b. 16 January 1891, Chicago, Illinois, USA, d. 21 September 1940, Chicago, Illinois, USA. On leaving Wendell Phillips High School, Straight was a pianist in vaudeville before entering the band business. Together with Roy Bargy (on second piano) and a saxophonist he formed Straight’s Trio aka the Imperial Three, doing unsuccessful recording tests for Victor and Columbia Records on consecutive days in November 1919. However, a month later the Emerson label released the trio’s first records. In 1923, Straight and his new nine-piece band were recording for Paramount, the tracks being simultaneously issued on subsidiary labels as the Frisco Syncopators, Harmograph Dance Orchestra, Manhattan Imperial Orchestra, Broadway Melody Makers and Rendezvous Dance Orchestra. Long resident at the Rainbow Gardens in Chicago, the band was joined by Bix Beiderbecke in 1924.
Joseph ‘Wingy’ Manone also played with Straight, and in 1926, Miff Mole and Wild Bill Davison were on a Brunswick session which produced ‘Hobo’s Prayer’/‘Minor Gaff’, also issued on Vocalion Records as by the Tennessee Tooters. Most of Straight’s 1926-27 sides went out on Brunswick under his own name but some were also issued on Vocalion as the Tuxedo Orchestra. He never worked as a leader after his last Brunswick sessions of August 1928, though he is known to have recorded with the Benson Orchestra of Chicago, run by the agency which handled his own band. Straight was a prolific songwriter, though none of his work seems to have endured; he was also musical director of a company making piano rolls, to which he undoubtedly contributed himself. He was born, lived, worked, seldom left, and finally died, in Chicago, in September 1940.