Monthly Archives: August 2010

Part Two: ANDY SCHUMM’S BIXOLOGISTS (Whitley Bay, July 9, 2010)

Here’s the conclusion of the first impressive performance by Andy Schumm and his Bixologists at the 2010 Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival: Norman Field, reeds; Paul Munnery, trombone; Jeff Barnhart, piano; Jacob Ullberger, banjo and guitar; Frans Sjostrom, bass sax; Josh Duffee, drums.  What inventive melodists they all are!

ROSY CHEEKS:

MY GAL SAL:

SAN:

LOVE NEST:

NOBODY’S SWEETHEART NOW (with a chase chorus for Norman and Andy):

Hot and sweet, lyrical and impulsive — with aural echoes not only of Bix, Tram, and Eddie — but also of Chauncey Morehouse, Red Nichols, Miff Mole, Adrian Rollini, Gene Krupa, Frank Teschmacher, Eddie Condon, and more.

Part One: ANDY SCHUMM’S BIXOLOGISTS (Whitley Bay, July 9, 2010)

Cornetist Andy Schumm was having the time of his life at the 2010 Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival.  Not that Andy doesn’t have fun and spread joy wherever he goes — but here he was with a band of players who knew the music intimately, knew the subtle dimensions of the styles by heart.  So Andy and his Bixologists were an immense hit, and I caught every session (missing perhaps three songs) and I am very glad of it.  The band for this initial meeting on Friday, July 9, was Norman Field on a variety of reeds and amusing scholarly digressions; Paul Munnery on trombone; Jeff Barnhart on piano; Jacob Ullberger on banjo and guitar; Frans Sjostrom, the heroic, on the bass saxophone; Josh Duffee on his minimalist and very swinging drums. 

I will not explicate these performances, because they don’t need my pointing out their delights.  However, they are so much more than pale recreations of records: they are living creative hot music!

AT THE JAZZ BAND BALL:

LOUISIANA:

AT SUNDOWN:

ROYAL GARDEN BLUES:

I’M MORE THAN SATISFIED:

OH, BABY!:

BIG BOY:

BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME?:

And more to come on the other side . . .

“BUGLE DISPOSITION RAG” — SAVORY TRANSLATIONS?

Newsweek: Exclusive clips from jazz greats

2. “Bugle disposition Rag”: Count Basie’s 1940 ensemble, featuring substance instrumentalist Lester Young, on a set this adornment never transcribed in the studio, on March 8, 1940. Personnel: author Clayton (tp, arr); Harry “Sweets” Edison, Al Killian, Ed adventurer (tp); Vic Dickenson, Dan Minor, Dicky author (tb); Tab adventurer (as, sop, arr); peer Warren (as); Lester Young, Buddy poet (ts); Jack pedagogue (as,bar); Count Basie (p); Freddie Green (g); director Page (b); Jo designer (d).

I know what Bessie Smith would have said about this!  This excerpt came from www.flashnewsworld.com. and is its very own kind of jive.  Brilliance comes through no matter what amiable violence is done to the language: Google translation has at least recognized that the men of the Basie band were adventurers, authors, designers, and poets.  And what they played was always an adornment. 

MICHAEL McQUAID’S LATE HOUR BOYS at WHITLEY BAY (July 9, 2010)

At my first Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival last year, I met and instantly liked the young Australian jazz virtuoso Michael McQuaid — he plays alto saxophone, clarinet, and cornet — but didn’t get to hear him in his natural settings.  This year the fates were kinder: I saw Michael and the little hot band he leads, the Late Hour Boys, in two sets. 

After the first one, someone asked me what I thought.  Without thinking for a second, I replied, “Scalding!”  I think you will see that I wasn’t being hyperbolic.

The Late Hour Boys take their name, some of their repertoire, and their joyous attitude from the late Ade Monsborough, who named his group this way not because they favored midnight performances, but because he assembled his personnels at the last minute.  Michael McQuaid’s LHB summon up the kind of hot improvisation I associate with Spanier and Bechet, with a bare-knickle version of Soprano Summit in its closing choruses. 

You’ll hear evocations of Johnny Dodds and Pete Brown, of Teddy Bunn and Milt Hinton and Zutty Singleton.  It’s a two-man all reed front line, with Michael and the peerless wit Jason Downes switching off on clarinet and alto; the rhythm is taken care of by the splendid John Scurry on banjo and guitar and Mark (the Eel) Elton on bass.  Ian Smith, who also played cornet with Ade some years back, is a driving homespun drummer and washboardist who sings with great effectiveness — tenderly on a ballad, raucously on a jump tune.  And this band jumps for sure.

