By Hal Smith
ROBERT HELM, clarinet
b. Fairmead, CA 7/18/1914 d. San Rafael, CA 9/1/2002
Bob Helm has often been referred to as the most talented, imaginative, and gifted musician of the Great Revival. He grew up in a musical family, and played music professionally as a teenager. He listened to broadcasts of Louis Armstrong from Sebastian’s Cotton Club in Los Angeles, collected records, and attended concerts and shows around the Central Valley.
After a few years in college, he went on the road, barnstorming the western United States with several Territory bands. During the 1930s, he played with bands ranging from Wingy Manone’s Orchestra to Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys.
Within all the big dance bands, within most of all bands, there was a nucleus of jazz musicians who were interested in getting together for a free session to improvise.– Bob Helm with Phil Elwood, KPFA 1966
The Yerba Buena Jazz Band
Bob Helm settled in the Bay Area in the late ‘30s. Interested in early forms of jazz, he was an enthusiastic participant in small-band sessions where multi-strain numbers such as “Panama” were played. He joined Lu Watters’ Orchestra at Sweet’s Ballroom in Oakland, and doubled on clarinet and tenor sax. He also took part in after hours sessions at the Big Bear Tavern with Watters, Turk Murphy, Bob Scobey, and others who would eventually form the Yerba Buena Jazz Band.
Early home recordings from various Bay Area living rooms capture Helm’s distinctive tone. He clearly had a knack for playing the correct clarinet parts in a front line with cornet and clarinet. The recordings also illustrate his gift for improvisation. Helm was in the first edition of the YBJB that played at the Dawn Club, but left the group after a disagreement with Watters over the band’s sound.
War Years and the Dawn Club
In 1943, Helm joined the U.S. Army. He served with the 18th Infantry Division, as a paratrooper, combat infantryman, and later with General George S. Patton’s 3rd Army. He also enjoyed a brief respite from the battlefield, playing tenor sax in a band backing Marlene Dietrich on a USO tour.
According to San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation Curator Clint Baker, Bob Helm enjoyed playing jazz in various European locations after WWII. He was considering living in Europe and playing music full-time when Lu Watters invited him to join the reorganized Yerba Buena Jazz Band, which was set to return to the Dawn Club.
Helm accepted Watters’ invitation and was onstage when the YBJB performed for a capacity crowd at the club on March 1, 1946. The band’s repertoire included an original tune by Helm, “Reunion Joys,” composed especially for the occasion. The band continued to draw large crowds of both dancers and listeners throughout 1946. They recorded numerous sides for the West Coast label and were heard on station KGO’s live broadcasts from the club. The Yerba Buena Jazz Band had reached an exciting plateau, and Bob Helm’s clarinet playing contributed much to the unique sound of the band. By 1946, Helm was playing some of the most exciting clarinet ever heard in a traditional jazz ensemble.
His sound might best be described as a combination of the blues-drenched passion of Johnny Dodds with the eccentricity and creativity of Pee Wee Russell. Still, some writers and fans criticized his tone, and found problems with his intonation as well. The criticism continued throughout Helm’s career. In a conversation nearly 40 years after the YBJB played at the Dawn Club, a fan asked Lu Watters whether Helm played flat. Lu instantly, and somewhat angrily, replied, “No! No! He plays wild and reckless!”
Helm at Hambone Kelly's
The Yerba Buena Jazz Band left the Dawn Club due to tax problems on January 1, 1947. Watters had found a suitable venue in El Cerrito, across the Bay, and went to work refurbishing the old Hollywood Club. He also proposed operating the band as a cooperative. Helm was one of the musicians interested in the idea, and when Hambone Kelly’s opened on June 20, Helm was living on the premises. In addition to playing with the band, he also supervised the waitresses and handled other tasks when called upon. Initially, the new location was a success and once again the Watters Band drew large crowds through the remainder of the year.
