Frank Big Boy Goudie's San Francisco associates San Francisco was the last chapter of his
half-century journey spanning 2/3 of jazz history, three continents and
four musical lives.
“Behind his easy smile lies one of the most colorful stories in jazz.” Richard Hadlock, San Francisco Examiner, 7/63
(Photograph by William Carter c.1960)
See newly posted photos of Goudie at Monkey Inn, 1961-62, below.
Starting Over in America
From 1958-63, Goudie was a notable figure in the San Francisco jazz revival; the former tenor saxophonist played only clarinet. In the Bay Area he developed a distinctive personal style with a rich, husky tone and flowing lines that oozed Creole Louisiana tradition.
In his sixties Goudie was still brimming with energy and the Bay Area jazz revival proved fertile ground for an autumnal flowering of his music. Drawing from his broad musical experience, that had included jamming with the jazz elite of Europe, Frank’s mastery is apparent.
Goudie poured out his delightful variations with drive and imagination, able to solo endlessly, just like his greatest inspiration, Coleman Hawkins. His distinctive New Orleans Creole clarinet style was consistently uplifting; his eloquent solos opening like blossoms.
Download an interactive article on Goudie's West Coast years, published by the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation, Fall 2013:
This article was translated, adapted and published in French by the Bulletin du HCF (Hot Club of France).
Returning to America in late 1956 after thirty-two years overseas Goudie was starting over, but he’d done it before and thrived. Signing up with American Federation of Musicians on November 28, 1956, he adapted quickly to the local Dixieland, Traditional and Revival jazz situation.
Soon “Big Boy” was playing regularly and widely in the Bay Area. His work in San Francisco was more modest and less financially successful than his European or South American years, though clearly rewarding. Nonetheless, he kept a proud New Orleans tradition. According to Goudie’s business card he was an “upholsterer,” a family trade. His move to San Francisco was due in part to inheriting a small upholstery repair shop.
Unlike his previous career Frank found no lucrative high profile work in San Francisco. Though on occasion he did work briefly as a substitute with noted headlining bandleaders: pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines, trombone player Kid Ory and trumpeter Marty Marsala.
"[Goudie] was a wise and good natured man who had seen a great deal of the world and liked to talk about it. This he did with great charm in English to which traces of a French accent still clung, yet with Louisiana underneath it all. He knew his horn, his ear was excellent, he could read anything."-- Jim Leigh, Heaven on the Side, 2000
Arriving in San Francisco, Goudie had been playing music professionally for over four decades on three continents. He joined the American Federation of Musicians Local 6, on 11.28.56, and became known exclusively as a clarinet player. Following his usual pattern, Frank sought work with successful bandleaders but found the high-profile clarinet jobs taken. Over time he did work briefly for a few headline acts: trumpeter Marty Marsala, Earl Hines and Kid Ory.
Frank’s gigs with Earl Fatha Hines were in 1962 at the Black Sheep Club when he shared subbing duties during an illness of regular clarinetist, Darnell Howard.
Trumpet player Marty Marsala (brother of better-known clarinetist, Joe) was in declining health and soon moved to Los Angeles.
Trombone player and New Orleans original Kid Ory owned his"On the Levee" club in San Francisco opposite Pier 23 on the waterfront. But Ory was hard to work for by reputation and dictated rules to his clarinet players.
Goudie, Mielke, P.T. Stanton, Peter Allen, Dick Oxtot
“Few musicians his age were ever more eager to play,” wrote Richard Hadlock in The San Francisco Examiner, 1/19/64, “A born gentleman, one of the last of the old school.”
Frank became good friends with Hadlock (clarinet and soprano sax), and musical buddies with Burt Bales (piano), Bill Erickson (piano, trumpet), Dick Oxtot (banjo, singer) and trombonists Bob Mielke, Bill Bardin and Jim Leigh. His former Bay Area associates describe a wise, kind, modest, cultured gentleman with a strong French accent who wore a beret, yet retained the earthiness of his Creole origins.
Living in San Francisco Goudie met an eclectic coterie of noted local characters and intellectuals. Ken Mills reports that Frank came to know such local luminaries as beat poets Kenneth Rexroth and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, jazz writer Ralph J. Gleason, gossip columnist Herb Caen and playwright Henry Miller.
