Erskine Tate born on December 19, 1895 in Memphis, Tennessee played violin and studied music at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. He moved to Chicago in 1912, studied at the American Conservatory and took his first professional gig at 17. By 1918 he was an early figure in the jazz scene and leading his band the Vendome Orchestra providing music during intermission and for the silent films that were shown in the Vendome Theatre at 31st and State streets.
The band was originally a nine-piece outfit but by the mid 20s had grown to 15. Among the members were Louis Armstrong, Freddie Keppard, Stomp Evans, Buster Bailey, Fats Waller and Teddy Wilson. They recorded during the period for Okeh and Vocalion Record labels.
By 1928 Erskine left the orchestra and led a band at the Metropolitan Theatre and then the Michigan Theatre. He had a long residency at the Cotton Club and continued to lead orchestras and play for dance marathons throughout the 1930s. In 1945 he retired from active performance, opened his own studio, began teaching music and became one of the city’s top instructors throughout the 50s and 60s.
Violinist, composer, conductor and bandleader Erskine Tate passed away on December 17, 1975 in Chicago, Illinois.
Raymond Stanley Noble was born on December 17, 1903 in Brighton, England and studied music at the Royal Academy. He became the leader of the HMV Records studio band, known as the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra that featured popular vocalist Al Bowlly and many musicians of the top hotel bands.
The Bowlly/Noble recordings achieved popularity in the United States, however, union bans prevented Noble from bringing British musicians to America so he arranged for Glenn Miller to recruit American musicians. Bowlly returned to England but Noble continued to lead bands in America, moving into an acting career portraying a stereotypical upper-class English idiot in films like Top Hat and Slumming On Park Avenue. He also played the “dense” character in love with Gracie Allen, or with his orchestra in an Edgar Bergen vehicle. Noble also provided music for many radio shows of the times like The Charlie McCarthy Show. His last major success as a bandleader came with Buddy Clark in the late 1940s.
Ray Noble arranged hits in the 1930s such as “Easy to Love”, “Mad About the Boy”, “Paris in the Spring”, wrote both lyrics and music for now jazz standards “Love Is The Sweetest Thing”, “Cherokee”, “The Touch of Your Lips”, “I Hadn’t Anyone Till You” and “The Very Thought Of You” and co-wrote “Goodnight, Sweetheart” and “You’re So Desirable”, recorded by Billie Holiday, Teddy Wilson and in 1990 by Robert Palmer.
Ray Noble, bandleader, composer, arranger, pianist, singer and actor passed away on April 3, 1978 at the age of 74.
Albert Edwin Condon was born November 16, 1905 in Goodland, Indiana and started playing music on the ukulele before switching to guitar. By the time he was sixteen he was in Chicago playing professionally with Bix Beiderbecke, Jack Teagarden and Frank Teschmacher.
In 1928 Condon moved to New York City frequently arranging jazz sessions for various labels, sometimes playing with the artists he brought like Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller. He organized racially integrated recording sessions – when these were still rare – with Waller, Armstrong and Henry “Red” Allen. He played with the Red Nichols band, later forming a long association with Milt Gabler’s Commodore Records in 1938.
From the late 1930s on Eddie was a regular at Nick’s in Manhattan with Pee Wee Russell, Wild Bill Davison and Bobby Hackett. He went on to appear in a short film with Hackett, produced a series of jazz broadcasts from Town Hall during the last years of WWII that gave him national popularity.
From 1945 through 1967 he ran his own New York jazz club, Eddie Condon’s. In the 50s he recorded a sequence of classic albums for Columbia Records, toured Britain, Australia, Japan, the U. S. and performed at jazz festivals throughout the world until 1971. Two years later, Eddie Condon, jazz banjoist, guitarist, bandleader and arranger passed away on August 4, 1973 in New York City.
David S. Ware was born on November 7, 1949 in Plainfield, New Jersey and began playing at age ten due to his father’s admiration for the saxophone and his large record collection. While in high school he played in the bands and ventured into New York as a teenager to listen to jazz. He had informal practice sessions with Sonny Rollins as a youth in the ’60s; then as part of the fertile NYC Loft Jazz era of the ’70s.
During this decade, he joined the Cecil Taylor Unit and Andrew Cyrille’s Maono. He also worked together with drummers Beaver Harris and Milford Graves. In the early ’80s he toured Europe with both Andrew Cyrille and his own trio. In mid-decade, Ware purposefully engaged himself in a period of extensive woodshedding – in order to further develop both his personal sound and his visionary group concept.
The ’90s saw the full-on actualization of this group, and the recognition of David S. Ware as a true saxophone colossus. A series of groundbreaking albums by the David S. Ware Quartet were released on the Silkheart, DIW, Homestead, AUM Fidelity, and Columbia Jazz labels. Perhaps the most highly acclaimed group of the last decade, David’s efforts were rewarded by being one of the very few jazz musicians whose work was appreciated by an audience outside the narrow confines of the jazz world. In an unprecedented coup, the ‘Cryptology’ album garnered the lead review slot in Rolling Stone Magazine.
Over the course of his career, tenor saxophonist David Ware has recorded for Columbia, Black Saint, DIW, Silkheart, Homestead, AUM Fidelity and Thirsty Ear record labels. He has performed with a host of musicians and was responsible for bringing the young pianist Matthew Shipp to the attention of the jazz environment. David S. Ware, who has played the most prestigious clubs and festivals around the globe passed away on October 18, 2012 ar age 62 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Jan Garber was born Jacob Charles Garber on November 5, 1894 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He had his own band by the time he was 21. He became known as “The Idol of the Airwaves” in his heyday of the 1920s and 1930s, playing jazz in the vein of contemporaries such as Paul Whiteman and Guy Lombardo.
It was during World War II that Garber began playing swing jazz with arranger Gray Rains and vocalist Liz Tilton. However, the recording restrictions in America during the war eventually made his ensemble unfeasible, and he returned to “sweet” music after the war, playing violin with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.
Jan formed the Garber-Davis Orchestra with pianist Milton Davis from 1921–1924. After parting with Davis, he formed his own orchestra, playing both “sweet” and “hot” 1920s dance music. He was hit hard by the Great depression and in the thirties he refashioned his ensemble into a big band and recorded a string of successful records for Victor.
Violinist and bandleader Jan Garber continued to lead ensembles nearly up until the time of his death on October 5, 1977 in Shreveport, Louisiana.