J. R. Chatwell is one of the major figures in Western swing fiddling….who was heavily influenced by the jazz violin style of his hero, hot jazz-era player Stuff Smith…..as he packed up his jazz licks and headed over to the country camp….while putting such a zesty brilliance in his brief early recorded solos that it totally turned the heads of generations of fiddlers to follow….which included Johnny Gimble….who was a star fiddler in both Western swing and country….and seen in this video herewith as the leader of the Texas Swing Pioneers Band….for which Chatwell was a member who sang Trouble Trouble Trouble.
Chatwell’s name will inevitably come up if there’s a discussion of working links between country and jazz, provided the people talking are fairly well informed about the subject…..although a younger generation of Texas musicians spearheaded by the loveable Doug Sahm took Chatwell under their wing….and kept him in business long after a stroke took away his ability to fiddle. He was not a member of the Bob Wills band….so he is not included in the pantheon surrounding this most famous of the Western swing bands….but he might as well be, because his playing style was such a big influence on the musicians in the Wills band. Later arrangements in this group by guitarist Eldon Shamblin (also a member of the Texas Swing Pioneers seen in this video)….in which various motifs of Texas swing fiddling were written down to be played by the Wills two- or three-man fiddle clusters….which meant that some of the classic “J.R.” licks wound up codified right into the riffs of Wills and his Texas Playboys.
The group of musicians known as The Texas Swing Pioneers that are playing with Johnny Gimble include three of the all-time fiddlers in Texas…..with Johnny Gimble, J R Chatwell and Cliff Bruner….with legendary Texas swing musicians that include Zeke Campbell on slide guitar, Eldon Shamblin on lead guitar and Curly Hollingsworth on piano…..and this collection of musicians makes this video another “nuggett of gold” in our treasure chest of vintage memories here at ImaSportsphile.