Joseph Alexander Ellis Steele (December 17, 1899, Savannah, Georgia - February 5, 1964, New York City) was an American jazz pianist and bandleader.
Joseph Alexander Ellis Steele was born on December 17, 1899, in Savannah, Georgia, home to his father's family for several generations. His father, Alexander McPherson Steele, was a postal worker. As a teenager, Steele moved with his family to Boston, Massachusetts, his mother's hometown. Steele’s mother, Minnie Sarah Ellis Steele, was the daughter of a Jamaican minister, Rev. Alexander Ellis, who served as a pastor in Boston. Steele’s brother, Julian Steele, was a prominent African-American social worker, civil rights and affordable housing advocate, and office holder in Massachusetts.
Steele graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music with a diploma as a teacher and then played with the Savoy Bearcats on their recordings for Victor Records. He played the Bamboo Inn in Harlem with Henri Saparo and then put together his own band to play at the same venue. Members of his band included Ward Pinkett, Langston Curl, Bubber Miley, Harry Carney, Wendell Culley, Johnny Hodges, Joe Garland, Jimmy Archey, Charlie Holmes, and Manzie Johnson. He recorded for Victor as a leader in 1929. In 1931-1932 he played in Pike Davis's ensemble accompanying the vaudeville show Rhapsody in Black, and worked with Chick Webb from 1932 to 1936. He also worked as an arranger, for Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Paul Whiteman, and Cab Calloway among others.
Birth and Death Data: Born December 17th, 1899 (Savannah), Died February 5th, 1964 (New York City)
Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1929 - 1936
Roles Represented in DAHR: piano, director, composer
Recordings (Results 1-25 of 32 records)
|Company||Matrix No.||Size||First Recording Date||Title||Primary Performer||Description||Role||Audio|
|Victor||BVE-53808||10-in.||6/4/1929||Coal-yard shuffle||Joe Steele Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||director, composer|
|Victor||BVE-53809||10-in.||6/4/1929||Top and bottom||Joe Steele Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||director|
|Decca||38548||10-in.||9/5/1934||Give me a heart to sing to||Ethel Waters||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||38549||10-in.||9/5/1934||I ain't gonna sin no more||Ethel Waters||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||38550||10-in.||9/5/1934||Trade mark||Ethel Waters||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||38551||10-in.||9/5/1934||You're going to leave the old home, Jim-1||Ethel Waters||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||38593||10-in.||9/10/1934||That rhythm man||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||38594||10-in.||9/10/1934||On the sunny side of the street||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||38595||10-in.||9/10/1934||Lona-1||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||38596||10-in.||9/10/1934||Blue minor-1||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||39138||10-in.||11/19/1934||It's over because we're through||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||39140||10-in.||11/19/1934||Don't be that way||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||39141||10-in.||11/19/1934||What a shuffle-1||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||39142||10-in.||11/19/1934||Blue Lou||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||39614||10-in.||6/12/1935||I'll chase the blues away||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||39615||10-in.||6/12/1935||Down home rag-1||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||39616||10-in.||6/12/1935||Are you here to stay?||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||39617||10-in.||6/12/1935||Love and kisses||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||60054||10-in.||10/12/1935||Rhythm and romance||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||60055||10-in.||10/12/1935||Moonlight and magnolias||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||60056||10-in.||10/12/1935||I'll chase the blues away||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||60057||10-in.||10/12/1935||I may be wrong (but, I think you're wonderful)||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||60058||10-in.||10/12/1935||Facts and figures||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||60999||10-in.||4/7/1936||Love, you're just a laugh||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||61000||10-in.||4/7/1936||Cryin' my heart out for you||Chick Webb Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Steele, Joe," accessed October 27, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111521.
Steele, Joe. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111521.
"Steele, Joe." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 27 October 2020.
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