Celluloid Improvisations logo Jazz on Film Mark Cantor

Les Hite and his Orchestra “Tiger Rag variant”

This short musical clip comes from a rarely seen independent feature produced by Majestic Pictures titled SING, SINNER SING! Produced in early 1933, the film was actually reissued twice in the 1950s, almost certainly for television distribution, first as QUEEN OF JOY (1953) and then as CLIP JOINT (1957).

The tune played is a “Tiger Rag” variant, and it features Daisy Mae Diggs dancing in front the of Les Hite and his Orchestra. On screen personnel is as follows:

Les Hite and his Orchestra (Les Hite, alto sax and leader; trumpets, left-to-right: George Orendorff, James “King” Porter; Luther “Sonny” Craven, trombone; Charlie Jones, tenor sax, top row; alto saxes, left-to-right: Marvin Johnson, Marshall Royal, bottom row; probably Henry Prince, piano; Bill Perkins, banjo; Joe Bailey, string bass; Lionel Hampton, drums)

I asked Marshall Royal about this clips (“I think that’s the band on soundtrack, lousy arrangement.”) and his work with Les Hite in motion pictures during this period:

“It’s too bad they didn’t let us stretch out in these films. We were so much better than we appear in these short clips. Yah, this was a good band. George [Orendorff] was a good trumpet player, so was he [pointing at James “King” Porter]. Hamp was playing so much drums, no vibes with us, really; he didn’t get into that until he went with Benny, But he was all over the drums, he had listened to Baby Dodd and Zutty [Singleton] ….. oh yah, and this fellow you’ve never heard of, I bet, named Rastus Crump who played the drums like a demon, also anything else within reach. Hamp saw him at a show in Hollywood, back in ‘30 or ‘31, and he influenced him, yes he did….”

It should be noted that Rastus Crump is indeed “all over the drums” in a Vitaphone short titled NORMAN THOMAS QUINTETTE IN “HARLEMANIA,” which can be seen at: youtube.com/watch?v=rFGcg3sfxE4

Explore More