Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF LOWER BASIN STREET

NBC radio show and 'jazz' band c.1940 led by Henry 'Hot Lips' Levine (b 26 November 1907, London; d May 1989, USA: worked with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band '26-7). The broadcasts were chiefly notable for guests such as Leadbelly, Sidney Bechet, Benny Carter and Jelly Roll Morton. Dinah Shore was a regular. Some of the broadcasts have been issued commercially, notably on the Crabapple label.

A column in the February 1946 issue of Pickup (a British jazz magazine, forerunner of Jazz Journal) included this item, probably written by Stanley Dance:

'One of the latest "Metronome" cracks against Jelly Roll is that "Ferdinand was far more of a bull than a monarch at the keyboard". We wonder if the memory still rankles of how, when he guest-starred on "The Chamber Music of Lower Basin Street" (American edition), Jelly Roll ignored time-cues and played well over his allotted time, with the result that a special arrangement of the blues by the present assistant editor of "The Metronome", featuring Dinah Shore no less, just didn't get played.'

Laurie Wright's book Mr Jelly Lord (1980) quotes this item without comment, pointing out that the assistant editor of Metronome at the time was Leonard Feather. Feather was a sometime songwriter who disliked Morton, once describing him in the Los Angeles Times as one of the 'Ten Most Overrated' figures in jazz history, and in 1946 (it is worth noting) the war in jazz between the Trads and the Mods was also getting started. On the 1940 broadcast, Morton played 'Winin' Boy Blues', the performance lasting 2:47 minutes, after which the announcer (Gene Hamilton) called for an encore, whereupon Morton played 'King Porter Stomp', the solo lasting 1:41 minutes. At the end of the show, Hamilton said that radio listeners had requested that Levine's group play his closing theme, 'Basin Street', in its entirety; with Hamilton's intro this takes about 3:30 minutes. Dinah Shore had earlier sung 'Rockin' Chair'; nowhere in the broadcast was she announced as singing anything else. There is no evidence that Morton caused any problems. The item in Pickup, published nearly five years after Morton's death, is apparently a canard.