Frank joined up with musicians who were mostly younger by decades. Between 1957-63 “Big Boy” could be heard several nights of the week at various overlapping gigs, including, but not limited to venues on both sides of San Francisco Bay:
Pier 23 Jam sessions and broadcasts run by pianists Burt Bales or Bill Erickson.
At The Bagatelle Sunday afternoons in Frisco he joined Oxtot and the usual suspects.
Goudie was a regular at the music parties and jams in Berkeley: at Dick Oxtot’s home or several local Berkeley jazz houses.
For about a year in Berkeley at Monkey Inn Frank played regularly in a swing combo with Erickson (piano) and Bob Mielke (trombone).
Gentleman of Jazz Frank was recalled as a gracious “gentleman of jazz” and supportive friend, a strong presence gently offering his wisdom, experience and encouragement, adding polish and style to any ensemble. “He cut quite a figure,” said Bob Mielke, “he was always supportive, both personally and musically.”
With his height, heft, French accent, beret and proud upright posture Frank stood out. “He had it,” declared trombonist Bill Bardin, “a player who would never let anyone down,” adding, “though none of us ever called him ‘Big Boy’.”
Hadlock: “Few musicians his age were ever more eager to play.”
Trombonist Jim Leigh played with Goudie at the Pier and came to know him well as recounted in his jazz memoir, Heaven on the Side. Becoming friends they worked together in several ensembles including Leigh’s El Dorado Jazz Band in the South Bay. Goudie, he wrote: “ . . . was a wise and good natured man who had seen a great deal of the world and liked to talk about it. This he did with great charm in English to which traces of a French accent still clung, yet with Louisiana underneath it all. He knew his horn, his ear was excellent, he could read anything.”
Goudie’s satisfaction with in his new life was apparent in comments quoted by Richard Hadlock in The San Francisco Examiner 7/28/63:
“I had to come back to be an American again. If I had stayed away any longer, I would have become another nationality. As for San Francisco, I came here once as a young boy and decided I would live in this beautiful city some day. So here I am.”
Discovering Frank Big Boy Goudie, Pt. 3 San Francisco and New Orleans influences. Exploring his clarinet playing years
in San Francisco with rare, unissued performance tapes and recollections by four musicians who knew him. Discovering Frank Big Boy Goudie in San Francisco, Pt. 3A.mp3 Never
previously broadcast performance tapes of Goudie with Bill Erickson,
Bob Mielke, Dick Oxtot and Estuary Jazz Band. Frank and collegues at
Frank Goudie with Bob Mielke’s Bearcats (and related groups)
Bob Mielke was probably the first Bay Area bandleader to hire Frank Goudie around 1958. By then Mielke’s Bearcats were a very popular revival jazz band that had graduated from East Bay clubs to a venue in San Francisco, Sail ‘N, where they played for years. (The location at 99 Broadway was soon the site for on of Turk Murphy’s Earthquake McGoon’s clubs.) Mielke, Goudie, PT Stanton, East Bay c. 1958 Mielke collection
Whether Goudie played at Sail ‘N is unknown, but highly likely. He joined the band as an alternate for clarinetists Bunky Coleman and Bill Napier who weren’t always available. At times, Napier and Goudie sound quite similar, and the much-loved Bunky Coleman, devised a convincing New Orleans clarinet sound of his own. Frank was not heard on any of their issued recordings.
Goudie worked plenty of casuals with the Bearcats and related bands. He’s heard on a tape of Mielke’s band at their annual appearances in Visalia, CA (California’s Central Valley, south of Fresno).
With Oxtot, Erickson, Bales and others
Goudie also worked with Dick Oxtot, and was one of the three clarinet players heard on the Oxtot-Janis Joplin jazz sessions, probably 1963.
Frank developed long-standing associations with sometimes Bearcats pianists, Burt Bales and Bill Erickson, becoming a fixture at their Pier 23 jam sessions on the Frisco waterfront. His superb playing on Pier 23 broadcasts (below) over radio KOFY, c. 1959 with personnel nearly identical to the Bearcats is eloquent testimony to these close associations.
