The Phantom Dancer is presented by authentic 1920s – 30s singer, Greg Poppleton.
It’s your two hour non-stop mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s – 1960s radio and TV.
Hear the mix after the 27 Feb broadcast at radio 2ser.com
This week, The Phantom Dancer, bids farewell to Sydney jazz identity, jazz bassoon and sax great – the last Australian in the Australian Jazz Quartet, Errol Buddle.
Errol died last week and The Phantom Dancer brings you a broadcast he made with the AJQ in 1956.
AUSTRALIAN JAZZ QUARTET/QUINTET
The broadcast of the Australian Jazz Quintet is from Birdland as part of the NBC Radio Series ‘The All-Star Parade of Bands’.
I make these cultural observations about the broadcast:
1. Fred Collins, NBC announcer, network jazz DJ and ‘expert’, obviously doesn’t know what to do with The Australian Jazz Quintet. He comes across like he hasn’t done his research. He’s polite, almost seeming to damn with very faint praise. And the AJQ get short shrift from Fred in the promotion department.
2. The All-Star Parade of Bands usually has two bands doing 13 minutes each with an ad in between as the second band sets up. In this broadcast, the AJQ do two songs in the middle and the closing theme. Most of the show is given to Carmen McRae.
3. The American in the AJQ is the spokesman for the group on the radio.
4. The AJQ use voicings and phrasings that hark back to the Australian dance bands of the late 30s and 1940s. This, as well as jazz bassoon, must have sounded uncomfortable to New York jazz ears who went for an overload of the safe and familiar with Carmen.
5. The NBC live recording for the AJQ is rather indistinct sounding. Carmen and her pianist is much more present in the radio mix.
WHO WERE THE AJQ?
They were three Australians and one American. The Australians were Errol Buddle (bassoon and tenor saxophone), Bryce Rohde (piano), and Jack Brokensha (vibraphone and percussion).
Errol Buddle, who played in the Sydney Jazz Scene , died last week.
Bryce Rohde returned to the U.S. from Australia in 1965 and played in the San Francisco jazz scene until he died in 2016.
Jack Brokensha returned to Detroit after the 1958 AJQ Australian tour. He was hired by Berry Gordy of Motown Records as a percussionist. He was one of the few white members of Motown’s Hitsville U.S.A. recording studio’s house band, The Funk Brothers. He was given the nickname “White Jack”, to distinguish him from Jack Ashford, an African American percussionist nicknamed “Black Jack”.
THE AJQ STORY
Errol Buddle, Bryce Rohde and Jack Brokensha went to Windsor, Ontario, Canada in 1952, across from the U.S. city of Detroit with the aim of touring the U.S as a trio. Initially they had visa troubles. For a while, Errol Buddle played bassoon in the Windsor Symphony. A chance booking on WXYZ-TV Detroit for Brokensha after being spotted at a Windsor gig led to all three getting visas and regular TV, recording and club work in Detroit. There they met the fourth member of the AJQ, who you hear talking on the Birdland broadcast, Richard J. (Dick) Healey (alto sax, clarinet, flute, bass).
Because what happened next is so detailed, I will quote directly from the Wikipedia article on the AJQ
“Early 1954 appearances on the Detroit WXYZ-TV show “Soupy’s On” led comedian Soupy Sales to recommend the group to a Detroit suburb club owner Ed Sarkesian to accompany jazz vocalist Chris Connor for two weeks at the club (Rouge Lounge in River Rouge, a Detroit suburb) and to have the group perform between each of her sets. Since Buddle had been playing bassoon regularly with the Windsor Symphony, Healey and Rohde quickly decided to make arrangements for the flute-bassoon-vibes combination, giving the group a distinctive sound. This unusual instrumentation created much interest in the quartet, not only from jazz enthusiasts, but also from classical music aficionados. During the two-week engagement with Connor, Sarkesian contacted Joe Glaser of Associated Booking Corporation in New York. Sarkesian named the group The Australian Jazz Quartet/Quintet, and based on a quickly recorded 78 disk, he garnered a five-year contract with ABC and Bethlehem Records for the group. Sarkesian then became the group’s personal manager, which worked out very well because he also soon became a major promoter of jazz concerts and festivals.
Under the new arrangement with ABC the AJQ performed at the Blue Note in Chicago and on a concert in Washington DC. with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Carmen McRae. Soon they began playing at clubs like The Hickory House, Birdland (jazz club), Basin Street, and the Roundtable in New York; the Blue Note, Modern Jazz Room, and Robert’s Show Room in Chicago; Storyville in Boston; Jazz City in Los Angeles; Macumba in San Francisco; Sonny’s Lounge in Denver; Peacock Alley in St. Louis; Rouge Lounge in Detroit; Peps and Blue Note in Philadelphia; Midway Lounge in Pittsburgh; Colonial in Toronto, Ball & Chain in Miami and many others. At many of these clubs the AJQ shared the band stand with well-known groups such as the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Les Brown Orchestra, Johnny Smith Quartet, Bud Shank Quartet, Miles Davis, Pete Jolly Trio, J. J. Johnson, Max Roach-Clifford Brown Quintet, Art Blakey Quintet, Teddy and Marty Napoleon Quartet, Bud Powell Trio, Thelonious Monk, Conte Candoli/Al Cohn Quintet, Ahmad Jamal Trio, Don Shirley Trio, Lee Konitz Quartet, Woody Herman, Billie Holiday and others.
National concert tours took place in 1955–57. In 1955 there was the “Modern Jazz Show” with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Gerry Mulligan, and Carmen McRae. In 1956 there was “Music For Moderns” with Count Basie, Erroll Garner, the Kai Winding Septet, the Chico Hamilton Quintet, and the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. In 1957, there was again “Music For Moderns” with the George Shearing Quintet, the Gerry Mulligan Quintet, Chico Hamilton, Helen Merrill, Cannonball Adderley, and Miles Davis. These tours included performances at major concert halls, including Carnegie Hall in New York.
The AJQ appeared on several national television shows, the most notable being the Steve Allen Tonight Show, The Dave Garroway Today Show, The Arthur Godfrey Show, In Town Tonight Chicago, and the Ed Mackenzie and Soupy Sales Shows from ABC in Detroit. On the Radio they were heard on CBS’s “Woolworth Hour”, NBC’s “Monitor”, and ABC’s “Parade of the Bands”.
During 1955 to 1958 the AJQ recorded seven albums under the Bethlehem label. The first album, distinguished by its cover illustrated by four side-by-side kangaroos, was a 10″ LP recorded in February 1955 and featured arrangements of eight standard songs. A 12″ version of this album, released in 1956, added three standards and one original song by bassist Jimmy Gannon, who also assisted on the recording. Meanwhile, another album, this one with scores of kangaroos on its cover, was released with 10 songs including two originals, one by Gannon and the other by Healey.
In 1958 the group travelled to Australia for The Australian Concert Tour for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Also, there were TV and Radio Broadcasts, and, in Melbourne and Sydney, there were concerts with Sammy Davis Jr. These performances were broadcast nationally by the ABC. After the 1958 tour the group members decided to terminate the AJQ and become independent performing and recording artists. However, reunion concerts occurred in Adelaide in 1986 and 1993, and a recording of the 1993 concert was distributed.”
ERROL BUDDLE – YOUR PHANTOM DANCER VIDEOS OF THE WEEK!
Your Phantom Dancer ‘Video of the Week’ features Errol Buddle on tenor in a cameo about Sydney jazz club, The El Rocco. Good to see some of the extras at least tried to get ’80s versions of early 1960s short back and sides.