Phil Schaap Jazz


by  Phil Schaap This paper is dedicated to MELISSA JONES, a jazz expert, certified by jazz at lincoln center, and the matriarch of the Neo Hot Club Movement. Ms. Jones wished for a most thorough survey of a most obscure jazz musician – GARNET CLARKE. i hope that her dream of a meticulous and exhaustive work has been realized. Garnet Clarke was a short-lived African American Jazz pianist with mental health problems who spent the last three years of his twenty-two in Europe, primarily in France, where he died of tuberculosis on November 30, 1938. Few have ever heard of Garnet Clarke. That’s the correct spelling of both his first and family names. Garnet occasionally has an extra ‘t’, and the ‘e’ on Clarke is frequently dropped. Garnet rhymes with carʹ-net, not with a common pronunciation for the January birthstone. Eighty-two years after his death, there’s probably nobody alive who heard him in person. Clarke, however, made a handful of recordings, including one session as a leader (even there, it’s “Clark”), that allow the claim that he is musically significant. Yet it’s the brevity of Garnet Clarke’s life, his institutionalization for mental illness in 1936, and his appreciable role in the history of Americans in Paris between the two World Wars that has spurred several to map out his biography. It can be that Clarke’s sad, short biography is what makes him interesting. But the belief, here, is that he would/should not be remembered save for his impressive artistry. This document is centered on and is written because of the music. There’s pride in that the research to this version of ‘The Garnet Clarke Story’ has led to the discovery of more recordings – or at least a realization and focus on their existence – as well as more knowledge about all his music. Still, his life story will be told. It also raises the major point that the larger problem is the lack of an audience: not just for Garnet Clarke but for Jazz itself. The authors of the previous tellings of Garnet Clarke’s life have no readership. And this includes the authors! Current standard references that provide a profile for Clarke miss out or mislist the biographical basics. Felix Sportis uncovered much of what can be known. Eventually, Sportis published his discoveries in a 2003 special edition of the magazine Jazz Hot that went little noticed. It is in French, once the lingua franca. The research for this essay belatedly came to that Jazz Hot issue. Initially, guided by Melissa Jones, primary sources, such as The U. S. Census for 1920 and 1930, were examined. Garnet Clarke’s birthdate can’t be pinned down by such documents, yet Jan Evensmo knew it was February 7, 1916. Jan had learned it from Howard Rye. Finally, by working backwards through a trail of researchers, the Sportis article was obtained. Charles Iselin provided a translation and a summary. Late in the preparation, the Fat Cat, Matthew Rivera, and Parker Fishel noticed the overlooking of Ben Kragting, Jr.’s short Garnet Clarke discography-biography in the June 1, 1991 Storyville (#146), retrieving it pronto for this attempt. David Beal and Charles Iselin soon followed with news clips; Mr. Iselin’s finds were in French, so he translated. Now equipped with a fuller and more accurate set of facts, this essay can present a more complete picture. Maybe this document will go equally unnoticed. The bottom line is that Jazz, certainly pre-Hard Bop Jazz, is ignored; if one wishes to interest people in Garnet Clarke, then his ignominious, brief saga is, currently, the path to getting anyone to pay attention to the fact that he once lived. This version of ‘The Garnet Clarke Story’, nevertheless, leads with his music. Clarke was a masterful pianist; those who knew him, such as Trummy Young and John Hammond, found him to be a virtuoso. John Hammond recalling in Fall 1935 a March 1934 performance wrote in the December 1935 issue – #6 – Jazz Hot magazine: “All of us were absolutely flaberg-asted at his talent, … Garnet played for more than four hours without stopping: he has more endurance than any pianist I know.” (Providing some candor, within those “…”, Hammond expressed a bit of disappointment in Clarke’s use of the left hand side of the keyboard.) As a Jazz musician, Garnet had – and in great quantity – swing and invention. Beyond these attributes, which could but shouldn’t be undervalued as merely Jazz prerequisites, is originality. Garnet Clarke’s solos and accompaniments reveal identity – there is no one quite like him. Teddy Wilson said that creating a concept in music was easy, but that it was truly difficult to do something new that was pleasing. Garnet Clarke’s fresh approach to Jazz piano pleases. Within his identity, there is playing suggesting flavors of Jazz piano that would not emerge until the mid-20th Century. John Hammond may have verified this in the same December 1935 article quoted just above, though it was bestowed literally and figuratively in a lefthanded compliment – a criticism broached twice in just one, otherwise most positive, portrait. “Garnet does not pay enough attention to his left hand. He can play wonderful foundation, but he concentrates too much on his right hand. Even so, he is one of the most talented artists I have ever heard.” Late in his life, Charles Delaunay, close to Clarke and his performances in France, allowed that “there is no doubt that Garnet Clark was kind of modernistic.” Both the pioneering solographer and Jazz archaeologist, Jan Evensmo, and the marvelous keyboard Jazzman, Tardo Hammer, cite Garnet Clarke’s playing containing elements of what was then in the future. Some of that “futurism” can be heard in Clarke’s depth and use of harmony. That his piano is attractive beyond his Western Music understanding and high caliber technique comes with Clarke’s aforementioned swing, invention, and identity – plus emotional content, passion that is felt by the listener. The scant number of recordings that allow one to hear Garnet Clarke at all do not easily confirm his merit. The best way to zoom in on Clarke rests in the two completely solo piano recordings we have in hand: “I Got Rhythm” recorded at the end of his leader date (November 25, 1935) that otherwise featured a quintet; and “Improvisation” done in a hospital, presumably in 1937, that is really “I Feel A Song Coming On”. (Shout-out to Charles Iselin!, who identified that this was that tune and, with Melissa Jones, continues the search for the other, far shorter, solo piano recording done that day at Hopital Sainte-Anne.) Yet these solos do not directly supply the antecedents of Jazz piano’s future that Garnet Clarke’s concept does, nevertheless, contain. “I Got Rhythm” is a tour de force that matches up with the shout pieces played by the masters of Harlem Stride Piano. Yes, Clarke is versed in that school, but it is not his art’s center. Beginning with Hugues Panassié’s review in 1936, that panned Clarke’s “I Got Rhythm”, there have been various analyses that shy away from the Harlem Stride Piano analogy. Pleasing praise for Garnet’s “I Got Rhythm” did appeared in the May 17, 1936 L’Echo d’Alger, a newspaper in the then French colony of Algeria. The obscure blurb, discovered by Charles Iselin, contrasts dramatically with Panassié’s “You would swear that Garnet had deliberately played it in an absurd manner.” “Improvisation” = “I Feel A Song Coming On” has less of early Jazz piano’s emphasis on the left side of the keyboard, though this may be more a byproduct of the poor instrument used. This track dimly connects to the musings of players, composers, and arrangers that let one hear that Debussy’s vision of harmony had a great impact on Jazz. But here, again, there’s limitation to hearing Clarke’s music as a bridge towards Jazz piano’s future. In addition to the keyboard contraption, Clarke seems to be struggling to play “I Feel A Song Coming On” correctly. Garnet Clarke is his own man, his music is truly different, at times not of its time. But it’s a stretch to hear a path from these two solo examples and his short discography in general to the music of Bud Powell, Herbie Nichols, Thelonious Monk, John Lewis, Bill Evans, and the many others who changed Jazz piano conception years later. Oddly, that Garnet Clarke can speak in a Jazz language that won’t be fully formed until well after his death may be best heard in his briefer improvisations on his own five piece recording of “Rosetta”: the four bar introduction and the short six bar solo near the end. Indeed, the better insight into Clarke’s distinctiveness can be obtained more from his blowing on the three quintet pieces at his leader session than on the piano solo “I Got Rhythm” appended at the date’s end. Perhaps the listener intrigued by this essay’s pronouncement of Garnet Clarke’s glory should start with “Garnet Clark and his Hot Club’s Four”: hear the three fivesome tracks first, then move on to the solo “I Got Rhythm”. There are other limitations to assessing Garnet Clarke’s music, assessment that must account for and be encumbered by his microscopic discography. Clarke’s first recording is the only one on which there are drums and, arguably, the only time we hear him in a full rhythm section. These October 19, 1934 recordings by Alex Hill and his Hollywood Sepians are also Garnet Clarke’s only recordings done in the United States. Coupled on Vocalion 78RPM 2848 are “Let’s Have a Jubilee” and “Song of the Plow”. Clarke is adlibbing behind the leader’s vocal on both titles. But he doesn’t solo. There’s out in the open piano in the introduction to “Song of the Plow”, but it sounds written and, in any case, is uneventful. This session does, however, impart that Garnet Clarke is aware and has synthesized the breakthrough of Earl “Fatha” Hines”. In truth, there are only four known occasions when Garnet Clarke’s playing is preserved. On half (meaning just twice), he plays in a rhythm section. With Alex Hill, it’s a four piece rhythm section where his piano is teamed with guitar, bass, and drums that discography lists as Eddie Gibbs, Billy Taylor, Sr., and Harry Dial. On his own November 25, 1935 recordings, it’s his piano, Django Reinhardt’s guitar, and June Cole on bass. Garnet Clarke is the only instrumentalist on the other two recordings. That his entire legacy exists in 23 to 24 minutes of music permits this essay to contain his entire discography.  GARNET CLARKE DISCOGRAPHY At first, this Garnet Clarke Discography deals with music played by him that was most likely not recorded; and, if somehow preserved, then it is extremely doubtful to have survived. Additionally, extant music was investigated to evaluate any possibility of Clarke’s presence. The exploration of some of the surviving music was necessitated by unsubstantiated accounts that proposed Garnet Clarke’s presence. Other still extant music was examined as the recordings were made by primaries who Clarke played with. All this music – recorded or not, surviving or not – are addressed as a guide to any future search for his music. [Max Abrams’ 1973 listing of an alternate of “Stardust” from Clarke’s own 11/25/1935 session is considered, here, as substantive and is, therefore, more formally included.] GARNET CLARKE performed on live radio. There is no belief that the live broadcasts by the Tommy Myles orchestra, a band in which Clarke played and arranged, heard on WMAL in 1932 and 1933, were recorded. Their probable connection to Garnet Clarke’s own show, solo piano broadcasts, on WMAL required their being referenced. Tommy Myles broadcasts occurred at 11:30pm. The dates are: 11/10/1932; 11/17/1932; 12/1/1932; 12/2/1932; 12/16/1932; 12/30/1932; ½/1933; 1/6/1933; and 1/7/1933. Garnet Clarke played in this band, undoubtedly for at least a chunk of this 1932 – 1933 period, and would be, therefore, on some or all these broadcasts. On WMAL, Garnet Clarke even had his own show. He was heard Thursday mornings from 10:15am – 10:30am. The first documented broadcast occurred on November 17, 1932. There were roughly two months of his weekly program, broadcasts of: 11/17/1932; 11/24/1932; 12/15/1932; 12/29/1932; 1/12/1933; 1/19/1933; 1/26/1933; and 2/2/1933. It would be extraordinary if any of these broadcasts were recorded. By a technicality, his last known airtime – Thursday, February 2, 1933 – was under the NBC aegis. The loose thread that Garnet Clarke was on a preserved NBC show and that, technically, he did one on 2/2/1933 was thoroughly traced.  