Bud Shiffman, 80 Years On The Road
by Alex van der Tuuk
July 2005, whilst working on one of Out Of Anonymity’s chapters, I was
ploughing through the historical newspapers’ section of
www.ancestry.com to see if I could find
names of Wisconsin bands and artists who made records for New York Recording
Laboratories’ Broadway label. With the L-Matrix Masters File1a
next to my left hand, I started searching for the name of Bud Shiffman. Shiffman
was listed as the vocalist of the Smyth-West Orchestra on one of the issued
sides on the Broadway label, a band I knew very little of.
All of a sudden his name turned up in an advertisement being
part of the line-up of the Joe Billo Orchestra. He was listed as saxophone
player for that band in the August 28, 1933 edition of a Michigan news paper.
Although I presumed "Bud" would have been a nickname I tried to find his name in
the online telephone directories and much to my surprise a Bud Shiffman, living
in Illinois, turned up. Taking it one step further, I checked People Finder
to see how old this Bud Shiffman was. He was listed as 93 years. The signs were
good. Could it be possible that another musician from an era long gone was able
to fill in some of the details on recording sessions which took place in
Grafton, Wisconsin? I could hardly wait until the evening (because of the time
difference between the Netherlands and the USA) to make the phone call and see
if this indeed was "the man". When on the telephone Bud Shiffman confirmed it
was he who played with the Smyth-West orchestra. Both of us were stunned! A long
series of telephone conversations followed. During the many conversations
information on bands he played with popped up from his brain. Discographies list
him as a musician with Frankie Masters and Benny Goodman, with whom he recorded.
Other names like Ted Weems, Perry Como, Marvell Maxwell, Anson Weeks, Shep
Fields, George "Spike" Hamilton, Joe Sanders of the Coon-Sanders Orchestra, Sol
Wagner and the Smyth-West Orchestra were mentioned in detail. What follows is
his story of an 80-year career as a musician, told between July 2005 and
Early years and the Smyth-West Orchestra
Bud H. Shiffman was born in Chicago, Illinois
on March 20, 1912 as the only son to Harry and Ada Shiffman. At an early age he
started to get interested in music. His father’s best friend, Joe Levy, was a
professional drummer in Chicago and this inspired six year old Bud to start
playing drums. At the age of 11, he turned his interest to piano but this didn’t
last over a year when he wanted to play saxophone and clarinet.
In 1927, at the age of 15 years, Bud formed
his first band, with which he initially played at indoor parties. For these jobs
he called the band "my group". The band consisted of Danny Bender on piano, Bud
on alto saxophone and an unknown drummer. When the band played at outdoor events
they were called The Rubber Band. When people started asking about the band’s
name, Bud replied they played "snappy music". Playing outdoors meant playing at
community centers, such as the Henry Booth House at Taylor and Halsted Street.
His dad would drive the band to the location.
In the same year he became a student at John
Marshall High School. At one day Bud took his saxophone with him. While standing
at his locker he was approached by another student, whom Bud only remembered by
his surname Book, asking if he played the instrument and would he care to join a
to-be-formed High School band. Bud agreed and they started rehearsing at Henry
"Hank" Hirsch’s place, the piano player. Book was the drummer in the band and
his mother managed the band. An unknown banjo player completed the band. Their
first paid job was at a New Year’s Eve private party in 1927. Their fee was
three dollars and a package of cigarettes. The smokes were considered as the
best part of the payment: now they were MEN!2
After High School he joined Bernie Fisher’s band who started
an "unlimited" engagement at Colosimo’s Restaurant on 2126-2128 South Wabash
Avenue, according to Billboard magazine of March 28, 1931. Colosimo’s was
originally owned by "Big Jim" Colosimo where gangster Al Capone got his start in
the Chicago underworld when he was hired as a bouncer by Colosimo. After "Big
Jim’s" liquidation in 1920, Al Capone took over the restaurant and had it run by
Mike Potson and his wife.
