Monday, February 18, 2013

Gettin' Ready Blues - Paul Howard Quality Serenaders

Although not a major soloist himself, Paul Howard has a certain amount of fame among vintage jazz collectors because his Quality Serenaders was an exciting band in the late 1920s; among his sidemen were Lionel Hampton (on drums) and trombonist Lawrence Brown. Howard, who came from a musical family, started on cornet, switched to alto, and also had training on clarinet, oboe, bassoon, flute and piano before settling on tenor. He moved to Los Angeles in 1911 and started working professionally in 1916 with Wood Wilson's Syncopators and Satchel McVea's Howdy band. Howard played for a time with Harry Southard's Black and Tan Band. In the early '20s when King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton were briefly based in California, Howard spent time in both of their bands. He played with the Quality Four during 1922-1923 (making his recording debut with that group), worked with Sonny Clay in 1925, and then put together the Quality Serenaders in 1925; the exciting unit was based at Sebastian's Cotton Club during 1927-1929. The band broke up in 1930 and Les Hite took over the nucleus. Howard worked with Ed Garland's 111 Band, Freddy Washington, Lionel Hampton (1935), Eddie Barefield's Orchestra (1936-1937), Charlie Echols, and his own bands including one that was based at Virginia's in L.A. during 1939-1953. Paul Howard, who was an official in his Musicians' Union, continued playing into the '50s but is mostly known for his 12 (plus one alternate take) Victor recordings of 1929-1930 with the Quality Serenaders, some of the finest examples existing of late-'20s jazz.

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