Report of possible alternates for “WABASH BLUES” by Ted Lewis and his Band which features FRANK TESCHEMACHER recorded August 21, 1929 that was issued in take 4 (W148931-4) on Columbia 78RPM 2029-D among other issues.
by Phil Schaap / January 19, 2018
Frank Teschemacher died young (age 25 on March 1, 1932) and recorded for just over two years (December 8, 1927 at age 21 until January 24, 1930 at age 23). There are only 35 confirmed tracks (for me: it’s 37 as I accept the Original Wolverines session of May 24, 1928 as bona fide “Tesch”.) These 78 era studio recordings contain less than 2 hours of music when played end-to-end and the minutes of playing time for those excerpts where Teschemacher solos can be counted on one’s fingers. But it isn’t the small quantity of things to listen to that makes checking for additional recordings with Frank Teschemacher important, it’s his music. Whatever the number of clams and intonation woes, Tesch’s rhythmic drive and invention mark him as the genius of the highly influential Chicagoans and Frank Teschemacher’s music is forever exciting.
My own search to find this one specific addition to the Frank Teschmacher Discography – additional takes to the one known of Tesch with Ted Lewis on “Wabash Blues” – must draw to a close. If you read my report below, then you’ll learn of a less than meager result. Regardless to the absence of success and that’s it’s unlikely that as intensive a search will ever again be undertaken, I need to summarize the best research to date on the matter as a guide and summary analysis to the evidence of more than one take to this “Wabash Blues” so that those who love the music will not needlessly waste their time searching for a pot of gold that isn’t there. And, if somebody still hopes that it does exist and chooses to retrace the steps I have taken, then the real clues to finding it are laid out.
There was a tremendous amount of help and information supplied to me by: Vince Giordano, Mark Berresford, Dan Morgenstern, Ate van Delden, Han Enderman, Erik Bakker, Bert Vuijsje, Joseph Rubin, Will Friedwald, Bryan Wright, Melissa Jones, and Parker Fishel. BIG Thanks!!
Though not pinned down completely, it seems there are no alternate takes to “Wabash Blues” Columbia Matrix W148931. The issued take, take four, remains, over 78 years later, the only known version.
The assertion that take two, W148931-2, was issued on some copies of original picture label release (Columbia 2029-D) seems unfounded. It has never surfaced in any fashion, including the blue label, no picture edition of Columbia 2029-D) or the OKeh 78RPM, OKeh 41579, a dub. OKeh 41579 reissues the only known take of “Wabash Blues” with a new master number 17120 and “1-A-1” in the wax. No Lp or CD offers take two: they all play the known take four.
The loose end to this is that a Western USA pressing or a Canadian release of 2029-D may prove to have take 2. Please note that the Discography of American Historical Recordings, maintained by the University of California at Santa Barbara, states that take 2 as well as the known take 4 came out of Columbia 2029-D.
The assertion that an alternate take to the 8/21/1929 “Wabash Blues” exists on a test pressing, a listing, just a listing no issued music, that was published twice in a Ted Lewis Discography (a Micrography) that came as cover notes with the GAPS Lps 020 and 140 (Volumes 1 and 3) of a Ted Lewis three volume series, has never been proven. That music – an alternate to take 4 – has never surfaced, much less as a test pressing.
The loose ends to this are: that test pressings of Ted Lewis alternates have surfaced, including at least one from a contemporary session (May 30, 1929) that was eventually released on Lp; and that Dick Bakker, creator and curator of the discographical system known as Micrography as well as the producer of GAPS (Golden Age Phonographic Series; though the name, “gaps”, also represented the releasing of titles from 78RPM era dates that were left off various Lp reissues) would not easily put into print the existence of an alternate if he did not fully believe that it was real.
The assertion that there could be 3 takes of the 8/21/1929 rests on a perceived possibility that two takes (W 148931-2 and the common W148931-4) came out on 78RPM, Columbia 2029-D and that the alternate test pressing (listed on GAPS Lps 020 and 140) might be yet a third take can’t be true. The official file card for this selection – still extant at this writing – clarifies that takes one (W148931-1) and three (W148931-3) are rejected. Take two (W 148931-2) is listed as second choice and take four (W 148931-4) is first choice. That take four was issued: it is the only one known.
So, even if the purported test pressing with an alternate was to surface and was a genuine different performance, then it would play the 2nd choice, take two W 148931-2. There can’t be three different takes. There aren’t even two different takes.
There is only one take for Ted Lewis and his Band’s recording of “Wabash Blues” done on August 21, 1929 with Frank Teschemacher featured. It is take four:
In 1978, I broadcast a FRANK TESCHEMACHER FESTIVAL. Considering his short life and small discography, this program was quite extensive.
Noticing the three volumes on Ted Lewis issued by the Dutch GAPS label, I saw printed that a test of an alternate of “Wabash Blues” was included in the discography. This discography was included on Volume One (GAPS 020), that contained the track of the common take 4 of “Wabash Blues”, and that discography was also printed on Volume Three (GAPS 140), again listing the test of a “Wabash Blues’” alternate, though this Lp had no tracks from the 8/21/1929 Lewis session with Teschemacher.
I also observed that the discographical ledger system and the typeface on these GAPS Lps matched the ones used by Micrography, run by Dick Bakker. [At the time and until recently, I assumed that Piet Koster was also involved. He wasn’t.] Back then, I figured that Bakker, Koster, Micrography had the back story and quite likely that test pressing.