Here’s a rollicking CANDY LIPS (I’m STUCK ON YOU) from the Clarence Williams book:

Here’s a wartime composition by Monsborough, SORRY TO BE LEAVING:

PUT ‘EM DOWN BLUES is not the usual homage to Louis and the Hot Five.  It has its own romping momentum.  Although I don’t quite understand the emotional / romantic nuances of the lyric, I believe anything that Ian sings:

RAIN is a pretty tune that no one else seems to remember; Ian is in the moment on his sweet vocal:

EUROA, a Monsborough composition, honors a place that Michael suggests is improved by the song:

MELANCHOLY, which harks back to the glory days of 1927 Chicago with Johnny Dodds and Louis Armstrong:

BLAME IT ON THE BLUES, which I associate with Sidney Bechet and Albert Nicholas, intertwining:

Michael and the Late Hour Boys also have a new CD out which entirely captures the exuberance of these video performances.  Listening to it is also a much more focused experience, since you don’t have a running-shoes-for-sale poster in the background.  It is a limited edition, so I don’t know if this posting is too late, but I hope not! 

Check it out at http://www.jasondownes.com/lhbcd.

EVEN MORE SAVORY: “NEVER BEFORE HEARD CLIPS”

I find the media coverage of the discovery of the Bill Savory jazz collection simply amazing — and am both grateful and astonished. 

It would appear that the world has gone jazz crazy now, at least for a minute. 

Here’s the latest story from NEWSWEEK,  complete with music from Mildred Bailey, Jack Teagarden, Bobby Hackett, Vernon Brown, George Wettling, Herschel Evans, Lester Young, Jo Jones, Lionel Hampton, Joe Marsala, John Kirby, Roy Eldridge, and more!  (The music itself is amazing, but I am particularly delighted by the sound that audio wizard Doug Pomeroy has brought out of those grooves.)

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/08/25/audio-exclusive-eight-never-before-heard-clips-from-america-s-jazz-greats.html

And . . .

From the “But wait!  There’s more!” department, how about a thirty-minute NPR feature with director of the Jazz Museum of Harlem Loren Schoenberg and Bill Savory’s son Eugene Desavouret:

http://beta.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/2010/aug/24/savory-recordings/

I will let my readers ponder the larger implications of this media exuberance: right now, I am once again going to listen to half a minute of Mildred singing TRUCKIN’, which is balm for even the most skeptical observer, or I would hope so.  (Even a reader like myself who sees the whole explosion of interest as something out of a 1933 newspaper film, with the hard-bitten editor, fedora pushed back on his head, shouting, “Stop the presses!  Get me rewrite!  Don’t you know this is the biggest scoop anyone has ever seen?  Why, it’ll blow this town wide open . . . !”)

STANDARD TIME: NEAL MINER AND FRIENDS

Neal Miner is not only a fine bassist and composer; he’s also a remarkable jazz videographer who gets splendid results without a truckload of equipment.  His YouTube channel is “gutstringrecords,” and I’ve taken two of his recent videos to share (and applaud) here.

The first is a nimble, sustained reading of the Schertzinger-Mercer I REMEMBER YOU for piano trio: Neal, Michael Kanan on piano, Rick Montalbano on drums:

Aside from the music itself, which is probing without losing the essential rhapsodic quality of the song, I would point out how neatly Neal has solved the problem of making a jazz video visually interesting without having fidgety cutting every few seconds. 

And here’s CLOSE YOUR EYES by Bernice Petkere, explored by the Pacific Jazz Quartet — Sasha Dobson on the evocative vocal, Neal, Rob Sudduth on tenor saxophone, and Dred Scott on drums:

Satisfying and intriguing — hats off to Neal and friends!

FINDING SONNY CLARK

Sam Stephenson’s JAZZ LOFT PROJECT blog is one I visit regularly — not only for its subject matter but for the caliber of Sam’s prose.  Often the site’s subject is the magical and mysterious music and life revolving around Eugene Smith, photographer and thinker and friend of jazz. 

But today I was captivated by a black-and-white picture of a first grade class . . . which turns out to have the jazz pianist Sonny Clark in its front row.  I’m calling your attention to this post because of the loving perceptive research into someone’s life that Sam is doing here. 

Even if you’re not as deep into Clark’s life and music as Sam is, you should read this posting: http://www.jazzloftproject.org/blog/general/conrad-yeatis-clark-first-grade

“THE BOY IN THE BOAT”

Another mystery solved, or perhaps another text explicated. 

In May 2010, I posted videos (courtesy of Rae Ann Berry) of a party thrown by Alisa Clancy that featured wonderful duets by Jeff Hamilton on piano and Clint Baker on trumpet. 

In case you missed them, here they are: https://jazzlives.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/alisas-party-jeff-hamilton-and-clint-baker-may-18-2010/

One of their most saucy outings was SQUEEZE ME, which made me think of its origins in a cheerfully bawdy song called THE BOY IN THE BOAT.  The title had little to do with nautical adventures, and I have included the Winslow Homer image above only as a jape. 

I had only a partial recollection of the lyrics and asked my readers for assistance.  Surprisingly, no explicators or archivists emerged to assist me. 

But when I recently found the YouTube channel of “blindleroygarnett” enlightenment came along as a bonus — a late Paramount (circa 1931) of one George Hannah singing about that boy with accompaniment by Meade Lux Lewis. 

Listen, my children, and you shall hear. 

Now you know!

DEEP PASSION II: MENNO DAAMS and DAVID LUKACS

But wait!  There’s more!

