Tempo-Tone




1949 - 1950


Tempo-Tone was in business in 1949 and 1950. It was founded by Irving Taman (1920-1992), who in 1946 opened a bar called Irv's Boulevard Lounge. "Big Irv's" establishment was located at 301 North Sacramento on the West Side.

From October 1948 through March 1949, a group led by pianist Sunnyland Slim enjoyed a long residency at the lounge, and at some point Taman recorded 10 sides featuring Slim and several of the musicians who worked with him. (Most surviving documents point to May 14, 1949 as the date.)

Tempo-Tone 1001, released in June 1949, featured vocals by guitarist Floyd Jones; Tempo-Tone 1002, which came out the same month, featured harmonica player Little Walter. The supporting musicians on these sides included Muddy Waters on guitar and Elga Edmonds in the drum chair. Both Tempo-Tone 78s proved to be classics of the Chicago blues, but neither sold well, and Irv Taman apparently shelved plans to release two further singles featuring vocals by guitarist Baby Face Leroy Foster and the otherwise unknown Lonesome Sam Moton. Two additional sides that featured Jimmy Rogers were never even given a tentative release number. The only other session for the company, done on May 14, 1949 by the Bruce Heller trio, was also left unreleased.

After closing Tempo-Tone, Taman continued to operate the lounge until 1968, when it was burned to the ground in the riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Taman moved to the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, where he opened a restaurant called the Korned Beef Kastle. In 1976, he revived Tempo-Tone just long enough to release a 45 by a family group called 14 Carat Gold, which was led by Blanche Jackson; Paul Jackson Jr. has gone on to a successful career as a smooth jazz artist.

Source: The Red Saunders Research Foundation