No one talks during these bass solos, I assure you!
Milt Hinton, Arvell Shaw, Slam Stewart, Bob Haggart, string bass; Hank Jones, piano; Bobby Rosengarden, drums. YESTERDAYS (Arvell Shaw) / BODY AND SOUL (Slam Stewart) / BIG NOISE FROM WINNETKA (Bob Haggart) / HOW HIGH THE MOON (ensemble) // “Four Basses,” Bern Jazz Festival 1983.
A precious document: four masters, having a deep friendly swinging good time.
I wish they had had a longer showcase, with more jamming, but it’s pointless to carp about what should have been . . .especially because this exists to be shared and treasured.
Bless these gentlemen, and bless the organizer of the Bern Jazz Festival who thought of this and the Swiss television people who had it televised. The words, “We don’t know how lucky we are,” float through my head, and I hope through yours.
And this one is for Bonnie Prince Andrew of Malta.
I know Michel Bastide as the slender, bespectacled hot cornetist of the Hot Antic Jazz Band, a very earnest, gracious man and musician. Herehe is leading a small incendiary group at the 2010 Whitley Bay Jazz Party, “Doc’s Night Owls.” The “Doc,” incidentally, is because M. Bastide’s day gig is as an ophthalmologist. But before this week, I didn’t know that he was also an early member of my guild of jazz archivists, and my admiration for him has soared. I stumbled across his priceless half-hour memory tour on YouTube, was immediately thrilled, and I suggest you will feel as I do.
Monsieur and Madame Bastide went to the 1974 Grande Parade du Jazz. It was one year before any of the proceedings were broadcast on television, so although some recordings were made, the active life of the festival was not documented. Perhaps Doctor Bastide has a deep spiritual respect for the powers of the eye, of visual acuity and visual memory, or he simply could not bear going home without some tangible souvenirs that could be revisited and cherished once again. He brought a color 8mm film camera, which was the technology of the times, and his wife carried a small cassette recorder that got surprisingly clear audio fidelity.
Perhaps because of the inertia and tedium that are the gift to us of Covid-19, eleven months ago M. Bastide began the difficult, careful, and no doubt time-consuming work of attempting to synchronize music and image. The results are spectacular and touching: he is quite a cinematographer, catching glimpses of the musicians hard at work and having a wonderful time.
I’ll offer some a guided tour of this impromptu magic carpet / time machine, beginning at the Nice airport on July 14, 1974: glimpses of Claude Hopkins, Paul Barnes, Vic Dickenson, Beryl Bryden, Lucille Armstrong;
An ad hoc sidewalk session for Lucille with Michel Bastide, Moustache, Benny Waters, Tommy Sancton;
Dejan’s Brass Band in the opening parade, July 15;
Cozy Cole, Vic Dickenson (talking!) and Arvell Shaw;
Lucille Armstrong unveils a bust of Louis with Princess Grace of Monaco in attendance (how gorgeous she is!);
STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE, with Wallace Davenport, Wild Bill Davison, Bill Coleman, Jimmy McPartland, Barney Bigard, Budd Johnson, Vic Dickenson, George Wein, Arvell Shaw, Cozy Cole;
Eubie Blake talks and plays;
Moustache All-Stars with George Wein;
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, with Kid Thomas Valentine, Emmanuel Paul, Louis Nelson, Alonzo Stewart, Joseph Butler, Paul Barnes, Charlie Hamilton;
World’s Greatest Jazz Band, with Yank Lawson, Bob Haggart, Bennie Morton (in shirtsleeeves!), Bob Wilber, Kenny Davern, Jimmy McPartland, Joe Venuti, Marian McPartland;
a glimpse of Claude Hopkins, Buddy Tate, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis;
the Barney Bigard – Earl Hines quartet;
Buddy Tate signing an autograph;
Milt Buckner, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Tiny Grimes, Jo Jones;
Cozy Cole, to the side, smoking a substantial joint, watching Jo;
George Barnes, Ruby Braff, Wayne Wright, Michael Moore;
Kid Thomas Valentine and Alonzo Stewart signing autographs; Tiny Grimes walking to the next set; Claude Hopkins; Arvell Shaw waving so sweetly at the camera;
Earl Hines solo;
World’s Greatest Jazz Band with Lawson, Haggart, Wilber, Morton, Ralph Sutton, Bud Freeman, Gus Johnson;
Vic Dickenson joining the WGJB for DOODLE DOO DOO;
Preservation Hall Jazz Band performing TIGER RAG with Barney Bigard off to the side, joining in.
Wonderful glimpses: to me, who looks happy in the band; who takes an extra chorus and surprises the next soloist; adjusting of tuning slides; spraying oil on one’s trombone. Grace Kelly’s beauty; Arvell Shaw’s sweet grin. Just magic, and the camera is almost always focused on something or someone gratifying:
Monsieur and Madame Bastide have given us a rare gift: a chance to be happy engaged participants in a scene that few of us could enjoy at the time. I was amazed by it and still am, although slightly dismayed that his YouTube channel had one solitary subscriber — me. I hope you’ll show him some love and support. Who knows what other little reels of film might be in the Bastide treasure-chest for us to marvel at?
