Articles

Clarence M. Jones Player Piano Rolls Part 2 – Jazz and Blues

Posted in - Biography & Clarence Jelly Johnson & Historical & Piano Roll on May 11th 2017 0 Comments

Clarence M. Jones was one of those rare musicians able to adapt both his playing and compositional styles to new musical trends.  As Jones’ piano roll recordings are the only known examples of his playing prior to 1923, these provide valuable insight into his adaptability and innovative ideas.  Moreover, they clearly demonstrate how his playing was of seminal importance in the development of the Chicago South Side style.

One of the best examples to demonstrates Jones’ innovativeness in bridging the gap between ragtime and jazz/blues playing is his Imperial roll of “12th Street Rag” by Texas ragtime and blues composer Euday L. Bowman.  Certainly everyone is familiar with this tune, which is usually played at a fairly fast tempo.  But few have heard it in Jones’ rendition.

Stencil autograph usually stamped on his Imperial rolls

Clarence Jones played “12th Street Rag” as a blues/jazz number from start to finish. He added original introductions to the first theme and trio section, along with numerous jazz embellishments.  Most notable is his playing of the trio section, which is so highly refined as to be essentially as much Jones as Bowman.  Since this version of “12th Street Rag” was issued as a “word roll,” i.e. with lyrics printed on the roll to sing, the trio section would normally have been eliminated. Knowing the full score from his ragtime playing days, Jones chose to include the trio, which is really every bit as much his original interlude section.

Jazz influences created by Jones and later used by Jimmy Blythe on his records and rolls abound.  For example, the very characteristic introduction to “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” on Jones’ Imperial roll (from 1919) was used by Blythe on his Capitol A-roll and 88-note rolls versions of the same tune, but dating some 6-8 years later.  Also, the original jazz interlude which Jones played on his Imperial roll of Clarence Williams’ beautiful “Play ‘Em For Mama, Sing ‘Em For Me” from 1922 begins with a triplet lick that Blythe (and Clarence Johnson as well) used innumerable times on their many piano roll recordings.

Jones also played a number of George W. Thomas compositions, and in most cases his rolls represent the definitive versions of these tunes.  His versions of “Houston Blues” and “Muscle Shoals Blues” were issued under the “Chet Gordon” pseudonym , which Clarence Johnson and others used as well (ref. Johnson section), but this is very clearly Jones’ playing style.  His Vocalstyle roll of Thomas’ “Up The Country Blues” is possibly one of the finest examples of blues playing on any 88-note roll. As will be seen, Jones similarly championed the music of blues and jazz composers such as Perry Bradford, Clarence Williams, Armand Piron, Steve J. Lewis, Charles Warfield, Spencer Williams and numerous others.

Tishomingo Blues (as Clarence M.) Rolla Artis

Clarence Jones had an incredible melodic gift, and frequently would play an interlude section of his own composition on many of his piano rolls.  These original interludes are to be found on both his popular rolls as well as the blues/jazz oriented material.  One which I’ve always found hauntingly beautiful is in his Imperial roll of “Jelly Bean – The Curbstone Cutie” by New Orleans composer Joe Verges.  That interlude could have easily been turned into a popular jazz song or novelty rag, but to Jones it was simply an idea “tossed off.”  Fortunately it is preserved on this roll.  There are many other examples of Jones’ melodic creativity preserved on these roll performances.

As stated in the first section, Clarence Jones started his roll recording career ca. 1916 with the Wurlitzer Co. of Chicago, who issued his playing on their “Rolla Artis” label.  He played ragtime, popular songs, one-steps and later jazz/blues oriented material on that label.  About 1919 (probably when Wurlitzer ceased their hand-played recording operations) Jones moved on to the Imperial Piano Roll Co., also of Chicago.  He became one of their staff artists, along with Charley Straight, Roy Bargy, Al Eldridge, Arnold Johnson and others.  It is notable that Jones was the only Black artist on the regular Imperial staff at this early date, (although both Jack Palmer (as “Deering H. Palmer”) and John W. “Blind” Boone each made a single roll for Imperial).

 

Jazzin’ Baby Blues – Columbia

Jazzin’ Baby Blues – Browne(Staffnote)

 

Jones’ recording activities with Imperial seem to have ended ca. 1922.  At the same time Imperial went over to the practice of issuing “generic” artist credits such as “Jack Clyde” or “Burt Franklin,” who may have been unique individuals but cannot be positively confirmed as such. Shortly thereafter, Imperial dropped artist credits altogether.  It was at about this time that J. Lawrence Cook started making arrangements for Imperial.  This subject will be discussed in greater detail in the section on J.Lawrence Cook.

