A group with good commercial success in very limited recording opportunities in rock after all of them had gone years without stepping into a studio following solid jazz careers, making them among the more unusual acts to feature prominently in rock’s early days.

Edgar Hayes was born in Kentucky in 1902, got a degree in music from Wilberforce College and began his professional career in 1922 as a pianist around Ohio, backing others as well as starting his own group. He rose to some level of prominence in the 1930’s when he joined the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, playing and arranging for the group for six fairly productive years. Upon leaving them he began his own group and released a very notable two-sided record, a hit version of the standard “Stardust” and the original recording of the soon-to-be standard “In The Mood” for Decca.

Though his star was rising his opportunities were not as his band broke up at the onset of World War Two and recording bans lasting much of the decade further hampered his ability to get more widespread recognition. As a result Hayes settled in California, assembling a four man unit he called The Stardusters featuring other jazz musicians fallen on hard times including guitarist Teddy Bunn and rounded out by bassist Curtis Counce and drummer Bryant Allen.

During the next few years they apparently either moved away from the jazz repertoire, or merely expanded their material to take into account the transitional styles of the day in the black music scene and when, in late 1948, they were granted their first – and only – recording session for Exclusive Records of Los Angeles, their output fell mostly in rock ‘n’ roll, albeit with some jazz aesthetics and blues shadings courtesy of Bunn’s guitar work.

Two hits followed, but no further sessions, and the group resumed playing clubs together until the early 1950’s. Hayes got one last shot to cut records in 1960 but for the most part he was resigned to performing smaller club dates for the rest of his life. Hayes passed away in California in 1979, a year after Teddy Bunn. The Stardusters, in spite of their brief flurry of success, were not long remembered by the public, but their groove-based instrumentals brought together the three dominant forms of commercial black music of the 1940’s in a satisfying manner that was all too often hard to achieve.
EDGAR HAYES & HIS STARDUSTERS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Exclusive 78X; January, 1949)
Very effective grooving instrumental maintaining tension with a minimalist approach that shows hints of both their jazz backgrounds and some blues elements, while remaining firmly within the seedier rock environs. (6)

(Exclusive 105X; June, 1949)
As sidemen… for Clifford Blivens. The electrifying work of guitarist Teddy Bunn and pianist Hayes highlight Blivens’ relentless attack. (7)

(Exclusive 105X; June, 1949)
As sidemen… for Clifford Blivens.

(Exclusive 106X; June, 1949)
A new plateau is reached by incorporating the electric guitar into the basic rock arrangement resulting in a sound that is tightly coherent while letting Teddy Bunn raise the tension with his playing, establishing the prototype for tomorrow in the process. (8)

(Exclusive 106X; June, 1949)
The first vocal offering from Hayes and company is carried off with soothing charm, never delving much into the details of the story but mesmerizing all the same. (6)

(Exclusive 110X; July, 1949)
Two part instrumental that is incredibly inventive and well played, essentially the same song featuring two different arrangements, but as such it’s something to be admired for its creativity more than simply enjoyed by getting down and grooving to. (6)

(Exclusive 114X; August, 1949)
As sidemen… for Clifford Blivens. The first let-down from Hayes and company who provide unsuitable backing for the type of sentiments the song purports to offer, though Blivens himself seems equally confused in that regard. (3)