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 (Results 26-32 of 32 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
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  
(Results 26-32 of 32 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Steele, Joe," accessed October 21, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111521.

Steele, Joe. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 21, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111521.

"Steele, Joe." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 21 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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