Daily Archives: November 16, 2011

“THE HORROR! THE HORROR!”: JIMMY SCOTT TALKS ABOUT HERMAN LUBINSKY

Herman Lubinsky was known to be one of the worst people in the sometimes suspect record business — someone who took advantage of the artists who worked for Savoy Records in ways both astonishing and horrible.  Here’s a new website, “GOINGTHRUVINYL,” that starts off with a revealing piece about Lubinsky — supported by first-hand testimony from singer Jimmy Scott, one of Lubinsky’s victims:

http://www.goingthruvinyl.com/?p=920

You won’t believe what you read or what you hear.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, UNCLE DA DA

Eddie Condon and daughter Maggie, a few decades ago. Photograph by Lisette Model

“Uncle Da Da” was what Maggie and Liza Condon called their father, the man whose birthday we celebrate today.  We miss him.

(Photograph courtesy of Maggie Condon.)

SHE’S FROM NEW ORLEANS!

That’s CLEMENTINE — as celebrated here (thanks to Rae Ann Berry) by the Bay Area All-Stars, recorded at Nick’s at Rockaway Beach, Pacifica, California, on November 14, 2011 — under the aegis of the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation.

As soon as they started with the verse, I was hooked.  Then I happily followed along with Bob Ringwald at the piano, the heroic Marty Eggers on bass, Bob Schulz on cornet (floating along behind the beat in the best 1932 Louis manner), Jim Maihack on trombone, Scott Anthony on banjo and vocal (offering the sweet, silly, irresistible lyrics).

Something for Bix, Tram, Venuti, Challis, and Goldkette — and now everyone knows how to pronounce the lady’s name — rhyming with New Orleans, not with “wine.”  A lovely hot vignette!

CELEBRATING EDDIE CONDON’S BIRTHDAY

Eddie Condon left us in 1973, but the musical cosmos he created lives on in 2011 and beyond.  It’s not difficult to imagine his approving shade at Whitley Bay, at The Ear Inn, at Jazz at Chautauqua — when gifted men and women get together to worship at the shrine of Hot Jazz, of graceful melodic improvisation, of swinging solos and ensemble.  And today would have been his birthday.  But any day is a good one to remember Eddie, as a prophet and advocate of beautiful energetic collective improvisations. 

I’ve chosen to honor him through music rather than on film.  Here are three examples of what he did so well.  The first is the opening segment from a 1944 Condon concert, as broadcast on the radio and to the troops.  You’ll hear Bobby Hackett, Pee Wee Russell, Benny Morton, Gene Schroeder, Eddie, Sid Weiss, and Gene Krupa:

And just because Eddie and the boys (in this case, Max Kaminsky, Brad Gowans, Pee Wee, Joe Sullivan, Al Morgan, Eddie, and George Wettling) found the twelve-bar blues a real source of inspiration, here are two of the life-enhancing Commodore 12″ 78s in honor of John Steinbeck — Tortilla B Flat:

and More Tortilla B Flat:

Thanks to Hal Smith — who knows the spirit of Condon well! — for the timely reminder.

“JOHN KIRBY PLAYS FATS WALLER” BY DAN BLOCK (JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA, Sept. 17. 2011)

Dan Block is full of refreshing, gratifying ideas.

His imagining Fats Waller’s compositions as played by the John Kirby Sextet in the twenty-first century makes its own appealing sense.  Kirby and Waller knew each other and even show up in the same place (as in Fats’ Carnegie Hall concert in 1942).  Their paths probably crossed in ways not documented in jazz histories or discographies.  One can, without much exertion, imagine them having a drink — or several — uptown, and we know they both had a Henderson connection and they both led very well-known and immediately identifiable small jazz groups.

I suspect also that Dan, a thinking person — engage him on a political question and you’ll see what I mean — enjoys puzzles that require imagination to solve or untangle.  So the idea of writing arrangements within (and without) a clearly defined style for songs that have powerful melodic lines would have intrigued him.  And the music intrigues me.

At Jazz at Chautauqua, the results of this industry were clear: visually, in the pages of music unfurled in front of expert sight-readers Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Dan and Scott Robinson, reeds; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Jon Burr, string bass; Arnie Kinsella, drums.  And what we heard was instantly entrancing: part of it was the pleasure of the band’s innate swing.  (Whisper this: they swung much more than the Kirby crew did . . . )  The other pleasure was in hearing something both old and new at once: beautiful skirling Waller melodies from new angles.  It was a remarkable occasion and a stirring set, as you will see.

Here’s a very pretty ballad, IF IT AIN’T LOVE (listeners with substantial record collections may want to revisit the Boswell Sisters version or the Bobby Hackett serenade done at a Condon Town Hall concert as well):

What started out as I WISH I WERE TWINS, when cross-bred with Bach’s A minor violin concerto, became in the fertile Block imagination I WISH BACH COULD SEE MY TWINS:

LONESOME ME, sweetly sorrowful:

I’M CRAZY ‘BOUT MY BABY, perennially swinging:

And HENDERSON STOMP, a “secret” Waller composition: did he sell it for alimony money or for other, more pleasant rewards?

In an ideal world, DAN BLOCK PLAYS JOHN KIRBY PLAYS FATS WALLER would be a hit at jazz festivals, and there would be several CD sets, for Dan’s imagination is just that splendidly sprawling.  I can dream, can’t I?

HAIL, REX!

This photograph just emerged on eBay — and although the seller has correctly identified the star as cornetist Rex Stewart, no other details are forthcoming.  I don’t recognize the bassist or the drummer, and don’t feel secure enough about historically placing men’s fashion to say, “Oh, that suit is from 1947 . . . thus this was taken in France.”  Rex appears much younger than the lean man we see in THE SOUND OF JAZZ (1957), but that doesn’t help us pinpoint a year in any way.

Do any of my astute readers have suggestions to offer?  It’s a fine picture of Rex — looking sideways, as if suspicious, as he often did.  Yes, his suit pulls a bit across the front (a tailor could have moved that button) but it’s a good man’s fault).  Educated guesses welcome!