There’s no question Frank Goudie was at his best working with the extended Bearcats clan and and East Bay jazz revival gang during his half decade in the Bay Area.
This document lists known recordings, issued and unissued, by Frank Goudie in the San Francisco Bay Area (as of Sept. 1, 2014): I. Goudie Recordings issued on CD prior to 2014 II. Pier 23 San Francisco Waterfront Broadcasts and Jam Sessions III. Monkey Inn tapes (aka Bill Erickson Quartet or Quintet) Berkeley, CA IV. El Dorado JB (SFO) V. Miscellaneous venues VI. Berkeley Jazz House party tapes VII. Janis Joplin-Dick Oxtot sessions, Berkeley, CA
Former Saxophonist and Cornet Player, Clarinet Master
Goudie had never ceased playing clarinet, which he first learned in New Orleans before 1920. The clarinet appears in photographs and recordings of him from the late-1920s through the 1950s.
His new clarinet sound was striking: a personal voice summing up a lifetime of experience, oozing New Orleans Creole tradition yet loose and swinging. It may have been crafted in part to fit with the prevalent New Orleans revival style or what was expected of a Louisiana native, or he may simply have followed his own muse. His new style fit easily with the New Orleans revival then flourishing in San Francisco.
There are no reports on the west coast of Frank ever playing anything other than clarinet, somewhat to the disappointment of his younger colleagues. Most were curious about his tenor saxophone sound and the musical persona that had carried him across three continents. Yet he told interviewer Ken Mills in the 1950s that he’d never been fully comfortable with the tenor and clarinet was his favorite instrument.
Goudie broadcasting with Estuary Jazz group at Pier 23, 1959
L to R: Erickson (trumpet) Goudie (clarinet) Oxtot (banjo)
Pier 23, 'Estuary Jazz group'
Once Goudie cast his lot with the younger revival jazz crowd he was soon working regularly at Pier 23. The Pier was (and still is) a popular dive and jazz bar on the San Francisco waterfront. Local music critic Ralph J. Gleason memorialized the dockside joint in liner notes for Burt Bales’ 1958 album, On the Waterfront:
“In San Francisco for some years now the Embarcadero (the dockside road than runs along the Bay waterfront wharves) has been a sort of North Rampart Street with Dixieland jazz floating out over the waters of the Bay every night from the Tin Angel and Pier 23, that converted dock wallopers lunchroom where Burt plays.”
In 1959 a few radio remotes briefly emanated from Pier 23, organized by radio DJ and personality “Hambone Lee” Crosby. ‘Estuary jazz group’ (aka Waterfront Jazz Society) existed only for radio broadcast and was similar to Mielke’s Bearcats, except that it featured Burt Bales, a girl singer (actually under 18 years of age), Dick Oxtot, Goudie stepping it up a notch on-air.
Estuary was directed by Burt Bales (piano and vocals), then at the top of his game and a frequent guest of the Bearcats with Bill Erickson (trumpet) and Bob Mielke (trombone). The swinging four-beat rhythm section was equivalent to Mielke’s: Dick Oxtot (banjo), Squire Girsback (string bass) and Bob Osibin (drums). Notably, all these musicians hired Goudie at one time or another with the exception of Osibin.
Master of ceremonies Lee Crosby hosted the handful of shows touting the colorful dockside setting, “tugboats, switch engines and glasses clinking.” Some were broadcast as early experiments in stereo: left and right signals transmitted simultaneously on mono AM and FM stations. But the hoped-for TV coverage never developed.
"Pier 23 was enormously popular with local and visiting musicians as a place to drink and, frequently, to sit in. If such a thing as a session joint exists, the Pier was the main one in the Bay area for musicians of pre-bop sympathies . . . . Depending on who was sitting in, the music would run a gamut among New Orleans style, Chicago style, and small-band swing; if you sat in you were expected to handle transitions between styles with good grace and a certain adequacy of technique." -- Jim Leigh, Heaven on the Side
PIER 23 Stereo Broadcast KGO 1959
Sound quality is mostly quite good except for some bad speed flutter toward the end.
