Saturday, January 19, 2019

Remembering Clyde Arbuckle Who Saved the History of San Jose'

Clyde Arbuckle
Clyde Arbuckle, a Willow Glen resident, was the first City Historian for the City of San Jose'.

Born in 1903, Arbuckle experienced the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake with his half brothers and sisters, one of whom was silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arcbuckle.

His family were pioneers in the Valley, having settled here in 1846. Arbuckle was raised enjoying family history stories about early Valley life. He became an ardent collector of records and lore about our local history.

Arbuckle worked for the American Railway Express after leaving school at the age of 15. He was a professional Banjo player and along with his brother, an award-winning bike racer with the Garden City Wheelmen.

He married his wife Helen in 1932. They had a son in 1935 and a daughter in 1936. Arbuckle built a new family home on Franquette Avenue (near Curtner), which had no electricity on July 4,1939, the day the family moved into their new Willow Glen home.

As an avid and humorous public speaker and storyteller with a photographic memory, Arbuckle was popular with many local historic groups, where he was known for his iconic khaki shirts and pants, worn daily with what he called his "Denver" Stetson.

In 1945 the Historic Landmarks Commission was formed and nominated Arbuckle to become the first City Historian for the City of San Jose'. In 1950 Arbuckle was named the first director and curator for History San Jose', a new organization dedicated to preserving the Valley's history and artifacts. Arbuckle and Theron Fox are credited with saving San Jose's history.

From the History San Jose' Web site:
"In 1970, under the urging of friend and fellow preservationist Theron Fox, Clyde was commissioned to write the definitive history of San Jose. The history was published in 1985, printed by friend and history buff Leonard McKay (Smith & McKay Printing), who has been said to have contributed greatly to the book’s completion.  
Clyde also wrote Historic Names of Persons and Places in Santa Clara County (with Roscoe D. Wyatt in 1948), and Santa Clara County Ranchos in 1968. 
He was an active member of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E. Clampus Vitas, the California Pioneers of Santa Clara Valley, and the Argonauts Historical Society, as well as being a Mason. In 1998, Clyde passed away at the age of 94. 
Further reading from the San Jose Public Library, California RoomClyde Arbuckle's history of San Jose, by Clyde Arbuckle; Santa Clara County Ranchos, by Clyde Arbuckle; King Library, Special Collection's Digital Collections; California Room's Clipping Files
---Submitted by Ralph Pearce on Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 5:01 PM."

First Street San Jose
(Note: Some links to Clyde Arbuckle books on WorldCat and local organizations mentioned in the Ralph Pearce article above, were added by me.) 

A number of Clyde Arbuckle's articles and books exist in educational institutions, archives and library collections. They are listed here in the Online Archive of California and OCLC's WorldCat database.


Arbuckle amassed a large collection of photographs of Santa Clara Valley. The Clyde Arbuckle California History Research Collection is housed in the California Room at the Martin Luther King Jr. Branch of San Jose Public Library.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Silicon Valley's Hot Jazz Roots

Hot Jazz began in New Orleans at the start of the 20th Century. The name came from The Original Dixieland Jass Band. "Jass" was changed to "Jazz" around 1917. (Three songs by the Original Dixieland Jass Band can be heard in the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, including, Livery Stable Blues.)


Trad Jazz had a revival after the Swing and Beebop era of the 1940's, although it is said to span the 1930's through the 1950's in the U.S. and Europe.

The New Orleans style of Trad Jazz had its resurgence with tuba providing a strong base note and a marching band style. A trumpet played the melody while other instruments improvised together and in solos.


The Chicago resurgence replaced the tuba with a string bass plus other stringed instruments like banjo and guitar, in a strong, fast-paced, two-beat rhythm with improvisational solos.

Chicago-style musicians were Jimmy McPartland, Eddie Condon, Mugsy Spanier, Bud Freeman, PeeWee Russell and Bobby Hackett.

Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin also played elements of Trad Jazz in Chicago-style, sometimes called "Nicksieland" after Nick's Greenwich Village Nightclub where the music was popular.

English Jazz pianist Margaret Marian Turner McPartland was a noted figure in the U.K., Chicago and New York Jazz scene, eventually hosting the popular Piano Jazz program on NPR where she played and interviewed notables from Jazz history and contemporary Jazz. (Jimmy McPartland was her husband, whom she met in 1946 while performing for the troops in Belgium.) You can hear some of her music on Youtube.


The West Coast revival began in the 1930's with Lu Watters and his Yerba Buena Jazz Band, who played at the Dawn Club in San Francisco. (Turk Murphy was an early member of the YBJB before starting his own band.) Lu opened a restaurant called Hambone Kelly's in 1947 on San Pablo Avenue, which was called "Music Row" due to the number of dance halls and music clubs on that street between Oakland and El Cerrito. Watters' band performed at his restaurant until they dispersed in 1950.

West Coast bands typically used both banjo and tuba, plus brass horns and a washboard, with improvisation and solos blasting two-to-the-bar tempos.

Trombonist Turk Murphy broke Trad Jazz barriers, veering away from the Nicksieland Swing style of Chicago Trad Jazz and reviving the sounds of Joe "King" Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and W.C. Handy, who is celebrated in this documentary.. Turk Murphy also recorded some sessions for PBS Sesame Street segments. (See video list below.)


Around the same time, a Trad Jazz revival took place in the Low Countries (coastal areas) of The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, notably with the Dutch Swing College Band, who focused on Ragtime and New Orleans-Style Trad Jazz. These bands are larger than most Trad Jazz bands with as many as fifteen musicians, among the largest bands playing Trad Jazz today.

Noted Trad Jazz Festivals:
Bix Beiderbecke and his Band

Traditional Jazz publications:
The term "Dixieland" is not used by many contemporary Trad Jazz musicians due to its association with racist Jim Crow laws in the South. "Trad Jazz" is the preferred term.

Enjoy some music from YouTube by clicking on names in this partial list of Trad Jazz greats.

"Kings" of Trad Jazz:

"Queens" of Trad Jazz:


Contemporary Ragtime Performers: Local

(A portion of this post was displayed on another Web site I developed for a local nonprofit organization in 2018, which still contains my unattributed, original writing and Web redesign work. I chose to resign from that board due to content accuracy and Web privacy practices concerns. My original writing and Web redesign work still remain online, although I have asked that they be taken down by the new Web master.  -- C. D. Alexander)