When the Musicians Union announced a ban on all recording effective January 1, 1948, Turk Murphy and Bob Scobey both hurriedly organized bands to record under their own names. They both utilized Yerba Buena sidemen for their sessions, and Helm was with Murphy’s Bay City Stompers when they recorded for Jazz Man, just under the wire on December 31, 1947. It is possible Murphy and Scobey were each planning to leave the Yerba Buena Band, and it may have been a factor in their rush to record as bandleaders.
In 1948, various members of the YBJB left, at least temporarily. Pianist Wally Rose quit after going without pay for longer than he was comfortable. Drummer Bill Dart gave notice, tired of being micromanaged. Scobey was interested in pursuing a different rhythmic concept and left the band as well. Helm, however, had put aside his earlier differences with Watters and remained with the Yerba Buena Jazz Band until the end in 1950.
The run of bad luck for the YBJB and Hambone Kelly’s continued when Turk Murphy quit. In 1949, Watters was sidelined by hernia surgery which prevented him from playing trumpet. Scobey returned temporarily, and Watters moved to washboard. The instrumentation at Hambone Kelly’s in 1949 varied considerably from week to week. At one point, Scobey and Helm were the only horns. Several recordings were made for Watters’ Down Home label with Helm as the only horn, Clancy Hayes on banjo and vocals, Dick Lammi on string bass, Watters on washboard, and Wally Rose back on piano after an absence of several months. Helm’s playing on these sides is as great as ever, and he does a terrific job of stating the melody, then improvising as only he could.
At one point in 1949, Watters was too ill to play at all, and Turk Murphy stepped in to lead the band at Hambone Kelly’s. He added tubist/bassist Dick Lammi to the Bay City Stompers line-up that had recorded in 1947: Scobey, Helm, pianist Burt Bales, and banjoist Harry Mordecai. Tapes of this lineup clearly illustrate the type of band Murphy would continue to lead for the rest of his career. This ensemble traveled to Los Angeles for a Good Time Jazz recording session and a concert at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium billed as Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band, but without Lu on the bandstand. Otherwise, Helm was present on the Hambone Kelly’s bandstand except for a concert with Bob Scobey at Jenny Lind Hall in Oakland in 1950.
As the year progressed, the Yerba Buena Jazz Band was reduced to a quintet, and performances cut to weekends. Despite the realization that the club could not continue under these circumstances, Watters and Helm played with amazing creativity. Helm called this “Hambone Kelly’s-going-down-the-tubes music,” and thankfully he captured several nights’ worth of it on an early reel-to-reel tape recorder. These performances also include Helm’s jazzy vocals on numbers such as “Frankie And Johnny” and “How Come You Do Me Like You Do?”
Helm on the Road Again
When Hambone Kelly’s closed permanently on January 1, 1951, Helm set out to freelance. He picked up several jobs with Turk Murphy, including a stint at the Beverley Cavern, the annual Dixieland Jubilee, and another recording session for Good Time Jazz, all in Los Angeles. However, with no steady work to be had, Helm headed to Portland, Oregon to become the clarinet chair with Monte Ballou’s Castle Jazz Band. Ballou and his tubist Bob Short were friends of Helm’s, from the time the Castle Jazz Band played at Hambone Kelly’s en route to the Dixieland Jubilee in Los Angeles. Helm worked with the band and with a quartet at Ballou’s Diamond Horseshoe Club in downtown Portland. With the addition of former Ballou trumpet man Don Kinch and trombonist Hi Gates, the Castle Jazz Band recorded for Good Time Jazz. Sadly, the session, which features outstanding playing by Kinch, Helm, and Short, was never released.
The Turk Murphy Jazz Band
In January, 1952, San Francisco art dealer Charles Campbell and jazz fan Bill Mulhern presented a concert featuring Turk Murphy’s Jazz Band at the Italian Village with Murphy, Wally Rose, vocalist Claire Austin, plus Helm, Kinch, Ballou, and Short from Portland. Despite their plane’s late arrival, the Portland contingent arrived in time to perform for a capacity crowd. The concert led to a steady engagement, and Helm and Short came back to San Francisco to join the band. Dick Lammi replaced Ballou, leaving the band trumpet-less, as Don Kinch was still based in Portland. (Kinch was brought in to record with the band for Columbia in 1953).
