Norman Field is a man of many talents.
He’s a wildly versatile reed player — capable of becoming hot in the best Teschmacher manner or serene a la Trumbauer — while always retaining his own identity. And he’s a wonderfully erudite jazz scholar, ready to discourse on esoterica — alternate takes and label colors — at the drop of an acetate.
Norman’s also an engaging raconteur and enthusiastic singer: the session has new energy when he’s onstage!
His website is http://www.normanfield.com/cds.htm.
But that’s only one small sliver of what interests our Mr. Field: see http://www.normanfield.com/hobby.htm for a larger sample, including investigations of obscure recording artists, Norman’s beautiful wildlife photographs, disquisitions on an againg tumble dryer, and more.
But what we’re concerned with at the moment is a delightful set Norman and friends created at the 2010 Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival — an ad hoc group named by festival director “Norman Field’s Novelty Recording Orchestra.” I was recording it, and although many of the songs were familiar jazz classics, every performance had its own novelty.
The group — a compact assemblage of individualists — included the eminent Nick Ward on percussion, Frans Sjostrom on bass saxophone, Jacob Ullberger on banjo and guitar, Paul Munnery on trombone, and Andy Woon on cornet. Here they are!
For those without a calendar or an iPhone, here’s OUR MONDAY DATE, created by Earl Hines in 1928 when he, Louis Armstrong, and Zutty Singleton were Chicago pals:
Another good old good one, ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET, honors Dorothy Fields, Jimmy McHugh, Louis, Johnny Hodges, and many other creators:
SHIM-ME-SHA-WABBLE, another hot Chicago song, was named for the dance (or was it the reverse?). I think of Red Nichols and Eddie Condon as well as Frank Chace when I hear this multi-themed composition:
What could be more wholesome than a nice BLUES (IN G)?
Then, there’s the Claude Hopkins – Alex Hill declaration of romantic devotion made tangible, I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU, with a bouncing vocal from Norman — being a solid romantic citizen, notice that he eschews the MOST sometimes found in the title:
Time for something soft and slow — Paul Munnery’s feature on BODY AND SOUL:
Back to dear old Chicago in the Twenties, evoking Bix and his Gang with a fervent JAZZ ME BLUES:
And it’s always a pleasure to watch and hear Nick Ward swing out on his very own percussion ensemble, as he does on SWEET SUE:
The barroom favorite, MY MELANCHOLY BABY, is still a good song to play at almost any tempo:
And a closing romp on NOBODY’S SWEETHEART NOW made us all elated, notwithstanding the lyric. Has anyone considered that the unnamed young woman of the song is really one of Thomas Hardy’s “ruined women,” who’s much happier having lost her innocence and gained her independence?
Thanks for the cheer, O Norman Field and Novelty Recording Orchestra!