Fisher was the bandleader and drummer in the band. Besides
Fisher and Shiffman, the band included Lambert Flemmer, Bill Galter, Art Iser,
Ralph Spreter (banjo/guitar), Bob Bold (trombone) and Joe Friedkin. Only Spreter
and Bold were recalled by Bud.
One night after the band finished a gig at three o’clock in
the morning, they were summoned by Capone’s men to play at his apartment at 22nd
and Michigan Avenue, a few blocks away from the restaurant. They were escorted
to the black limousines that were ready to transport them to Capone’s place.
When they entered Capone’s men and their girls were the only ones present to
play for. The band played until seven o’clock in the morning and wanted to leave
when all men and women had fallen asleep. When they quit playing music and
started packing, one of the gangsters woke up and pointed a gun at the men,
asking what they were doing. They were supposed to continue playing.
Shortly after his engagement with Fisher’s band he met Eddie
J. Smyth, a piano player and Tommy Weiss, a drummer. Both were a little older
than Bud. Tommy Weiss was soon to change his surname into West, since this
sounded much more professional, when they formed the Smyth-West Orchestra. The
band at that time consisted of six men: Bud Shiffman: alto saxophone; Irving "Irv"
Heinrich: tenor saxophone; Sam Solomon: trumpet; Tom West: drums; Eddie Smyth:
piano; Reubin "Ruby" Gottdener: banjo. Gottdener later became an optician in
Chicago.3 Irving Heinrich was a friend of Bud, who studied to be a
pharmacist. In later years Heinrich moved to California.
The band rehearsed once a week or every other week and played
stock arrangements, which they obtained for free at the Wood Theatre Building.
"Tommy was a good drummer, in a sense that he could keep time. Eddie Smyth was
much more into music, he was more like an arranger", Bud explained.4
In those days bands mostly played instrumentals at dances. Bud recalled there
weren’t many vocals in their repertoire.
In the beginning they played indoors at private parties, dances
and club dates. "We were jobbing", as Bud recalled. Mostly they played at
so-called neighborhood ballrooms, which were mostly located on the second floor
of a building. The band only played once or twice a week, until their first
major job at a summer resort at Twin Lakes, Wisconsin just across the Illinois
state border, in the summer of 1931. Several of the band members had cars and
they used their cars to pack the instruments and drove from Chicago to the
Wisconsin border. It was Bud’s first encounter out of the Illinois state.
In order to play at Twin Lakes, they had to be members of the
musicians union. For the occasion they joined the Kenosha Musicians Union. The
International Musician of August 1931 confirms Bud’s statement, listing
the complete personnel. Later on they transferred to Chicago’s Local 10, which
did not occur until February 1932. The job would keep them in Twin Lakes during
the whole summer. There was a big ballroom, called the Twin Lakes Ballroom where
the big name orchestras played. The Smyth-West orchestra played downstairs in a
bar called "the 19th Hole", a suitable name for a place that was
located across a golf course.
He remembered seeing Lawrence Welk and his Orchestra play
there during that summer. A nice anecdote on Welk’s stay here comes from
Lawrence Welk’s biography. After moving to Chicago with his girl-friend Fern,
the band members left Welk’s band, lured away by an unscrupulous agent. Lawrence
Welk quickly formed a new band and shortly afterwards ended up performing at
Twin Lakes, where they encountered some of the worst accommodations they had
ever seen. Fern cried over the disreputable condition of the Welk’s room, and a
few days later told Lawrence that she was so moody because she was pregnant with
their first child.5
Recording for Broadway
Smyth-West Orchestra recorded on two occasions for New York Recording
Laboratories’ Broadway label. In 1931 the band made its first recordings in
Wisconsin. The circumstances how the band got in touch with the New York
Recording Laboratories (NYRL) were unknown to Bud, but he remembered that while
rehearsing one night in Chicago, one of the band members mentioned they were
going to record. Most likely it was either Eddie Smyth or Tom West who had
arranged the recording session, since they also acted as managers of the
orchestra for club dates. They packed their cars and drove from Chicago to
Wisconsin. He remembered that one of the sessions took place when he was 18 or
19 years old, an indication for his presence at the 1931 session. They spent the
afternoon in Grafton’s recording studio. Bud remembered it took all afternoon,
since the engineer needed time to find out where the artists had to take place,
in order to get a balanced sound at the record.
