This post is in honor of Luigi Lucaccini, Javier Soria Laso, and Nick Rossi.
First, data. Then, music.
and something even more unusual:
and . . .
On Thanksgiving evening, I published PLAY IT, TEDDY (April and August 1939)
which contained six sides that Teddy had recorded as a sideman with “Redd Evans and his Billy Boys” for Vocalion Records — great records I think few had ever heard.
But a little online research — my effort to answer the question, “How had Teddy or John Hammond or someone else heard of Redd Evans, and what had they heard that would lead them to offer him more than one record date?” led me to these listings in the DAHR:
Victor BS-019565 10-in. 2/11/1938 A shack in the back of the hills Lewis “Red” Evans and the Boys Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director, vocalist
Victor BS-019566 10-in. 2/11/1938 Please be kind Bama Boys Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director, vocalist
Victor BS-019567 10-in. 2/11/1938 Thanks for the memory Lewis “Red” Evans and the Boys Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director, vocalist
Victor BS-019572 10-in. 2/11/1938 Thanks for the memory Lewis “Red” Evans and the Boys Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director, vocalist
Victor BS-019573 10-in. 2/11/1938 Prove it Lewis “Red” Evans and the Boys Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director, vocalist
Victor BS-019574 10-in. 2/11/1938 Moments like this Bama Boys Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director, vocalist
I also found out that the February 11, 1938 session had the following personnel, some names completely unknown, others familiar to those of us who have studied the period: Russ Case, trumpet; John Potoker, piano; Art Ryerson, guitar; Syd Debin, string bass; Bobby Jones, drums. February 11, 1938, New York City.
I have been able to find nothing about Debin and Jones. Potoker was recognizable to me as a member of Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra, and part of a Charlie Shavers date (1946) for Vogue on its short-lived picture record line. But the first record date I found for him was in 1945. Russ Case was famous — an early Goodman trumpeter, someone appearing with Teagarden, the Boswell Sisters, and Trumbauer. Most intriguing was this early appearance by guitarist Art or Artie Ryerson, explicated by guitarist-scholar Nick Rossi: Artie staking his claim as perhaps one of the first US guitarists to show an explicit Django influence! Ryerson told my friend (and journalist) Jim Carlton that he heard Django on record in 1935 and was influenced by him for the next several years. This, to my ears, is proof of that claim. Ryerson elsewhere in the interview was pretty good with dates by the way – even if he is off by a year or so (which he may very well be based on the research I’ve done around Django’s US record releases), that still gives him ample time to absorb the influence by the time of the recording in question. And who else WAS showing a Django influence in the USA on record in February 1938?
Luigi Lucaccini pointed the way to this gem:
and Javier Soria Laso added more delightful evidence:
MOMENTS LIKE THIS:
and THANKS FOR THE MEMORY, in a two-sided issue so that all the verses could be included:
These sides are hidden gems in the best pop-songs-swung Thirties tradition. Yes, Evans was more confident on the later sides (or was it Victor’s microphone setup?) but the instrumentalists are splendid; the ocarina solos are delightful — not jokey at all — and the overall effect is polished and homespun at once. And we remember that these three pop tunes were classics in their own way — more memorably recorded, perhaps, by Mildred and Maxine, but touching. I am especially fond of Leo Robin’s wry-mounful lyrics to MEMORY, so true and witty at once; his niece told me a few years ago in conversation that the narrative came from her uncle’s very real heartbreak, and the genuineness comes through in every turn of phrase.
I decided to look deeper on my own and found the two remaining sides from the 1938 date, surprising myself.
A SHACK IN THE BACK OF THE HILLS:
If I’d heard any of those sides coming out of a record store speaker or jukebox, I would have been entranced, As I am now. And the gentlemen of the ensemble play so sweetly and easily.
And by the way, if you want what Germans call “the thing in itself,” a reputable eBay seller has the 78 of MOMENTS LIKE THIS and PLEASE BE KIND for sale — $25.00 plus 8.63 shipping) here.
Thanks again for kind erudite diligence, Luigi, Javier, and Nick.
May your happiness increase!