Herschel Evans

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Herschel "Tex" Evans (9 March 1909 Denton, Texas[a][1] – 9 February 1939 Manhattan, New York),[2][3][4] was an American tenor saxophonist who worked in the Count Basie Orchestra.[5] He had also worked with Lionel Hampton and Buck Clayton.[6] He is also known for starting his cousin Joe McQueen's interest in the saxophone.

Life and career[edit]

Evans was born in Denton, Texas, United States,[3] but spent some of his childhood in Kansas City, Kansas, where his cousin Eddie Durham was a trombonist and guitarist. Durham persuaded him to switch from alto to tenor saxophone, the instrument that ultimately established Evans's reputation. After perfecting his craft in the jam sessions held in the jazz district between Twelfth and Eighteenth streets in Kansas City, Evans returned to Texas in the 1920s and joined the Troy Floyd orchestra in San Antonio in 1929. He stayed with this territory band until it dispersed in 1932. Evans performed for a time with Lionel Hampton and Buck Clayton in Los Angeles, and in the mid-1930s returned to Kansas City to become a featured soloist in Count Basie's big band.

For the next three years Evans's prominence as a tenor saxophonist was at its peak, and he participated in musical duels with fellow band member Lester Young. Count Basie's "One O'Clock Jump" featured the contrasting styles of the two musicians and brought to each the praise of both critics and the general public.[7] Evans's greatest single success was his featured solo on Basie's hit "Blue and Sentimental."

Evans also made records with jazz musicians such as Harry James, Teddy Wilson, and Lionel Hampton. Evans has been credited with influencing fellow tenorist Buddy Tate — who, in 1939, came from the Nat Towles band in Omaha to replace Evans in the Basie band when he died[8] He is also credited for influencing Illinois Jacquet and Arnett Cobb.[9][10][11][12] Although not a prolific composer, Evans wrote a number of well known pieces, including "Texas Shuffle" and "Doggin' Around."[13]


Evans was a member of the Basie Orchestra from September 1936 until his death.

Basie's recording session in New York with Decca on January 5, 1939, was Evan's final recording.[14]

  • Count Basie And His Orchestra, Decca 2249
Buck Clayton, Ed Lewis, Shad Collins, Harry Edison (trumpets); Dicky Wells, Dan Minor, Benny Morton (trombones); Earle Warren (alto sax); Herschel Evans, Lester Young (tenor saxes); Jack Washington (alto and bari sax); Count Basie (piano); Freddie Green (guitar); Walter Page (bass); Jo Jones (drums); Helen Humes (vocals)
Both numbers were arranged by Jimmy Mundy and Helen Humes sang on both
Recorded in New York, January 5, 1939
64851-A "My Heart Belongs to Daddy"; OCLC 159936240 and 44142977
65852-A "Sing for Your Supper"; OCLC 81828421

Orchestra memberships[edit]

Evans was a member of the following orchestras:[7]

  • Smith Brothers Orchestra
  • Trent's Number Two — Evans performed with TNT in 1927[15]
  • St. Louis Merrymakers — Evans performed when them around 1928[15]
  • Edgar Battle
  • Terrence Holder
  • George Corley
  • Troy Floyd (1901–1953) and His Shadowland Orchestra,[16] San Antonio — Evans performed with Floyd from 1929 to 1932[15]
  • Lee Palmer
  • Mamie Smith (1883–1946)
  • Durham Brothers Orchestra
  1. Joseph Durham, Jr. (brother), director, double bass, and tuba
  2. Earl Durham (brother)
  3. Roosevelt Durham (brother)
  4. Eddie Durham (1906–1987) (brother)
  5. Myrtle Durham (sister), piano
  6. Allen Durham (cousin), trombone
  7. Clyde Durham (cousin)
  • Ed Bailey Orchestra
  • Charles Echoles (né Charles Richard Echols; 1901–1957)
  • Bennie Moten — Evans performed with Moten from 1933 to 1935
  • Lionel Hampton — Evans performed for stints with Hampton in 1936
  • Buck Clayton — Evans performed for stints with Clayton in 1936
  • Count Basie — Evans performed with Basie from 1937 until his death

Selected discography and sessionography[edit]

