In one of the boxes were five 12-inch acetate discs carefully stored in custom-made brown paper sleeves. A ten-sided mystery: What was on these vintage transcription recordings? Photo by Gems of Jazz
But not this time.
In this lady's basement were three big, dusty cardboard boxes. In the boxes were probably 300 78 rpm discs. That's usually a bad sign – think Vic Damone, Patti Page, Kay Kyser, Mario Lanza. But the first shellac platter I pulled out was a Sonny Stitt on Roost. The next one was by Gil Melle, a 12-inch Blue Note, and the one after that was by Cyril Haines on red-label Comet. Who the hell was Cyril Haines? My palms were starting to sweat.
It turned out that this lady's relative had been a disc jockey and entertainer in the '40s from somewhere out west. She wouldn't tell me much about him, but she said he was a jazz guy. I got the sense she didn't like him much and that's why she was getting rid of his stuff. A purge. And I was the beneficiary.
Viola Wells (also known as Viola Underhill) worked as "Miss Rhapsody" for a decade from the mid-'30s to the mid-'40s. Photo from "Swing City: Newark Nightlife, 1925-50"
"Miss Dodo," v*; Eddie Taliaferro, emcee.
Brown Derby Lounge, Chattanooga, TN; Spring or summer 1945
1. Intro/Swamp Fire (inst.) 00:00
Leap Frog (inst.) 00:44
If It Ain’t Love* (part 1) 03:04
2. If It Ain’t Love* (part 2) 00:00
Chop Chop (inst.) 01:18
Commercial (partial) 03:25
3. Bye, Bye, Baby 00:18
Christopher Columbus (inst., part 1) 03:14
Hey, Lawdy Mama 02:15
Commercial (part 1) 04:05
C-Jam Blues (inst.) 00:28
Wham (partial) 03:23
St. Louis Blues 00:55
Sentimental Journey (inst., partial) 02:50