For that broadcast of 40 years ago, I wrote to somebody – I don’t remember but Dick Bakker and/or Micrography and/or Piet Koster seem likely correspondents – for a cassette of this rarity. Tesch is quite prominent on the known take. I also ran this by Dan Goetter – who was supplying the original Paramount 78s for the Teschemacher Festival. He certainly didn’t have an alternate of “Wabash Blues: but he, too, had heard about it.
Nothing surfaced and the broadcast went forward without an alternate of “Wabash Blues”.
I also don’t remember why I dropped the quest, but I did for long stretch of time. I suggest – even to myself – that when Time/Life put out the 3 Lp box set on the complete Frank Teschemacher (with the delicious and most thorough booklet by Marty Grosz) and there was no alternate for “Wabash Blues”, though many selections where Tesch’s presence was only a possibility were included, I presumed that the listing (“Wabash Blues” 8/21/1929 Ted Lewis with Frank Teschemacher, test exists) was a phantom.
Eventually, around 2002, new information caused me to return to this search for more Tesch.
That information centered on the following:
1. Take 2 of “Wabash Blues” HAD BEEN RELEASED on some copies of the original 78 RPM disc, Columbia 2029-D.
2. Columbia 2029-D with the RARE take 2 only appear on the original picture label and cannot be found on the blue paper label on later pressings of Columbia 2029-D.
For over 15 years, I have been buying picture label Columbia 2029-D and I’ve always gotten take 4, the common take. Still, I believed that take 2 was issued and, yes, was quite rare.
I’ve even indulged in three additional copies of the later pressing without the picture label and they all play the common take.
Bryan Wright examined several CD releases and the rare take is not on the CDs known to him and myself. This includes the JSP releases.
I also returned to the listing of an alternate “Wabash Blues” test pressing. Assuming that it really existed/exists, it was thought to be (by the few people thinking it through) the issued but RARE take 2. Might that test contain take 1 or take 3?
Some of you reading this may be aware that I am trying to finalize a/my decision concerning long lingering artistic-discographical mysteries. At least I need to summarize the/my research as I’m on the backend of my career.
After 40 years, I tried to trace the listing of an alternate test pressing that was listed on the Dutch GAPS Lps. Dick Bakker’s son Erik provided this analysis:
While the GAPS label transferred 78s to Lp reissues, Dick Bakker was not a 78RPM collector. He would not have had the test pressing of an alternate take to “Wabash Blues”
and published the listing based on one of his correspondent’s information. The information and correspondent can no longer be traced.
A summary judgment from my Dutch correspondents: Han Enderman with Dick Bakker and Ate van Delden is that the test pressing is a phantom. It does not and did not exist.
Bakker’s son, Erik, seems more willing to suggest that his father would publish unconfirmed information than the Micrography enthusiasts that I have worked with and befriended can contemplate or accept. Still, the test has never surfaced; the information was likely supplied over a half-century ago.
Mark Berresford hits the trifecta to my research needs. He is a supreme being to the collecting and archiving of 78RPM discs, he has a huge knowledge and interest in Ted Lewis, and he is a Frank Teschemacher enthusiast.
Mark has examined more copies of Columbia 2029-D than I have or anyone has: they all play take 4 for “Wabash Blues”.
Mark may have been the first to clarify the provenance to the “Wabash Blues” issued on OKeh 41579. It is a dub of the common and only take with new matrix and take numbers.
Mark Berresford is completely satisfied that there is only one take. Still, he is the first say “Never say never.”
Ted Lewis had employed the great Don Murray as the genuine Hot Jazz clarinetist in the band. The August 21, 1929 session is the first for Ted Lewis and his Band after the untimely death of Murray (June 2, 1929). Frank Teschemacher was a great choice to deputize for the late Don Murray, if not to be the actual replacement.
Mark Berresford has much information concerning Ted Lewis and Frank Teschemacher. Mark feels strongly that Tesch is not just on the “hot” material recorded on August 21, 1929 but is in the band for all the Chicago August 1929 sessions. Mark notes the out-in-the-open clarinet work that can’t be Lewis, himself, on “Lady Luck” (recorded August 22, 1929) is played by Frank Teschemacher.
Please recall that my whole pursuit of an alternate(s) to “Wabash Blues” was/is to add to the small amount of Frank Teschemacher that we can hear; so, the thought that “Lady Luck” might add to the limited amount of music was quite inviting.
I’ve been listening to “Lady Luck” intently for over two weeks and I don’t hear Frank Teschemacher.
There is some clarinet a short stretch before Lewis’ vocal. This bit is somewhat adlibbed and has some resonance to Tesch’s style. Later, the clarinet in the ride out seems too clean and too prepped to be Tesch. I believe all this clarinet work – pre vocal and ride-out – to be played by the same musician. I’ve gone over this twice with Vince Giordano. He states it’s not Teschemacher. I am with him.
I’ve told you a lot about a little. I guess I am, therefore, an expert. But the cause of more Frank Teschemacher, the genius of the Chicagoans, is an important one. His energy and inventions make him one of the chosen few. I chose to use a chunk of my life to find more of his recorded magic and in the case of “Wabash Blues”, I have failed. It seems that there was never any chance of success.