Jim Beebe's Chicago Jazz
Tommy Bridges
Cornet Chop Suey

Tommy Bridges, Cornet
Bobby Lewis, Trumpet
Jim Beebe, Trombone
Eric Schneider, Alto, Tenor &. Soprano Sax, Clarinet
Steve Behr, Piano
Duke Groner, Bass
Barrett Deems, Drums
1. Indiana (6:45)
2. My Blue Heaven (4:51 )
3. New Orleans (3:00)
4. Struttin' With Some Barbecue (5:59)
1. Cornet Chop Suey (2:56)
2. Someday (You'll Be Sorry) (3:14)
3. Chimes Blues (7:22)
4. Limehouse Blues (5:40)

About Tommy Bridges

       What do a 14'year-old cornetist born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and a 70-year-old bassist raised in the deep South have in common?
       This record will provide the answer hot jazz, traditional style. Interest in jazz is greater than ever, particularly in the traditional spectrum. Young people are discovering they can dance and listen to it. But what is the future of jazz? a question often raised with alarm as many of the masters of this great music have passed from the scene.
       Meet Tommy Bridges, an 8th grade student in LaCrosse.
       in September, 1979, my band, The Chicago Jazz, was in residence at Chicago's Blackstone Hotel with the New Orleans giant Emory Thompson on trumpet. In walked a kid with a cornet cage. (Yes, this sounds like a Bixian fantasy.) it takes nerve for any horn player to get up on the stand with Emory but the kid jumped right in and it was like Louis Armstrong's remark to Milt Hinton years ago, "Man, it's like you been here all the time." We were all pleasantly amazed and Barrett Deems coughed out, "This kid's got it."
       Of course, we had heard of Tommy Bridges. Tommy had already caused some critical stir sitting in at Jazz Festivals around the country. A visit with Tommy at his home produced a scene that will remind many musicians of their own past. . . Tommy after school, with a little phono and stacks of records: Louis, Bix, Bunny. Scobey, Hackett, Wild Bill, etc. and playing his Getzen cornet along with the records. And, amazingly, writing some of the music out. No training, just doing it. He is rapidly developing his own solo style and has mastered the intricacies of the Dixieland ensemble the interplay of the brass and reed instruments over the rhythm.
       A demand for a record with Tommy has developed and Dennis and Nancy Bridges, who are wisely guiding their son into a musical career, asked '"Was he ready?" Ideas were kicked around, Bob Koester was consulted and away we went.
       The recording was done without overdubbing. As we got into it, Tommy suddenly realized that he was in a recording studio with some pretty heavy musicians. After the usual fits and starts things smoothed out and everybody felt at home. Tommy had hit it off musically with Bobby Lewis at a jam session and wisely insisted on Bobby playing with him on the record, (Tommy's cornet is on your left, Bobby's trumpet to the right of the stereo mix). Indiana got off to a hilarious start which we left in. Eric on alto followed by Tommy, then Lewis a swinging ensemble without rhythm comes off almost asavant garde dixieland.
       My Blue Heaven, a classic tune that Duke Groner used to feature with Lunceford, is an instrumental here with Eric on tenor, New Orleans features Tommy paying tribute to one of his favorites, Bobby Hackett. Barbecue and Cornet Chop Suey are two of Armstrong's classics. Chop Suey isn't heard often because it's tough, but Bobby and Tommy bring it off (in an arrangement by Tommy). Barrett backs up Eric's clarinet with his steaming Baby Dodds press rolls. Someday is an Armstrong tune of more recent vintage. Chimes Blues goes back to King Oliver and beyond with its soulful organ chords. Limehouse Blues features all hands, with Eric on alto. Barrett solos as only he can. Oroner and Behr are superb throughout with fine solos and backing work.
       Wisconsin, for some mystical reason, has produced an array of great jazz trumpet- cornerists: Bunny Berrigan, Dick Reudebusch, Bobby Lewis, Doc DeHaven, Bob Scultz, Bob Anderson and Steve Jensen. Tommy Bridges will rank with them soon enough. -Jim Beebe

