Whatley's Saxo Society Orchestra. Promotional photo c. 1925, courtesy Patrick Cather
Whatley's Saxo Society Orchestra, later the Vibra-Cathedral Orchestra, was a big band led by Industrial High School music director John "Fess" Whatley in the 1920s and 1930s. It was a successor to his "Jazz Demons", which was also made up primarily of his students and former students. When touring with his bands, Whatley was known to conduct bed-checks every half hour to make sure his players weren't getting into trouble.
The orchestra performed as members of the American Federation of Musicians Local No. 733, and played on "York Instruments". In a 1925 photograph the members are identified as (left to right):
- John "Fess" Whatley, conductor, trumpet
- Richard Clark, trumpet
- Hardy Arrington, trombone
- Wilson Driver, drums
- Curley Parrish, piano
- Carl Bunch, banjo
- Calvin Ivory, tenor sax, bass clarinet
- Walter Blythe, tuba
- Eddie Brown, tenor sax, clarinet
- Ed Whatley, alto sax, soprano sax, clarinet
On September 24, 1929 the Saxo Society performed for a party at the home of Erskine Ramsey on Shades Mountain. Portions of the party were broadcast live on WAPI-AM with announcer Walter Campbell.