Original sessions
  • Troy Floyd and His Shadowland Orchestra
Recorded in San Antonio, Texas, June 21, 1929
402696-B: "Dreamland Blues," part 1 (pt 1); OCLC 8175844
402697-B: "Dreamland Blues," part 2 (pt 2); OCLC 8193236
Recorded in Chicago, September 13, 1935
90323-A: "Joe Louis Chant"
90324-A: "Baby O'Mine"
Buck Clayton, Joe Keyes, Carl Smith (trumpets); George Hunt, Dan Minor (trombones); Caughey Roberts (alto saxes); Herschel Evans, Lester Young (tenor saxes); Jack Washington (baritone sax); Count Basie (piano); Claude Williams (guitar); Walter Page (bass); Jo Jones (drums); Jimmy Rushing (vocals)
Recorded in New York, January 21, 1937
61542-A: "Honeysuckle Rose", Decca 1141; OCLC 28939085
61543-A: "Pennies From Heaven", Decca 1121, (Swi)M-39027, Br (E)02379, 80163,
61544-A: "Swingin' at the Daisy Chain," Decca 1121
61545-A: "Roseland Shuffle," Decca 1141; OCLC 28939085
Claude Williams (guitar, violin 1); Leslie Williams (master of ceremonies)
Radio broadcast, live "The Chatterbox", William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, February 8, 1937
"Lady Be Good
"St. Louis Blues"
"Moten Swing" (theme and closing)
"Shoe Shine Swing" ("Roseland Shuffle")
"Moten Swing" (theme and close)

Selected compositions[edit]

  • "Doggin' Around"
Words and music by Edgar Battle and Herschel Evans
Copyright September 19, 1938
Class E (musical composition, unpublished) 177494
Lewis Music Publishing Co., New York[i]
  • "Texas Shuffle"
Words and music by Edgar Battle and Herschel Evans
1st copy October 17, 1938
Class E (musical composition, unpublished) 179121
Lewis Music Publishing Co., New York[ii]

Edgar Battle sued Lewis Publishing Company in 1952 for failing to adequately promote songs that he published with them.[17]


  1. ^ A 1973 source, Biographical Dictionary of American Music, states that Evans was born in Denton, Texas. But a 1940 source, by Earl J. Morris as published in the Pittsburgh Courier, states that he was born in Temple, Texas (see inline citations, below).


Original copyrights
Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 3 Musical Compositions, New Series, Library of Congress, Copyright Office


Inline citations
  1. ^ Biographical Dictionary of American Music, by Charles Eugene Claghorn (1911–2005), West Nyack, New York: Parker Publishing Company, Inc. (1973); OCLC 609781
  2. ^ Primary source: Index to New York City Deaths 1862–1948, (indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group (www.italiangen.org) and the German Genealogy Group (www.germangenealogygroup.com)
    Secondary source: Death Index, 1862–1948 (online database), Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com)
  3. ^ a b c "Evans, Herschel," (www.thedeadrockstarsclub.com) (retrieved December 14, 2011)
  4. ^ "Evans, Herschel," Biographical Dictionary of American Music, by Charles Eugene Claghorn (1911–2005), Parker Publishing Company, Inc. (1973); OCLC 609781
  5. ^ "Evans, Herschel," Biographical Dictionary of Jazz, by Charles Eugene Claghorn (1911–2005), Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall (1982), pps. 102–103; OCLC 8626853
  6. ^ "Titans of the Tough Toned Texas Tenor," by John Lilley, RVA News (www.rvanews.com), Richmond, Virginia, Scott Pharr, editor and website administrator, August 22, 2011 (retrieved January 23, 2015)
  7. ^ a b c "Grand Town Day and Night" (column), by Earl J. Morris (born 1906), Pittsburgh Courier
    "Young Man With a Horn", February 3, 1940, pg. 40
  8. ^ Buddy Tate, 87, Saxophonist for Basie's Band, by Ben Ratliff, New York Times, February 13, 2001
  9. ^ "Evans, Herschel," by David Minor, Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association (retrieved January 22, 2015)
  10. ^ Black Beauty, White Heat: A Pictorial History of Classic Jazz, 1920–1950, by Frank Driggs and Harris Lewine, New York: William Morrow and Company (1982); OCLC 7462363
  11. ^ The Encyclopedia of Jazz, by Leonard Geoffrey Feather
  12. ^ Jazz Style in Kansas City and the Southwest, by Ross Russell, Berkeley: University of California Press (1971); OCLC 205031
  13. ^ The 101 Best Jazz Albums: A History of Jazz on Records, by Leonard Lyons, New York: William Morrow and Company (1980); OCLC 6649867
  14. ^ a b c Count Basie: Swingin' the Blues, 1936–1950, by Ken Vail (de) (né Kenneth G. Vail; 1939–2013), Scarecrow Press (2003), pps. 25–26; OCLC 53083840
  15. ^ a b c [The Night People: The Jazz Life of Dicky Wells,] by Dicky Wells, as told to Stanley Dance
  16. ^ "Discography: Troy Floyd and His Shadowland Orchestra," The Red Hot Jazz Archive, (www.redhotjazz.com), created by Scott Alexander (retrieved January 22, 2015); OCLC 40850362 and 46975457
    Note: Apparently, Alexander, a bassist living in Toronto, ceased maintaining the RHJ website years ago and it has been unattended to date (see comment on Yahoo! Groups (retrieved January 22, 2015)
  17. ^ "Battle-Lewis Case to Go Before N.Y. Court," Billboard, November 22, 1952, pg. 24 (last column, bottom)

External links[edit]