About Jim Beebe
       Jim Beebe was born in Omaha, Nebraska May 24, 1931 but his parents moved shortly after to Sparta, Wisconsin. He was first turned onto music by the snare drum in a kindergarten band. "I had to play it and finally did take up drums in the fifth grade, Staying with 'em until high school. The band director wanted me to stay on drums in my freshman year but I wanted to switch to trombone. He gave me one lesson, the basic positions, and I picked it right up. I also played cornet in that band. I detested the pop music of that time, liked the band music and classical stuff. A Kid Ory record with Barney Bigard on it turned me on, but I didn't like Teagarden at first. All I knew was that they called it jazz. I found a little record shop in La Crosse that stocked the small labels and I even was sold a Jazz At The Philharmonic record. But Volume One of the Capital History of Jazz series was what I liked and I learned that what I liked most was called Dixieland.
       "I had an uncle in Chicago who was in charge of music at ABC and he invited me to come there so he could show me around the music schools. He also took me to some of the clubs so I got to hear Miff Mole at Jazz, Ltd., Floyd O'Brien with Art Hodes at Rupneck's, Al Jenkins with Doc Evans, and, of course, George Brunis. The music schools were an excuse to make several trips to Chicago but I really went there for the clubs.
       "I went to Beloit College to study pre-med and met Pete Galiano, a good clarinetist from New Orleans who was in a combo with Pete Gianquinto (trumpet). I sat in one night and they hired me. They taught me a lot. (I also played trumpet with the college band.) My playing was interfering with my schoolwork and I was failing, in danger of being drafted, so I joined the Marines. I thought that was the end of music for me but I wound up in the band there."
       While touring with the band, which had two excellent alto players named Oliver Nelson, one of whom was to become the well- known arranger, a year was spent in San Francisco where Beebe was exposed to the rich jazz milieu of the Bay Area. The Hangover featured Earl Hines' band with Muggsy Spanier, Darnell Howard, etc. At the Blackhawk he was exposed to more modern jazz strains: Johnny Hodges band with John Coltrane and Lawrence Brown, Art Tatum ("He gave me a piano lesson. I had bought one of his manuals and tried to play his runs.") and Miles Davis, from whom he discovered that the Bebop Wars then waging in the jazz press did not reflect the attitudes of the better musicians. He heard Turk Murphy, Bob Scobey, Marty Marsala, etc. the "local" musicians of that time and place.
       At the University of Wisconsin, after the term of service, Jim met Bobby Lewis in a Music Education course, Beebe left school to go with Bob Scobey and has been busy ever since with Art Hodes, the Dukes of Dixieiand, the Jazz Ltd. band, Wild Bill Davison and his own group.
       The other men on this record are equally seasoned musicians. Bobby Lewis first recorded with Dave Remington on Vee-Jay, toured four years with Jack Teagarden, was featured with Peggy Lee and is the top studio trumpet in Chicago. He also works with his two groups Ears and Forefront. Eric Schneider left Beebe's band to tour with Earl Hines, his present leader. They switched roles recently on Eric's first LP under his own name, Eric and Earl (Gatemouth LP-1003). His exciting blend of traditional and modern jazz styles has already casued a lot of talk. Steve Behr is also at home in any jazz style. He's worked with Ira Sullivan, the Jazz, Ltd. band, Wingy Mannone, Sid Dawson and the Barrett Deems Hottet. He also studies classical piano with Easley Blackwood. Duke Groner was a vocalist with Fletcher Henderson and Jimmie Lunceford, took up bass because of cabaret tax laws during World War II, led his own group for years (records in the 40's) then with Jazz Ltd. He introduced John Hammond to Charlie Christian, Barrett Deems' discography begins with 30's recordings for Decca with Joe Venuti; he was with Joe on some of Joe's last sessions. This irrepressible guy is perhaps best remembered for his long stint with Louis Armstrong and his presence in the film High Society, but he also did Monogram B'sand work with Jack Teagarden, Dukes of Dixieiand, and can usually be found in Benny Goodman units, Jazz At Five, the backing roups of Rick's, or just about any Delmark trad date (Art Hodes, Barney Bigard, Jim Beebe). He also has recorded with his own group Deemus and recently toured with a Gene Krupa memorial big band.
-Bob Koester