[Dixielandjazz] Big Tea redux

Don Ingle dingle at baldwin-net.com
Mon Feb 17 10:26:51 PST 2003

Jim Beebe mentioned his "lesson" (almost) with Big Tea. I didn't get a
lesson but I once enjoyed the discomfort of another trombonist I worked with
at Chicago's Jazz Ltd. Club -- the second one at 164 E. Grand rather than
the original site Jim mentioned at 11 E. Grand just off State St.
The trombinist was Dave Rasbury, a very good player. One evening when we
were past the midnight hour Jack Teagarden came in with one of the other
members of his band. They'd played a single date in town and dropped in to
hear the band. I looked over to see Dave's face a stream of rolling sweat.
Now he was a heavy set fellow that tended to sweat anyhow, but this was like
watching Niagra Falls rolling down.
"Hey Dave, what's wrong -- I never saw you sweat like this before?"
"Hell...if you were a trombone player and Jack Teagarden came in sat ten
feet from you, you'd be sweating your ass off, too!"
(Even a sometimes valve trombone player can understand that kind of
Don Ingle
PS -- When Dave left the house band, I had the great good pleasure of
spending the next couple years sitting next to Jim Beebe, who became and
remains one of my best friends, and one of the better damn trombonist that
every played our kind of jazz...

----- Original Message -----
From: <JimDBB at aol.com>
To: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Cc: <JimDBB at aol.com>
Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 3:23 AM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] A lesson with Jack Teagarden ( Almost)

> Dick Broadie has asked me to write of my lesson ( almost) with Jack
> Teagarden.  Apparently he heard of this via the recent BBC radio
> on Jack Teagarden by Campbell Burnap.  Campbell was over here a few years
> back and stayed with Judi K and myself while he bounced around doing
> on Louis Armstrong.  He is a fine trombonist himself and had his trombone
> along. We had a ball one day in my basement studio playing along with Jack
> Teagarden solos...I should clarify this and say, 'trying to play along
> Teagarden.'  At that time I told him of my almost lesson with Jack and
> year he asked me to relate it on tape so that he could use it in his radio
> documentary.  This is no big deal but here it is.
>                                " A Lesson with Jack Teagarden"   (almost)
>                                               by Jim Beebe
> In 1958 I was with Bob Scobey's Frisco Jazz Band and we were in residence
> the Cafe Continental in Chicago.  I was in my late 20s and this was my
> outing with this top drawer professional jazz group. Scobey's band was a
> powerful swinging group with Scobey's driving trumpet, Clancy Hayes on
> and banjo, Dave Black on drums, Rich Matteson on helicon tuba and bass
> trumpet, Art Hodes piano, Brian Shanley clarinet, myself on trombone and
> Lee Scott on vocals.  This was a very exciting time in my life.
> The Cafe Continental was the Chicago 'Mob's top club and Scobey and the
> had single handledly made it a success.   It was a place where we could
> for months at a time, playing 5-6 nights a week.  We knew vaguely that
> was a ganster place but didn't really care as we did our job and we got
>  Our audience in the main was a mixture of local and visiting jazz fans,
> business people in Chicago for a convention and the general night club
>  One night an unnamed source was talking with Clancy Hayes and he said,
> God, Clancy, do you know who is in this place?" Clancy looked around and
> said, "No, who's here?"  This source said, "Clancy, if this place was
> shut right now, within ten minutes 90 percent of all crime and vice in
> Chicago would come to a screeching halt?"   That remark did give us some
> pause.  ( The Cafe Continental was later raided by Federal Agents and
> eventually Jimmy Allegretti and 3-4 others went to prison for trafficking
> hijacked booze.)
> The nightclub business was good and all kinds of jazz was in full swing in
> Chicago and around the country.  One night, out of the blue, jack
> came in the Cafe continental and sat down right smack in front of the
> I was instantly dumbstruck and paralyzed. I absolutely did not want to
> another note. My idol and the greatest jazz trombonist on earth was
> right in front of me.  I grabbed a drink at the end of the set and I felt
> little easier about it.  I was anxious to talk with Jack and Scobey came
> and said that he was going to ask jack if he wanted to sit in.  He thought
> that he would as Jack and Clancy Hayes were old friends.  He wanted to
> if Jack could use my trombone and mouthpiece as he didn't have his along.
> I didn't think that Jack would sit in as my trombone, that I distinctly
> remember was a Conn 6H, was a little bigger that what Jack played and my
> mouthpiece was undoubtedly different.  To my surprise, Mr. T said, that
> he would like to play.  I cleaned my mouthpiece off and turned it and the
> horn over to him.  As I remember, Jack didn't even try it except to feel
> the slide.  We made small talk until Scobey went back.  The set that
> was a revelation to me and I was entralled as was the segment of the
> that was aware of what was going on.  Jack  played beautifully,
> and flawlessly.  Playing on a different trombone and mouthpiece didn't
> him in the slightest.  I realized that Jack Teagarden could play on any
> trombone.  It didn't matter to him what the horn or mouthpiece was
> obviously, he would have preferences.  Jack didn't show off, he just
> along with what ever Scobey called and soloed on each tune as each band
> member took his turn.  He and Clancy Hayes sang a number together and that
> was a delight.  I"ve always wished that they could have recorded together.
> And Scobey featured him on "Stars Fell on Alabama" that was just superb.
> After this mind blowing set I cornered Jack and proceeded to ask him how
> did certain things on the trombone. He was very cordial and seemed willing
> talk about the trombone. Jack had his own magic and could do little runs
> things that no one has ever figured out how he did them.  He could play
> trills and triplets easier and cleaner than anyone else and none of his
> technique was ever used in a unmusical show-off way.  So I asked him how
> did those runs that made a slide trombone sound like a valve bone and even
> faster. Jack said, "Oh, I'll come over to your place tomorrow and show you
> some things to work on."  ( we had established earlier that he was staying
> near my pad which was right next to the original Jazz Ltd. Club.)
> Needless to say, I didn't sleep much that night.  Morning came, then
> afternoon...Jack never showed up.  I Knew why and I understood. His last
> wife, Addie wouldn't let him out.  I estimate that she added ten years to
> life by keeping him in.  Jack was so good natured that musicians and fans
> often took advantage of him..."Come on Jack, let's go to a session" or
> on, jack, let's go get a drink." And he couldn't turn them down.
> Jack was playing in Chicago at the London House and I was there on my off
> nights. He apologized for not showing up but the occasion for a 'lesson'
> never came about again.  The secrets to playing his 'runs' went to the
> with him as no trombonist that I know of has ever figured them out.  Jack
> Teagarden was one of the great musical geniuses to come up in Jazz music
> the depth of his musicality puts him right up there with Louis Armstrong.
> Thankfully, they made so many memorable recordings together.  Jack
> made many recordings and every solo of his on them is an absolute gem.
>      'Thank you, Jack, for your magnificent legacy.'
> Jim Beebe


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