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Thursday, November 29, 2012



Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

The TV guide listing for the September 17, 1956 Stars of Jazz program gave no details regarding Teddy Buckner’s appearance other than listing the five member ensemble, no hint was offered regarding what type of jazz the group performed. Teddy Buckner and his Dixieland Band had a long standing gig at the “400 Club” at 3330 West 8th in Los Angeles.  That stretch of 8th Street was a popular destination for Angelenos seeking entertainment with The Tiffany Club, The 331 Club and Agua Caliente all within walking distance of each other. Teddy Buckner would appear on Stars of Jazz a total of three times during the two and a half year run of the program.

Gene Norman promoted music in Los Angeles in a variety of concert promotions.  His “Just Jazz” concerts brought top names in jazz to auditoriums and concert halls in Los Angeles and Pasadena with such stars as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman. Norman also featured traditional jazz artists at his “Dixieland Jubilee” concerts that he presented in conjunction with Frank Bull. In addition Norman had one of the premier nightclubs on the Sunset Strip, The Crescendo, where top jazz names were always in attendance.  Many of these artists were recorded at these venues and appeared on Norman’s G.N.P. (Gene Norman Presents) Records.

Floyd Levin wrote a profile of Teddy Buckner in his survey of traditional jazz:

Teddy Buckner joined Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band at the Beverly Cavern in Los Angeles on July 16, 1949. He replaced Andrew Blakeney, a particular favorite of mine, so I was initially disappointed to learn about the change. My disappointment evaporated the moment Buckner blew his first note. His Armstrong-influenced tones, tinged with melodic integrity and stunning technical prowess, filled the little club with warmth and vitality. Those same attributes were integral to Teddy's personality. During the years he worked with Ory, he rose to prominence and became a favorite of jazz fans the world over. Our friendship gradually mellowed into a warm relationship, but I always remained a dedicated fan.

Teddy Buckner was born in Sherman, Texas, in 1909; his family moved to Los Angeles when he was eight years old. After he admired a young cornet player in a marching band, his mother promptly bought Teddy a silver horn and arranged for music lessons. "It took a lot of practice after school instead of playing ball," he said, "but I was determined to play music." He began his professional career in Los Angeles at the tender age of fifteen, working a succession of jobs. During the 1920s and 1930s he played with bands led by Speed Webb, Sonny Clay, Edythe Turnham, Lorenzo Flennoy, Les Hite, Lionel Hampton, and Benny Carter.

"I was twenty-seven years old when Lionel Hampton hired me to play with him at the after-hours Paradise Club in 1936," Buckner recalled. "One night Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, and Teddy Wilson came in after their gig at the Palomar Ballroom. They all sat in, and we had the greatest jam session until 4 A.M. When Goodman hired Lionel, he [Hampton] turned the band over to me. I stayed at the Paradise Club until I joined Benny Carter."

In 1954, after five years with Kid Ory, Buckner formed a great little band of his own, Teddy Buckner and His Dixieland All-Stars. It soon ranked among the most successful Dixieland groups in the country and played a vital role in the Los Angeles jazz scene for many years. With few changes, of personnel, the group played extended engagements at the 400 Club and the New Orleans Hotel in Los Angeles, followed by four years at the Huddle in West Covina and sixteen years at Disneyland's New Orleans Square. Buckner's recordings with members of Louis Armstrong's All-Stars, triumphant tours in Europe, and wonderful 1959 French record sessions with Sidney Bechet added to his fame. He was featured in many Hollywood films (both onscreen and on the soundtrack), including Pennies from Heaven with Bing Crosby, Pete Kelly's Blues. Hush. Hush. Sweet Charlotte, and St. Louis Blues.

Levin, Floyd. CLASSIC JAZZ,  A Personal View of the Music and the Musicians, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2000. 61-62.

SHOW #13
SEPTEMBER 17, 1956
Teddy Buckner and his Dixieland Band: Teddy Buckner, trumpet; John Ewing, trombone; Joe Darensbourg, clarinet, soprano sax; Harvey O Brooks, piano; Arthur Edwards, acoustic double bass; Jesse Sailes, drums.

Production credits for this show:
Host: Bobby Troup
Producer: Jimmie Baker
Writer: (not credited)
Director: Norman Abbott
Audio: Chuck Lewis
Cameramen: Jack Denton, Claire Higgins
Technical Director: Bob Trachinger
Lighting Director: Vince Cilurzo
Video: Tom Sumner

The photos that greatly enhance this presentation have been provided courtesy of the Ray Avery Estate.  The author would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to Cynthia Sesso, Licensing Administrator of the Ray Avery Photo Archives.  Please note that these photos remain the property of the Ray Avery Estate and are used here with permission.  Any inquiries regarding their use, commercial or otherwise, should be directed to:  Cynthia Sesso at CTSIMAGES.

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