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Who was the bassist for Fletcher Henderson & his Orchetsra circa 1944?

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by lunarpollen, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. Here's a link to streaming audio from a 1944 AFRS Jubilee recording of the band playing "Rose Room" (with spoken introduction from Lena Horne)

    Fletcher Henderson & his Orchestra - "Rose Room"

    In the few sources I've been able to find, the bassist is listed only as "Chief".. Could it have just been some anonymous fill-in? Maybe a sub who was under contract to another band and couldn't be named? Or is there some bassist of that era with the nickname "Chief"?

    In any case it's a fun listen, with very nice clear bass segment starting at about 1:13 into the track.
  2. bhagiti


    Mar 10, 2005
    NW Ohio
    Good question! Could be Elmer James or John Kirby (recorded w/Henderson in the 30's for sure, may have been gone by the 40's)??
  3. Neither Kirby nor James were part of the 1944 re-formed Henderson band. I don't think Israel Crosby was either.

    Maybe "Chief" was an AFRS house bassist?
  4. debasser!


    Sep 21, 2008
    Doesn't sound at all like Israel either. I've been listening to his early stuff lately and am pretty sure that aint him. Nice track though! They captured the bass well for a live recording in 1944 didn't they?
  5. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I don't know, but I know who would. Ray Smith, the guy who
    hosts 'The Jazz Decades' show on PBS. That guy knows everybody.
    His collection of jazz recordings is said to exceed
    90,000 titles and he has been on the air playing obscure stuff for
    35 years.

    Last email addy I had for him was rayjazzsmith@aol.com
  6. A lot of the AFRS recordings are really excellent sounding. They probably had a huge budget for spending on stuff like high-quality recording equipment, microphones, etc. For a 1944 big band recording, the bass definitely shines!
  7. Ah he is mega cool! I will try and get in touch with him. Thanks!
  8. robgrow

    robgrow Supporting Member

    May 1, 2004
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    In 1944 recording technology was extremely basic. Typically only a few mics were used (most commonly RCA ribbons), and mixers usually only had a few inputs. Recording was direct to disc, as tape recording was not introduced until the late 40's. It is the talent of the musicians and engineers that shines through on these recordings.
  9. debasser!


    Sep 21, 2008
    The link to the thread is HERE

    So there we are! Thanks Klyph!
  10. Ah well John Kirby was a part of the Henderson band in the 1930's before moving on to other things including leading his own band, so I guess most likely it was him back in the band for those AFRS recordings! Cool!

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