If you were as impressed as I was with the four video performances by the Daams-Lukacs Orchestra (I’M COMIN’ VIRGINIA, SINGIN’ THE BLUES, SAVE IT PRETTY MAMA, and RING DEM BELLS) that appeared in the previous blogpost, you’ll be delighted to know that there is more music by this group and a smaller Daams group to be heard online. 

True, it’s audio-only, but now that you’ve seen the members of the orchestra for yourself, you can imagine what they look like with your eyes closed.

Visit the MySpace Music page of the Daams-Lukacs Orchestra — http://www.myspace.com/daamslukacsorchestra — and you can hear (and buy) more music from that concert: IMMIGRATION BLUES, MILENBURG JOYS, ROCKIN’ IN RHYTHM, THE STAMPEDE. 

Not enough high-intensity gratification for you? 

Menno has his own MySpace Music page —http://www.myspace.com/mennodaams/music/playlists.  There, you can hear five ethereal performances by another Daams aggregation: Menno PENNIES FROM HEAVEN, SHIM-ME-SHA-WABBLE, THESE FOOLISH THINGS,  GET HAPPY, HE AIN’T GOT RHYTHM. 

The other gentlemen of the ensemble aren’t identified in print, but the sound is remarkably evocative — trumpet, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and string bass — subliminally suggestive of the Ruby Braff-George Barnes Quartet, with a different set of shining (and probably more amicable) set of personalities. 

Drop everything (or at least set it down gently) and indulge yourself in some beautifully creative jazz.

DEEP PASSION: MENNO DAAMS – DAVID LUKACS and FRIENDS

It’s been a wonderful day for swinging jazz — tender and hot — because I found these four performances on YouTube. 

The peerless (and under-heralded) trumpeter, arranger, composer Menno Daams has started his own YouTube channel (“menno779”) and its videos include these four delightful performances by the “Daams-Lukacs Orchestra” of jazz classics — homages to Bix, to Louis, and Duke — that are evocations rather than copies even when they seem to be hewing closely to the originals. 

The orchestra — well-rehearsed without being stiff — is composed of Menno on trumpet (and arrangements); David Lukacs on clarinet;  Ronald Jansen Heijtmajer, alto saxophone; Frank Roberscheuten, tenor saxophone;  Chris Hopkins, piano; Ton van Bergeyk, guitar; Jan Voogd – bass.  Their website is www.myspace.com/daamslukacsorchestra

For the Bixians in the audience (among whom I number myself) here is a delicate reading of I’M COMIN’ VIRGINIA at just the right tempo (with Chris’s feathery commentary throughout, even suggesting Fats and Teddy, approvingly) before the streamlined closing chorus:

Taking on SINGIN’ THE BLUES is just as difficult, because the 1927 recording is so much a part of our shared history, but this version is just lovely, with its own room to breathe, echoing Berigan as well as Beiderbecke (with lovely work by Ronald on alto).  That blissful chorus in the middle split between Chris and Frank sounded as if Teddy and Lester had decided to honor Bix in 1938:

SAVE IT PRETTY MAMA originally came from Don Redman but has been associated with Louis for nearly eighty years now, and for good reason.  Menno shows just how well he knows that tradition, and the band is in the groove with him.  The tiptoeing reed interlude that follows his solo suggests the Alec Wilder Octet, which is always a good thing, before Chris reminds us that Earl Hines liked this composition as well, and David has his say before a neat ensemble rocks this one to a sweet conclusion: 

And, to end this too-brief program, a subtly intense reinvention of RING DEM BELLS which suggests the great Hampton recording as well as the Ellington originals.  Catch Menno’s delighted grin at Chris’s interpolation of some Willie “the Lion” Smith in his solo.  And then the band offers us (as an encore) an on-the-spot alternate take! 

What a phenomenal small group — with a perfectly integrated subtle rhythm section as well. 

To go back to the Twenties, I’d have to say, “The way this band rocks is just too bad.”

My title comes from a Lucky Thompson line, but it fits here: you don’t learn how to play like this overnight, and you don’t do it with such skill without having a deep passion for swinging jazz as part of your essential self.

NOW HEAR THIS: Hal Smith on ZUTTY SINGLETON

Zutty Singleton: Face Drives the Train

A friend once remarked that playing in a band with Zutty Singleton “was like trying to stay ahead of a freight train that was bearing down on you.” Indeed, when Singleton was inspired, the pulse of his drumming took on the power of a highballing freight! One of the best examples of this forward momentum may be heard on “King Porter Stomp” (Decca 18093), recorded under Singleton’s name in New York City on 28 May, 1940.

Zutty Singleton had previously recorded as a bandleader for Decca in 1935. His other recording credits included sessions with Fate Marable, Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines, Jelly Roll Morton, Charles LaVere, James P. Johnson, Sidney Bechet, Lionel Hampton and the wonderful sides by the “Rhythmakers” — Henry “Red” Allen, Pee Wee Russell, Fats Waller, Joe Sullivan, Pops Foster, Al Morgan, Eddie Condon and others. After 16 years of recording with some of the greatest names in jazz, Singleton was in top form on the “New Orleans Jazz Album.”