It is inconceivable that it was even recorded much less saved. That same loose thread seems part of the whole cloth that proffered that Clarke was on a surviving broadcast of the popular French singer, Jean Sablon. Sablon, in Paris, in 1935 and continuing, used quality Jazz musicians on his recordings including Django Reinhardt. The idea that Garnet Clarke appeared on radio with Sablon needed to be probed. An NBC program of Jean Sablon does exist and was tracked down. It was done well over two years after Clarke’s death. The pianist is Garland Wilson, who did, in fact, record with Sablon in Paris in 1935. This NBC production of Sablon using Wilson occurred in the United States in 1941. No radio performances of GARNET CLARKE are known to survive nor thought to have been recorded. Following a procedure innovated by Finland’s Tapio Väisänen, where the discographer listens to recordings, often without proved personnel, by artists who recorded or at least worked prominently with the artist receiving his own discography, this discography examined the possibility that Garnet Clarke participated on Charlie Barnet’s first discs, and, most thoroughly, dwelt on the suggestion that Clarke recorded on the first Alex Hill session for Vocalion done September 10, 1934. Admittedly all the tracks by Charlie Barnet where Garnet might be involved – October 9, 1933; October 25, 1933 (one title); March 23, 1934; and March 29, 1934 – have not been heard. There is so little out-in-the-open piano on those sides that have been listened to, that the possibility that Clarke is there would most likely add limited value to the survey of his art. [This topic/possibility is again addressed later in the text.] That Clarke would make his first recordings with Alex Hill on October 19, 1934, a similar – but with no vocals – Alex Hill session of September 10, 1934 was given full attention. The identity of the piano playing from this date – “Ain’t It Nice?” and “Functionizin’” on Vocalion 78RPM 2826 – is debated, independent of the thought that its player might be Clarke. As of early 2021, some Jazz reference works still list the leader, Alex Hill, as the pianist on this disc. It is played by Charlie Beal. GARNET CLARKE is not the pianist on the September 10, 1934, Alex Hill and his Hollywood Sepians session. (Dan Barrett was helpful in reaching this conclusion. Even more essential was Melissa Jones. Charles Iselin’s effort was quite extensive.) Clarke’s 1936 work with Adelaide Hall – that included a promotional record on which Garnet is the pianist - necessitated examining her split session for Ultraphone dated January 1936. On the first part, where she is backed by piano alone, issued on Ultraphone 78RPM AP-1574, on which she sings “I’m in the Mood for Love” and “Truckin’”, the pianist is {striding} Joe Turner. On the second part, where she is backed by a small group under the direction of “John Ellsworth” who is really Jacques Methehen, issued on Ultraphone 78RPM AP-1575, on which she sings “East of the Sun” and “Solitude”, the pianist is listed as Turner. Discography is weak on annotating the instrumentation and, therefore, the personnel. The group is largely made up of Paris based Europeans. The presence of a bass player is not listed, but this musician is there and seems quite capable, as does the pianist. There is no reason to doubt that the keyboardist is, indeed, the listed {striding} Joe Turner; but there is no true illustration on the pianist’s individual identity in the combo heard on Ultraphone 78RPM AP-1575. What little that can be heard does not sound like Garnet Clarke. There are gaps in the master numbers: “I’m in the Mood for Love” is P-77612; “Truckin’” is P-77613; “East of the Sun” is P-77616; and “Solitude” is P-77618. GARNET CLARKE is not the pianist on, dated as January 1936, Adelaide Hall session(s) for Ultraphone. Should Garnet somehow be proven to have played piano on the two combo sides, it would add nothing or very, very little to the embracing of his artistry. (Matthew “Fat Cat” Rivera provided the music on the combo sides.) The GARNET CLARKE DISCOGRAPHY turns to confirmed recordings on which Garnet Clarke plays. ALEX HILL AND HIS HOLLYWOOD SEPIANS New York City, Oct. 19, 1934 ALEX HILL, vocal, composer, arranger “Song of the Plow”; Joe Thomas, trumpet; Benny Carter, trumpet, arranger “Let’s Have a Jubilee”; Claude Jones, trombone; Albert Nicholas, alto sax, clarinet; George James, alto sax; Gene Sedric, tenor sax; GARNET CLARKE, piano; Eddie Gibbs, guitar; Billy Taylor, Sr., bass; Harry Dial, drums. 16141-1 Song Of The Plow Vocalion 2848 / CD on Timeless Historical 16142-1 Let’s Have A Jubilee Vocalion 2848 / CD on Timeless Historical GARNET CLARK AND HIS HOT CLUB’S FOUR Paris, Nov. 25, 1935 The original issue of “Rosetta” and “The Object of My Affection”, Disque “Gramophone” (HMV) K-7618, extends the group credit with “Featuring Bill Coleman”. This addition to Clarke’s quintet’s name on the original label is likely to also appear on the “Stardust” side of Disque “Gramophone” (HMV) K-7645, the original release; but that issue has not been seen. [Our friends at the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University, Newark, in an effort led by Vincent Pelote and Elizabeth Surles, are hoping to get a photo image of this disc to this research.] Most discographies list the band’s name with “clubs” as a plural. But even though there was more than one Hot Club by late 1935, it was always meant to be possessive not a plural, undoubtedly referring to the Hot Club of France. HMV X.4593, a 78RPM release created in England to be marketed in Scandinavia, offers a label credit that reads: “GARNET CLARK OCH “HOT CLUB’S FOUR” (Paris)”. “Och” means “and”; so, it’s means Garnet Clark and Hot Club’s Four. This record just has “Stardust” from 11/25/1935, Clarke’s lone leader date. The reverse is “Troubled Waters” by the Duke Ellington Orchestra on May 9, 1934 (Victor 24651). (Shout-out to David Beal) GARNET CLARKE, piano, solo on “I Got Rhythm”; Bill Coleman, trumpet, vocal on “The Objection of My Affection”; George Johnson, clarinet; Django Reinhardt, guitar; June Cole, bass. OLA 730-1 Rosetta  Disque “Gramophone” (HMV) K-7618 / CD Fremeaux (Django) OLA 731-1 Stardust  Disque “Gramophone” (HMV) K-7645 / CD Fremeaux (Django) OLA 731-2 Stardust unissued alternate – existence or if it ever existed unknown Max Abrams in his 1973 Django Reinhardt Discography within his “The Book of Django” lists this unissued alternate take of “Stardust”, master number 731-2. The Swiss 78RPM issue (HMV JK-2823), a great rarity, has been checked and it plays the master take. OLA 732-1 The Object Of My Affection  Disque “Gramophone” (HMV) K-7618 / CD Fremeaux (Django) OLA 733-1 I Got Rhythm  Disque “Gramophone” (HMV) K-7645/ CD  Classics (Classics Chronological) #24, an anthology ADELAIDE HALL Switzerland, probably Basil, as early as February1936 but no later than Summer 1936 ADELAIDE HALL, vocal; GARNET CLARKE, piano; unidentified announcer, speaking in German. This recording, unseen in its original form, was a promotional record for the touring “Black And White Birds Revue” when it was staged in Switzerland. This disc, perhaps, is connected to the revue’s appearance at the Rex Theatre in Basel. [Though the announcements are in German, it is not recorded in Germany.] The announcer is heard between numbers and at the beginning, when he emphasizes Adelaide Hall’s stardom in Blackbirds and at the Cotton Club. The selections are extremely short, and while Clarke plays with liberty and can be identified, there are no solos. Truckin’ Solitude I Can’t Give You Anything But Love I Must Have That Man Diga Diga Doo Truckin’ The two versions of “Truckin’”, lasting just a quarter of a minute each, are different performances. The promotional record was not a formal release. There is, apparently on 78RPM, a (‘French’) “Disque De Travail”. This doesn’t seem to be a formal release, either. It’s hard to believe, given the announcer speaks German and the gig is assumed to be in Switzerland, that this would be the original. Further, that a “Disque De Travail” would need to also have in its appellation “French” seems odd. Disque De Travail seems to mean a work record, plausibly a demonstration or reference recording; or in terms of creating finished professional audio: a sub-master, an early stage in post-production. The terms “sub-master” and “post-production” were little or totally unknown in 1936. Examination of any contemporary to 1936 version of the surviving audio would be necessary to parse the origin and original of this recording. It has been issued on CD. The first release was “Adelaide Hall: A Centenary Celebration” Avid AMSC 720 It is also on Bear Family “Live From The Cotton Club, Plus”  BCD 16340 BL GARNET CLARKE  Paris, at Hopital Sainte-Anne, no earlier than October 1936, nor later than October 1938 – this Discography suggests, broadly, 1937. Felix Sportis lists March 1937. Daniel Nevers, in the notes to the Lp with the longer of the two tunes recorded, wrote Fall 1937. Jacques Bureau, the recordist, placed it in early to mid-1938. GARNET CLARKE, piano. This was recorded onto acetate with portable equipment by Jacques Bureau who, accompanied by Charles Delaunay, visited Clarke at the hospital. Two selections were recorded, initially identified in French as “long” and “court” (short). The long selection was first (and, apparently, only) released on Lp as “Improvisation”, though it is a performance of “I Feel A Song Coming On”. Clarke abruptly stopped playing on his second selection, hence “court” = short, the shorter and unheard selection. Improvisation = I Feel A Song Coming On  Le Jazz en France Vol 10 Pathe 155.2561 The similar Lp issues of “Improvisation” that is “I Feel A Song Coming On” mask what is the first release. Note the duplicate catalog number in Piano & Swing - Tome 1 on Pathe Marconi/EMI 155 2561/PM 231. Court = Short    unissued Charles Delaunay’s copy of this approximately 45 seconds of music (thought to be the original) is at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Jacques Bureau had a copy (is this the original?) that is currently untraced. His recording of Clarke at the hospital, however, is the source of “Improvisation” = “I Feel A Song Coming On” that is on Lp. Felix Sportis’ copy, obtained from Delaunay, is in storage and not easily retrieved during the pandemic. Given that there is not even a half hour of recorded Garnet Clarke, the heft to the text in this Garnet Clarke Discography could be challenged as more and more about less and less. The essay, nevertheless, continues with more observations about the music. Garnet Clarke choosing to play “I Feel A Song Coming On” (issued as “Improvisation”) warrants explanation. Regardless to whether Clarke’s portrayal occurred in 1936 or 1937 or 1938, the tune was very new. When the tune came out in 1935, and to this day, there have not been a lot of Jazz versions. The mystery to how he came to play “I Feel A Song Coming On” is possibly superseded by the assumption of his {sly} wisdom in selecting it. Clarke’s visitors, Jacques Bureau and Charles Delaunay, wished to record him. Their accounts tell of his reticence to play. Maybe Charles’ and Jacques’ need to record him and Garnet’s lack of inspiration to perform led to Clarke’s coming up with “I Feel A Song Coming On” when he finally did play. It’s impossible to know Garnet Clarke’s reason for playing “I Feel A Song Coming On”, but there must’ve been a reason. The above explanation is total conjecture, but Clarke gave Bureau and Delaunay that song on purpose even though it seems he picked a title that he’s challenged to play correctly. Garnet played again and it was recorded, but he soon stopped, quickly leaving the piano. There’s so little Garnet Clarke to be heard. Might there be more? Yes, one additional recording mentioned just above, literally “short”, is known to exist: the aborted performance that concluded the Bureau/Delaunay recording of Clarke at Hopital Sainte-Anne. Though unheard, it is still extant. Could there be a second “bonus track”? The provenance of OLA-731-2, an alternate take of “Stardust” from his leader session, “Garnet Clark and his Hot Club’s Four, is untraced and may never have existed. Max Abrams lists this alternate to the November 25, 1935 “Stardust” as “unissued” in his 1973 Django Reinhardt Discography (“The Book of Django”). How would he have found out that it might exist? Abrams’ is the only citation. Abrams, judging by his book on Reinhardt, does not appear the type to make something up. The Fat Cat, Jazz Expert Matthew Rivera, suggests that a test pressing of OLA-731-2, an alternate take of “Stardust”, may reside in Hugues Panassié’s collection now housed in the media library of Villefranche-de-Rouergue in France. Mike Peters, an expert on Django Reinhardt and more generally expatriate Jazz artists in pre-WWII Europe, was consulted. Mike had no knowledge of OLA-731-2, the “Stardust” alternate. In addition, Peters had also followed a misperception that led back to Garland Wilson. [See the Garnet Clarke Discography.] The discovery of an alternate take to Garnet Clarke’s recording of “Stardust” would also expand the known music of Django Reinhardt, who plays guitar – no solos – on the three quintet numbers by “Garnet Clark and his Hot Club’s Four”. The point is now to be made that the remaining popularity of Django Reinhardt can also attract people to ‘The Garnet Clarke Story’; especially when it’s revealed that Django recorded with Garnet and that Clarke was the leader. Though this is a musical fact, it doesn’t really add to the analysis of Clarke’s art, but it does provide luster to his tale. The discourse now turns to his biography. Garnet Garfield Clarke was born Monday, February 7, 1916, at Garfield Memorial Hospital, 11th Street & Florida Avenue N.W., Washington, D. C. As ever, the nation’s capital, but the city was then giving way to Chicago as the capital of Black America. One could surmise that his middle name was inspired by his place of birth, but there’s no way to verify the notion. Clarke’s father was Richard Clarke, who was 42 when he was enumerated on January 6th in the 1920 Census. Pere Clarke was a shopkeeper at a furniture store. Also enumerated on January 6, 1920, were Garnet’s mother, Mildred Anderson Clarke, 40; and siblings: Olivia, 23; Earlease, 21; Richard, Jr., 16; Howard, 14; Marguerite, 9; and Charles, 2. Garnet was their sixth child – born between Marguerite (perhaps Margaret) and Charles. Clarke’s parents and his brothers and two of three sisters all have typical first names. Earlease seems more atypical than Garnet. But those given the first name Garnet are unusual, thought all to be so dubbed for the birthstone, girls by a ten-to-one ratio when it infrequently occurs. Anyway, as mentioned at the top: