It sounds like a children’s cartoon: Buck is always getting into trouble but his friend Buster rescues him, then Buck’s mom makes them both little pizzas.
It’s a series of “Doctor Jazz” radio broadcasts from late 1951, turning the corner into 1952, featuring Buck Clayton, trumpet; Buster Bailey, clarinet, and other complete professionals.
Some of this material has appeared on now difficult-to-find Storyville CDs, but those discs do not present complete shows.
The details: “Dr. Jazz” WMGM broadcasts from Lou Terrasi’s, New York City. Buck Clayton, trumpet; Buster Bailey, clarinet; Herb Flemming, trombone; Kenny Kersey, piano; Joe Shulman, string bass; Arthur Herbert, drums.
December 27, 1951: THEME / ROYAL GARDEN BLUES / MY GAL SAL / BOOGIE WOOGIE COCKTAIL (Kersey) / MY HONEY’S LOVIN’ ARMS //
Interlude from the Stuyvesant Casino, December 28, 1952: SWEET SUE Bobby Hackett, Dick Cary (alto horn), unid. trombone, Gene Sedric, Red Richards, unid. drums.
December 13, 1951, from Terrasi’s: THEME / FIDGETY FEET / I’LL ALWAYS BE IN LOVE WITH YOU / STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE / THE MOON IS LOW //
December 20, 1951: ‘DEED I DO / BALLIN’ THE JACK / JINGLE BELLS / MAHOGANY HALL STOMP / HIGH SOCIETY //
January 3, 1952: THEME / THAT’S A PLENTY / CLARINET MARMALADE / THIS CAN’T BE LOVE / BILL BAILEY / EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY / THEME //
You will of course notice the serious reliance on “Dixieland” repertoire, but how beautifully and energetically this band plays it (Buck wrote in his autobiography that Tony Parenti was his superb and generous teacher, showing him how these mult-part compositions went, and what the performance conventions were). But in between BILL BAILEY and ROYAL GARDEN BLUES, there are sophisticated songs (THE MOON IS LOW), Broadway classics (THIS CAN’T BE LOVE) and even a swing composition associated with the early Basie band (I’LL ALWAYS BE IN LOVE WITH YOU). And once the obligatory ensembles on the traditional tunes are done, the solos are elegant and individualistic.
Again, a band like this says so much about the high polish that performers of that generation reached . . . especially those who didn’t always get star recognition. Buck became a (deservedly) well-known and admired player worldwide, but the rest of the band rarely got such public recognition. But how well they play! What swing, what solo construction, what creative energy — and Buster and Herb had been professionals for three decades already.
Admirable, energized, inventive — and beyond cliche and cliched expectations — created by professionals who treated making music as a craft as well as art.