Bill Erickson (trumpet) Frank Goudie (clarinet) Bob Mielke (trombone) Burt Bales (piano, vocals) Dick Oxtot (banjo, vocals) Squire Girsback (string bass) Bob Osibin (drums) Suzanne Summers (vocals)
These shows featured everything great about Pier 23. Occasional local adverts and off-the-wall comments by Pier owner/host Havelock Jerome added color. On-air host and producer 'Hambone Lee' Crosby self-consciously evoked the piquant waterfront atmosphere, "a little slice of old San Fransciscanner."
The fine Estuary Jazz group
broadcast band was closely related to Bob Mielke's Bearcats. Featuring
Bill Erickson on horn, it's a rare opportunity to hear his fine, and
hard to classify trumpet sound.
Each show offered a generous serving of Burt Bales, "The Old Perfessor,"
playing ragtime or his incomparable Jelly Roll Morton interpretations. Local crooner Susan Sommers (not to be confused with a well-known actress with a
similar name) was featured a bit much
for my taste. Photo above L to R: Susan Sommers, Hambone Lee, Bales, Mielke, Erickson,. Oxtot, Goudie Oxtot collection
Pier 23 Live KOFY broadcast, c. 1959 "WATERFRONT JAZZ SOCIETY"
"Rose Room" features Goudie. This tape
has everything great about Pier 23: a swashbuckling
performance by Frank, Bill Erickson leading the band on trumpet in fine form,
Burt Bales and Bob Mielke at the top of their games and a Dick Oxtot vocal. This electrifying performance from the San Francisco waterfront conveys the lively and piquant atmosphere.
Despite heroic restoration efforts, this tape contains unavoidable gaps, distortion and musical flaws. Bill Erickson (trumpet) Frank Goudie (clarinet) Bob Mielke (trombone) Dick Oxtot (banjo, vocals) Burt Bales (piano, vocals) Squire Girsback (string bass) Bob Osibin (drums) Suzane Summers (vocals) Lee Crosby (on-air host)
L to R: Frank Goudie, Jimmy Carter (drums), Bob Mielke, Bill Erickson
Bill Erickson's Monkey Inn combo
L to R: Frank Goudie, Jimmy Carter (drums), Bob Mielke, Bill Erickson
Bill Erickson's Monkey Inn combo
L to R: Drummer Jimmy Carter, trombonist Mielke, Bill Erickson
In the San Francisco Bay Area Goudie's mature instrumental voice came to full fruition on fertile ground. In his autumnal years Goudie found fresh inspiration with skilled musicians who honored the jazz traditions he’d lived by for half a century. Interviewing musicians for this project, it was striking how they
all recalled the lasting PERSONAL feeling of support &
encouragement they’d felt from Frank Goudie. Despite some factual errors, the
chapter about Goudie in Jim Leigh’s memoir Heaven on the Side (2000)
is up close and personal.
In addition to the musicians profiled here, Goudie performed with singers Barbara Dane and Carol Leigh, Earl Scheelar, Jim Leigh (El Dorado JB), clarinet player Bill Carter and trumpet player Eddie Smith among many others.
Forthcoming: The best and rarest of the archival jazz recordings
heard on these pages will soon be available for purchase on CD or
downloads (Amazon, i-tunes, etc) from Frisco Jazz Archival Rarities, a
partnership between Dave Radlauer and Grammercy Records.
Frank "Big Boy" Goudie on the West Coast, 1958-63: Combos, Jazz bands & Jams, Vol 1-2 featuring Bob Mielke, Bill Bardin, Ray Ronnei, P.T. Stanton, Dick Oxtot and Bill Erickson in sessions from Monkey Inn, the Berkeley Jazz house, Pier 23 jams and broadcasts.
Frisco Jazz Archival Rarities offers unissued historic
recordings from live performances, jam sessions and private tapes.
Recorded mostly in the Bay Area 1940-75, this is lost sound from a
boisterous musical culture that created an independent jazz style of its
The Black Egg
was a bar in San Mateo where some of the East Bay revival musicians
played briefly. Frank and all the musicians sound very good on this session, though Oxtot’s one vocal is off mic.
