SAMMY PENN: Born Morgan Metropolis Louisiana September 15 1902. Died Florida September 18 1969.
Let’s begin off slightly in another way this time: to me, the best New Orleans drummers for my pleasure have been Child Dodds, Sammy Penn and Cie Frazier. However Sammy had an exquisite second string to his bow. He sang with the identical phrasing because the legendary Fat Domino, and together with his huge cigar and large smile was a grasp entertainer.
Sammy’s first job was in 1921 with Jake Johnson’s band, then with Chris Kelly’s Brass Band, Child Rena’s Brass Band and the legendary Eureka Brass Band. He was the mainstay of the Child Thomas band for 1 / 4 of a century.
You should perceive that leisure was the secret. With Sammy Penn and Joe “Twat” Butler, Child Thomas Valentine had a showband. Singers, personalities and Thomas together with his well-known “bag of tips” No marvel this band survived in New Orleans after which toured the world to symbolize);
In an extended interview with my pal Tom Stagg in his fantastic report store “Good Rockin'” he describes Sammy Penn’s drum package as “extremely primary” A bass drum, a snare drum, a tom-tom and a cymbal hooked up to the bass drum. As Tom remembers, he drove the band relentlessly and with a tremendous complexity of rhythmic sounds. This package was easy however the rhythm was something however!
That is Tom’s recollection of the final weeks of his life. “Sammy returned from a physician’s appointment with the information that he had very hypertension and coronary heart murmurs. Sammy performed at Preservation Corridor that night time and after one other session with the Child Thomas Band loaded their gear on to a bus outdoors the Corridor on St. Peters Road and set off with Sammy for a tour by means of Georgia to Florida. After just one live performance, the bus returned to the Corridor with solely the driving force, the street supervisor and the physique of Sammy Penn.
Speaking to Barry Martyn, he charges Sammy Penn extremely in nice drummers from New Orleans. Sammy performed four/four on the bass drum and never the extra acquainted minimize time of New Orleans drummers. George Lewis most popular that four/four sound and Joe Watkins performed that means, however with out the explosive accents and sophisticated rhythms of Sammy Penn. Barry had the great fortune to take a seat in with the Child Thomas Band and located that he couldn’t hear himself and needed to regulate his quantity and elegance to go well with the band.
So Sammy Penn was the drummer for Child Thomas and his Algiers Stompers and spent the main a part of his enjoying life with that band. As Barry Martyn stated “When Joe James and Sammy died the band would by no means be fairly the identical once more”
To listen to him at his greatest, it is best to take heed to “Child Thomas Valentine Creole Jazz Band on American Music AMCD forty nine and “Child Thomas and his Algiers Stompers” on Riverside OJCCD 1833-2. My nice pleasure is definitely seeing the person in motion on a DVD of the December Band produced by Huge Invoice Bissonnette (probably nonetheless obtainable by contacting him on his Jazz Campaign web site);
Sammy Penn was a one-off and we’re fortunate to have data to take heed to. In Australia, the late nice Peter Clohesy was influenced by him and in Europe each Keith Minter, Emile Martyn and Chris Marchant present indicators of getting listened to this “unique”.
My subsequent opus will probably be an interview with Les Muscutt -an outstanding banjo participant from the U.Okay. who made an enormous impression on the New Orleans jazz scene. Resulting from sick well being, he retired lately and I’m positive you will see his story fascinating! P.S. A final minute name from Barry Martyn to say that his newest video on American Music AMVD4 will function Child Thomas with Sammy Penn, plus the Child Howard band and lots of different good issues!