Otherwise, Bob Short doubled on cornet, and several of the 1953 sides were recorded with Bob Short playing that instrument and overdubbing a tuba part later. Helm’s clarinet work is dazzling. On the numbers with a full front line, he plays with sublime inventiveness, never repeating a phrase. Without the cornet, he switches from melody to harmony seamlessly. By this time, Helm’s nickname was ‘Red Eye.’ Turk Murphy referred to him on vocal duets as ‘Brother Red,’ though most musicians simply called him ‘Red.’
In 1954, the Turk Murphy Jazz Band embarked on a tour of the Midwest and the East Coast. They were warmly received everywhere they played, from Milwaukee to New York City. Young Ev Farey played cornet on the tour and recorded the Dancing Jazz album with the band for Columbia. This session features several characteristic vocals by Helm, including “Sadie Green” and “Red Hot Mama.” While in New York, Helm also recorded with a small band called the Riverside Roustabouts for the Riverside label. Three fine New York musicians, plus Helm and Farey, recorded eight of Helm’s original compositions. One of them, the haunting “Daybreak Blues,” would become part of the Turk Murphy Jazz Band repertoire.
A second tour was announced in 1955, but the band personnel changed considerably. Helm left the band and freelanced with the El Dorado Jazz Band and other groups. He also became involved in the Poet’s Follies with Weldon Kees, who wrote lyrics for several of Helm’s compositions. Helm returned to the Murphy Band for a brief time in 1956, and played on the New Orleans Shuffle album for Columbia. (This album also includes the great Don Ewell on piano.) Murphy recorded another session with Ewell, Helm, Don Kinch, Dick Lammi, and Kid Ory’s former bassist Ed Garland. Unfortunately, that recording was never issued and no reference tapes have been found.
Helm freelanced again in 1957, working with trumpeter Bob Hodes’ Jazz Band at the Tin Angel, with Kid Ory at On The Levee, and with Ev Farey’s Bay City Jazz Band at the Sail’N. Helm rejoined the Murphy Band when their current clarinetist was fired just as a recording session for Verve was scheduled. He played marvelously, as usual, on the Easy Street LP, sounding as if he had never left the ensemble. Helm was also playing more soprano sax, with a totally different sound from anyone else who performed on the difficult instrument. He worked with the band at Easy Street in San Francisco, and went to New York with the Murphy ensemble in 1959. During their stay in New York City, the band recorded two sessions for the Roulette label and also appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. After returning to San Francisco, the band moved from Easy Street to the former Sail’N, which Murphy had renamed Earthquake McGoon’s. Helm settled in for a relatively long stay with the band, and made another move with them to the second Earthquake McGoon’s location, at 630 Clay Street. His composition “He’s Just Perfect For Me” was sung frequently by the Murphy Band’s vocalist, Pat Yankee. She also sang Helm’s “Paddle Wheelin’ Along” on the band’s only record for RCA Victor, in 1962.
Blues Over Bodega
In 1963, Lu Watters emerged from retirement to organize a protest against Pacific Gas & Electric’s proposed Atomic Park, to be built near Watters’ home on Bodega Bay. Helm and the entire Turk Murphy Jazz Band traveled to the location and performed as balloons were released, representing the various directions that nuclear fallout would travel if an accident occurred, triggered by the earthquake-prone San Andreas Fault. The success of the protest concert inspired Watters to record an album that would include songs addressing the PG&E situation, “Blues Over Bodega,” and “San Andreas Fault.”
Watters’ original intention was to record with as many of the original Yerba Buena Jazz Band musicians as possible. Turk Murphy backed out, explaining that his band was about to record for the label he owned with Pete Clute. Banjoist Harry Mordecai had retired from music, tubist Dick Lammi was dealing with medical issues, and drummer Bill Dart was not available for personal reasons. Watters recruited Bob Mielke on trombone, Wally Rose on piano, Monte Ballou on banjo, and Bob Short on tuba. Apparently, Turk Murphy’s concern about his own participation did not extend to his band, as Helm and Murphy Band drummer Thad Vandon were on the recording date. Blues/folk singer Barbara Dane was the vocalist, and the album features some of her best singing. Helm sounds inspired, joyous, and free in the company of good friends Watters, Rose, Ballou, and Short. The front line is a delight to hear, and Helm’s contributions are invaluable.
