Ellington on CD The Dooji Collection
(Ellington record labels)TDWAW
'When I was a little boy, we lived in New York City on 63rd Street, and it sloped downhill west to the Hudson River. All of us kids liked to coast down it on our roller skates, and then grab hold of a truck and get pulled back up.
One day the back of the truck was crowded with kids and there was no room for me, so I tried to hang onto the side. The truck swerved a little and I started to fall under it. I tried to push away but my fingers got caught in a chain hanging there. Well, it kept me from falling under the truck but my hand was cut pretty bad and they had to cut my finger tips off. Maybe today's surgeons might have saved them, but I guess the man who worked on me didn't know how.
When I got back to school they tried to teach me how to write with my left hand, but I couldn't do it. So, as soon as my hand had healed I went back to doing everything with my right hand. It wasn't until years later, after joining Duke, that I started playing trumpet with my left hand...
With Duke, you were in show business, and show business meant just that. You're there to perform, and nothing must interfere with the enjoyment of your patrons. You must try to hide any deformity you have which might divert their attention from what you are doing. You don't want them feeling sorry for you. You want them to enjoy your music.' Storyville 046. ibid.
The Ten Collegians). Despite not having the tuition, Freddie was allowed to enroll in the university. Storyville 046
'...there was music in the neighbourhood.'Storyville 046
'Mr. McFarland, who lived about a block away and worked for the C.G. Conn Instrument Company ... organised a boys' band, got some good used instruments from Conn and taught us to play them. ... One day he brought me a cornet and told me if I would learn to play the scales he would give it to me. I practised for about a week and then showed him I could do it. So, I got my first cornet, and then he started giving me lessons. Well, I got into Mr. McFarland's band along with some other kids in the neighbourhood. Among them was Benny Carter ... Mr. McFarland taught us how to march, as well as to play. Sometimes ... we would lead the parade to the park ... we'd get paid for it. So, I guess you could say that I got my start as a professional musician while still in grade school.'Storyville 046
He was a fine teacher and an excellent trumpet player.Storyville 046
'From the time I was in Junior High School I was always busy trying to break into the business. Some of us kids used to wangle our way into the entertainment spots to listen to the bands, and beg for tryouts. ...By being around I sometimes got the chance to sit in for some regular band member who failed to show, and they couldn't care how old I was if I could do the job. They would put me in behind the bass drum, where my short pants wouldn't show and, if I could keep up with the band, I'd get paid. So, all through high school I was playing gigs. I even had a tryout with Fletcher Henderson...' Storyville 046
Smack ... did recommend me to his brother Horace - we called him Little Smack. And, when I graduated from High School, Horace [Henderson] went to see my grandmother and asked if I could go with him to Wilberforce University. He had a band out there called the Wilberforce Collegians, and he was recruiting around New York for young men to go to college there and play in his band. He had already signed up Benny Carter and Rex Stewart and a few others... During the school year we played week-end dates, and during the summer we would go on tour.
...The band did well financially ... when I graduated I had 1,600 dollars in my pocket and two cars. I stayed with the band for another year...'Storyville 046
Music By the Original Wilberforce Collegians (Fletcher Henderson's Stompers) headed by Horace Henderson...and The Afro-American, Baltimore, Md. 1927-07-16 p.10 reported Horace needed another quarter of study before receiving his degree, and named said his band,
The Ten Collegians, had been together for two years. It named the sidemen:
Horace Hendersonin the Newspapers.com archive.
Jenkins Jumpers, the house band at the Savoy when Freddie was invited to join Duke.
There was a dance hall behind the restaurant and one night I heard a trumpet sound coming from there. When I had the chance, I walked over there to see who it could be and there was a little Negro boy playing trumpet with his left hand. It was the first time I had seen a Negro musician sitting in with a white orchestra at the zoo or any place else in Cincinnati and I knew that this youngster had to be good to be allowed to play in such a situation. I found out his name was Freddie Jenkins and that he was going to school at Wilberforce University. Freddie was upsetting everybody, but he did not stay in town more than two or three days.
Before coming back to Cincinnati, I stayed a couple of days in Paris and there was a dance one night with an orchestra called Edgar Hayes and his Collegians. The musicians were going to Wilberforce University and Edgar had persuaded them to spend their summer vacation in Lexington, Kentucky, his home town, and play the summer dance season in Kentucky. The original leader had been Horace Henderson, a pianist, but he was not with the band then... Some of the musicians in the band were Joe Beatus and Castor McCord on saxes and Henry Hicks on trombone; but the strong man of the band was trumpeter Freddie Jenkins whom I had heard at the dance hall of the Cincinnati Zoo.
