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The San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation Collection The Charles N. Huggins Project

The Turk Murphy Jazz Band

Turk Murphy Jazz Band September 1954

Turk Murphy led several early bands, such as the Bay City Stompers, after leaving the Lu Watters Yerba Buena Jazz Band. Turk's best known band, the Turk Murphy Jazz band, started in 1952 and performed continuously until his death in 1987, and he cataloged more than 80 musicians who played with this band (see bottom of this page). Some musicians lasted only a day, some performed with Turk for years.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, the band was at its peak of popularity, touring annually, recording for major labels such as Columbia, and performing as often as six days a week at Earthquake McGoon's, Turk's jazz club which was home base for the band between 1960 and 1984.

Before McGoon's opened, the band performed at the Italian Village in San Francisco's North Beach and at other Clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In the 1970s, the band made several successful tours of Europe, Australia, and Asia.

Turk Murphy's 65th birthday at Earthquake McGoon's with Bunky Colman, Jim Goggin, Pancho Lopez, Peter Clute, Ev Farey, Turk Murphy, Norma Teagarden, Ed Lawless, Phil Elwood, Wally Rose, Lu Watters, Bob Mielke, Harry Mordecai
Lawless, Ed

First Generation Jazz musicians, like Eubie Blake, Sippie Wallace, Pops Foster, and Earl Hines performed at McGoons or were guests with the Turk Murphy jazz band. Many also recorded with the TMJB.

Turk, his club, and his band were fixtures of the San Francisco scene for decades. McGoon's served as both a tourist destination and a meeting place for a local crowd of regulars who came to listen, drink and dance.

The TMJB was also featured on several weekly radio shows, broadcasting live from McGoon's and later the Fairmont Hotel.

BRASS

TURK MURPHY, Leader (Trombone)

DON KINCH (Trumpet)

LEON OAKLEY (Cornet)

BOB SCHULZ (Cornet)

Turk Murphy, Bob Schulz on stage

Bob Schulz

Bob was born in Wonewoc, WI. He was a band director for 17 years before joining the legendary Turk Murphy Jazz Band of San Francisco in 1979. His eight years with Turk included 300 taped radio shows, many LPs, tours of US and Europe, and the Carnegie Hall tribute to Turk.

Bob still leads the Turk Murphy band for special engagements. He is the foremost exponent of the Bob Scobey trumpet style and is a vocalist in the tradition of Clancy Hayes. Bob was chosen to play the part of Bob Scobey with the Scobey Reunion Band engagement at the 1988 Los Angeles Classic Jazz Festival and in 1989 at the Big Horn Jazz Festival in Chicago. He has more than 30 LPs to his credit.

Leon Oakley
Turk Murphy, Lu Watters, Bill Dart and Don Kinch at Hambone Kelly's
Turk Murphy, Lu Watters , Bill Dart and Don Kinch

REEDS

BOB HELM (Clarinet)

ELLIS HORNE (Clarinet)

BILL NAPIER (Clarinet)

Bill Napier
Bob Helm, 1987
William Carter, clarinet
Albert Nicholas (clarinet) with Turk Murphy

RHYTHM - Banjo

CLANCY HAYES (Banjo/Vocals)

JOHN GILL (Banjo/Guitar)

CARL LUNSFORD (Banjo)

Carl Lunsford, banjo, in front of Earthquake McGoon's, 630 Clay Street

Carl Lunsford performed with the Turk Murphy band over several decades, but is best remembered for his tenure during the 1970s. Lunsford's accurate, driving rhythm was well regarded nationally. Before joining the Murphy band, he performed with the Wilbur DeParis New New Orleans Jazz Band in New York City. Lunsford moved to San Francisco in the late 1960s to join Turk's band and is still actively performing today.