In 1924 Jones resumed piano roll recording, now for the Vocalstyle Music Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Vocalstyle had previously recorded and issued the hand-playing of Black artists Charles Luckyth “Luckey” Roberts and Amanda “Mandy” Randolph in 1919.  Many regard Jones’ Vocalstyle performances as his most “life-like.”  It is likely that “Up The Country Blues” was his first issued roll, dating from ca. June-July, 1924.  He continued recording for Vocalstyle until May 1926, producing just under 30 titles. During Jones’ tenure at Vocalstyle, other legendary Black pianists also recorded for them, including Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton, Edgar Hayes and Charles “Cow Cow” Davenport.

Part 2 – Clarence M. Jones Jazz and Blues Piano Rolls.

FileAction
12th Street Rag (Bowman) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91138.midDownload 
A Good Man Is Hard To Find (Eddie Green) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9682.midDownload 
A New Kind Of Man With A New Kind Of Love For Me (Clare-Flotow) - pb Clarence Jones - VCL 13001.midDownload 
A.B.C.D. Blues - I've Got The A.B.C.D. Blues (VonTilzer-Kershaw) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91161.midDownload 
After You've Gone (Creamer-Layton) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9630.midDownload 
Alcoholic Blues (VonTilzer) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9815.midDownload 
Alimony Blues - from 'The Rainbow Girl' (Louis A. Hirsch) - pb Clarence Jones - RollaArtis 50772.midDownload 
Arkansas Blues (Lada-Williams) - pb Clarence Jones - US 40477.midDownload 
Baby, Won't You Please Come Home (Charles Warfield) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91108.midDownload 
Baltimore Buzz - Fox Trot Blues (Blake-Sissle) - pb Clarence Jones - US 40553.midDownload 
Because They All Love You (Little-Malie) - pb Clarence Jones - VCL 13145.midDownload 
Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 29626.midDownload 
Boll Weevil Blues (McCurdy-Palmer) - pb Clarence Jones - VCL 13020.midDownload 
Broadway Blues (Morgan) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40157.midDownload 
Broadway Blues, The (J.B. Walsh) - pb Clarence Jones - RollaArtis 50132.midDownload 
Call For Mr. Brown (Isham Jones) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9609.midDownload 
Cat's Whiskers, The (Gladstone-Austead) - pb Clarence Jones - US 41486.midDownload 
Chinese Blues (Moore & Gardner) - pb Clarence Jones - RollaArtis 50109.midDownload 
Clover Blossom Blues (Meinken-Erdman) - pb Clarence Jones - HITZ 144.midDownload 
Cry Baby Blues (Meyer-Lewis-Young) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40519.midDownload 
Daddy Blues (Jones-Lyons) - pbc Clarence Jones - IMP 91126.midDownload 
Dallas Blues (Wand) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9727.midDownload 
Dangerous Blues (Billie Brown) - pb Clarence Jones - US 40522.midDownload 
Dangerous Blues (Brown) - pb Clarence Jones as Roy Bargy (per FLH) - IMP 91318.midDownload 
Dardanella Blues (Fisher-Black) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91093.midDownload 
Dardanella Blues, The (Black-Fisher) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 39975.midDownload 
Day By Day (Armand Piron and Steve J. Lewis) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91100.midDownload 
Dirty Dozens, The (Clarence Jones) - WURL 20287-5.midDownload 
Doggone Blues, Since My Sweetie's Away (Jones-Chon) - pbc Clarence Jones - VCL 12944.midDownload 
Don't Tell Your Monkey Man (Lukie Johnson) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9850.midDownload 
Down Home Blues (A.L. Herschel & Berk) - pb Clarence Jones - VCL 13021.midDownload 
Down Home Blues, The (Tom Delaney) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40550.midDownload 
Dreaming Blues (Edythe Baker) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91124.midDownload 
Ev'ry Day (Shelton Brooks) - pb Clarence Jones (per FLH) - WURL 20312-10 (no known RA issue).midDownload 
Everybody Step (Berlin) - pb Clarence Jones - US 40597.midDownload 
Everybody's Crazy 'Bout The Doggone Blues (Layton) - pb Clarence Jones as Jack Clyde (possibly, per FLH) - IMP 9558.midDownload 
Fare Thee Honey Blues (Perry Bradford) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40257.midDownload 
Give Me Back My Husband, You've Had Him Long Enuff (Davilla) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9677.midDownload 
Gypsy Blues (Sissle-Blake) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40562.midDownload 
Has Anybody Seen My Corinne (Lukie Johnson) - pb Clarence Jones (per FLH) - WURL 20312-8 (no known RA issue).midDownload 
