The Legendary Snoozer Quinn


Snoozer Quinn
1906 - 1952



 
 
 

  This is a Snoozer Quinn page.  Music-
ally, to a follower of authentic jazz,
that's roughly the equivalent of telling
Van Cliburn that you've found a Franz
Liszt piano roll.  For Snoozer, though
his name was unknown to the general
public, was turning-on the big name
jazzmen of the '20's in nightly after-
hour performances that had the likes
of Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer,
Jimmy McPartland and Jack Teagarden
crowding into tiny hotel rooms to listen

as this gangling, crooked-faced guitar-
ist held court in New York.
  Snoozer's praline voice sang in a
personal style that echoed for many
more years in the sound of Teagarden,
but nobody tried to duplicate his pro-
digious guitar virtuosity.  One hearing
of the contents of this sleeve will ex-

plain why.  Snoozer's mastery of his
instrument was then and remains now
beyond belief.  We've heard about it
before from old time jazzmen, and felt
free to dismiss their ravings as nostal-
gia-but now we have aural evidence
that the Snoozer legend-if anything
-was understated.
  In the months (1928-29) that he
filled the guitar chair in the Paul White-
man Orchestra, then at the peak of its
"Symphonic Jazz" celebrity, the public
had no chance to hear him or notice
him.  This was before the era of ampli-
ied sound.
  But after all the bands in town had
played their nightly "I'll See You In My
Dreams" and "Goodnight Sweetheart"
medley, their members would scour the
Broadway  area to find  out  where
Snoozer would be doing his thing,
sometimes until long past dawn.  Bix
and Tram were the core of his claque
and such favorites as Joe Venuti, How-
dy Quicksell, Red Nichols and Ted
Lewis paid nightly tribute to this delta
genius.
 "So how come no records?" skeptics
ask.  "If he was so great, wouldn't
they have recorded him?"
   It's easy to blame "bad luck"-but
in Snoozer's case it really seemed to
be a plot of the gods to suppress his
work.  The fact is that he made eight
sides for Victor in 1925.  They were
never released, though documented,
and nobody actually knows what hap-
pened to them.  Columbia put him on
a trio session with Bix and Tram in
'29-even included another version of
"Singin' the Blues".  This session was
simply and inexplicably lost.  His re-
cordings with the big Whiteman group
are, of course, hopeless for the pur-
pose of hearing him.  In '31 he was
hired for a couple of cuts behind hill-
billy  performer,  Jimmy  Davis,  who
willy-nilly became governor of Louisi-
ana. (Victor 23620.  "Get On Board,
Aunt Susan/" Market House Blues").
But that sort of thing wasn't likely to
display the Snoozer style and skill.
  "Bad luck" then.  But it could have
been worse. Johnny Wiggs might not
have thought to record him at all.
Wiggs did get the idea to document
this unique, frequently overwhelming,
guitar.  The sessions took place at a
hospital during early '50's on Johnny's
own, distinctly non-professional equip-
ment.  Thus we were assured this rare
opportunity to get to know why and
how Snoozer enthralled his 
contemporaries.  Johnny's recording gear
did itself proud. No apologies need be
made for the quality of the cuts. 
The manufacturer would never have
guaranteed the fidelity Wiggs achieved.

  True, Snoozer's health had failed.
He wasn't long for this world.  But
again, this fact need not serve as a
plea for tolerance.  As you'll hear, at
least on these sides, he managed to
keep more live guitar going than this
listener ever heard.
  Wiggs, for the occasion, took his lip
out of a quarter-century of mothballs,
more to put Snoozer at his ease than
anything else, and blew on some of
these cuts.  Little rust had gathered
in the superb cornet.  It would have
been easy to predict even then that a
little wood-shedding could bring him to
the high performance level which has
won him so much critical acclaim in
succeeding years.
 All jazz fans are indebted to Johnny Wiggs for his foresight and taste in preserving this satisfying example of the guitar performance of Snoozer Quinn.



 
 
 

The Songs
Snoozer's Telephone Blues
(Real Audio - 3:29 )
Singin' the Blues (w/ Johnny Wiggs)
(Real Audio - 3:50)
Out of Nowhere
(Real Audio - 3:22)
You Took Advantage of Me
(Real Audio - 2:57)
Clarinet Marmelade (w/ Johnny Wiggs)
(Real Audio - 3:06)
Georgia on My Mind/Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
(Real Audio - 3:36)
Nobody's Sweetheart (w/ Johnny Wiggs)
(Real Audio - 3:31)
Snoozer's Wanderings
(Real Audio - 4:11)

 
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