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Jazz Houses
1950s & '60s

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 home of Dick Oxtot and his wife Darylene was 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

Oxtot collection

New 9.2015


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)

Bugle Boy March.mp3  7:55       
Gee, Baby Ain’t I Good to You?.mp3  8:35   
I Want a Little Girl.mp3  7:01 
       (Oxtot vocal; probably Erickson trumpet first chorus.)
Smiles.mp3  6:11 (inc at start)

Dwight Way session #1

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

The Gold Digger’s Song (We’re in the Money).mp3 5:46
       (trombone out, Napier clarinet?)
Should I Reveal?.mp3 6:04
       (Walt Yost, tuba, Scheelar clarinet?)

Benvenue Ave.

Benvenue Ave.

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.

Dave Greer recalls the Jazz house

Jazz House parties
The Nude Party at 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.


Chick’s Party September, 1960

Ray Ronnei (cornet)
Frank Goudie (clarinet)
Bardin or Mielke (trombone)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Bill Erickson (piano)

Just a Little While to Stay.mp3 (6:20)
Just Because.mp3 (5:24)
Under the Bamboo Tree.mp3 (4:25)

See See Rider.mp3 (6:57) Goudie, sub: PT Stanton, trombone, washboard, piano, banjo

sub: PT Stanton (cornet), add bass and drums:
Coquette.mp3 (6:14)
I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.mp3 (6:06, dropout at 2:50)
Blues.mp3 (5:45)
Them There Eyes_B.mp3 (Goudie with rhythm)
Sweet Jennie Lee.mp3 (distortion in first 1:20)
Say Si, Si.mp3


CHICK’S PARTY (2) April 21, 1961
Swing session; messy in places.

Trumpet unknown (Byron Berry?)
Frank Goudie and Bill Napier (clarinets)
Tenor sax (Dave Clarkson?)
Trombone probably Bob Mielke
Bill Erickson (piano)
Guitar, bass, drums

Avalon.mp3 (11:56)
Love Nest.mp3 (11:34)
Stumbling.mp3 (7:36)
     (Goudie & Napier?, piano & bass)


Chicks Party (3) Summer, 1961

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)

You Always Hurt the One You Love.mp3 7:17 Scheelar, Napier, solo & Goudie 2nd clarinet

clarinets and trombone out, not Pete Allen (bass):
Beale St Mama.mp3 3:08  Scheelar (cornet), Runkle washboard
Of All the Wrongs.mp3 6:11  Scheelar and unknown 2nd horn, guitar

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 technical shortcomings.


Last Jazz House Party

Earl Scheelar (cornet)
Trombone possibly Jim Leigh or Bob Mielke
Clarinet, tuba, drums

Excellent cornet playing by Scheelar:

I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jelly Roll.mp3 (incomplete) 
Wild Man Blues.mp3 (5:49)

Photographed a few years later,
L to R: Dick Oxtot (banjo), Earl Scheelar (cornet), Pete Allen (string bass) were all denizens of the Berkeley jazz parties.


Foreground, L to R:
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Bill Erickson (trumpet)
Bill Napier (clarinet)

Photo: Mielke collection

Related LINKS (this site):
Dick Oxtot
Earl Scheelar
Nod's Taproom
Frank Goudie
Lark's Club tapes
Monkey Inn tapes


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