Monday, January 31, 2011

Solid Jackson Hipsters on Nucraft 103

Solid Jackson Hipsters - Stormy That Gal Of Mine / Where Are The Words (Nucraft 103)

"Stormy That Gal Of Mine"

The first of two releases by this outfit, who may or may not have been based in Houston in 1952, when ACA mastered four sides by them. I would guess that vocalist Jack "Scat" Powell ("Solid Jackson") was something of a jazz novelty act along the lines of Harry "The Hipster" Gibson, and, as white R&B goes, this is not bad.

According to an article entitled "'Scat' Powell Has Unique and Rhythmic Singing Technique" (Jackson, MS Clarion-Ledger, February 23, 1936), Powell was born in Boulagee, Alabama, but moved to Oklahoma City at an early age. He was a star of the OU Sooners football team during his college years. After college, he moved to Chicago in the early '30s, where he joined the Frankie Masters Orchestra as a featured vocalist. The article goes on to say that "Jack made his professional debut at the College Inn (in Chicago), and has been heard at the Club Forest in New Orleans, the Clubs Continental and Clover in Hollywood, and more recently at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco." Around this time, he appeared in an uncredited role in the Jean Harlow film "Reckless" (released April, 1935).

After leaving Masters, Powell joined Willie Farmer and his Orchestra, with whom he recorded several sides, including a version of Louis Armstrong's "Old Man Mose" for Bluebird in 1937-38.

Not long after this, Jack somehow managed to get invited to a Duke Ellington session, where he made "Love in Swingtime" (Brunswick 8200).

In the same period, Powell sang on Cootie Williams and his Rug Cutters' "Blue is the Evening" (Vocalion 4324). This is actually Ellington's band. I'd love to know how Powell got mixed up with the #1 band in America.

The 1940s are something of a blur in the career of Powell. The halcyon days with the likes of Duke Ellington were over, but he was still in the music business. In 1948, he was working as a disc jockey at WKY back in his adopted hometown of Oklahoma City.

The second Nucraft single, "Hipster's Jump" b/w Boom Bah" (unheard by me) was enthusiastically reviewed by Billboard in its Rhythm and Blues section on January 17, 1953, calling it a "good hunk of wax" and "a good side on a new label."

The Nucraft singles didn't sell, and by 1956, Powell was in Springfield, Missouri, selling cars. He still made stage appearances as late as 1963 in Springfield. Jack's ultimate resting place is unknown.

Solid Jackson on Candix is a different artist.

Ad for Jack "Scat" Powell appearing in Joplin, Missouri (May 22, 1948)

               Ad for Jack "Scat" Powell appearing in Springfield, Missouri (March 31, 1963)