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The Charleston Chasers

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The Charleston Chasers was a name used between 1925 and 1931 for a series of recording groups that did not exist outside of the studios. The 1925 edition (which recorded two numbers) matched cornetist Leo McConville with trombonist Miff Mole and pianist Arthur Schutt. By their second session two years later, the Charleston Chasers was a group similar to Red Nichols' Five Pennies with Nichols on cornet, trombonist Mole, Jimmy Dorsey on clarinet and alto (he was later replaced by clarinetist Pee Wee Russell), and usually pianist Schutt, Dick McDonough on banjo or guitar, Joe Tarto on tuba, and the inventive drummer Vic Berton. Other than two songs by a similar band (plus singer Scrappy Lambert) in 1928, the Charleston Chasers were inactive until mid-1929, when trumpeter Phil Napoleon became their lead voice. At first using Mole, Dorsey, and Schutt, the group at various times included clarinetist Benny Goodman and trombonist Tommy Dorsey, along with Roy Evans and Eva Taylor on vocals. Probably the best-known session under the Charleston Chasers name was the final one, four songs cut on February 9, 1931, by an 11-piece group that included trumpeter Charlie Teagarden, both Jack Teagarden and Glenn Miller on trombones, Benny Goodman, and drummer Gene Krupa. While two songs had pop vocals by Paul Small, the renditions of "Basin Street Blues" and "Beale Street Blues" (featuring famous Jack Teagarden vocals) were arguably the high point of the group's existence and alone would have guaranteed the band's immortality. ~ Scott Yanow

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