Chu Berry And His “Little Jazz” Ensemble: Roy Eldridge, trumpet; Chu Berry, tenor saxophone; Clyde Hart, piano; Danny Barker, guitar; Artie Shapiro, string bass; Sidney Catlett, drums. New York, November 10, 1938.
That is a compact way to introduce you (or remind you) to the joyous mastery of Sidney Catlett — Big Sid to many — not only in his dancing solo, but in his subtly powerful propulsion throughout.
That recording is well-documented: “46 West 52” was the address of the Commodore Music Shop at the time, and the improvisation is based on SWEET GEORGIA BROWN.
The eight photographs that I share with you below came to me without equally detailed documentation. Each one is stamped “BY-LINE FEATURES” on the back, and someone had penciled in SID CATLETT. As well, pencil notations may be “cleared 46” and “tkn 45,” but I am not sure. They emerged on eBay over a month or so from a company apparently based in Iceland, and, Reader, I bought them. The company applied numbers to them, which I have followed below, although this sequence may be arbitrary. What I can presume is that a photographer caught Sidney in a solo . . . gorgeously, both his body and his facial expressions making these photographs both intimate and dramatic.
Right now, the question I am enjoying is how to hang them on my wall or walls.
And that’s not all.
In May 1948, Sidney took what I believe was his first overseas trip (Mel Powell recalled that Sid was terrified of flying) to appear at the first Nice Jazz Festival with Louis Armstrong’s All-Stars: Louis, Jack Teagarden, Earl Hines, Arvell Shaw, and Velma Middleton — which resulted in these three pictures, recently shared with the world by Jean Labaye: they come from the archives of the Hot Club of France:
The recipient, properly, of flowers:
I presume “Hot-Revue” was a jazz magazine, thus . . .
As they say, “this just in,” thanks to my friend, the jazz scholar-guitarist (who is one-third of a new YouTube series with Loren Schoenberg and Hal Smith on the early recordings of the Benny Goodman band) Nick Rossi — from a 1942 DOWN BEAT.
“Tub thumper,” my Aunt Fanny, but it’s a lovely photograph:
Back to the ears again, for a favorite recording. James P. Johnson’s Blue Note Jazzmen: Sidney DeParis, trumpet; Vic Dickenson, trombone; Ben Webster, tenor saxophone; James P. Johnson, piano; Jimmy Shirley, guitar; John Simmons, string bass; Sidney Catlett, drums. New York, March 4, 1944:
and this, from June 22, 1945, with the Modernists of the time, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, at Town Hall in New York City, in concert, with Al Haig, piano; Curley Russell, string bass; Symphony Sid Torin, MC. The crowd doesn’t want to let Sid go:
More than once, I’ve had a non-jazz friend ask me, “What so fascinates you about this man?” I said, “In no order. He led a Dionysiac life and died young — surrounded by friends and he had just told a good story. He made his presence known and was instantly recognizable as himself, but he selflessly made everyone sound better. He is missed.”
Many years ago — in the mid-Seventies — I could buy the few legitimate recordings of music (a series of RCA Victor lps, then Black and Blue issues) performed at the Grande Parade du Jazz, with astonishing assortments of artists.
As I got deeper into the collecting world, friends sent me private audio cassettes they and others had recorded.
Old-fashioned love, or audio cassettes of music from the Grande Parade du Jazz.
A few video performances began to surface on YouTube. In the last year, the Collecting Goddess may have felt I was worthy to share more with you, so a number of videos have come my way. And so I have posted . . . .
music from July 1977 with Benny Carter, Vic Dickenson, Kai Winding, Hank Jones, Slam Stewart, J.C. Heard, Ray Bryant, Milt Hinton, Mel Lewis, and Teddy Wilson here;
a July 1978 interlude with Jimmy Rowles and Sir Roland Hanna at two grand pianos here;
a wondrous Basie tribute from July 1975 with Sweets Edison, Joe Newman, Clark Terry, Vic Dickenson, Zoot Sims, Buddy Tate, Illinois Jacquet, Lockjaw Davis, Earle Warren, Johnny Guarnieri, George Duvivier, Marty Grosz, Ray Mosca, Helen Humes here;
and a delicious session with Benny Carter, George Barnes, Ruby Braff, Vinnie Corrao, Michael Moore, Ray Mosca here.
If you missed any of these postings, I urge you to stop, look, and listen. One sure palliative for the emotional stress we are experiencing.
At this point in our history, Al Jolson is a cultural pariah, so I cannot quote him verbatim, but I will say that you haven’t seen anything yet. Here is a compendium from July 21, 24, and 25, 1975, several programs originally broadcast on French television, in total almost one hundred minutes.