From this 1960 newspaper ad (right), it seems like Mielke soon had this gig.
a notable tribute to the origins of the West Coast jazz revival
movement, the group closed with the Yerba Buena theme, “Friendless
Blues.” P.T. Stanton (cornet) Frank Goudie (clarinet) Bill Bardin (trombone) Dick Oxtot (banjo and vocal) Pearl Zohn (piano)
The Oxtot's Dwight Way home
was one of several so-called "Jazz houses" in Berkeley where East Bay
musicians partied and jammed. This tape is contemporaneous with Oxtot's
Janis Joplin sessions, and in fact is taken from a reel containing her tracks.
tape from Oxtot's personal collection was only labeled Dwight Way, and
lacked documentation. Personnel was fluid in Dick Oxtot's bands though the presence of Goudie, Leigh and Erickson is confirmed.
An excellent gig-getter, Oxtot played banjo and led ensembles (often interchangeable with the Bearcats) on both sides of the Bay. The Bagatelle was Dick’s lively Sunday afternoon gig at a pleasant little bistro on Polk St. in San Francisco.
Oxtot’s Golden Gate Stompers customarily had P.T. Stanton (cornet), Bill Bardin or Bob Mielke (trombonists) and Pete Allen (string bass). When available Oxtot featured veteran African American Louisianans in the clarinet chair: Clem Raymond or Frank Goudie.
Recorded at the Berkeley home of Dick Oxtot, c. 1962
Dwight Way session #2 Unknown (cornet) Frank Goudie (or Bill Napier) clarinet Jim Leigh (trombone) Bill Erickson (piano) Dick Oxtot (banjo) Walter Yost (tuba) or Unknown string bass, possibly Pete Allen Don Marchant (drums)
Goudie was taped in 1963 playing clarinet with Janis Joplin in a Dick Oxtot band. Oxtot had a unique talent for spotting and hiring good female singers. As with Joplin they were often diamonds in the rough, recruited from the Folk music scene, or destined for success in other genres.
The dates, locations and personnel of the Oxtot-Joplin sessions have long been hazy. They were taped informally during 1963 and '65 -- at either a cafe, Oxtot's home, or the KPFA studios in Berkeley. One of her specialties in those days was Bessie Smith’s “Black Mountain Blues” (Scheelar, clarinet).
Clarinet players Goudie and Bill Napier are heard on these sessions. My informant, Dave Greer was present at parties when Janis sang with the band. He says Oxtot played cornet, though he soon gave up the horn for banjo, singing and bandleading.
Despite the rawness of her voice Janis had an unmistakable feeling for the blues, and expressive commitment that transcended her technical limitations. The poignant irony of this original tune, "What Good Can Drinkin’ Do" is that Joplin killed herself with drinking and drugs by age 27.
Eulogy for a Gentleman of Jazz
During his six years on the West Coast Goudie’s musical voice reached full fruition in the second wave of the great Frisco jazz revival. He found fresh inspiration in his autumnal years with skilled musicians who honored the traditions he’d lived by for decades.
Sometime in late 1963 Frank became very sick, dying of lung cancer January 9, 1964. There was little note of his passing, except for Richard Hadlock who drew on their personal friendship and interviews to write a sincere eulogy.
“Big Boy” was a man of many parts. The full scope of his talents, travels and music remains to be fully charted, from New Orleans to Paris, Rio to Berkeley. Hopefully this sampling from his final chapter along with a fine new biography will bring due recognition to the colorful life and music of Frank “Big Boy” Goudie.
On a gently rolling hillside his
remains share a plot with his sister, Olive (1899-1955) and brother,
The stone bears the name Goodie, a common variant
and Dudley is registered as Goody.
In the 1920s all of San
Francisco’s cemeteries were moved about 10 miles south to Colma. The
“City of the Silent” has a population of 1.5 million departed, who
exceed its living inhabitants by a thousand to one.
Thanks to Holy Cross staff for locating and preparing the site.
The notable musicians below were Frank Big Boy Goudie's friends, 1957-63.
L to R: Bill Erickson, Dick Oxtot & Barbara Dane
(Photo: Goggin & Oxtot, Jazz Scrapbook)
RICHARD HADLOCK b. 1927 -
in his 80s Hadlock has been a vigorous jazz musician and a successful
writer and broadcaster for a half century. His recollections and
resources were vital to reconstructing
Big Boy’s story.
