Enjoy this amazing silent film of Snoozer Quinn from 1932, when he was in his prime at the age of 25 years old. He joined Paul Whiteman in fall 1928 and was active for several more years. Things to look for while watching this film:
- Yes, there is a soundtrack but it’s not matching. The soundtrack you hear was reportedly added by Don Perry, a co-founder of the New Orleans Jazz Club, sometime in the 1970s. Perry was a news cameraman for New Orleans station WDSU who donated hundreds of films to the Jazz Club. Read more about him on this page. The sound you hear is in fact Snoozer playing an original composition, “Snoozer’s Telephone Blues,” recorded in 1948 in the tuberculosis ward of a New Orleans hospital. (Available on the rare Wiggs 78 or Fat Cat LP.)
- Snoozer does not use a finger pick (unlike Eddie Lang and most jazz guitarists of this era)
- Watch Snoozer’s right hand to see how he frequently uses a claw hammer/frailing technique
- Snoozer was capable of single-note solos, but his signature sound was chordal.He uses the right hand thumb to set a bass rhythm, and his index and middle finger to ‘frail’ the strings for the melody or harmony
- Snoozer’s left hand makes chord shapes along the entire length of the neck — perhaps a carryover from the banjoist’s use of inverted chord shapes?
- Snoozer liked to use hammer ons and pulloffs with his strong left hand to augment the melodic line. You can see a nice speedy little run of this trick around 2:35.
The film was recorded by Charles Peterson, a guitarist/banjoist with Rudy Vallee’s Connecticut Yankees who turned into a jazz photographer. Charles’s son Don Peterson helped me definitively date the film to 1932 and says the location was Laurelton, NJ at their country home. Here is a photo from that same day. This is a picture of little toddler Don looking at Snoozer’s guitar.