The all-star band that recorded for Decca in 1940 consisted of: Henry “Red” Allen, trumpet; Benny Morton, trombone; Edmond Hall, clarinet; Lil Armstrong, piano; Bernard Addison, guitar; Pops Foster, bass; and Singleton. The band recorded “Canal Street Blues” and “Down in Jungle Town” under Allen’s leadership and “King Porter Stomp” and “Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble” with Singleton in charge. The four sides illustrate the thrilling interaction between New Orleans musicians (Allen, Hall, Foster and Singleton) and musical colleagues from “out of town,” but Singleton is clearly the star performer on “King Porter Stomp!”

The side begins with an eight bar introduction—the horns play whole notes as Singleton comes out swinging on the snare drum: a flurry of rolls and syncopated figures, accented rolls, more syncopations, a cymbal crash, syncopated rolls and two quick cymbal crashes, all underpinned by “Face’s” driving 4/4 bass drum.

On the ensemble verse, Singleton keeps pushing the bass drum, while playing uncomplicated press rolls on the snare drum. On bars 13-16, he plays some of his trademark syncopated figures, leading into the interlude. After two bars of long rolls, accented rolls, stinging quarter notes and cymbal crashes, Singleton launches the ensemble into the trio section of the tune.

Ed Hall is the first soloist. Singleton continues to play simple, but effective press rolls on the snare drum, with the bass drum laying down an incredible foundation.

Red Allen gets the same treatment for his chorus, though Singleton accents the afterbeats on bars 11 through 16.

Behind Benny Morton’s solo, Singleton matches Morton’s cool sound, playing smooth press rolls. He raises the musical temperature on bar 16 with an explosive paradiddle, utilizing the snare drum and cowbell.

Singleton’s press rolls and bass drum pulse take on a renewed urgency as he accompanies Hall’s second solo. On bars 14-16, Singleton audibly readies himself for a solo chorus of his own.

The band plays a stoptime figure for the drums every four bars, turning Singleton loose. On the first drum solo, he stays on the snare drum, keeping the bass drum going throughout. He plays accented and syncopated rolls on the snare drum on bars 1-4.. On bars 5-8, accented long rolls. Rudimental figures are heard on bars 9-12 and again on 13-16.

For the second drum chorus, he plays ruffs, cymbal crashes and syncopations on the crash cymbals (bars 1-4); quarter notes, then paradiddles between the tom-tom and snare (5-8); syncopated rolls (9-12) and finally a militaristic flourish to end the solo, punctuated by a cymbal crash and single quarter note on the bass drum.

As the ensemble leaps back in, Singleton continues to drive the band relentlessly, playing the “ride” beat on the cymbal with his right hand, four even quarter notes to the bar on the snare with his left hand and 4/4 time on the bass drum.

Allen holds a note for four bars, signaling one more chorus, but Singleton does not play a fill (or “turnaround”) beween the penultimate and final ensemble choruses—such a device is not necessary. By now the drums have become a literal juggernaut. The rest of the band manages to stay one step ahead of the fast freight barreling down the tracks. Singleton brings the tour-de-force performance to an exciting close with a ruff, two quarter notes and a syncopated figure on the snare and a “button” on the choke cymbal.

In the years following the 1940 Decca session, Singleton recorded many outstanding sides with a wide variety of musicians from Fats Waller to Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. But “King Porter Stomp” must surely rank as one of the greatest recordings of Singleton’s career. Few drummers could match Zutty for the kind of drive, pulse, tension-and-release and raw power heard on this side! It is tempting to imagine a conversation with Singleton regarding the drumming on “King Porter Stomp.” Considering his confidence in his own abilities and his sense of humor, Singleton would most likely have replied, “Watch out for that freight train, Face!”

HOME SWEET “HOME”

What a lovely discovery, courtesy of “andreaskagedal” on YouTube.  I don’t know the gentleman at all, but he has wonderful taste. 

He’s responsible for capturing this gently operatic reading of HOME by Bent Persson and the Hot Antic Jazz Band at the 2010 Askersunds Jazz Festival.  Sharp-eyed viewers will pick out Martin Seck on piano, Jean-Francois Bonnel on tenor sax,  and Michel Bastide on ensemble trumpet and the half-spoken vocal, quite charming.   

As my readers know, I find Bent’s evocations of Louis touching beyond words — here I am especially enchanted by his muted obbligato to Michel’s vocal. 

When shadows fall!

FOR LOUIS AND SIDNEY BECHET (June 2010)

Thanks to “jazze 1947,” here is a video clip from the June 2010 Askersunds Jazz Festival — featuring Bent Persson’s Hot Five focusing on the repertoire of Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet in the early Twenties — from the Clarence Williams Blue Five to the Hot Fives and Sevens. 

Bent is, as always, luminous on trumpet and cornet; here he is partnered by Thomas Winteler on clarinet and soprano saxophone (sounding more like Bechet than anyone ever did except Sidney himself), the noble Jacob Ullberger on banjo and guitar, Henrik Löf on trombone and tuba; Ulf Lindberg,  piano; Ludvig Carlsson, drums, washboard, vocal, and guitar.  Here they perform the “slow drag” TEXAS MOANER BLUES and then — after Bent explains it all in Swedish — go into a wonderfully idiomatic MUSKRAT RAMBLE, with the front line reflecting the famous recorded solos but not copying them:

WHO REMEMBERS ROD CLESS?