his Garnet rhymes with carʹ-net. The 1920 Census has Garnet Clarke at 4 years of age, though he would not turn 4 until a month and a day later. The family lived at 1622 11th Street NW in Washington, D. C. [There’s a weakness to the analysis just above concerning the given name “Garnet”. There are even other male Garnet Clarkes! One would be Garnet Y. Clark born around the same time and in the same area as this essay’s subject, Garnet G. Clarke. This research went through a lot of trouble to prove that these contemporaneous Garnet Clark(e)s are totally different individuals. Eventually, Jazz Expert Melissa Jones’ prowling resolved the concern. Garnet (maybe Garnett) Y. Clark was from the Baltimore area. The Baltimore Sun mentions that he attended Donaldson High School, St. John’s College in Annapolis (Class of 1935, maybe 1936), his arrest in July 1931 for transporting liquor (then an illegal drug), his engagement in July 1933, and his coming trip around the world in August 1935. That this document was obliged to prove that this person was not the musician was due to the first newspaper clip uncovered. It told of a student athlete, Garnet Clark, receiving a head injury in a bus accident in March 1931 in or around Baltimore. If the head injury was received by the Garnet Clarke, then that might somehow pertain to his subsequent mental problems. It wasn’t him.] There remains this loose thread. Is there a reason, perhaps important but plainly unknown, to naming a Clark(e) family’s baby Garnet(t)? The name of the hospital where Garnet Garfield Clarke was born cannot tie this up: Garfield Memorial Hospital, incorporated May 18, 1882, was named for the then recently assassinated President James A. Garfield. After January 6, 1920, the next piece of information, chronological to ‘The Garnet Clarke Story’, was found by David Beal. The Evening Star was a Washington, D. C. paper, a primary publication that is better remembered as the Washington Star (1852 – 1981). On Sundays, the paper published as the Sunday Star. The October 7, 1928 Sunday Star carried the following blurb: “Students Conduct Assembly. The students of Section 8-3, Randall Junior High School, conducted the last assembly period at the school Friday under the supervision of Mrs. F. L. Toms. The students participating were Garnet Clarke, Dorothy Phillips, Earl Barringer, Grace Richardson and Madelyn Washington.” It’s striking that the first publication documenting Garnet Clarke’s existence is, in a sense (and as an assumption), a music review, and his name is spelled correctly. It’s in the 10/7/1928 paper but his performance was on Friday, October 5, 1928, or possibly 9/28/1928. It’s iffy whether the absence of alphabetical order indicates that Garnet was more vital to the presentation. Also impressive is that page 19 of the 10/7/1928 Sunday Star is made up of blurbs, longer pieces, and ads for both Black and White schools. [Could any have been integrated?] The (Elizabeth G.) Randall Junior High School, which had been the (Francis L.) Cardozo Elementary School (1906 – becoming a JHS in 1924), closed in 1978, though the building still stands and made it to the National Registry in 2008. Nowhere near as well known as the ongoing Howard University, it, nevertheless, was a revered institution to that period of Black education. Randall Junior High School alumni include Marvin Gaye and Clarence Clemons. Duke Ellington, another native of Washington, D. C., spoke and wrote about the quality of education available to African Americans in the nation’s capital during his and, though later, Clarke’s time. This high level of instruction for Black students was present even though segregation was total. The Sunday/Evening Star’s Fall 1928 placing of Garnet in “Section 8-3” points to his entering high school in Fall 1929. It would be interesting to know if Clarke attended the legendary Dunbar High School or even, however briefly, Howard University. If research continues after the coronavirus pandemic passes, then maybe these schools’ archives can be examined to see if Garnet attended either or both. The next information about Garnet Clarke comes with the 1930 Census. The 1930 Census taken April 2, 1930, indicates that the oldest children, sisters Olivia and Earlease, who would be 33 and 31 or about those ages, respectively, no longer reside at the Clarke home. The other five Clarke children are there and are all, to be expected, 10 years older. The differences between the 1920 and 1930 Censuses are: the surname does not retain the ‘e’; the father is 12 years older and the mother has only aged 8 years; Richard Clarke, Sr. is now a janitor; Richard, Jr. is a truck driver; Howard Clarke is a mechanic; the sister, the one still at home, is now listed as “Margaret” not Marguerite. Margaret is either her actual given name or, in any case, the one she was using at the time of Garnet’s death. The family still resided at 1622 11th Street NW. The building does not survive, replaced by a {larger?} structure that Google shows only to carry the address 1618 11th St. NW. Notwithstanding the existence (as of 2003) of his birth certificate, the 1920 Census, the October 7, 1928 news clip, and the 1930 Census, there is next to nothing to be known of Garnet Clarke into 1930. ‘The Garnet Clarke Story’ is robbed of his background. Most pertinent would be data concerning his musical training and earliest interests. Clarke demonstrated complete knowledge of “West End Blues” recorded on June 28, 1928, by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, but this was shown through a performance in 1934. Pianist (and more!), the good Doctor, Billy Taylor, citing his pre-teen witnessing of Garnet besting Earl “Fatha” Hines by playing “Rosetta”, to be a Hines’ mega-hit, placed Clarke in the camp of Hines-influenced pianists. But this performance of “Rosetta” occurred in 1933 or no earlier than 1932. Charles Delaunay stated that Art Tatum was Garnet’s idol. But even if Tatum was Clarke’s deity, then it’s still probable that he was unaware of Art Tatum until the thirties, maybe as late as 1933. Whatever Garnet told Charles about Art Tatum’s magnitude, their exchanges only began in Summer 1935. What Garnet Clarke heard before his teens and its impact on him can’t be ascertained. Picking up details from 1930 going forward, Trummy Young remarked that Clarke was already an accomplished pianist, a formidable professional at 14. John Hammond infers that this was so in 1928, though Hammond’s citation is not firsthand. Around 1930, Trummy Young joined the Big Band of D. C. drummer Tommy Myles. Clarke was already there. Young told Stanley Dance: “Garnet Clark was on piano, and just a kid. He never drank anything then, and he was a wonderful pianist with a nice little style. He could play, and he loved to play. You go by his house, and he would be playing all day.  I never heard anything of his after he left the States, and I’d like to hear those records he made in Paris. Everything went wrong with him before he left. He just ran wild, but he could swing, and he could execute.” Both Trummy Young and John Hammond, forty-one years apart, gave testimony that this startling young talent was also arranging for Tommy Myles. Young, in his 9/17/1976 interview for the Jazz Oral History Project (JOHP) created by the National Endowment for the Arts, implies that Garnet Clarke’s charts were on the same level as the orchestrations prepared for Myles’ team by past masters, Jimmy Mundy and Elton Hill. The Tommy Myles’ outfit was prominent, certainly in Washington, D. C., where the band was heard live on WMAL between November 10, 1932 and January 7, 1933. Besides playing in Tommy Myles’ ensemble, at 16, Clarke began feature solo piano broadcasts, also on Washington, D. C.’s popular WMAL radio. Apparently, these shows began shortly after the station ended its network affiliation with CBS (10/19/1932) and stopped as WMAL signed with the NBC, its Blue Network (2/1/1933). There’s something to this framing but fathoming the situation would be speculative. (The Myles broadcasts also fall between WMAL’s network affiliations.) Garnet Clarke (seems to be) featured weekly. His broadcasts were Thursday mornings for 15 minutes, 10:15am – 10:30am, on Washington’s WMAL. Known programs are dated: 11/17/1932; 11/24/1932; 12/15/1932; 12/29/1932; 1/12/1933; 1/19/1933; 1/26/1933; and 2/2/1933. The music centerpiece to the providing of a biography of Garnet Clarke is here pushed aside, switching to bereavement in his personal life. On November 12, 1932, Garnet’s mother died. There was an announcement of her death published in the Evening Star/Sunday Star that ran for three days, 11/13 – 15/1932 inclusive. In “Deaths”, the announcement for “Mildred Waller Clark” contains some errors but adds, if accepted as correct, some new information. That she was née Anderson is in the text; so, Waller would be her middle name. Between the 1930 Census taken on April 2, 1930 and November 12, 1932 when Clarke’s mother passed away, the family had moved to 339 11th Street SE (where they would still reside according to the 1940 Census). The older sisters are listed as mourners with their married names: “Olivia Clark Better” and “Earlease Wallace”. The funeral was to be held Wednesday, November 16, 1932 at 2pm. In the announcement the ‘e’ in Clark has been left off. Unlike her sister Olivia, Mrs. Wallace does not receive her née Clarke. The unmarried sister is “Margaret” and not Marguerite. Then, there’s the addition of a ‘t’ in Garnet. Oddly, the previous announcement in “Deaths” on page A19 in the 11/15/1932 Evening Star is for “Elfred Garnett Clark”, who also died on November 12th and must be assumed no relation. [Why do so many Clark(e)s have the name Garnet(t)?] These announcements were found by David Beal. Again, to be noted, Washington, D. C.’s Evening Star newspaper was for the city’s general population. The Clarke family and/or the funeral director placed the notice in “Deaths” in the Evening/Sunday Star. This research has only been able to take a cursory look at the Washington Afro-American, which had replaced the defunct Washington Black newspaper, The Bee, as the capital’s main African American publication. If pruned in a superior way someday, then maybe Mildred Clarke’s death and other mentions of the Clarkes, especially Garnet, will be brought forward. But her notice in Deaths being placed in the Star and that the Evening/Sunday Star covered Black schools suggests this “mainstream” periodical had a significant Black readership. [As an additional point, it seems reasonable, given the 1930 Census and Garnet’s mother’s death notice, that the Clarke family had dropped the letter ‘e’. Even if so, then Garnet Clarke – and likely sister Margaret – did not choose to join the editation.] This must have been a difficult time for the 16-year-old Garnet Clarke. Was Mildred Clarke quite ill in the period leading up to her death? There had to be a challenge for him to fulfill music engagements in and around her death on 11/12, the receiving of visitors at home on 11/14 & 11/15, and the funeral on November 16, 1932. How did Garnet face the test of performing in grief the morning after the funeral when he was to play live on WMAL or, likely, that night with Tommy Myles? Chronologically, placing the good Doctor Billy Taylor’s pre-teen recollection of Garnet’s performing seems to be the next piece in ‘The Garnet Clarke Story’. It could or would be the last known activity of Clarke in Washington, D. C. Quoting from Billy’s August 1975 doctoral dissertation, “The History and Development of Jazz Piano: A New Perspective for Educators”:  (Shout-out to Parker Fishel) “I was too young to attend the jam sessions that took place in some of the after-hours nightclubs, but I did hear visiting musicians sit in with local bands at dances at the Lincoln Colonade, a local dance hall, and hearing these encounters gave me a glimpse of the excitement and challenge that was inherent in the jam sessions of the period.” “A case in point would be the night Garnett Clark, a local pianist, caught Earl Hines slightly off form at a dance at the Masonic Temple and cut him playing his own composition “Rosetta.” What’s to be embraced from this account of what the pre-teen Billy Taylor (born July 24, 1921) observed? Taylor was at most twelve years of age, more likely eleven, and plausibly just ten years old. If Billy Taylor’s firsthand account, offered some forty-two years afterwards, is the only evidence, then it’s the Best Evidence. What else can be known? Earl Hines was in Washington, D. C. from February 27, 1932 through March 3, 1932 as the Earl Hines Orchestra played a week at the famed Howard Theatre. Garnet Clarke had just turned 16, Billy Taylor was 10, and if the tune “Rosetta” already existed, then it’s most unlikely that Hines was aware of its existence. “Rosetta” was much more the composition of Henri Woode. Hines met Woode (the ‘e’ is pronounced) in Kansas City during 1932. EARL HINES and his ORCHESTRA recorded “Rosetta” in New York City on February 13, 1933. It was issued on Brunswick 78RPM #6541, and in 1933, but the precise date of release is unknown. The other side of Brunswick 6541 is “Cavernism” by Jimmy Mundy. Club Caverns was an important spot for Jazz in the capital and Hines drew repertoire and performers from there, including Jimmy Mundy, while the Fatha was playing in D. C. Following the 2/13/1933 recording session, on which Valaida Snow sang, the Hines ensemble, with Snow, toured towards Spring 1933. This would be in the East, the middle Atlantic. There are no known performances in the nation’s capital, much less specifically at the