Benny Carter, Illinois Jacquet, Kenny Drew, Arvell Shaw, Bobby Rosengarden BLUES 7.24.75
Benny Carter, Ruby Braff, Gorge Barnes, Michael Moore, Vinnie Corrao, Ray Mosca WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS / 7.25
LADY BE GOOD as BLUES
I CAN’T GET STARTED / LOVER COME BACK TO ME as WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS
INDIANA 7.21.75 Pee Wee Erwin, Herb Hall, Eddie Hubble, Art Hodes, Placide Adams, Marty Grosz, Panama Francis
SWEET LORRAINE Bobby Hackett, Hodes, Adams, Grosz, Francis
OH, BABY! as INDIANA plus Bobby Hackett
ROSE ROOM Dick Sudhalter, Barney Bigard, Vic Dickenson, Hodes, Grosz, Adams, Francis
WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS Bob Wilber, Hodes, Grosz, Adams, Francis
BLUE ROOM Wingy Manone, Sudhalter, Vic, Bigard, Wilber, same rhythm as above
BLUES Wingy, everyone plus Maxim Saury, Alain Bouchet, Erwin, Hackett, Hubble, Vic Spiegle Willcox, Bigard, Hall, Wilber, Hodes, Grosz, Adams, Francis
SWEET GEORGIA BROWN Moustache for Francis
“If that don’t get it, then forget it right now,” Jack Teagarden (paraphrased).
The eBay seller “jgautographs,” from whom I’ve purchased several marvels (signatures of Henry “Red” Allen, Rod Cless, Pee Wee Russell, Pete Brown, Sidney Catlett, among others) has been displaying an astonishing assortment of jazz inscriptions. I haven’t counted, but the total identified as “jazz” comes to 213. They range from “traditional” to “free jazz” with detours into related musical fields, with famous names side-by-side with those people whose autographs I have never seen.
As I write this (the early afternoon of March 21, 2020) three days and some hours remain.
Here is the overall link. Theoretically, I covet them, but money and wall space are always considerations. And collectors should step back to let other people have a chance.
The signers include Benny Carter, Betty Carter, Curtis Counce, Jimmy Woode, Herb Hall, Bennie Morton, Nat Pierce, Hot Lips Page, Rolf Ericson, Arnett Cobb, Vernon Brown, Albert Nicholas, Bobby Hackett, Vic Dickenson, Sammy Margolis, Ed Polcer, Ed Hall, Billy Kyle, Sam Donahue, Al Donahue, Max Kaminsky, Butch Miles, Gene Krupa, Ray McKinley, Earl Hines, Jack Teagarden, Arvell Shaw, Barrett Deems, Buck Clayton, Babs Gonzales, Benny Bailey, Joe Newman, Frank Wess, Pharoah Sanders, Kenny Burrell, Reggie Workman, Stanley Turrentine, Louis Prima, Wayne Shorter, Tiny Bradshaw, Harry Carney, Juan Tizol, Bea Wain, Red Rodney, Frank Socolow, Bobby Timmons, George Wettling, Roy Milton, Charlie Rouse, Donald Byrd, Kai Winding, Kenny Drew, Kenny Clarke, Steve Swallow, Shelly Manne, Frank Bunker, Charlie Shavers, Ben Pollack, Jess Stacy, Ron Carter, Bob Zurke, Jimmy Rushing, Cecil Payne, Lucky Thompson, Gary Burton, Jaki Byard, Noble Sissle, Muggsy Spanier, Don Byas, Pee Wee Russell, Slam Stewart, Hazel Scott, Ziggy Elman, Buddy Schutz, Ernie Royal, Boyd Raeburn, Dave McKenna, Claude Thornhill.
And signatures more often seen, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Marian McPartland, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day, Hoagy Carmichael, Artie Shaw, Sidney Bechet, Gerry Mulligan, Cab Calloway, Rosemary Clooney, Wynton Marsalis,Tommy Dorsey, Oscar Peterson, Billy Eckstine, Mel Torme, Chick Corea, Count Basie.
In this grouping, there are three or four jazz-party photographs from Al White’s collection, but the rest are matted, with the signed page allied to a photograph — whether by the collector or by the seller, I don’t know. And there seems to be only one error: “Joe Thomas” is paired with a photograph of the Lunceford tenor star, but the pairing is heralded as the trumpeter of the same name.
My head starts to swim, so I propose some appropriate music — sweet sounds at easy tempos, the better to contemplate such riches, before I share a half-dozen treasures related to musicians I revere.
Jess Stacy’s version of Bix Beiderbecke’s CANDLELIGHTS:
Harry Carney with strings, IT HAD TO BE YOU:
Lester Young, Teddy Wilson, Gene Ramey, Jo Jones, PRISONER OF LOVE:
Here are a double handful of autographs for your amazed perusal.
Charlie Shavers, name, address, and phone number:
Lucky Thompson, 1957:
Jimmy Rushing, 1970:
Hot Lips Page (authentic because of the presence of the apostrophe):
Benny Carter (I want to see the other side of the check!):
And what is, to me, the absolute prize of this collection: Lester Young, whom, I’m told, didn’t like to write:
Here’s music to bid by — especially appropriate in those last frantic seconds when the bids mount in near hysteria:
This photograph was on sale a day ago — its price varied from $809 to — but it may have been sold. Here’s what the seller said:
Louis Armstrong & Sidney Catlett “Big Sid” Signed 8 x 10 Photo RCA Building
This Autographed Signed Press Photo is and Estate Find.