Many of the greatest artists make their creations sound simple.  Think of Bing Crosby, Joe Thomas, Benny Morton, Count Basie.

Clarinetist Rod Cless belongs to their ranks, but seems a forgotten man.

And he deserves better.

In the ensembles, he has some of the daredevil quality one associates with Pee Wee Russell and Frank Teschmacher, diving-off-the-high-board descents from a quavering note.  But the rough edges are smoothed down, the vibrato more songful, less fierce.

In his solos, Cless sounds like someone who knows the beauty of the clarinet’s low register, the virtues of thoughtful space.  He takes his time.  He has something to convey, and it can’t be hurried; it needs a kind of plaintive candor.

And although his harmony is not abstruse, his phrases more regular than abrupt, what he has to tell us sounds familiar only because so many players coming after him have absorbed his message without even being entirely aware of it.

I hear the influence of Jimmie Noone in the full, round lower register, as well as touches of deep New Orleans blues.  But also — even though there are no phrases copied from the master, it is not hard to hear the ghostly influence of Bix in Cless’s soulful restraint.

Here are three more sides with Hodes from a 1942 Decca date with an illustrious personnel that didn’t otherwise gather in the studios: Sidney DeParis, trumpet; Brad Gowans, valve-trombone; Cless; Hodes; Condon; Earl Murphy, bass; Zutty Singleton, drums.

LIBERTY INN DRAG, another slow blues, where Cless gets only a chorus, but the rest of the band is so fine:

On a sprightly INDIANA, Cless sounds at his most Russelian.  Both he and Gowans play wonderful ensemble embroideries in the opening and closing choruses (the sound of Condon’s guitar thoughout is a special pleasure, as are Zutty’s drums behind Hodes):

GEORGIA CAKE WALK (also known as AT A GEORGIA CAMP MEETING) reminds of how well Sidney DeParis played in these settings.  A floating Hodes interlude leads into one of those Cless statements that seem perfectly simple until one listens closely:

Who was Cless?  Much of what I’ve learned comes from the biography by Bob Najouks to be found on http://www.kcck.org/iowa_jazz_connections.php.  I’ve added some details from other surveys written by Eugene Chadbourne (whose account is to be found on the fine ON THIS DAY IN JAZZ AGE MUSIC site):

Cless was born in 1907 in Lennox, Iowa.  He was a fine athlete and accomplished clarinetist who also doubled on saxophone.  The start of his enlightenment seems to have been a six-week engagement that Bix Beiderbecke and the Wolverine Orchestra played in Riverview Park Ballroom in Des Moines in 1925: Cless came every night.

Frank Teschmacher, the brilliant young Chicagoan, befriended Cless, and Cless came to Chicago two years later as a professional musician — an intimate of Eddie Condon and Bud Freeman (Cless married Freeman’s sister).  I’ve read that Cless played in the Varsity Five, a hot band much admired at Iowa State University, but do not know if he attended college there.

In Chicago, both Tesch and Cless worked with Charles Pierce, whose name is on a number of famous hot recordings of that period.  He toured with Frank Quartrell’s band and visited New Orleans for the first time.  (Did he hear Raymond Burke and Johnny Wiggs, and did they talk about Bix?  One wonders.)

Returning to Chicago, he worked with trumpeter Louis Panico at the Wig Wam Club and found employment in reed section of dance orchestras.  He also made extra money teaching clarinet.

He may have gained the most attention as a member of Muggsy Spanier’s Ragtime Band in 1939 — that band had an extended run at the Hotel Sherman in Chicago (where they played opposite Fats Waller and his Rhythm) and were enough of a sensation to make sixteen sides for the Bluebird label.  (A CD reissue of this material, with alternate takes, brings the total to 24.)

After Spanier disbanded the Ragtime Band, Cless worked with Wild Bill Davison, Art Hodes, Ed Farley, Marty Marsala, George Brunis, and Bobby Hackett.

But Cless’s marriage failed, and his drinking grew heavier.  Walking home from the last night of a job at the Pied Piper (where he played alongside his friend Max Kaminsky) in December 1944, Cless fell over the balcony of his apartment building and died four days later at 37.  In his autobiography, Kaminsky blamed himself for not walking Cless home — even though Cless insisted that he could make it himself.

Here’s an extended solo by Cless on the Hodes-led FAREWELL BLUES, for Art’s short-lived Jazz Record label.  The casual listener may hear in it only variations on familiar arpeggiated patterns, with suggestions of Johnny Dodds, but there’s more:

And to conclude (for this post), here’s something quite atypical — JAZZ ME BLUES by Frank Teschmacher’s Chicagoans, recorded in April 1928.  Tesch plays clarinet and alto; Cless plays alto; Mezz Mezzrow is on tenor saxophone; the rhythm section is Joe Sullivan, Jim Lanigan, Eddie Condon, and Gene Krupa.  This track comes from www.redhotjazz.com: http://www.redhotjazz.com/ftc.html.

Those fascinated by the sound of Rod Cless can find several more examples on YouTube — where a number of the Bluebird sides from 1939 by Muggsy Spanier and his Ragtime Band — are available.