Freddie Jenkins was still going to Wilberforce University and playing with the orchestra. One night when they had been playing in the neighborhood, they stopped at the Inn to say hello. We were on the bandstand at the time and Hayes asked me to play I found you in Maytime. I call it that because those were the words of the first measures. But the real title is just Maytime. I had copied the first eight measures the way I'd heard Freddie play it when I had heard him with Edgar Hayes in Kentucky, and I played it that way. Freddie was so pleased that he started calling me brother, and we called each other brother from then on. And the odd part about it, is that we did have a physical resemblance to some degree.
A few months later Fletcher came back to Cincinnati for a Sunday night dance ...There was also a dance that Sunday afternoon at the Crystal Ballroom with the Horace Henderson (Fletcher's brother) orchestra from Wilberforce College. I was at the Crystal and Horace's boys, with Freddie Jenkins (trumpet), Joe and Castor McCord (alto sax and tenor sax), and Henry "Red" Hicks (trombone), were sounding real great...
...At the Cotton Club, which was two blocks up from the Savoy...an orchestra led by Duke Ellington was playing and I heard that Freddie Jenkins was in the band. I had heard some records of Duke's ... But I had the opportunity of hearing Duke's band at the Savoy, where he played at different times for jazz battles.
At one of those [Lenox Club} breakfast dances I saw Freddie Jenkins, who was now known as "Posie," for reasons I was to comprehend later.
Duke Ellington was playing some exclusive place in a suburb of Chicago and I saw Freddie Jenkins and Rex Stewart many times...
'...during their last tour, he ran into trumpeter Freddie Jenkins. Freddie is not in the insurance business in Fort Worth and is doing quite well. Cootie said,
I think someone should mention him now and then. He helped build the band. I never read an article on him - why?' (Jack Bradley & Jean Roni Failowe, "Cootie Speaks," Coda, April 1963, courtesy S.Bowie. )
'"Remember him and Bubber?" Sonny asked. "How they used to fight?" He explained. "Bubber couldn't stand seeing Freddy pose when he took a solo. He sets himself, you know, thows his head back, alway dances down front. Well, Bubber told Freddy to stop posing so much. 'Cut it,' he said, 'behave like a grown-up horn-man.' He was boss of the section, so he could tell Freddy. Well, Jenkins didn't cut the posing. So Bubber moved him from the middle to the end, where he thought you woulden't see Freddy so well. Freddy showed better'n ever; he thought up more ways of being seen. Watch him flash those hand cymbals. Whatta man!"' (Barry Ulanov,
Duke Ellington, Da Capo, New York, 1977, p.85)
'All of us were well educated and well trained musically and quite capable of composing. Naturally, we improvised most of our own solos and, whenever we came up with something like a complete composition that was good enough for the band, the Duke paid us liberally. Where the piece didn't require too much work to fit the band, the guy might share in the ASCAP credit...' (Storyville 046. ibid.)
'... I think we got more numbers out of a session than many bands could. And, I think that was because everyone in the band was endowed with so much natural talent. We didn't have to pray over anything and write it all out. Duke, or someone, would just set down a background to give us the chord level and general idea, and that took only about ten minutes. Then Johnny Hodges, or someone, would start some figure, like -ba'da'ta'da'ta'da'Bing, and that was it. Everyone would hear his own part in his own ear, and we'd set up and do it that way. So, a lot of our stuff was created right in the studio and, if it sounded good, we'd record it and Duke would write it down later from the record. Sometimes, he'd add a little here or there to stretch it out for dance or concert purposes, and we'd look at it the next day and wouldn't recognize it. Duke would laugh and say 'This is just what you were doing yesterday.
We had a lot of fun with Duke. He is warm and vibrant, sometimes a little serious but he never loses his sense of humour. He is a man anyone can accept totally. Sometimes you like certain traits in a man. and dislike other traits. But, you love Duke all the way.
Did you know that Duke developed his own technique and styles mainly by utilizing the band? He used to set us on the stand and pay us union scale, maybe for five hours, just to help him formulate chords. He'd assign different notes to every instrument in the band and say 'Play that, B'a'a'm!', and it might produce a big C'13th, what we call a Christmas Chord. Then he'd take those same notes and switch them to different instruments and while you'd still have a big C'13th, it would sure sound a lot different. Sometimes he'd do that three or four times before he found just the combination he wanted.
