The Troy Street Observer

Dec 31: On the Town, Boston Jazz Chronicles Edition

Last week I watched Alastair Sim as Scrooge in the 1951 film, A Christmas Carol, and seeing poor Scrooge dragged through the years on Christmas night gave me the idea to do something similar for my New Year’s Eve post. So here, without any guiding ghosts, is a look at New Year’s Eve past, Boston Jazz Chronicles style.

Hi-Hat photo folder, ca. 1947
Hi-Hat souvenir photo folder, ca. 1947

December 31, 1936… Bobby Hackett with Brad Gowans at the Theatrical Club, the residence that put Hackett on the national stage… 1938: The first Boston visit of Les Brown and His Band of Renown, at the Raymor Ballroom on Huntington Avenue… 1942: Drummer Alan Dawson’s first gig, with Tasker Crosson’s Ten Statesmen, at the U.S.O. on Ruggles Street…

1943: Fletcher Henderson at the Tic Toc, Ray Perry at the Ken Club, Phil Edmunds and Mabel Robinson at Little Dixie, Sabby Lewis and George Irish at the Savoy Cafe, Georgie Auld at the Raymor. Need to rest? The Gayety Theatre is showing Reveille With Beverly, starring Ann Miller and every name band you can think of.

1946: Frances Wayne at the Satire Room, Boston’s “most expensive and intimate (seating fewer than 50) rendezvous”… 1947: Duke Ellington’s Orchestra at Symphony Hall… 1952: Slim Gaillard and Milt Buckner rock the Hi-Hat… 1955: The Savoy Cafe closed its doors forever; the last tune played by the Excalibur Jazz Band was “The Dixie Jass Band One Step.” But as one falls, another rises, and the Herb Pomeroy Orchestra welcomed its first New Year’s Eve at the Stable…

1958: Gerry Mulligan with Art Farmer at Storyville, alternating sets with Buck Clayton and Pee Wee Russell. Russell sat in with Mulligan and everybody dug it… 1960: Grand opening of Basin Street South… 1963: the Toshiko Mariano Quartet at Connolly’s, in what was one of their last, if not the last, engagements before Toshiko and Charlie moved to Japan, and started Mariano’s lifelong fascination with the musics of the world…

1968: Illinois Jacquet, Teddy Buckner and Jo Jones at Lennie’s-on-the-Turnpike… 1974: It’s that Hackett man again, this time with the Drootin Brothers at Scotch ‘n Sirloin, in the shadow of the Boston Gahden… 1978: This one’s for Basie. Buddy Tate’s quintet at Lulu White’s, and then jump in the car and head to Sandy’s Jazz Revival in Beverly, where Jay McShann, Major Holley, Jo Jones, and Carrie Smith saluted the Kid from Red Bank… 1981: Dick Johnson and Swing Shift eased us into the New Year at Satin Doll.

Recall a Boston-area New Year’s Eve of your own when the jazz was of the high octane type? Tell us in a comment…

Tonight we sing “Auld Lang Syne” and think of the ones we lost this year, and there were many. But tomorrow morning we start another year, and for that I have just the thing to get the motor running: “Wham! And They’re Off,” by Hank Mobley and others you’ll surely recognize.

A wonderful new year to all—



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