Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Remembering Frank Driggs" September 23, 2011

(Week 278)

We were saddened to hear this week of the death of legendary reissue producer and photo archivist Frank Driggs. This RADIOLA! consists almost entirely of selections from compilations he produced. Fans of the sort of music played on this series owe him an incalculable debt of gratitude. He will be deeply missed.

In 2008 my WHCL-FM colleague Pete Bianco interviewed Mr. Driggs and that interview may be found at this link. RADIOLA! as always streams continuously from my Live365 station. Podcast here.

Red McKenzie and his Music Box - From Monday On (1928) - Original Sounds of the 20s II (Columbia CL 2229)
Art Tatum - Tiger Rag (1933) - Piano Starts Here (Columbia CS 9655)
Willard Robison w/Ipana Troubadours - Wake Up! Chill'un, Wake Up! (1929) - from Columbia 1779-D
Benny Meroff and his Orch - Smiling Skies (1928) - Sound of Chicago II (Columbia CL 2145)
Joe Venuti and his Blue Four (Rube Bloom v) - Blue Room (1928) - Original Sounds of the 20s I (Columbia CL 2228)
Gulf Coast Seven - Keep Your Temper (1925) - The Sound of Harlem I (Columbia CL 2160)
Monette Moore - Take It Easy (1925) - The Sound of Harlem I (Columbia CL 2160)
Irving Kaufman - Pagan Love Song (1929) - Original Sounds of the 20s II (Columbia CL 2229)
Aunt Jemima (Tess Gardella) - Can't Help Lovin' That Man (1928) - Original Sounds of the 20s III (Columbia CL 2230)
Thomas Morris and his Past Jazz Masters - Original Charleston Strut (1923) - The Sound of Harlem I (Columbia CL 2160)
Jelly Roll Morton Jazz Band - Someday Sweetheart (1923) - Sound of Chicago I (Columbia CL 2144)
Johnny Bayersdorffer and his Jazzola Novelty Orch - Waffle Man's Call (1924) - Sound of New Orleans II (Columbia CL 2103)
Gertrude Saunders - I'm Craving For That Kind of Love (1921) - The Sound of Harlem I (Columbia CL 2160)
Blossom Seeley and the Georgians - Lazy (1924) - Original Sounds of the 20s III (Columbia CL 2230)
Cliff Edwards - Sunday (1926) - Original Sounds of the 20s II (Columbia CL 2229)
Molly Ryan - Hooray For Love (2007) - Songbird In The Moonlight
Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks - Let's Dance - Recorded March 2011
Original Dixieland Jazz Band - Darktown Strutters' Ball (1917) - Sound of New Orleans I (Columbia CL 2102)
Mamie Smith - Crazy Blues (1920) - The Sound of Harlem I (Columbia CL 2160)
Midway Dance Orch - House of David Blues (1923) - Sound of Chicago I (Columbia CL 2144)
The Get Happy Band - In Harlem's Araby (1925) - The Sound of Harlem I (Columbia CL 2160)
Carroll Dickerson and his Orch - Savoyageur's Stomp (1928) - Sound of Chicago I (Columbia CL 2144)
Bud Freeman and his Orch - Craze-o-logy (1928) - Sound of Chicago II (Columbia CL 2145)
Sophie Tucker - Some of These Days (1927) - Original Sounds of the 20s III (Columbia CL 2230)
Seger Ellis - Ain't Misbehavin' (1929) - Original Sounds of the 20s II (Columbia CL 2229)
Frankie Half Pint Jaxon and his Hot Shots - Fifteen Cents (1933) - Sound of Chicago III (Columbia CL 2146)
Luis Russell and his Orch - Louisiana Swing (1929) - Sound of New Orleans I (Columbia CL 2102)
Alabama Rascals - Dirty Dozen's Cousins (1932) - Sound of Chicago III (Columbia CL 2146)
The Three Peppers - Seenade In The Night (1937) - Swing Street II (Columbia JLN 24028)
Benny Goodman and his Orch - Hunkadola (1935) - Bluebird AMX2 5505-1-A
Ella Logan and the Spirits of Rhythm - It's a Long Way to Tipperary (1941) - Swing Street I (Columbia JLN 24027)
Lee Sims - Home on the Range (1933) - Original Sounds of the 20s II (Columbia CL 2229)


Nick Dragos said...

Andy -

Very good idea, featuring just a small fraction of Frank Driggs' incredible contribution to jazz knowledge and discography.

I did a phone interview with Mr. Driggs when "Black Beauty, White Heat" was first published {no, I have't found my tape of that}, and he was great. And that book is still the very best photo essay on jazz I've even seen.

Your selections were excellent...I featured several of them on my old radio show, and I distinctly remember many of these being selected by the late Brian Rust for inclusion in his excellent "Mardi Gras" programs broadcast in the 70's & 80's in England.

From New Orleans Trad to Swing Street, Frank Driggs helped preserve and present many a classic recording. Along with the pioneer efforts of George Avakian and others, Driggs' efforts allowed us to enjoy vintage jazz that might otherwise not be available during thse days of constant CD reissue - so very many of these CDs are "needle drops", probably from near-mint Driggs LPs.

Thanks again, Andy!

Andy said...


Thank you! This show was a one-day wonder. I think it came out all right but there is so much that I didn't play that would have made a great program.

I'm sure I've heard CDs that were lifted from these compilations. And after Frank Driggs left Columbia some of his compilations were reissued without attribution--or the amazing booklets that were worth the price of the set itself.

I'm glad you liked this show!

Many thanks again,

Nick Dragos said...

Andy -

I think a second tribute show of Driggs productions is merited.....I've been digging deep into my LP archives and finding all kinds of jazz & blues Driggs goodies.

Columbia had a long, sullied history of ignoring source credits - I vividly remember the years when George Avakian was persona non grata after his departure.

Keep up all the good, hard work!

Andy said...


I don't know about another whole tribute show. I will continue to use transfers from Frank Driggs-produced albums and mention his name.

And I also have to mention that I just bought "Black Beauty, White Heat" and it is spectacular. Anyone at all interested in the music or the era should hock the dog and buy a copy.

Nick Dragos said...

I just knew you'd love "Black Beauty, White Heat!"

Even though it's technically a "photo essay" history of vintage jazz through the Bebop Years, the detailed notes are crammed with fascinating insights on jazz history.

The trade paperback of "Black Beauty" does not have all the same elements as the original hardcover did - I purchased my hardcover the day it was released. But even the paperback rates as #1 in my book.

I can see why you'd be leery of a second tribute show - every jazz music programmer I worked for hated tribute shows, because in their minds, if you pay tribute to one artist, you're ignoring everyone else....

You should have HEARD the bellyaching from my old radio boss when I told him I was going to broadcast one hour of just different versions of "Star Dust!"
You would have thought he had caught me setting fire to ECM Records' headquarters!

Of course, with versions by Louis, Sinatra, Hoagy himself, Nat Cole, and about a dozen others....the phone calls and postcard were overwhelmingly positive.

But with a subject like Frank Driggs, Record Producer, you have so much variety in vintage jazz and blues reissues, it can't help but be wide ranging in performance variety.

"One Day Wonders" are, many times, some of the best shows - you tend to go with your instincts, instead of talking yourself out of the idea....and the initial inspiration often produces inspired radio.

Congrats on the show and for your taste in book acquisitions!