Tell me about Bob Gillett?

Joined: July 13th, 2018, 1:52 pm

July 13th, 2018, 2:17 pm #1

Good day! I am hoping one of you kind folks might be able to point me in the direction of information about recordings of Bob Gillett playing banjo. I am about to embark on the task of learning to play banjo, and the banjo I am to learn on once belonged to a man named Bob Gillett, who was apparently quite something in his day. My husband, Josh McPartland, inherited the instrument from his grandfather Dick McPartland, brother to Jimmy McPartland. Bob apparently gifted it to Dick when they played in a band called “The Mound City Blues Blowers.” (Incidentally, my husband also inherited one of Jimmy’s cornets, and played it at his funeral, but I’m not about to take up learning that one!) Anyhow, this Vega banjo, circa 1890 according to the family inscription on the case, is absolutely gorgeous and I’d like to pay all proper respect to it by learning about it’s history. Only I’m ashamed to say that until my husband dragged out the banjo, I had never heard of Bob Gillett. Can anyone here help me learn more? Anything you could add would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your consideration!

Ali McPartland

Joined: July 13th, 2018, 1:52 pm

July 13th, 2018, 5:57 pm #2

Well, I feel foolish for my previous post now. Apparently, my mother in law misspelled “Gillette” when she wrote the inscription as it was dictated to her decades ago by my father in law about this banjo. She left off the “e”, which explains why my Google searches came up fruitless. Now that I’m searching the correct spelling, I see plenty of information now, and I am very much enjoying hearing Mr. Gillette play! Wow. I can’t beljeve my husband had this banjo and never told me! I REALLY can’t wait to learn now!!

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 13th, 2018, 9:01 pm #3

Welcome to the Bixography Forum, Ali!

Two instruments associated with people very close to Bix. What a bonanza. Bob Gillette\was the banjoist in the Wolverine orchestra. Any of the 1924 recordings of the Wolverines include Bob. They are available on youtube.

Also several postings:



Do you have photos of the instruments? Could you post then here. Any photos of Bix?

Joined: July 13th, 2018, 1:52 pm

July 15th, 2018, 2:02 am #4

Wow, thank you for your thoughtful reply! I asked my husband if he thought his dad might have any photos of Bix and his response was “probably.” So I’ll ask my father in law when I see him next!

As for photos of the banjo, I do have those! I just need to figure out how to post them here using my smart phone. I don’t think this site is very compatible because I was unable to navigate some of the links you sent, as well.

I’ll see what I can do, though!

Joined: July 13th, 2018, 1:52 pm

July 15th, 2018, 2:24 am #5

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Joined: July 13th, 2018, 1:52 pm

July 15th, 2018, 2:25 am #6

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Joined: July 13th, 2018, 1:52 pm

July 15th, 2018, 2:29 am #7

Whatdoyaknow? I downloaded the app and it works for uploading photos!

A quick tidbit before I hit the sack: My husband said that the only thing on this banjo that isn’t original is the 5th tuning peg. He said Bob never strung the fifth string and actually took off the tuning peg before he gave it to his grandpa Dick.

So my father in law had it restored before he gave it to my husband (and his brother, in an attempt to be fair, but his non-musical brother allowed my husband to be the sole owner.)

One last photo of the original case and the inscription my mother in law transcribed sometime back in the 80’s.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 15th, 2018, 7:39 pm #8

Thanks for all the magnificent images. Any other treasures in your collection or in your family collection?