Jim Maihack with trombone, banjo, tuba and piano
John Gill playing banjo

RHYTHM - Piano & Drums

BURT BALES (Piano)

PETE CLUTE (Piano)

FRED HIGUERA (Drums)

WALLY ROSE (Piano)

RAY SKJELBRED
(Piano)

Ray Skjelbred, piano

Ray Skjelbred

I love music that shows passion, daring and surprise. For me, the pianists I admire who most represent these ideas and to whom I listen most often are Earl Hines, Jess Stacy, Joe Sullivan, Mary Lou Williams, Art Hodes, Thelonious Monk, Zinky Cohn, George Zack, Cassino Simpson, Horace Henderson, Frank Melrose, Jimmy Yancey, Big Maceo, Bill Evans, Burt Bales, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Paul Lingle, Alex Hill, Sir Charles Thompson, and Eddie Whitley.

Actually I'm just a neighborhood kid growing up in Chicago and growing older in Seattle, all at the same time! I have generally thought of myself as an English teacher first, then pianist and poet. My life has had the human influence of family, farmers, cowboys, baseball players, actors, writers and musicians, but perhaps I feel most affected by rivers, forests and mountains. I listen to red-winged blackbirds, wooden bats hitting baseballs, wind moving through poplar trees and dog yawns. Also music—Norwegian Hardanger fiddle music, Tibetan horns, Charles Ives, old cowboys and jazz. I always lean toward sounds that reassure me of the truth and beauty of the world we inhabit.

RHYTHM - Tuba

DICK LAMMI (Tuba, Bass, Banjo)

BOB SHORT (Tuba)

Bob Short with tuba

Bob Short

Bob Short (1911 - 1976) was probably the most influential tubaist of the Revival, with disciples still playing his ideas in the '90s. Short was playing tuba professionally by 1928 and also managed to learn string bass, banjo, and several other instruments by the time he wound up in Portland, Oregon in the mid-'40s. He played cornet and valve trombone with the Rose City Stompers, a group which became the nucleus of the Castle Jazz Band.

When the CJB was organized, Short switched to tuba and began to establish his reputation as one of the best of the San Francisco style. In the early '50s, Short moved to the Bay Area to play tuba and cornet with Turk Murphy's Jazz Band at the Italian Village. Amazingly, he had the ability to switch embouchures from cornet to tuba without missing a beat, such as on the 1952 Turk Murphy recording of "Cakewalking Babies."

During the '50s, Short recorded several sessions with Murphy, with Bob Scobey and also the reunited Castle Jazz Band, and continued to work frequently with Murphy. In 1963, Short made the Blues Over Bodega session with Lu Watters and the associated concerts with Turk Murphy.

Short left the Murphy band permanently in 1964 to concentrate on flying, both as an instructor and pilot. He still played sessions on cornet, valve trombone, bass, and tuba with numerous bands in Northern California. Bob Short's style was fluid, without being busy. He achieved a big sound and could anchor any kind of rhythm section without playing loudly. He always played just the right bass notes, perfectly matching the pianist's left hand and providing the correct root for the other musicians to build on. He also had a superb melodic sense which made his solos memorable.

VOCALS

PAT YANKEE (Vocalist)

JIMMIE STANISLAUS (Vocalist)

Publicity photograph of Jimmie Stanislaus
Jimmie Stanislaus in Yama Yama Man costume
Turk Murphy and Jimmie Stanislaus

Jimmie Stanislaus

Jimmy Stanislaus (1910 - 1993) had many careers. Originally a professional boxer and then a fireman, after meeting Turk Murphy, Stanislaus became a vocalist with the Turk Murphy Jazz Band.

Stanislaus was well known for his specialty number "Yama Yama Man," a song first sung by Bessie McCoy, then popularized by Ada Jones in a 1909 recording that spent five weeks at number one.

"Yama Yama Man" is a bogeyman character named to rhyme with pajama, a reference to the costume. In 1918, cartoonist Max Fleischer created Koko the Clown, who wears a similar costume, and a popular children's novel called Yama Yama Land was also written.

Turk's List of Musicians who played with the TMJB