Bob Scobey

Last updated

Robert Alexander Scobey Jr. (December 9, 1916 June 12, 1963) [1] was an American jazz trumpet player of traditional or Dixieland music based originally in the San Francisco area and later in Chicago, Illinois. He was born in Tucumcari, New Mexico, [1] and died in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. [2]


Early life

Scobey was born in Tucumcari, New Mexico in 1916 but his family moved to Stockton, California before his first birthday and lived there until 1930. His mother bought him a cornet when he was nine. He practiced enough to be in the school band, but thought he wanted to be a chemist. After his family moved to Berkeley, California in 1930, his high school band director recognized his ability and encouraged him to study with good musicians. He studied with the band director, then with a former member of the Goldman band and then a member of the San Francisco Symphony. After high school graduation in 1934, he decided to be a musician after realizing that musicians made more money than chemists. [3]

Professional Life

He began his career playing in dance orchestras, theater pit bands, and nightclubs in the 1930s. [4] In 1938, he joined a band organized by trumpeter Lu Watters to play in Sweet's Ballroom in Oakland, California. Two years later, when Watters organized the traditional jazz band, the Yerba Buena Jazz Band, he joined it. [1] (Yerba Buena was the original name for San Francisco, California.) Except for three and a half years, from 1942 to 1946, when Scobey served in the U. S. Army during World War II, he remained in the band. In addition to Watters and Scobey, the band included Bob Helm, Clancy Hayes, Squire Girsback, Russ Bennett, and Turk Murphy. Jazz critic and producer Nesuhi Ertegun says, "Waters and Scobey, with Turk Murphy on trombone, were to constitute one of the most powerful and exciting brass teams in the history of traditional jazz." [5] The two trumpet players, Watters and Scobey, switched back and forth playing first and second trumpet during this period. In 1946 the reorganized band performed in the Dawn Club in San Francisco, then the next year moved to Hambone Kelly's in El Cerrito across the bay. [6]

In late 1949 he left to lead his own band, Bob Scobey's Frisco Band [1] because he was tired of the volume and regular two-beat rhythm of Watters. Clancy Hayes joined the band to sing and play banjo. Scobey was a natural leader, full of new ideas and new tunes. He was complemented by Hayes, "whose lazy southern charm" defined the band. [7] The collaboration recorded over two hundred tracks, including Hayes' own compositions, such as "Huggin' and a Chalkin'," before he left in 1959 to follow a solo career. [8]

From 1950, the group had a three-year residency at Victor & Roxie's in Oakland, California, where the band "met with instant and rapidly growing public support." [9] The band also started recording on the Good Time Jazz label in April 1950. The Frisco Band was broadcast in 1952 and 1953 on Rusty Draper's television show. In 1953, Louis Armstrong sang with them at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. In 1953 the band moved to one of the largest nightclubs on the west coast, the Rancho Grande in Lafayette, California, near Berkeley. [10] From 1954-57, African-American blues singer Lizzie Miles recorded and toured with the band. [11]

In 1955, Scobey and his band played dates at San Quentin Prison and at the Rancho Grande in Lafayette, California — a sizable roadhouse with a dance floor. [12] In 1957, he recorded for Verve Records and RCA Victor. An important and successful album for RCA was Bing with a Beat recorded with Bing Crosby in 1957. From early in 1956, he toured colleges and universities and, in 1958, he recorded many of the student favorites in New York, the album College Classics (RCA Victor LPM 1700). [13]

In 1959 Scobey and the band moved to his own club, Club Bourbon Street in Chicago, and toured extensively in the Midwest, [14] Las Vegas, New York, and San Francisco. [15] While touring in 1960, he was reportedly drinking half and half or heavy cream to ease the pain in his stomach. [16]

He died of cancer on June 2, 1963 in Montreal, Canada, where he had gone for an experimental cancer treatment. [17]


Scobey died of cancer in 1963 in Montreal, Canada. His wife Jan produced a biography entitled He Rambled!, and arranged for his band to form again and record some blues songs. She also saw to the reissuing of his albums.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

Kid Ory American jazz trombonist

Edward "Kid" Ory was an American jazz composer, trombonist and bandleader. One of the early users of the glissando technique, he helped establish it as a central element of New Orleans jazz.

Thomas "Papa Mutt" Carey was a New Orleans jazz trumpeter.

Crescent Records was an American independent record label that produced jazz recordings from 1944 to 1946. It was founded by Nesuhi Ertegun to record a band that was assembled to perform on CBS Radio's 1944 variety series The Orson Welles Almanac. Only one group, Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band, was released on the Crescent label, which was distributed by Hollywood's Jazz Man Record Shop. Although only eight discs were released, Crescent Records was involved in the international revival of traditional jazz in the 1940s.

