Photo identification request: trombonist with Thomas A. Dorsey

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yeodoug
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Photo identification request: trombonist with Thomas A. Dorsey

Post by yeodoug » Fri May 18, 2018 5:36 pm

Hello all,

I am doing some research about left-handed trombone players and came across this photo of pianist and gospel/blues composer Thomas A. Dorsey (composer of, among other things, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," and "Peace in the Valley").

This photo, below, shows Dorsey on piano and "Ma" Rainey, vocalist. I am interested in identifying the other players in the photo, especially the left-handed trombonist. If anyone has this information, I'd love to know; please share here on the TromboneChat.

With thanks,

-Douglas Yeo

Thomas_Dorsey_and_Ma_Rainey.jpg
Thomas_Dorsey_and_Ma_Rainey.jpg (90.28 KiB) Viewed 787 times
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Douglas Yeo
Bass Trombonist, Boston Symphony Orchestra, 1985-2012 (retired)
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BGuttman
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Re: Photo identification request: trombonist with Thomas A. Dorsey

Post by BGuttman » Fri May 18, 2018 6:50 pm

The group is Ma Rainey and her Georgia Jazz Band.

Here is some more information from RedHotJazz:

http://www.redhotjazz.com/georgiajazzband.html

There are three trombonists listed as members at various times:

Charlie Green
Kid Ory
Albert Wynn

I know Ory was not left-handed so it's not him. Has to be Green or Wynn, but there appears to be no additional information on the site.

What's funny is that Dorsey is not listed among the musicians despite the fact that he is in the picture.

Further investigation: Rainey used players from the Fletcher Henderson Band. Among Henderson's musicians was J. C. Higginbotham, who (if I remember correctly) was a left-handed trombonist.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
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yeodoug
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Re: Photo identification request: trombonist with Thomas A. Dorsey

Post by yeodoug » Fri May 18, 2018 7:45 pm

Thanks very much, Bruce; this helps a lot. I wonder if the other players in the band are definitively identified we could connect some dots and see if a determination could be made whether the trombonist is Green or Wynn?

One thing: in all the photos I've seen of J.C. Higginbotham, he appears to be playing right handed, including the photo on page 69 of Kurt Dietrich's great book, "Jazz'Bones: The World of Jazz Trombone."

I'm happy to hear from others about left-handed players so I can check them against my own list. It's not always easy to tell, since photos are often reproduced in reverse.
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Douglas Yeo
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Doug Elliott
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Re: Photo identification request: trombonist with Thomas A. Dorsey

Post by Doug Elliott » Fri May 18, 2018 9:16 pm

I have nothing to add except that it's possible somebody was clowning around for the staged picture. Or played that way sometimes but not in general - there was a period of time when I played some gigs left handed, but that's not how I normally play.
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Re: Photo identification request: trombonist with Thomas A. Dorsey

Post by imsevimse » Sat May 19, 2018 2:56 am

What was the reason to play left-handed Doug? Is it that you are left-handed?

I'm right-handed but have tried to play left-handed. The interesting thing is my different perception of the sound. Maybe I'm not as deaf on my right ear and that is the difference. My slide technique is so bad left-handed it is no way I could do any gig like that

/Tom
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
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yeodoug
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Re: Photo identification request: trombonist with Thomas A. Dorsey

Post by yeodoug » Sat May 19, 2018 8:30 am

I'm right-handed and play the usual way. Although when I started playing trombone when I was nine years old, I put the trombone together for the first time backwards because the photo in my father's dictionary was reversed. It took my band director a few months to notice what I was doing at which point he turned my trombone around. My oldest daughter is left-handed but she plays trombone right -handed; I was her first teacher and at her first lesson we put her trombone together the usual way.

Slide Hampton says that he plays left-handed for the same reason I started that way: he was given a trombone set up to be played with the left hand. He never changed.

See the interview with Slide Hampton in which he discusses this here:

http://trombone.org/articles/library/sl ... on-int.asp

The only known photograph of the Buddy Bolden band shows valve trombonist Willie Cornish holding his instrument so it would be used with his left hand playing the valves. This famous photo is the subject of a lot of discussion since simply flipping the photo results in a lot of questions about how other members of the band held and played their instruments. "Insoluable contradictions" as one author calls them. For the most in-depth discussion of this photo, see this article from "The Jazz Archivist," published by the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University (pdf file):

https://jazz.tulane.edu/sites/default/f ... 2_2009.pdf

All of this is a research interest of mine, a rabbit trail I started going down awhile ago.
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Douglas Yeo
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yeodoug
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Re: Photo identification request: trombonist with Thomas A. Dorsey

Post by yeodoug » Sat May 19, 2018 8:40 am

Bruce:

Your post got me looking more deeply at Ma Rainey and her RedHotJazz.

I just came across this photo, below, that identifies Albert Wynn by name. He certainly looks like the trombonist in the photo I posted above. It appears on a blog post about "Ma" Rainey and her band. It also has identification of other band members.

https://www.jazzhound.net/photographs/m ... -band.html

Another clue that this is Wynn: check out the trombone on the floor in the photo below; it's put together so he plays left-handed. I think this is a pretty solid identification. Thanks, Bruce, for pointing me down the trail.


Albert_Wynn_trombone_and_Ma_Rainey.jpg
Albert_Wynn_trombone_and_Ma_Rainey.jpg (393.26 KiB) Viewed 716 times
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Douglas Yeo
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tjonz
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Re: Photo identification request: trombonist with Thomas A. Dorsey

Post by tjonz » Sun May 20, 2018 6:57 am

Doug writes:

> Slide Hampton says that he plays left-handed
> for the same reason I started that way: he was
> given a trombone set up to be played with
> the left hand.

When I attended the Jamie Aebersold workshop a decade or so ago Slide was the unannounced, surprise guest artist on Sunday night, the first night of the workshop. The stage was adorned with oversized headshots of famous jazz artists, Slide amongst them. The photo of Slide was wrong, however -- he was playing right-handed. Presumably the person who ordered the photo reversed the negative so it depicted Slide playing the "right" way. It was very odd that evening to watch Slide playing left-handed in from of a photo of himself playing right-handed!
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BGuttman
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Re: Photo identification request: trombonist with Thomas A. Dorsey

Post by BGuttman » Sun May 20, 2018 7:51 am

Doug, I'll bet the folks at rehotjazz.com would be interested in your ID of the piano player in their header Ma Rainey picture and would probably add him to the list of players in her band.

I managed to find ONE recording on line with Wynn playing and he certainly was no slouch.

I sang in a chorus that did "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" and it took a little time for me to realize this wasn't the same "Tommy Dorsey" I was familiar with.
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Re: Photo identification request: trombonist with Thomas A. Dorsey

Post by Doug Elliott » Sun May 20, 2018 9:29 am

I don't want to derail this thread, but I play left handed occasionally for a bunch of reasons:
1. I find it interesting.
2. To rest my shoulder when I was having some issues.
3. Pedagogically it was useful to examine my slide technique and identify how to teach it, since I had to"teach" my left hand to do what I do with my right hand.
4. The same for mutes and plunger.
5. To realize just how awkward it is to hold a trombone...
6. For a gig where I had to read music to the left - my bell was in the way, so I played left handed and put the microphone on my right.
7. To help with moving my mouthpiece placement to the left, when I discovered that everything worked better there.
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