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Frankie "Half-Pint" Jaxon

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Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon was an eccentric singer and a mysterious figure who disappeared after the mid-'40s. Called "Half Pint" due to being 5'2", Jaxon (who was an orphan) grew up in Kansas City. At 15 he began singing in variety shows and at clubs. He toured with a theatrical troupe in Texas and Oklahoma, forming a song and dance team with Miss Gallie De Gaston that did well in vaudeville during 1912-1924. When he was 21, Jaxon began working regularly in Atlantic City (usually the Paradise Café) in the summer and the Sunset Café in Chicago in the winter. An expert at staging shows, Half Pint helped Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters (among others) put on their productions. Jaxon, who also worked as a female impersonator, a pianist-singer, and a saxophonist, was mostly in Chicago during 1927-1941, a period when he made many recordings. In 1930 he formed the Quarts of Joy and he often appeared on the radio in the '30s. Jaxon used his best-known composition "Fan It" (which would later be recorded by Woody Herman) as a trademark song. Although still popular, Jaxon dropped out of music altogether in 1941, working for the government in Washington D.C. In 1944 he moved to Los Angeles and largely disappeared, never to be heard from again by the musical world. Half Pint Jaxon's recordings as a leader (which date from 1926-1940) include such sidemen as washboardist Jasper Taylor, pianist Georgia Tom Dorsey, banjoist Ikey Robinson, cornetist Punch Miller, the Harlem Hamfats (1937-1938), clarinetist Barney Bigard, pianist Lil Armstrong, and trumpeter Henry "Red" Allen. ~ Scott Yanow