Singing the Blues 1956 song performed by Marty Robbins

"Singing the Blues" is a popular song written by Melvin Endsley and published in 1956. The song was first recorded and released by Marty Robbins in 1956. It is not related to the 1920 jazz song "Singin' the Blues" recorded by Frank Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke in 1927.

<i>Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk</i> 1958 studio album by Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk

Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk is a studio album released in 1958 by Atlantic Records. It is a collaboration between the Jazz Messengers, the group led by drummer Art Blakey, and Thelonious Monk on piano.

Clarence Leonard Hayes was an American jazz vocalist and banjo player.

<i>Bing with a Beat</i> 1957 studio album by Bing Crosby

Bing with a Beat was Bing Crosby's seventh long play album but his first with RCA Victor. It was recorded at the Radio Recorders "Annex" Studio in Los Angeles and released on vinyl in September 1957. Bing with a Beat is a 1957 concept album where the songs feature "hot" jazz and dixieland arrangements by Matty Matlock, played by Bob Scobey's Frisco Jazz Band.

Turk Murphy American musician

Melvin Edward Alton "Turk" Murphy was an American trombonist and bandleader, who played traditional and Dixieland jazz.

Lucius Carl Watters was a trumpeter and bandleader of the Yerba Buena Jazz Band. Jazz critic Leonard Feather said, “The Yerba Buena band was perhaps the most vital factor in the reawakening of public interest in traditional jazz on the west coast.”

Billy Butterfield American bandleader and trumpeter (1917–1988)

Charles William Butterfield was an American jazz bandleader, trumpeter, flugelhornist, and cornetist.

Yerba Buena Jazz Band

Lu Watters & the Yerba Buena Jazz Band is the name of the Traditional Jazz revival band founded by Lu Watters in 1940. Notable members included singer and banjoist Clancy Hayes, clarinetist Bob Helm, trumpeter Bob Scobey, trombonist Turk Murphy, tubist/bassist Dick Lammi, and Watters himself.

Marty Marsala Musical artist

Marty Marsala was an American jazz trumpeter born in Chicago, perhaps best known for working from 1926-1946 with his brother Joe Marsala in a big band in New York City and Chicago. He had also toured with various artists, such as Chico Marx and Miff Mole, to name a few. During the 1940s Marsala was a celebrated West Coast jazz trumpeter, commuting back and forth from Chicago to San Francisco frequently. In various club settings Marsala shared stages with Earl Hines and Sidney Bechet.

Burton Franklin Bales was an American jazz stride pianist.

Wally Rose was an American jazz and ragtime pianist.

Dick Lammi was an American jazz tubist and bassist associated with Dixieland jazz.

Stan Robinson was an English jazz tenor saxophonist and flautist.

Nesuhi Ertegun Turkish-American record producer

Nesuhi Ertegun was a Turkish-American record producer and executive of Atlantic Records and WEA International.

"Muskrat Ramble" is a jazz composition written by Kid Ory in 1926. It was first recorded on February 26, 1926, by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, and became the group's most frequently recorded piece. It was paired on the flip side with another one of Armstrong's hits, "Heebie Jeebies." It was a prominent part of the Dixieland revival repertoire in the 1930s and 1940s, and was recorded by Bob Crosby, Roy Eldridge, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, Muggsy Spanier, Chet Atkins, Lu Watters, the Andrews Sisters, Harry James, and Al Hirt, among others. It is considered a part of the jazz standard repertoire.

Jazz Man Records

Jazz Man Records was an American record company and independent record label devoted to traditional New Orleans-style jazz. David Stuart (né David Ashford Stuart; 1910–1984) founded the label in 1941 and sold it to Marili Morden and Nesuhi Ertegun. The label and its namesake – Jazz Man Record Shop, in Hollywood – were in the vanguard of an international revival of traditional jazz in the 1940s.

Lester Koenig was an American screenwriter, film producer, and founder of the jazz record label Contemporary Records.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 352. ISBN   0-85112-580-8.
  2. Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather and Brian Priestly, "Bob Scobey", Jazz-The Rough Guide, Rough Guides Ltd.,London, 1995, p. 569
  3. Ertegün, Nesuhi, liner notes on Bob Scobey's Frisco's Band: The Early Years, Vol. 1, Good Time Jazz L-12032, 1953 (after 1957) [Album]
  4. Rough Guide
  5. Ertegun
  6. Ertegun
  7. Rough Guide
  8. “Clancy Hayes”, Rough Guide, p. 283
  9. Ertegun
  10. Ertegun
  11. Scobey, Jan (1976). He Rambled!. Pal Pub. p. 108. ISBN   0-918104-01-7.
  12. He Rambled!, pp. 81, 86.
  13. He Rambled!, pp. 98-100, 311.
  14. Lester Koenig, album notes on Bob Scobey's Frisco Band -The Scobey Story, Vol. 2, Good Time Jazz, 1959 L-12033
  15. Rough Guide
  16. He Rambled!, p. 250
  17. Rough Guide