We are incredibly fortunate that in 1948 or 1949, he was recorded by his longtime friend and bandmate Johnny Wiggs. A cornetist and New Orleans educator who recognized the importance of capturing Quinn’s guitar work for posterity, Wiggs recorded Quinn on acetate cutting machine inside the tuberculosis ward at a hospital in New Orleans. Though Quinn was gravely ill at the time of recordings (he died within months of the session), the recordings offer insight into his musicality and unusual technique.
Wiggs has described the recording session in several accounts. Here is how he described it to jazz historian William Russell:
He was.…in this little room, about 6 by 10 foot. I was trying to operate the recording machine, keep some of the thread from messing up the needle, keep people out of the room, and play, all at the same time. During one number the telephone started ringing, so I had to throw the phone off the hook.…I didn’t want to tire Snoozer as he was pretty weak then.…He’d been working with an amplified guitar a lot and I had an awful time trying to get him to play without any amplification. Unfortunately there was only a couple of choruses of his picking style, for which he was best known. (Bill Russell, New Orleans Style, ed. Barry Martyn & Mike Hazeldine (New Orleans: Jazzology Press, 1999), 168.)
Wiggs released four of the recorded songs in 1952 on his own label. The entire session was released in 1969 as an LP record album by a small jazz label called Fat Cat Jazz Records out of Manassas, Va. It was re-released as a CD and digitally in 2014 by 504 Records.
You can also hear Snoozer Quinn playing son some tracks behind Bee Palmer, Mart Britt and in a country style behind Governor Jimmie Davis on several recordings. Check out the discography for more.
Many thanks to the Booze Brothers for long hosting this page on Snoozer Quinn.