This is a rundown by Max Chaichek, a veteran watcher of Shanghai nightlife in the 1930s, of some of the best jazz bands that played in Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s. Note that in 1934, Buck Clayton and his Harlem Gentlemen were performing at the Canidrome, and this seems to be the reason for Chaichek's exploration of "colored bands" in Shanghai. The article is a testament to the greatness of Jack Carter and Teddy Weatherford, and the author seems to be wondering if Clayton's band is up to their high-water mark in the history of jazz in Shanghai.
Shanghai Show World
Max Chaichek (China Press Nov 7 1934)
What sort of musical entertainment do we really want in Shanghai, and do we prefer negro or white artists as far as western talent is concerned.
The argument has been advanced in some quarters that there have been and are too many colored bands. We are not prepared to argue the matter but let us review the situation and see what’s what:
If our memory serves us rightly (we had a very quiet night last night) the first negro band to play in this city was headed by that veteran, Frank Augustine, now holding forth as manager of a Tientsin hotel. Augustine, the pioneer negro musician, made good in a big way, but in later years he seems to have lost contact with the newer methods of dispensing music, the result being that we seldom hear of him.
Jack Carter’s Band A1
Occasionally, after the debut of Augustine, a more of less indifferent negro band appeared on the scene but not for long. Then came the band of bands—Jack Carter’s orchestra. What a band, brothers and sisters, what a band!
Old-timers will recall how they packed in the crowds at the Cartlon and later the Plaza Hotel. Jack made an unlucky move when he shifted to the old Plantation and tried to make a Cotton Club of it. The old Jinx was working, however and the place was a flop. Jack hied himself to Paris with the Misses Lavada and Valada Snow and hasn’t been here since. No need to worry about him, the boy is now going great guns in America.
Teddy Weatherford, Carter’s greatest musician, a great pianist and a born showman, next dominated the field when he was brought to the Canidrome Ballroom from Java a few years ago by Hal P. Mills. Bob Hill was the leader of that band, but Bob was not up to the mark, so Teddy took over the reigns.
Ted’s Men Good
There have been many arguments as to which band was the greatest, Teddy’s or Jack’s. Jack’s band was chiefly American negroes boys, whereas Teddy had a band composed of negroes, Filipinos and Hawaiians. But we’re here to say that it was a wonderful band and how it did put the Canidrome Ballroom on the map!
Teddy yet holds forth at the ballroom, which brings us down in the present day and the present situation, with reference to colored artists and musicians.
Is Clayton a Drawing Card?
Buck Clayton has a 14-men colored band at the Canidrome. He did have two colored girl artists but they have disappeared from the picture. One is at the Casanova and the other idle. A Chinese-owned cabaret in Bubbling Well Road has Earl Whaley’s eight-man colored band, of which the average person hears little. Jimy Carson, another negro musician, heads the band at the Lafayette Garden. The Far East Ballroom also has a negro band.
No denying that Teddy Weatherford is a fine drawing card at the Canidrome, but is the present colored band? We leave judgment to our readers.
Bo—Gone But Not Forgotten
Unquestionably, one of the greatest—perhaps the greatest artists Shanghai ever has seen in a night club or ballroom was the eccentric and wholly unreliable Bo Diddly. He’s dead now and may he rest in peace. The highly-touted U.S. Thompson was not so hot. Herbert Parker was passable. Billy Head was good—but foolish. He danced for good pay in the Paramount and danced for nothing in the Lafayette Garden and was the biggest drawing card in the latter.