review and ad of 1949. It may be that all 4 Joe Turner discs were issued in the second half of 1948.

adapted from audiopreservationfund.org

In late 1948 or early 1949 (exact date unknown), Pete Johnson was back in the studio to record some sides for Down Beat, this time without Joe Turner but instead in the company of a group led by Maxwell Davis. Three singles were released from this session, two of which are on this LP. The missing single is Wrinkle House Boogie / Roadhouse Boogie (Swing Time 175).

Personnel - Jewell Grant (alto sax); Maxwell Davis (tenor sax); Pete Johnson (piano); Herman Mitchell (guitar); Ralph Hamilton (bass); Jesse Sailes (drums).

Down Beat 168 - Skid Row Boogie / Half Tight Boogie - Pete Johnson Sextette. Released in February 1949. The single was featured in Billboard ads on the 12th February and 9th April 1949. "Skid Row Boogie" was number 4 in The Cash Box magazine's "Hot In Other Cities" chart for Merion, Pennsylvania, on March 19th, 1949.

Billboard, 12th February 1949

adapted from Discogs.com

Swing Time 169 - Rocket Boogie "88" Part I / Rocket Boogie "88" Part II - Pete Johnson. Probable release in November 1950. Reviewed in the "Hot Jazz" section of Billboard, 11th November 1950.

adapted from rateyourmusic.com

"Rocket Boogie 88 - Part I" and "Rocket Boogie 88 - Part II" are virtually identical on this LP. It's possible that the "Part - II" issued on the original 78rpm single was a different track.

Joe Turner's label hopping continued after his Down Beat session. In the second half of 1948 he had two Los Angeles sessions for MGM in which he was backed by much the same band which featured in Pete Johnson's Down Beat session. He recorded two sides for the small Coast label with the same musicians in October 1948.

After a barren recording period which lasted most of 1949, he cut sides for Houston label Freedom in December 1949 and early 1950. The 1949 session was with Connie Johnson's band which included Joe Houston, Lonnie Lyons and Goree Carter, while the early 1950 session was backed by the Pluma Davis Orchestra.

April 1950 found Joe in New Orleans recording for Imperial with Dave Bartholomew's band. Joe was then without a recording contract for a year until April 1951 when he was signed by Atlantic. And the rest is history ...

Elsewhere On The Blog







That's all on Joe Turner for the moment. Once I get round to buying a new turntable I'll be able to add another LP with sides from Big Joe's pre-Atlantic years.

14 comments:

Don Rocin said...

I think the unknown guitarist in those early tracks is no one. I don’t think a guitar, in those days, would have a chance against all that brass.
Its interesting how the band line-up changed in the later tracks to a more rock n roll setup with the baritone sax and trumpet making way for the guitar.
With your bit rate far superior to my own tracks, you were able to clear up a thought I had that there were 2 guitarists on Rocket Boogie 88 Part 2. On listening to yours, I think its just some cool, subtle rhythm playing by Pete Johnson underneath Herman Mitchel’s solo. I always thought the lead was Barney Kessel with rhythm by Mitchel. I owe someone a beer. Anyway, its just such a wonderful track and great old friend of mine.

Anonymous said...

Boogiewoody,
This is wonderful and amazing post,
as has been from You many many times before.
Sincere thanks also because of the info.
(One doesn't always find all the possible answers
at once or easily, but that is one side of the picture.
On the other hand; the searching is always a lenghty work
even if results could be found. Perhaps someone from the
circles of enthusiasts might add some detail or label scan
later on. You have presented perfect ground to possibilities.)
Always joyable to get to hear music of Joe & Pete. Appreciated !
- Jay from North.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks for commenting guys. Don - I've listened to both parts of Rocket Boogie 88 and I think you're right about it being one guitar underpinned by Pete Johnson's piano.I suspect parts 1 and 2 are the exact same track with part 2 perhaps being slightly sped up.

Jay - it would be great if fellow enthusiasts could provide more information. In my next post you'll see that I have been unable to find out the usual details about dates of original issues. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat!

BW

The Jackal said...

Dear Woodie,

Thanks for your research effort and material.
Enjoying my jump blues education

Tony aka Pismotality said...