Coincidentally, Lawrence Welk also recorded for the Broadway
label, probably the day before the Smyth-West session. Bud Shiffman did not
recall any artists to have been present in or around the studio. It is possible
that the same agent sent them to Grafton. Although Bud did not recall who was
responsible for their recording session it may have been possible that someone
informed the NYRL while they were playing in Twin Lakes. It seems more than a
coincidence that both Welk and the Smyth-West Orchestra found their way to the
Grafton studio, while playing at the same summer resort, their recording
sessions only separated by a day. It is also possible that the recording session
took place prior to their trip to Twin Lakes.
Grafton, WI; ca July-August 1931
Sam Solomon, trumpet; Bud Shiffman, alto saxophone; Irving "Irv"
Heinrich, tenor saxophone; Eddie Smyth, piano; Reubin Gottdener, banjo; Tom
L-1147 1 I Need Lovin’ Bwy 1486
L-1148 1 You’re Not The Same Bwy 1486
Bwy 1486 issued as Smyth and West Orchestra.
Matrix numbers L-1141, L-1142 and L-1146 recorded by Lawrence
In 1932 the Smyth-West orchestra made another set of
recordings for Broadway. Strangely enough, Bud Shiffman recalled very explicitly
that Port Washington was the place where they made the records, not Grafton.
Although he could not remember both sessions very well, he did remember that the
1932 session took place in Port Washington. Port Washington is only a few miles
away from Grafton, and The Wisconsin Chair Company, NYRL’s parent company, was
Bud Shiffman said they recorded on the second floor of an ice
house and had to climb an exterior ladder to get inside. With some amusement Bud
remembered a musician who was not part of the Smyth-West Orchestra and played an
upright string bass during this session. He imagined it would have been
difficult to get the instrument up via the ladder. The building at that time was
no longer in use, except for the room where the recording equipment was placed.
Dennis Klopp remembered that only a block away from the Wisconsin Chair Company,
an ice house had been used by the Port Washington Brewing Company, located at
419 N. Lake Street. The ice house may have been abandoned due to Prohibition.
The firm managed to survive, however, and was again producing beer in 1935.6
It was a large room decorated with burlap ("potato sacks", as
he recalled) to deaden some of the sound. Bud did not remember any other
material had been used to insulate the studio. The floors were wooden and not
padded, like the Grafton studio. An upright piano was present in the room and
there were chairs to sit on. Contrary to the Grafton studio procedures, the band
was allowed to set up the instruments as they were used to do when performing.
To actually play a solo you had to get up from your chair and run to the
microphone to get it on the record. There was only one microphone present at the
location. It was a big one on a stand.
The vocalist on Broadway
1516, Don Campbell, was unfamiliar to Bud. Lovable was the only
title he remembered from this session, Bud being the vocalist on this title. Don
or Donald Campbell came from Milwaukee. The 1956 Milwaukee Musicians’ Union
Guide lists him as a drummer while living at 6514 W. Congress Street. He may
have been a member of Bob Tamms’ Orchestra from Milwaukee. Tamms recorded one
title, squeezed into this session.
Matrix L-1596 has accordion accompaniment as well as chimes
instead of drums. Don Campbell may have been responsible for playing chimes. Bud
Shiffman did not remember any of the regular band members to have played either
accordion or chimes.7 The International Musician of February
1932 listed one Al Mack of Milwaukee as a member of the band who may only have
been a temporarily member. An accordionist by the name of George Mack was listed
in the 1956 Milwaukee Musicians Union Guide. It is possible that they are
one and the same person. Mack, however, was not remembered by Bud.