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 15th, 2018, 7:41 pm #9

Dick McPartland Recordings listed in Lor'd discography.
[O1553]Add   Original Wolverines
Jimmy McPartland (cnt) Mike Durso (tb) Maurice Bercov (cl,as) Dick Voynow (p,dir) Dick McPartland (g) Basil Dupree (b) Vic Moore (d)
  Chicago, October 12, 1927
C-1290 Royal garden blues (*) Br 4000, OFC 18, IAJRC CD1007 [CD]
C-1292 Shim-me-sha-wabble Br 3707, OFC 18, Hist HLP28, IAJRC CD1007 [CD]
C-1303 A good man is hard to find    4000,    -        -            -
C-1306 The new twister    3707,    -        -            -
Note: Historical HLP28 titled "Hot Trumpets 1924-1937"; rest of LP by others.
All titles, except (*), also on Joker (It)SM3122.
All above titles also on Village (G)VILCD007-2 [CD] titled "Chicago Jazz 1924-28"; rest of CD by others.
All above titles also on Archeophone Off The Record 03 [CD].
[O1554] Add   Original Wolverines
Jimmy McPartland out, replaced by unknown (cnt), unknown ts & accor added, unknown (vcl-1)
  Chicago, May 24, 1928
C-1971 Limehouse blues Voc 15708, OFC 18, IAJRC CD1007 [CD]
C-1972 Dear old southland (1)    -          -         -
Note: Both above titles also on Time-Life STL-J23, Archeophone Off The Record 03 [CD].
[M8039]Add   Irving Mills
Jimmy McPartland, Al Harris (tp) Jack Teagarden (tb,sp) Benny Goodman (cl,as) Gil Rodin (as) Larry Binyon (ts,cl) Vic Briedis (p) Dick McPartland (bj,g) Harry Goodman (tu) Ray Bauduc (d)Claude Reese (vcl)
  New York, c. December 23, 1928
3579-B Blue little you (cr vcl) Cam 9041, Lin 3070, Ro 845, Connoisseur Rarities
(It)CR523, Sunbeam SB112
3580-B Japanese dream (cr vcl) Cam 9043, Lin 3072, Ro 847
3581-C Hungry for love (cr vcl) Cam 9042, Lin 3071, Ro 846, Sunbeam SB112
Note: Cameo 9041 is credited to The Lumberjacks. Cameo 9043 is credited to Dixie Daisies. Cameo 9042 is credited to The Caroliners.
All above titles also on Jazz Oracle (Can)BDW8042 [CD].
[M8040] Add   Irving Mills
prob same personnel with Benny Goodman (cl,as) only probable and Jack Teagarden out, replaced by unknown (tb).
  New York, c. December 26, 1928
3577-B Let me be alone with you ( vcl) Cam 9045, Ro 849
3588-C Let me be alone with you ( vcl) Lin 3074, Connoisseur Rarities (It)CR523
3589-C June Barcarolle ( vcl) Cam 9046, Lin 3075, Ro 850
3590-A-B-C I'm just wondering who ( vcl) Cam 9047, Lin 3076, Ro 851, Sunbeam SB112
I'm just wondering who ( vcl) Worth 7048
[T1350]Add   Jack Teagarden
Claude Whiteman, Charlie Teagarden (tp) Jack Teagarden (tb,vcl) Tom Moore (tb) Rod Cless (cl,as) Buddy Fisk (as) Dale Skinner (cl,ts) Bud Freeman (ts) Charles LaVere (p) Dick McPartland (g) Eddie Gilbert (b) Bob Conselman (d) David Rose (arr)
  Chicago, July 29, 1933
W152456-2 I've got it Col 2913-D, (E)DB/MC5035, Epic JSN6044, Conifer
CHD153 [CD], Classics (F)698 [CD], Avid (E)AMBX126
W152457-1 Plantation moods Col 2913-D, IAJRC 2, Family (It)726
W152457-3 Plantation moods (*) Col 2913-D, (E)DB/MC5034, Teagarden (Can)11221,
Conifer CHD153 [CD], Classics (F)698 [CD], Avid
(E)AMBX126 [CD]
W152458-2 Shake your hips (*) Col 2802-D, (Au)DO-1000, (E)MC3029, Teagarden
(Can)11221, Conifer CHD153 [CD], Classics
(F)698 [CD]
W152459-2 Somebody stole Gabriel's horn (tj vcl,*) Col 2802-D, (Au)DO-1000, (E)DB/MC5035, Teagarden
(Can)11221, Conifer CHD153 [CD], Classics (F)698
[CD], Avid (E)AMBX126 [CD]
W152460-2 I would if I could but I can't (unissued)
Note: Columbia 2802-D and (Au)DO-1000 as "Jack Teagarden and his Chicagoans".
IAJRC 2 titled "Jazz Collection - Volume 2"; rest of LP by others.
(*) These 3 titles also on Parade (E)PAR2013 [CD], Point (Du)262 1032 [CD], Trace (Du)0401572 [CD].
All above titles also on Mosaic MD7-211 [CD].
[M5107]Add   Jimmy McPartland
Jimmy McPartland's Squirrels : Jimmy McPartland (cnt) Joe Harris (tb) Rosy McHargue (cl) Dick Clark (ts) Jack Gardner (p) Dick McPartland (g) Country Washburne (tu) George Wettling (d)
  Chicago, April 24, 1936
90697-A Eccentric HRS 1003, De 3363, 18442, DL8043, MCA 2-4110
90698-A Original dixieland one-step HRS 1004, De 18441, DL8043, MCA 2-4110
Note: MCA 2-4110 titled "Shades Of Bix"; a 2 LP set.
[M5108] Add   Jimmy McPartland
  Chicago, April 25, 1936
90699-A I'm all bound 'round with the Mason-Dixon line HRS 1003, De 18441, DL8043, MCA 2-4110
90700-A Panama HRS 1004, De 3363, 3522, 18442, DL8043, MCA 2-4110
[M5109]Add   Jimmy McPartland
Jimmy McPartland (cnt) Bud Jacobson (cl) Boyce Brown (as) Floyd Bean (p) Dick McPartland (g) Jim Lannigan (b) Hank Isaacs (d)
  Chicago, October 11, 1939
91832-A Jazz me blues De 18042, DL8029, MCA 2-4110
91833-A China boy   -       -          -      , Franklin Mint GJR066
91834-A The world is waiting for the sunrise    18043, -          -      , Decca (Cz)03058
91835-A Sugar   -       -          -      , Decca (Cz)03058
Note: All above titles also on Coral CP38.
[J513]Add   Bud Jacobson
Johnny Mendell (tp) Bud Jacobson (cl) Pud Brown (ts) Tut Soper (p) Dick McPartland (g) Pat Pattison (b) Earl Wiley (d)
  Chicago, March, 1944
Bluesiana (unissued)  Signature
Muskrat ramble      -
(+ 2 unknown titles)      -
[J518]Add   Bud Jacobson
Bud Jacobson & His Hot Club Orchestra : Bill Stapleton (cnt) Bud Jacobson (cl,ts) Boyce Brown (as) Mel Grant (p) Dick McPartland (g) Pat Pattison (b) Lew Finnerty (d)
  Chicago, 1945
Muskrat ramble (unissued)  Signature
When Irish eyes are smiling      -
Indiana      -
Hot Club blues      -

Joined: March 15th, 2018, 4:56 pm

July 18th, 2018, 12:42 am #10

So, Gillette just played it as a four-string instrument? Makes me wonder if he learned on a four string and just carried on with a bigger, newer instrument.