The Troy Street Observer

March 21, 1947: Big T and Friends at Symphony Hall

Jack Teagarden and a whole gang of Bostonians took over the stage at Symphony Hall on March 21, 1947.

Jack Teagarden photo
Teagarden, Lesberg, Kaminsky, and unknown drummer. Photo by William Gottlieb.

Jack Teagarden was all done with big bands by 1947, and like many others in jazz, Big T had settled into the small-group setting. Less than two weeks before this date, in fact, Teagarden had been in the studio for Victor, recording as Jack Teagarden’s Big Eight. Some of the eight were with him in the sextet he brought to Symphony Hall: trumpeter Max Kaminsky, clarinetist Peanuts Hucko, bassist Jack Lesberg, and drummer Dave Tough. (Pianist James P. Johnson filled out the group.) They surely played “St. Louis Blues,” “Say It Simple,” and other Big Eight tunes.

A second band was on the program, led by cornetist Bobby Hackett, with pianist Dick Carey, bassist Johnny Field, and drummer Buzzy Drootin.

The night was quite a hometown affair: Kaminsky, Lesberg, Hackett, Field, and Drootin all were from Boston or lived in the city for an extended period, and Teagarden was a short-time member of Mal Hallett’s big band in the thirties. There’s no record of it, but I don’t doubt many of the musicians headed down Mass Ave to the Savoy Cafe following their show.

Teagarden continued to lead his small group with Kaminsky, Hucko and Lesberg into the summer. He also hosted a show on New York’s WHN radio, with studio musicians who were competent but no match for his Boston friends. He had been appearing occasionally with Louis Armstrong, however, and the response was quite favorable. He broke up his own group and joined Armstrong’s All-Stars in the summer or fall of 1947.

Here is Teagarden with “Strut Miss Lizzie,” from his 1947 program on WHN, with his guest star Max Kaminsky leading off on trumpet.

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