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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Rozelle Claxton born 5 February 1913

Rozelle Claxton (February 5, 1913, Bartlett, Memphis, Tennessee - March 30, 1995, Lake Forest, Illinois) was an American jazz pianist.

Rozelle came from a large Memphis family and was taught to read music by his sister. From the age of 11 he was playing piano, and at 12 was playing at house parties. At 15 he made daily broadcasts on Memphis radio and by 17 was a professional in the combo of trumpeter Clarence Davis. This group, known as Clarence Davis' Rhythm Aces among other band names, provided backup for composer and publisher W.C Handy in 1932. Several years later, Claxton began both playing and arranging for Harlan Leonard and was also booked regularly as a solo pianist in the Chicago area.

One of Roz's arrangements,  "Parade Of The Stompers", was recorded by Harlan Leonard & His Kansas City  Rockets at their 1940 Bluebird recording session.  During this period, Roz made his  very first recordings, on Ernie Fields' original 1939 Vocalion recording of "T-Town Blues" (with vocalist Melvin Moore & guitarist Rene Hall).

In the late '30s and early '40s, the keyboardist held forth with Ernie Fields and Eddie South and even briefly substituted for Count Basie himself.  Solo gigs continued in the '40s along with stints behind Walter Fuller and a quartet led by George Dixon.

By the late '40s he had established a reputation as a superb arranger and his charts were showing up on bandstands occupied by Basie, Earl Hines, Red Norvo, Jimmie Lunceford, Andy Kirk, and many others. Female singers seem to be his main interest in the '50s: he was best known in this decade as an accompanist for the powerful Pearl Bailey and again from 1978 - 1983.

From 1959 he began working with Franz Jackson and was featured on several of this leader's live albums in the following decade. Claxton maintained a presence as both a solo organist and pianist at various Chicago venues (he lived in Waukegan) up until the time of his death. He was recently part of Jim Beebe's Chicago Jazz.

June 27, 1989, was proclaimed "Rozelle Claxton Day" in Chicago by Mayor Richard Daley in honor of Mr. Claxton's musical contributions to the city. 
(Info various mainly All Music Guide)

Listen to Claxton with Franz Jackson’s Original Jass All-Stars perform Mecca Flat Blues from Franz's LP "Good Old Days"

Personnel: Franz Jackson (clarinet), Bob Shoffner (trumpet), John Thomas (trombone), Bill Oldham (tuba), Lawrence Dixon (banjo), Richard Curry (drums and Rozelle Claxton (piano)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For Franz Jackson's Original Jass All Stars feat. Bob Shoffner go here:
Year Of Release: 1961/1993
Label: Riverside/Original Jazz Classics
Quality: FLAC (Tracks)+CUE, LOG
Bitrate: Lossless
Time: 00:48:46

01. Shimme-Sha-Wabble (Williams) - 5:06
02. Blue Thursday (Jackson) - 4:24
03. Riverside Blues (Dorsey) - 5:29
04. Yellow Dog Blues (Handy) - 4:48
05. King Porter Stomp (Morton) - 5:04
06. Sister Kate (Piron) - 6:08
07. Colonel Bogey March (Alford) - 4:00
08. Bugle Blues (Basie) - 4:50
09. Hotter Than That (Armstrong) - 4:24
10. 1919 Rag (Trad.) - 4:33

Franz Jackson - clarinet, vocal (#6)
Bob Shoffner - trumpet
John Thomas - trombone
Bill Oldham - tuba
Rozelle Claxton - piano
Lawrence Dixon - banjo
Bill Curry - drums

Recorded at "The Birdhouse", Chicago on September 5, 1961.