He's A Darn Good Man To Have Hangin' Around (Jones-Taylor-Rose) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9983.midDownload 
Heebie Jeebies - pb Clarence Jones - CAP 1566.midDownload 
Heebie Jeebies - pb Clarence Jones - CAP A-2143-8.midDownload 
Hesitation Blues (Billy Smythe) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9637.midDownload 
Hesitation Blues (Billy Smythe) - pb Clarence Jones - RollaArtis 50148.midDownload 
Home Again Blues (Akst-Berlin) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40222.midDownload 
Home Again Blues (Berlin-Akst) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91273.midDownload 
House Rent Blues (Ted Wallace) - pb Clarence Jones - VCL 13129.midDownload 
Houston Blues (George W. Thomas) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40035.midDownload 
Humming Blues - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 39911.midDownload 
I Ain't 'En Got 'En No Time To Have The Blues (VonTilzer) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9872.midDownload 
I Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None O' This Jelly Roll (Williams) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9789.midDownload 
I Left My Door Open And My Daddy Walked Out (Berlin) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9973.midDownload 
I Left My Door Open And My Daddy Walked Out (Berlin) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 39813.midDownload 
I Realize (Fred Fisher) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91116.midDownload 
I'm So Glad My Mamma Don't Know Where I'm At (Willie Toosweet) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9592.midDownload 
I've Got A Remedy To Cure The Blues (Fred Irvin) - pb Clarence Jones - RollaArtis 50231.midDownload 
I've Got The Blue Ridge Blues (Cooke-Whiting-Mason) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9737.midDownload 
I've Got The Blues For My Kentucky Home (Gaskill) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40152.midDownload 
I've Got The Red, White And Blues (Clarence Gaskill) - pb Clarence Jones - US 40517.midDownload 
I've Got The Yes We Have No Bananas Blues (Silver-Cohn) - pb Clarence Jones - US 41485.midDownload 
In Search Of A Husband - One-Step (Jones) - pbc Clarence Jones - RollaArtis 50117.midDownload 
It's Right Here For You (Pinkard as Belledna) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 39999.midDownload 
Jamaica Ginger Blues (Randolph-Carroll) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40124.midDownload 
Jazz Baby (Merrill-Jerome) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9807.midDownload 
Jazzin' Babies Blues (Richard M. Jones) - pb Clarence Jones - Browne(Staffnote) 121.midDownload 
Jazzin' Babies Blues (Richard M. Jones) - pb Clarence Jones - HITZ 150.midDownload 
Jazzin' Baby Blues (Richard M. Jones) - pb Clarence Jones - COL 457.midDownload 
Jelly Bean - The Curbstone Cutie (Joe Verges) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91072.midDownload 
Jelly Roll Blues, The (Ferd Morton) - pb Clarence Jones - RollaArtis 50192.midDownload 
Just Blue (Arden-Wadworth) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9909.midDownload 
Landlord Blues (Albert VonTilzer) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9917.midDownload 
Landlord Blues, The (VonTilzer-Laska) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 29624.midDownload 
Li'l Liza Jane - possibly pb Eubie Blake (if unissued MEL) or Clarence Jones (if RA) per FLH - WURL 20328-1.midDownload 
Lone Star - Blue Fox Trot (Wiedoeft-Bernard) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 39932.midDownload 
Lonesome Lovesick, Got To Have My Daddy Blues (Clarence Jones) - Automatic A-782-4.midDownload 
Lonesome Lovesick, Got To Have My Daddy Blues (Clarence Jones) - COL A-1638-6.midDownload 
Lonesome Lovesick, Got To Have My Daddy Blues (Clarence Jones) - LINKRX 15248-11.midDownload 
Lonesome Lovesick, Got To Have My Daddy Blues (Clarence Jones) - No Artist Credit - SUP 10274.midDownload 
Lonesome Lovesick, Got To Have My Daddy Blues (Clarence Jones) - as pb Marvin Ash; trans. John Farrell - HPC 140.midDownload 
Lonesome Lovesick, Got To Have My Daddy Blues (Clarence Jones) - pb Archie Lucas - Arto 1521.midDownload 
Lonesome Lovesick, Got To Have My Daddy Blues (Clarence Jones) - pb Chet Simpson - Simplex-Supreme 4017.midDownload 
Mobile Blues (Rose-Short) - pb Clarence Jones - VCL 12935.midDownload 
Modulations - Steppin' On The Keys (Clarence Jones) - pb John Farrell - HPC 119.midDownload 
Morning, Won't You Ever Come 'Round (Turk-Silver) - pb Clarence Jones - VCL 13035.midDownload 
Muscle Shoals Blues (George W. Thomas) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40258.midDownload 
