[Dixielandjazz] Who was Jo Trent?
mophandl at landing.com
Wed Sep 12 10:05:26 PDT 2007
We at Riverwalk Jazz are putting together a new compilation show about Women
Songwriters of the Golden Age.
We have for years come across the name of a lyricist Jo Trent as a
collaborator on such well-known (to some of us on this list at least) jazz
tunes as Muddy Water, Rhythm King, Goose Pimples, Georgia Bo-Bo, and others
The mystery is the race and gender of this person. We have conflicting
evidence supporting that Jo was either a white male and a black woman. I
consider it unlikely that there were two Jo Trent lyricists in the Golden
Age, wouldn't you?
In the Anderson Index, I have found Jo Trent listed as a collaborator with
both black and white composers, most notably James P. Johnson, Clarence
Williams, Peter De Rose, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Hoagy Carmichael and
Willard Robison from 1925 through 1934.
The Internet Broadway Database website at
http://www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=11467, the only source unequivocally
indicating that Jo Trent was female, shows an entry for a show called Sugar
Hill, which ran in late 1932 for only 11 performances, and the music was by
James P. Johnson.
Here is the entry from "The Unsung Songwriters" by Warren W. Vaché, page
"Lyricist Jo Trent was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 31, 1892. Educated
at the University of Pennsylvania and City College of New York, Trent went
on to a varied career as a manager and staff writer for music publishers and
film companies, also functioning as a coach and tutor. Mainly active in the
twenties and thirties, Trent is credited with a number of hit songs in those
years. An early entry (1926) was Muddy Water, a collaboration with Peter
DeRose and Harry Richman. Richman introduced and recorded it, and so did the
Ben Bernie orchestra; but the song picked up greater popularity in the
following year as recorded by the Paul Whiteman orchestra, with the vocal by
Bing Crosby. Jack Pettis and His Band made it for the Plaza labels, with hot
improvisations by Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang.
"In 1928 Trent, still working with Peter DeRose, penned the words to I Just
Roll Along (Havin' My Ups and Downs), in the trend established by Harry
Woods with Side by Side. It received fine treatment from the All Star
Orchestra on Victor and Willard Robison on PatM and Perfect. Ray Starita
waxed it in London. That same year, Trent got together with J. Russel
Robinson to write Rhythm King, a jazz-oriented number that was first
recorded by Bix Beiderbecke and His Gang for OKeh. Other sides were made by
Ben Bernie and the Coon-Sanders crew. Possibly by way of returning a favor,
Trent provided the lyrics to Willard Robison's Wake Up, Chillun, Wake Up,
one of the better entries in 1929, recorded by Nat Shilkret for Victor.
"Gotta Feelin' for You, with music by Louis Alter and words by Trent, was
introduced by Joan Crawford and Paul Gibbons and the Baltimore Trio in the
movie musical Hollywood Revue of 1929. The song made a second appearance a
year later in another film, Chasing Rainbows. But the most successful of the
Trent-Alter collaborations was My Kinda Love. Bing Crosby recorded it as a
vocal for Brunswick; Ben Pollack's band made it for Victor; and Claude
Hopkins revived it on Decca in 1937. It has since become a semistandard. In
1933 Trent joined with Harry Tobias and Neil Moret for Here You Come With
Love. It attracted surprising attention on recordings in that gloomy year of
the Great Depression, and sides were made by Leo Reisman, Bert Lown, and
Freddy Martin. Other songs by Trent include Because I Feel Low Down;
Ploddin' Along; Maybe I'm Wrong Again; and I Want It Sweet Like You.
"Jo Trent died in Barcelona, Spain, on November 19,1954."
In this entry there is no indication of race or gender. A black woman
attending University of Pennsylvania and City College of New York, in the
early 20th century, and then working as a manager and staff writer for music
publishers and film companies? Seems unlikely, and furthermore if true,
wouldn't these be notable facts that would have gained the attention of
historians, especially nowadays?
This is the entry from the Harry Fox website:
Your search for Writer: jo trent returned 97 song(s), 15 of which are
Song Title HFA Song Code Writer
I'M GOIN BACK TO BOTTOMLAND I25888 JO TRENT
PULLIN' THRU P82708 JO' TRENT
WAITING FOR JANE W01620 JO TRENT
YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU Y41200 PETER DE ROSE, JO TRENT
I JUST ROLL ALONG HAVIN' MY UPS AND DOWNS I18993 PETER DEROSE, JO TRENT
DIXIE DAWN D14669 JO TRENT PETER DEROSE
MY KINDA LOVE M77822 JO TRENT, LOUIS ALTER
GEORGIA BO BO G08655 JO TRENT, FATS WALLER
GOTTA FEELIN FOR YOU G63200 JO TRENT, LOUIS ALTER
WAKE UP CHILL'UN WAKE UP W02065 WILLARD ROBISON, JO TRENT
SING IT WAY DOWN LOW S32375 HOAGY CARMICHAEL, JO TRENT
IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT I76303 HOAGY CARMICHAEL, JO TRENT
WHITEMAN STOMP W54286 THOMAS (FATS) WALLER, JO TRENT
Sudhalter in his Hoagy biography "Stardust Melody" mentions Jo's
collaborations with Hoagy but no indication of race or gender.
Other sources indicate Jo Trent as a black man collaborating with Duke
Ellington. excerpt from Music is my Mistress that John Hasse referring to in
his book and Ellington calls Jo Trent a "nice guy", clearly of the male
persuasion. The tunes they write together are Jig Walk and others for
Chocolate Kiddies that Jo Trent is credited with. Jowas also a vocalist.
In the book "Two Kings of Jazz: Armstrong and Whiteman," in reference to the
song Muddy Water."... 1927 an interracial evocation of Dixie by the white
composer Peter De Rose and the black lyricist Jo Trent."
If you have any information on Jo Trent other than that indicated above,
please get back to me.
mophandl at landing.com
Thanks in advance.
More information about the Dixielandjazz