...Duke was testing for what we called techni-choir. One thing among many he discovered, was that if you get sounds pitched very close together they would produce a mike-tone. Like a trumpet, upper register trombone and lower register clarinet would produce a mike-tone that would sound almost like a fourth instrument. And, that's the way Mood Indigo came into being. Another time we worked five hours on a passage using seven different relative keys. We didn't know what that was all about at the time, but later it was the intro to St. Louis Blues, and it worked.'(Storyville 046. ibid.)
'Freddie Jenkins: Third Trumpet
Duke's third cornetist and smallest man ln the band received his schooling and musical education in New York City. After beginning in the school band his first professional job came from Horace Henderson, who was leader of a small dance orchestra. He remalned with this group for some time, and deciding to further his education, entered Wilberforce University, where he worked hiss way through school playing for dances, and was also a member of the university band. Completing his course he returned to New York and rejoined Horace Henderson, opening at the Savoy Ballroom for an engagement of six months. At the end of this period the band left New York, but Freddie remained due to the persuasion of Harold Parker, manager of the Savoy, and organized a group of his own, remaining there four months longer
Duke, who at the time was in the Cotton Club, happened to hear him play his unusual style of cornet and immediately placed him in his band. He has been a member for three years. In addition to his wonderful musical talent, Freddie possesses a personality that has not only made him a favorite among musicians, but has won him hosts of friends and admirers throughout the country. He has a very large vocabulary of 9 and 10-syllable words which his always using at the wrong time. He is rated as first assistant and noisemaker to the rhythm section by his ability in using metal derbies and mutes for other purposes than for playing in.' (Chester Nerges,
Blue Notes, The Chicago Defender city edition, Chicago, Ill. 1931-08-01, as reproduced in Steven Lasker,
A Cotton Club Miscellany, pp.22-23. ibid.)
'When the Ellingtonians toured Britain in 1933, it was to showman Jenkins, a brilliant technician, that many of the trumpet solos were allotted, though on record Cootie Williams was more heavily featured. Jenkins' chorus on "High Life"...has become a classic, subsequently scored for section of trumpets. Much of his open work was in the Armstrong manner, though in this vein he was outshone by the broader, more majestic Cootie. A versatile musician, he could play tightly muted and tense, or delicately phrased and bouncing...There is a strong sense of humour throuhout his work, his obbligato work being particularly effective.' (Peter Gammond, editor,
Duke Ellington, His Life and Music, Da Capo Press, New York, 1977 p.194.)
'...Black and Tan Fantasy kept the mood qauiet and restrained, with an added touch of the lugubrious. Then Freddy Jenkins stomped on to the stage center [sic], posed, and sang, danced and trumpeted his way through the torchy song which Sophie Tucker had made an international success, Some of These Days. Posey scored. Neither he nor the audience wanted him to return to shis seat to beat some cymbals and clown in the background and carry his responsible trumpet section load. Then the famiiar strains of Mood Indigo elicited enough attention to quiet the thrilled spectators and bring the program to a properly triumphant conclusion.'(Barry Ulanov, ibid.)
never seen without that big smile ... and the surprising thing about it all is his faith in future possibilities for a great comeback.
back in the band after two years' absence due to illness.Reviewing the Cotton Club Parade for Jazz Hot (June-July 1937, p11), Stanley Dance noted
Jenkins was in the band each time I went there, and the seven-piece brass section had such tone, volume and punch as I'm sure has never been equalled in jazz.A photo taken at the Cotton Club of the band with the seven-man brass team of Whetsel-Williams-Jenkins-Stewart-Nanton-Brown-Tizol appears in Stewart's Boy Meets Horn.
bedded following an intricate throat operation(Melody Maker, 13Nov37). The 30Apr38 Chicago Defender, in a story datelined the day before, noted that Jenkins was out of the band;
none of the musicians would say whybut Harlem rumor had it that he
needed a rest.Photographs of the band on the occasion of their 29May38 Randall's Island concert show Jenkins in his last known engagement with Ellington.'
'The trumpet soloist on Dinah (‘s in a Jam) from 24Mar38 (air check) and 11Apr38 (Brunswick) is not Rex Stewart [as shown in the New DESOR] but most certainly FREDDIE JENKINS! These soli have all the Jenkins’ trade marks. On the 24Apr38 air check, Rex is the soloist. This almost fits with Chilton, if Jenkins left sometime mid-April. Comments please!'I agree, and can add that after listening closely to the numerous air checks from 1937-38 that are known to survive, I was unable to find Freddie Jenkins on any broadcast other than that of 24Mar38, at which he was present alongside Jones, Williams and Stewart.
