The Three Peppers were a jive trio consisting of pianist Oliver "Toy" Wilson, guitarist Bob Bell, and bassist Walter Williams, who began recording in 1937 for the Variety Records label, including sides accompanying singer Sally Gooding. A year later, they jumped to Decca Records, re-cutting their earlier work and adding new repertory over the next two years. The group was very popular for a short time during the late '30s playing the same kind of lean, small group swing-inspired jazz that Nat "King" Cole's trio would hit with, in a bigger and longer lasting fashion, at around the same time. Wilson exited the lineup during the 1940s only to intermittently re-appear in music over the next decade or so and was replaced by Roy Branker, a New York-based keyboard player and singer. Although the trio has sunk into some obscurity in the 50 years since its heyday, they were popular enough in their time to be booked into such venues as the Stork Club in New York and the Earle Theater in Philadelphia, and they turned up on film in 1943 in the RKO release The Lady Takes a Chance, starring Jean Arthur and John Wayne. They were still going strong in 1949 and were signed that year to record for Ivin Ballen's Gotham Records label -- that lineup, featuring Branker, showed it still had a hot small group sound and was pretty strong in the scatting department as well. In 1990, Collectables Records reissued five of the group's extant Gotham sides on Eddie Cole and the Three Peppers, a multi-artist disc, and six years later the European-based Classic label put out their Variety and Decca sides on a compilation covering the years 1937-1940, featuring the original lineup.
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