University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Jazz Institute of Chicago Jimmy Granato Collection 1925-1980

© 2008 University of Chicago Library


The Jazz Institute of Chicago Jimmy Granato Collection was processed and preserved as part of the "Uncovering New Chicago Archives Project," funded with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Descriptive Summary


Jazz Institute of Chicago. Granato, Jimmy. Collection




1.5 linear feet (3 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


James "Jimmy" Granato, clarinetist, jazz musician, composer. The Jazz Institute of Chicago Jimmy Granato Collection contains photographs, newspaper articles, sheet music, and fake books.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Jazz Institute of Chicago. Granato, Jimmy. Collection, [Box#, Folder#], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Biographical Note

James "Jimmy" Granato was born on September 25, 1901 in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada. He was married to Fay and they had a son, James and a daughter Barbara. His family moved to Rochester, New York in 1915 where he earned an electrical engineering degree at the University of Rochester, per his father’s wishes. He chose instead to have a music career.

Granato was a well-known clarinetist of his era. He preferred to play Dixieland and claimed that he could play any shade of blues on his clarinet. His early influences included Jimmy Noone and Johnny Dodds, as well as the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, Earl Fuller, the Memphis Five, the Indiana Five, the Cotton Pickers, the Wolverines, and Bix Biederbecke. In his heart, he wanted to play Dixieland, but as that style faded around the Depression era, he continued to play jazz, whether he liked the music or not.

Granato’s early career had him playing with the band of Fred Damon in Rochester, Austin Wylie’s orchestra of Cleveland, and Paul Whiteman. He eventually made it to New York as a protégé of Johnny Costello, who helped him get in with the Indiana Five in 1927, a dream come true for Granato. He also played with Paul Ash and Rubinoff at the Paramount Theater and Erno Rapee at Radio City Music Hall. He was on the CBS and NBC radio staffs and worked on about 25 movies with the Paramount movie studio in Long Island, playing for such stars as Helen Morgan, Ken Murray, Ann Dvorak, Charles Ruggles, Claudette Colbert, Maurice Chevalier, Ethel Mermen, Tallulah Bankhead, Martha Raye, and Leo Carrillo. He also played the sound track for the Paramount News theme, which was used for many years. He worked several years with Jimmy Durante, starting from the vaudeville days of Clayton, Jackson and Durante. He also played with Emil Coleman, Vincent Lopez, and Red Nichols, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Ray McKinley, Jack and Charlie Teagarden, Glen Miller, and Gene Krupa.

Granato moved to Chicago in 1943 to form his own Dixieland band, which included Ernie Kolstad on Trombone, Al Reed on cornet, Paul Benzedian on piano, and Joe Pepp on drums, and they played at Rita’s Show lounge on Argyle Street. He eventually worked with Art Hodes’ Dixie combo at Rupneck’s in Chicago. In 1957, Granato formed another band, which included Mel Grant on piano, Don Chester on drums, Norman Murphy on trumpet, and John Welch on trombone. In 1960, he teamed up with Smoky Stover’s Dixieland Firemen, which included (at various times) Floyd O’Brien, Harold "Hal" Benson, Monty Mountjoy, Joe Pepp, Eddie Lain, Jack Norwood, and Jack Gilliland. He played with the Bill Tinkler Jazz Band, which included Quinn Wilson, Dan Williams, Freddie Kohlman, "Buddy" Lee, and Art Hodes. He played at venues that included the Circle Lounge, Dome Stable, and the Crown Propellor. Granato wrote numerous works for the clarinet, including "Clarinet Carols," "Clarinet Concerto," and "Clarinet Carousel."

Jimmy Granato died on May 31, 1981.

Scope Note

The Jazz Institute of Chicago Jimmy Granato Collection contains photographs, newspaper articles, sheet music, and fake books, which are informal collections of scores used by performing musicians and as a tool for learning.

