Franklyn Taft Melrose (November 26, 1907 – September 1, 1941) was an American jazz and blues pianist, who recorded as Kansas City Frank.
He was born in Sumner, Illinois, the younger brother of Walter and Lester Melrose who set up the Melrose Brothers Music Company in Chicago in 1918, and went on to become leading figures in the Chicago blues and jazz scene of the 1920s and 1930s.
Frank’s first instrument was the violin, but he later took up the piano. He was strongly influenced by his brothers’ business partner, Jelly Roll Morton, and in 1924 he left home and began drifting around, playing and settling for short periods in
City and St. Louis, Kansas Detroit. He also played
occasionally in Chicago clubs with
In 1929 his brother Lester recorded him performing piano solos which were released under the pseudonym of "Broadway Rastus", and in 1930, following another trip to
he recorded "Jelly Roll Blues" and other tunes. These were issued in
Brunswick Records’ “race” series under the pseudonym of "Kansas City
Frank", and for some years were wrongly assumed to be the work of Morton.
In the 1930s,
continued to play piano in small clubs and bars, either solo or as part of a
band, while occasionally working in a factory to support his family. He also
recorded sporadically with Johnny Dodds and others.
He played on his last recording session in 1941 with Bud Jacobson's Jungle Kings. He died on Labor Day, 1941, being found dead in the road after apparently being killed in a fracas in a club in
Jimmy Cobb c / Junie (E.C.) Cobb cl, ts / Frank Melrose p / Jimmy Bertrand d, x. (One website listed Punch Miller as possible cornetist rather than Junie's brother, Jimmy.)