Daily Archives: March 22, 2011

CAUTION! HOT! THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS and FRIENDS at DIXIELAND MONTEREY (March 5, 2011)

Looking back on it, I believe my parents were over-cautious: the air was full of BE CAREFUL!  But perhaps they knew more than I gave them credit for at the time.

It is in their spirit that I post the following warning before my latest jazz videos, and I think you should take it very seriously:

The Reynolds Brothers could singe your fingers, your clothing, or anything else available.  They are dangerous!  I was driving home from work about ten days ago with one of their CDs in the player — it was on a seven-minute plus romp on HAPPY FEET featuring Scott Black, Dan Levinson, Allan Vache, and others — and I couldn’t help myself.  I am only glad that no police officer saw me joyously whacking my head into the headrest (what else is it there for?) on 2 and 4.  And then I played the track again.  Ecstatic jive!

By the Reynolds Brothers, I mean John (guitar, vocal, scat, whistling); Ralf (washboard, commentary, whistle-blowing); Marc Caparone (cornet); Katie Cavera (string bass); and special guest pianist Marc Allen Jones.  This set was recorded at Dixieland Monterey (the Jazz Bash by the Bay) on March 5. 2011.

Here we go!  And you can put the boys in white dinner jackets and bow ties, but you can’t stop them from swinging like mad.  How about a little FUTURISTIC JUNGLEISM to scare the next-door neighbors?

In the mood for something Asian?  Here’s CHINA BOY:

Be kind to all living creatures (say McKinney’s Cotton Pickers), so NEVER SWAT A FLY (and Ralf tells about Grandma ZaSu Pitts):

Something familiar — LADY BE GOOD in the key of love:

And Katie comes out to do her winsomely naughty-but-innocent DO SOMETHING.  (She’s happily married, though, fellows, so sit back down.):

I don’t know what the subconscious link between Katie’s song and the Boswell Sisters’ classic SENTIMENTAL GENTLEMAN FROM GEORGIA is, but if anyone could “do something” to relax those jangled nerves it would be this Southern swain:

Shelley Burns joins in for that sweet tune — Louis and Fats both loved it! — I’VE GOT MY FINGERS CROSSED:

In the name of geography, and for all the women named Merry in the audience, here’s CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS:

Homage to Jack Teagarden and Johnny Mercer, DR. HECKLE AND MR. JIBE (Mercer loved such wordpplay — a later song is DR. WATSON AND MR. HOLMES):

And, to finish, an ecstatic HAPPY FEET — which ours were!

Jazz ecstasy — or have I said that already?

“ONE OF THE BEST”: LEO McCONVILLE

A postscript to my tribute to Leo McConville, provided by Rob Rothberg — its source is the Evans and Evans book on Bix:

To Leo:

One of the best personally and musically — thanks for saving my life on the Camel Hour numerous times — The Best

Bix Beiderbecke

What more would anyone ever want?

HOT, MELODIC, ELUSIVE

All right, class.  Are you ready for this week’s Jazz Quiz?  (Put that phone away, please: you won’t find the answer there.)

Name a jazz trumpeter who worked and recorded with Eddie Lang, Jean Goldkette, Paul Specht, Don Voorhees, Emmett Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Red Nichols, Joe Venuti, Gene Krupa, Red Nichols, Miff Mole, Pee Wee Russell, Roger Wolfe Kahn, Vic Berton, the Georgians, Adrian Rollini, Mannie Klein, Stan King, Ben Selvin, Eugene Ormandy, Jack Teagarden, Eva Taylor, Fred Rich, Sam Lanin, Dick McDonough, Bunny Berigan, Carl Kress, Babe Russin, Hoagy Carmichael, Glenn Miller, Elizabeth Welch, Benny Goodman . . . .

OK.  Hand your papers in.  Who knows the answer?  Henry?

“Is it Jack Purvis, Professor?”

“A very good answer, but no — this trumpet player never went to jail.”

“Yes, Jennifer?”

“Leo McConville, Professor?”

“Good job, Jennifer!”

Here’s a sample of Leo at work and play:

And a more elusive one, where the listener is waiting for Leo to emerge into the open — which he does in the last seconds of the record:

And another (with lovely still photographs of Clara Bow to muse on):

McConville comes across as a very “clean” player, capable of a strong clear lead, accurate and correct, but also comfortable with a Bixian kind of melodic embellishment that could be very heated and relaxed at the same time.  He was born in 1900 in Baltimore and began playing professionally in 1914, working and recording with the Louisiana Five.  At some point, he was one of the very busy New York studio musicians and he seems to have raced from one record session to the next with stops in between for radio work.  (It’s difficult for modern listeners to imagine that radio was so important as a medium for live music, when each network had a large orchestra on staff, but it’s true.)

McConville had the good or bad fortune, depending on how you look at it, to work often in the groups of Red Nichols.  Good — in that this was steady, well-paying work; bad in that he was not going to get to play hot choruses and make a name for himself.  There are no LEO AND HIS GANG sessions for OKeh.  He did not record after 1930, and four years later he retired from the New York music scene, preferring the more tranquil life of raising chickens in Maryland to standing around at the bar with the Dorsey Brothers in Plunkett’s.  But he continued to play gigs with local bands — so his retirement seems to have been his choice rather than a matter of a failing lip.  And he lived until 1968.

I hope to be able to tell you more about the elusive Mr. McConville in days to come.  For the moment, I offer these pages from the September 1931 RHYTHM magazine — courtesy of my generous friend, the brass scholar Rob Rothberg — which show that Leo was taken very seriously in his lifetime.  And there are many more recordings with Leo to be heard on YouTube.

It interests me that Leo was being featured in this magazine even when he was no longer recording . . . or is it that his post-1930 recordings have not been documented?  Anyway, I would like a subscription to RHYTHM and would be more than happy to pay six pence a month for the privilege — look at that snappy Deco cover!

and . . .

and . . .

Leo comes across as poised, polite, with his own views — his own man, admirably so.  We should know more about him . . .