Watters appeared as a guest with the Murphy Band for two Bodega Bay Benefits at Earthquake McGoon’s in 1963 and 1964. Live recordings were made at the second engagement, but Watters bumps into a couple of sharp corners on Murphy’s charts, which were just different enough from the Yerba Buena arrangements to cause a few bars of confusion. Watters dominated the proceedings, as can be heard clearly on “Dallas Blues.” While Murphy is playing a figure to indicate that the song is ending, Watters holds one note, signaling another chorus. Helm responds with the same kind of take-no-prisoners playing as in the last days at Hambone Kelly’s. A photo from the evening shows Wally Rose sitting in on piano, with Watters on his left and Helm on his right. All three are laughing heartily, possibly at one of Rose’s off-color asides. Their delight at being reunited onstage is as palpable in the photo as in the recordings.
Turk and Bob
Helm’s relationship with Turk Murphy was complicated. There was a tremendous mutual respect for one another’s musicianship, but Helm had already demonstrated he was willing to hand in his notice if a situation, musical or otherwise, could not be rectified. It is not completely clear why he left the band for a long stretch starting in 1965. Before his exit, the Murphy band played at Carson Hot Springs in Nevada as a quartet made up of Murphy, Helm, pianist Pete Clute, and drummer Thad Vandon. Luckily, Murphy recorded a live performance by this group. If there was any friction within the ensemble, it is not apparent on the recordings. The interplay between trombone and clarinet/soprano recalls the days of trumpet-less front lines at the Italian Village, and it is a terrific sound.
Once Helm was a free agent, he immediately received calls from many of the best traditional jazz groups in the Bay Area. He played extensively with Ted Shafer’s Jelly Roll Jazz Band, Ev Farey’s Bay City Jazz Band, Earl Scheelar’s Funky New Orleans Jazz Band, and Bob Mielke’s Swingin’ A’s, the strolling jazz band which entertained fans at Oakland A’s baseball games. With Turk Murphy’s Band, Helm had played quite a bit of soprano sax, in addition to his usual clarinet. With bands such as Scheelar’s, he also performed frequently on alto sax, and on a recording session with Monte Ballou, Helm even played bass sax!
Between 1965 and 1972, Helm was at the peak of his creativity, and recorded some of his most inspired work. Three recordings in particular are outstanding:
Ted Shafer’s Jelly Roll Jazz Band, recorded live in 1967 at the Straw Hat Pizza Parlor in Oakland.
The front line consisted of ‘Papa Ray’ Ronnei on cornet, Bob Mielke on trombone, and Helm on clarinet and soprano. This was a unique combination of horns with Ronnei’s staccato Freddie Keppard-like phrasing, Mielke’s individualistic blend of New Orleans and Swing Era trombone, and Helm’s beautifully unpredictable clarinet and soprano sax.
The New Orleans Jazz Club of Northern California All Stars in 1970
This was another live recording, made at a concert for the NOJCNC. Helm sounds particularly inspired alongside the fiery cornetist Jim Goodwin and Mielke, playing even better than usual. The rhythm section was a genuine powerhouse, with Ray Skjelbred on piano, Dick Oxtot on banjo, Squire Girsback on bass, and Vince Hickey on drums. Many of the songs are far from the repertoire associated with Helm, but he plays with a daredevil spirit that must be heard to be believed on numbers like “It Should Be You,” “Barney Google,” and “Everyone Says I Love You.”
