In the early 1920s, a group of five students from Chicago’s Austin High School got together to form a jazz band. The original group consisted of Jimmy and Dick McPartland on cornet and banjo, respectively, Frank Teschemacher on alto saxophone and violin, Jim Lanigan on piano, and Bud Freeman, the greenhorn of the bunch, on C-melody saxophone. Drummer Dave Tough joined in later on, and guitarist Eddie Condon recorded with the band as “McKenzie and Condon’s Chicagoans” in 1927. This group became quite popular, and, among other bands, helped to bring jazz music to the toddling town of Chicago. Eventually, the musicians went their separate ways, off to greater success in different orchestras and bands. Frank Teschemacher died tragically in a car accident in 1932, days away from his 26th birthday.
Nearly two decades later, Eddie Condon brought together a different group of leading jazzmen, many of whom had no real connection to Chicago, under Bud Freeman’s name to record a session at Columbia Records. The group, which performed live under the name “Summa Cum Laude Orchestra” , included the likes of Condon and Freeman, as well as jazz greats Jack Teagarden, Pee Wee Russell, and Dave Tough of the original Austin High Gang. This 1940 session resulted in the release of an album titled From Austin High Comes Jazz, annotated by record producer John Hammond, proclaimed in the liner notes as “America’s Greatest Jazz Authority”. The annotation notes Benny Goodman as a member of the Austin High Gang, but he was not connected to my knowledge, though he did play with some of the musicians later on.
All eight sides of Columbia C-40 were recorded July 23, 1940 and include the fine musicianship of Max Kaminsky on trumpet, Jack Teagarden on trombone, Pee Wee Russell on clarinet, Bud Freeman on tenor sax, Dave Bowman on piano, Eddie Condon on guitar, Mort Stuhlmaker on string bass, and Dave Tough on drums.