Cless also turns up on a singularly relaxed session for Commodore which features Kaminsky, valve trombonist Frank Orchard, and James P. Johnson.  Nearly the same band — with Willie “the Lion” Smith on piano recorded for Decca and for Black and White.

And in Cless’s last year, ironically, he had his only opportunity to lead a record session — for the Black and White label, featuring James P., Stirling Bose, and Pops Foster.  Those four sides were once available on a Pickwick anthology CD.

Eight others (plus a few alternate takes) by a 1940 Hodes group called the CHICAGO RHYTHM KINGS (pictured at top) — one session featuring Marty Marsala, Cless, Hodes, Earl Murphy, and Jack Goss on guitar; four trio sides with Cless, Hodes, and Murphy (originally recorded by Bob Thiele and several of the trio sides reissued on Doctor Jazz) are difficult to find (the last complete issue of the issued takes was a 10″ Riverside lp, which is now fifty-five years ago).

More accessible are the recordings Hodes made for his own short-lived Jazz Record label, which have been reissued on a Jazzology CD.  (One of the ironies is that Hodes admired Cless greatly and used him on record dates whenever possible, which is a great blessing — although many Hodes recordings have extended outings from their leader, sometimes restricting the other members of the band in their solos on a 78 issue.)

I plan to return to Cless as a subject in a future post, although from a different angle.  I hope to interview one of the elder members of the jazz tribe, someone who actually took lessons from Cless in the early Forties.  Until then, I suggest that Cless is worth close and repeated listenings.

“WEARY BLUES” (August 2, 2010)

It wouldn’t be the first time that I thought that the title of this song was totally inaccurate.  See if you agree after watching this exuberant performance by the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation Band (recorded by our own Rae Ann Berry on August 2, 2010 at Nick’s* in Pacifica, California).  The All-Stars (and here the title is accurate) are Bob Schultz and Jim Cullum, cornets; Dan Barrett, trombone; Bill Carter, clarinet; Bill Gould, piano; Scott Anthony, banjo, Bill Reinhart, bass; Hal Smith, drums:

*No, it isn’t 1946, and the proprietor isn’t Nick Rongetti, but the music certainly sounds that way!

FRANKLY RESTORATIVE

While looking for something else, I stumbled onto the YouTube channel of “blindleroygarnett,” which features a good many rare 78s from the Twenties and Thirties — the focus here is on rollicking blues piano. 

The site is full of wonders, but the treasure for today is TRANSATLANTIC STOMP, by E.C. Cobb and his Corn Eaters, recorded for Victor on December 10, 1928. 

I will assume that the title has something to do with the nation’s delight at Lindbergh’s accomplishment the previous year, but will leave speculation beyond that to the cultural historians.

The Red Hot Jazz site lists the personnel as Junie Cobb, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Jimmy Bertrand, drums and xylophone, Frank Melrose, piano, and possibly Punch Miller or Jimmy Cobb, cornets.   

For me the great attraction of this record is its ebullience, its unflagging bounce — much of it due to Melrose’s sparkling piano in the ensembles.  Melrose, who died young in mysterious circumstances, has been a legendary figure in jazz for some time, but a few years ago two CDs were issued (one on Delmark, one on Solo Art) that do as much as anything could to illuminate the life and music of this joyous improviser.*   

That’s Frank Melrose, hat tipped at the proper angle, in the tinted portrait. 

The recording of TRANSATLANTIC STOMP has a place in medical triage: the patient who doesn’t respond it needs emergency room care immediately.

The Melrose CDs are JELLY ROLL STOMP (Black Swan BSCD-35, available through www.jazzology.com).  It’s produced by the drummer and jazz scholar Hal Smith — with liner notes by Hal and by Frank’s daughter Ida — both of whom read this blog! 

The second half of the Melrose bonanza is contained on a CD called BLUESIANA (Delmark DE 245), available through www.delmark.com.  And there’s more of Frank to be heard on other sessions with a variety of hot Chicagoans — but these two CDs are a good start, including solo, duo, trio recordings, most of the Bud Jacobson Jungle Kings rarities, and the previously unissued recordings with cornetist Pete Dailey from 1940. 

ENSEMBLE JOYS: “SAY ‘SI SI'”!

The New Orleans musicians — even the ones who took expansive solos as the nature of jazz changed — knew how important inspired ensemble playing was.  It would have been very bad form to cut short a romping group effort and simply dilute its force into a series of solos with the rhythm section. 

And this principle is perfectly demonstrated by a recent performance by Clint Baker and the Cafe Borrone All-Stars (captured on August 13, 2010, by the unwearying Rae Ann Berry) of the pop song “SAY ‘SI SI'” where for nearly five minutes the front line keeps a splendid momentum going. 

That’s Clint on trumpet and clarinet, Jim Klippert on trombone, Robert Young on a variety of reeds, Bill Rinehart on banjo, Jason Vanderford on guitar, and Sam Rocha on bass:

Just try and keep sedately still while this video is playing . . . !

