Exclusive Recordings

Also in our archive: a small but growing collection of live recordings from the Birmingham jazz community, sourced from original reel-to-reel tapes and radio broadcasts. 

A few highlights include: 

The Frank Adams band performs "Stars Fell on Alabama," with vocals by Doris "Dot" Adams, the bandleader's wife. Recorded by Patrick Cather at the Woodland Club sometime in the 1960s.

Undated (circa 1950s/'60s) reel-to-reel tape of Frank Adams, Pops Williams, and others, performing live, from the collection of Frank Adams. "Work it, Frank, work it."

Walter Miller, live from Joe. Birmingham trumpeter and pianist Walter Miller had performed extensively with the bands of Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, and Sun Ra before returning to the Magic City, where in the 1980s he picked up a regular gig as house pianist at the beloved bar and bistro, Joe (AKA Joe Bar). Notably, Miller was the only member of "Sonny" Blount's early Birmingham band to perform off and on with that bandleader throughout his long career as Sun Ra; Miller's collaborations with Sun Ra spanned five decades, from the 1940s into the 1990s. His solo piano performances at Joe — captured here in a 1989 broadcast from local jazz station WVSU — encompassed a broad range of styles and ideas, presented in unbroken streams of consciousness. 

Laura Washington, live from Grundy's. Birmingham's Laura Washington joined the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra as a teenager in 1946, scoring a hit that year for the band with her performance of “I’ve Got a Right to Cry.” She returned to Birmingham in the 1950s and did not perform publicly again until the early 1980s, when she became a weekend regular at the local Grundy’s Music Room. Our archive includes two sets by Washington at Grundy's, fronting the Jerry Grundy Trio. 

For more Birmingham jazz recordings, please visit our Birmingham Blues and Jazz Audio Collection. And be sure to check out our separate exhibit on Patrick Cather, whose remarkable story is featured in the pages of Magic City. Many of Cather's original recordings and writings on Birmingham's jazz and blues communities — including previously unreleased collaborations with Frank Adams, boogie-woogie pianist Robert McCoy, and blues harmonica player Dave Miles — are featured in that exhibit and throughout our archive. 

Exclusive Recordings