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Jazz As Art

Frank Teschemacher

Trying To Stop My Crying


When you listen to music, you sometimes conjure images in your mind. Our Jazz As Art series invites you to listen to a piece of jazz and as it plays, scroll down the page and see which of the pieces of art I have chosen comes closest to the pictures in your mind. Hopefully, this will introduce you to recordings and art works you might not have spent time with before.


Frank Teschemacher


Perhaps it is because he died in a car accident in 1932 when he was just twenty-five that clarinettist and alto sax player Frank Teschemacher is less well-remembered than some other musicians from the 1920s Chicago-style of jazz. Nevertheless, because 'Tesch' recorded with some of those better remembered, there are plenty of recordings he made with people like Eddie Condon, Wingy Manone, Wild Bill Davison and others that we can still listen to - many of these are available now on YouTube.

Frank was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1906. He was largely self-taught and started playing the clarinet professionally in 1925 when he was nineteen. That means just six to seven years of playing lay ahead of him. As well as the clarinet and alto Frank also played banjo and violin (most of the Austin High kids learned violin).

His family had moved from Missouri to Chicago where Tesch became one of the 'Austin High School Gang' of five musicians from the school that included Jim Lanigan (piano), Jimmy McPartland (cornet), Dick McPartland (banjo, guitar), Bud Freeman (C-Melody sax) and Frank. Tesch was sixteen then and Jimmy McPartland only fourteen. 'In 1927, Eddie Condon recorded the Austin Frank Teschemacher 1928High Gang as the "Mackenzie-Condon Chicagoans". These recordings catapulted the young musicians into the spotlight and they all subsequently developed acclaimed careers in New York.'

Tesch's influences are said to have included Bix Beiderbecke, Johnny Dodds and Jimmy Noone, and it has been said that he in turn influenced a young Benny Goodman, but in many ways that is by the way, we should listen to Frank for his own work. He was critical of his own music. Mezz Mezzrow is quoted as saying: 'The poor guy was so confused, and confused himself so much, that he played his records over and over again, then got hold of them and threw them to the floor so that they smashed into smithereens.'

When the Great Depression came in 1929, Tesch earned a living with Jan Garber's sweet dance orchestra playing violin. Gigs sometimes took him to New York City, around the U.S. Midwest, and he also took a job in Florida with Charlie Straight. On the morning of March 1, 1932, Tesch was a passenger in a car driven by Wild Bill Davison when they were involved in an accident from which Tesch died. His old school mate Bud Freeman said: 'Teschemacher was a great creative artist who had not developed enough before he died to make any great records.' That doesn't mean his work is any less rewarding to hear.

The tune I have chosen for this Jazz As Art feature is Trying To Stop My Crying with Frank Teschemacher playing with Joe 'Wingy' Manone and his Club Royale Orchestra in December 1928 - Wingy Manone (cornet, vocals); Frank Teschemacher (clarinet); George Snurpus (tenor sax); Art Hodes (piano); Ray Biondi (guitar) and Augie Schellange (drums). The song is by Ray Biondi and C J Miskelly.

You might expect from the title and the lyrics that Trying To Stop My Crying is a sad song and perhaps you can hear a hint of regret, but on the whole I think Manone and the band are having a party with it. Tesch, Wingy Manone and Art Hodes all take solos over a firmly rooted bass drum from Augie Schellange.

So play the music, scroll down the page and see which paintings work for you - I think this only really works if you spend time with each painting or scroll through them a few times.









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