Earl Scheelar’s Funky New Orleans Jazz Band in 1971/72
Although the overall atmosphere is much more relaxed than that of the NOJCNC All-Stars, Helm sounds as if he has more music in his head than can be put through the horns. Scheelar on cornet and Bill Bardin on trombone were perfect foils for Helm’s enthusiastic, driving reed playing. With Dick Oxtot on banjo, Peter Allen on bass, and Don Marchant on drums, the rhythm is a simple but pulsating sound. Helm later told Scheelar that this session was “the best he had ever been recorded.”
Return to the Turk Murphy Jazz Band
Helm chose to rejoin Turk Murphy late in 1972, despite the opportunities to play with stimulating musicians such as Goodwin, Mielke, and Skjelbred. The band he returned to was one of Murphy’s most exciting ensembles. Leon Oakley, a red-hot player, was on cornet. Carl Lunsford played highly rhythmic banjo and Bill Carroll was one of the most propulsive tubists in the band’s history. This edition of the Turk Murphy Jazz Band brought good crowds to Earthquake McGoon’s, and toured overseas to wide acclaim. They also played yearly at the St. Louis Ragtime Festival. The personnel was stable for several years, which allowed the band to develop a reliably consistent sound and repertoire.
When the Clay Street McGoon’s closed permanently in 1978, the band played several weeks at the Rathskellar. When that job ended, Helm and the other Murphy musicians played other engagements until the new venue could be opened. When the doors opened at Earthquake McGoon’s on the Embarcadero, John Gill had replaced Carl Lunsford on banjo. Chris Tyle took over the cornet chair in early 1979, followed by Spike Jones veteran, George Rock.
Helm had been dealing with hearing loss for some time, and in the early ‘80s underwent some procedures to prevent further loss. With the addition of state-of-the-art hearing aids, he was playing as well as ever when Bob Schulz came in on cornet. Schulz was playing a style very reminiscent of Bob Scobey’s, and it galvanized the band, quickly spreading enthusiasm to the fans.
Helm began to experience pain after standing to play for so many years. He took time off for a hip replacement, and requested to be allowed to sit on a stool while playing at McGoon’s. Turk Murphy was adamant that the front line had to stand, with no exceptions. That impasse caused the final split between Helm and Murphy.
Gentleman of Jazz
As before, Helm found plenty of work as a freelance with the South Frisco Jazz Band, the Magnolia Jazz Band, Golden State Jazz Band, San Francisco Legacy, and the ever-loyal Earl Scheelar. Scheelar also took Helm to New Orleans, where he recorded sessions with bands led by Chris Tyle and Jacques Gauthé, and sat in at the city’s traditional jazz clubs. He continued to wear hearing aids and dark lenses following cataract surgery, and walked with a pronounced limp. But when he picked up the horn, it was a young man playing.
In the 1990s, Helm was honored as the ‘Gentleman of Jazz’ at festivals in Santa Rosa and San Diego, and ‘Emperor’ of the Sacramento Dixieland Jubilee. He was grateful for the recognition, as it was obvious that the people responsible were sincere. However, Helm did not appreciate phonies. Earlier, at the Embarcadero McGoon’s, a jazz society made a show of presenting awards to Turk Murphy and Helm, in recognition of their contributions to traditional jazz. The group ostentatiously brought paper bags with their own liquor bottles into the club, asked the waitresses for glasses with ice, and never spent a penny. In the middle of a set, their officers presented the framed certificates to Turk and Helm. When Helm received his, he nodded once with a tight smile, then carefully placed the frame between the back of the stage and the wall. It may still be there.
At the same time he was being honored at festivals, Helm was subjected to a scathing criticism of one of his recordings in the Mississippi Rag. Being a true gentleman, Helm did not respond, but his friends did. Paid advertisements were placed in the Rag for months, with testimonials from musicians and fans across the country. While it was a shame that a negative review had to be the catalyst, Helm must have been pleased to read the many tributes.
