China Boy Hodes Art 1968
In a series of TV broadcasts in 1968 Chicago pianist Art Hodes presented Chicago styled musicians who had made fame in the thirties and forties. Art plays piano and features cornet player Jimmy McPartland and clarinettist Pee Wee Russell in "China Boy."
Pee Wee Russell ( 1906-1969)
From his earliest career, Russell's style was distinctive. The notes he played were somewhat unorthodox when compared to his contemporaries, and he was sometimes accused to playing out-of-tune. Though often labelled a dixieland musician by virtue of the company he kept, he tended to reject any label.
From the 1940s on, Russell's health was often poor, exacerbated by alcoholism - which led to a major medical breakdown in 1951 - and he had periods when he could not play.
He played with Art Hodes, Muggsy Spanier and occasionally bands under his own name in addition to Condon.
In his last decade, Russell often played at jazz festivals and international tours organized by George Wein
Russell's unique, and sometimes derided approach was praised as ahead of its time, and cited by some as an early example of free jazz. Coleman Hawkins, who considered Russell to be color-blind, at the time of the 1961 Jazz Reunion (Candid) record date - they had originally recorded together in 1929 - dismissed any idea that Russell was now playing modern, saying that he had always played that way.
By this time, encouraged by Mary, his wife, Russell had taken up painting abstract art as a hobby. Mary's death in the spring of 1967 had a severe effect on him.