Masonic Temple, but Hines is known to have performed at the: Strand Ballroom in Baltimore on February 24, 1933; Madrid Ballroom in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on March 11, 1933; and New Era Hall in Lynchburg, Virginia on March 13, 1933. Billy Taylor’s presence at a meeting of Garnet Clarke and Earl “Fatha” Hines would seem to have taken place during this late winter early 1933 tour. It’s difficult to accept that Clarke was cognizant of and fully versed in “Rosetta” so early in the new tune’s existence, but it’s as or more difficult to reject Dr. Billy Taylor’s account. Clarke’s playing “I Feel A Song Coming On” as early as 1936, and, even if done as late as 1938, demonstrates that he kept up on songs. The essential fact is that “Rosetta” plays as important a role in Garnet Clarke’s music as any piece of repertoire. That certainty, the tune’s profound connection to Earl Hines, and the documentation of two cutting contests with the Fatha (the second comes in March 1934 and will be described soon in this essay) provides an astonishing sub plot in ‘The Garnet Clarke Story’, a theme that will be more fully spelled out deep in this document. There remains the possibility that Clarke and Hines battled over “Rosetta” in D. C. much later in 1933, conceivably even early 1934, though there’s no known gigs for the Fatha anywhere near D. C. in that period. When did Garnet Clarke come to New York City? The Tommy Myles band played the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem during November 1933. It’s a best guess: Garnet Clarke came to New York City with Tommy Myles in November 1933 but did not go back to Washington, D. C. when the gig ended. What is knowable, via Trummy Young’s JOHP interview, is that Charlie Barnet hired Garnet Clarke, taking him from Tommy Myles. The Charlie Barnet Orchestra gained its first major exposure at the Paramount Hotel in the Big Apple in 1932. The next year the group moved into the ballroom at the Park Central Hotel. Barnet first became a recording artist in the fall of 1933. Garnet Clarke in not thought to be on any Charlie Barnet Orchestra recordings and there are no known Clarke arrangements in the Barnet book or any known Clarke arrangements at all. [Candidly, a complete examination of the first Barnet records – October 9, 1933; October 25, 1933; March 23, 1934; and March 29, 1934 – has not been undertaken. Benny Carter is on the March 1934 sides, playing trumpet, alto sax, and possibly clarinet (hear the obbligato on “Baby, Take A Bow”). Lars Bang Andersen assigns the arrangement to The King, though Ed Berger, working with Carter, does not. Thoroughly inspected were: “Buckin’ The Wind”, 10/9/1933; “Emaline”, 3/23/1934; and “Baby, Take A Bow”, 3/29/1934. There is very little piano to be heard. There is no benchmark to gauge a Garnet Clarke arrangement’s identity. If Carter is there and maybe arranges, then might it suggest Clarke’s presence and/or arranging? – [The fascination and importance to Benny Carter’s and Garnet Clarke’s work in the early Charlie Barnet Orchestra continues and will also return a bit later in this text.] The extent of Garnet’s employment by Barnet is a difficult study. But Charlie acknowledged using him at the Park Central in the August 1, 1940 Downbeat (page two) and Downbeat’s September 21, 1951 issue (page three). Charlie Barnet was Caucasian. During the Swing Era, he would challenge American apartheid by integrating African Americans into his orchestra. But the high profile to Charlie Barnet’s integrationist righteousness came later, when he hired Lena Horne in late 1940. Using Clarke seven years earlier, stands as a very early illustration of Jazz’s noble and essential rebuff to segregation. Benny Carter worked with Charlie Barnet in this period, too. “Benny Carter played trumpet on and off with us, and we had the late Garnet Clark, the pianist, on the payroll, but officially he had to be the intermission pianist. Mixing was so rare then that things like that had to be sneaked in. Ten years later, when we played the Park Central again, things had improved so much that we were able to bring in Al Killian, Peanuts Holland, Frank Galbraith, and Trummie Young.” – db 9/21/1951 “Barnet has mulled several previous ideas for adding of Negro talent to his organization; last year he nearly took a colored drummer, Jesse Price, … As long ago as 1933 the reed king used to have a colored pianist sitting in with the regular band nightly at the Park Central Hotel – this was Garnet Clark, who died in Paris two years ago.” – Leonard Feather’s story over a proposed hiring of Roy Eldridge by Charlie Barnet. – db 8/1/1940  (Shout-out to Matthew Rivera) Again, overriding the artist’s evidence, seemingly the only and, therefore, Best Evidence presents intense difficulty. Challenging Trummy Young and, perhaps, Charlie Barnet isn’t cricket. This essay will soon pinpoint Garnet Clarke playing at Harlem’s Pod and Jerry’s in March 1934. Logic suggests that Barnet, based in NYC, encountered him there and brought Clarke from Pod and Jerry’s to the Park Central Hotel rather than Charlie pulling Garnet from Tommy Myles Washington, D. C. based band, as Trummy Young stated. The window of November 1933 to March 1934, when there’s no way to know the sequence of Clarke’s first work in the Big Apple, nevertheless allows Trummy’s testimony to stand. Regardless of where and with whom Garnet Clarke worked between March 1934 and mid-1935, the earlier sequence that it’s Tommy Myles to Charlie Barnet to Pod and Jerry’s can’t be set aside. Specifics to Garnet Clarke in New York City from late 1933 until he left for Europe in July 1935 are not found easily. It is known that for at least some time during Clarke’s roughly one and a half years in New York, he resided at 484 St. Nicholas Avenue at West 134th Street, at the east side of St. Nicholas Park at the bottom of the hill. On October 19, 1934 Garnet was recorded as part of an Alex Hill led Big Band for the Vocalion label. And he worked, “sat-in” with Barnet’s Big Band, though it appears that most of Clarke’s performances were as a solo pianist or as accompanist to singers. This essay’s efforts dated Garnet Clarke playing solo piano at Pod and Jerry’s – a former speakeasy turned into a more formal night spot in Harlem – on March 17, 1934, and that he had been working there previous to that date. John Hammond set down this tale about Clarke at Pod and Jerry’s in his profile of Garnet Clarke (though spelled “Clark”) in the December 1935 issue of the French magazine Jazz Hot (#6); an article that was quoted from earlier. John Hammond told of a de facto cutting contest between Garnet and Earl “Fatha” Hines at Pod and Jerry’s; now successfully dated to have taken place during the week of March 17 – 23, 1934. Hammond writes that Hines, during his engagement at the Lafayette Theatre, came into Pod and Jerry’s very late one night. Clarke may have been finished for the night or was on a break, but Earl Hines requested that he go to the piano and perform for him. This is when Garnet Clarke converted to solo piano everything from Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five recording of the “West End Blues”, including, of course, Fatha’s solo on it. Hammond’s account goes on to state that Clarke continued with Satchmo repertoire. Then, Earl “Fatha” Hines went up to the piano and played “Body and Soul” and “Sophisticated Lady”. John Hammond’s writing tells of what happened next. “Garnet went back to the piano, played some more, and there was little doubt in anyone’s mind who was the better.” Hammond mentions that Mildred Bailey and Red Norvo were in attendance. By naming them, he asserts corroborating ear (and eye) endorsement of Clarke’s victory. John Hammond’s in person narrative achieves additional clout when paired with Billy Taylor’s observance. Springing from the good Doctor’s telling of an earlier confrontation between these keyboard wizards in Washington, comes a reason for Fatha Hines to seek out the just turned eighteen Garnet Clarke for a battle of music in the wee wee hours. These are very impressive onlookers – John Hammond and Dr. Billy Taylor – and they both declared that Garnet won the contest each heard. As a matter of full disclosure, by 1935, and, in fact, revealed within this very Garnet Clarke profile, John Hammond had totally soured on Earl Hines. Parenthetically, and quite controversially, Hammond would disparage Hines’ later playing from the pulpit at Earl “Fatha” Hines’ Memorial Service (!) in 1983. Continuing with a far more innocuous instance of full disclosure, Billy Taylor’s dissertation, with his observance of Clarke’s victory over Hines by playing “Rosetta”, continued with this: “Garnett was an extremely talented pianist in town at the time, but he really was not match for Earl Hines at his best until later in his short career. (He died in France while still in his twenties.)” John Hammond famously brought Teddy Wilson to Billie Holiday while she sang at Pod and Jerry’s. Wilson would be the leader on the pioneering Swing Song Tradition recordings, produced by Hammond and featuring the vocals of Lady Day. Teddy Wilson wanted Beverly “Baby” White to be the singer. Beverly “Baby” White – coincidently (?) another connection to Earl “Fatha” Hines, as, early in their careers, they appeared jointly as Fatha and Baby – is a fine singer, but Billie Holiday was the right and only choice. Teddy Wilson wrote in his autobiography, “Teddy Wilson Talks Jazz”: “John said to me: “Teddy, there’s a young lady that I want you to hear sing. Her name is Billie Holiday and she’s singing in a club called Jerry’s in Harlem.” So off we went and listened to Billie singing by turns with another girl called Beverley “Baby” White, accompanied by a pianist named Bobby Henderson. The two girls were both singing. That was the whole show. “Baby” did a lovely job on ballads, and Billie was just incomparable with her rhythm singing. Later, when Bobby Henderson left, Garnet Clark was the accompanist.” Clarke was yet to play for Adelaide Hall, but he had already worked with Billie Holiday! (Shout-out to Parker Fishel) John Hammond would write again about Garnet Clarke. This time it was far less lengthy, with the adversarial element deleted, and more of the moment. Hammond gave Garnet Clarke (again, it’s printed “Clark”) a quickie rave within his column published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of April 21, 1935. The timeline angle is that Hammond’s telling of the Clarke versus Hines showdown at Pod and Jerry’s was written about a year and a half afterwards, John Hammond’s write-up about Garnet Clarke performing at the Famous Door is contemporaneous about an ongoing gig. Further, Hammond’s review documents that Clarke is a soloist, without accompanist duties. And Garnet is on the famous West 52nd Street, indeed at the Famous Door. Garnet Clarke featured opportunities were downtown, too, not just in Harlem. Hammond’s brief critique reads: “I’d like to suggest still another spot for seekers of swing, the restaurant known as the Famous Door on 52nd St. The food is as mediocre as the music is inspired. … the spot boasts of two colored pianists who are among the very, very best, one on each floor. Garnet Clark, who plays downstairs has almost all the requisites of a superb artist, miraculous rhythm, fantastic technique and endless invention.” Hammond goes on, giving the other pianist, Ram Ramirez, favorable marks. John Hammond’s writing in the press in the middle 1930s dispenses firsthand observation of Garnet Clarke’s unaccompanied music in the Big Apple. Club listings and advertisements have Garnet Clarke playing solo at the Famous Door through June 8, 1935. He would sail for Europe very soon afterward. Can any other firm information about Garnet Clarke in New York during the period he was based there, November 1933 (when he was 17) until July 1935 (when he was 19) be found? That he became a close associate of The King, Benny Carter, is known. Benny said very little about Garnet Clarke; though The King granted he was good friends with Charlie Barnet. Ed Berger told that Carter recalled working with Clarke on the bandstand with Barnet. When did the Clarke-Carter mixed-race job with Barnet occur? Is that when Garnet and Benny met? A reading of the surviving evidence submits that it’s essentially Clarke who is breaking the color-line at the Park Central Hotel, however surreptitiously; Carter was there less often. But The King’s presence on Charlie’s March 1934 recordings – issued with two ‘t’s in Barnet(t) – prevents any definitive statement. Both these two African American Jazz giants are to be acknowledged for their early blow to American apartheid. Benny and Garnet recorded together for Alex Hill on October 19, 1934. Is that when they met? There are no other fixed dates. What were their crossing of paths on either side of 10/19/1934? Were there any other joint performances, besides with Barnet or Hill, before they left together for Paris (via Southampton, England) in July 1935? With such dearth of precise data concerning Garnet Clarke in this period, the surprising twist is that The King’s story of heading to Europe is complex and that he brought his ‘subject’ Garnet Clarke with him is easily explained. The Benny Carter Orchestra foundered economically in 1934. Carter, who had added very excellent trumpet capability to his alto saxophone wizardry, took a job playing trumpet (just trumpet) with Willie Bryant’s orchestra, an ensemble that in early 1935 was working regularly at the esteemed Savoy Ballroom. That spring, Benny was contacted by bandleader, reedman, and