Scholars seem in a dilemma over whether this artist's surname culminates in a "lack" or a "lock," but Eddie Pollack, Edward Pollock, or any variation thereof was heard loud and strong in Windy City speakeasies and nightclubs in the Roaring Twenties. This reed player backed both Ma Rainey and Al Jolson, but also performed as a singer himself. It was the illustrious Erskine Tate who taught him saxophone, which according to historical accounts he played for the first time professionally at an illegal booze joint in Robins, IL, circa the summer of 1925.
Later that year Pollack began gigging in Detroit Shannon's band; in the ensuing decade he blew his horns in a wide range of Chicago jazz outfits, some of which, such as Jimmie Noone's group, left behind recorded documentation. A national feat of barnstorming with bandleader Carl White is indeed one of the few instances when Pollack didn't have Lake Michigan over his shoulder. By the '40s he seemed less interested in sideman action, leading his own groups for which he accepted stretched-out house band status. Then his music career ended, the Chicago jazz heavyweight becoming the sort of individual spoken of in one of Colonel Bruce Hampton's song prophesies: "If I had it to do over, I'd go into real estate."