Musical Sparks - Novelty Fox Trot (Clarence M. Jones, 1923 Rossiter) - RR unissued.midDownload 
O Death, Where Is Thy Sting (Clarence A. Stout) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9586.midDownload 
Oh The Woman In Room 13 (Donaldson) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 39536.midDownload 
Play 'Em For Mama, Sing 'Em For Me (Clarence Williams) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91054.midDownload 
Poor Papa (Woods) - pb Clarence Jones - Staffnote 571.midDownload 
Railroad Blues (Roberts) - pb Clarence Jones (as Chet Gordon, per FLH) and Mae Brown - US 39849.midDownload 
Railroad Man (Schoebel) - pb Clarence Jones - QRS Recordo 67970.midDownload 
Read 'Em And Weep (Haenschen-Bernard) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91164.midDownload 
Road Is Rocky Blues, The (Bradford) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40223.midDownload 
Royal Garden Blues (Clarence Williams & Spencer Williams) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9897.midDownload 
Shell Shock Shake, The (Grey-Mickell) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 39868.midDownload 
Singin' The Blues (Robinson) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91219.midDownload 
Six Feet Of Papa (Arthur L. Sizemore) - pb Clarence Jones - US 43967.midDownload 
Slow And Easy (Norman) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9989.midDownload 
Slow And Easy - An Indigo Fantasie (Spencer) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) & Unidentified Artist - US 39869.midDownload 
Snakes Hips (Spencer Williams) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP Recordo 67850.midDownload 
Someday Sweetheart (Spikes-Spikes) - pb Clarence Jones - VCL 12923.midDownload 
Spread Yo' Stuff (Al Bernard - Sol P. Levy) - pb Clarence Jones - US 40555.midDownload 
St. Louis Blues, The - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91146.midDownload 
Strut Miss Lizzie (Creamer-Layton) - pb Clarence Jones - US 40510.midDownload 
Strutter's Drag (Charles Warfield & Coleman) - pb Clarence Jones - VCL 13022.midDownload 
Swanee Blues (J.Milton Delcamp) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91069.midDownload 
Swanee Blues (J.Milton Delcamp) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 39958.midDownload 
Sweet Child (Whiting) - pb Clarence Jones - Staffnote 557.midDownload 
Sweet Little Mammy (Richard M. Jones) - pb Clarence Jones - CAP 1567.midDownload 
Sweet Mama, Papa's Getting Mad (Little-Frost) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40060.midDownload 
Those Draftin' Blues (Pinkard) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9552.midDownload 
Those Draftin' Blues (Pinkard) - pb Clarence Jones - RollaArtis 50739.midDownload 
Tishomingo Blues (Spencer Williams) - pb Clarence Jones - Rolla Artis 50743.midDownload 
Tropical Blues (Schroeder-Gillespie) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40300.midDownload 
Unlucky Blues - from 'Greenwich Villages Follies' (Robinson-Lewis) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91046.midDownload 
Up The Country Blues (George W. Thomas-Sippie Wallace) - pb Clarence Jones - VCL 12839.midDownload 
Virginia Blues (Meinken-Erdman) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP Recordo 66220.midDownload 
Wabash Blues (Fred Meinken) - pb Clarence Jones - US 40564.midDownload 
Walkin' The Dog (Shelton Brooks) - pb Clarence Jones - RollaArtis 50232.midDownload 
Wang Wang Blues (Busse-Johnson) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon - US 40371.midDownload 
What Cha Gonna Do When There Ain't No Jazz (Wendling) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91102.midDownload 
What Cha Gonna Do When There Ain't No Jazz (Wendling) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 40030.midDownload 
Where Is My Daddy Now Blues (Abe Olman & Otto Motzan) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91215.midDownload 
Why Don't You Drive My Blues Away (Davis-Papa) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 91035.midDownload 
Work House Blues (Ted Wallace) - pb Clarence Jones - VCL 13130.midDownload 
Yankee Doodle Blues, The (Gershwin) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP Recordo 67030.midDownload 
Yellow Dog Blues - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 997418.midDownload 
Yellow Dog Rag, The (Handy) - pb Clarence Jones - IMP 9881.midDownload 
You Can't Keep A Good Man Down (Bradford) - pb Clarence Jones as Chet Gordon (per FLH) - US 39961.midDownload 
You've Got To See Mama Every Night (Rose-Conrad) - pb Clarence Jones - QRS Recordo 67510.midDownload 

Comments are closed.