Previous Vocal Group Record of the Week
#908 (6/16/18)

(The 1940's)    

"It Had To Be You"
Jimmie Lunceford And His Orchestra
Vocal by The Lunceford Quartet
on Decca 18504 A
released in 1942

"Water Faucet (Drip, Drip, Drip)"
Jimmie Lunceford And His Orchestra
Vocal by Quartet and Jack Carruthers
on Majestic 1122 B
released in 1947

[Above photo provided by Paul Ressler and restored by Tony Fournier.]

Above: The Lunceford Quartet And Jimmie Lunceford (L-R Front) Gerald Wilson, Trummy Young, Joe Thomas, Willie Smith, and Jimmie Lunceford.

[Above photo provided by Paul Ressler and restored by Tony Fournier.]

The Lunceford Quartet (L-R) Willie Smith, Trummy Young, Joe Thomas, and Gerald Smith.

#1 Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra's Brass Section Alongside Jimmie

#2 Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra's Brass Section Alongside Jimmie

Left: Indianapolis Recorder 1/31/42

Right: Indianapolis Recorder 4/21/45

Left: Jimmie Lunceford And Trummy Young

Right: Jimmie Lunceford

Left: 1941 Clipping

Right: Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra

Left: Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra

Right: #3 Jimmie Lunceford And His Brass Section

Left: 1941 Poster

Right: New York Age 1/1/44


The Courageous lad of flying trapeze fame has nothing on maestro Jimmie Lunceford, vender of swing "voom" who will be heard at the Sunset Terrace on Sunday nite. Lunceford did something so daring in New York recently that the "wise guys" laid down odds he was whacky. No other hot swing batoneer would even dream of doing what Jimmie did—and if he did dream it, he'd keep it to himself.

After playing Harlem and Manhattan dance halls regularly, Jimmie Lunceford booked five engagements, four in Harlem, all within a ten-day period. If you don't know what four dates in Harlem in such a short period means, remember that Harlem is the home of hot bands and only a Jimmie Lunceford with swing drawing power in nth degree magnitudes would attempt the feat. It beats the guy who carried coals to New Castle.

Courage was the biggest asset Lunceford ever had when he stepped into the professional realm of orchestra leading. He was a high school teacher with three college degrees and had an amateur band in Memphis, Tenn. That 9-piece ork was made up of nine Negro boys who were graduating into starvation prospects back in '27. Professor Lunceford resigned from the faculty and became a headwaiter so that he could feed the nine musical prodigies, keep them together, and put the finishing touches on their band apprenticeship. Did that require courage? No answers needed, that's the Jimmie Lunceford you'll hear at the Sunset and five of the original boys are still with him.

Advance tickets are now on sale at 85 cents. Admission at the door is $1.10.

(Picture at left is from Muncie Evening Press dated 2/21/47.)

Jimmie Lunceford entered Valhalla the way he wanted it: leading his beloved band. The famed "Harlem Express" had made his last run, leaving in his wake a tradition in music, lasting friendships, myriad broken box office records, and a spotless reputation as a gentleman—truly a treasure trove of golden accomplishment of which show business can be justly proud...He lived the good life.

Lunceford's rapier-like baton and unusual mode of directing his orchestra were trademarks that made him a standout conductor, despite the fact that he seldom played an instrument. His stylish movements imparted drive to his musicians who interpreted his meaning into an exciting syncopation that became the sensation of a nation and the toast of a continent.

Stricken on the bandstand while his orchestra was playing a dance at the Bangalow Ballroom at Seaside, Ore., near Portland, the portly leader died en route to a hospital. Apparently in good health and in an excellent frame of mind concerning the prospects of his organization, his sudden collapse came as a severe shock to his men, several of whom had played with his band since it was organized in 1927....

EXTRA AUDIO (Windows Media Player):
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

ABOVE: (Left) Clipping from Daily Press, Newport News, VA, dated 8/16/48; (Center) Eddie Wilcox, circa late 1947; and (Right) Joe Thomas circa, 1948.

The Lunceford group is considered by music critics as a first-rate jazz group. Eddie Wilcox, a native of Raleigh, and Joe Thomas, of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, are two members of the original Lunceford band who have led in the bandís reorganization as a memorial to the prominent Negro artist. Wilcox has been associated with Lunceford and Luncefordian jazz since he met the popular bandleader at Fiske University, in Memphis. Wilcox, as pianist and arranger, worked with Lunceford and Sy Oliver in setting the tempo for such JL-favorites as "Outskirts of Town," "Rhythm Is Our Business," "Sophisticated Lady," "Solitude" and "Walking Through Heaven."

As tenor sax player and vocalist, Joe Thomas hitched his wagon to the Lunceford star after getting his early musical training with bands like Earl Hood, Horace Henderson, George Dixon, and Stuff Smith. Thomas, according to information from the Gale publicity agency of New York, "typifies the driving, creative styling that came to be the hallmark of the late Jimmie Luncefordís original orchestra. Thomas is an exponent of 'personalized rhythm,' and this was the sort of thing which distinguished the band from the time it came into prominence."