419 N. Lake Street, Port Washington, WI; late June-early July
Sam Solomon, t; unknown t; tb; Bud Shiffman, as; Irving "Irv"
Heinrich, ts; Eddie Smyth, p; Reubin Gottdener, bjo or gtr; possibly George
"Al" Mack, p-ac; bb or sb; Tom West, d or possibly Don Campbell,
chimes on (a)/ vocals: Don Campbell (1), Bud Shiffman (2) and Eddie Smyth (3)
L-1595-1 Got A Date With An Angel (1) Bwy 1518
L-1596-1 You’ve Got Me In The Palm Of Your Hand (1) (a) Bwy
L-1597-1 Love, You Funny Thing Bwy 1516
L-1597-2 Love, You Funny Thing (1) Bwy 1516
L-1599-2 Lovable (2) Bwy 1517
L1600-1 My Silent Love (3) Bwy 1518
The reverse of Bwy 1517 is by Bob Tamms and His Orchestra
[L-1610-1, 2; Lullaby Of The Leaves]
Eddie Smyth also did the vocals on a recording of Bob Tamms’
Orchestra, a popular orchestra from Milwaukee:-
Port Washington, WI; late June – early July 1932
Personnel: trumpet; trombone; Bob Tamms, saxophone; clarinet;
violin; piano; guitar; reeds; Eddie Smyth, vocal
L-1598 -2 My Lips Want Kisses Bwy 1511
Brad Kay commented on two of these recordings: "I am a big
fan of the Smyth-West Orchestra! I have their unbelievably rare 1932 Broadway
1516, "I’ve Got You In The Palm Of My Hand" and "Love, You Funny Thing". What a
perfect combination of hot and sweet! The band sounds like a cross between Guy
Lombardo and Alphonse Trent. The rhythmic groove they get on "Palm" is magical:
they combine those corny early-‘30s triplets (played by flutes, yet) that seemed
to be written into every song of the day, with this driving, propulsive beat.
They make it sound like the hippest thing anyone ever imagined. I love the
goofy, wild vocals, too."8
The session took about two hours, after which the band
members went back to Chicago. The July issue of International Musician
list Tommy West, Sam Solomon, Irving Heinrich, Bud Shiffman and Eddie Smyth as
"new members" of Chicago’s Local 10. Tommy West left the music business at an
early age. Except for playing in the Smyth-West Orchestra, he wasn’t too
interested in the music business.
soon afterwards the band disintegrated. Eddie Smyth continued working as pianist
at Colosimo’s on South Wabash Avenue, Chicago with Bernie Fisher on drums,
accompanying singers in the bar. Smyth would play an upright piano on wheels,
making him able to play piano at the tables of dinner guests. Up until at least
1937 he played with small orchestras. According to Bud he died at an early age.
Bud remembered he did another recording session with some of
the band members of the Smyth-West Orchestra. Although he did not recall the
location or for what record company, he recalled with amusement that he, Sam
Solomon and Irving Heinrich came up with the name of "The Unconscious Seven" for
the recordings, as some sort of a practical joke. Bud still had a white labelled
record in his possession. No matrix numbers were printed or written on the
record, nor were any of the titles known. When I asked him if it would be
possible to send the record in order to inspect it, he promptly did. When the
mail arrived much to my surprise it turned out to be a Marsh Recording
Laboratories acetate with the titles "Bugle Call Rag" and "I Got Rhythm".
