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Jazz and Race
The participation of a white musician in a Negro record date was rarer. So unusual were events of this kind at one time that the sessions were talked about for years among record collectors as examples of an extraordinary phenomenon, "a mixed band".*
White musicians worked on their well-padded side of the fence, securing the most lucrative dance hall and radio work, while Negroes for the most part were confined to the "race" record lists aimed at a Jim Crow market, and found that the majority of jobs most valuable to them in terms of money and prestige were hopelessly out of reach.
Benny Goodman's hiring of Teddy Wilson in 1935 was an historic precedent, the magnitude of which can hardly be appreciated today in correct perspective. At that time the appearance in public of a Negro musician with a white band was thought so radical that Wilson was allowed only to appear as an "act," a special adjunct rather than a regular member of the organization; the same treatment was accorded Lionel Hampton when the Goodman Trio became a quartet the next year, though later Hampton played drums in the regular orchestra for brief periods.
Integration crawled along for almost a decade after Goodman had broken the checkerboard ice. Every incident was a curiosity: Billie Holiday's eight months with the Artie Shaw band in 1938;
* For one of his Chocolate Dandies dates in 1928, Don Redman assembled an almost-all-white band including the Dorsey Brothers. In 1929, Louis Armstrong made his memorable Knockin' A Jug with Teagarden, Joe Sullivan and Eddie Lang; Fats Waller used Condon and Teagarden on one or two dates; Lang and Hoagy Carmichael joined with Lonnie Johnson, King Oliver and Clarence Williams for a unique pair of sides released on Okeh under the pseudonym "Blind Willie Dunn's Gin Bottle Four."
Scarcely less remarkable and remarked about were the mixed dates under white leaders: a single tune on a Hoagy Carmichael date in 1930 for which Bix Beiderbecke and Bubber Miley sat side by side; several Eddie Condon sessions, two under the Mound City Blue Blowers name, using Coleman Hawkins and bassist Al Morgan, in 1929 and 1931; two under Condon's own name, using Leonard Davis, Happy Caldwell and George Stafford (1929), Alex Hill and Sid Catlett (1933). Jack Teagarden and Ted Lewis hired Fats Waller for dates in 1931 and 1932. It is also claimed, though not firmly established, that Jelly Roll Morton played on a New Orleans Rhythm Kings session in 1923.
Of the thousands of jazz sides waxed between 1917, when jazz recording began, and 1932, the above are literally the only interracial examples of any significance.