While editing this film, some storylines were unfortunately left on the digital cutting room floor. This was the case with Earl Whaley and his group of musicians. Bandleader and saxophonist Earl Whaley brought members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 458, the first All-Black unionized musicians group from Seattle to Shanghai in the early 1930s. The 458 became the Local 493 in 1924 and by the early 1930s even began accepting other ethnicities on their rolls.1 Whaley and his band “The Red Hot Syncopators” included other 493 union members—Palmer Johnson on piano, Wayne Adams on baritone sax, Earl West on guitar, Oscar Hurst on trumpet, Fate Williams on trombone, and Punkin Austin on percussion. Bassist, Reginald “Jonesy” Jones would join the band later after a stint with Buck Clayton’s Band at the Canidrome Ballroom.2 Whaley’s Syncopators were the house band for the St. Anna Club, a third-tier dance hall in the International Settlement, which also hosted the all-jazz radio station XQHA. A 1934 advertisement for the St. Anna Dance Club in the Chinese newspaper Shenbao writes in large bold font “Earl Whaley’s Black Band” and “Dance and Tea Party opens every day at 6 pm.” This lower-tier dance club catered to the Chinese middle class, so it would follow that Whaley’s group was playing a mix of standard jazz dance tunes and Chinese folk songs—yellow music. Whaley’s band enjoyed relative success in Shanghai and Tianjin until the Japanese invasion of Shanghai in 1937. The African American musicians who did not leave China before then found themselves prisoners in Japanese internment camps at the start of the Second World War.

1 David Keller, The Blue Note: Seattle’s Black Musicians’ Union a Pictorial History(2013), xv-xvii

 2Ibid., 57–58.

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