The news is that I’ve fallen in love with a six-minute collection of vibrations, and my neighbors have not called in the authorities.
Yes, there’s surface noise. And two or three speed fluctuations at the start. Be calm. There’s also some of the finest swing imaginable. If you think, “But I don’t like jazz violin,” or “UMBRELLA MAN is such a dumb tune,” just listen.
In 1942 violin wizard Stuff Smith led a band of Fats Waller alumni — not after Waller’s death, as has been suggested. The band was Herman Autrey, trumpet; Ted McCord, tenor saxophone; Sammy Benskin, piano; Al Casey, guitar; Al Hall, string bass; Slick Jones, drums. This performance is part of a late-August broadcast from the Old Vienna Restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio, taken off the air by William E. Loeffler. The source of all this joy is an available CD — fancy that! — on violin scholar Anthony Barnett’s AB FABLE label (ABCD 015).
Barnett has released incredibly rare recordings: Ella Fitzgerald in 1937 with a Smith-led big band combining players from his own band, from Chick Webb’s band and Cab Calloway’s.
AND a private jam session with Ray Nance, Ben Webster, Jimmie Blanton, Fred Guy, and Sonny Greer, on which Ben plays clarinet (!).
AND wonderful recordings by Eddie South, Ray Perry, Ginger Smock, and more.
Visit http://abar.net/index.htm to see the CD releases and books. Barnett’s research is deep and impeccable, and the recordings he unearths are incredibly rewarding: this is just an uplifting sample.
I can hear some of you grumbling, “I listen on _______ for free. CDs are for dinosaurs.” In the forests, T-Rex is swinging like mad, and those berries are like vintage wine.
This public service announcement is brought to you by an enthralled purchaser. Now I’m going to play UMBRELLA MAN for perhaps the thirtieth time. It scrapes the clouds.
May your happiness increase!