Image Source: Wikipedia

Mills Blue Rhythm Band

The Mills Blue Rhythm Band was an American big band active during the 1930s.

The band was formed in New York City, United States, in 1930 by drummer Willie Lynch as the Blue Rhythm Band, and then briefly operated as the Coconut Grove Orchestra. Irving Mills became its manager in 1931 and it subsequently assumed the name Mills Blue Rhythm Band. Compere Jimmy Ferguson (Baron Lee) replaced Lynch. Another brief leader, reeds player Bingie Madison, left at the time of the final name change. Over its lifetime, the group was known as the "Blue Rhythm Band", "Blue Ribbon Band", "Blue Rhythm Boys", "The Blue Racketeers", "Earl Jackson's Musical Champions", "Earl Jackson and his Orchestra", "Duke Wilson and his Ten Blackberries", "King Carter's Royal Orchestra", "Mills Music Masters", "Harlem Hot Shots". It accompanied Louis Armstrong on some record sides.

The Mills Blue Rhythm Band were based at The Cotton Club in Harlem. They worked steadily through the 1930s deputizing for the orchestra of Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, often taking their undesirable engagements. Mills managed Ellington and Calloway as well. Edgar Hayes, Eddie Mallory and Dave Nelson all had temporary stints as band leader, until Lucky Millinder permanently took over the role in 1934.

The band recorded 150 sides for labels including Brunswick, Columbia, Victor, the ARC stable of labels (including Oriole, Perfect, Regal, Romeo, Banner, Melotone, Domino), Variety, and Vocalion. Although a few of their records became hits (including "Truckin'" and "Ride, Red, Ride") and the MBRB had a line-up of talented soloists, the group never attained the prominence of their peers. This has been attributed to the lack of a single identifiable leader, and Irving Mills' preference to have the band perform an understudy role.

By 1937, the group was billed as Lucky Millinder and his Orchestra and disbanded in 1938. Millinder joined Bill Doggett's band before reforming it into his own orchestra in 1940.

Irving Mills revived the Mills Blue Rhythm Band name for two recording sessions in 1947, under the guidance of Van Alexander. The only original band member performing at either of the 1947 sessions was trumpeter Charlie Shavers.

Birth and Death Data: Born Founded 1930, Died Ceased 1938

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1931 - 1934

Roles Represented in DAHR: Musical group

Notes: Billed on some Columbia labels as King Carter and his Royal Orchestra, King Carter and his Orchestra, or King Carter's Royal Orchestra.

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 34 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BRC-69963 10-in. 6/18/1931 Moanin' Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo Musical group  
Victor BRC-69964 10-in. 6/18/1931 Blue rhythm Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band Musical group  
Victor BRC-69965 10-in. 6/18/1931 I can't get along without my baby Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo Musical group  
Victor BRC-69978 10-in. 6/26/1931 Heebie jeebies Mills Blue Rhythm Band ; George Morton Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo Musical group  
Victor BRC-69980 10-in. 6/26/1931 Minnie the Moocher Chick Bullock ; Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band, with male vocal duet and vocal chorus Musical group  
Victor BS-78093 10-in. 10/5/1933 Break it down Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band Musical group  
Victor BS-78094 10-in. 10/5/1933 Kokey Joe Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band Musical group  
Victor BS-78095 10-in. 10/5/1933 Love's serenade Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band Musical group  
Victor BS-78096 10-in. 10/5/1933 Harlem after mid-night Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band Musical group  
Victor BS-78827 10-in. 12/4/1933 Drop me off in Harlem Adelaide Hall ; Lucky Millinder ; Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo Musical group  
Victor BS-78828 10-in. 12/4/1933 Reaching for the Cotton Moon Adelaide Hall ; Lucky Millinder ; Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo Musical group  
Victor BS-78829 10-in. 12/4/1933 Love is the thing Lucky Millinder ; Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band Musical group  
Victor BS-80278 10-in. 2/20/1934 The stuff is here Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band Musical group  
Victor BS-80279 10-in. 2/20/1934 The growl Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band Musical group  
Columbia W151454 10-in. 3/23/1931 Swing it King Carter and his Orchestra Jazz/dance band Musical group  
Columbia [W]151455 10-in. 3/23/1931 I'm left with the blues in my heart King Carter and his Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo Musical group  
Columbia [W]151456 10-in. 3/23/1931 Minnie the Moocher King Carter and his Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo Musical group  
Columbia W151637 10-in. 6/25/1931 I can't get along without my baby King Carter and his Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo Musical group  
Columbia W151638 10-in. 6/25/1931 Moanin' King Carter and his Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo Musical group  
Columbia W151639 10-in. 6/25/1931 Low down on the bayou King Carter and his Orchestra Jazz/dance band Musical group  
Columbia W151640 10-in. 6/25/1931 Blue rhythm King Carter and his Orchestra Jazz/dance band Musical group  
Brunswick E35985 10-in. 3/30/1931 Straddle the fence Chocolate Dandies [Mills Blue Rhythm Band] Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo Musical group  
Brunswick E35986 10-in. 3/30/1931 Levee low down Chocolate Dandies [Mills Blue Rhythm Band] Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo Musical group  
Brunswick E35987 10-in. 3/30/1931 Moanin’ Mills Blue Rhythm Band Jazz/dance band Musical group  
Brunswick E36665 10-in. 4/28/1931 Minnie the Moocher Earl Jackson and his Musical Champions [Mills Blue Rhythm Band] Jazz/dance band, with vocal (scat) Musical group  
(Results 1-25 of 34 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Mills Blue Rhythm Band," accessed March 1, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/105991.

Mills Blue Rhythm Band. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/105991.

"Mills Blue Rhythm Band." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 1 March 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/105991

Wikipedia content provided under the terms of the Creative Commons BY-SA license

Feedback

Send the Editors a message about this record.