The reorganization of the band is in itself a memorial to the memory of Jimmie Lunceford, who was born in Fulton, Missouri, in 1902. When his family moved to Denver, Colorado, it was there the young Lunceford met James Whiteman, father of Paul Whiteman. From Denver the musician moved to Memphis, where he attended and was graduated from the Manassa high school. He then was enrolled at Fiske University in 1926. His musical career led him into New York's famed Cotton Club and to one of the top positions in the field of jazz. In a page-long eulogy to the bandleader, a critic in the magazine "Downbeat" wrote "The death of Lunceford marked the end of an era in the history of jazz."

The famed Jimmie Lunceford orchestra will henceforth be under the exclusive direction of Eddie Wilcox, brilliant pianist-arranger and veteran key member of the original "rhythm is our business" aggregation. Following the untimely death of the beloved Jimmie, the band has been under co-leadership of Wilcox and saxophonist Joe Thomas, who has retired from professional life to pursue a business career in his home town.

With the recently released Columbia record album of Lunceford's All-Time Hits and their latest Manor disc, "Gug-Mug", zooming to national popularity, the Eddie Wilcox-Jimmie Lunceford crew will commence their semi-annual, cross country one-nighter tour in late October, under the booking aegis of Gale Agency, Inc., New York.

(The Billboard dated 11/22/47)

Manor 1161 was released in January 1949. Both sides feature Eddie Wilcox And The Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra, vocals by Savannah Churchill on the A-side and by Joe Thomas on the flip. During 1947-1949, there were at least seven records released on Manor with the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra directed by either Eddie Wilcox or both Wilcox and Joe Thomas.

1. "A Study In Blue" - Savannah Churchill - Manor 1161 A - 1949.
2. "Jackie" - Eddie Wilcox And The Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra - Manor 1161 B - 1949.
BOTH played in sequence

EXTRA EXTRA AUDIO (Windows Media Player):
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

ABOVE: (Top Left) Decca 24807 Label; (Top Center) Sy Oliver; (Top Right) Jack Haskell, circa 1947; (Bottom) Rainbow Room patrons, in New York City, dancing to the music of Sy Oliver's orchestra in the background, from 1953.

From 1949 to 1956, the Sy Oliver Orchestra had many records issued on the Decca label, either by them or providing instrumental backing to other artists.

The Cash Box Disc Of The Week (12/3/49):

SY OLIVER ORCHESTRA — DECCA 24807.... A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes
Here is a side that is gonna make a splash, and reverberate on juke boxes throughout the land in no time at all. The Sy Oliver ork comes up with a winner. The tune is from the new Walt Disney flicker "Cinderella," and should receive heavy bally from it. The song has Jack Haskell and the Aristokats spooning the vocal pleasure of a dainty ditty in the lullaby vein. Jack's vocal work, added to the excellent musical backdrop of the Oliver ork, makes this a must for your machines. It's a tempting piece of music, the kind you wanna listen to time and again. Ditty is suited to dancing as well as listening and should be received with wide fervor. This recording is top drawer material—ops should get it—but pronto!

1. "That's The Gal For Me" - Sy Oliver Orchestra (Vocal By Bob Marshall And The Aristokats) - Decca 24653 - 1949.
2. "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" - Sy Oliver Orchestra (Vocal By Jack Haskell And The Aristokats) - Decca 24807 - 1949.
3. "Aboard The Sentimental Train" - Sy Oliver Orchestra (Vocal By The Tune Timers) - Decca 27809 - 1951.
ALL THREE played in sequence

Above: Label image of Decca 18504 A recorded on April 14, 1942.

The Billboard Review (10/24/42):

This evergreen is brought up to date again by an attractive Lunceford jump arrangement, featuring the same quartet that caused such a riot with My Blue Heaven and Cheatin' On Me. This oldie should duplicate the success of the earlier Lunceford hits in many locations. Melody is still familiar, and the arrangement has what it takes to breathe new life into the song.

(The Billboard dated 5/10/47)

Above: Label image of Majestic 1122 B recorded in May 1947. Jimmie Lunceford And His Orchestra

The Cash Box Review (4/28/47):

Novelty cookie offered ops this week shows Jimmie Luncford and his boys in high style. Chanting the lyrics all thru the side is Jack Carruthers aided by a vocal four, who make pleasant listening. Jack does a diologue sketch here a la "Richard," which might set the pace. With the refrain echoing "Drip - Drip - Drip," the ditty is one that race record fiends might like. It's there for the asking, so go for it.

NOTE: Most discographical information provided at this website is from Ferdie Gonzalez' Disco-File.

Listen to this week's selections featuring Jimmie Lunceford And His Orchestra on Decca/Majestic from the 1940's using Windows Media Player:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

          1. It Had To Be You
          2. Water Faucet (Drip, Drip, Drip)
          BOTH played in sequence
          ALL SEVEN SONGS ON THIS PAGE played in sequence

          [To download audio files, right-click on link and then select "Save link (target) as..."]

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