TRC

Jack McVea and His All Stars: Open The Door, Richard! (1945-47)

Open the Door, Richard!

Track list:

A1 01. Bartender Boogie (Black & White 750)[b]
A2 02. Tarrant Blues (Apollo 370)*[a]
A3 03. O-Kay For Baby (Apollo 761)[a]
A4 04. We’re Together Again (Apollo 366)*[a]
A5 05. Ooh Mop (Black & White 750)[b1]
A6 06. Don’t Blame Me (Apollo 761)[a1]
A7 07. Frisco Blues (Black & White 751)[b]
A8 08. Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying (Black & White 793)[c]

B1 09. Open The Door Richard! (Black & White 792)[c1]
B2 10. Wine-O (Black & White 751)[b]
B3 11. Inflation Blues (Exclusive 260)[g]
B4 12. Groovin’ Boogie (Black & White 810)[d]
B5 13. No, No, You Can’t Do Dot Mon (Exclusive 266)[f]
B6 14. Jack Frost (Exclusive 266)[h]
B7 15. Mumblin’ Blues (Exclusive 270)[i]
B8 16. The Key’s In The Mailbox (Black & White 828)[e]

* credited to Rabon Tarrant

Personnel:

Jack McVea tenor sax on all numbers, except where noted, with:

[a] Los Angeles, August, 1945
John “Teddy” Buckner (trumpet), Bob Mosley (piano), Gene Phillips (guitar), Frank Clarke (bass), Rabon Tarrant (drums)
Vocal by Rabon Tarrant (on Tarrant Blues, We’re Together Again)
[a1]; omit “Teddy” Buckner (tp)
(According to Jack McVea (1984), Joe “Red” Kelly (trumpet) replaces “Teddy” Buckner on Tarrant Blues.)

[b] Los Angeles, circa October, 1945
Cappy Oliver (trumpet), Bob Mosley (piano), Frank Clarke (bass), Rabon Tarrant (drums)
vocal by Rabon Tarrant (on Frisco Blues)
Vocal Chorus by Rabon Tarrant and Jack McVea (on Wine-O)
[b1]; vocal by Cappy Oliver; add vocals chorus including Rabon Tarrant and band members.
(According to Jack McVea (1984), Sammy Yates was the trumpeter on Ooh Mop and Frisco Blues, while Joe Kelly played on B.B. Boogie, while Jepsen’s Jazz Records has Jesse Perdue on this session. Jack McVea lists Tommy Kahn on piano for Frisco Blues.)

[c] Los Angeles, circa September, 1946
Jack McVea (alto sax), Joe “Red” Kelly (trumpet), Tommy “The Crow” Kahn (piano), Gene Phillips (guitar), Frank Clarke (bass), Rabon Tarrant (drums)
Vocal by Rabon Tarrant (on Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying)
[c1]; omit horns
Vocal by Jack McVea assisted by Rabon Tarrant and Joe “Red” Kelly (on Open The Door, Richard!).

[d] Los Angeles, circa October, 1946
Joe “Red” Kelly (trumpet), Melba Liston (trombone), Marshall Royal (alto sax), Tommy Kahn (piano), Irving Ashby (or Gene Phillips?)(guitar), Frank Clarke (bass), Rabon Tarrant (drums)
(Jack McVea (184) has Sammy Yates (trumpets), and John Shackford as second piano player.)

[e] Los Angeles, circa January, 1947
Sammy Yates (trumpet), Tommy Kahn (piano), Gene Phillips (guitar), Frank Clarke (bass), Rabon Tarrant (drums)
Vocal by Jack McVea assisted by Rabon Tarrant and band members (incl. Sammy Yates).

[f] Los Angeles, circa November, 1947
Sammy Yates (trumpet), Tommy Kahn (piano), prob. Gene Phillips (guitar), Frank Clarke (bass), Rabon Tarrant (drums)
Vocal by Rabon Tarrant and Sammy Yates (on No, No, You Can’t Do Dot Mon)

[g] Los Angeles, circa December, 1947
Jack McVea (alto sax), Sammy Yates (trumpet), Tommy Kahn (piano), Frank Clarke (bass), Rabon Tarrant (drums)
Vocal by Rabon Tarrant (on Inflation Blues)

[h] Los Angeles, circa December, 1947
Sammy Yates (trumpet), Tommy Kahn (piano), Gene Phillips (guitar), Frank Clarke (bass), Rabon Tarrant (drums)

[i] Los Angeles, circa December, 1947
Sammy Yates (trumpet), Tommy Kahn (piano), Frank Clarke (bass), Rabon Tarrant (drums)
Vocal by Rabon Tarrant (on Mumblin’ Blues)

Mastering: Gunnar Loof, EMI studio, Sweden
Sleeve design: Lasse Ermalrn
Cover photo courtesy Orkester Journalen (“World’s Oldest Jazz Magazine”).
Left-to-right; Jack McVea, Thomas Kahn, Rabon Tarrant, Sammy Yates, and Frank Clarke
Original recordings released by exclusive agreement between Jack McVea and Jukebox Lil Records
Artist royalties: $0,40/lp
Song clearance through ncb

Album Production: Mr R&B
(cat#: JB 607)
Liner Notes: Greg Brust

*****

Tenor saxman Jack McVea was always there or thereabouts in the Los Angeles jazz / rhythm & blues scene of the 1940s. He was in the Lionel Hampton big band line-up which recorded “Flying Home”, the number which first brought Illinois Jacquet to the attention of sax fans. He took the first sax solo on “Blues” at the first ever Jazz At The Philharmonic concert, but Illinois took the second sax solo and in a few moments of blasting, screeching, crowd-pleasing madness, Jacquet had defined the future of jazz and R&B tenor sax styling. McVea was on “Slim’s Jam”, along with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Slim Gaillard, and managed to slip in a reference to “Open The Door, Richard!” about a year before he recorded his own hit version of the comedy stage routine.

In 1943 he left Hampton to form one of the first small jump bands in LA and not only released records under his own name, but also provided backing for Wynonie Harris on Apollo Records and T-Bone Walker on Black & White. It was for the latter record company that McVea made the record that was to become one of the biggest selling and most covered records of 1947 – “Open The Door Richard!” While working for the Lionel Hampton outfit a few years before, McVea had toured with a comic called Dusty Fletcher, part of whose stage routine consisted of playing a drunken reveller trying to gain entry to his appartment by rousing his slumbering roommate who happens to have the only key to the front door.

McVea worked up a little spoken musical number for his band’s live act based on the Fletcher routine and recorded it for Black & White in September 1946. The record was released at the end of the year and became a monster seller in 1947, inspiring covers by Louis Jordan, Count Basie and Dusty Fletcher himself. Of course Jack saw very little of the royalties, most of which vanished thanks to some creative accountancy by the record company. McVea’s last recording session for Black & White took place in March of 1947. In November and December of 1947 he recorded several sessions for Exclusive and then took to club work in locations as far apart as Honolulu, Alaska, Las Vegas, and even LA.

Jack signed up with Jake Porter’s Combo Records in 1953. His band was very much the house band at Combo, recording not only under Jack’s name, but also under various guises such as Jonesy’s Combo. They were on Combo’s biggest selling disc, the original version of “Ko Ko Mo” by Gene & Eunice, but once again saw little in the way of royalty payments. As the 1950s wound to a close, so did Jack’s recording career and by the early 1960s he was making a living as a junkman. In 1966 he took up an engagement as clarinet player in a small Dixieland jazz group at Disneyland. It was a gig that lasted until 1992 when Jack finally retired from the music scene. He died in December 2000.

*****

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