SAVORY DELIGHTS

Like many other jazz fans, I first heard the name Bill Savory in the liner notes (by George Avakian) to a series of Benny Goodman airshot performances issued on Columbia Records after the astonishing success of their 1938 Carnegie Hall jazz concert issues.  I learned that Savory was a pioneering engineer, friend to many jazz musicians, with a special fondness for Goodman and his associates, who had made disc recordings of radio broadcasts in the Thirties. 

Some memorable performances had been made available through his devotion to the music: one that I can hear in my head as I write this was a Goodman Trio version of SWEET LEILANI, complete with energetic tom-tom playing by Gene Krupa, that gave the demure Hawaiian maiden a decidedly uptown flavor.

Through the various Goodman discographies, I later learned that Savory’s collection was substantial.  But that was where it ended until recently — where, in the New York jazz circles I frequent, I began hearing rumors about those discs. 

Now it’s progressed past gossip and whispers: the stuff is here (more or less) and it defines “mellow.” 

How about music from the fabled Randall’s Island Carnival of Swing, which has existed only as silent newsreel footage of the Count Basie band? 

How about performances by Goodman (of course), Teddy Wilson (once on harpsichord), Leo Watson, Louis Armstrong, Chu Berry, Mildred Bailey, Lester Young, Herschel Evans, Charlie Christian, Coleman Hawkins, Lionel Hampton, Bunny Berigan, Bobby Hackett, Billie Holiday . . . . ? 

The collection has been brought to light through the long-term and tireless efforts of Loren Schoenberg — not only a fine tenor saxophonist and bandleader in his own right, but the head of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem — who made the pilgrimage to Malta, Illinois, where Savory’s son had kept the thousand or so discs.  And who better to take over the difficult job of transferring those that could be rescued but our friend Doug Pomeroy, who decided that he didn’t exactly feel like retiring once he heard some of the music coming from those unique recordings. 

Now the whuspers have turned into reality, and we wait to hear the results.  I don’t know how long — or in what fashion — the music will eventually reach us.  Loren has proposed that this musical treasure will become part of the Museum’s digital trove . . . but until that happens, here’s some more fascinating information . . . taken from the pages of The New York Times, which doesn’t often make a point of mentioning Chu Berry in its first section!

But wait!  There’s more!  How about some tantalizing snippets from the collection (just enough to induce hysteria among the faithful).  (Click on JAZZ LOST AND FOUND under the photograph to the left for some audio magic):

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/17/arts/music/17jazz.html?hp=&pagewanted=all

And (closer to the end of the article) there’s an astonishing video showing the esteemed Messrs. Schoenberg and Pomeroy . . . the latter, a master at work, restoring these treasures.

And a Times story on Coleman Hawkins, 1940:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/18/arts/music/18savory.html?emc=tnt&tntemail1
=y

And the Museum will be presenting four programs on these treasures as part of their Tuesday evening JAZZ FOR CURIOUS LISTENERS series, held from 7:00 – 8:30PM at our Visitors Center, 104 E. 126th Street, NY, NY 10035.  

September 7 – You Won’t Believe It – An Overview

September 14 – Tenor Madness – Lester Young/Coleman Hawkins/Chu Berry/Herschel Evans

September 21 – Trumpet Titans – Louis Armstrong/Roy Eldridge/Harry James/Bunny Berigan

September 28 – Jam Sessions – Benny Goodman/Bobby Hackett/Lionel Hampton/Slim and Slam

Savory indeed!

P.S.  I apologize to the New York jazz aficionados, for whom this post is already old news; they have already made their appointments to visit the Museum.  This is for my readers for whom New York jazz gossip is not their daily breakfast chat . . . and for the sheer pleasure of writing about these treasures!

DON’T MISS JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA 2010!

There are still seats available for the September 2010 Jazz at Chautuaqua.

That means plenty of hot music, rhythm ballads, lesser-known but beautiful songs from Tin  Pan Alley, Broadway, and Hollywood . . . all performed by a celebrated cast of musicians and singers.   The party begins on Thursday, September 16, 2010, at the Hotel Athenaeum on Lake Chautauqua, New York. 

The heroes and heroines on the bill are Bob Barnard, Randy Reinhart, Joe Wilder, Andy Schumm, Randy Sandke, Dan Barrett, Bob Havens, Bobby Gordon, Harry Allen, Chuck Wilson, Scott Robinson, Bob Reitmeier, Dan Block, Marty Grosz, Gene Bertoncini, Ehud Asherie, John Sheridan, Keith Ingham, Rossano Sportiello, Mike Greensill, Vince Giordano, Jon Burr, Frank Tate, Andy Stein, Pete Siers, Arnie Kinsella, John Von Ohlen, The Faux Frenchmen, Rebecca Kilgore, and Wesla Whitfield.

As always, the music will begin with a series of informal jam sessions on Thursday night, and continue from Friday afternoon to Sunday around 2 PM.  In the past five years, some of my most exultant musical experiences have taken place there, and I am looking forward to more of the same — plus tables of rare sheet music and CDs, books and photographs (the latter department presided over by the venerable Duncan Schiedt) — good food, an open bar, friendly conversation and a chance to meet old friends who love Hot jazz.

