The Legends of the Rocking Dutchman - episode 10

Eddie Chamblee

This transcript of the radio show is an approximation of what I said in the show. The real spoken parts may differ slightly.

And a legend is what you're gonna get from me, one great legend, the great and versatile saxophonist Eddie Chamblee. Well, I know he's pretty unknown to the greater public and that is not doing justice to his great talents, so I hope after this episode of the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman I hope he'll be as much a legend to you as he is to me. But before I do the talking introducing him to you, let's hear the maestro on a session for Miracle records, back in 1948. Here is Back Street.

01 - Eddie Chamblee - Back Street

Eddie Chamblee and his band in Back Street, a recording from 1948 for the Miracle label. Edward Leon Chamblee was born in 1920 and grew up in a musical family. He got a brand new saxophone for his 12th birthday, and this started actually his devotion to the music and this instrument. Chamblee studied law in Chicago and at the same time played as a jazz musician. He also played in army bands during his service from 1941 to 1946 and from then he started as a professional musician, with his own combo, but he also backed up several Chicago blues singers and Sonny Thompson. So let's hear two tunes he did with Thompson. First - the second half of Long Gone, that, like so many other longer instrumentals, was split up over two sides of a 78 RPM record. Chamblee only plays on the flipside. After that Late Freight. Both are from 1948 and were released on the Miracle label. Here is Sonny Thompson with Eddie Chamblee on the sax.

02 - Sonny Thompson feat. Eddie Chamblee - Long Gone pt 2
03 - Sonny Thompson Quintet feat. Eddie Chamblee - Late Freight

Sonny Thompson's band with Eddie Chamblee on the tenor saxophone, that was Late Freight from 1948. Next up a recording Eddie did under his own name, from 1947, Last call. The liner notes of a compilation LP on the Danish Official label has no information who was playing alongside Chamblee on this one, that was his first recoring on the Miracle label.

04 - Eddie Chamblee - Last Call
05 - Eddie Chamblee - Cradle Rock

Cradle Rock - that was Eddie Chamblee whom we feature in today's episode of the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman. It was from the same 1948 session that I started this show with. Also from that session is Dureop, a long semi-instrumental, that is, the saxophone solo is against a background singers chanting "dureop dureop". The song was split up over two sides of a 78 on the Miracle label.

06 - Dureop pt 1
07 - Dureop pt 2

Dureop from 1948 on the Miracle label. We'll have one more instrumental from Eddie's time with Miracle. This session was cut in 1949 and it features the outstanding guitar work of Walther Scott. Here is Blue Steel.

08 - Eddie Chamblee - Blue Steel
09 - Eddie Chamblee - Wooden Soldiers Swing

And with the wooden soldiers swing we've made a little jump to 1952, when Eddie did one session for the Coral label. Apart from Eddie Chamblee's sax work, you heard once more, Walther Scott excel on the guitar.

Later that year Eddie signed with United Records and there, he hooked up with one of Chicago's hottest jive bands, the Four Blazes. This group had a long history of performing going back all the way to 1940, but they had put out just a very few, not very succesful records. That would change when they recorded something very unlike they'd ever done before, an uptempo blues called Mary Jo. It's on this record that you can hear the typical saxophone licks of Eddie Chamblee that go very well with the tenor of Tommy Braden and the funny lyrics of the song. It was a smash: it displaced Lloyd Price with his monster hit Lawdy Miss Clawdy from the first place of the R&B charts. So here are the Four Blazes, with Eddie Chamblee on sax, with Mary Jo.

10 - Four Blazes - Mary Jo
11 - Four Blazes - Not Any More Tears

Not Any More Tears - the Four Blazes and in this song you can hear Eddie Chamblee, whom we feature today on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman, do all his tricks with the saxophone. On his sessions for United Record you can hear he has developed his style into a kind of "effortless cool". No wild honking on the saxophone but an excellent use of the coolest and most tasteful licks and tricks.

Listen to the next two instrumentals that were recorded in August, 1953 for United records. Here are Walkin' Home and Lonesome Road.

12 - Eddie Chamblee - Walkin' Home
13 - Eddie Chamblee - Lonesome Road

Lonesome Road, from 1953 on United Records. That was Eddie Chamblee and today I do a special on this talented saxophone player.

Now we're getting to the summer of 1954 when we find Eddie and his combo in the recording studios for United again, and this time it's for two vocal songs. And it's Chamblee himself who shows off that he's not just a great saxophone player but he can sing too. Listen to Come On In and La La La Lady. I think it's a pity that he didn't sing more often.

14 - Eddie Chamblee - Come On In
15 - Eddie Chamblee - La! La! La! Lady

La La La Lady. It's one of the few occasions that we hear Eddie Chamblee sing.

In 1954 Chamblee joins the orchestra of Lionel Hampton and that marks a temporary end of his solo recordings. He tours through Europe with Hamp but two years later we find him back on his own again. That is, he marries his highschool sweetheart Ruth Jones whom we all know under her artist's name of Dinah Washington. It's in this period that he records, like his wife, with Mercury. From a 1957 session with Mercury you'll get from me Goin' Long and Back Up.

16 - Eddie Chamblee - Goin' Long
17 - Eddie Chamblee - Back Up

Back Up from a 1957 session of Eddie Chamblee for the Mercury label. Now Eddies marriage with Dinah Washington - whose real name was Ruth Jones - didn't last long - it was already after two years that they divorced. It's always tricky to make speculations how a marriage breaks up, but Eddie Chamblee once said about it that Ruth was a sweet woman, but Dinah wasn't. Anyhow, in the short time they were married they also worked together and Eddie continued to do so for some time after the end of their marriage. In Dinah Washington's classic version of 'Tain't nobody's business if I do', you can hear Eddie play in the intro of the song, and Dinah inserted the lines: If Eddie and I fuss and fight, Tomorow everything will be allright, 'tain't nobody's business if we do. So listen carefully to the lyrics of Dinah Washington with 'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do.

18 - Dinah Washington - 'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do

And Dinah Washington marks the end of my special on her husband for a short while, the great Eddie Chamblee. Eddie continued to work in music throught the sixties and seventies and in the early 80s he worked in Count Basie's band for a short while and for the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band and played in the jazz club Sweet Basil in New York for years. He died on the first of may of 1999.

I hope this show helped give Eddie Chamblee a bit more of the legend status that he deserved. Please let me know if you liked the show by dropping me an email at I'm also on the web, just do a google search on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman and it will pop up first. And for now, byebye and have a wonderful day. No - have a rocking day. See you next time on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman!