Sidney Catlett, not yet nineteen, recording in Chicago with Albert Wynn, trombone; Punch Miller, trumpet; Lester Boone, reeds; Alex Hill or William Barbee, piano; Charlie Jackson, banjo: SHE’S CRYING FOR ME, October 1928.

Even given the limited drum kit he could have brought into the studios, two of Sidney’s trademarks are delightfully audible. 

The first is his sonic variety: every interlude in this recording, every soloist, is given a different percussive embrace.  Sidney never stays on one piece of equipment or produces one sound too long; we (and the musicians) never feel an unrelenting monotony.  And his variety never seems artificial, as if he’d laid it all out in advance. 

The other trademark is his flexible, springy beat — not accelerating, but urging everyone on, a kind of exuberant “Follow me!” 

And they did.  And we do.

4 responses to “YOUNG MISTER CATLETT, 1928

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention YOUNG MISTER CATLETT, 1928 | JAZZ LIVES --

  2. Lovely early Catlett blast, I’d say, Michael. Punch being 16 years his senior (born in 1894)- Albert Wynn whom “Doc” Cheatham worked for in his early years (Dreamland Cafe ’26)… Maxie (Kaminsky) would speak so highly of Alex Hill. If it’s the same “Papa” Charlie Jackson (1885-1938) who played a 6 sting banjo… add that to the mix… Glorious! Sid was in some fast company. Alas, he was a genius so he could pull anything off. I notice they give him the closing lick… chi, chi, chi… on a choked cymbal… which he would continue to do all his life from the DeParis Bluenotes to concerts with Louie! A drummer of surprises… all good. A January drummer, like Davie. Thank you for remembering him the way you do, and as often as you do.

  3. I second what Mike wrote, above!
    Hear Sid on the two takes of “Southbound” (sometimes labeled as “Dyin’ With The Blues”) by Alex Hill and his Orchestra. Two takes; one from 1929 and a second from 1930. Sid drives an eight-piece band with sparkling choke cymbal work on both takes and his mighty brush rhythms sound like one of the Illinois Central’s 4-8-2s, highballing the “Panama Limited” out of Central Station in Chicago on its way to New Orleans.
    The last cymbal break on take -2 is one that I have “borrowed” liberally on many an occasion!
    For my money, Sid was KING of the jazz drummers!

  4. Andrew Griffith

    Never a dull moment with Big Sid Catlett! Always swinging, creative, dynamic, all the right stuff! And the sound of his drums, cymbals, and rims are always warm and wonderful. Anything he’s on, I want to hear! Thanks for this post.

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