Slick Jones came into the world on April 13, 1907. He was born Wilmore Jones in Roanoke, Virginia and worked with Fletcher Henderson from 1934 to 1936, then recorded and toured with Fats Waller from 1936 to 1941.
Following his time with Waller, he played with Stuff Smith, Eddie South, Claude Hopkins, Hazel Scott, and Don Byas. In the 1950s Jones worked with Sidney Bechet, Wilbur DePris and Doc Cheatham.
He record with Gene Sedric, Don Redman, Lionel Hampton and Una Mae Carlisle. He worked with Eddie Durham and Eddie Barefield in the 1960s. Though he never recorded as a leader, drummer Slick Jones remained active almost up until his death on November 2, 1969.
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Art Van Damme was born on April 9, 1920 in Norway, Michigan. He began playing the accordion at age nine and started classical study when his family moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1934. By 1941 he joined Ben Bernie’s band as an accordionist and adapted Benny Goodman’s music to the instrument.
From 1945 to 1960 Art worked for NBC, performing on The Dinah Shore Show, Tonight, The Dave Garroway Show and other radio and TV shows with Garroway. He recorded 130 episodes of the 15-minute The Art Van Damme Show for NBC Radio.
Van Damme toured Europe and was popular with jazz audiences in Japan, regularly winning the domestic Down Beat Reader’s Poll for his instrument. Over the course of his career he recorded and released four-dozen albums for Capitol, Columbia, Harmony, BASF, Pausa, Finlandia, MPS record labels.
Retiring to Roseville, California, he continued to perform almost to the end of his life. Ill with pneumonia for several weeks, accordionist Art Van Damme passed away on February 15, 2010 at the age of 89.
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Marty Marsala was born on April 2, 1909 in Chicago, Illinois. He began his professional career playing drums for bands led by Joe Bananas and Red Feilen in Chicago. During the 1920s he switched to the trumpet and following years as a freelance musician in Chicago, he soon joined his brother Joe’s band in New York playing trumpet from 1936 to 1941. In 1937 and 1938 he also worked with Bob Howard and Tempo King.
After working with the Will Hudson Orchestra, Marty then led a local band for a while before joining Chico Marx’s band from 1942 to 1943. The band was technically led by Ben Pollack but performed under Marx’s name.
Marsala served briefly in the Army from 1944 to the end of World War II. After his discharge he toured between San Francisco and Chicago playing Dixieland with his brother again as well as Miff Mole, Tony Parenti and Sidney Bechet. He became especially popular in California during these years. In 1955 he moved permanently to San Francisco and began leading his own groups and recording with Kid Ory and Earl Hines.
By the 1960s his health had deteriorated and he retired from performing in 1965, never recording under his own name. Swing trumpeter Marty Marsala, best known for his two decades working with is brother from 1926-46, passed away on April 27, 1975.
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Sidney Arodin was born in Westwego, Louisiana on March 29, 1901. He went by Sidney Arnandan, Arnondrin or Arnondin. He began playing clarinet at age 15 and played local New Orleans gatherings and on the riverboats. He made his way to New York City in the early Twenties and played with Johnny Stein’s New Orleans Jazz Band from 1922.
He performed with Jimmy Durante in the middle of the decade, then returned to Louisiana to play with Wingy Manone and Sharkey Bonano. During the 1930s he worked with Louis Prima and with a reconstituted version of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, featuring Manone.
By 1941, Arodin’s poor health prevented him from playing frequently live, but before this time he recorded with Johnnie Miller, Albert Brunies, Monk Hazel and the Jones-Collins Astoria Hot Eight. Many of his performances are mistakenly credited on original recordings to Charlie Cordella.
Clarinetist and composer Sidney Arodin, who co-wrote the standard Lazy River with Hoagy Carmichael, passed away in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 6, 1948.
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James Hal Kemp was born March 27, 1904 in Marion, Alabama. He studied and learned to play the saxophone and clarinet and while at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he formed his own campus jazz group, the Carolina Club Orchestra. They recorded for English Columbia and Perfect/Pathé Records in 1924 and toured Europe that same summer under the sponsorship of bandleader Paul Specht.
Kemp returned to UNC in 1925 and put together a new edition of the Carolina Club Orchestra, featuring classmates and future stars John Scott Trotter, Saxie Dowell and Skinnay Ennis. By 1927 he turned professional and turned over the orchestra to Kay Kyser.
Basing his band in New York City, Hal’s group included Trotter, Dowell, and Ennis, and later joined by trumpeters Bunny Berigan and Jack Purvis. The sound was 1920s collegiate jazz and in the Thirties he toured Europe again and recorded regularly for Brunswick, English Duophone, Okeh and Melotone record labels.
During the height of the Depression in 1932 Kemp changed the orchestra’s style to a dance band. He incorporated an early version of the echo effect using large megaphones for the clarinets, muted trumpets and a double-octave piano. Vocalists with the band during the 1930s included Ennis, Dowell, Bob Allen, Deane Janis, Maxine Gray, Judy Starr, Nan Wynn and Janet Blair.
Hal’s band was one of the most popular bands in the 1930s and was often featured performing on NBC and CBS radio shows. The band also appeared in numerous motion-picture short subjects and was featured in the 1938 RKO film Radio City Revels. He had hits with There’s A Small Hotel, Lamplight, I Got A Date With An Angel, You’re The Top, Lullaby Of Broadway and Where or When.
On December 19, 1940, alto saxophonist, clarinetist, bandleader, composer and arranger Hal Kemp while driving from Los Angeles to a booking in San Francisco, his car collided head-on with a truck. Breaking a leg and several ribs, one of which punctured a lung, he developed pneumonia while in the hospital and died two days later in Madera, California. He was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz hall of Fame in 1992.