Editor, Webmaster: Phil Cartwright Editor@earlyjas.org
|Personalities -- by Phil Cartwright
for nearly twenty years with bands all over northern Ohio and beyond. Most notably he played with the Benny Cash
Orchestra, a territory band of the early 30’s that was based in Ohio and traveled other nearby states.
He once played a gig in Cleveland’s University Circle as a sideman in a band where Artie Shaw (then Artie
Arshavski) was also a sideman. He also played for 3-4 months in the Kay Kayser Orchestra during which time he
roomed with Ish Kabibel. The 78 rpm records he collected were mostly big band swing. He liked the Goodman band
and those sounds were probably my earliest influence. My mom always told the story about how, when I was 4-5
years old, I would spend hours with a toy plastic clarinet in front of the family Silvertone pretending I was Benny
Goodman. When it was time for lunch, she couldn’t sit down because Gene Krupa was sitting there, Teddy Wilson
was over there, and Lionel Hampton was there.
The person who really broadened my interests was my trumpet-playing brother, Glenn. He was 12 years older than
I and in his late teens he began to make regular trips to the record stores. He loved Wild Bill Davison, Bix, Louis, Red
Nichols, and Bobby Hackett, and, after hearing them, so did I. Over time he amassed quite a collection from which I
It was about this time ( I was six) that I discovered the joys of banging on drums. Ironically, it was in the rec room of
a musician friend of my father’s where a set of drums had been left, set up, from a previous day’s jam session. My
dad was playing so much in those days that his drums were always packed and I, actually, had never even seen them.
Apparently my dad saw something in that little encounter and found a battered old set for me from the attic of a
Since I was six I’ve been playing drums regularly with the best jazz musicians in the world – on records! After I got
married my practice set was actually in our bedroom for a couple years and I remember my wife once telling Ralph
Grugel, who almost fell out of his chair, that I played a lot in the bedroom. I keep stored in my memory a line I heard
once from a hip cartoon zebra on a kid’s TV show: “I enjoy making music, but I enjoy even more what music makes
My taste in music is very eclectic within the boundaries of jazz, but exceed those parameters and it narrows rapidly. I’
ve been really lucky in being able to play with local bands that embody a broad spectrum of jazz music: classic early
jazz with the Eagle Jazz Band and The New Orleans Stompers; hot dance music with The Night Owls; west coast
revival with The Hot Jazz 7; swing and modern with George Foley and His Rhythm and The John Richmond Swingtet.
Formal Training: When I was about ten or eleven my mom tried to get me to take piano lessons. I did take them for
about three months, but I’d never practiced. I was too much into baseball and basketball and, besides, it was more
fun to bang on the drums with records.
I do remember my dad, at one point, trying to teach me to read drum music, but that too was futile because it
entailed practice which infringed upon my sports. The drum lessons lasted about three weeks.
Classic and Contemporary Bands I Like: My favorites among the early bands would have to be Armstrong’s Hot 5
and Hot 7, Morton’s Red Hot Peppers, and Jabbo Smith’s Rhythm Aces. You’re right, Phil, in assuming I have a
special place for all the Condon gangs (especially the 40’s and 50’s editions). This, of course, is due primarily to the
fact that my brother and I both liked them very much and, for years, he was doing the buying. So their records were
always around. They, probably more than any other groups, shaped the way I play, and the reason is because, over
the years, I’ve probably played along with more Condon recordings than any other single band. One of my favorite
drummers, Cliff Leeman, comes from this time. My all-time favorite is Nick Fatool, but I also like Ray Bauduc and Jo
Jones (especially for his brush work).
My contemporary favorites are The Climax Jazz Band, The New Black Eagle Jazz Band, The Buck Creek Jazz Band,
Soprano Summit (and Reunion), some of the Concord All-Star Bands, and Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band.
Bill, thanks for all your contributions to EARLYJAS!
|Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization