Bud Shiffman, 80 Years On The Road
by Alex van der Tuuk
In July 2005, whilst working on one of Out Of Anonymity’s chapters, I was ploughing through the historical newspapers’ section of www.ancestry.com to see if I could find names of Wisconsin bands and artists who made records for New York Recording Laboratories’ Broadway label. With the L-Matrix Masters File1a next to my left hand, I started searching for the name of Bud Shiffman. Shiffman was listed as the vocalist of the Smyth-West Orchestra on one of the issued sides on the Broadway label, a band I knew very little of.
All of a sudden his name turned up in an advertisement being part of the line-up of the Joe Billo Orchestra. He was listed as saxophone player for that band in the August 28, 1933 edition of a Michigan news paper. Although I presumed "Bud" would have been a nickname I tried to find his name in the online telephone directories and much to my surprise a Bud Shiffman, living in Illinois, turned up. Taking it one step further, I checked People Finder to see how old this Bud Shiffman was. He was listed as 93 years. The signs were good. Could it be possible that another musician from an era long gone was able to fill in some of the details on recording sessions which took place in Grafton, Wisconsin? I could hardly wait until the evening (because of the time difference between the Netherlands and the USA) to make the phone call and see if this indeed was "the man". When on the telephone Bud Shiffman confirmed it was he who played with the Smyth-West orchestra. Both of us were stunned! A long series of telephone conversations followed. During the many conversations information on bands he played with popped up from his brain. Discographies list him as a musician with Frankie Masters and Benny Goodman, with whom he recorded. Other names like Ted Weems, Perry Como, Marvell Maxwell, Anson Weeks, Shep Fields, George "Spike" Hamilton, Joe Sanders of the Coon-Sanders Orchestra, Sol Wagner and the Smyth-West Orchestra were mentioned in detail. What follows is his story of an 80-year career as a musician, told between July 2005 and February 2007.i
Early years and the Smyth-West Orchestra
Bud H. Shiffman was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 20, 1912 as the only son to Harry and Ada Shiffman. At an early age he started to get interested in music. His father’s best friend, Joe Levy, was a professional drummer in Chicago and this inspired six year old Bud to start playing drums. At the age of 11, he turned his interest to piano but this didn’t last over a year when he wanted to play saxophone and clarinet.
In 1927, at the age of 15 years, Bud formed his first band, with which he initially played at indoor parties. For these jobs he called the band "my group". The band consisted of Danny Bender on piano, Bud on alto saxophone and an unknown drummer. When the band played at outdoor events they were called The Rubber Band. When people started asking about the band’s name, Bud replied they played "snappy music". Playing outdoors meant playing at community centers, such as the Henry Booth House at Taylor and Halsted Street. His dad would drive the band to the location.
In the same year he became a student at John Marshall High School. At one day Bud took his saxophone with him. While standing at his locker he was approached by another student, whom Bud only remembered by his surname Book, asking if he played the instrument and would he care to join a to-be-formed High School band. Bud agreed and they started rehearsing at Henry "Hank" Hirsch’s place, the piano player. Book was the drummer in the band and his mother managed the band. An unknown banjo player completed the band. Their first paid job was at a New Year’s Eve private party in 1927. Their fee was three dollars and a package of cigarettes. The smokes were considered as the best part of the payment: now they were MEN!2
After High School he joined Bernie Fisher’s band who started an "unlimited" engagement at Colosimo’s Restaurant on 2126-2128 South Wabash Avenue, according to Billboard magazine of March 28, 1931. Colosimo’s was originally owned by "Big Jim" Colosimo where gangster Al Capone got his start in the Chicago underworld when he was hired as a bouncer by Colosimo. After "Big Jim’s" liquidation in 1920, Al Capone took over the restaurant and had it run by Mike Potson and his wife.
Fisher was the bandleader and drummer in the band. Besides Fisher and Shiffman, the band included Lambert Flemmer, Bill Galter, Art Iser, Ralph Spreter (banjo/guitar), Bob Bold (trombone) and Joe Friedkin. Only Spreter and Bold were recalled by Bud.
One night after the band finished a gig at three o’clock in the morning, they were summoned by Capone’s men to play at his apartment at 22nd and Michigan Avenue, a few blocks away from the restaurant. They were escorted to the black limousines that were ready to transport them to Capone’s place. When they entered Capone’s men and their girls were the only ones present to play for. The band played until seven o’clock in the morning and wanted to leave when all men and women had fallen asleep. When they quit playing music and started packing, one of the gangsters woke up and pointed a gun at the men, asking what they were doing. They were supposed to continue playing.
Shortly after his engagement with Fisher’s band he met Eddie J. Smyth, a piano player and Tommy Weiss, a drummer. Both were a little older than Bud. Tommy Weiss was soon to change his surname into West, since this sounded much more professional, when they formed the Smyth-West Orchestra. The band at that time consisted of six men: Bud Shiffman: alto saxophone; Irving "Irv" Heinrich: tenor saxophone; Sam Solomon: trumpet; Tom West: drums; Eddie Smyth: piano; Reubin "Ruby" Gottdener: banjo. Gottdener later became an optician in Chicago.3 Irving Heinrich was a friend of Bud, who studied to be a pharmacist. In later years Heinrich moved to California.
The band rehearsed once a week or every other week and played stock arrangements, which they obtained for free at the Wood Theatre Building. "Tommy was a good drummer, in a sense that he could keep time. Eddie Smyth was much more into music, he was more like an arranger", Bud explained.4 In those days bands mostly played instrumentals at dances. Bud recalled there weren’t many vocals in their repertoire.
In the beginning they played indoors at private parties, dances and club dates. "We were jobbing", as Bud recalled. Mostly they played at so-called neighborhood ballrooms, which were mostly located on the second floor of a building. The band only played once or twice a week, until their first major job at a summer resort at Twin Lakes, Wisconsin just across the Illinois state border, in the summer of 1931. Several of the band members had cars and they used their cars to pack the instruments and drove from Chicago to the Wisconsin border. It was Bud’s first encounter out of the Illinois state.
In order to play at Twin Lakes, they had to be members of the musicians union. For the occasion they joined the Kenosha Musicians Union. The International Musician of August 1931 confirms Bud’s statement, listing the complete personnel. Later on they transferred to Chicago’s Local 10, which did not occur until February 1932. The job would keep them in Twin Lakes during the whole summer. There was a big ballroom, called the Twin Lakes Ballroom where the big name orchestras played. The Smyth-West orchestra played downstairs in a bar called "the 19th Hole", a suitable name for a place that was located across a golf course.
He remembered seeing Lawrence Welk and his Orchestra play there during that summer. A nice anecdote on Welk’s stay here comes from Lawrence Welk’s biography. After moving to Chicago with his girl-friend Fern, the band members left Welk’s band, lured away by an unscrupulous agent. Lawrence Welk quickly formed a new band and shortly afterwards ended up performing at Twin Lakes, where they encountered some of the worst accommodations they had ever seen. Fern cried over the disreputable condition of the Welk’s room, and a few days later told Lawrence that she was so moody because she was pregnant with their first child.5
Recording for Broadway
The Smyth-West Orchestra recorded on two occasions for New York Recording Laboratories’ Broadway label. In 1931 the band made its first recordings in Wisconsin. The circumstances how the band got in touch with the New York Recording Laboratories (NYRL) were unknown to Bud, but he remembered that while rehearsing one night in Chicago, one of the band members mentioned they were going to record. Most likely it was either Eddie Smyth or Tom West who had arranged the recording session, since they also acted as managers of the orchestra for club dates. They packed their cars and drove from Chicago to Wisconsin. He remembered that one of the sessions took place when he was 18 or 19 years old, an indication for his presence at the 1931 session. They spent the afternoon in Grafton’s recording studio. Bud remembered it took all afternoon, since the engineer needed time to find out where the artists had to take place, in order to get a balanced sound at the record.
Coincidentally, Lawrence Welk also recorded for the Broadway label, probably the day before the Smyth-West session. Bud Shiffman did not recall any artists to have been present in or around the studio. It is possible that the same agent sent them to Grafton. Although Bud did not recall who was responsible for their recording session it may have been possible that someone informed the NYRL while they were playing in Twin Lakes. It seems more than a coincidence that both Welk and the Smyth-West Orchestra found their way to the Grafton studio, while playing at the same summer resort, their recording sessions only separated by a day. It is also possible that the recording session took place prior to their trip to Twin Lakes.
Grafton, WI; ca July-August 1931
Sam Solomon, trumpet; Bud Shiffman, alto saxophone; Irving "Irv" Heinrich, tenor saxophone; Eddie Smyth, piano; Reubin Gottdener, banjo; Tom West: drums
L-1147 1 I Need Lovin’ Bwy 1486
L-1148 1 You’re Not The Same Bwy 1486
Bwy 1486 issued as Smyth and West Orchestra.
Matrix numbers L-1141, L-1142 and L-1146 recorded by Lawrence Welk
In 1932 the Smyth-West orchestra made another set of recordings for Broadway. Strangely enough, Bud Shiffman recalled very explicitly that Port Washington was the place where they made the records, not Grafton. Although he could not remember both sessions very well, he did remember that the 1932 session took place in Port Washington. Port Washington is only a few miles away from Grafton, and The Wisconsin Chair Company, NYRL’s parent company, was located here.
Bud Shiffman said they recorded on the second floor of an ice house and had to climb an exterior ladder to get inside. With some amusement Bud remembered a musician who was not part of the Smyth-West Orchestra and played an upright string bass during this session. He imagined it would have been difficult to get the instrument up via the ladder. The building at that time was no longer in use, except for the room where the recording equipment was placed. Dennis Klopp remembered that only a block away from the Wisconsin Chair Company, an ice house had been used by the Port Washington Brewing Company, located at 419 N. Lake Street. The ice house may have been abandoned due to Prohibition. The firm managed to survive, however, and was again producing beer in 1935.6
It was a large room decorated with burlap ("potato sacks", as he recalled) to deaden some of the sound. Bud did not remember any other material had been used to insulate the studio. The floors were wooden and not padded, like the Grafton studio. An upright piano was present in the room and there were chairs to sit on. Contrary to the Grafton studio procedures, the band was allowed to set up the instruments as they were used to do when performing. To actually play a solo you had to get up from your chair and run to the microphone to get it on the record. There was only one microphone present at the location. It was a big one on a stand.
The vocalist on Broadway 1516, Don Campbell, was unfamiliar to Bud. Lovable was the only title he remembered from this session, Bud being the vocalist on this title. Don or Donald Campbell came from Milwaukee. The 1956 Milwaukee Musicians’ Union Guide lists him as a drummer while living at 6514 W. Congress Street. He may have been a member of Bob Tamms’ Orchestra from Milwaukee. Tamms recorded one title, squeezed into this session.
Matrix L-1596 has accordion accompaniment as well as chimes instead of drums. Don Campbell may have been responsible for playing chimes. Bud Shiffman did not remember any of the regular band members to have played either accordion or chimes.7 The International Musician of February 1932 listed one Al Mack of Milwaukee as a member of the band who may only have been a temporarily member. An accordionist by the name of George Mack was listed in the 1956 Milwaukee Musicians Union Guide. It is possible that they are one and the same person. Mack, however, was not remembered by Bud.
419 N. Lake Street, Port Washington, WI; late June-early July 1932
Sam Solomon, t; unknown t; tb; Bud Shiffman, as; Irving "Irv" Heinrich, ts; Eddie Smyth, p; Reubin Gottdener, bjo or gtr; possibly George "Al" Mack, p-ac; bb or sb; Tom West, d or possibly Don Campbell, chimes on (a)/ vocals: Don Campbell (1), Bud Shiffman (2) and Eddie Smyth (3)
L-1595-1 Got A Date With An Angel (1) Bwy 1518
L-1596-1 You’ve Got Me In The Palm Of Your Hand (1) (a) Bwy 1516
L-1597-1 Love, You Funny Thing Bwy 1516
L-1597-2 Love, You Funny Thing (1) Bwy 1516
L-1599-2 Lovable (2) Bwy 1517
L1600-1 My Silent Love (3) Bwy 1518
The reverse of Bwy 1517 is by Bob Tamms and His Orchestra [L-1610-1, 2; Lullaby Of The Leaves]
Eddie Smyth also did the vocals on a recording of Bob Tamms’ Orchestra, a popular orchestra from Milwaukee:-
Port Washington, WI; late June – early July 1932
Personnel: trumpet; trombone; Bob Tamms, saxophone; clarinet; violin; piano; guitar; reeds; Eddie Smyth, vocal
L-1598 -2 My Lips Want Kisses Bwy 1511
Brad Kay commented on two of these recordings: "I am a big fan of the Smyth-West Orchestra! I have their unbelievably rare 1932 Broadway 1516, "I’ve Got You In The Palm Of My Hand" and "Love, You Funny Thing". What a perfect combination of hot and sweet! The band sounds like a cross between Guy Lombardo and Alphonse Trent. The rhythmic groove they get on "Palm" is magical: they combine those corny early-‘30s triplets (played by flutes, yet) that seemed to be written into every song of the day, with this driving, propulsive beat. They make it sound like the hippest thing anyone ever imagined. I love the goofy, wild vocals, too."8
The session took about two hours, after which the band members went back to Chicago. The July issue of International Musician list Tommy West, Sam Solomon, Irving Heinrich, Bud Shiffman and Eddie Smyth as "new members" of Chicago’s Local 10. Tommy West left the music business at an early age. Except for playing in the Smyth-West Orchestra, he wasn’t too interested in the music business.
