Jimmy Hill

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That a performer named Jimmy Hill is credited with alto saxophone and clarinet performances on recordings by a band that wasn't really a band, the Washboard Rhythm Kings, seems inevitable. If the life…
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That a performer named Jimmy Hill is credited with alto saxophone and clarinet performances on recordings by a band that wasn't really a band, the Washboard Rhythm Kings, seems inevitable. If the life of this non-group extended beyond the '30s, perhaps every musician on the planet would have wound up getting involved. Since the band changed almost its entire personnel each time it entered the studio, turnover must have indeed been enormous. Some musicians may have found such a situation alienating, but the band management balanced it out by also constantly changing the name of the group, although not as quickly as its members. Thus, Hill may have also played with the Washboard Serenaders, Washboard Rhythm Kings, Alabama Washboard Stompers, Georgia Washboard Stompers, Melody Four, Five Rhythm Kings, Chicago Hot Five, Washboard Rhythm Boys, the Rhythm Kings, Tramp Band, Wilton Crawley and the Washboard Rhythm Kings, and Williams' Washboard Band.

Unfortunately, not enough is known about Hill to make such a determination. Better known are some of the other players from these aggregations who stuck around and made careers for themselves on the jazz scene, such as blustery, hard-charging trumpeters Henry "Red" Allen and Taft Jordan, or the eccentric singer Leo Watson, who would later be featured with Dizzy Gillespie. The basic concept of this band, no matter what the name was or who was on the bandstand, was to feature a revved-up washboard laying down the rhythm, horns blowing on top and attention-getting ensemble vocals. With strong New Orleans jazz and swing influences, the group's music also had enough goofy or cornpone elements to be classified as hokum or just plain "good-time music." This Hill has been identified wrongly as the alto saxophonist Jimmy Hill, who recorded with rhythm & blues singer Etta Jones, and classical saxophonist James Hill, an instructor and performer based out of Ohio. Neither of these men were even born when the Washboard Rhythm Kings sides were cut.