Tag Archives: Al Hendrickson

MEET ME IN AISLE SIX (1957)

The multi-talented Chris Smith has a YouTube channel, as I may have mentioned, that will reward your attention — he’s been uploading out-of-print music by Jim Dapogny, all wonderful, and other treasures.  This morning, a “supermarket record,” an lp sold near the cash register in A&P or Bohack’s, perhaps for 69¢.  The labels were often not terribly honest: Spin-o-Rama, Craftsman, Tops — but you could find RCA Camden there, and there were sessions created specifically for this market, wordplay intentional:

This recording is called DIXIELAND (a musical product as clearly labeled as Ajax or Comet) by “Matty Matlock and his Dixie-Men,” for those who didn’t know of Matty — clarinetist and arranger for twenty years and more before 1957. I know some readers will bristle my open use of the D-word, but the shoppers in Waldbaum’s fifty years ago weren’t as enlightened.  Forgive them, Brother Matthew, for they knew not what they did: they just wanted some good music.

Speaking of good music, how’s this?

Although TISHOMINGO BLUES is First World War vintage, the band has an easy sophisticated glide.  These were musicians who took an afternoon off from studio work — reading Matty’s minimal, shapely charts on familiar songs.  But there’s no cliche, no fake-Roaring Twenties clatter: the band is more Forties-Basie (whisper it!) than Bailey’s Lucky Seven.  Dick Cathcart, trumpet; Abe Lincoln, trombone; Matty Matlock, clarinet; Eddie Miller, tenor saxophone; Stan Wrightsman, piano; Al Hendrickson, guitar; Phil Stephens, string bass; Nick Fatool, drums.  No striped vests, plastic boaters, club-date amateurishness.

Here’s the whole playlist — a wonderful aubade for those so inclined:

Let’s go shopping to this elegantly rousing soundtrack.  Piggly Wiggly has chuck roast at 59¢ / lb.  Don’t be late: we’ll have to ask the manager, Carmine, for a raincheck, and a raincheck won’t feed the four of us.

May your happiness increase!

FOUR FOR ARTIE: RICHARD PITE’S CHAMBER JAZZ at the MIKE DURHAM CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (Nov. 7, 2015)

Shaw Granercy 5

When we think of the great small bands of the Swing Era, early and late, Artie Shaw’s Gramercy Five is both memorable and overshadowed . . . perhaps because (unlike the Goodman small groups, the Crosby Bobcats, and others I can’t call to mind) it was a studio aggregation, so we don’t have a large history of live performances in concert or recorded off the radio.  (I’ve seen a photograph of the 1945 group with Roy Eldridge and Dodo Marmarosa, apparently performing as part of the Shaw big band presentation, but I don’t think the 1941 group existed outside the Victor studios.)

It was a superb — and quirky — group, with an affectionate kinship to the Raymond Scott and Alec Wilder small bands.  Its instrumentation accounted for much of that — pianist Johnny Guarnieri on harpsichord — but its very tight arrangements were also remarkable.  Al Hendrickson was an excellent electric guitarist — in the dawn of that era; Billy Butterfield, Nick Fatool, and Jud deNaut were also brilliant.

I was delighted to see and capture this four-song evocation at the 2015. Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party, where such heartfelt expertise is the main dish.  Led by the masterful drummer Richard Pite, this new Gramercy 5 — what would that be on your smartphone? — soared and rocked.  The noble participants: the brilliant clarinetist Lars Frank, Martin Litton, harpsichord; Rico Tomasso, trumpet; Martin Wheatley, electric guitar; Henry Lemaire, string bass.  And they perform four classics: SUMMIT RIDGE DRIVE, KEEPIN’ MYSELF FOR YOU, SCUTTLEBUTT, and SPECIAL DELIVERY STOMP.  A quarter-hour of compact pleasure:

Hot modernism in its own way, and it hasn’t aged.  Try to make your way to the 2016 Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party — where such good surprises proliferate.

May your happiness increase!