Tommy Bridges, Cornet
Bobby Lewis, Trumpet
Jim Beebe, Trombone
Eric Schneider, Alto, Tenor &. Soprano Sax, Clarinet
Steve Behr, Piano
Duke Groner, Bass
Barrett Deems, Drums
What do a 14 year-old cornetist born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and a
70-year-old bassist raised in the deep South have in common?
This recording will provide the answer - hot jazz, traditional
style. Interest in jazz is greater than ever, particularly in the
traditional spectrum. Young people are discovering they can dance and
listen to it. But what is the future of jazz? a question often raised
with alarm as many of the masters of this great music have passed from
Meet Tommy Bridges, an 8th grade student in LaCrosse.
in September, 1979, my band, The Chicago Jazz, was in residence at
Chicago's Blackstone Hotel with the New Orleans giant Emory Thompson on
trumpet. In walked a kid with a cornet cage. (Yes, this sounds like a
Bixian fantasy.) it takes nerve for any horn player to get up on the
stand with Emory but the kid jumped right in and it was like Louis
Armstrong's remark to Milt Hinton years ago, "Man, it's like you been
here all the time." We were all pleasantly amazed and Barrett Deems
coughed out, "This kid's got it."
Of course, we had heard of Tommy Bridges. Tommy had already caused some
critical stir sitting in at Jazz Festivals around the country. A visit
with Tommy at his home produced a scene that will remind many musicians
of their own past. . . Tommy after school, with a little phono and
stacks of records: Louis, Bix, Bunny. Scobey, Hackett, Wild Bill, etc.
and playing his Getzen cornet along with the records. And, amazingly,
writing some of the music out. No training, just doing it. He is rapidly
developing his own solo style and has mastered the intricacies of the
Dixieland ensemble the interplay of the brass and reed instruments over
A demand for a record with Tommy has developed and Dennis and Nancy
Bridges, who are wisely guiding their son into a musical career, asked
'"Was he ready?" Ideas were kicked around, Bob Koester was consulted and
away we went.
The recording was done without overdubbing. As we got into it, Tommy
suddenly realized that he was in a recording studio with some pretty
heavy musicians. After the usual fits and starts things smoothed out and
everybody felt at home. Tommy had hit it off musically with Bobby Lewis
at a jam session and wisely insisted on Bobby playing with him on the
record, (Tommy's cornet is on your left, Bobby's trumpet to the right of
the stereo mix). Indiana got off to a hilarious start which we left in.
Eric on alto followed by Tommy, then Lewis a swinging ensemble without
rhythm comes off almost asavant garde dixieland.
My Blue Heaven, a classic tune that Duke Groner used to feature with
Lunceford, is an instrumental here with Eric on tenor, New Orleans
features Tommy paying tribute to one of his favorites, Bobby Hackett.
Barbecue and Cornet Chop Suey are two of Armstrong's classics. Chop Suey
isn't heard often because it's tough, but Bobby and Tommy bring it off
(in an arrangement by Tommy). Barrett backs up Eric's clarinet with his
steaming Baby Dodds press rolls. Someday is an Armstrong tune of more
recent vintage. Chimes Blues goes back to King Oliver and beyond with
its soulful organ chords. Limehouse Blues features all hands, with Eric
on alto. Barrett solos as only he can. Oroner and Behr are superb
throughout with fine solos and backing work.
Wisconsin, for some mystical reason, has produced an array of great jazz
trumpet- cornerists: Bunny Berrigan, Dick Reudebusch, Bobby Lewis, Doc
DeHaven, Bob Scultz, Bob Anderson and Steve Jensen. Tommy Bridges will
rank with them soon enough. -Jim Beebe
About Jim Beebe
Jim Beebe was born in Omaha, Nebraska May 24, 1931 but his parents moved
shortly after to Sparta, Wisconsin. He was first turned onto music by
the snare drum in a kindergarten band. "I had to play it and finally did
take up drums in the fifth grade, Staying with 'em until high school.
The band director wanted me to stay on drums in my freshman year but I
wanted to switch to trombone. He gave me one lesson, the basic
positions, and I picked it right up. I also played cornet in that band.
I detested the pop music of that time, liked the band music and
classical stuff. A Kid Ory record with Barney Bigard on it turned me on,
but I didn't like Teagarden at first. All I knew was that they called it
jazz. I found a little record shop in La Crosse that stocked the small
labels and I even was sold a Jazz At The Philharmonic record. But Volume
One of the Capital History of Jazz series was what I liked and I learned
that what I liked most was called Dixieland.
"I had an uncle in Chicago who was in charge of music at ABC and he
invited me to come there so he could show me around the music schools.
