Butterman and San Francisco jazz In the late 1950s during just a couple of years Butterman made a strong impression on the jazz revival scene in the San Francisco Bay Area. An excellent horn player, he was noted for his remarkable ability to “trade fours” with other musicians.
Sadly, none of his legendary jam sessions with Bill Erickson at Nod’s bar in Berkeley are extant. But tapes were rolling on a few occasions when he played with Dick Oxtot, Bob Mielke or especially clarinet player Bunky Coleman. A handful of their monumental jams trading four (twos, actually) till the cows came home . . . or the tape ran out were taped at The Bagatelle.
Much of the music presented here was made over a half century ago at informal performances and jam sessions. The tapes contain numerous technical and musical flaws, yet are presented as historic artifacts despite missed notes or technical shortcomings. Thanks to Ted Butterman for vetting the tracks offered here.
L to R:
Bret Runkle, Dick Oxtot, Ted Butterman, Earl Scheelar
Date and location unknown
Courtesy Ted Butterman
There's a tribute to the Cubs, the band and its members at Ted's website.
Photo: Goudie and Oxtot broadcast from Pier 23, 1959
Dave Greer recalls Ted Butterman in Berkeley, CA A place called Nods in Berkeley had begun having jazz bands
play once a week in a back room. It wasn’t very big, but there was a
bandstand if no dance floor. Tables came up pretty close to the
bandstand and the musicians.
While I was living with Bill Erickson [we] would . . . go down to Nods bar. Bill took his horn, and I should have taken my recording gear and I knew it, but I felt it would be an awful hassle in such a crowded space, and I never did. Some exceptionally fine music was lost.
Ted Butterman, right, Dick Oxtot, left. Photo courtesy Dave Greer.
I always remember Ted Butterman being on stage . . . Bill sat in with him. They swapped choruses on the tunes, and these were monumental exchanges! Bill had begun playing as a Bixian but moved into his own style. The competition with Ted brought out the best in both of them. I had heard many fine musicians exchange choruses . . . but I never heard any as consistently excellent as these before or since.
RENE’S LOUNGE, Westmont, IL 10.11.64
Ted Butterman (trumpet) Steve Mengler (trombone) Frank Chace (clarineet) Bob Skiver (tenor joins at Devil & Deep Blue) Bob Sundstrom (banjo) Mike Walbridge (tuba and vocal) Wayne Jones (snare drum & cymbals, vocals)
"I remember being intimidated by Skiver and Chace whenever we played together. You can hear it on my "Somebody Else Has Taken My Place" solo.
They were older than me which further intimidated me. Chace eleven years my senior and Skiver fourteen. Nonetheless it was a joy to hear these takes fifty four years after the fact. Never heard them before which is probably why I don't remember doing them.
I've always liked Skiver's lyricism and Chace's PeeWee-esque approach. I do remember Chace telling me that his favorite trumpet player was Max Kaminski because he stuck to the melody. I understand that since it gave Frank more latitude to do what he did around the melody."
Special thanks to Ted Butterman, Joe Spencer and Hal Smith.
Ted Butterman comments:
"Regarding 'Rosetta:' I Iove Wayne's 'soft shoe' brush work and laughed at the final 'boom'. In retrospect I hear references to Earl Hines in using his octave tremolos early on, Teddy Wilson's left hand 10ths, and Jelly Roll Morton's 'Spanish Tinge' on the bridge of the second chorus. Nothing memorable, just fun. You can tell by my technique that I'm not a piano player.
As for "Ted's Rag," the thing I like best is the very last chord. You never hear songs end on a 9th any more. Bands used to use it all the time."
Jim Kweskin with the Neo-Passe Jazz Band Jump for Joy, 1967 produced by Samuel Charters Universe/Vanguard/Comet UV 051/VMD 79243
Jim Kweskin (vocal and guitar) Ted Buttermn (cornet and bandleader) Frank Chace (clarinet and bass sax) Johnny Frigo (violin) Kim Cusak (tenor sax and clarinet) Mary Grosz (banjo and guitar, arrangments) Truck Parham (bass) Wayne Jones (drums)
Butterman's Neo Passe Swing Quintette, dates back to 1966. In recent years Ted switched to guitar and his band enjoyed a long residency at The Village Tavern in Long Grove just outside Chicago, long a home for Chicago's Swing and Dixieland musicians. Excerpts below are from the CD Live at the Village Tavern available form Dixieswing.com/neo.html.
Ted Butterman (leader, guitar) Charlie Weeks or Ron Barron (drums) Scott Black (bass) Dave Elias or Jeremy Kahn (piano)
The Old McHenry's Novelty Orchestra, 1980 Village Tavern, Long Grove, IL, 3/80 & 5/80
Mike Schwimmer comments: “All ‘arrangements’ were head -- mainly Ted's and Harry's. The source of the name was me -- I seem always to be the one who's named the bands I played in! The Village Tavern was/is located on Old McHenry Road in Long Grove IL. McHenry is a county just northwest of Lake county wherein is Long Grove. I suspect the road name came from the original route into McHenry County from Long Grove.”
ARCHIVE MUSIC The Old McHenry Novelty Orchestra Village Tavern, Long Grove, IL Ted Butterman (leader and trumpet) Miles Zimmerman (clarinet) Harry Graves (trombone) Dave Phelps (piano) Terry Pettijohn (banjo) Mike Walbridge (tuba) Mike Schwimmer (washboard and vocals)
Recorded in live performance more than 3 & ½ decades ago, these performances are presented as historic artifacts despite minor flaws, missed notes or technical shortcomings. Thanks to Joe Spencer and Ted Butterman for audio and assistance
Commentary by Ted Butterman: “There wasn't much arranging; they were 'head' arrangements meaning they developed during the course of the tune. Whatever minimal arranging was mine.
Miles Zimmerman (clt) One of my favorite clarinet players ever. Played many years in the Chicago area with many bands. Uncanny sense of harmony and impeccable taste in my opinion.
Harry Graves (tbn) Great player!!! A musician's musician and the epitome of 'nice guy'. He's the guy who says "Teddy boy!" on “Once In A While.” Played a long time with Muggsy Spanier.
Dave Phelps (pno) A journeyman, albeit young, piano player who played with everyone on the 'Dixieland' scene from the 1950s on until his death in the ‘90s.
Terry Pettijohn (bjo) Nice banjo player who has Country Music roots and went on to big things later in his career. Last I heard of him he was in New Orleans doing some playing and arranging.”
Additional info: Mike Walbridge (tuba, b. 1937, L.A., CA) worked with Lil Hardin Armstrong, Original Salty Dogs, Art Hodes, Turk Murphy, Clancy Hayes, Wally Rose, Hal Smith and his own Chicago Footwarmers founded 1958.
Mike Schwimmer (washboard and vocals) had a long history as a Midwestern musician based in Chicago. He founded, and led the Red Rose Ragtime Band for many years. He currently hosts The Yesterday Shop, twice a month on WOMR, Provincetown, MA.
Much of the music presented here was
made over a half century ago at informal performances and jam sessions.
The tapes contain numerous technical and musical flaws, yet are
presented as historic artifacts despite missed notes or technical
shortcomings. Thanks to Ted Butterman for vetting the tracks offered
A Note from Ted: "One of my favorite hot bands, is J.C. Johnson's Hot Sparks. The cornetist's name is Walter Bennett who, along with Thomas Jefferson, are two whose names will never come up in discussions about jazz but who, in my humble opinion, are giants. That's the kind of band I'd love to have (in my dreams).
The label says the cornet player is Jabbo Smith but obviously is not Jabbo."