Frankie ‘Half-Pint’ Jaxon – Complete Recorded Works Vol 1 (1926-1929)
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Frankie Half-Pint Jaxon Vol 1 1926-1929
Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon, vocal.
With contributions by;
De Lloyd Barnes, piano.
Blanche Smith Walton, piano.
Freddie Keppard, clarinet.
Banjo Ikey Robinson, banjo.
Georgia Tom Dorsey, piano.
Tampa Red, guitar.
Punch Miller, clarinet.
Genres; Blues, Jazz, Hokum
Informative booklet notes by Jim Prohaska.
He was outrageous, ribald, and raucous. He was a singer, actor, producer, dancer, comic, film star, song writer, and even a female impersonator. He made a lot of records, led a small band and a big band, and made many radio appearances. He was 5’2″ of energy, humour, and mischief.
The summer of 1927 brings us to Jaxon’s second recording date, having already recorded for Okeh the previous year. He recorded at least seven titles for Gennett, with piano accompaniment by Blanche Smith Walton. Ms. Walton is a very well-accomplished pianist. She provides a surprisingly strong backing to Jaxon. On She’s Got It, Walton plays a rollicking, almost barrelhouse piano. Four of the masters were sold to the Black Patti label, whose August, 27, ad in the “Chicago Defender” reads: “Can’t You Wait Till You Get Home? -Folks, it’s a lolly. The Red Hot Novelty Song Hit, sung by Frankie Half Pint Jaxon, the wonder boy; on the other side he sings, I’m Gonna Steal You. He won’t stop for the red lights.” One gets a good feel for his sense of humour and sexual innuendos from these first sessions. On I’m Gonna Dance Wit Be Guy Wot Brung Me, we get our earliest example of Jaxon’s female impersonation as he mimics both the guy and the girl in this recorded dancehall sketch. The next session by Half Pint Jaxon takes place a little over a year later (on October 28, 1928), and heralded a five year association with Brunswick/Vocalion records. This recording alliance also included many recordings with Tampa Red (which can be found on “Tampa Red, Volumes 1 to 4”, Document DOCD-5073 to 5076). This first Vocalion session has long been a source for controversy which centres around who the cornet player might be. Some believe that the excellent trumpet accompaniment is by Freddie Keppard – while others vehemently deny Keppard’s presence As far as Jaxon’s performance, one can recognize why he was so popular. He is witty – with excellent timing and superb diction. You can almost envision him prancing around the stage while singing the hilarious Down At Jaspers Bar-B-Que. The next two sessions provide two different versions of Fan It. The first session involves Georgia Tom and Tampa Red, while the next date (perhaps a remake session) finds Jimmy Flowers on piano, probably Banjo Ikey Robinson on banjo, and Bill Johnson on string bass.
Just a little more than a week later, Jaxon is in the studio again with a group led by Banjo Ikey Robinson. On Let’s Knock A Jug, there is a nice clarinet that sounds somewhat like Junie Cobb in parts, but is suspected to be Lem Johnson. Unfortunately, the clarinet is less prominent on the second title – Jaxon’s remake of Can’t You Wait Till You Get Home (from his first Gennett/Black Patti date). The next date that Frankie “Half Pint” Jaxon is involved with is something quite different for him, at least on record. Having recorded many hilarious and even risqué tunes, he takes on a sanctified performance on the rare Cotton Top Mountain Sanctified Singers date of February 27, 1929 (DOCD-5300). This is the first of four titles Jaxon did with this group (the other three titles can be found on Volume 2, Document DOCD-5159) She’s Coming Round The Mountain is perhaps the least “religious” of the four titles, but is an up-tempo, spirited performance, nonetheless. Punch Miller is featured throughout, and takes a nice solo. Bill Johnson both plucks and bows his string bass giving the singers a rock-solid rhythm backup. Back to hokum, Jaxon’s next date is with Bill Johnson’s Louisiana Jug Band, with some spirited jug work, pushed along by Johnson’s booming string bass. Don’t Drink It In Here is a hilarious description of a raid on a house rent party. Just as spirited is It’s Heated and Jive Man Blues, which is the next date under Jaxon’s name. “It’s Heated” is worth a couple of plays – listen to Half Pint as he goes to say “shoe” and “sand” and comes real close to pronouncing another four-letter “s” word! Tom Dorsey’s accompaniment on “Jive Man Blues” is excellent and very well-suited to Jaxon’s singing. This is certainly one of Dorsey’s best efforts with Jaxon, and perhaps one of his best piano efforts on record. We then finish up Volume 1 with Corrine Blues and the unissued Operation Blues. Jaxon exhorts: “Everybody get filthy now – in other words get unsanitary” on “Corrine”. This is a nice little group, Vance Dixon notwithstanding. Although Dixon starts to play a little novelty clarinet in parts, most of his playing is quite good, with what apparently is Georgia Tom providing admirable piano accompaniment. This is a little gem of a performance. Operation Blues, on the other hand, was unissued for good reason. It is mostly a vocal performance, with probably Georgia Tom as the “doctor”, and Half Pint Jaxon as his “female” patient. What starts out as a “routine” examination turns into doctor/patient sex: (Jaxon) “Whattchu holdin’ in your hand?” (“Doc”) “It’s my tool!” (jaxon) “Ooohh-I unnerstan'”. Send the kids out of the room for this one. All of these performances bear close listening. Frankie Half Pint Jaxon was a master comedian. Not only is he amusing in what he says – part of his mastery is in the way he presents his material. If you are not careful, you will find yourself laughing out loud. One can only imagine what it was like to see Frankie “Half Pint” Jaxon perform in person!!