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Eddie Condon's group was a a nightly fixture at Nick's legendary jazz nighclub in Greenwich Village, NYC from 1937-1944.
Offered here is a very rare "table topper" menu from Nick's - signed on the verso by one of Condon's most exciting lineups.
The seven autographs included are:
Eddie Condon - guitar
Miff Mole - trombone
Sterling Bose - cornet
Pee Wee Russell - Clarinet
Gene Schroeder - piano
Joe Grauso - drums
Bob Casey - bass
Most notable are the very difficult to find signatures of Miff Mole and Sterling Bose. Mole's trombone stylings in the 1920s with the Original Memphis Five was fresh, original and widely copied, his only rival being the great Kid Ory. Bose was one of the great early cornet soloists. Both men died young - and therefore there are not a lot of autographs from them available.
The menu measures 8 x 4.25" unfolded and is in very good condition, showing some yellowing from age. All artists have signed in pencil. Please click above image for colseup of signature side. The menu side can be viewed below.
Below are some short bios of five of the signing artists from Scott Yanow of the All Music Guide, reprinted here with Scott's kind permission:
A good early cornetist who was influenced by Bix Beiderbecke, Sterling Bose never updated his
style, even when playing in swing bands. He gained early experience sitting in with New Orleans
style bands before moving to St. Louis in 1923. He played and recorded with the Crescent City
Jazzers and the Arcadian Serenaders during the next few years. Bose was with Jean Goldkette's
Orchestra in Detroit during 1927-28 (the period after Beiderbecke had departed). He was a
member of radio station WGN's house band in Chicago until joining Ben Pollack (1930-33). Bose
worked with Eddie Sheasby in Chicago and then became a studio musician in New York. He was
with Joe Haymes during 1934-35, staying with the band for a time after Tommy Dorsey took over
its leadership. Bose was a key player with Ray Noble's American band in 1936 and that year spent
a couple months with Benny Goodman's Orchestra (before Harry James) where his Bix style did
not really fit in. Bose then had stints with Lana Webster, Glenn Miller (1937), Bob Crosby
(1937-39) and the short-lived Bobby Hackett big band (1939). He also worked with Bob Zurke's
Orchestra, Jack Teagarden's big band, Bud Freeman's Orchestra (1942), George Brunies and
Bobby Sherwood (1943). Bose played with Miff Mole and Art Hodes, was briefly with Horace
Heidt (1944) and then mostly freelanced in New York and Chicago. He settled in Florida in 1948
where he led his own groups. A long illness led to him committing suicide in 1958 at age 52.
Although Sterling Bose never led his own record date, he recorded with quite a few groups in the
late 1920's and throughout the 30's. -- Scott Yanow
For a period in the 1920s, Miff Mole was (prior to the emergence of Jack Teagarden) the most
advanced trombonist in jazz. He had gained a strong reputation playing with the Original Memphis
Five (starting in 1922) and his many recordings with Red Nichols during 1926-27 found him taking
unusual interval jumps with staccato phrasing that perfectly fit Nichols's style. However in 1927 he
started working as a studio musician and Mole concentrated less on jazz during the next couple of
decades. He played with Paul Whiteman during 1938-40 and was with Benny Goodman in 1943.
By the time he returned to small-group jazz in the mid-'40s (working with Eddie Condon and
leading a band at Nick's), Mole sounded like a disciple of Teagarden and his style was no longer
unique although his record of "Peg of My Heart" was popular. Miff Mole's health was erratic by the
1950s and he was largely forgotten by the greater jazz world by the time he died in 1961. His best
recordings as a leader were when he led his Molers during 1927-30 although there was a four-song
session in 1937 and later albums released by Jazzology, Commodore, Storyville and Argo. -- Scott
PEE WEE RUSSELL(1906-1969)
Pee Wee Russell, although never a virtuoso, was one of the giants of jazz. A highly expressive and
unpredictable clarinetist, Russell was usually grouped in Dixieland-type groups throughout his career
but his advanced and spontaneous solos (which often sounded as if he were thinking aloud) defied
classification. A professional by the time he was 15, Pee Wee Russell played in Texas with Peck
Kelley's group (meeting Jack Teagarden) and then in 1925 he was in St. Louis jamming with Bix
Beiderbecke. Russell moved to New York in 1927 and gained some attention for his playing with
Red Nichols' Five Pennies. Russell freelanced during the era, making some notable records with
Billy Banks in 1932 that matched him with Red Allen. He played clarinet and tenor with Louis
Prima during 1935-37, appearing on many records and enjoying the association. After leaving
Prima, he started working with Eddie Condon's freewheeling groups and would remain in Condon's
