An unlikely, but enthusiastic, convert to rock ‘n’ roll after a successful career as a sideman in jazz, Bascomb never had a legitimate hit as a rocker but delivered some memorable sides that remain highly regarded well into the 21st century.

Paul Bascomb was born in 1912 in Alabama and in college at Alabama State he along with two others founded the Bama State Collegians, a jazz orchestra that somewhat surprisingly became a legitimate national band upon the members graduating and heading to New York in 193 where they hooked up with Erskine Hawkins who became their leader and recorded with them, including such legendary songs as “Tuxedo Junction”.

By now Paul’s younger brother, Dud, a trumpeter, was part of the group and they’d remain with Hawkins until 1944 when the two went out on their own, recording sides for a few years in a more big band style typical for the time.

In 1947 they split their professional relationship and Paul backed up a club singer from New Jersey going by the name of Manhattan Paul on a cut Two Ton Tessie. For the flip side that however Manor Records let Bascomb’s band cut “Rock And Roll” on their own, yet kept the credits the same, either figuring no one would know or no one would care that the two Paul’s were not the same. Though not a hit it did generate excitement and led Bascomb into pursuing rock music intermittently after that.

By the early 1950’s he had adapted the Manhattan Paul designation for himself, perhaps because listeners had assumed it had referred to him on “Rock And Roll”. The other Manhattan Paul – who has his own entries here – faded from the recording scene before long leaving Bascomb to often get credit for both of their work.

He usually didn’t take vocals, leaving that to his band members, though he did sing on Pink Cadillac and others. While some of his rock releases sold well none became hits and eventually he returned to jazz where he continued to be highly respected, remaining an enthusiastic performer into the 1980’s.

Bascomb was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall Of Fame in 1974 and passed away in at the age of 74 in 1986, one of a handful of artists to make important contributions in both jazz and rock.

MANHATTAN PAUL (BASCOMB) DISCOGRAPHY (Reviews To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):
(Manor 1137; September, 1948)
Vibrant celebratory record of the excitement of rock music itself, played by a jazz expatriate with total conviction and authenticity which perfectly embodied the musical and cultural freedom of the growing movement. (8)

(London 17002; December, 1949)
A welcome return to rock for the ex-jazzman who once again gives it his all while showing a good grasp on the essentials, from theme to the sax solo to his overall enthusiasm, but it’s held back a little by the mannered horn support and his own less than forceful vocal tone. (5)

(London 17002; December, 1949)
Sort of a jazz arrangement in a rock setting with its brief vocal interludes and extended instrumental solos, but while Bascomb’s sax work is first rate at times, he eases up just before
he’s ready to take off and the rest of it, both playing and singing, is too nondescript.

(Mercury 8299; September, 1952)
Oddly enough this is the song Bascomb is most remembered for, though it wasn’t a hit nor as good as Bobby Lewis’s recent original, but it’s performed with admirable enthusiasm and contains a decent sax break as well. (4)