Sunday, 17 September 2017

William McKinney born 17 September 1895

William McKinney (17 September 1895 – 14 October 1969) was an American jazz drummer who led a series of musical groups, most notably McKinney's Cotton Pickers.
McKinney was born in Kentucky near the end of the 19th century and served in the Army during the first World War. His earliest playing activities were as a circus drummer. Once he quit moving around to the extent that job called for, McKinney became associated with the music scene in Ohio, leading Springfield's snazzy-sounding Synco Septet. In 1926 McKinney expanded his Synco Septet to ten pieces. This was the group that eventually evolved into McKinney's Cotton Pickers. Cuba Austin took over for McKinney early on drums. Between 1927 and 1931, they were one of the most popular African-American bands. Many of their records for Victor were bestsellers.
In 1927, Fletcher Henderson's arranger and saxophone player Don Redman was invited to become the Cotton Pickers' musical director, and he assembled a band which rivalled Henderson's and Duke Ellington's. Aiding Redman with arrangements and rehearsals with the band was the talented trumpeter-arranger John Nesbitt.

McKinney's Cotton Pickers in 1928. left to right: Cuba Austin, Prince Robinson, George Thomas, Don Redman, Dave Wilborn, Todd Rhoades, Bob Escudero, seated: John Nesbitt, Claude Jones, Milton Senoir, Langston Curl.
The Cotton Pickers were based originally in the Greystone Ballroom in Detroit, opposite Jean Goldkette's excellent White orchestra, but by the early part of 1929 we find them in Harlem at various nightspots.
Their personnel varied as any personnel in a band this size, but in it's ranks were at one time such brilliant stars of the Harlem Jazz firmament as Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Lonnie Johnson, James P. Johnson, Joe Smith, Ed Cuffee, Claude Jones  and Fats Waller. The original policy of the band was to play hot numbers, many of which were composed by Redman and/or other musicians in the band, but once in New York, with a recording contract from Victor that was demanding of all its artists a more commercial approach to work, the Cotton Pickers included a repertoire of the better popular hits of the day, giving them a rich and rare treatment, with warm section work and beautifully executed soli . Although the brass bass is supposed to be heavier than a string bass, in Billy Taylor's hands it is a living thing, giving adequate support to Wilborn's lively banjo and Austin's crisp drumming.

Recorded in New York on November 30 & December 17, 1930.
Don Redman cl, as, bar, v, a, dir / Joe Smith c / Rex Stewart, Langston Curl, *Buddy Lee t / Ed Cuffee, *Quentin Jackson tb / Benny Carter cl, ts / Edward Inge cl, as, ts, v / Prince Robinson cl, ts / Todd Rhodes p / Dave Wilborn bj, v / Billy Taylor bb / Cuba Austin d.

The band undertook tours that went way beyond the perimeters of typical territory bands. This band's territory was the entire United States; thus, there were periods when the group was based out of California, Kansas City, Minneapolis and so on.
In the autumn of 1931 Redman, who did most of the arrangements, took a band of his own, including in it several of the Cotton Pickers and was replaced by Benny Carter. The Cotton Pickers disbanded in 1934, unable to make money during the Depression. Manager of the band was Jean Goldkette (who arranged for the group to record "Birmingham Bertha" for him in July 1929, released on Victor under his own name).
In the early '30s there were several different bands touring as McKinney's Cotton Pickers--far from approving of such chaos regarding his franchise, McKinney was actually apparently chilling out during this period. In early 1935 he presented his own, supposedly legitimate version of the group at a Boston venue.
Until he retired from music in the '40s he fluctuated between business managing and full-out management leadership of bands operating under his name. McKinney also ran the Cosy Cafe venue in Detroit in the late '30s. Bill McKinney retired in the 1950s, His final decade as a working man was spent in a Detroit auto factory , spending his last years in his childhood hometown of Cynthiana.
(Compiled from All Music & Wikipedia)


boppinbob said...

For “McKinney's Cotton Pickers (1928-1930)” go here;

01) Four Or Five Times
02) Put It There
03) Crying And Sighing
04) Milenberg Joys
05) Forgetting You
06) Cherry
07) Stop Kidding
08) Nobody's Sweetheart
09) Some Sweet Day
10) Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble
11) My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now
12) Don't Be Like That
13) Don't Be Like That
14) It's Tight Like That
15) There's A Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder
16) It's A Precious Little Thing Called Love
17) Save It, Pretty Mama
18)I Found A New Baby
19) Will You, Won't You Be My Baby
20) Beedle Um Bum
21) Do Something
22) Selling That Stuff
23) Birmingham Bertha
24) Plain Dirt
25) Gee. Ain't I Good To You

A big thank you to “Don’t Knock The Rock” blog for original link.

Pudge said...

Great music. Thanks Bob.