Memories of The Do-Ray-Me Trio ©JCMarion
This piano-bass-guitar trio recorded sporadically in the late 1940s on a number of labels including Commodore, Royal Roost and Ivory. The group was also known as the Al Russell Trio for a time in the mid nineteen forties. In the first few days of the year 1950, the new independent Ivory label located in New York released two sides by the trio. The first was "Rhumba Blues" / "I Couldn't Help It". The second side was "I Done No Wrong" / "I'll Get You" with vocals by Harold Connor. Although the trio is not a big seller on records, they are well travelled in personal appearances all across the country. For instance they do a month long gig at the Gilded Cage in Phoenix, Arizona in February of 1950, spend most of March in south Florida in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and in June have a long stand at the New Comedy Club in Baltimore. It was about this time that long standing member guitarist Joel Cowan, left the trio to join Camille Howard's trio with drummer Walter Murden and bassist Winston Williams.
In September the Derby and Rainbow record labels split up their partnership, with each going its seperate way. Derby took the opportunity to sign the Do-Ray-Me Trio (sometimes known as the Do-Re-Mi trio) to its label. This signing had very little of a positive note for the trio however, as no releases of note were ever forthcoming. The next opportunity to record for the threesome came in the following spring when Danny Kessler was tapped to expand Columbia's Rhythm & Blues presence mainly on the newly reactivated Okeh label. One of his first signees were the Do-Ray-Mi Trio. "I Want To Be With You Always" / "No More Dreams" is released on Columbia in late May of 1951. "May That day Never Come" / "How Can You Say You Love Me" is released three months later, as by Al Russell and the Do-Re-Me Trio and this time it is on the Okeh label. Late in the year "I Couldn't Help It" / "I'll Be Waiting" is released for Okeh. Neither side gets much airplay or sales. The trio becomes a quartet as Al Russell is now fronting the group as a spotlighted vocalist. They release a seasonal tune "I Don't Want To Be Alone For Christmas" / "I Love Each Move You Make" on Okeh, and this time they receive some support by their record company in promotion for the record which is their first to be available in 45rpm format.
The year 1952 finds the group a trio once more. Al Russell leads on vocals and piano, with Buddy Hawkins on bass and Al Moore on guitar. Okeh has lost interest and the combo finds themselves back with Rainbow records. They seem to find steady work in Philadelphia at night spots such as Pep's Music Lounge, the Cabana Club, and the Carver Bar of the Glen Hotel. The following year sees a new record : the 'A' side of their Rainbow release is called "I'm Used To You", and after a promising start especially in the midwest, it seems to disappear from the airwaves. Later that spring they are now with the Decca group and have a new record out on the Brunswick label - ""I'll Never Stop Being Yours" / "I'm Only Human", but any response for this type of easy going combo sounds is being drowned out by the new big beat sound of 50s Rhythm & Blues and the trio realizes that their style is becoming dated. The summer of 1954 finds the trio still making personal appearances in the greater Philadelphia area such as at the Club Zel-Mar and in night spots in nearby Wildwood, New Jersey.
From that point on the Do-Re-Me Trio seemed to disappear, as the younger generation took over the as the target group for radio play and record sales. The trio certainly paid their dues and were a vibrant musical force for many years especially in the Philadelphia area. Today their records are very rare and they remain as a footnote to the great development of the music of America in the post war years.
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