In the 1990s and on to the early 2000s, Helm was a prolific correspondent. A letter inquiring about a small detail at Hambone Kelly’s was likely to receive multiple handwritten pages in response, together with finely-drawn diagrams. Helm possessed a photographic memory, so was able to accurately answer questions pertaining to personnel, repertoire, and anything else pertaining to the Yerba Buena Jazz Band. Fortunately, he wrote many sets of witty and informative liner notes during this period. His interests in gourmet cooking, fine wine, nature, world history, and the origins of jazz, combined with his writing skills, guaranteed that Helm would be viewed as the renaissance man of traditional jazz. He was also gifted with an excellent sense of humor. At the Sacramento Jubilee, he was scheduled to play a set with a friend’s band. The bandleader announced Helm, giving a lengthy summary of his musical background, then said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the great Bob Helm to the bandstand.” Helm was seated in the front row. He waited with a small smile until the last bit of applause died down, looked left, right and behind, and then asked, “Where’s Bob?”
Bob Helm died of cancer on September 1, 2002. He was survived by his wife Kay, and has left a legacy that will never be forgotten by anyone who was fortunate enough to hear him play.
Bob Helm and Wally Rose Interview with John Buchanan:
(Note: Bob Helm does not play on every track on every recording listed below).
With Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band:
Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band: Live at Hambone Kelly’s 1950 GHB BCD 93
Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band: Live at Hambone Kelly’s 1950 vol. 2 GHB BCD 97
Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band: Live at Hambone Kelly’s 1950 vol. 3 GHB BCD 119
Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band At Hambone Kelly’s 1949 – 50 Merry Makers CD 10
Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band vol. 1 1937 – 1943 San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation CD 105 – includes 1937 home recording with Turk Murphy; 1939 home recording with Lu Watters; Sweet’s Ballroom Orchestra; plus one previously unissued track by the Wartime Yerba Buena Jazz Band with Benny Strickler.
Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band vol. 2 1946 – 1947 San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation CD 106 – includes excerpts from Dawn Club broadcasts and previously unissued recordings for West Coast and a live performance recorded at a football rally in 1947.
Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band: The Complete Good Time Jazz Recordings (4 CDs) 4GTJCD 4409-2 – includes six sides by the Prewar Yerba Buena Jazz Band with Benny Strickler; the complete West Coast recordings from 1946 and the “This Is Jazz” Broadcast from August, 1947.
Lu Watters: Blues Over Bodega Good Time Jazz CD 12066 - 2
Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band: Doing The Hambone at Kelly’s vol. 1 Jasmine CD 2571 – Down Home and Mercury 78s recorded in 1949.
Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band: Doing The Hambone at Kelly’s vol. 2 Jasmine CD 2590 – the remaining Down Home and Mercury 78s from 1949 plus the Clancy Hayes Washboard Five sides.
Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band – Live at Hambone Kelly’s Trad Jazz Productions TJP 3
With Turk Murphy’s San Francisco Jazz Band:
A Natural High Sonic Arts/Bainbridge Entertainment BCD 501
At The Roundtable Roulette R 25076 – also released as Forum 9017, out of print vinyl LP.
Daybreak Blues Trad Jazz Productions TJP 11Easy Street Verve MGV 1015 – out of print vinyl LP.
Jazz Casual J(DVD) Idem IDVD 1008 – also includes unrelated tv program with BB King.
Let The Good Times Roll RCA Victor LPM 2501 – out of print vinyl LP.
Live At Carson Hot Springs San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation CD 101
Live At McGoon’s 1978 Vol. 1 Trad Jazz Productions TJP 20
Live At McGoon’s 1978 Vol. 2 Trad Jazz Productions TJP 21
Live From Earthquake McGoon’s 1973: A Lost Jazz Treasure Merry Makers CD 48
Live From The Rathskellar Vol. 1 Merry Makers CD 17
Live From The Rathskellar Vol. 2 Merry Makers CD 18
Music For Wise Guys And Boosters, Card Sharps And Crap Shooters Roulette R 25088 – out of print vinyl LP.
New Orleans Stomp (2 CDs) Jasmine JASCD 461 – Includes tracks from Columbia CDs “Barrelhouse Jazz,” “Dancing Jazz” and “New Orleans Shuffle.”