What a fantastic image of Turner! Great to renew my acquaintance with Big Joe - by coincidence I have been reading a biography of Doc Pomus which describes how Pomus helped get him the royalties he was owed in later life. Apparently it was Turner's 1944 Decca recording of Piney Brown which inspired Pomus to become a blues shouter. One great anecdote in the book (and the recent documentary AKA Doc Pomus, also recommended) is that when one venue was overworking Turner, making him play three shows a night, Pomus sent his chauffeur out to phone in a bomb scare - and Turner got his night off!

boogiewoody said...

This is the school of cool, Mr Jackal. Glad you enrolled.

Tony - I've just watched the first 20 minutes of AKA Doc Pomus on a not quite legal website. Outstanding so far, but as it's now one in the morning I'll have to catch up with the rest tomorrow. I have a feeling I may have seen this a few years ago on TV. A quick check on Amazon comes up with the DVD at a very high price, which is a bummer.

BW

boogiewoody said...

A follow up to my last reply - I finished watching the documentary "AKA Doc Pomus" - it was absolutely outstanding. Only copies on Amazon are very expensive, but I did manage to order a copy of the biographical book "Lonely Avenue" at a low price.

A simple google search on "aka doc pomus" will soon turn up the site where you can view the film for free. Would love to get a copy of the DVD though, so I'm off to search the local DVD / record shops.

BW

Tony aka Pismotality said...

Yes, it's a great documentary. Lonely Avenue is very well written indeed and although it's about Doc Pomus there is a lot about his collaboration with Mort Shuman. It's like a fuller version of the documentary.

BTW there is also a joint biography of Pomus and Shuman by Graham Vickers published by Omnibus Press which might seem like a better bet - two for the price of one and all that - but I wouldn't recommend it. The writing style isn't halfway as good and the author has an axe to grind: he's convinced that friends of Pomus have conspired to downplay the importance of Shuman's contribution so he goes the other way and the second half of the book is virtually all about Mort Shuman's later career in France. From the R&B/rock'n'roll point of view Lonely Avenue tells you all you need to know.

I looked around recently for a DVD copy too. There is a dedicated website for the documentary and you can order it from there using paypal for twenty one quid including postage. I did so today and wasn't charged extra for UK postage.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks for the tip on the Graham Vickers book Tony. I used the "look inside" facility on Amazon to sample the style of "Lonely Avenue" and I must say that I really liked what I read. I'm in Glasgow city centre tomorrow so I'll have a wee look around for the DVD.

I'm almost at the end of the Miles Davis autobiography (co-written with Quincy Troupe) which is, er, something else! For me it was best summed up in a two word Amazon review - "Pimptastically hilarious!" I've got a queue of books to read but I have a feeling that "Lonely Avenue" will go straight to the head of that queue when it arrives.

BW

GuitarGus said...

Thanks BW
I love JT & PJ and I've never heard these before
Great blog and data
Cheers

Tony aka Pismotality said...

If you still haven't found a DVD of AKA Doc Pomus this is to confirm that I have now safely received my copy ordered via the dedicated website: http://akadocpomus.com/
So the site is kosher. If you click the button on the home page it takes you to paypal and you don't have to add any extra postage for the UK. The DVD is posted from Canada and comes to about £21. There are no extras, extended interviews or deluxe booklets, bonus CDs etc as further enticement.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks for the info on the DVD Tony. It's a shame there are no extras so I may well pass on ordering a copy. I've finished reading "Lonely Avenue" which as you say is like a fuller version of the film. I found it a fascinating, very well written book and very moving in places. I found a copy in the Glasgow Union Street branch of Fopp after the internet supplier from whom I had ordered a copy got in touch to say that the book was slightly damaged.

Have you any plans for writing a post on Doc Pomus in your brilliant blog? I found myself going through some of your older posts last night, especially on Ben E. King. And then there was that one on Donovan singing at a concert for Upper Clyde Shipbuilders which I found very interesting. So much great writing!

BW

Tony aka Pismotality said...

Many thanks for your kind comments BW. There was a post about Doc Pomus from 6th April this year, an overview of the documentary and the two available books: http://sweetwordsofpismotality.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/doc-pomus-and-mort-shuman-documentary.html

boogiewoody said...

Thanks Tony. Somehow I missed that post.

BW