Daily Archives: November 15, 2011

HER MAJESTY, MISS ETHEL WATERS

From the 1929 sound film extravaganza ON WITH THE SHOW, Miss Waters performs BIRMINGHAM BERTHA.  Once you’ve absorbed the feathered headdress, you can then move to the supple, amused, vehement glory of her voice, her subtly shifting delivery, her vivid eyes, her striking personality . . . what a theatrical presence she is!

Thanks to Mook Ryan for providing this film clip!  At eighty seconds, it’s far too short, but it shows that Ethel didn’t need a long time to make an indelible impression, then and now.  Close your eyes and you can also hear why every singer who heard Miss Waters was in her debt.

DOWN-HOME DELIGHTS WITH DUKE HEITGER, RANDY REINHART, DAN LEVINSON, BOB HAVENS, ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, FRANK TATE, ARNIE KINSELLA (JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA, Sept. 17, 2011)

The wonderful Czech writer Josef Skvorecky, who writes both hilariously and sensitively of living between Nazism and Socialism in the Forties, would call this music “Bob Crosby Dixieland.”  That would be a high compliment.  You might describe it as “New Orleans, “Condon-style,” or “Dixieland,” but the labels are too small for the superb music created by Duke Heitger, trumpet; Randy Reinhart, cornet; Dan Levinson, reeds; Bob Havens, trombone; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Frank Tate, bass; Arnie Kinsella, drums.

Here are four sterling “good old good ones,” and if their pedigrees are slightly scattered — from Memphis to Twenties pop, from a song created in the Forties for Louis and Billie, to a hit record for the ODJB (a piece of hot zoology that Jelly Roll Morton said he created) — it all swings marvelously.  And there’s the great bonus of a touching vocal from Duke on DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS — he looks terribly embarrassed when someone points it out, but he’s a great singer.

From Memphis with love!  BEALE STREET BLUES:

Thomas Hardy’s “The Ruined Maid,” taken uptown or to Clark and Randolph Streets, NOBODY’S SWEETHEART NOW:

What a terrible movie NEW ORLEANS was!  But it gave us this paean to the Crescent City, DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO MISS NEW ORLEANS?

Finally — call the Animal Rescue people: that tiger’s on the loose in the Hotel Athenaeum ballroom.  Hide the children!  TIGER RAG (with bravura work from Rossano):

Wow!

OH, YOU BEAUTIFUL DOLL!

Yes, you might think that JAZZ LIVES has turned a corner into the inexplicable with this collection of vintage television commercials . . . but I urge you to watch or skip forward to 2:45 — to see a gentleman known to us all, having a good time in 1963 0r 1964:

The cynical will say that this is even more shameful evidence of that man being manipulated by his greedy manager, but he doesn’t look unhappy.  (In another blogpost, I read someone’s take on Louis “pimping” for the doll.)  And, yes, the little girls and Suzy Cute herself are both unmistakably Caucasian, but love is color-blind, even though the commercial is in black and white. 

And just remember: Suzy Cute needs a mommy (or is it a “mummy”?). 

Suzy Cute needs you! 

And we need more Louis Armstrong in our lives, white socks and all.  The Suzy Cute jingle isn’t Sondheim or Porter, but it has an adhesive quality (possibly because it borrows simple motifs from a thousand familiar songs, including a bridge reminiscent of BABY BROWN).

And to fill that void, here’s a link to a site offering two audio-only discs of rehearsals for this commercial:

http://www.vinylrecordstocd.com/LOUIS%20ARMSTRONG%20PROJECT%20.htm

The first, longer version, is extraordinary: listeners have to put their preconceptions and possible hauteur aside to hear Louis, the Alchemical Creator of Joy, at work. 

Doll or no doll, that band is swinging and he’s playing this jingle as if his life depended on it.  Which, in some ways, it did — ours, too. 

Nothing is ignoble if treated lovingly.  Although I might make an exception for the Official Beany-Copter (by Mattel).