Series I, Photographs and Scrapbooks, contains pictures, newspaper and magazine articles, and ephemera from Granato’s career as a musician. The newspaper articles and ephemera are announcements about performances, bands, venues, jazz, musicians, biographical articles of Granato, and several cartoons. The photographs are primarily of Granato playing his clarinet with and without bands, though some photos are of other jazz musicians and bands. Most are publicity pictures and a few are personal snapshots. There are some photographs of bands including Art Hodes’ Dixieland Band, Smokey Stover and the Original Firemen, Bill Tinkler Jazz Band, Louis Armstrong’s Esquire All Stars, and Jimmy Granato and his Dixielanders.

Musicians in the photographs include Louis Armstrong, Ray Bauduc, Bob Bedini, Harold Benson, Barney Bigard, Connie Boswell, George Burnis, Don Chester, Cozy Cole, Muggsie Dawson, Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Drake, Jimmy Durante, "Heavy" Elder, Chauncey Elsegger, Doc Evans, Don Ewel, Bill Foley, John Gilliland, Hap Gormley, Bobby Hackett, Ralph Hayes, Tiny Hill, Art Hodes, Gene Holden, Peanuts Hucko, Hey Hey Humphrey, Jim Ille, Al Jenkins, Freddie Kohlman, Nappy Lamare, Eddie Lane, Buddy Lee, Freddie Lynn, Marty Marsala, Jack Marshall, Bob McCracken, Al Melgard, Eddie Miller, the Mills Brothers, Bill Moore, Russ Morgan, Monty Mountjoy, Whitey Myrick, Jack Norwood, Floyd O’Brien, Page Palmer, Joe Pepp, Bill Pfeiffer, Rebel Randall, Dave Rasbury, Bill Reinhardt, John Schenk, Buddy Smith, Warren Smith, "Muggsy" Spanier, Smokey Stover, Joe Sullivan, Charlie Teagarden, Jack Teagarden, Blanche Thomas, Bill Tinkler, Johnny Vames, Bud Walden, George Wettling, Ken White, Dan Williams, Quinn Wilson, and Mammy Yancey. A few are signed and inscribed to Granato.

Series II, Sheet Music, contains fake books and piano scores. There are handwritten and pencil scores for "Clarinetics" and "Jimmy’s Blues." Other scores include "Singing the Blues," "Little Rock," "Mona Lisa," "Tishomingo Blues," "Hard Hearted Hanna," and "’Tain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do," all for clarinet. Other music is for piano and trumpet.

Related Resources

Browse finding aids by topic.

Subject Headings


Series I: Photographs and Scrapbooks

Box 1   Folder 1

Scrapbook, "Hodes-Stover, Chicago 1957-1958"

Box 1   Folder 2

Scrapbook, "Hodes-Stover, Chicago 1957-1958"

Box 1   Folder 3

Scrapbook, "Hodes-Stover, Chicago 1957-1958"

Box 1   Folder 4

Scrapbook, "Jimmy Granato and His Dixielanders," 1949-1950

Box 1   Folder 5

Scrapbook, "Jimmy Granato and His Dixielanders," 1949-1950

Box 1   Folder 6

Scrapbook, "Smokey Stover and the Original Firemen Itinerary," 1958-1970

Box 1   Folder 7

Scrapbook, 1933-1965

Box 2   Folder 1

Scrapbook, 1933-1965

Box 2   Folder 2

Scrapbook, 1940-1961

Box 2   Folder 3

Scrapbook, 1940-1961

Box 2   Folder 4

Jimmy Granato, 1934-1952

Box 2   Folder 5

General, 1925-1980

Box 2   Folder 6

Newspaper clippings, 1950-1954

Series II: Sheet Music

Box 2   Folder 7

"Clarinetics," undated

Box 2   Folder 8

"Jimmy’s Blues," undated

Box 2   Folder 9

Jimmy Granato and His New Yorkers, Index, undated

Box 3   Folder 1

Piano Fake Book, undated

Box 3   Folder 2

Piano Fake Book, undated

Box 3   Folder 3

Trumpet Fake Book, undated

Box 3   Folder 4

Trumpet Fake Book, undated