Possibly soon afterwards the band disintegrated. Eddie Smyth continued working as pianist at Colosimo’s on South Wabash Avenue, Chicago with Bernie Fisher on drums, accompanying singers in the bar. Smyth would play an upright piano on wheels, making him able to play piano at the tables of dinner guests. Up until at least 1937 he played with small orchestras. According to Bud he died at an early age.
Bud remembered he did another recording session with some of the band members of the Smyth-West Orchestra. Although he did not recall the location or for what record company, he recalled with amusement that he, Sam Solomon and Irving Heinrich came up with the name of "The Unconscious Seven" for the recordings, as some sort of a practical joke. Bud still had a white labelled record in his possession. No matrix numbers were printed or written on the record, nor were any of the titles known. When I asked him if it would be possible to send the record in order to inspect it, he promptly did. When the mail arrived much to my surprise it turned out to be a Marsh Recording Laboratories acetate with the titles "Bugle Call Rag" and "I Got Rhythm".
Chicago, IL; Lyon & Healy Building, circa 1932
Sam Solomon, trumpet; Bud Shiffman, alto saxophone; Irving Heinrich, tenor saxophone; unknown clarinet; piano; piano-accordion; string bass; drums
- I Got Rhythm Marsh Acetate
- Bugle Call Rag Marsh Acetate
Bud soon found his way into the orchestra of Joe Billo, around 1932. In 1933 Bud Shiffman is listed as saxophone player with Joe Billo and his "Famous Orchestra" in the Ironwood Daily Globe of August 28.9 Joe Biolo, as was his original name, originated from Iron Mountain, Michigan and started playing in Chicago but after a while returned to his birth ground around July 1933. He took three Chicago musicians with him, including Bud, Frank Alexander, a trombone player who was formerly with Ted Fiorito and Bill Berger, a string bass and tuba player and formed the rest of his band with local musicians. The band included the Johnson brothers Ewald "A.J." Johnson on tenor saxophone; Harry Johnson on third alto saxophone and Roy Johnson on string bass after Bill Burger left; Joe Pepp on drums; Charles "Chuck" Billo, Joe Billo and Fritz Spera on trumpet; George Corsy on guitar and Ken Thompson on piano. After Ken Thompson left he was replaced by Cully Reese. Frank Alexander later moved to Memphis, Tennessee and became president of the local musicians’ union.
The band advertised itself as "recording artists", probably based on the fact that several band members had recorded with other band prior to their enlisting to the Billo Orchestra, as the advertisement listed the band comprising of band members formerly with Herbie Kay, Johnny Hamp, Clyde McCoy and Paul Whiteman’s Collegians.10
Bud Shiffman played with the territory band for two years. When the band arrived in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fritz Spera only stayed for a short while. He had to return to the Iron Mountain area. Bud advised Billo to fill the empty seat with Bud’s old pal Sam Solomon. Solomon agreed but only stayed with the band for a month. An accident with the band’s bus, which got off the road, made Solomon aware that it wasn’t worth his time. He gave up music very shortly afterwards and even made a lamp out of his trumpet! In later years he moved to Florida where he started a business of his own, selling boats.
By the end of the summer of 1934 Bud decided to go back to Chicago. The Chicago World's Fair of 1934 was still going on and Bud got himself a job with a band at the World's Fair, although only for a short while. The World's Fair originally started in 1933, but due to its success it reopened in May 1934 and closed on October 31 of that year.
Billo kept performing in Michigan and disbanded his orchestra after 193811. By 1935 Cully Reese organized his own orchestra with some former band members of Joe Billo’s orchestra.12 Bud Shiffman met Billo again in Minneapolis, years later, when Bud visited his son in that city.