vocalist Willie Lewis, who was based in Paris leading a Big Band of African Americans. Lewis was very prominent in Jazz in pre-World War II Europe. Using the Melody Maker of May 25, 1935, and The King’s comments to his biographers, Morroe and Ed Berger, how Carter was hired to come to Paris by Willie Lewis was learned. Lewis had a falling out with his altoist and clarinetist, Jerry Blake, and Lewis sought Benny Carter to be his replacement. There was a second, and very important, reason to replace Blake with Carter. The Swing Era’s dawn was bringing forward different and larger Big Bands than had been common when Lewis was based in the States. The King was an essential pioneer and genius in Jazz’s orchestral expansion. Willie Lewis was enlarging his ensemble; so, Lewis reaching across the pond for Benny makes a lot of sense. Benny Carter’s accepting this job, necessitated leaving his home country. The King’s willingness to transplant was based, in part, on his difficulties with his ex-wife and the raising of their daughter. The King sailed for Europe with his young daughter without legal permission to have taken her. The brouhaha this caused led to the biggest mainstream press that Carter received up to that point, as his arrest for kidnapping and being returned to the USA by federal agents was covered in the New York Times of June 7, 1935. Other publications ran the story with a picture: Carter, the detectives who had him in custody, and the child. What does this all have to do with Garnet Clarke? The family-legal situation swiftly calmed down. Benny Carter contacted Willie Lewis and was assured that his services were still desired. Additionally, and in the interim, Lewis had some type of falling out with his pianist, Herman Chittison. As The King was to be a de facto Musical Director in the band, the leader asked Benny to recommend a pianist. Carter advocated for Clarke, and Lewis okayed Garnet’s hiring. Benny and Garnet left NYC on the Aquitania, part of the Cunard White Star Limited, arriving in Southampton, England on July 18, 1935. Soon, they were in Paris, and both joined Willie Lewis and his Entertainers playing Chez Florence in late July. So far, so good … even better than good. When did Garnet Clarke’s problems surface? Trummy Young, quoted earlier, informs that at some point – that one might assume started in the latter portion of the Tommy Myles period, perhaps 1933 – Clarke began drinking and acting wild. Other testimony doesn’t mention a drinking problem, but Benny Carter and John Hammond, both acquainted with Garnet no later than 1934 talked – and, in Hammond’s case, wrote about in the December 1935 Jazz Hot – of an unfortunate attitude. “Garnet is temperamental. There are times when he plays very carelessly – or nothing at all.” The King was reticent when it came to Garnet Clarke, particularly to his behavior. In Clarke’s lifetime, Carter’s only published comment – given to Charles Delaunay and published in Jazz Hot in 1935 as well as in Spain’s “Jazz Magazine” (the periodical published by the Hot Club of Barcelona) – was that he had recommended Garnet to Willie Lewis and had brought Clarke with him to Paris. But in later years, Benny did allow that Garnet had acted out and likely was at fault for losing his seat at the piano with Lewis. In the Garnet Clarke profile published in the December 1935 Jazz Hot, John Hammond is alarmed about reports of Garnet Clarke’s dismal showing with Willie Lewis and his Entertainers. “I understand that Garnet has not been playing well with Willie Lewis’ orchestra.” Hammond further comments can be interpreted as worrying about Garnet hanging on to his position. Had Clarke already exited – been dismissed from? – Willie Lewis and his Entertainers by the time the December 1935 (#6) Jazz Hot magazine hit newsstands? Recording sessions for nightclub workers are typically during the day. Garnet’s session on 11/25/1935 would not preclude his gigging with Lewis at the Chez Florence that night. But what about these engagements uncovered by Charles Iselin? Garnet Clarke played the opening night at Le Derby, a Parisian cabaret, on October 29, 1935. He was featured separately from the billed orchestra of Love Linas. An ad, in which Garnet Clarke is spelled correctly (!), can be read to mean that this gig would continue. Clarke performed as a member of drummer Benny Peyton’s Musical Aces at the Salle Pleyel on November 20, 1935 in a benefit for the Ethiopian Red Cross showcasing Black artists based in Paris, a “Festival Noir”. That Mussolini’s fascist Italy had invaded Ethiopia on October 3rd explains the need for such charity. Benny Peyton had come to Europe with Will Marion Cook’s Southern Syncopated Orchestra that included Sidney Bechet in 1919. Peyton stayed in Europe until WWII, returning in 1939. Festival Noir was a revue. Performing were: the dancer, Snow Fisher; singers, R. B. Evans and Harvey White; a chorus, Choral Populaire de Paris; and there was even a speech, given by the writer René Maran. The composer, arranger, and conductor, Dan Parrish, played a role as part of Peyton’s aggregation. The Musical Aces included Mademoiselle Marcelle Compère. Festival Noir offered White artists: J. L. Barrault; Ed. de Mertz; and Madame Yula Antoni. Charles Iselin’s source is a review; Festival Noir had already taken place, and Clarke is noted as participating. {Bravo! Charles Iselin} Festival Noir, perhaps oddly given the name, matches the Black and White Birds Revue, which contained a mixed-race cast, that Garnet would take part in during the front half of 1936. This November 20, 1935 production at the landmark Salle Pleyel portends to be the show referred to in the January 4, 1936 Chicago Defender by the headline, “RACE STAGE STARS WORK AT BENEFIT FOR PARIS’ POOR”. That article will be quoted in toto a bit deeper in this essay. But that complete citation actually muddles what really happened. The 11/20/1935 concert is to benefit the Ethiopian Red Cross. The event referred to in the ¼/1936 Chicago Defender is a benefit for the poor in Paris. Further, the article under that headline does not truly appear to be about “Race Stage Stars” working a benefit for Parisian poor. The news item’s text is entirely about Garnet Clarke not showing up for his own concert. It’s very hard to make heads or tails of this. There are chronological problems, too – the sequence of events will not neatly fit into a timeline. Clarke was definitely out of the Willie Lewis aggregation by mid-January 1936. When Willie Lewis and his Entertainers recorded on January 17, 1936, Garnet had been replaced by his predecessor, Herman Chittison. Bill Coleman writes about Garnet with Willie Lewis in Coleman’s autobiography “Trumpet Story”: “The pianist, Garnett Clark, had worked a short while with Willie Lewis’s orchestra but it did not go too well because Garnett was quite wild and flighty.” But Bill Coleman did not play with Garnet Clarke in Willie Lewis and his Entertainers. Capsule bios of trumpeter Bill Coleman in Jazz encyclopedias and other reference tomes have him joining the Willie Lewis orchestra in June 1937 and that Coleman would stay into December 1938. Bill Coleman was with Lewis in that time frame, but he was rejoining that ensemble. Coleman played with Willie Lewis and his Entertainers for the first time from late winter/early spring 1936 until mid-October. The band’s pianist – yes, Herman Chittison – helped get Coleman hired. So, Coleman did not play with Clarke in the Lewis group, but Bill was very much in touch with Garnet in the final four months of 1935, and even played with him as late as July 3, 1936, in a Hot Club of France concert. Coleman had actually arrived in France shortly before Clarke did (July 10, 1935) but did not get to Paris until September 7th. In Paris, Bill Coleman freelanced. Coleman’s autobiography, “Trumpet Story”, imparts some facts and some insight concerning Garnet Clarke. There is little doubt that Garnet was an important associate. “Garnett Clark was living in a house that rented furnished apartments and I decided to take one also. It was about 15 minutes walking distance from Boudon’s café, Rue Fontaine. (Boudon and the tabac next door were the American musicians’ headquarters.)” The address of their residence was 34 rue de la Tour d'Auvergne in Paris (IXeme Arrondissement or 9th borough). The connection between Garnet Clarke and Bill Coleman would lead to the supreme music of Clarke’s legacy and an important session for Bill. “On 25 November 1935, I made my first recording in France, with Garnett Clark, George Johnson, Django Reinhardt, and the bass player June Cole. It was the first time I sang a song on a record. The title was “The Object of My Affection”. We had a fast tempo and I almost choked, trying to sing the last four measures of the middle part; but I made it and Garnett played great piano. We recorded two other titles “Rosetta” and Stardust”.” Bill Coleman’s memoir presents the evidence that they had a musical rapport and were friends. It makes clear why they recorded together for Disque “Gramophone” (HMV) although there is different version to their getting in the studio on 11/25/1935. Anne Legrand has devoted much time studying the career of Charles Delaunay, Swing Records, and Jazz Hot Magazine and she has written in depth about each. Her research provides a back story to what would be “Garnet Clark and his Hot Club’s Four”. Legrand’s passage was translated by Charles Iselin and is summarized below: - In 1935, Jean Berard became director at the Compagnie du Gramophone La Voix de son Maitre [Disque “Gramophone” that was HMV, His Master’s Voice, in France]. Pierre Nourry, from the Hot Club of France, who had also begun to work for the firm, suggested to Berard in November 1935 that they should record the American trumpet player Bill Coleman, accompanied by pianist Garnet Clarke and Django Reinhardt. Pierre Nourry considered that the disc “Rosetta” and “The Object of my Affection” (Disque “Gramophone” (HMV) K-7618) rewarded his enthusiasm a hundred times over. - Not exactly matched testimony. But the two stories, with a bit of massaging, can work in conjunction. Legrand’s writing presses on, proposing that this session was a root to what would develop into Swing Records, the first Jazz record company. In this context, she mentions Charles Delaunay, his contacts with Jacques Heberot, as well as Charles’ partnering with Hugues Panassié. It would seem that Garnet Clarke had already exited Willie Lewis and his Entertainers when he made his records on November 25, 1935, Clarke’s other known performances lean towards his departure being fait accompli as early as October 29, 1935. Chronological imprecision continues. The next citing, or not sighting, of Garnet Clarke took place on another not finitely pinned down date as 1935 became 1936. The Chicago Defender, especially its national edition, was the most prominent African American publication for much of the 20th Century. It still publishes, though online, but prominently. Garnet Clarke, once in Europe, was covered by the Chicago Defender, sometimes under the byline of Edgar Wiggins, who was based in Paris. The Chicago Defender spelled Garnet Clarke correctly. Outside of the mention of the 12-year-old Garnet Clarke performing at a Randall Junior High School assembly in the October 7, 1928 Sunday Star, and a single ad for him playing at Le Derby seven years later, only the Chicago Defender got his name right - in his lifetime and past it, too. Strikingly, Garnet Clarke appears in two different articles in the January 4, 1936 National Edition. Each displays a dispatch heading “Paris, Jan. 3”. Edgar Wiggins apparently had a regular column, “ACROSS THE POND”. In his report, Wiggins writes: “Garnet Clarke, pianist, back in Willie Lewis’ orchestra.” This further mucks up knowing Clarke’s time of service in Willie Lewis and his Entertainers and whether it was episodic. The other story in that ¼/1936 Chicago Defender has no byline. It’s about Garnet Clarke and he is quoted! Other than personal information given later at hospitals, this is the only time where his words are taken down and preserved. “RACE STAGE STARS WORK AT BENEFIT FOR PARIS’ POOR The concert that the Hot Club of France planned to give recently, in which they were to feature Garnet Clarke, pianist, had to be cancelled because the principal figure left Paris a few days before the concert for Switzerland, engaged by a wealthy society dame who is ambitious to become a singer. Clarke was scheduled to be gone one month but returned unceremoniously after one week’s absence. “To play a concert”, Clarke declared, “one has to play all styles of piano. I don’t intend to play a concert for one year.” The Hot Club is plenty “hot” over the financial lost it suffered advertising the affair.” There is some internal inconsistency in the (no byline) story quoted in toto from the January 4, 1936, Chicago Defender; notice, in particular, that the headline and story conflict. This document will itemize several questions the article causes to be asked. Did Garnet Clarke leave, or take a leave of absence from Willie Lewis to go to Switzerland in late 1935 and upon his return to Paris resume, however briefly, his position as pianist in Lewis band? Why did Clarke’s disappearance, alone, force the Hot Club of France to cancel the event? Was the concert cancelled due to the expectation that Clarke would be gone for a month, a period that contained the advertised date or was the advertised date within the week that Clarke was actually away? How belated was the fact that Clarke would not be there learned? Were there two concerts: one to spotlight