Maynard Spencer

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Pianist Maynard Spencer was an accomplice of trumpeters Bix Beiderbecke and Wingy Manone, among others, whacking chunky chords with plenty of low-end anchors to the hornmen's voyages of fancy. The aforementioned…
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Pianist Maynard Spencer was an accomplice of trumpeters Bix Beiderbecke and Wingy Manone, among others, whacking chunky chords with plenty of low-end anchors to the hornmen's voyages of fancy. The aforementioned names are historic ones in classic jazz, and it is customary to mention some of the most well-known leaders that obscure sidemen such as Spencer worked with. Yet an even greater claim to fame in this case revolves around his connection to a pseudonym, and not just because it happens to be a goofy name, even by the standards of the music business in the '30s. The recordings that were released under the name of Barbecue Joe & His Hot Dogs, made for the Gennett label in Richmond, Indiana, actually were the work of Manone and his players, including this pianist.

The tracks represented a kind of revolution, and not of the sort that locals in this area accused anti-war Quaker students at nearby Earlham College of trying to spread in the '60s. The Barbecue Joe revolt was a revolution of riffs, especially the one the band played on the track "Tar Paper Stomp," a series of passing blues chords played on the piano underpinning the fabric nicely. The riff wandered, as riffs seem to do, and ended up on a Glenn Miller record called "In the Mood." This was the biggest selling record in the history of swing, and one of the blockbusters of jazz in general. The association was not enough to sustain a career for Spencer, who by the standards of swinging sidemen appears on relatively few records. The pianist often worked alongside rhythm section players such as Dash Burkis on drums and the fine tuba player Orville Haynes.