Ralph Sharon


Ralph Sharon | Corbis | tc123

Ralph Sharon was a jazz pianist. The Ralph Sharon quartet who recorded on Argo in 1958 were Ralph Sharon, Allan Mack, Billy Exiner and Candido (no other name recorded). The tracks were recorded in New York in 1958. Ralph Sharon was born on September 17, 1923 in Bethnal Green, East London and died on March 31, 2015. He emigrated to America in 1953. Some of his early English recordings were issued by Melodisc. Shortly after the sessions for Argo, as well as gaining US citizenship, Sharon became the accompanist for singer Tony Bennett, with whom he and his quartet remained for more than four decades.

Daily Telegraph obituary

The Three Souls


Three Souls LP cover | Popsike | tc125

The Three Souls were a jazz trio who recorded for Argo from 1958 onwards. They were Landon “Sonny” Cox, Ken Prince and Robert Shy. Sonny Cox was born in Cincinatti in 1938. The group is thought to have split when Cox took up a career in physical education.

J C Hill


Jaycee Hill | Rocky52 | tc126

Hillman Baker (Jaycee Hill or J C Hill) was born in 1931 in Tennessee; he moved to Ohio, completing his education in 1949 and formed a duo, Hill & Joe the Valley Boys with his friend Joe Sway. By 1956 they were making country rock records. Hillman Baker had adopted the stage name of Jaycee Hill by 1958 when he recorded a single in Cleveland and sold the masters to Chess (“So long – Goodbye”/”Only True Love”, Argo 5311, September 1958. He is the co-writer of “Yea, Yea” for the Kendall Sisters (Argo 5291, 1958). However, he never became a full time musician, and continued to work in local industries until he retired. Unfortunately, we have discovered an obituary notice for a Hillman Baker of the right age and location, who died early in 2013, and it may be the same person.

Obituary notice

J C Heard


J C Heard | A Passion 4 Jazz | tc127

James Charles Heard was born on August 10, 1917 and died on September 27, 1988. He was a swing, bop, and blues drummer whose performing career started in the 1930s and continued into the 1980s. He recorded for Argo in 1958. The many jazz artistes he is associated with include Dizzy Gillespie and Gene Ammons.

Vito Price


Vito Pizzo LP cover | tc128

Vito Price was the stage name first used by famous jazz musician Vito Pizzo, when he was recording for Chess’ Argo subsidiary. His Argo recordings were made in January 1958. Born in New York in 1929, Pizzo played with a number of leading jazz bands before being called up for service with US Forces – he played in the Marines Band. After two years service, he went to a school of Music in Manhattan. In 1955 he moved to Chicago. His current whereabouts are unknown.

The Kents


The Kents | Uncredited | tc129

The Kents had a single release on the Argo label, Argo 5299 – I Found My Girl/With All My Heart And Soul. They were Dennis Duffy, Joe Rinando, Little Frankie LaRussa, Tony LaMonica and Woody Reynolds. The group was formed in Manhattan in 1957. The recording issued on Argo was recorded in 1958 and leased to Argo by Dome Records. Joe Rinando remembers: (The sides) “were cut on Good Friday 1958 at Belltone Studios in Manhattan with Sammy Lowe’s Band. He and I worked on all the arrangements and he did each instruments music.” Dome Records became implicated in the payola scandal and the group split up.

Lula Reed


Sonny Thompson and Lula Reed | Sunday Blues | tc130

Lula Marietta McClelland (appearing on labels as either Lula or Lulu Reed) was born on 21 March 1926 and died of cancer on 21 June 2008. She recorded for a number of labels, including Argo. The band leader Sonny Thompson was born in 1916 and died in 1989.

Wendell Tracy

Wendell Tracy was an orchestra leader and pianist. He was principally active from the 1940s through the 1950s and provided backing arrangements and orchestrations for a number of recording companies, often accompanying vocal groups. I have been unable to locate a photograph of Wendell Tracy. One or two albums of his music are still in print. His recording “Who’s To Know”/”Corrigidor Rock” was issued on Argo 5296.

Penny and the Ekos


Reba Smith | Debbdean | tc131

Reba Jeanette Smith was born on 1st February, 1928 and died on 17th February, 2001 and recorded under a variety of names including “Penny Smith”; “Debbie Stevens”; “Debbie Deane”; “Debra Dion”; “Debbie Smith”. In 1958 a single by “Penny & the Ekos” was released on Chess/Argo, both sides of which were written by Berry Gordy & Roquel Davis.

In 1961 she became the first white artist to be signed to Motown.

Yusef Lateef


Yusef Lateef | All about Jazz | tc132

William Emanuel Huddleston (Yusef Abdul Lateef) was an award winning jazz musician and composer who was born on October 9, 1920 and died on 23 December 2013 of prostate cancer. He is known for his innovative blending of jazz with “Eastern” music and has also used the stage name of Bill Evans. He recorded for Argo Records in 1958. Lateef played in bands with Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Mingus. He was awarded a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts and a National Endowment for the Arts award.

Obituary – BBC News

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