Red McKenzie was virtually jazz's only comb player, putting tissue paper on a comb and making sounds on his "instrument" similar to a kazoo. McKenzie was quite effective playing his "ax," often more so than when he sang sentimental ballads. In 1924, he formed the Mound City Blue Blowers, a trio with Jack Bland on banjo or guitar and Dick Slevin on kazoo. The group was quite popular for a few years, recording a dozen titles (two with guest Frankie Trumbauer and the last six with Eddie Lang making the group a quartet) during 1924-1925. McKenzie also recorded under his own name (as leader of the Candy Kids, the exact same quartet) during 1924-1925. The Blue Blowers name was used for two classic titles ("Hello Lola" and "One Hour") in 1929, featuring Coleman Hawkins, Pee Wee Russell, and Glenn Miller, along with the leader's comb; further Blue Blowers titles were cut during 1931 (featuring Hawkins, Jimmy Dorsey, and Muggsy Spanier) and 1935-1936 (often with Bunny Berigan). McKenzie, who recorded as a straight singer in 1931 and was with Paul Whiteman the following year, never did become a major name, but he did front the Spirits of Rhythm (1934) and the Farley-Riley group (1935) on record dates. He was retired during 1939-1943, but came back for a brief while, appearing on some of Eddie Condon's Town Hall concerts and recording a few titles during 1944-1947; by then the comb was sadly just a memory. ~ Scott YanowPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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