This Press Photo has printing that reads,
SIDNEY CATLETT — LOUIS ARMSTRONG’S Sensational Drummer Getting off a Few Hot Licks with “SATCHMO” Himself
Direction JOE GLASER R C A Building 30 Rockefeller Plaza New York N.Y.
It is signed, (in green ink)
To My ‘Pluto Pal” To Lou Gottlieb Louis Armstrong
In blue, possibly black ink, it is also signed,
My boy, Who is this guy, Milton Berle. Big Sid
and this is the rear. I don’t know if this date refers to when the photo was acquired or when it was signed, and perhaps the two signatures were done at different times.
The seller adds:
I, personally, found it in my mother’s garage. She lived in El Cerrito, California.
For reference LOU GOTTLIEB, was a member of the music trio, The Limeliters, lived in El Cerrito, and was a Huge Fan of Louis Armstrong which is why he had the signed photo. My mother received a folder of some of Gottlieb’s papers in which this photo was included.
“Pluto Pal” does not refer to the Disney character or to astronomy, but rather to Louis’ pharmaceutical pleasure in “Pluto Water.” You could look it up. Perhaps Lou Gottlieb had learned the secret to health from Louis. What the Milton Berle connection is might remain a mystery.
And here’s another treasure:
I no longer have the details on the second page — clearly from an autograph book — but the seller wrote that it was from 1949 in New York City, when Arvell and Sidney were a propulsive team in Louis’ All-Stars.
And one of the finest jazz recordings ever: STEAK FACE (dedicated to Louis’ Boston Terrier, “General,” but also a medium blues to show off Sidney amidst Louis, Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard, Dick Cary, and Arvell Shaw) from the 1947 concert at Symphony Hall:
Two photographic treasures. The first, presented by Hugo Dusk, shows Fats Waller holding — not eating — an ice-cream cone. Hugo explains, “On the boardwalk in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, where Fats Waller was appearing at the Old Orchard Pier 6th September 1941.”
It’s clearly a posed shot. The ice cream is untouched and not melting, perilously close to Fats’ sweater. The young lady behind the counter looks as if her smile is genuine, although we note her demurely folded hands. Was it not possible or desirable to show her handing “a Negro” anything? I should also note that this was a summer resort. The weather forecast for September 2017 at Old Orchard Beach has temperatures reaching 80, so the season was not over. Because of that, but we have Fats in less formal garb — but the creases on his shirt sleeves suggest that there is a temporarily discarded suit jacket just out of range.
To return for just a moment to the treacherous chronicle of race politics in 1941, this photograph was possible because Fats Waller was a star. True, a counter separates the two participants: they are not putting two straws into a malted, but stardom, at least for a newspaper photograph, allowed a man of color certain privileges. There is no FOR COLORED ONLY sign here, and we are led to assume, for a moment, that people of all races could come to Old Orchard Beach and enjoy themselves. I hope it was true. But I wonder that what looks like the main street of this resort was The White Way.
And the appropriate soundtrack, free from race hatreds:
The second photograph, still for sale on eBay for $375, comes from the collection of Cleveland, Ohio, native Nat Singerman, whose brother Harvey was the photographer (see the comments section for clarification). Hereis the link. It is a candid shot of three members of Louis Armstrong’s All-Stars, standing outside their (unheated) tour bus: string bassist Arvell Shaw, clarinetist Barney Bigard, and drummer Sidney Catlett. Sidney was with the band 1947-1949, so we know the time frame, although my assigning the location to Cleveland is only a guess.
The poses are unrehearsed: Arvell is buttoning or unbuttoning his topcoat; Barney leans back with an inscrutable expression beneath his beautiful hat; Sidney is caught in mid-sentence and mid-gesture, possibly speaking to Nat or to someone on the bus. The eBay seller annotates his prize, “Unusual photograph of jazz greats . . . signed in white ink over the image by Bigard and Shaw. 10 x 8 inches. Tape remnants along the left edge, else fine. From the collection of Nat Singerman, a professional photographer and co-owner of Character Arts Photo Studio in Cleveland, Ohio during the 1940’s and 1950’s. During this period he met and befriended many jazz legends who performed at clubs in and around Cleveland and Chicago. He took many photographs of performances as well as numerous candid shots taken backstage. He also hosted jam sessions and dinners at his studio where other images from the archive were shot.”
However, in September 2013, The New York Times ran color shots of Billie Holiday and identified the photographer as Nat Singerman, earning these responses on a jazz blog:
These are indeed, wonderful photographs. Unfortunately, the photographer has been misidentified. They were taken by Nat’s brother, Harvey Singerman, and my own grandmother, Elaine Pinzone, both of whom worked at Character Arts Studio in Cleveland, Ohio. Arrangements are currently being made with The New York Times to correct the mistake.
and the next day, Ms. Garner continued:
I would very much appreciate you removing his name while we negotiate with The Times to correct this travesty.
Ms. Garner continued — on her own blog — to vehemently state that Nat took none of the photos and had stolen credit from Harvey and Elaine (the latter, 1914-1976, if the Social Security records are correct).