Chicago, IL; Lyon & Healy Building, circa 1932
Sam Solomon, trumpet; Bud Shiffman, alto
saxophone; Irving Heinrich, tenor saxophone; unknown clarinet; piano;
piano-accordion; string bass; drums
- I Got Rhythm Marsh
- Bugle Call Rag Marsh
Bud soon found his way into the orchestra of Joe Billo,
around 1932. In 1933 Bud Shiffman is listed as saxophone player with Joe Billo
and his "Famous Orchestra" in the Ironwood Daily Globe of August 28.9
Joe Biolo, as was his original name, originated from Iron Mountain, Michigan and
started playing in Chicago but after a while returned to his birth ground around
July 1933. He took three Chicago musicians with him, including Bud, Frank
Alexander, a trombone player who was formerly with Ted Fiorito and Bill Berger,
a string bass and tuba player and formed the rest of his band with local
musicians. The band included the Johnson brothers Ewald "A.J." Johnson on tenor
saxophone; Harry Johnson on third alto saxophone and Roy Johnson on string bass
after Bill Burger left; Joe Pepp on drums; Charles "Chuck" Billo, Joe Billo and
Fritz Spera on trumpet; George Corsy on guitar and Ken Thompson on piano. After
Ken Thompson left he was replaced by Cully Reese. Frank Alexander later moved to
Memphis, Tennessee and became president of the local musicians’ union.
The band advertised itself as "recording artists", probably
based on the fact that several band members had recorded with other band prior
to their enlisting to the Billo Orchestra, as the advertisement listed the band
comprising of band members formerly with Herbie Kay, Johnny Hamp, Clyde McCoy
and Paul Whiteman’s Collegians.10
Shiffman played with the territory band for two years. When the band arrived in
Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fritz Spera only stayed for a short while. He had to
return to the Iron Mountain area. Bud advised Billo to fill the empty seat with
Bud’s old pal Sam Solomon. Solomon agreed but only stayed with the band for a
month. An accident with the band’s bus, which got off the road, made Solomon
aware that it wasn’t worth his time. He gave up music very shortly afterwards
and even made a lamp out of his trumpet! In later years he moved to Florida
where he started a business of his own, selling boats.
By the end of the summer of 1934 Bud decided to go back to
Chicago. The Chicago World's Fair of 1934 was still
going on and Bud got himself a job with a band at the World's
Fair, although only for a short while. The World's
Fair originally started in 1933, but due to its success it reopened in May 1934
and closed on October 31 of that year.
Billo kept performing in Michigan and disbanded his orchestra
after 193811. By 1935 Cully Reese organized his own orchestra with
some former band members of Joe Billo’s orchestra.12 Bud Shiffman met
Billo again in Minneapolis, years later, when Bud visited his son in that city.
When the summer of 1934 was over, orchestra leader Sol Wagner
was forming a new orchestra. Wagner’s orchestra recorded in 1923 for Gennett in
Richmond, Indiana and did two more sessions for OKeh in Chicago in 1927.13
The May 12, 1927 OKeh session also included Nate Bold, who was still part of
Wagner’s orchestra by the time Bud Shiffman was asked to join the orchestra. Sol
picked up Bud’s name after being mentioned by one of the band members. This
resulted in an audition for Bud with the orchestra and he remained with the
orchestra well into 1935. The band existed of nine men. Bud played lead alto
saxophone; Charley Dooley played 3rd sax; Abe Cholden played tenor
saxophone; Nate Bold on trumpet; Nate Zimberhoff on bass14; Earl Roth
on drums; Sol Wagner on piano. Julie Fatoff, a trombone player, completed the
orchestra. Their first job was at the Via Lago Nite Club on Wilson Street.
Every summer Sol Wagner took his orchestra to South Haven,
Michigan to play at the local ball room. In the summer of 1935 Bud was part of
Wagner’s orchestra when they played at South Haven, with Irving Heinrich,
Bud’s old pal from the Smyth-West Orchestra. Heinrich replaced Abe Cholden, who
started working for the ABC network orchestra. Heinrich got his seat in the band
through Bud, who advised to hire him.
The band had its own baseball team and played against local
teams. At one day they came one man short. A young lady, who could play baseball
very well was invited to play with them on the field. That’s how Bud met his
future wife. Florence, a 17-year old beauty took up with the local beauty
contest and became Miss South Haven. She joined Bud when he went back to Chicago
with the band. Once in Chicago she joined the Queen Esther contest and won again
out of one hundred contestants. On October 10, 1937 the couple married. For the
next three decades she adjusted to Bud’s performing scheme of playing six days a
week. Irv Heinrich also met his future wife at South Haven and in later years
moved to California, after which Bud lost touch of him.