When he encountered Goudie in
the early 60s, Richard Hadlock was already well accomplished. He was a
clarinet and soprano saxophonist who had studied or worked with Sidney
Bechet, Garvin Bushell and Turk Murphy, and a writer who had dabbled in
recording, journalism and broadcasting. Richard wrote the only articles
about Goudie ever published in the USA, for the San Francisco Examiner
As for playing with Frank, it had to be
at Pier 23, during his run with Erickson and [drummer] Jimmy Carter. We
had good sessions there, playing with the famous and the less known. I
jammed with Muggsy Spanier, Darnell Howard, Squire Girsback, Ernie
Figueroa, Marty Marsala, Joe Dodge, and many now forgotten.
played a number of jobs with Amos White, a couple with Darnell, but I
don't think Frank was on those. He seemed content with small gigs such
as Pier 23.
Ruth and I had him to our house more than once
and we both liked him a lot. He was a gracious, sophisticated gentleman
of the world.
“Six and a half feet of serenity and home-grown wisdom. A born gentleman, one of the last of the old school.” Richard Hadlock, San Francisco Examiner, 1/64
"The waterfront, the generally exotic mixture of the crowd [at Pier 23], the benignly “tough” tone of the place: along with fans of the music, these attracted all sorts of other people, from slumming Peninsula matrons to sailors of all nations and ranks . . . .
The crowd of players -- and the customers it attracted -- got so large that a complaint was lodged with the [musician’s] union by Kid Ory. Across the Embarcadero from the Pier, Ory had taken over the Tin Angel, renamed it On the Levee, and felt his attendance, especially on week nights, suffering from the partly unpaid competition at the Pier." -- Jim Leigh
Not well known outside San Francisco, classic jazz pianist
Burt Bales was among the best heard on the West Coast. For a couple of
years before 1960 Burt and Big Boy were a team at Pier 23 and other San
Francisco settings. Note what appears to be sawdust on the floor.
Recordings of Goudie & Burt Bales at Pier 23 were first released on CD around 1990. By themselves they left a quite limited picture of Mr. Goudie in San Francisco. Now that a greater range of his San Francisco music is available, we can appreciate their value documenting the Bales & Goudie partnership at Pier 23.
A spectacular piano player with explosive dynamics, Burt was an incomparable Jelly Roll Morton interpreter who had a formidable left hand -- which I can tell you as someone who heard him. Since the early-40s Bales had worked with the San Francisco bands of Lu Watters, Turk Murphy and Bob Scobey, and New Orleans stars Bunk Johnson, Mutt Carey, and Wingie Manone.
I was 18 the first time I saw Burt Bales playing at Pier 23 in San Francisco. There was a small table just to the left of the piano where I could watch his hands, especially the way his left hand and wrist moved back and forth like a gentle sea wave.
It would be several more years before I started playing, but I was getting the idea. I liked the humming, fat sound of 10ths in his left hand. I listened attentively to discover how he made round sounds by the way he touched the keys.
At first I was interested in the Jelly Roll Morton and ragtime compositions that he played, but the biggest repertoire lesson I learned came from his interest in choosing standard ballads to allow his deepest self expression. I remember in the first days hearing songs like “The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi” and “Darkness on the Delta.” Tracks from the Album, "On the Waterfront," c. 1955
[Pier 23 owner] Havelock Jerome doubtless made some money from it, but nobody else did, certainly not Erickson, who was apparently quite comfortable with his hand-to-mouth existence. It was never a case of the money not mattering: Erickson lived from it, Goudie and [drummer] Carter relied on it, and when I occasionally happened to get paid for a night or two I never turned it down.
But the music, and the mostly pleasant company of those gathered to play it, were the point, and that’s all there was to it. -- Jim Leigh, Heaven on the Side, 2000
Numerous illnesses and misfortunes left Bales a wreck.
encountered him the late 80s he was a shrunken gnome
in wool stocking cap. He seemed cranky, unsteady on his feet and
Bill Erickson inherited Bales’ gig at Pier 23, and the partnership with Goudie.