I can’t delve deeper into that: however, from the signatures on the photograph, it’s clear that Nat brought the developed photograph to wherever Arvell and Barney were playing, and asked them to autograph it to him. I suspect that the musicians would not have said, “Hey, Nat! Where are Harvey and Elaine?”
But back to my chosen subject.
It would be very easy to draw from this photograph a moral about those same race relations: if you were African-American but not a star in Fats Waller’s league, there might be few places that would serve you dinner. I imagine Sidney being turned away from a restaurant — even in Cleveland, Ohio — because of his skin color. Or that he could buy food from the kitchen but couldn’t eat it there. But other interpretations must be considered.
After Sidney’s death, a number of musicians (Louis and the bassist John Simmons come to mind) spoke of how he was often late — having too good a time — so that might explain why he is the only one in the photograph who appears to not have eaten. Too, the All-Stars covered many miles between gigs on that bus, so the road manager, “Frenchy,” might have said, “You have ten minutes to get some food, and if you’re not back, the _______ bus is leaving without you.”
A mystery too large to solve, especially at this distance in time. I hope the dinner in Sidney’s covered dish was memorable, just as I hope that Fats got to enjoy his ice cream before it melted.
In honor of those hopes, the appropriate soundtrack here (could it be otherwise?) is the blues from the Armstrong All-Stars’ concert at Boston’s Symphony Hall, featuring Sidney and called STEAK FACE. (Of course, for those in the know, that sobriquet refers to “General,” Louis’ Boston terrier, not Sid.) You’ll hear Sidney, Barney, Arvell, Louis, Dick Cary, and Jack Teagarden:
Thanks to David Fletcher, who, whether he knows it or not, has encouraged me to dig into such questions with the energy of a terrier puppy destroying a couch.
It’s not often that I receive a new CD on Monday, play it on Monday and Tuesday, and sit down to write about it on Wednesday, but the new reissue (I know, illogical but true) of a March 1968 session led by Wild Bill Davison, issued on Delmark Records, has inspired me. The session was originally recorded by John Norris for Sackville Records, and the band — for once — deserved the title, with Wild Bill, cornet; Benny Morton, trombone; Herb Hall, clarinet; Claude Hopkins, piano; Arvell Shaw, string bass; Buzzy Drootin, drums.
What makes this CD so endearing is not a whole host of rare / previously unissued material — although there is one new performance and one unissued take. No, it is the band, the music, and the repertoire.
Although Davison was praised by none other than Ruby Braff, who said that the pride of Defiance, Ohio, had “drama,” I found Davison’s appeal limited in his later years. He passionately got up and played for all he was worth — he never seemed to coast — but his solos were often set-pieces, established in 1947 and played verbatim night after night. I recall seeing him in New York City in the Seventies, and it was rather like watching a polished stand-up comedian do identical material. All one could say was, “Well, Bill’s timing tonight is off,” or “He’s on fire tonight!” but he rarely surprised. But on this disc he seems inspired sufficiently by his colleagues to venture from his time-tested solos, and the result often made me look up and think, “I never heard him play that before,” which, for me, is one of the great pleasures of improvisation.
Herb Hall sounds lovely and liquid; Arvell Shaw is more than reliable. Claude Hopkins was never captured enough on record, so his particular version of stride — polite but classically perfect — is a delight, in solo and in ensemble.
But this CD is unusually valuable for the opportunity to hear Buzzy Drootin and Benny Morton — players held dear by their colleagues but rarely given any opportunity to lead sessions. I saw Buzzy in person many times in the early Seventies, and I fear I did not appreciate him sufficiently. But now, heard afresh, how arresting he sounds! Yes, there are echoes of Catlett in his four-bar breaks, but he is entirely his own man with his own sound-galaxy and his own way of thinking, as individualistic as Cliff Leeman. Instantly recognizable, always propulsive, ever engaged. And Benny Morton, who recorded with a wide range of players and singers over a half-century (appearing live with Louis, Bird, and Benny Carter!) is in peerless form, his eloquent phrasing, his yearning tone, a great boon. Sadly, Morton, a terribly modest man, doesn’t have a solo feature (which might have been WITHOUT A SONG).
The CD isn’t perfect. A few of the solo features sound overdone and the band is, for me, a little too cleanly miked (each instrument rings through, as if there were six separate tracks rather than one — the perils of modern recording and the horror of “leakage”), but it is a rewarding hour-plus.
And it made me think, which is always an enjoyable unexpected benefit — about the repertoire. Consider this list: STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE / DARDANELLA / BLACK AND BLUE (two takes) / I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU / I FOUND A NEW BABY / BLUE AGAIN / I SURRENDER, DEAR / YESTERDAYS / THEM THERE EYES / THREE LITTLE WORDS. What struck me about that assortment is that most of the band’s choices were “popular songs” known to the larger audience rather than “jazz favorites” known only to the cognoscenti.
Repertoire in jazz has often served artists as ways to define themselves and their allegiances. If you are a young singer or player, and you offer a performance (or a CD) of your original compositions, you are in effect saying, “Take me seriously as a composer; I have ideas and feelings to offer you that aren’t Cole Porter, Shelton Brooks, or Ornette Coleman.”