Returning from their summer engagement, Wagner found out that
the Chicago night club where they performed was closed. Bud at that time was a
member of the Music Corporation of America (MCA), and the head of MCA called Bud
to do an audition with Frankie Masters who was forming an orchestra for the
College Inn at the Sherman Hotel. Masters by then was a top artist who played at
the best hotels. He had been a mainstay at the Tivoli Theatre before.
In 1936, while at a summer resort with Frankie Masters, he
got a call: was he willing to play with the Gus Arnheim Orchestra in New York?
His best friend, Lou Singer, played drums in that band and it did not take long
before Bud joined him. Stan Kenton at that time played piano in Arnheim’s
orchestra and was well remembered by Bud. After a while, Arnheim was supposed to
follow Benny Goodman to California. Arnheim did not want to go since the
Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles was his stomping ground. Bud couldn’t have gone
with Arnheim to California anyway, because he had auditioned for a job before he
left Chicago. Once back in Chicago, he joined the orchestra at the Stevens
(later Hilton) Hotel.
Through the years Bud Shiffman became MCA’s main saxophone
player, meaning that whenever a band came into Chicago without a sax player he
was the first man to fill in the empty spot. In this way he came to play with
Ted Weems with Perry Como and Marvell Maxwell, Xavier Cugat and Henri Busse. He
played at the major ballrooms such as the Trianon, the Aragon, The Black Hawk
Caf`E9 and the Empire Room at The Palmer House.
In the 1930s Bud Shiffman frequently visited clubs where jazz
bands played, bringing his instrument with him. He and his friend Joe Masek, a
tenor saxophone player who could play terrific piano as well, would go see
drummer Zutty Singleton at the Three Deuces. Masek and Singleton recorded with
Charles Lavere in 1935. Singleton at that time had a small band with four or
five musicians. In those days it was a common thing for musicians to go to clubs
and see jazz bands. They joined in on jam sessions, after they had been asked to
sit in after the last gigs had been played around three o’clock in the morning.
In this way Bud became friendly with Zutty Singleton. In the same way he saw and
played with Earl Hines who at that time played at the South Side. He remembered
to have visited other jazz clubs, like the Downbeat Room which was in the
basement at Randolph and Dearborn Street, and Kelly’s Stable on Rush Street,
where Johnny and Baby Dodds played. Although he had heard of both musicians and
knew they were quite well known at that time, he did never meet them. He did see
Charlie Parker at one of his first performances at the 1111 Club at the North
Side with a three or four-piece band. He recalled how Parker stood with his back
to the audience. He also saw orchestra leader Eddie Neibaur, who was a mainstay
at the Paradise Ballroom on Wilson Street at Chicago’s North Side. Neibaur
recorded for Victor in Camden, New Jersey and New York in 1925 and 1926.15
Bud Shiffman remembered that a lot of the local bands were what he called
"hotel-type bands or Mickey Mouse bands". They were not extraordinary, mainly
playing popular songs of the day.16
In 1938 Bud rejoined Frankie Masters and in 1939 returned to
the recording studio, to record behind Frankie Masters for the OKeh label. Bud
would remain Masters’s lead saxophone player until late 1941 and would record
extensively with the Masters Orchestra. One of the songs that was recorded was
"Scatter-Brain", which became Masters’ signature song. The song originated from
a warming-up session by the trombone player, Kahn Keen. Carl Bean, the tenor
saxophone player was asked to join him to arrange the tune. The Masters band
recorded the tune on May 25, 1939, for OKeh. By November, "Scatter-Brain" made
the Hit Parade in the number six position and remained in the top 10 for 13
consecutive weeks and was the number one song for six of those weeks. The bands
of Van Alexander and Benny Goodman had success with the song and European groups
also recorded it, including gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. During this
period, the Masters band employed a stylistic gimmick billed as "Bell Tone
At the time Frankie Masters recorded his
Scatter-Brain session, John Hammond was the recording engineer for
the Columbia and OKeh sessions. Benny Goodman was courting Hammond’s sister and
via this connection Goodman heard some of the Frankie Masters records. He became
interested in the alto saxophone player on the Frankie Masters recordings and
asked if Hammond knew him. Around the time Goodman informed about this sax
player, late 1941, Bud played with Goodman’s younger brother Freddie, who played
trumpet, in Chicago. Freddie Goodman also acted as road manager for Bennie
While in New York performing at the Capitol or the Strand
Theatre, Fred Goodman informed Bud that he would come over. Bud thought he just
came over to see him play. However Fred talked him into playing with Benny
Goodman. Bud accepted the job and played with the Goodman Orchestra for the most
part of 1942, from January until the end of the summer, probably late August.