Oz Turk Plus (2 CDs) The Bill Armstrong Collection BAC 07 – 2
Ragged But Right GHB CD 492
Recorded Live At the 1976 Inverness Music Festival Merry Makers CD 54
Southern Stomps Stomp Off SOS 1161 – out of print vinyl LP.
Turk Murphy and Lu Watters: Together Again Merry Makers CD 8
Turk Murphy Favorites CD 60611 – includes the 5/31/49 session plus tracks from 1951 and 1952.
Turk Murphy Favorites vol. 2 FCD 60 – 026 – Contains the complete 12/31/47 recording session by Turk Murphy’s Bay City Stompers plus two unissued tracks; four sides plus one unissued track from the 5/31/49 session and unissued tracks from the 1951 session.
Turk Murphy’s Frisco Jazz Band: Live MPS CD 827 878 – 2
Turk Murphy’s Jazz Band At The Italian Village San Francisco Merry Makers CD 11
Turk Murphy’s Jazz Band In Concert Vol. 1 Trad Jazz Productions TJP 8
Turk Murphy’s Jazz Band In Concert Vol. 2 Trad Jazz Productions TJP 9
Turk Murphy’s Jazz Band Live At Easy Street 1958 Dawn Club DC 12009 – out of print vinyl LP.
Turk Murphy’s Jazz Band Vol. 2 Motherlode M 0104 – out of print vinyl LP.
Turk’s Delight (2 CDs) Jasmine JASCD 439 – Includes tracks from Columbia LPs “When The Saints Go Marching In” and “Music Of Jelly Roll Morton.”
Two Tickets To McGoon’s Trad Jazz Productions TJP 23
Weary Blues San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation CD 103
Wild Man Blues San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation CD 107
With Bob Scobey:
The Unheard Bob Scobey 1950 – 1957 GHB BCD 285
With Monte Ballou:
Monte Ballou & His Castle Jazz Band: They’re Moving Willie’s Grave GHB CD 155
With the Bay City Jazz Band:
Bay City Jazz Band: Live! At the Sail’n Trad Jazz Productions 2123
With Ernie Carson:
Ernie Carson and the Castle Jazz Band: Old Bones Stomp Off CD 1283
With the Down Home Jazz Band:
Dawn Club Joys Stomp Off CD 1241
Strut, Miss Lizzie Stomp Off CD 1264
Back To Bodega Stomp Off CD 1273
Paddle-Wheelin’ Along Stomp Off CD1300
With the El Dorado Jazz Band:
Bob Helm With The El Dorado Jazz Band 1955 (2 CDs) San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation CD 110
El Dorado Jazz Band with Bob Helm Trad Jazz Productions TJP 5
With Jacques Gauthé’s Creole Rice Jazz Band:
Jacques Gauthé and his Creole Rice Jazz Band of New Orleans Featuring Bob Helm: Yerba Buena Style GHB CD 331
With Russ Gilman:Russ Gilman & Friends: Out Of Nowhere Trad Jazz Productions TJP 2140
With Carol Leigh:Go Back Where You Stayed Last Night GHB CD 167Ma & Bessie Greatest Tent Show vol. 1 Stomp Off CD 1331
Ma & Bessie Greatest Tent Show vol. 2 Stomp Off CD 1332
You’ve Got To Give Me Some GHB CD 136
With the New Golden Gate Jazz Bandits:
Vol. 1 Trad Jazz Productions TJP 13Vol. 2 Trad Jazz Productions TJP 18
Vol. 3 Trad Jazz Productions TJP 26
With The New Orleans Jazz Club Of Northern California All-Stars:
New Orleans Jazz Club of Northern California Presents: NOJC All-Star Band 1970 NOJ 101 – out of print vinyl LP.
With Dick Oxtot:
Dick Oxtot’s Golden Age Jazz Band With Diane Holmes Arhoolie 4007 – out of print vinyl LP.