orbit on and off for the next 30 years. Pee Wee's recordings with Condon in 1938 made him a star
in the trad Chicago jazz world. Russell was featured (but often the butt of jokes) on Condon's
Town Hall Concerts. Heavy drinking almost killed him in 1950 but Pee Wee Russell made an
unlikely comeback and became more assertive in running his career. He started leading his own
groups (which were more swing- than Dixieland-oriented), was a star on the 1957 television special
The Sound of Jazz and by the early '60s was playing in a pianoless quartet with valve trombonist
Marshall Brown whose repertoire included tunes by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman; he even
sat in with Thelonious Monk at the 1963 Newport Jazz Festival and took up abstract painting. But
after the death of his wife in 1967, Pee Wee Russell accelerated his drinking and went quickly
downhill, passing away less than two years later. -- Scott Yanow
A major propagandist for freewheeling Chicago jazz, an underrated rhythm guitarist and a talented
wisecracker, Eddie Condon's main importance to jazz was not so much through his own playing as
in his ability to gather together large groups of all-stars and produce exciting, spontaneous and very
Condon started out playing banjo with Hollis Peavey's Jazz Bandits when he was 17, he worked
with members of the famed Austin High School Gang in the 1920s and in 1927 he co-led (with Red
McKenzie) the McKenzie-Condon Chicagoans on a record date that helped define Chicago jazz
(and featured Jimmy McPartland, Jimmy Teschemacher, Joe Sullivan and Gene Krupa). After
organizing some other record sessions, Condon switched to guitar, moved to New York in 1929,
worked with Red Nichols' Five Pennies and Red McKenzie's Blue Blowers, and recorded in
several settings including with Louis Armstrong (1929) and the Rhythm Makers (1932). During
1936-37 he co-led a band with Joe Marsala.
Although Condon had to an extent laid low since the beginning of the Depression, in 1938 with the
opportunity to lead some sessions for the new Commodore label, he became a major name. Playing
nightly at Nick's (1937-44), Condon utilized top musicians in racially mixed groups. He started a
long series of exciting recordings (which really continued on several labels up until his death) and his
Town Hall concerts of 1944-45 (which were broadcast weekly on the radio) were consistently
brilliant and gave him an opportunity to show his verbal acid wit; the GHB label has been at last
reissuing them complete and in chronological order. Condon opened his own club in 1945,
recorded for Columbia in the 1950s (all of those records have been made available by Mosaic on a
limited-edition box set) and wrote three colorful books including his 1948 memoirs We Called It
Music. A partial list of the classic musicians who performed and recorded often with Condon
include trumpeters/ cornetists Wild Bill Davison, Max Kaminsky, Billy Butterfield, Bobby Hackett,
Rex Stewart and Hot Lips Page, trombonists Jack Teagarden, Lou McGarity, Cutty Cutshall,
George Brunies and Vic Dickenson, clarinetists Pee Wee Russell, Edmond Hall, Joe Marsala,
Peanuts Hucko and Bob Wilbur, Bud Freeman on tenor, baritonist Ernie Caceres, pianists Gene
Schroeder, Joe Sullivan, Jess Stacy and Ralph Sutton, drummers George Wettling, Dave Tough,
and Gene Krupa, a string of bassists and singer Lee Wiley. Many Eddie Condon records are
currently available and no jazz collection is complete without at least a healthy sampling. -- Scott
A reliable pianist who was continually overshadowed during his long association with Eddie
Condon's Chicago jazz bands, Gene Schroeder was a talented if subtle player. Schroeder, whose
mother was a pianist and father was a trumpeter, studied at the Wisconsin School of Music. When
he was 11 he was playing now and then with his father's band, and he doubled on clarinet in his high
school orchestra a few years later. After a year at the University of Wisconsin Music School,
Schroeder moved to Milwaukee. He led his own band and played with local musicians (including
Wild Bill Davison). Schroeder moved to New York in 1939, was briefly with the Wes Westerfield
Trio, headed a combo and spent a year apiece as a member of the groups of Joe Marsala and
Marty Marsala. In the summer of 1942 Schroeder worked with Wild Bill Davison then (beginning
in 10 1943) at Nick's with Miff Mole. After becoming Eddie Condon's regular pianist, he played at
the opening of the club Condon's in 12 1945. Schroeder was with Condon most of the time from
then on up to 1962 (appearing on many recordings), he had a stint with the Dukes of Dixieland
(1961-64) and worked in the late 1960's with Tony Parenti. Despite his busy activity, Gene
Schroeder only led one recording session in his career, four songs cut in 1944 for the Black &
White label with a trio. -- Scott Yanow
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