Clarke and another with “Race Stage Stars”? Does Garnet’s statements to the Chicago Defender clash with his then recent appearance at the Salle Pleyel? Over many years, Felix Sportis has done the most to disclose the particulars of ‘The Garnet Clarke Story’. Though little known, M. Sportis’ article “Garnet Clarke: Un Poco Loco” in a special issue of Jazz Hot published in 2003 printed that Garnet concertized in Paris on December 6, 1935. There are advertisements. Might this instead be the cancelled concert? Finding more contemporary coverage of a cancelled concert could provide some answers to the questions above. It seems that Clarke would fail to appear was known well in advance, as the Hot Club’s complaint was only about lost money for advertising. Seeing those advertisements could show us the date of the cancelled concert, and, perhaps, authenticate that the 12/6/1935 event was the one called off. The advertisements, if discovered, then might billboard all the “Race Stage Stars” scheduled to appear. It is confusing that Clarke’s absence, alone, could cause the cancellation. Whether it was the December 6, 1935 concert promoted by the Hot Club of France or another production as yet untraced, it was not the only concert that an advertised Garnet Clarke failed to appear at. On January 14, 1936, the Treasurer of the Hot Club of Barcelona, Mr. Suris, and the Secretary of the Hot Club of France, Pierre Nourry, who also was the Manager of the Quintet of the Hot Club France, signed a contract negotiated for the clubs by the Audiffred & Maronani Agency for Benny Carter and the Quintet of the Hot Club France plus guest star Garnet Clarke to concertize in Barcelona on January 29th (at the Cinema Coliseum) and on January 31st (Palau de la Música Catalana). Clarke’s name appears in the concert(s) program as “Garney Clark”. Parker Fishel found an advertisement where the pianist is “Garner Clark”. (The ‘r’ and the ‘y’ do surround the ‘t’ on keyboards.) Garne‘r’, ‘t’, ‘y’ Clarke failed to show. [There was a third concert produced by another promoter on February 2, 1936. It’s unclear whether Garnet was billed. Hot Club of Barcelona member, Alfredo Papa, assured that Clarke didn’t play that one either. The 2/2/1936 event was held at Barcelona’s Olympia Theatre.] The sad fact that Garnet Clarke would lose his way, be declared mentally unfit and spend the last twenty-two months of his life (end of September 1936 until his death at 22 on November 30, 1938) hospitalized, has led some witnesses and most accounts to assume that his career setbacks were caused by his unravelling. What was Garnet Clarke’s mental condition and when did it surface? The dubious thought that the pianist received a head injury in a March 1931 bus accident has been refuted. It was Garnet Y. Clark who was injured. George Johnson, the clarinetist on Clarke’s Disque “Gramophone” records, claimed that in 1936 Garnet was beaten around the head by the police. Johnson only heard this. Charles Delaunay ventured that it was not as ugly a confrontation. “It’s true that he got into trouble with the police who caught him with his tuxedo at noon on the beach of Cannes. Unable to talk French, there is no doubt that his attitude was not easily understandable.” This quote comes from Charles Delaunay’s letter to Ben Kragting, Jr. Kragting was trying to verify George Johnson’s story of a police beating. Delaunay parries Johnson’s parable, suggesting that his anecdote represents a more accurate account of the same altercation. [Contemporary attention on hideous police treatment of African Americans, particularly young males, causes a distinct slant in learning of George Johnson’s utterance. Brokering French police confrontation(s) with a non-French speaking Black man in 1936 with the horrors of police killings of Black people in the USA in 2020, is beyond the scope of this essay.] There was no bus accident, and, unless George Johnson’s scuttlebutt is accepted – it does give serious pause – there was no police beating. The bottom line to what’s under examination, here, is that Garnet Clarke’s mental problems cannot be assumed to have been caused by physical injury. Trummy Young offered, “Everything went wrong with him before he left. He just ran wild,”. Young’s last opportunity to observe Garnet’s behavior occurred in February 1935, when Trummy was in New York with the Earl Hines Orchestra. Trummy’s “… before he left.” puts forward an interpretation that the trombonist was commenting about Clarke in the Big Apple, after their earlier association in Tommy Myles’ Big Band; and more likely late winter in early 1935 rather than March and/or September 1934, the other two periods when Trummy Young was in the Big Apple playing with Hines before Garnet left the country. Young’s assessment might employ a composite from all three opportunities for Trummy to reunite with Garnet. Bill Coleman states “… Garnett was quite wild and flighty”. The trumpeter’s evaluation was based on knowing Clarke in the final quarter of 1935, a half year after Trummy Young’s last chance to hang with Garnet. With the exception of October 1936 until June 1937, Coleman was in Paris while Clarke was alive. “Trumpet Story” tends to support the impression that he did not visit Garnet in the hospital. Bill Coleman’s gauging of Clarke’s mental stability is based on late 1935. But both Coleman’s and Young’s comments were made decades after the fact. John Hammond did provide a worry in the Fall of 1935: “Garnet is temperamental.” Yes, those who weighed in are unanimous that Garnet Clarke’s instability led to his demise. Some of the documentation, however, can support an entirely different scenario. Here is a storyline that allows that all might have been OK, at least into September 1936. Maybe Willie Lewis never fired Garnet Clarke. Clarke, with Benny Carter, joined Willie Lewis and his Entertainers playing Chez Florence in late July 1935. Four or as much as five months later, Garnet exits the band, of his own volition, works around Paris for a bit, then headed to Switzerland for a month. Returning to Paris three or four weeks early, Clarke resumed his place at the keyboard in the Willie Lewis organization at the very top of 1936. At that point – the following has not previously been introduced – Willie Lewis and his Entertainers were at that moment backing Adelaide Hall at the Paris’ Alhambra, an engagement that if Clarke was onboard should have concluded before 1/17/1936, because on that date, the band recorded for Pathe with Herman Chittison and not Garnet Clarke on piano. Garnet Clarke was to join Adelaide Hall in 1936. Did Clarke impress Hall during the Alhambra engagement and she hired him either to replace {striding} Joe Turner or to return to her unusual choice of two pianists, together, accompanying her? Whatever the sequence and explanation, Garnet Clarke accompanies Adelaide Hall in the touring “Black and White Birds Revue” during 1936. This would be a straightforward description of the action: Clarke’s going back to Willie Lewis, that connects the pianist with Adelaide Hall, and they go on to tour with the revue. What evidence proves that it did not happen that way? Now, this essay explores a less tame analysis. The most obvious impediment to feeling that everything was hunky-dory as 1936 broke comes with the knowledge that Garnet Clarke missed no fewer than 3 concerts that he was booked for and advertised for. He agreed to headline in concert in Paris for the Hot Club of France yet took off for Switzerland, preventing his appearing. When his no show was exposed, a journalist received direct statements from Clarke that, perhaps, deliver some artistic purity and humble self-assessment, but are not an excuse for double booking himself. Soon thereafter, he missed at least two appearances in Barcelona. In both Paris and Barcelona, Garnet let down the Hot Club of France, a huge part of his fanbase. The press said they were furious. No doubt the Hot Club of Barcelona and concert attendees, there, were none too pleased as well.  Certainly, Clarke’s missing concerts on the cusp of 1935 into 1936 demonstrated an absence of professionalism. In the remaining time before Garnet Clarke was hospitalized due to mental disorder on September 26, 1936 when he was only 20, there are huge gaps to finding him – on a bandstand or any place. Early in these first nine months of 1936, Clarke became associated with Adelaide Hall. He can be assumed to have worked with her at the Paris Alhambra in the first part of January; if he, indeed, rejoined Willie Lewis and his Entertainers as they were backing Hall during that engagement. Presumption abounds. Adelaide Hall typically worked with keyboard(s) accompaniment. Though the January 4, 1936 national edition of the Chicago Defender cites the Alhambra engagement, denoting it’s Lewis’ band backing her, it would be logical if Adelaide did repertoire with just piano accompaniment – either Hall’s regular player(s) or the pianist for Willie Lewis. Garnet Clarke could have backed her either way. It was known at the time, and still is the understanding, that by January 1936, Adelaide Hall’s accompanist, {striding} Joe Turner, was unhappy with his position. Turner resented being required to step away from his instrument and dance with her as part of a stage routine; so, Joe quit. Garnet Clarke was his replacement. Adelaide Hall’s split session for Ultraphone, that is loosely dated as January 1936, has {striding} Joe Turner on piano, at least on the tunes where there is only piano accompaniment. As Clarke does not participate, the discographical matter, here, is of small consequence, but maybe the Ultraphone sides were recorded in December 1935. Garnet Clarke’s work with Adelaide was primarily, conceivably exclusively, in the touring “Black and White Birds Revue”. The revue was in Paris in January and February 1936. There, Arthur Bradley staged the show. It left Paris for a series of runs in Switzerland. The Black and White Birds Revue featured a mixed-race cast – hence ‘Black and White’. The Black and White Birds Revue was directed by Henry Crowder and Adelaide Willoury. It was staged by possibly both Bradley brothers, Arthur for sure, and, perhaps at times, Buddy. Albert Gautier was the choreographer. There was a cast of fifty, headlined by Adelaide Hall. Henry Crowder conducted the orchestra that was mixed-race; it included Frank Withers, trombone, and Duke Kaluna, steel guitar. Among the acts was a musical duo of Romie Burke, guitar, and Vance Lowry, banjo and/or guitar. The Producer was Ralph Clayton. It would seem that Garnet Clarke only played when Adelaide Hall sang, and it was just the two of them on stage. Other than possibly taking part in a finale, it seems unlikely that Clarke played with anyone else. A most thorough beacon of Jazz information, Anthony Barnett, researched the Black and White Birds Revue in authoring his book, “Listening for Henry Crowder”. Anthony’s input, a great help, supplied the above details. A contemporaneous account of the show and the curtailing of its run was featured in Edgar Wiggins’ regular column, “Across The Pond”, where he is now heralded as “THE STREET WOLF OF PARIS”, in the Chicago Defender National edition of March 14, 1936 that comes with the dispatch heading “PARIS. Mar. 6”. “According to a letter received last Friday from Miss Adelaide Hall’s secretary, Mlle. Maude Rumford, the mixed revue that was starring Miss Hall and touring Switzerland, disbanded last Thursday night in Zurich. The latter explains that a disagreement between Ralph Clayton, who organized the show, and his partners, who have the support of the white troupers, arose. After the 10-day engagement in Basel, the revue proceeded to Zurich. Mr. Clayton, being unable to appear in Zurich due to a previous labor-law violation, endeavored to direct the show from out of town, but in his absence his partners utilized the occasion to disband the organization. The revue or the Race half of it, had enjoyed a grand success since the debut in Basel three weeks ago, and the announcement of the finish was a shock to all. Clayton’s partners claimed they were losing money, so withdrew the white performers, without finishing their Zurich engagement. There is also a question of jealousy to be considered, as the Negro performers received more applause than the white. The letter stated that Miss Hall, and all the other Race performers remaining loyal to Clayton would return to Paris probably Friday night or Saturday, but as none of them have arrived, to date, nor has further word been received it is likely as was intimated, they have proceeded to Brussels to meet Mr. Clayton, who is to find a solution to their plight.” {Shout-out to Melissa Jones!