Joe Steele

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

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  
Decca 61001 10-in. 4/7/1936 under the spell of the blues Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, piano  
Decca 61002 10-in. 4/7/1936 When I get low I get high Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, piano  
Decca 61123 10-in. 6/2/1936 Go Harlem-1 Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, piano  
Decca 61124 10-in. 6/2/1936 Sing me a swing song (and let me dance) Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, piano  
Decca 61125 10-in. 6/2/1936 A little bit later on Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, piano  
Decca 61126 10-in. 6/2/1936 Love, you're just a laugh Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, piano  
Decca 61127 10-in. 6/2/1936 Devoting my time to you Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, piano  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Steele, Joe," accessed October 25, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111521.

Steele, Joe. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 25, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111521.

"Steele, Joe." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 25 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111521

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