Editor, Webmaster: Phil Cartwright Editor@earlyjas.org
|In Tune -- by Bill Fuller
Additions, comments, corrections, contributions
to Bill Fuller %Earlyjas, or e-mail:
Charlie Wright “Fess” Johnson is a little-known piano player, composer, and band-
leader who fronted a significant group for ten years at a well-known club in Harlem called
Smalls Paradise. From 1925 to 1935, at the height of early jazz in New York, Johnson’s
Paradise Ten held forth at the only top-ranked club in Harlem owned and operated by an
African-American. Edwin Smalls’ nightspot also featured dancing waiters.
Charlie Johnson (1891-1959) came out of Philadelphia. The full extent of his
recording career was contained in five sessions between 1925 and 1929. In his band during
that time he cultivated such jazz luminaries as trumpeters Jabbo Smith and Sidney DeParis;
trombonists Charlie Irvis and Jimmy Harrison; and alto saxophonist Benny Carter who made
his recording debut with the Paradise Ten in 1927.
Johnson also recorded a number of original compositions during those five sessions. You’
ll find them listed below. Beyond his own compositions he also recorded (all for Victor
Records) such tunes as: “Getting’ Away from Me,” “Harlem Drag,” and “Mo’lasses,” all
composed and arranged by Johnson’s tenor saxophonist, Benny Waters.
PARADISE WOBBLE- 1927, by Charlie Johnson and Thomas Morris. Recorded on Victor
BVE 38115, with vocal by Monette Moore.
BIRMINGHAM BLACK BOTTOM- 1927, by Charlie Johnson and Thomas Morris.
Recorded on Victor BVE 38116, with vocal by Monette Moore.
DON’T YOU LEAVE ME HERE- 1927, by Charlie Johnson. Recorded on Victor BVE
38117, with vocal by Monette Moore.
YOU AIN’T THE ONE – 1928, by Charlie Johnson and Arthur Porter. Recorded on Victor
CHARLESTON IS THE BEST DANCE AFTER ALL- 1928, by Charlie Johnson and Arthur
Porter. Recorded on Victor BVE 41640.
HOT-TEMPERED BLUES- 1928, by Charlie Johnson and Arthur Porter. Recorded on
Victor BVE 41641.
THE BOY IN THE BOAT – 1928, by Charlie Johnson. Recorded on Victor BVE 47531.
WALK THAT THING- 1928, by Charlie Johnson. Recorded on Victor BVE 47532.
HOT BONES AND RICE- 1929, by Charlie Johnson. Recorded on Victor BVE 51299.
RIMSHOT- to Earlyjas member, Bill Knapp, for drawing my attention to this band.
|Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning for
Jazz Advancement and Socialization
Smalls Paradise Ten