Mar 11, 1949: WVOM Broadcasting Live From Wally’s Paradise
Jimmy “Bottoms Up” Tyler was broadcasting live from Wally’s Paradise on WVOM in the spring of 1949. Tyler’s was among the finer bands that took up residence at Wally’s Paradise in its early years, arriving in September 1948 and remaining until the following May. He was known at the time as “Bottoms Up” because of his fiery tenor solo on the Sabby Lewis recording of that tune in 1947, which became a regional hit in the “race records” category. Tyler left Lewis and went out on his own in 1948.
Tyler’s band at Wally’s was a mix of talent not uncommon in the late 1940s, with some 20-something musicians who had been raised on swing and were now exploring bebop, and some barely-20 players who had grown up with bop. Tyler was in the former camp, as were trumpeter Lennie Johnson and drummer Bey Perry. Pianist Curtis Brown and bassist Martin “Gator” Rivers, both then students at the New England Conservatory, were in the latter.
In 1949, Joseph “Wally” Walcott purchased 30 minutes of radio time three afternoons per week on WVOM-AM, “1600 at the top of your dial,” to promote his club and its current attractions. Tyler’s band was one, and the other was Leroy “Lover” Brown, a singer much influenced by Wynonie Harris, and with a record just out on the Motif label. The announcer was Eddy Petty, a pianist whose own late-night jazz show on WVOM had started in late 1948. To Petty belongs the distinction of being the first African-American DJ to work regularly on a Boston station.
Leroy Brown’s career fizzled and WVOM dropped jazz in 1956. Wally’s of course is still presenting jazz nightly. Jimmy Tyler’s career went on for another 45 years and it beats me why he didn’t become a bigger name in jazz prior to his death in 1998. Here he is playing alto on “Stardust” in 1980 with a group led by drummer Clyde Lucas.