[Dixielandjazz] Harry James

TBW504 at aol.com TBW504 at aol.com
Sun Sep 7 20:12:10 PDT 2003

Surely most everyone on the DJML spotted the reference to Harry James?
The following entries from the superlative compilation of New Orleans 
musicians as featured in the September edition of "Just Jazz" should elucidate:
JAMES, Harry Haag                    Trumpet
1916, Mar 15: Albany, GA                    1983, Jul 5
A phenomenally talented Swing trumpeter and famous bandleader who could hold 
his own in fast company jazz-wise. However, he gets in here not only for being 
married to Betty Grable, but because as a child (playing drums from the age 
of seven; switching to cornet at nine) he was said to have been looked after by 
Bunk Johnson who at that time was working for Harry's father, Everette Robert 
James, a circus bandmaster who was born in New Orleans. Although there is no 
mention of the Bunk connection in the otherwise comprehensive 1999 biography 
of Harry, Trumpet Blues by Peter J. Levinson, it is confirmed from another 
source: see entry for Joe Muryani.

MURAYANI, Joseph Paul "Joe"                   Clarinet; soprano sax
1928, Jan 14: Martins Ferry, Yorkville, OH
Of Hungarian descent, and first played in a balalaika orchestra. Joe studied 
with Lennie Tristano (bet you did not expect to meet him here) and played in 
an air force band. After his discharge he became a white Revivalist who was 
there on opening night at the Stuyvesant Casino when Bunk Johnson's band came to 
New York in 1946. He got to know the whole band and was invited to sit in. He 
is quoted in Chip Deffaa, Traditionalists & Revivalists, where he makes some 
pungent and revealing comments on them as individual musicians. In the 1950s he 
played with many well-known Dixieland groups, and recorded with the Red Onion 
Jazz Babies, and Danny Barker. In 1963 he formed the Village Stompers, and 
from 1967-71 he played with the Louis Armstrong All Stars1. More recently he has 
recorded with the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble of New Orleans, alongside 
John Chaffe, Tom Ebbert, Walter Payton, etc. Hot off the 1999 wire is that he 
now plays a native Hungarian folk instrument, the tarogato. Your guess is as 
good as mine. In an interview with Lars Edegran printed in JAZZbeat volume 
12-3 Muryani recounts how Harry James told him he played in his father's circus 
band alongside Bunk Johnson in Texas and that he learned a lot from Bunk.

Clear now?
Brian Wood

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