He engaged Big Boy in other bands including two broadcasts of Estuary Jazz Band from Pier 23, and the lengthy Monkey Inngig in Berkeley.
His performances on the Estuary Jazz Band broadcasts and recordings of the 1950s demonstrate that he was also a fine trumpet player.
Photo by William Carter, Courtesy Earl Scheelar
Bill Erickson and Frank began working together regularly when Erickson replaced Bales for a while at Pier 23. Stylistically the jam sessions ranged from New Orleans revival, to Kansas City, to 52nd Street swing including a wide range of local and visiting talent.
During 1961-62 at Monkey Inn, a casual and sometimes rough beer and pizza joint in Berkeley, Goudie joined Erickson (piano), trombonist Bob Mielke and New Orleans-born drummer Jimmy Carter in a Thursday night combo. Frank was free to stretch out on long expressive solos with purpose and direction. It’s the most detailed pickup we have of his clarinet, an intimate portrait of a mature artist willing and able to solo indefinitely, his expressive variations opening like blossoms.
Bill Erickson Quartet/Quintet, Monkey Inn, Berkeley, CA c. 1961-62
Goudie, Mielke, (trumpet added in Quintet), Erickson and James Carter or Don Marchant, drums
The Erickson Quartet of Goudie, trombonist Mielke, usually drummer Jimmy Carter, and sometimes a trumpeter (now unknown) played at the Monkey Inn during 1961-62, possibly longer. Bill had two piano modes, as Bob Mielke explained: “He had two manners of playing. One was when a bass player is present in the group. That was kind of a light, Teddy Wilson sort of style. But if there were no bass player, then he came on like gangbusters with a strong left hand. He was trying to be a real rhythm section unto himself.”
Correction: Jerry Blumberg is not the horn player on the Bill Erickson Quintet Monkey Inn tapes of 1961-62, contrary to Bob Mielke’s recollection and notations on the tape reel boxes.
Blumberg was not in the Bay Area when this series of recordings began, and the notations in pencil on the Monkey Inn tape boxes regarding personnel might not be contemporaneous, but added later when the tapes were in the possession of collector Bill Raynolds.
Suggestions regarding who this horn player might be include: RCH Smith, Eddie Smith, Ted Butterman or Jack Minger.
Trumpet player Byron Berry has been suggested by several including Blumberg. But my careful audition of contemporaneous Berry tapes leads me to reject this candidate.
Its possible that in about 1958 Mielke was the first Bay Area bandleader to hire Goudie, for his Bearcats band. They worked together in a half-dozen ensembles including the outstanding Estuary Jazz Band broadcasts.
Now retired, Mielke was a superb musician. His versatile trombone sound ranged from Kid Ory's New Orleans tailgate style, to the Harlem swing of J.C. Higginbotham. By the late 50s he’d worked or recorded with Sidney Bechet, Bob Scobey, Muggsy Spanier, George Lewis, Bob Wilbur and a half-dozen West Coast jazz bands.
During their weekly gigs at the Monkey Inn during 1961-62, Mielke came to know Goudie pretty well. I once asked Bob if having an African-American musician from New Orleans in his band had been a feather in his cap. His reply was that he valued Goudie’s depth of musical skill and ability to play his part in a New Orleans-style ensemble most of all.
Jim Leigh played with many Bay Area musicians including Goudie whom he wrote about in his notable memoir, Heaven on the Side, 2000. Leigh ran the original El Dorado Jazz Band in the mid-late 1950s. But a few years later around 1960, he was playing in a subsequent version of the band with Goudie.
Some of those recordings have been preserved and are available from Trad Jazz Productions. They show Goudie with a New Orleans-style ensemble of Jim Borkenhagen (trumpet), Jim Leigh (trombone), Danny Reudger (banjo), Squire Girsback (bass) and singer Carol Leigh.
Frank Goudie with El Dorado Jazz Band (under the direction of Jim Leigh)
archival performances are notable for showing Goudie in a New Orleans
revival setting. He demonstrates an ability to both support the
ensemble with polyphonic counter melody or easily sustain lengthy
improvised solos with clear purpose and stately ease.