Remembering : The Top Notes©2000JCMarion


In October of 1951, The Top Notes featuring pianist-vocalist Curtis Harmon begin a four month stay in which their music is well received at the Maroon Club in Montreal , Canada. After a number of personal appearances in the Philadelphia, Pa.-Camden, N.J. area, the combo heads back north of the border for an extended engagement at the Golden Rail night club in Hamilton, Ontario. Returning to the U.S., the group does more dates in eastern Pennsylvania with a long stop at the Castle Inn in Jenkintown. The success they have had in their club dates gets the attention of Jerry Blaine and he signs them to a recording contract with Jubilee Records in June of 1952. One month later their initial recording is issued on Jubilee #5088 - "For Love Of All" and "My Old Time Sweetheart" and Tyhe Top Notes are accompanied by the Sid Bass orchestra. During the fall of the year the combo continues to be a top draw in the Philadelphia area with personal appearances at Lou's Moravian Inn, the Glen Hotel, and Pep's.

In November the second side for Jubilee is released on #6021 - "To Be Yours Forever" and "I'll Always Love You". The following month the combo adds Beulah Frazier as their vocalist at the beginning of an extended run at the Red Rooster in Philadelphia. Frazier had formerly fronted a combo called Beulah and the Mellow Fellows. Through the early months of 1953 Beulah Frazier with the Top Notes continue at the Red Rooster, then move on to the Chateau, also in the Philly area. Their records do not do much in the sales charts but they continue to be a top attraction in Canada as they spend much of the spring and early summer at the Holiday Tavern in Toronto. Throughout the rest of the year the Top Notes perform nightly at the Cadillac Club in Baltimore, the Glen Hotel, and Mattero's Tea Club in Chester, Pa. The Top Notes kept it going and in 1957 played most of the summer on the South New Jersey shore at the Club Riptide.

This is the known story of this long forgotten vocal-instrumental combo, one of many that were on the periphery of the Rhythm & Blues scene during that music's formative years. Like the others featured in earlier issues (especially issue # 2) The Top Notes were an asterisk or afterthought in the development of America's music. However insignificant, their story deserves to be presented even if after the passage of time, the information is very hard to come by or research. They should all be remembered.

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