resulted in three recording sessions with the Goodman Orchestra and vocalist
Peggy Lee between March 12 and July 17, 1942. The first session took place at
the Liederkranz Hall in New York. I Threw A Kiss In The Ocean and
Full Moon were issued on Okeh 6652. He remembered to have played
during the sessions with Vido Musso and Cootie Williams. We’ll Meet Again
was issued on Okeh 6644. A second session dates from May 14, 1942, again in New
York. All I Need Is You was issued on Columbia 36617. Two months
later a remake of the title was made on July 17.17
In New York the orchestra played for three to four months at
the Hotel New Yorker, which ended on March 12, the day Bud recorded with
Goodman. The band then got a two-week break. On March 21, Goodman married Alice
Duckworth, John Hammond’s sister. After the break, Bud Shiffman traveled with
the Goodman Orchestra up and down the East seaboard, ending up at the Virginia
Beach in Atlantic City, Virginia. By late May the orchestra went into New York
City’s Paramount Theater, including Bud Shiffman, Vido Musso on tenor saxophone
and Billy Butterfield on trumpet.
Around August 1942, while they were coming off of a road
trip, Bud heard the news about his father being pretty ill. He had to go back to
Chicago anyway, because another job was waiting for him at the Stevens Hotel.
Shiffman then played as a side man at the Oriental Garden.
Bud Shiffman was on staff at the CBS radio station in Chicago
with Jimmy Hilliard’s Orchestra during World War Two. However CBS’s Chicago
manager, Caesar Petrillo (head of Chicago’s Local 208 branch of the American
Federation of Musicians and president of the AFofM from 1940 to 1958), had his
own orchestra and favored his orchestra over Hilliard’s. Petrillo dismissed the
orchestra after an argument whose band should be the leading orchestra for the
radio station, after which Hilliard disbanded his orchestra. Bud also was on
staff at ABC’s Chicago radio station, which broadcast from the Merchandise Mart.
By 1946 he became the leader of his own orchestra for a
two-year period at a night club, owned by Ralph Burger, at Randolph Street.
Burger had taken over the Oriental Garden and renamed it The Latin Quarter. The
press agent of the club advised Bud to change his stage name into Buddy Shaw, at
a time when Artie Shaw was popular and, since Bud was a jazz saxophone player,
it would draw more attention. At The Latin Quarter artists like Joe Bishop,
Martha Raye and the Ritz Brothers performed. Joe Bishop recorded extensively
from the mid 1920s into the late 1930s with such artists as: Al Katz and his
Kittens, Isham Jones, Woody Herman, Connie Boswell and Bing Crosby. Martha Raye
recorded for Victor in 1932. One of the first artists he played with was Harry
Richman, a popular song and dance man.
Around 1947 business slowed down at The Latin Quarter and
when one of his paychecks bounced, Bud decided to quit his job. Two days after
he gave his boss notice he would quit, one of the regular customers approached
him and asked him whether he would be interested in another job. The man was
Jack Kirsch, who owned theaters in Illinois, which were part of the Allied
Theaters Of Illinois. Kirsch owned a theater, The Englewood, on the South Side
where new acts were shown. The day after Bud left The Latin Quarter, the club
For two years, from 1947 to 1948 Bud played at the Anglewood.
