COMPLETELY RELAXED: “YELLOW DOG BLUES”: DON EWELL, MARTY GROSZ, NAPPY TROTTIER, EARL MURPHY (Chicago, 1959)

Not a well-known session, but a beautiful one.

I had the original red vinyl record — with its spacious sound — although it has either vanished or is in an inaccessible stack of lps.  I’m thrilled that the stereo version is available on YouTube, and I wanted to share it with you.

Yellow Dog Blues : Don Ewell Quartet : Nappy Trottier, trumpet; Don Ewell, piano; Marty Grosz. guitar; Earl Murphy, string bass.  Recorded in Chicago, August 21, 1959: ATLANTA BLUES / MICHIGAN WATER BLUES / TISHOMINGO BLUES / GEORGIA BO BO (Trottier out) / NEW ORLEANS HOP SCOP BLUES / BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME (Trottier out) / OLE MISS / YELLOW DOG BLUES (Trottier out).

The relaxation these four masters create is quite wonderful: Ewell keeps a fine swinging momentum at any tempo — he seems to float easily, never rushing; Trottier’s sound is huge and sweet; Murphy places the right notes in the right places.  And the survivor of this session, Marty Grosz, makes everything glide and rock.  Marty’s guitar sound is not what we who follow him might be used to: I asked Jim Gicking, Marty’s friend and fellow guitarist, who got the information straight from the source: “Marty was playing plectrum guitar, C-G-D-A, inspired by Condon who he heard met in mid-40s. ‘59 was his transition to 6 string in his unique tuning.”  And something else I hadn’t known: “Earl Murphy started on tenor banjo in 20’s, with Art Hodes at a dancing school.”

The sound that Ewing D. Nunn (1900-77) got from his custom-made microphones was remarkably spacious, and his recordings sound like no one else’s.  To descend into that rabbit-hole of his recording wizardry, click here.

Fully informed, let us savor these irreplaceable sounds: the kind of music that jazz artists create for the right audience or when there’s no audience — for their own delight, now ours.

ATLANTA BLUES:

MICHIGAN WATER BLUES:

TISHOMINGO BLUES:

GEORGIA BO BO:

NEW ORLEANS HOP SCOP BLUES:

BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME:

OLE MISS:

YELLOW DOG BLUES:

For first-hand reminiscences of Nappy Trottier, “who could really play,” by our hero Kim Cusack, recorded in 2018, please click here.

May your happiness increase!

6 responses to “COMPLETELY RELAXED: “YELLOW DOG BLUES”: DON EWELL, MARTY GROSZ, NAPPY TROTTIER, EARL MURPHY (Chicago, 1959)

  1. c-g-d-a is tenor tuning, not plectrum

  2. I reported what Marty told Jim and thus me.

  3. I have an E.D. Nunn anecdote for you, Michael. In the 1990s I recorded extensive interviews with Frankie Roberts, the outstanding Minneapolis clarinet & tenor sax man. Frankie made a number of recordings for Nunn in the 1950s, back when he was doing mono 78 rpm sessions. Frankie told me that for one session he did as a member of the Doc Evans dixieland band, the band members stood in a circle with Nunn’s wife in the center, in her stocking feet, holding the microphone. She held it up to each musician when it was his turn to solo.

  4. NAPPY TROTTIER… Delighted to become acquainted with him. Wonder why he is not acknowledged in the critical writings….a superior , neglected player ?…..I used to hear Hodes at the Riviera down the block from Smalls when I was an adolescent. Wonderful blues playing. Merci’

  5. Also one of my favorite records, I own the red vinyl. Great fidelity, great session, Trottier is a revelation.

  6. Ida Melrose Shoufler

    I have this CD and it is wonderful! I have been listening to it a lot lately. It is very relaxing and simply great! I have been hooked on the music that Don Ewell recorded for several years, The credit goes to nephew Hal Smith. Also he sent me a CD recorded by Art Hodes, I am so blessed to have both you and Hal in my life. I love the music and I may have never known about these great musicians. So thank you dear Michael, and Hal,

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