When the summer of 1934 was over, orchestra leader Sol Wagner was forming a new orchestra. Wagner’s orchestra recorded in 1923 for Gennett in Richmond, Indiana and did two more sessions for OKeh in Chicago in 1927.13 The May 12, 1927 OKeh session also included Nate Bold, who was still part of Wagner’s orchestra by the time Bud Shiffman was asked to join the orchestra. Sol picked up Bud’s name after being mentioned by one of the band members. This resulted in an audition for Bud with the orchestra and he remained with the orchestra well into 1935. The band existed of nine men. Bud played lead alto saxophone; Charley Dooley played 3rd sax; Abe Cholden played tenor saxophone; Nate Bold on trumpet; Nate Zimberhoff on bass14; Earl Roth on drums; Sol Wagner on piano. Julie Fatoff, a trombone player, completed the orchestra. Their first job was at the Via Lago Nite Club on Wilson Street.
Every summer Sol Wagner took his orchestra to South Haven, Michigan to play at the local ball room. In the summer of 1935 Bud was part of Wagner’s orchestra when they played at South Haven, with Irving Heinrich, Bud’s old pal from the Smyth-West Orchestra. Heinrich replaced Abe Cholden, who started working for the ABC network orchestra. Heinrich got his seat in the band through Bud, who advised to hire him.
The band had its own baseball team and played against local teams. At one day they came one man short. A young lady, who could play baseball very well was invited to play with them on the field. That’s how Bud met his future wife. Florence, a 17-year old beauty took up with the local beauty contest and became Miss South Haven. She joined Bud when he went back to Chicago with the band. Once in Chicago she joined the Queen Esther contest and won again out of one hundred contestants. On October 10, 1937 the couple married. For the next three decades she adjusted to Bud’s performing scheme of playing six days a week. Irv Heinrich also met his future wife at South Haven and in later years moved to California, after which Bud lost touch of him.
Returning from their summer engagement, Wagner found out that the Chicago night club where they performed was closed. Bud at that time was a member of the Music Corporation of America (MCA), and the head of MCA called Bud to do an audition with Frankie Masters who was forming an orchestra for the College Inn at the Sherman Hotel. Masters by then was a top artist who played at the best hotels. He had been a mainstay at the Tivoli Theatre before.
In 1936, while at a summer resort with Frankie Masters, he got a call: was he willing to play with the Gus Arnheim Orchestra in New York? His best friend, Lou Singer, played drums in that band and it did not take long before Bud joined him. Stan Kenton at that time played piano in Arnheim’s orchestra and was well remembered by Bud. After a while, Arnheim was supposed to follow Benny Goodman to California. Arnheim did not want to go since the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles was his stomping ground. Bud couldn’t have gone with Arnheim to California anyway, because he had auditioned for a job before he left Chicago. Once back in Chicago, he joined the orchestra at the Stevens (later Hilton) Hotel.
Through the years Bud Shiffman became MCA’s main saxophone player, meaning that whenever a band came into Chicago without a sax player he was the first man to fill in the empty spot. In this way he came to play with Ted Weems with Perry Como and Marvell Maxwell, Xavier Cugat and Henri Busse. He played at the major ballrooms such as the Trianon, the Aragon, The Black Hawk Caf`E9 and the Empire Room at The Palmer House.
In the 1930s Bud Shiffman frequently visited clubs where jazz bands played, bringing his instrument with him. He and his friend Joe Masek, a tenor saxophone player who could play terrific piano as well, would go see drummer Zutty Singleton at the Three Deuces. Masek and Singleton recorded with Charles Lavere in 1935. Singleton at that time had a small band with four or five musicians. In those days it was a common thing for musicians to go to clubs and see jazz bands. They joined in on jam sessions, after they had been asked to sit in after the last gigs had been played around three o’clock in the morning. In this way Bud became friendly with Zutty Singleton. In the same way he saw and played with Earl Hines who at that time played at the South Side. He remembered to have visited other jazz clubs, like the Downbeat Room which was in the basement at Randolph and Dearborn Street, and Kelly’s Stable on Rush Street, where Johnny and Baby Dodds played. Although he had heard of both musicians and knew they were quite well known at that time, he did never meet them. He did see Charlie Parker at one of his first performances at the 1111 Club at the North Side with a three or four-piece band. He recalled how Parker stood with his back to the audience. He also saw orchestra leader Eddie Neibaur, who was a mainstay at the Paradise Ballroom on Wilson Street at Chicago’s North Side. Neibaur recorded for Victor in Camden, New Jersey and New York in 1925 and 1926.15 Bud Shiffman remembered that a lot of the local bands were what he called "hotel-type bands or Mickey Mouse bands". They were not extraordinary, mainly playing popular songs of the day.16
In 1938 Bud rejoined Frankie Masters and in 1939 returned to the recording studio, to record behind Frankie Masters for the OKeh label. Bud would remain Masters’s lead saxophone player until late 1941 and would record extensively with the Masters Orchestra. One of the songs that was recorded was "Scatter-Brain", which became Masters’ signature song. The song originated from a warming-up session by the trombone player, Kahn Keen. Carl Bean, the tenor saxophone player was asked to join him to arrange the tune. The Masters band recorded the tune on May 25, 1939, for OKeh. By November, "Scatter-Brain" made the Hit Parade in the number six position and remained in the top 10 for 13 consecutive weeks and was the number one song for six of those weeks. The bands of Van Alexander and Benny Goodman had success with the song and European groups also recorded it, including gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. During this period, the Masters band employed a stylistic gimmick billed as "Bell Tone Music".
