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Red McKenzie

Crimson McKenzie was virtually jazz’s just comb participant, putting tissue paper on the comb and building sounds about his “instrument” much like a kazoo. McKenzie was quite effective playing his “ax,” frequently way more than when he sang sentimental ballads. In 1924, he shaped the Mound Town Blue Blowers, a trio with Jack port Bland on banjo or acoustic guitar and Dick Slevin on kazoo. The group was very popular for a couple years, recording twelve game titles (two with visitor Frankie Trumbauer as well as the last six with Eddie Lang producing the group a quartet) during 1924-1925. McKenzie also documented under his personal name (as innovator of the Chocolate Kids, the very same quartet) during 1924-1925. The Blue Blowers name was useful for two traditional game titles (“Hello Lola” and “1 HOUR”) in 1929, offering Coleman Hawkins, Pee Wee Russell, and Glenn Miller, combined with the leader’s comb; further Blue Blowers game titles had been cut during 1931 (offering Hawkins, Jimmy Dorsey, and Muggsy Spanier) and 1935-1936 (frequently with Bunny Berigan). McKenzie, who documented as a right vocalist in 1931 and was with Paul Whiteman the next year, never do become a main name, but he do front side the Spirits of Tempo (1934) as well as the Farley-Riley group (1935) on record times. He was retired during 1939-1943, but returned for a short while, showing up on a few of Eddie Condon’s City Hall concerts and documenting a few game titles during 1944-1947; at that time the comb was unfortunately just a memory space.

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