Curtis Mosby

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The career of drummer and bandleader Curtis Mosby proves that even in the early days, Americans didn't stay put. Although he was born in Kansas City, MO, near the end of the 19th century, Mosby's professional…
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The career of drummer and bandleader Curtis Mosby proves that even in the early days, Americans didn't stay put. Although he was born in Kansas City, MO, near the end of the 19th century, Mosby's professional career began in a group called the Tennessee Ten, and his best-known activities involve the Blue Blowers, a Los Angeles band that Mosby pumped air into for nearly a decade beginning in the early '20s. He also found time to lead a group in Chicago and was heard far and wide on various tours with Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds.

Mosby, who also sometimes played violin, created a connection with his roots by originally calling his Los Angeles band the Kansas City Blue Blowers. Under any name his groups helped him establish a solid reputation in Los Angeles, although Mosby was not the type to wait around for someone else to heat up the coffee. His knack for self-promotion resulted in Mosby opening his own clubs, beginning with the famous Apex and also later including the Oasis in 1949.

As a composer, his activities included scoring sections of King Vidor's 1929 "black" musical entitled Hallelujah. His group itself has several features in the movie, including accompanying Nina Mae McKinney on "Swanee Shuffle" and running through a band theme, "Blue Blowers Blues," as the background to a comedy routine. In the '30s, Mosby's group was part of a touring variety show that promised to Change Your Luck. Archive labels such as Jazz Oracle have reissued Mosby's early material.