Some players and singers use repertoire as loving homage: Bix Beiderbecke played AT THE JAZZ BAND BALL because his heroes, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, had written and recorded it; Eddie Condon and his friends played the song because it was a good one but also as a loving bow to Bix; players in this century offer it as an extension of the Condon tradition. In any jazz club or festival, one can hear people playing the music of Louis, Bird, Hawkins, or a hundred others. Even if one is playing the blues or a song built on familiar changes, the choice of the melodic line superimposed on top says, “Here’s to Don Byas. Here’s to Roy Eldridge,” and so on.
But this CD reminds me of something Davison told an interviewer. When he came to New York City in 1943, he was asked by Commodore Records’ saintly founder Milt Gabler to make 12″ 78s of “classic jazz tunes,” for instance PANAMA, THAT’S A PLENTY, and more. Davison remembered that these songs were not what he was used to playing — for audiences that had come to hear jazz — in Chicago and Milwaukee, but they had played popular songs of the day. And when I heard him in New York, he was most likely to play AS LONG AS I LIVE, SUNDAY, or THEM THERE EYES. And no one, sitting in the audience, demanded their money back because he wasn’t playing “authentic” jazz.
What the moral of all this is I can’t say. Perhaps it’s only that I would like to hear Mainstream / traditional ensembles remember the treasures of popular song. There are worlds to be explored beyond the same two dozen favorites — favorites often chosen as markers of ideology / regional or stylistic pride (BIG BEAR STOMP and RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE). I’d love to hear such bands play THERE’S A SMALL HOTEL, YOU CALL IT MADNESS, or WHERE THE BLUE OF THE NIGHT MEETS THE GOLD OF THE DAY.
I offer musical evidence:
Wild Bill paying tribute to Louis at the 1970 Newport Jazz Festival by playing THEM THERE EYES, supported by Dave McKenna, Larry Ridley, Oliver Jackson (there is an unsubtle edit in the film, probably removing a Ridley solo, alas) with even more beautiful — although subtle — backing from Ray Nance, Bobby Hackett, Benny Morton, and Tyree Glenn. “Indecent exposure” for sure.
Someone saved this ticket stub — but went to the dance to hear LOUIS ARMSTRONG, N.B.C. Orchestra (with Red Allen, J. C. Higginbotham, Luis Russell, and Sidney Catlett). I wonder who was admitted to a dance in Texas in 1940, but it doesn’t bear thinking about:
Ten years later, up north in Chicago, at the Blue Note. The All-Stars. But who was Bunny West? I thought — perhaps ungenerously — that she might be a vixen with a stage name, but no leads online.
(This one was purchased for $113.50 in the last seconds it was available.)
And . . . for something marvelous and never-before-imagined. Sometime during the Second World War: a young man, Larry Bennett, unknown to me, Mildred Bailey, Wingy Manone, and George Avakian (blessedly, still with us!). The location? A supper club or a USO canteen? Wingy is equipped, so he was one of the headliners; George is in uniform. And Mildred?:
Thanks to Geoffrey Martin of the Great Drummers’ Group on Facebook, for this visual reminder of “a Solid Cinder” . . .
A serving of what Sidney and Louis were cooking — in 1947, at Boston’s Symphony Hall — which happens to be a favorite recording of mine for many years, the blues named for Louis’ Boston terrier, General, STEAK FACE:
People who know me are often startled by the hours I spend in front of the computer, but if they knew what friendships and generosities I find there, they would be less appalled, or at least I hope so. Here are four blogs that will capture your attention for the best reasons, if you love this music.
My ebullient friend Ricky Riccardi has been writing and sharing music connected with Louis Armstrong for some years now, but just the other day he offered us an amazing treat: the earliest recordings we have (new discoveries) of live performance by Louis’ All-Stars, in Chicago, performing ROYAL GARDEN BLUES. The band — a heaven-sent ensemble — was Louis, Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard, Dick Cary, Arvell Shaw, and Sidney Catlett. It’s a marvelously leisurely performance, full of controlled power and ease. Hear it here and read Professor Riccardi’s lively commentary.
My pal and colleague Andrew Jon Sammut has also been pedaling along in cyberspace, creating his own path, for some time now: enjoying “pop music” from several centuries, from Vivaldi to Venuti and back again. Here he shares his latest discovery with us — some music in a variety of forms from the much-respected yet often-undervalued clarinetist William C. “Buster” Bailey from Memphis, Tennessee.
David J. Weiner is a newcomer to the world of blogging but certainly not to the world of music. A generous humorous fellow who is erudite about a large variety of music, he never wields his knowledge violently. David (whom I first met before I had my driver’s license) has started a new blog, which he calls — in proper Millerite adulation — COMMUNITY SWING and its early entries have startling discoveries about Duke Ellington, Chick Webb, even Charles Ives. I’ve been enjoying it fervently.
And someone I’ve not met, James A. Harrod, has created a new blog devoted to the television program JAZZ SCENE USA, the mid-Fifties creation of Steve Allen. On it you can see information about television that will make you rethink Newton Minnow’s characterization of it as a “vast wasteland,” for Allen’s love for jazz reached from Ben Pollack to Jutta Hipp, which is admirable. Visithere for all of the good stuff.