He also took me to some of the clubs so I got to hear Miff Mole at Jazz,
Ltd., Floyd O'Brien with Art Hodes at Rupneck's, Al Jenkins with Doc
Evans, and, of course, George Brunis. The music schools were an excuse
to make several trips to Chicago but I really went there for the clubs.
"I went to Beloit College to study pre-med and met Pete Galiano, a good
clarinetist from New Orleans who was in a combo with Pete Gianquinto
(trumpet). I sat in one night and they hired me. They taught me a lot.
(I also played trumpet with the college band.) My playing was
interfering with my schoolwork and I was failing, in danger of being
drafted, so I joined the Marines. I thought that was the end of music
for me but I wound up in the band there."
While touring with the band, which had two excellent alto players named
Oliver Nelson, one of whom was to become the well- known arranger, a
year was spent in San Francisco where Beebe was exposed to the rich jazz
milieu of the Bay Area. The Hangover featured Earl Hines' band with
Muggsy Spanier, Darnell Howard, etc. At the Blackhawk he was exposed to
more modern jazz strains: Johnny Hodges band with John Coltrane and
Lawrence Brown, Art Tatum ("He gave me a piano lesson. I had bought one
of his manuals and tried to play his runs.") and Miles Davis, from whom
he discovered that the Bebop Wars then waging in the jazz press did not
reflect the attitudes of the better musicians. He heard Turk Murphy, Bob
Scobey, Marty Marsala, etc. the "local" musicians of that time and
At the University of Wisconsin, after the term of service, Jim met Bobby
Lewis in a Music Education course, Beebe left school to go with Bob
Scobey and has been busy ever since with Art Hodes, the Dukes of
Dixieiand, the Jazz Ltd. band, Wild Bill Davison and his own group.
The other men on this record are equally seasoned musicians. Bobby Lewis
first recorded with Dave Remington on Vee-Jay, toured four years with
Jack Teagarden, was featured with Peggy Lee and is the top studio
trumpet in Chicago. He also works with his two groups Ears and
Forefront. Eric Schneider left Beebe's band to tour with Earl Hines, his
present leader. They switched roles recently on Eric's first LP under
his own name, Eric and Earl (Gatemouth LP-1003). His exciting blend of
traditional and modern jazz styles has already casued a lot of talk.
Steve Behr is also at home in any jazz style. He's worked with Ira
Sullivan, the Jazz, Ltd. band, Wingy Mannone, Sid Dawson and the Barrett
Deems Hottet. He also studies classical piano with Easley Blackwood.
Duke Groner was a vocalist with Fletcher Henderson and Jimmie Lunceford,
took up bass because of cabaret tax laws during World War II, led his
own group for years (records in the 40's) then with Jazz Ltd. He
introduced John Hammond to Charlie Christian, Barrett Deems' discography
begins with 30's recordings for Decca with Joe Venuti; he was with Joe
on some of Joe's last sessions. This irrepressible guy is perhaps best
remembered for his long stint with Louis Armstrong and his presence in
the film High Society, but he also did Monogram B'sand work with Jack
Teagarden, Dukes of Dixieiand, and can usually be found in Benny Goodman
units, Jazz At Five, the backing roups of Rick's, or just about any
Delmark trad date (Art Hodes, Barney Bigard, Jim Beebe). He also has
recorded with his own group Deemus and recently toured with a Gene Krupa
memorial big band.
This recording was once one of the top sellers for
the Chicago based DELMARK Label. Featuring
14 year old trumpet prodigy Tommy Bridges; Chicago's Top traditional
Jazz artists and the legendary drummer, Barrett Deems, who was well
known for his work with Louis Armstrong. Barrett Deems was
on Armstrong's finest recordings in the mid 1950's, including
"Ambassador Satch". And he was in the Movie, "High Society" as
part of Louis Armstrong's band, along with Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra,
and Bing Crosby. Featured on the record are:
Eric Schneider, Tenor, Alto, and Clarinet went on the road
after the recording with the Count Basie Orchestra as soloist, and was there
until Basie's death in 1984.
Duke Groner, Bass, had played in the legendary Jimmy
Lunceford Orchestra, in the 1940's
Bobby Lewis, 2nd trumpet, became the Musical Director and
conductor for vocalist Peggy Lee, during her last years.
Jim Beebe, Leader and trombone, has been the top Trad jazz
style Trombonist in Chicago for many years, and was known for his work ion the
Bob Scobey Band.
Steve Behr, Piano, is one of Chicago's finest jazz
pianists, and nationally renowned players.
Tommy Bridges - Cornet Chop Suey