Jubilee – Armed Forces Radio Service – June 11, 1945 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Here is a prime example of just how diverse and all-inclusive Jazz was (and still is). Jubilee was one of the most popular programs aired to service personnel during and just after World War 2. It began life in the late 1930s as a CBS Radio program called Blueberry Hill. Whether or not it made it to the regular CBS broadcast schedule is up for research, but the basis for the program was to spotlight primarily African American talent in a way that hadn’t been done before. True, it was initially a segregated show – but once Armed Forces Radio began broadcasting it to troops overseas, the talent lineup changed and became integrated. This broadcast is from June of 1945 and features the legendary Jimmie Lunceford and his orchestra as well as appearances by Joe Liggins (and his Honeydrippers), singer Effie Smith and a very young André Previn who, before he jumped ship and embraced Classical full-time, was a devout follower of Art Tatum. Effie Smith was another singer who straddled Jazz and Blues for most of her career as well as having a reputation in Comedy later on, from which “Dial That Telephone” became her trademark.
What’s interesting about this show, and in fact what’s interesting about this period of time, is where Jazz was heading just as World War 2 was drawing to a close. Jump Blues was gaining in popularity with the likes of Louis Jordan’s Tympani Five, as well as Jack McVea and his crossover hit Open The Door Richard, and Roy Milton’s Solid Senders. These were groups and artists who laid a direct link to Big Band Jazz with former members of the Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Jimmie Lunceford bands in their ranks, but were also heavily influenced by Rural and Urban Blues. Mix all that together, adding the War and the military draft, the rise of defense plants and the recruitment of Rural workers, who brought along their musical tastes and you had the perfect combination and the precursor of a development of a music genre that would explode in the 1950s. And lest you think Country-Western got left out of the mix – take a listen to some of the early Grand ole Opry broadcasts or take note of the mix of clubs in Watts and around the defense plants and you get an idea there was a lot of cross-pollenating going on.
So for entertainment value, Jubilee was a landmark program – as an education in where music was heading and how it was developing, it was essential. Thankfully, these Armed Forces transcription discs were pressed up in reasonably large quantities, so their preservation and educational value is inestimable. Further evidence you can’t rewrite history when you have conclusive proof.
Now dive in and enjoy the show.