Generous, informed, wise people — and they never tell us what they had for breakfast. I treasure them!
Delights from the eBay treasure chest . . . costly but surely unique.
This is a concert program from the 1948 Nice Jazz Festival (notice that Louis and the All-Stars are billed as the Hot Five). That would be enough in itself, but notice the autographs: Louis himself, Big Sid Catlett, Lucky Thompson, Jack Teagarden, Earl Hines, Barney Bigard, Arvell Shaw, Velma Middleton, Humphrey Lyttelton, Bob Wilber, Baby Dodds, Sammy Price, Sandy Williams, and more.
And here’s a picture (the eBay site has other close-ups):But wait! There’s more!
How about a copy of HOT DISCOGRAPHY— signed by Billie Holiday, Bunny Berigan, Claude Jones, Coleman Hawkins, Fletcher Henderson, Buster Bennett, Israel Crosby . . . ? No, I didn’t believe it, either.
But here is some evidence. Even though the photographs are (perhaps intentionally?) blurry, the overall effect is dazzling:
The Nice concert program obviously has a specific location in time and space. The seller hasn’t said anything about this copy of HOT DISCOGRAPHY, but given the signatures, I suspect that its owner was at one time a Chicagoan . . . and you can guess when the signers took out their pens, at least by their death dates.
To me what is important here is that the owners of these artifacts not only loved the music but idolized the players and singers — so much so that having the seconds of personal contact needed to approach Lucky Thompson or Israel Crosby and ask for an autograph was worth the effort. We benefit immensely from this kind of devotion.
Neither item is inexpensive, but the value here is immense.
There surely is a story here. The photograph (offered for sale on eBay) depicts Velma Middleton, Louis Armstrong, Barney Bigard, Jack Teagarden, a barely-in-the-frame Arvell Shaw and an almost-hidden Sidney Catlett:
That in itself is a find: new documentation of that wondrous constellation of musicians is enough for me. We know that this photograph was taken some time between 1947 and 1949, Big Sid’s time with the band.
But here’s what’s on the back:
Pianist / singer / composer Joe Bushkin played with the All-Stars, but several years after this photograph was taken. Does this artifact refer to the 1947 gathering where Louis and the band recorded Joe’s composition LOVELY WEATHER WE’RE HAVING as a wedding gift to the Bushkins?
I would be most eager to dial SUPERIOR 0026 if I knew that the person on the other end was in some way connected to this photograph.
For extra credit: we see three partially obscured letters behind Louis. What words are we missing?
Postscript (as of 10:30 PM Eastern time, September 3): the photograph is still available on eBay: click here).
I visit eBay intermittently, to see what marvels are there. Some of the artifacts simply make me wonder. A fairly constant stream of obvious forgeries of Louis’ very distinctive signature. Autographed pictures of voluptuous women tenor saxophonists.
Even more autographs from Dave Brubeck and Les Paul — I wonder how much time, in their final years, these aging giants spent signing every and anything pushed in front of them.
But here are some extraordinary sightings.
A first edition of Eddie Condon’s WE CALLED IT MUSIC (1947) inscribed to Kid Ory:
The inscription reads: “Dear Ory, This copy is somewhat battered from being dragged about the country in a flannel banjo case, kicked under tables of basement dinners, and spotted with licorice gin and cigarette burns. (You know how rowdy the crowds in Zibart’s are, especially when it comes to their last copy). See you at Eddie’s. Your’n, Satcho”.
A truly glorious autographed photo of Bill Robinson, 1929.
Here are a few people I celebrate, but whose autographs I rarely see.
The wondrous clarinetist Omer Simeon.
The underrated trumpeter Charlie Teagarden, Jack’s younger brother.
Woody Herman’s Decca-period drummer, Frank Carlson, promising to return.
Drummer Herbert “Kat” Cowans and his little band — hot felines, no doubt. Does anyone recognize the Kittens, one by one?
The 1962 recording, MIS’RY AND THE BLUES, signed by Jack Teagarden, Don Goldie, and Stan Puls.
Here’s Mister Tea in 1950-1, surrounded by giants: Louis, Earl Hines, Barney Bigard, Arvell Shaw, Cozy Cole. Usually only Louis signed in green ink; did he pass his fountain pen around for everyone to use?
And here’s another real Louis signature (as a public service, so that you can recognize the banal forgeries when they appear):
Finally, a treasure:
I saved the best for last.
One hundred dollars was a great deal of money in 1936. But Fats had it backwards. We owe him, and still do.
On Sunday, June 2, 2013, pianist /singer / composer / raconteur Marty Napoleon turns 92. He is still creating music, still ebullient, with a sharp-edged wit and an eagerness for new experiences: Marty doesn’t simply reside in the past.
But oh! — what a past. Here are some examples from YouTube — and they are only the smallest fraction of Marty’s wide-ranging musical experiences.