At the time Frankie Masters recorded his Scatter-Brain session, John Hammond was the recording engineer for the Columbia and OKeh sessions. Benny Goodman was courting Hammond’s sister and via this connection Goodman heard some of the Frankie Masters records. He became interested in the alto saxophone player on the Frankie Masters recordings and asked if Hammond knew him. Around the time Goodman informed about this sax player, late 1941, Bud played with Goodman’s younger brother Freddie, who played trumpet, in Chicago. Freddie Goodman also acted as road manager for Bennie Goodman.
While in New York performing at the Capitol or the Strand Theatre, Fred Goodman informed Bud that he would come over. Bud thought he just came over to see him play. However Fred talked him into playing with Benny Goodman. Bud accepted the job and played with the Goodman Orchestra for the most part of 1942, from January until the end of the summer, probably late August.
This resulted in three recording sessions with the Goodman Orchestra and vocalist Peggy Lee between March 12 and July 17, 1942. The first session took place at the Liederkranz Hall in New York. I Threw A Kiss In The Ocean and Full Moon were issued on Okeh 6652. He remembered to have played during the sessions with Vido Musso and Cootie Williams. We’ll Meet Again was issued on Okeh 6644. A second session dates from May 14, 1942, again in New York. All I Need Is You was issued on Columbia 36617. Two months later a remake of the title was made on July 17.17
In New York the orchestra played for three to four months at the Hotel New Yorker, which ended on March 12, the day Bud recorded with Goodman. The band then got a two-week break. On March 21, Goodman married Alice Duckworth, John Hammond’s sister. After the break, Bud Shiffman traveled with the Goodman Orchestra up and down the East seaboard, ending up at the Virginia Beach in Atlantic City, Virginia. By late May the orchestra went into New York City’s Paramount Theater, including Bud Shiffman, Vido Musso on tenor saxophone and Billy Butterfield on trumpet.
Around August 1942, while they were coming off of a road trip, Bud heard the news about his father being pretty ill. He had to go back to Chicago anyway, because another job was waiting for him at the Stevens Hotel. Shiffman then played as a side man at the Oriental Garden.
Bud Shiffman was on staff at the CBS radio station in Chicago with Jimmy Hilliard’s Orchestra during World War Two. However CBS’s Chicago manager, Caesar Petrillo (head of Chicago’s Local 208 branch of the American Federation of Musicians and president of the AFofM from 1940 to 1958), had his own orchestra and favored his orchestra over Hilliard’s. Petrillo dismissed the orchestra after an argument whose band should be the leading orchestra for the radio station, after which Hilliard disbanded his orchestra. Bud also was on staff at ABC’s Chicago radio station, which broadcast from the Merchandise Mart.
By 1946 he became the leader of his own orchestra for a two-year period at a night club, owned by Ralph Burger, at Randolph Street. Burger had taken over the Oriental Garden and renamed it The Latin Quarter. The press agent of the club advised Bud to change his stage name into Buddy Shaw, at a time when Artie Shaw was popular and, since Bud was a jazz saxophone player, it would draw more attention. At The Latin Quarter artists like Joe Bishop, Martha Raye and the Ritz Brothers performed. Joe Bishop recorded extensively from the mid 1920s into the late 1930s with such artists as: Al Katz and his Kittens, Isham Jones, Woody Herman, Connie Boswell and Bing Crosby. Martha Raye recorded for Victor in 1932. One of the first artists he played with was Harry Richman, a popular song and dance man.