} Some of the dates implied are: the dispatch, Friday, March 6, 1936; the letter, Friday, February 28, 1936; disbanding in Zurich, Thursday, February 27, 1936; “the 10-day engagement in Basel … the debut in Basel three weeks ago”, would thereby contain the date February 14, 1936; and non-return to Paris, Friday & Saturday, February 28 – 29, 1936. It would be nice if the precise dates in Basel and the schedule in Zurich were known. Basel was probably the locale where the promotional disc – on which the star, Adelaide Hall, accompanied by Garnet Clarke, are the only musicians – was made. This recording was to ballyhoo the Black and White Bird’s Revue. A surviving poster documents a run at the Rex Theatre. It’s most probable that this is the Rex Theatre in Basel. The Black and White Birds Revue was scheduled a return to France for shows at the Casino de Paris. This didn’t happen. There is one wrinkle to map out before ‘the show can close’. The revue’s co-director and its orchestra leader, Henry Crowder, had a notorious romance with Nancy Cunard of the famed shipping line. During the seven years of their affair (1928 – 1935) they worked together on a range of artistic endeavors, in print, in music, and on stage. These productions ended when they broke up in 1935. Crowder’s memoir of their love, “As Wonderful As All That?”, was published in 1987, thirty-two years after his death. So how might Garnet Clarke’s existence seep into the ‘sordid’ Cunard-Crowder affair? Jazz Expert Melissa Jones, Matriarch of the Neo Hot Club Movement, has given much thought to a possibility. Without the discovery of some incredibly revealing revelations, Melissa’s thought must forever remain pure speculation. Putting Ms. Jones’ supposition into prose follows. Henry Crowder was an excellent Jazz pianist. This skill served a purpose when he hooked up with shipping magnate heiress Nancy Cunard. Their entanglement led to significant creations in the art world of Paris between the World Wars. [Giving equal time: Cunard wrote a memoir, too, covering 1928 – 1931, “These Were The Hours”.] They broke off their affair in 1935. Melissa Jones thinks that’s when Garnet Clarke entered the picture! Citing the dispatch dated January 3rd from Paris published in the Chicago Defender of January 4, 1936: “Garnet Clarke … left Paris a few days before the concert for Switzerland, engaged by a wealthy society dame who is ambitious to become a singer. Clarke was scheduled to be gone one month but returned unceremoniously after one week’s absence.” Might this “wealthy society dame” who brought Clarke to Switzerland as she was “ambitious to become a singer” be Nancy Cunard? There’s nobody alive to ask. Barring the surfacing of letters, diaries, etcetera by the primaries, how would the identity of the “wealthy society dame” ever be known? Whoever she actually was, without the discovery of revealing documents, the behind the scenes’ story to her hiring Garnet Clarke and their going off to Switzerland will never be decoded. Clarke had come across the pond on a Cunard White Star Limited ocean liner; the ship’s passenger log for July 18, 1935 (Garnet’s arrival date at Southampton, England) does not list Nancy Cunard. And if it did, then what would it prove about Clarke knowing her at that point, or knowing her at all? Whatever Garnet Clarke’s earlier indications of poor mental health, is the hurly burly to this end run from Paris to Switzerland and back to Paris the triggering mechanism to his final descent? There’s a lot of time to be accounted for until his hospitalization on September 26,1926. Where is he from early March until late September? If Garnet Clarke continued as Adelaide Hall’s accompanist, then her engagements, if datable and provided that Clarke could be shown to be on her bandstand, might pick up some of the missing time. Cameron Williams published a biography of Adelaide Hall in 2002, “Under A Harlem Moon”, the first and, to date, only biography of her. Professor Jonathan Rosenberg is embarking on a research journey that includes Adelaide Hall. The reader may forgive a need to finish this musical biography of Garnet Clarke. It defers to Rosenberg’s groundwork to come. Jon, perhaps, will find 1936 gigs by Adelaide that were played by Garnet including the specific dates of the Black and White Birds Revue’s performances. It’s just as likely that Clarke didn’t continue with Adelaide Hall after the Black and White Birds Revue closed. There are no known jobs of any kind until June 1936. Felix Sportis, the primary biographer of Garnet Clarke’s life, finds that Clarke did play a concert and, thankfully as it turns out, Garnet had not held back for the full year he proposed to wait out as he had stated to the Chicago Defender (¼/1936). Garnet Clarke concertized at Ecole normale de musique in Paris on June 5, 1936, a staging that was headlined by the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. In this case, independent of M. Sportis, advertisements have been seen. There’s even a review in Jazz Hot. (Shout-out to Parker Fishel) “Garnet Clark, who never appears to be quite himself on stage, quickly overcame his fears and gave a moving performance of Don Redmans ‘Chant of the Weeds’. That was one of the best things on jazz piano we ever heard in Paris.” As noted earlier, Garnet Clarke also appeared in concert in Paris on July 3, 1936. This time he performed in a combo with: Bill Coleman, trumpet; Christian Wagner, alto saxophone and clarinet; Edgar “Spider” Courance, tenor saxophone; Oscar Aleman, guitar; and William Diemer, drums. Garnet Clarke’s performance is again reviewed in Jazz Hot. The review does not list a bassist. “Garnet Clark was less consistent as he was unwell that evening but some of his solo’s had a ‘classe supérieur’.” Both these concerts – June 5th and July 3rd, 1936 – were produced by the Hot Club of France. The Hot Club of France’s – Bureau, (N. J. or Jacques) Canetti, Delaunay, Nourry, Panassié, et al – appreciation of Clarke’s artistry must have been sizeable, as they continued to employ him after various disappointments. Sportis mentions that Clarke worked on the French Riviera (the Cote d’Azur). This fits the summer of 1936. M. Sportis acquired an anecdote from Charles Delaunay that also fits Summer 1936: Garnet walked the beach all night in his nightgown. Is this the same anecdote that Delaunay supplied Kragting, Jr., where it’s a tuxedo at noon on the beach in Cannes? Whatever his schedule or wherever he played or was, Garnet Clarke was back in Paris in August 1936. ‘The Garnet Clarke Story’ is nearing its gloomy end. Garnet Clarke took up residence in a Paris hotel. It’s plausible that this is the same building where he had taken up residence when he first came to Paris. After his August 1936 return to Paris, Clarke would spend eight days in jail for refusing to pay his taxi driver. George Johnson stated that he heard of Garnet being arrested from a guitar player – could it have been: Oscar Aleman, Romie Burke, Roger Chaput, Pierre Ferret, Duke Kaluna, Vance Lowry, John Mitchell, Django or brother Joseph Reinhardt? Johnson said he tried to mediate Clarke’s release, but Clarke was already in the hospital. George Johnson’s story of trying to get Garnet Clarke out of jail but that he was already in the hospital, makes sense if it has nothing to do with the jailing for not paying the taxi driver but instead is specifically about the fast-paced activities of September 26, 1936. On September 26, 1936, other residents/neighbors locked him in his hotel room and the police were called. Garnet Clarke was first taken to Hopital Lariboisiere at 5pm. Quickly, he was brought to Hopital Henri Roussel by two nurses. Four days later, September 30, 1936, he was transferred to the Hopital Sainte-Anne in the 14th borough of Paris. Hospitals Henri Roussel and Sainte-Anne were connected, with Sainte-Anne providing more services with a focus on psychiatric care. The diagnosis was severe Hebephrinia (Disorganized Schizophrenia) as well as a serious bacterial disease which was incurable in 1936. Garnet Clarke, who would die of tuberculosis on November 30, 1938, would spend almost the rest of his life (September 30, 1936 – October 22, 1938) at Hospital Sainte-Anne. It is reasonable to suspect that the unnamed bacterial disease that Clarke was known to have in early fall 1936 was not the tuberculosis that would kill him in late fall 1938. Someone, or more than one person, may have wished to prevent public knowledge that Garnet’s physical disorder could be considered controversial, more controversial than having tuberculosis. The reports above and to come were obtained by Felix Sportis. They were exceedingly difficult to gather. M. Sportis acquired the information about Clarke’s medical history through contacts at the various hospitals. Sportis did not fully cite these documents as they were still confidential in 2003. French law requires a 75-year period after a person’s death before personal documents become public – at the time, Garnet had been deceased for 64 years. If these reports still exist 82 years after Clarke’s death, then, theoretically, they would be easier to access. In 2003, Felix Sportis wisely chose not to name the administrators who allowed him to see Garnet Clarke’s records nor the medical attendants during his last two years. Felix Sportis is also the source of a great deal of accurate non-medical information about Garnet Clarke – for instance, his date of birth and where it took place. People interested in ‘The Garnet Clarke Story’, though there may not be many, are grateful to Felix Sportis for clearing up what had so long been misstated and for adding new, again accurate, information. It should be stated, however, that the original source of these types of particulars was Garnet Clarke, himself. Whatever his struggle with schizophrenia, in the initial hospitalization, probably when he was taken to Hospital Sainte-Anne, Garnet was able to divulge details. He wrote out many addresses, including of family in the States. This intake provided to the hospital still survived as of 2003. It is in Garnet Clarke’s hand, he signed “Garnet Clarke”. He had his birth certificate with him, too, and it, too, still existed in 2003 with the full name (Garnet Garfield Clarke) and the correct spelling of it. There can be no doubt that Garnet has one ‘t’ and Clarke contains an ‘e’. A reading of later documents in hospital files indicates that he had remained in touch with his sister, Margaret Clarke. How sorrowful this institutionalizing must have been. Family was thousands of miles away. Friends were few. Even his primary musical associates were unavailable. Benny Carter was in England. Bill Coleman left to work with Leon Abbey in India on October 21, 1936. George Johnson was, apparently, on the scene September 26, 1936. Did he see Garnet then or ever again? Was Adelaide Hall close to Clarke? She wasn’t always in Paris anyway and she did not open her famed Parisian nightclub, La Grosse Pomme, until December 9, 1937. Did the Chicago Defender’s Paris based reporter, Edgar Wiggins, who undoubtedly knew him and probably penned Clarke’s obituary that would be printed in the Chicago Defender, go see him at Hospital Sainte-Anne? Charles Delaunay told Felix Sportis that at first Clarke received a fair number of visitors, but it dwindled. Did the flow of visitors completely stop? Was the treatment and his living quarters at all pleasant? Garnet was physically ill, mentally in great distress, and pitifully isolated. There was a blurb in the February 1937 issue of Jazz Hot. His situation is mentioned but not truly exposed. The description is not just limited but baffling. “Garnet Clark, the phenomenal pianist, who has lost the habit of hearing, is currently being treated in a nursing home. His status is most satisfactory.” Maybe this amateur translation from the French misses something. Ben Kragting, Jr.’s reading/translation in the June 1, 1991 issue of Storyville (#146) improves understanding. He writes that the short statement in the February 1937 Jazz Hot mentioned “that Garnet had been temporarily admitted at Saint-Anne to recover his tranquility of mind.” (That last quote is from Kragting, Jr.’s text, it is not a formal translation from Jazz Hot.) This is the place to connect Trummy Young’s citation that Garnet Clarke was drinking too much in the Big Apple (1934 – 1935) and Charles Delaunay’s thought, voiced late in his life, that Garnet Clarke perhaps indulged heavily in drugs, specifically marijuana and cocaine (1935-1936), which may have contributed to his ‘going crazy’. Examining limited evidence that Clarke’s mental disease was caused by injury to his head or extreme drinking and drug use, the conclusion, here, is that there are not enough facts to state or feel that his schizophrenia was due to such external causes. This is not to duck either or both sets of circumstances’ potential to partially explain Garnet Clarke’s mental downfall nor to dodge the idea, near totally unsubstantiated, that the ‘incurable bacterial disease’ diagnosed when he was hospitalized in 1936 may be behind his mental disintegration. His young death and lost final two years forge a sad, sad tale. It’s hard to take. There’s only a most remote chance, based on what’s known, that it could have turned out much differently. There would be two more musical turns. In 1937, “Garnet Clark and his Hot Club’s Four” recording of “Rosetta” (issued on Disque “Gramophone” (HMV) K-7618, that was coupled with “The Object of my Affection”) won the Grand Prix du Disque Hot for 1936. Did Clarke ever learn of his award? Then, there’s the amateur recording done at Hospital Sainte-Anne, best presumed to have been done in 1937 though Jacques Bureau, who is the recordist and came to the hospital with Charles Delaunay, dated it, roughly, in early to mid-1938. This was Garnet Clarke’s last hurrah. A touch of his greatness is still present, moving but heartbreaking. Jacques Bureau wrote an article about Garnet Clarke in the December 1945 issue of Jazz Hot. [Charles Iselin translated.] Over the years, Bureau spoke more than a few times about his recording Garnet Clarke. Daniel Nevers, who wrote the liner notes to the Lp issue of “Improvisation” aka “I Feel a Song Coming On”, seemed to have access to Bureau, as did Felix Sportis. Bureau’s dating of the event to 1938 appears early in his elucidations, it’s in the 1945 Jazz Hot article. Jacques Bureau was not a psychiatrist or psychologist. He, nevertheless, spends a good deal of time on Clarke’s mental illness. Bureau’s