With George Probert:Reed Renaissance: As Time Goes By Jazz Crusade JCCD 3024
With Earl Scheelar:
Earl’s New Orleans House Band 1966 – 1967 Showcasing Bob Helm Trad Jazz Productions TJP 15
Earl Scheelar’s New Orleans House Jazz Band Featuring Bob Helm Merry Makers CD 50
Funky New Orleans Jazz Band GHB CD 367
Funky New Orleans Jazz Band Trad Jazz Productions TJP 2137
Funky New Orleans Jazz Band Featuring Bob Helm 1971 – 72 Merry Makers CD 5
With Ted Shafer’s Jelly Roll Jazz Band:
Lindbergh, The Eagle Of The U.S.A. Merry Makers CD 24
Toe-Tapping Dixieland Jazz Vol. 1 Merry Makers CD 13
Toe-Tapping Dixieland Jazz Vol. 2 Merry Makers CD 14
With the South Frisco Jazz Band:
Got Everything Stomp Off CD 1240
Jones Law Blues Stomp Off SOS 1143 - out of print vinyl LP.
Sage Hen Strut: In Search of the Famous Grouse Stomp Off CD 1143
With Chris Tyle’s New Orleans Rover Boys:
A Tribute To Benny Strickler Stomp Off CD 1235
With Own Bands and Miscellaneous Groups:
Bob Helm’s Jazz Band: Hotter Than That
Brother Red Trad Jazz Productions TJP 2146
Helm! Trad Jazz Productions TJP 2122
Riverside Roustabouts Riverside RLP 2510 – out of print vinyl LP; contains eight original compositions by Helm.
Carter, William: Go, Red! Frisco Cricket, Spring 1999. San Francisco: San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation
Clute, Cedric; Clute, Peter; Goggin, Jim: Meet Me at McGoon’s. Victoria, B.C., Canada 2004. Trafford Publishing.
Clute, Peter; Goggin, Jim: The Great Jazz Revival. San Rafael, CA., 1994. Donna Ewald Publishing.
Ginell, Cary: Hot Jazz For Sale: Hollywood’s Jazz Man Record Shop. Los Angeles, Self-published, 2010.
Elwood, Philip: Liner notes in booklet accompanying Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band – The Complete Good Time Jazz Recordings. Fantasy Records, 1993.
Ertegun, Neshui: “Annie Street Rock.” CLEF Magazine (May, 1946). Reprinted in booklet accompanying Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band – The Complete Good Time Jazz Recordings. Fantasy Records, 1993.
Goggin, Jim: Some Jazz Friends, Vol. 2. Victoria, B.C., Canada. 2006, Trafford Publishing Co.
Goggin, Jim: Turk Murphy: Just For The Record. San Leandro, CA., 1982. San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation.
Koenig, Lester: Original 1954 liner notes reprinted in booklet accompanying Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band – The Complete Good Time Jazz Recordings. Fantasy Records, 1993.
Leigh, James: Heaven on the Side: A Jazz Life. Los Angeles, CA, 2000 XLibris Books.
Leigh, James: Liner notes to The Unheard Bob Scobey and his Frisco Jazz Band 1950 – 1957. New Orleans, 1993. GHB BCD 285.
Conversations with the Writer Regarding Bob Helm
Clint Baker, Mike Baird, Burt Bales, Monte Ballou, Bill Bardin, Tom Bartlett, Jim Buchman, Lloyd Byassee, Marc Caparone, Bill Carroll, Ernie Carson, William Carter, Kim Cusack, Bill Dart, Marty Eggers, Everett Farey, John Gill, Richard Hadlock, Wayne Jones, Orange Kellin, Don Kinch, Jack Kuncl, Carol Leigh, James Leigh, Carl Lunsford, Gene Mayl, Bob Mielke, Bill Mitchell, Turk Murphy, Bob Neighbor, Leon Oakley, Dick Oxtot, Steve Pistorius, Frank Powers, Bob Raggio, Robbie Rhodes, Wally Rose, Vince Saunders, Earl Scheelar, Robbie Schlosser, Bob Schulz, Ray Skjelbred, John Smith, Charles Sonnanstine, Chris Tyle, Lee Valencia, Mike Walbridge, Lu Wetters, Robin Wetterau, Laurence Wright