Friday, June 6, 2008

Marv Goldberg's excellent Dozier Boys site

This is an excerpt from Marv Goldberg's excellent Dozier Boys site. Please follow the link and support his site.

In November, they started their recording career with Aristocrat Records (the predecessor to Chess Records). “Somebody led us there,” says Cornell. The “somebody” was Willie Dixon, a friend of the Wiley family and member of the Big Three Trio; he introduced them to Leonard Chess. “We never met Evelyn Aron [Leonard Chess' partner at the time],” says Cornell. “Phil Chess was there, but he was always so quiet.”

Their first session seems to have been held in very late November 1948. The master numbers aren't completely helpful, since they were based on which recording studio was used. Both Cornell and Ben remember that their first sides were done backing bluesman Andrew Tibbs (brother of the abovementioned Kenneth Tibbs) at Universal Recording. However, there are some songs with lower master numbers, which indicates (to me, at any rate) that the recording studio assigned numbers after the songs were recorded, not during the sessions. The second four sides were recorded a few days later, probably in early December. The lineup goes like this:

U 7160 In A Traveling Mood (backing Andrew Tibbs)
U 7161 In Every Man's Life (backing “Andy” Tibbs)
U 7162 I Want To Be Loved (backing Tibbs; unissued)
U 7163 This Is Always (backing Tibbs; unissued)

U 7156 She Only Fools With Me (with Sax Mallards' Combo)
U 7157 St. Louis Blues (with Sax Mallard's Combo)
U 7158 Invitation To The Blues (unissued)
U 7159 Big Time Baby (unissued)

December saw the first release on Aristocrat: “In A Traveling Mood” (as “Andrew Tibbs and the Dozier Boys”), backed with “The Holidays Are Over,” an Andrew Tibbs solo effort, recorded at an earlier session. It seems that the Dozier Boys provided the instrumentation for the Tibbs recordings (as well as Benny Cotton's bass voice on “In A Traveling Mood”). The tinkly piano was done by Herman “Sonny” Blount (later known as Sun Ra), who did a lot of studio work. According to George Moonoogian, they also used 4 Vagabonds-inspired “bong scale” harmony behind Tibbs. In spite of a luke-warm review in February 1949, the record did well in Chicago and the Doziers frequently appeared with Tibbs for a few months.

Note that Aristocrat released records in a lot of different series. Andrew Tibbs had his own 1100 series, which contained at least seven records. The Dozier Boys were given the 3000 series, although they were later switched to the more general 400 line. Similarly, Muddy Waters and Sunnyland Slim were assigned the 1300 series, Sax Mallard was 2000, the 5 Blazes got 200, and the Tom Archia All Stars were in 600.

There was another session held in December (this time at United Broadcasting Studios) at which they did two songs backed by Eugene Wright and the Dukes Of Swing. At this time, the Dozier Boys were the vocalists for Wright's band, having appeared with them for a few months at the Beige Room, in the basement of Chicago's Pershing Hotel. While Wright broke up the Dukes Of Swing at the end of 1948 to join the Count Basie band, the Doziers remained at the Pershing Hotel until around 1950. (Wright stayed with Basie less than six months; he later played with Gene Ammons and Dave Brubeck.)

The Dukes Of Swing consisted of Eugene Wright (bassist), Hobart Dotson (trumpet), John Avant (trombone), Gail Brockman (trumpet), Frank Robinson (alto sax), Roy Grant (alto sax), Bill Evans (who later called himself “Yusef Lateef,” tenor sax), Melvin Scott (tenor sax), Van Kelly (baritone sax), Sonny Blount (piano), and Robert Henderson (drums). At the same session, the Dukes Of Swing recorded “Pork 'n Beans” and “Dawn Mist” (which eventually ended up as Aristocrat 11001).

The two tunes recorded with the Dukes Of Swing were a re-recording of “Big Time Baby” and “Music Goes Round And Round.” The latter song was supposed to be an instrumental by the Dukes Of Swing, with the Doziers only singing an introductory few bars. However, when the record was released, it was credited to “The Dozier Boys and Eugene Wright.”

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