I picked this rendition of IF DREAMS COME TRUE from last year’s party in case anyone is still wondering whether the jazz is worth the trip.  Jon-Erik Kellso, Scott Robinson, Ehud Asherie, Andy Brown, and Arnie Kinsella show that Jazz at Chautauqua is indeed a place where dreams do come true.

For more information on pricing, weekend lodging, and ticket order procedures, contact the Athenaeum Hotel at 1-800-821-1881 or athenaeum1881@hotmail.com.

NOW IS THE TIME . . .

Calling all cats!

I wrote some weeks ago about Mike Durham’s plans for a new version of the Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival — a Classic Jazz Party to be held at the same location (the comfortable Village Newcastle Hotel) for three days in November 2011  — Friday to Sunday, November 4-6. 

Mike’s musician list is once again stellar: Bent Persson, Michel Bastide, Keith Nichols, Rico Tomasso, Rene Hagmann, Matthias Seuffert, Norman Field, Jean-Francois Bonnel, Kristoffer Kompen, Martin Litton, Malcolm Sked, Frans Sjostrom, Spats Langham, Martn Wheatley, Nick Ward, Josh Duffee, Debbie Arthurs, Cecile Salvant, and more.  They would create three days of jazz — from midday to midnight, with each band presenting an hour-long set. 

The Classic Jazz Party needs YOU!

To be precise, Mike needs a deposit from fifty more of the faithful to proceed.  This translates to a check (or “cheque”) for a hundred pounds, made out to CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY, and sent to him at 60 Highbury, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE2 3LN.  Along with the money, he asks that you send your name and full address, phone number and email address.  

If you don’t have a U.K. bank account, you can send the required £100 per person over the internet, via PayPal: log on to the Paypal website and send the money to Mike’s email address, mikedurham_jazz@hotmail.com – quick, easy, secure, and free. 

And Mike says, “Also, just to reiterate, all funds will be instantly refunded in full if I decide not to go ahead at the end of September, but I devoutly hope that enough people will rally round to render that unneccessary.”   

The Village Hotel promises to offer three nights of dinner, bed, and breakfast for 175 pounds total, which is a bargain.  More details to follow.

Don’t be left out!

PHILIPPE SOUPLET STRIDES (AND MORE)

A friend recently sent a YouTube clip of a new stride pianist, someone I’d never heard before. 

So permit me to share the pleasure of meeting Monsieur Philippe Souplet:

Edgar Sampson’s IF DREAMS COME TRUE is one of the test pieces within the  genre, since those who know the idiom have James P. Johnson’s 1939 solo recording in their minds.  Here, Philippe does all the right things: his tempo is a breezy medium, but it stays steady (some less gifted players start fast and then accelerate), and the result deftly combines a homage to James P. with Philippe’s own variations.  

But Philippe has more to offer than simply reinventing the stride classics: here’s his respectful, moving version of LUSH LIFE, an unhurried reading of the theme (with quiet asides):

Here’s a smorgasbord of piano styles, all beautifully played  — MULE WALK, HONEY HUSH (for Fats), WHAT’S NEW?, and HERE COMES THE BAND (for the Lion):

Who is Philippe Souplet?

He was born in 1967 in Paris.  His father, a doctor and passionate jazz record collector, started Philippe’s musical education very early, even before Philippe began to study the piano in his teens.  Later, he met the African-American pianist, Aaron Bridgers, a former pupil of Tatum and Teddy Wilson, a close friend of Ellington and Strayhorn.  Bridgers became his mentor and and introduced him to an approach based on left hand tenths and rich harmonies. 

During the 1980’s in Paris, Philippe heard and was influenced by stride piano sensations François Rilhac and Louis Mazetier, and the great Joe Turner. 

Like his long-time friend Mazetier, a reknowned medical doctor, Philippe has a simultaneous full-time non-musical career, as a respected  mathematics professor at the University of Paris-Nord.  His solo CD will be released in September.  

He has his own YouTube channel, called “Philippe Souplet,” where you can admire his piano style and hear him in duet with the French jazz and gospel singer Sonya Pinçon. Since 2008, Philippe has also regularly worked with pianist Ludovic de Preissac in a program entitled “From Stride to Be-Bop.”  De Preissac’s influences are more modern-sounding but they share a passion for Fats Waller. 

Welcome, M. Souplet!

FROM FAR AND NEAR: THE YERBA BUENA STOMPERS (August 2010)

Brought to you by Rae Ann Berry, friend of Hot music: here’s a new version of the Yerba Buena Stompers that covers all the bases: Leon Oakley, Clint Baker, Marty Eggers, from the Bay Area in California, Tom Bartlett from Illinois, Orange Kellin from New Orleans, John Gill and Kevin Dorn from New York, Duke Heitger from Germany . . . international stomping for sure.

William H. Tyers’ PANAMA:

Joe Oliver’s DIPPERMOUTH BLUES:

The ODJB’s AT THE JAZ BAND BALL:

SAN FRANCISCO BAY BLUES:

SOME OF THESE DAYS:

And my favorite, JUST A GIGOLO:

These performances were done on August 7, 2010, at the Orange County Classic Jazz Festival in Costa Mesa, California.