In 1947 he lost his mother, who was very ill at the time. Ten minutes before he
would direct his band from the pit, he got the call from the hospital that she
had died. He didn’t even remember he had played that night.
At the same time Lew Diamond, a jobber in Chicago, asked him
as a sideman to play in his orchestra. By then stage shows were taken away from
theaters and were replaced by two-week-shows. Bud played with his orchestra,
backing Johnny Ray for one week and Gene Autry for two weeks. Charlie Hogan was
the booking agent at that time.
The 1950s and later career
In 1951 Bud left Lew Diamond to join the
Chicago Theater, until stage shows stopped when new management entered in 1954
or 1955. During this period he played with Jack Benny, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah
Vaughn. After Lew Diamond died, Norm Krone, who played first trumpet with
Diamond, asked Bud to join his orchestra. They had a house band at various
theaters. They played weekdays at the Empire Room, the Black Hawk, the Chez
Paree and the Boulevard Room at the Hilton Hotel; during weekends they played
Bud’s career kept on going, playing six days a week. He was
capable playing any type of music, playing city dates, jobbing dates, dances and
at dinners. He worked with jobbing leaders and name bands. For twenty years Bud
played at the Schubert Theater, from 1964 until 1984, at the same time as
working jobbing dates.
In 1984 Bud retired from the music scene, but
picked up his saxophone around 1995 and became part of an 18-piece band. Every
other Monday evening the band gets together and occasionally performs for
charity at hospitals. Bud played saxophone in this local 18-piece jazz band,
"...more of a rehearsal band" as he likes to call it, until August 2005. His
health declined at that time and ever since Bud has been unable to take up the
instrument, much to his regret.
During one of the telephone conversations we had, Bud made it
understood that one of the recording sessions DID take place in an old abandoned
ice house in Port Washington, Wisconsin. He said he remembered so vividly,
because it was one of the first times he left the Illinois state. He does have a
Broadway recording somewhere around his apartment but keeps it in one of his
three lockers for materials not in need, due to lack of space.
This man, with a remarkable sharp brain, able to pinpoint his
career with yearly precision, only now starts to realize what a historical icon
1a In 2006 the L-Matrix Master Series List for Grafton
recordings, as published in 78 Quarterly, issue 9 was updated by Guido van Rijn
and Alex van der Tuuk.
i A series of interviews were conducted over the telephone
on July 27, August 3, August 6, August 30, October 25, 2005; January 14, and
February 4, 2007. Corrections and additions were made, based on telephone
conversations with Mr. Shiffman, as well as checking news papers and related
material. Where needed footnotes will refer to these sources.
2 Telephone conversation with Bud Shiffman: June 29, 2006
3 Confirmed by newspaper advertisements listed in the
Suburbanite Economist, December 17 and 20, 1972
4 Telephone conversation with Bud Shiffman: July 18, 2006
7 Telephone conversation with Bud Shiffman: July 18, 2006
8 Email from Brad Kay, March 31, 2006
9 Ironwood Daily Globe, August 28, 1933, page 6;
August 29, 1933, page 3
10 The Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh. September 15,
1933, page 12
11 Bud Shiffman remembered that Billo disbanded his
orchestra in Minneapolis, but advertisements for the orchestra were listed in
Michigan newspapers between 1935 and 1938.
12 Ironwood Daily Globe: April 11, 1935. July 2,
1935, page 2
13 Brian Rust. Jazz And Ragtime Records (1897-1942):
14 Nate Zimberhoff later joined the Chicago Symphony
15 Rust: page 1494
16 Telephone conversation with Bud Shiffman: November 14,
Rust: pages 675-676
18 More research on Bud
Shiffman’s career was conducted by Christopher Popa. See:
Some of the information was adapted from this article