[Dixielandjazz] Pee Wee Hunt and his Orchestra

Bill Haesler bhaesler at bigpond.net.au
Mon Oct 26 23:03:01 PDT 2009

Dave Stoddard wrote [in part] regarding his early birthday present, a  
Pee Wee Hunt CD '12th Street Rag' on Good Music Record Company,  
originally issued by EMI-Capitol in 1978. Back in the good old days my  
family's record collection had 12th Street Rag on a Capitol 78, and we  
just about wore it out.  This CD is very pleasant listening, although  
you can tell the cuts were all 78s because of their brief play  
times .......jewel box gives very little information except that Pee  
Wee Hunt led the group and Joe "Fingers" Carr appeared on several  
tracks.  I happen to know that Pee Wee Hunt played trombone and sang.   
Does anyone know any of the other sidemen?  I assume they must have  
been drawn from the Casa Loma Orchestra, Hunt's regular ensemble.

Dear Dave,
I have had the Australian EMI-Capitol 24 track 'Straight From Dixie'  
CD for many years but it was released in 1992, not 1978. That would  
have been the lesser track 12" LP (which I once had) based on an  
earlier 10" 8-track LP (which I also had).
If you have the same CD compilation at mine, then I can only date 12  
titles with personnel.
Pee Wee Hunt (1907-1979), who got his start in the Jean Goldkette orch  
in 1927 was, as you rightly say a Casa Loma Orchestra founder-veteran.  
However it disbanded in 1943, Hunt became a disc jockey, joined the US  
Merchant Marine, before going into the Hollywood studios.
It was here in 1948 that he recorded a dixieland 'send up' version of   
the 1919 classic "Twelfth Street Rag" (Euday L Bowman) for a radio- 
only transcription session.
It caught on with listeners, was officially released by Capitol,  
became a No. 1 hit in mid 1948 and remained in the charts for 32 weeks.
The jazz purists hated it, so much so, that most jazz discographies  
dismissed the music as psuedo-dixieland with the comment "not within  
the scope of this work."
As a result no one really bothered, at that time, to research any Pee  
Wee Hunt recording details. And there a still great gaps to be filled  
There had been an earlier Pee Wee Hunt record session of mainly jazz  
standards ["Muskrat Ramble/After You've Gone/Somebody Else Not Me/ 
Basin Street Blues/The Preacher And The Bear/I Got Rhythm/On The Sunny  
Side Of The Street/Royal Garden Blues"] in Hollywood in July 1946 (for  
Mirror) which had limited release on eight 78s, then various LPs  
including Savoy.
I have never heard these sides, but there is nothing wrong with the  
musicians involved.
Pee Wee Hunt Dixielanders: Frank Bruno (t) Pee Wee Hunt (tb/vcl) Matty  
Matlock (cl) Clare [or Carl*] Fischer (p) Harvey Chernap (sb) Glenn  
Walker (d).
*My mate Don Ingle will know the correct spelling..
In fact, it was this group (with clarinetist Rosy McHargue replacing  
Matty Matlock) that recorded "Twelfth Street Rag" on 28 April 1948. On  
later recordings an old sidekick from the Casa Loma orch did join  
Hunt's Dixielanders - clarinetist Clarence Hutchinrider.
Numerous recordings followed up until the early 1960s, with many still  
undocumented in jazz discographies.
However, the musicians involved appeared to take it seriously
The public loved the music, the jazz critics hated it.
Good on the public.
So far as I can find (at the moment) Joe 'Fingers' Carr [rn: Lou Bush]  
recorded with Pee Wee Hunt on LP as follows:
"Pee Wee and "Fingers"" Capitol T-783  (1956)
Joe "Fingers" Carr and Pee Wee Hunt - 'Class of '25' Capitol T-935   
I do not have tune titles, so some on your CD (tracks 13 - 24] may be  
from the above LPs.
I'll replay my CD later to see if Carr is present.
I also found this reference to Fingers & Pee Wee which may be 78s or  
EP singles:
"How You Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm" - "Swingin' Down the Lane".  
Capitol F-3642.
"Kitty" - "Always Fall in Love" Capitol F-3831.
Sorry about all that. Probably more than you needed to know.
Very kind regards,

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