Premier-Atlas Records

Premier/Atlas was a short-lived and generally obscure West-Coast label.

In 1942 songwriter Robert Scherman (e.g., All For You, a 1943 hit by Nat "King" Cole and A Fellow On A Furlough, a 1944 hit for both Phil Hanna
and Al Sack's Orchestra) launched the Premier Record Company whose main claim to fame is that it was briefly the home of the legendary King Cole Trio. Two singles were cut by the Trio at Premier, and here you get two sides, F.S.T. (Fine, Sweet, and Tasty) composed by Scherman, and Got A Penny Benny.

In 1944 Premier evolved into Atlas Records in partnership with Art Rupe, who would later launch Juke Box/Specialty Records, and although in existence to 1948 it would never boast a national hit single. But that in no way detracts from the fine music recorded there, which basically focused on three styles - the cocktail-bar soft jazz sound, the blues/boogie woogie/shuffle preference of the many "jump" bands in existence then, and the Texas-Oklahoma-born Western Swing. It was the inability to promote beyond the confines of their home-base that precluded registering a national hit, and not the music.

When The King Cole Trio bolted for the greener pastures of Johnny Mercer's Capitol Records, their guitarist, Oscar Moore, suggested to Scherman and Rupe that they might consider the similar-style trio fronted by his older brother John, also a jazz guitarist, along with Eddie Williams and Charles Brown who to together functioned as Johnny Moore's Three Blazers. Scherman agreed, but on the condition that Oscar be involved as well, and that's why some of the releases were
billed as Oscar Moore's Three Blazers. That soon changed however as Johnny was notoriously independent and, in fact would go on to record 19 hit singles from 1945 to 1955 - none for Atlas.

The jump artists are headed by the band of saxophonist/clarinetist Luke Jones, who once played with Lionel Hampton and Roy Milton, and which includes boogie pianist Betty Hall Jones, trumpeter/vocalist Red Mack, bass player Chuck Barksdale and blues shouter deluxe George Vann. Alternately billed as Luke Jones & His Five Joes, Luke Jones & His Orchestra, or Luke Jones with Joe Alexander's Highlanders, a couple of releases were also credited to Red Mack & His Orchestra. The vocal group, The Four Vagabonds (lead John Jordan, bass Ray Grant - who also plays guitar - first tenor Robert O'Neal and baritone Norval Taborn), date back to 1933 and, in 1943, they had three hit singles for Bluebird. Here you get the only sides they recorded during their brief stay with Atlas in 1946. Another brief stay was that of Frankie Laine who sings Maureen with the backing of Johnny Moore's Three Blazers.

As for Western Swing, here you get both Red Murrell & His Ozark Playboys and Merle Travis who, ironically, would also head to Capitol after a short time with Atlas.