There were several so-called "Jazz houses" in Berkeley where East Bay musicians partied and jammed
Rare recordings and recollections recall the excellence and effervescence of these events Photo: East Bay gathering, early 1950s, location unknown Standing L to R: Bill Erickson, Bob Mielke, Lee Howe. Bill Napier, kneeling Mielke collection
Oxtot's Dwight Way home
The Dwight Way homeof Dick Oxtot and his wife Darylenewas one of several so-called "Jazz houses" in Berkeley where East Bay musicians partied and jammed.
This tape from Oxtot's personal collection is contemporaneous with Oxtot's Janis Joplin sessions. In fact it's from a reel containing her tracks.
Photo: Oxtot playing cornet with Mielke's Bearcats, East Bay, late-1950s
Recorded at the Berkeley home of Dick Oxtot, c. 1962
Labeled only "Dwight Way" this tape lacked other
documentation. Personnel was fluid in Dick Oxtot's bands and is an educated guess for session #1. However, the presence of Goudie, Leigh and Erickson is confirmed. 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)
Dwight Way session #1 Probably: Unknown (cornet) Earl Scheelar or Bill Napier (clarinet) Jim Leigh (trombone) Dick Oxtot (banjo) Bill Erickson (piano) Walter Yost (tuba) or Unknown string bass, possibly Pete Allen
Another 'Berkeley Jazz House' was 2910½ Benvenue Ave., which was for a while the home of Dick Oxtot. It was subsequently home to Bob Mielke and family for about fifteen years,
then Ray Skjelbred and wife.
It was eventually purchased by their
friend, Oscar Anderson.
Erickson's Blake Street Victorian Jazz house
Mentioned in Jim Leigh’s
jazz memoir, Heaven on the Side, the best-known Berkeley Jazz house may have been the large Victorian rented by Bill Erickson on Blake Street. The music parties often overflowed from the living room, kitchen, and back yard, to the neighboring home of Chick Kallenbach and wife.
Resident Dave Greer's tapes, below, transmit the quality of the music and personnel, and effervescence of the parties. In the early Sixties the Jazz house on Blake St. was torn down, though other places served the same function. My great thanks to Dave Greer for access to his personal tape collection.
ARCHIVE INTERVIEW Dave Greer recalls the Jazz house
Lifelong journalist and revival-jazz enthusiast, Dave
Greer, lived in one of the two neighboring houses on Blake St. with Bill Erickson where
parties took place in the late 1950s.
His recollections and fascinating
tape collection are the keys to unlocking this long forgotten tale.
“I took to calling the place the Jazz House, this was the party place. It was big and it had a big back yard. There was another Victorian very much like it across Blake Street, and we used to have wonderful big parties that would involve both these houses. Sometimes we would have a band playing in the front room, in the big kitchen, and in the back yard. Then we’d spread across the street. They’d begin about 2:00 in the afternoon, and get rolling; they’d roll right through midnight into the morning hours.
They were really amazing events. Many Bay Area musicians and most of the East Bay jazz crowd were there: Bob Mielke, Erickson, P.T. Stanton, Pete Allen. Oxtot lived a block over on Dwight, and Frank Goudie was there a good deal. They were the regulars.
These were big and very jolly events. The women would cook up red beans and rice or spaghetti and meatballs, some kind of mass feeding, and big bowls of salad. We drank dollar-a-gallon Sergeant burgundy, which wasn’t as bad as it sounds. We had many wonderful jazz sessions there.”
These performances contain numerous technical
and musical flaws. Taped at parties and jam sessions, and lacking
complete documentation, they are presented here as historic artifacts.
ARCHIVE MUSIC Chick’s Party September, 1960 Ray Ronnei (cornet) Frank Goudie (clarinet) Bardin or Mielke (trombone) Dick Oxtot (banjo) Bill Erickson (piano)
collective personnel: Earl Scheelar or P.T. Stanton (cornets) Frank Goudie and Bill Napier (clarinets) probably Bob Mielke probably Dick Oxtot (banjo) probably Pete Allen (string bass) probably Bill Erickson (piano) Brett Runkle (washboard)
PT Stanton (cornet), Goudie and Napier (clarinets): Should I?.mp3 6:34 Mielke (tbn), bass, bjo, bass, no piano Sweet Jennie Lee.mp3 7:50 PT Stanton, Napier and Goudie solo
Earl Scheelar (cornet), Goudie out, probably Napier and unknown 2nd clarinet, Pete Allen (bass): Mama’s Gone Goodbye.mp3 8:23 Scheelar, 2 clarinets, Pete Allen, bass)
Thanks to Earl Scheelar for assistance.
From these party tapes Earl and I have selected tunes that represents his early years as a musician
still developing his craft, chops and style.
Made over a half century ago at parties and jam sessions
these tapes are presented as historic artifacts despite flaws, missed notes or
Last Jazz House Party
Earl Scheelar (cornet) Trombone possibly Jim Leigh or Bob Mielke Clarinet, tuba, drums