Darnell Howard was a well-known clarinet, saxophone and violin player who performed with many of the renowned jazz musicians of his day including W.C. Handy, King Oliver, Kid Ory, Erskine Tate, Jelly Roll Morton, Fletcher Henderson, Coleman Hawkins and Earl HInes. From Chicago, his jazz violin playing was greatly admired by the consummate violinist, Eddie South.
At Red Hot Jazzhear Darnell Howard's violin on W.C. Handy's first recording (Columbia, 1917).
Handy was 43 years old when this recording was made. Handy's Orchestra of Memphis includes a string quartet (three violins and a cello): violins are Edward Alexander, Darnell Howard and William Tyler, cello is Henry Graves. * Listen to The Snaky Blues, with it's swinging string quartet, and violin solos especially on Sweet Child.
Also at Red Hot Jazz, photo of W.C. Handy's Orchestra of Memphis (1918) includes Darnell Howard (with violin) and a cellist (likely Henry Graves):
http://www.redhotjazz.com Type WC Handy in the search box (press enter), then click on Handy's Orchestra of Memphis. Also re-released by Memphis Archives as MA 7006.
Discographical statistics for Darnell Howard:
114 recording sessions (most on alto sax and clarinet), 1917-1966
*Special thanks to Akua Dixon for her contribution to this entry
II. Artists Recording during the 1920sI
Eddie South (1904 - 1962)
Known as the Dark Angel of the Violin, Eddie South remains unsurpassed as a jazz violin virtuoso. South performed soulful gems from the classical violin repertoire with passion and timeless beauty of tone. He brought a gypsy flair to his interpretation of popular tunes, and could swing with the best.
Stuff Smith spoke the "mother tongue" of jazz. His trumpet-like tone, punctuated bowing and driving rhythm pulled from the violin all of the force and energy of a horn. His 1950s work with Dizzy Gillespie helped to lay the foundation for be-bop. His playing remains state-of-the-art jazz.
Amazon.com listen to sound clips from Cat On a Hot Fiddle (1959) Verve USA.
All Music Guide has bios, analysis, critiques and sound clips. Type "Stuff Smith" the search box, and hear Stuff wax hot and classical on The Stuff Smith Trio/Progressive Records (1943). *Also see note below.
Robert "Juice" Wilson was born in St. Louis, MO. He played clarinet and violin with Noble Sissle and his Orchestra (recorded 1929, Hayes, Middlesex, England). He appears on very few sessions but his jazz violin playing on these is classic:
Edgar Sampson was known primarily as a composer, arranger, and saxophonist, but he began playing violin at age six. He was working in Duke Ellington's band on alto sax when he was 16 years old, and went on to play with Fletcher Henderson and Rex Stewart. While working with Chick Webb, he composed Stompin' At the Savoy (lyrics by Andy Razaf).
Sampson sold charts to Chick Webb, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Teddy Wilson, and others. His tunes have become part of the standard jazz repertoire.
At Red Hot Jazz, you can hear a Sampson violin solo with The Georgia Strutters (Harmony 468-H). Listen to It's Right Here for You (1927):
On another clip from Red Hot Jazz, Sampson is credited as violinist on Charlie Johnson's Paradise Orchestra (Small's Paradise, Harlem NY, 1925-1929). Hear Hot-Tempered Blues and You Ain't the One (1928):
* Note: Many recordings issued posthumously. Several websites list recordings by violinist Leroy Smith under Stuff Smith's name. Leroy Smith was an earlier African American violinist and orchestra leader from Detroit. There are sound clips of Leroy Smith and his Orchestra (with John Long on violin) at