psychological evaluation of Garnet Clarke may not be of value. He was, however, there, and portrays the music through a schizophrenic lens. “A portrait of the Artist at about twelve, learning to play the piano. The artistic phase of schizophrenia.” “Schizophrenia is actually the body and the mind {in} regression. And when we visited him, Garnet Clark was back at this very characteristic period of adolescence … But then, Garnet was as happy as possible.” Clarifying: the last part of the quote means that Clarke was happy in his early teens. It is not that he was happy that day at the hospital. It should also be pointed out, given that Garnet Clarke was possibly still 20 and could not be more than 22, that the adolescent emphasis is a bit overboard and awkward. Jacques Bureau is the source to naming two of Clarke’s Doctors, Ferdière and Daumaison. Nevers, using Bureau’s input, asserted that they gave Garnet Clarke the freedom to play a piano in the hospital whenever he liked. Charles Delaunay is the primary source to other facts about the recording. These would include that Hospital Sainte-Anne was lobbied to allow Garnet a pass from the hospital so that the recording could be made professionally. By April 28, 1937, Delaunay with Hugues Panassié had launched the first Jazz label, Swing Records. A short-term release for Clarke was refused. Bureau brought his portable gear to Sainte-Anne’s, and the recording was done in the break room for the interns. The piano was substandard. It’s remembered that Clarke was disinclined to play but finally performed on what was labeled “long”. Nobody recognized that it was “I Feel a Song Coming On”. Garnet started to play again and abruptly stopped. Clarke seemed to recognize both Charles and Jacques but did not appear fully cognizant of who they were, and, perhaps, what was going on. Independently, both Bureau and Delaunay stated they never saw Garnet Clarke again. Were there any other visitors? Was the situation hopeless? Was there care to comfort this Jazz giant who was losing everything? Felix Sportis’ clandestine research picks up the story. On October 21, 1938, at Hospital Sainte-Anne, a momentous decision was reached to transfer Garnet to a psychiatric facility 180 miles from Paris that combined two buildings, two miles apart: the Asile de Clairefontaine and hôpital psychiatrique Saint-Rémy in Haute-Saône, France, that had opened on July 19, 1937. (Charles Iselin reports that since then, area names and facility names have changed somewhat.) Clarke traveled from the Hopital Sainte-Anne to Haute-Saône via the Vesoul train station, arriving at the Asile de Clairefontaine on October 22, 1938. M. Sportis, in his remarkable “Garnet Clarke: Un Poco Loco” printed in the special edition in 2003 of Jazz Hot, does not address the possibility that the onslaught of tuberculosis was the cause of moving him out of Paris, rather than different psychiatric care from a different treatment center. Garnet Garfield Clarke died in hôpital psychiatrique Saint-Rémy in Haute-Saône on Wednesday, November 30, 1938, of pulmonary tuberculosis. He was 22 years of age. The hospital contacted the American Consul General in Paris in December. The formal “REPORT OF THE DEATH OF AN AMERICAN CITIZEN” was created by the American Foreign Service in Strasbourg, France on January 12, 1939. It is U.S Consular Death Certificate: “NA Record Group: RG59-Entry 205; Box Number: 1461; Box Description: 1930-1939 France Cl - Fe; Strasbourg, 12 Jan 39”. Garnet has an extra ‘t’, but the middle initial ‘G’ is there, and Clarke is spelled correctly. A line in the death certificate states that Clarke had “no effects”. A copy was sent to Margaret Clarke, Garnet’s sister, on February 10, 1939. She must have been around 28 years old. It is completely unknown how two years, two months, and four days of hospital care was paid for. This research uncovered only one Garnet Clarke obituary. It’s short. It appeared in the January 7, 1939, Chicago Defender National edition on page 19. As with the Defender, and only the Defender, his name is spelled correctly – probably obtained directly from Clarke in 1935 by the paper’s Edgar Wiggins. The cause of death printed – “hereditary insanity” – seems incorrect. Certainly, it does not match the medical records. This brief obituary is otherwise spot on, except that Clarke did not die in Paris. That’s inferred by the dispatch heading (“Paris, Jan. 6”) linked to the copy’s “… died here in a French hospital …”. Garnet succumbed in Haute-Saône, France. “Garnet Clarke Dies PARIS, Jan. 6 – Garnet Clarke, victim of hereditary insanity, died here in a French hospital following two year of confinement. A marvelous pianist and native of Washington, D. C., Clarke invaded France in the fall of 1935 (at the age of 19) with Benny Carter to play with Willie Lewis’ orchestra and enjoyed great success during the one year he performed before becoming ill.” There’s a thorniness in projecting past the dreadful coda to ‘The Garnet Clarke Story’. But barring an improbable recovery and his returning to the USA or some safe haven during World War II, had Clarke lived, his future would carry dire, likely deadly, abuse. France fell to the Nazis on June 25, 1940. Hitler declared war on the U. S. on December 11, 1941. Garnet Clarke was tubercular, mentally ill, an American, an African American, and a Jazz musician. The Nazis would imprison Jacques Bureau, Henry Crowder, and though briefly, Charles Delaunay. They were able to survive, though Crowder permanently lost his health. Willie Lewis and his orchestra were working in Egypt around the time France fell. His pianist at that time, Ram Ramirez – who, coincidentally, had played opposite Clarke at the Famous Door in 1935 – nervously told Lewis that they had better return to the USA while the getting was good. Willie Lewis and most band members stayed. But Ramirez split for Portugal on his way back to the States (think “Casablanca”, the movie). Bill Coleman also “sprinted” back to the USA from Egypt in 1940. “Willie Lewis and his Negro Band” were in neutral Switzerland in the summer of 1941. It was time to go home. Willie Lewis would register for the Draft in Harlem on February 15, 1942. If Garnet Clarke had lived to see World War II, then what would have become of him? Garnet Clarke left behind a bit more than 23 minutes of preserved music. He did not live to be 23. This essay used about 11,000 words to spell out his biography and 4000 fewer words to annotate and describe his music. Yet the theme was to underscore his Jazz music wonder. The presupposition was that his story was less important or should go untold unless his art was to be celebrated first and foremost. The ratio of biography to music in the text might lead to the judgment that the purpose was not fulfilled. This article closes in the belief that, whatever the split in wordage, the case for his Jazz music creations as the crown jewel to ‘The Garnet Clarke Story’ has been made. And that verdict was reached long before this prose was contemplated. There is comfort that before this presentation adjudicated and came to the same resolution, the confirmation of Garnet Clarke’s greatness was already in place. It was there in the 1930s. It was confirmed in the journalism of John Hammond – who declared that he was flabbergasted by Clarke’s talent when Garnet was barely seventeen – and Edgar Wiggins – who wrote that Clarke was a marvelous pianist and told of the great success he enjoyed in Paris. Clarke’s talent was even reaffirmed in the odd news brief about his health in the February 1937 Jazz Hot. There were musicians’ endorsements of his luster and caliber by Mildred Bailey, Benny Carter, and Red Norvo, all seen in print during 1935. Clarke was just 19. A stamp of approval came with eminent Jazz talents hiring him: for instance, Charlie Barnet (1933 and/or 1934 and/or 1935), Billie Holiday (1934, maybe into 1935) and Adelaide Hall (1936). Ram Ramirez, best known as the composer of “Lover Man”, who had performed opposite Garnet at the Famous Door in 1935, arrived in Europe not too long after Clarke’s hospitalization. Ram was interviewed by the Zurich-based Johnny Simmen, and Ramirez stated that Garnet was “sensational”. The genius, Django Reinhardt, played on Garnet Clarke’s session. And from that date, Garnet Clarke’s recording of “Rosetta” won the Grand Prix du Disque Hot for 1936. Other musicians chimed in with retrospections. Trummy Young said that Garnet was ‘killin’ back in 1930 when he was merely 14. Bill Coleman wrote in his autobiography how great Clarke played. Billy Taylor was most unusual in that he listed the obscure pianist in the hierarchy of Jazz piano in his doctoral dissertation. Benny Carter, who had difficulty speaking of Garnet due to his erratic behavior, spoke with Ed Berger after Felix Sportis had tried to interview The King about Clarke in 1992. Avoiding comment on his tragic demise, Benny Carter talked of Garnet’s skill and expressiveness. Seals of approval by French Jazz cognoscenti were also imparted years after Garnet Clarke’s death. Words of praise came from Jacques Bureau, Charles Delaunay, Pierre Nourry, and Hugues Panassié – whatever Panassié’s denouncing of Garnet’s “I Got Rhythm”. In fact, Delaunay and Panassié were on the record in Paris in the middle thirties that Garnet Clarke was stellar. Daniel Nevers wrote in 1984: “Clark proves himself … one of the greatest ancestors of modern jazz piano.” Ben Kragting, Jr. wrote in 1991: “Clark’s concept of accompaniment was very modern and way ahead of its time, not because of the things he did, but what he deliberately did not do.” Commendation continues from learned Jazz people of today. Jazz archaeologist, Jan Evensmo, published a Garnet Clarke solography, “The Piano of Garnett Clarke” listing Clarke’s recordings, his improvisations, and drawing attention to Garnet’s exceptionalism. Tardo Hammer, a high-quality Jazz pianist, himself, bolsters the appreciation that Clarke was “hip”. Members of the Unilateral Hot Club of Morristown spent an afternoon listening to Charles Iselin’s 78RPM originals with Clarke. All those present were impressed. David Beal was moved to become a Garnet Clarke specialist. Some graduates of the Juilliard Jazz Studies Program were present that day in Morristown, New Jersey – might they include: Sam Chess, Noah Halpern, Julian Lee, Robbie Lee, Reggie Quinerly, Gideon Talazaar, and Joel Wenhardt? At least a few of those just named were there and dug the sounds. Probably several of these WKCR Jazz programmers were there, and, as with KCR Jazzmen David Beal and Fat Cat Rivera, enjoyed Garnet Clarke. They include some of these KCR Jazzies: Ethan Edwards, Sam Engel, Emily Fenster, Parker Fishel, Daniel Lewis, Brian Linde, Jackie Santos, Kat Whatley, and Ben Young. Other researchers currently dig for more material about Garnet Clarke. One is Howard Rye. It was Mr. Rye who first directed this research to Felix Sportis’ writing in Jazz Hot. Alexandre Litvak is fervently on the case as this is written. If anyone is going to track down an alternate take of Garnet Clark and his Hot Club’s Four recording of “Stardust”, then it will be Matthew “Fat Cat” Rivera, the force in the Neo Hot Club Movement. Of those who have recently joined the Garnet Clarke faithful, none are more devout than Charles Iselin and Melissa Jones. Charles was a most welcome ally and did almost all of the translating. Melissa Jones inspired the whole project and supplied the majority of the original documents. Melissa Jones, the Matriarch in the Neo Hot Club Movement, galvanized the youngins, who are the bulk of that movement’s membership, to hear and enjoy the music of Garnet Clarke. Her encouragement roused David Beal, Parker Fishel, Charles Iselin, and the Fat Cat, Matthew Rivera, to do some potent Jazz research. As every piece of information surfaced, Melissa would ponder its relevance. Her mantra was “I’ll have to think about that.” Melissa: here’s something to think about. The Rosetta Stone to ‘The Garnet Clarke Story’ is “Rosetta”. Regardless of Fatha Hines’ limited input to the composing, it was his biggest number for a half-century. (Admittedly, it was rivaled from 1940 by “Boogie-Woogie on the St. Louis Blues”.) Garnet Clarke, at seventeen, possessed enough gumption to play “Rosetta” before its Master, the highlight to the first of their two “competitions”. At the second of these cutting contests, Clarke, recently turned eighteen, again had the gall to confront his adversary Hines with the Master’s own music, this time from the legendary “West End Blues”. The witnesses were the judges, and the verdict, both times, was that the teenager won big. Still a teenager, at nineteen, Garnet Clarke recorded as a leader. His reputation rests almost entirely on the music done that day. Out of the box, the first song recorded was “Rosetta”. That “Rosetta”, directly heard from the grooves of the original issue, Disque “Gramophone” K-7618, was featured as recently as January 25, 2021 by Charles Iselin in the Fat Cat’s Hot Club of New York Zoom. The Neo Hot Club Movement members present (there were a lot of them) were awed. Among them were young musicians. They were seen on screen catching the zap in Clarke’s introduction, full chorus solo, and the shorter solo, and mouthed “Wow!” Eighty-five years earlier, Garnet Clarke’s “Rosetta”, freshly cut, won the Grand Prix du Disque Hot. Yes, the limited amount of music preserved might hide how magnificent he was. But the case for Garnet Clarke’s prodigious value was made concisely by all those cited. I beg pardon over spending 18,000 words to amplify that Garnet Clarke was glorious.