Around 1947 business slowed down at The Latin Quarter and when one of his paychecks bounced, Bud decided to quit his job. Two days after he gave his boss notice he would quit, one of the regular customers approached him and asked him whether he would be interested in another job. The man was Jack Kirsch, who owned theaters in Illinois, which were part of the Allied Theaters Of Illinois. Kirsch owned a theater, The Englewood, on the South Side where new acts were shown. The day after Bud left The Latin Quarter, the club foreclosed.
For two years, from 1947 to 1948 Bud played at the Anglewood. In 1947 he lost his mother, who was very ill at the time. Ten minutes before he would direct his band from the pit, he got the call from the hospital that she had died. He didn’t even remember he had played that night.
At the same time Lew Diamond, a jobber in Chicago, asked him as a sideman to play in his orchestra. By then stage shows were taken away from theaters and were replaced by two-week-shows. Bud played with his orchestra, backing Johnny Ray for one week and Gene Autry for two weeks. Charlie Hogan was the booking agent at that time.
The 1950s and later career
In 1951 Bud left Lew Diamond to join the Chicago Theater, until stage shows stopped when new management entered in 1954 or 1955. During this period he played with Jack Benny, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn. After Lew Diamond died, Norm Krone, who played first trumpet with Diamond, asked Bud to join his orchestra. They had a house band at various theaters. They played weekdays at the Empire Room, the Black Hawk, the Chez Paree and the Boulevard Room at the Hilton Hotel; during weekends they played jobs.
Bud’s career kept on going, playing six days a week. He was capable playing any type of music, playing city dates, jobbing dates, dances and at dinners. He worked with jobbing leaders and name bands. For twenty years Bud played at the Schubert Theater, from 1964 until 1984, at the same time as working jobbing dates.
In 1984 Bud retired from the music scene, but picked up his saxophone around 1995 and became part of an 18-piece band. Every other Monday evening the band gets together and occasionally performs for charity at hospitals. Bud played saxophone in this local 18-piece jazz band, "...more of a rehearsal band" as he likes to call it, until August 2005. His health declined at that time and ever since Bud has been unable to take up the instrument, much to his regret.
During one of the telephone conversations we had, Bud made it understood that one of the recording sessions DID take place in an old abandoned ice house in Port Washington, Wisconsin. He said he remembered so vividly, because it was one of the first times he left the Illinois state. He does have a Broadway recording somewhere around his apartment but keeps it in one of his three lockers for materials not in need, due to lack of space.
This man, with a remarkable sharp brain, able to pinpoint his career with yearly precision, only now starts to realize what a historical icon he is.18
1aIn 2006 the L-Matrix Master Series List for Grafton recordings, as published in 78 Quarterly, issue 9 was updated by Guido van Rijn and Alex van der Tuuk.
iA series of interviews were conducted over the telephone on July 27, August 3, August 6, August 30, October 25, 2005; January 14, and February 4, 2007. Corrections and additions were made, based on telephone conversations with Mr. Shiffman, as well as checking news papers and related material. Where needed footnotes will refer to these sources.
2Telephone conversation with Bud Shiffman: June 29, 2006
3Confirmed by newspaper advertisements listed in the Suburbanite Economist, December 17 and 20, 1972
4Telephone conversation with Bud Shiffman: July 18, 2006
7Telephone conversation with Bud Shiffman: July 18, 2006
8Email from Brad Kay, March 31, 2006
9Ironwood Daily Globe, August 28, 1933, page 6; August 29, 1933, page 3
10The Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh. September 15, 1933, page 12
11Bud Shiffman remembered that Billo disbanded his orchestra in Minneapolis, but advertisements for the orchestra were listed in Michigan newspapers between 1935 and 1938.
12Ironwood Daily Globe: April 11, 1935. July 2, 1935, page 2
13Brian Rust. Jazz And Ragtime Records (1897-1942): pages 1495-1496
14Nate Zimberhoff later joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
15Rust: page 1494
16Telephone conversation with Bud Shiffman: November 14, 2005
17http://www.jazzdiscography.com/Artists/Lee/Goodman.html. Rust: pages 675-676
18More research on Bud Shiffman’s career was conducted by Christopher Popa. See: www.bigbandlibrary.com/frankiemasters.html . Some of the information was adapted from this article