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Mental Strain At Dawn

Jack Purvis & His Orchestra


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Purvis' Checkered Career


This recording was made in New York City on December 17th 1929 featuring Jack Purvis trumpet solo & leader, John Scott Trotter piano, Gene Kintzle guitar, Paul Weston bass, and Joe Dale drums.

Jack Purvis joined Hal Kemp's Band and was a member from 1929 to 1930, also appearing on record with Smith Ballew, Rube Bloom, the "California Ramblers", and the "Carolina Club Orchestra." In December of '29 Purvis led his own recording group using Hal Kemp's rhythm section to produce "Copyin' Louis," and "Mental Strain at Dawn."

He moved to California and was successful broadcasting with a few radio orchestras. While in Los Angeles, Purvis worked for the George Stall Orchestra as a writer and even worked for Warner Brothers arranging. He composed Legends of Haiti for a one hundred and ten piece orchestra. Afterwards he found work in San Francisco as a chef.

At the end of 1935 he joined Frank Froeba's Swing Band in New York. These 1935 recordings with Froeba were the end of Purvis' recording career. He played a couple of weeks with Joe Haymes' orchestra and then disappears from history for a couple of years. It is speculated that he worked as a ships cook on a freighter at the time.

He was arrested in Texas in June 1937, while working as a cook, for his involvement in a robbery in El Paso, Texas. He was tried and convicted and sentenced to jail time in Huntsville Prison. While in prison he directed the Rhythmic Swingsters, the prison band and also played piano with them. The band regularly broadcast on radio station WBAP in 1938.

Purvis was conditionally pardoned from prison in August of 1940, but he quickly broke his parole and was sent back to prison for six more years. Some sources claim he did this deliberately because he missed the prison band. On September 30th 1946 Purvis was was released from prison one last time. He had a wild reputation and is said to have set hotel rooms on fire. He seldom stuck with one band for very long and was known to hit the streets as a busker. From this time onward he worked at non-musical careers which included working as a chef, an aviator, a carpenter, and a radio repair-man.

Jack Purvis is suppose to have killed himself in San Francisco, California on March 30th 1962, however stories persist that a man who looked like Jack Purvis showed up at a band date by cornetist Jack Goodwin and the two men had a long talk about his life on two occasions in 1968.

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