The Troy Street Observer

On June 1, 1940… Jack Hill Loses Two Jacks

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Harvard Crimson columnist Mike Levin decries the cost-cutting move at Little Dixie—resizing the house band from eight men to six.

Mike Levin started writing a jazz column called “Swing” for the Harvard Crimson in February 1939, and by the spring of 1940, was following local jazz more closely than anyone at any of the Boston papers. A regular in the Mass Ave clubs, he was quite familiar with the house band at Little Dixie, Jack Hill and His Jacks, one of the three first-rate bands in Boston at the time (Joe Nevils and Sabby Lewis led the other two).

The Jacks’ lineup was Bill Stanley and Bob Chestnut, trumpets; Danny Potter, tenor saxophone; Wibur Pinckney, alto and tenor saxophones; Walter Sisco, clarinet and alto saxophone; Highland Diggs, piano and arranger; Eddie Hawley, bass; and Dave Chestnut, drums. Frances “Frankie” Gatewood was the singer. Where’s Jack Hill? There was no Jack Hill. This was a cooperative band, and its members chose to pluck a name from the newspaper and assign it to their imaginary front man.

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