'Well, the pace caught up with me. Some people call it the ‘The TOO-SIES’ — TOO much money, TOO much drinking, TOO many women, while TOO Young. I wasn’t the type of musician who could put his trumpet back in the case and go home when the show was over. I was still keyed up from the excitement and had to have a cooling off period — at least, I thought so. Besides, I was never married when I was with Duke, so I had no home to go to. So, I’d drop in somewhere for a few drinks. When we were at the [Harlem] Cotton Club, Cliff Jackson was [in 1928-29] at The Lenox next door, and some of us would drop in there. Well, a jam session or cutting contest would start, and we’d still be at it in daylight. And, it was the same on the road. Everywhere we went some guy in the band knew some place to go. Like in Chicago we’d go out on the South Side to Joe Hughes’ or somewhere. That’s where we all got acquainted with Ray Nance when he was just starting out, about five years before he joined Duke. [See DEMS 05/1-13.] Anyway, the time came when I knew I’d had it, so I stepped down off the bandstand. I didn’t actually quit, and Duke didn’t fire me. I don’t think Duke ever fired anybody in his life, I just became inactive, and that’s where it stands today.'The factual basis for the statement that Jenkins played with the band at the 29May38 Randall’s Island Carnival of Swing is a photograph by Otto Hess captioned "Freddy [sic] Jenkins, Wallace Jones, 1938" that appears in the booklet to Columbia C3L-39. That the photo was taken at the Carnival of Swing is evidenced by comparison with other photos of the event that appear in the booklet of Columbia C3L-27, on page 155 of Stratemann (misdated to 19May38), and especially two photos found in a special DEMS photographic supplement that Benny Aasland produced and published together with Bulletin 89/1 (The 10th Anniversary Issue). '
All congregate to spring a resounding surprise party for the exalted ruler, Freddie Jenkins, who is also the founder of the new Panther City Lodge #1562. The affair was well attended by out of town visitors as well as the daughter of the Twilight Temple. The entertainment was supplied by est leading knight Thurston Limar. It happened at the New Elks Rest, 912 Jones St. in Ft. Worth, Tex.
'Freddie Jenkins, first trumpet player in Duke Ellington's band, has been sent away for the improvement of his health....Rex Stewart, better known as a "second Louis Armstrong," has been taken into the Ellington band to fill Jenkins' place temporarily....'
'New York, Dec. 28 – Trumpeter Freddie Jenkins of Duke Ellington's band, lies ill and under observation for tuberculosis in Harlem hospital. The band is taking Christmas week free.
Jenkins, a New York boy, spidery and electric, is tremendously popular with musicians and with the Ellignton followers.'
'Cleveland, Ohio, Nov.22 - Cleveland friends of Freddie Jenkins ... who is now in Sea View Sanitorium, Staten Island, will circulate a petition to be signed and sent to various New York publishers, asking that they consider publishing songs written by Jenkins while a patient at the sanitorium. The petitions, according to friends, will be sent to certain band leaders also.'
'Freddie Jenkins, Trumpeter With Duke Ellington, Passes
By Ted Yates
NEW YORK - (S NS ) Death claimed another prominent musician here Thursday, ending the brilliant career of Eddie [sic] Jenkins, trumpet player in Duke Ellington's famous orchestra...Jenkins died Thursday morning at Seaview hospital following a lingering illness. He had been housed in an oxygen tent severl days. Tuberculosis was given as the cause of his death. '
'Freddy Jenkins, ex-Duke Ellington cornetist, is in town for a few days visiting friends.'
'...Jenkins ... is back in the Ellington camp again, but in a very different capacity. Completely recovered from the long illness which kept him inacitve for several years, Freddy is now attached to the professional staff of Tempo Music, Inc. under Dan James, plugging Ellington-recorded hits...'
'...Freddy Jenkins is out of the hospital.'
'...on an outline which would man racial solidarity. They gave it that title – "Racial Solidarity."
Fifteen hundred words they wrote, together, in this example of white and black harmony. Excerpts...
The entire essay contains 1,500 words and expounds fully the theme of better racial understanding. Jenkins is a former Wilberforce student, worked with Duke several yars, does music arranging for Don Redmond; Phyllis hails from Minnesota, attended school there, and is keenly interested in racial relations. '