Eddie Condon’s Birthday Post

Jazz 88 celebrates the birthday of Eddie Condon, born November 16, 1905 in Goodland, Indiana. As a guitarist and banjo player based in Chicago in the 20’s, Condon cut his teeth working with artists like Bix BeiderbeckeJack Teagarden and Frank Teschemaker.  Relocating to New York in 1928, he got work organizing recording sessions and was responsible for racially integrated  dates with Fats WallerLouis Armstrong and Henry Red Allen.

Condon was unusual in that he almost never took a solo. He was satisfied sitting in the rhythm section. He was a great raconteur – his biography “We Called It Music” is one of the most entertaining books you’ll find on early jazz. He was always ready with a quip. Here’s a few:

Commenting on beboppers: “They flat their fifths, we drank ours.”

On clarinetist Ted Lewis: Ted Lewis could make the clarinet talk. What it said was put me back in the case!

And a quip that was passed along by photographer William Gottlieb, on the French critic Hugues Panassie: Why do we need him to tell us about jazz? We don’t tell him how to stomp on grapes!

There are numerous videos on youtube that feature Eddie Condon. Here’s a great one from 1952 that includes cornetist Wild Bill Davison, trombonist Cutty Cuttshall and clarinetist Edmond Hall with Condon on four-string guitar. They play Hoagy Carmichael’s “Riverboat Shuffle” and “Fidgety Feet,” one of the tunes that was recorded early on by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.

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