On a 1947 Savoy record date with Kai Winding, Allen Eager, Eddie Safranski, Shelly Manne:
In December 1957 for the Timex All-Star Jazz Show with Bobby Hackett, Jack Teagarden, Peanuts Hucko, Arvell Shaw, Cozy Cole:
With Louis Armstrong and the All-Stars on a 1968 Bell Telephone Hour:
June 2012 at Feinstein’s — introduced by the late Mat Domber — with Harry Allen, Joel Forbes, Chuck Riggs, Jon-Erik Kellso:
December 2012 with Bill Crow and Ray Mosca:
By my rudimentary math, Marty has been entertaining audiences with his lively music for seventy years . . . we are lucky to have him with us! Thank you for being so resilient, Marty.
And . . . he keeps on going. On July 5, 2013, Marty will be leading a quartet (including trumpeter / singer Bria Skonberg) in a tribute to Louis Armstrong, his former employer and great inspiration — in Glen Cove, New York: details can be found here.
Louis Armstrong reached his artistic peak somewhere before 1929, when his recording of commercial songs — I CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE as opposed to POTATO HEAD BLUES — was ruinous. Right?
As we say in my country, “Oh, please!”
You play what you are! And Louis in 1954 and 1960 still embodied the deepest human truths of joy and sorrow.
These two videos are now available widely thanks to the tireless collector, historian, and archivist Franz Hoffmann.
The first, from May 9, 1954, is part of a wonderfully odd CBS-TV program,
“YOU ARE THERE: “THE EMERGENCE OF JAZZ,” which purports to recreate the closing of Storyville as if it were a news story happening at the moment. In 1954, I wasn’t sufficiently sentient to have been watching this episode, but I gather that this neat gimmick allowed various actors to recreate events in history — with light brushes with accuracy and the help of Walter Cronkite to make it seem “real.” Here, Louis was asked to become King Oliver, fronting his own All-Stars . . . all African-Americans, with the exception of drummer Barrett Deems, who had his face blacked to fit it. The other band members are Barney Bigard, Trummy Young, Billy Kyle, Arvell Shaw. In other segments, Louis Mitchell was played by Cozy Cole and Jelly Roll Morton by Billy Taylor. No doubt. Here, much of the fun is that the Oliver band is “challenged” by an offstage White band — the Original Dixieland Jazz Band — impersonated by Bobby Hackett, Bill Stegmeyer, Lou Stein, Cliff Leeman, and Lou Mc Garity. To see and hear Louis play BACK O’TOWN BLUES and read his lines is enough of a pleasure; to hear Louis and Bobby improvise on the SAINTS is a joy.
Six years later, with no faux-news report, just a substantial production for a BELL TELEPHONE HOUR (January 1, 1960), we see Louis in magnificent form (although this segment is taxing). After SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET and LAZY RIVER — with the plastic mute Jack Teagarden made for him — there is one of the most touching episodes of Louis on film, beginning at 3:30. If you ever meet anyone who doubts Louis’ sincerity, his acting ability, his skill in conveying emotion, please play them this video and let them hear and see the ways he approaches SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A MOTHERLESS CHILD, intensely moving. Then the mood switches to an early-television meeting of Louis with an unidentified vocal quartet for MUSKRAT RAMBLE. In all, eight minutes plus of wonderful music.
Louis sustains us as he sustained himself.
Thanks to Franz Hoffmann and of course to Ricky Riccardi, who has done so much to remind us that Louis never, ever stopped creating.
“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, men would believe & adore & for a few generations preserve the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown. But every night come out these preachers of beauty, & light the Universe with their admonishing smile.” — Emerson
It is a substantial irony that some may regard a new recording — or a new complete issue of an already beloved Louis Armstrong recording — as we do the stars: beautiful but to be taken for granted, because they are and will always be there.
I am listening to the new complete issue of SATCHMO AT SYMPHONY HALL (the sixty-fifth anniversary issue) with my own kind of Emersonian delight. And my pleasure isn’t primarily because of the extra half-hour of music and speech I had never heard before, although thirty minutes of this band, this evening, is more than any ordinary half-hour on the clock. Permit me to call the roll — not only Louis in magnificent form, playing and singing, but also Jack Teagarden, Sidney Catlett, Arvell Shaw, Dick Cary, Barney Bigard, and Velma Middleton. Some of my joy comes from hearing music once again that has been dear to me for thirty years — the sweet ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET, the charging MAHOGANY HALL STOMP, Teagarden’s tender, delicate STARS FELL ON ALABAMA, the serious BLACK AND BLUE, the electrifying STEAK FACE and MOP MOP (formerly titled BOFF BOFF).
What strikes me once again is the beautiful cohesion of this band. I know that others see this period of Louis’ artistic life as a gentle downhill slide into “popularity” and “showmanship”; these views, I think, could be blown away with an intent hearing of HIGH SOCIETY. This edition of the All-Stars (with or without hyphen) is uniformly superb, happy, and focused.
Teagarden’s playing is simply awe-inspiring (ask any trombonist about it) and his singing delicious, with none of the near-fatigue that occasionally colored his later work. Arvell Shaw never got the credit he deserved as a string bassist, but his time and tone couldn’t be better, providing a deep, rocking rhythmic foundation for the band. Dick Cary, nearly forgotten, is once again an ideal pianist — never setting a foot wrong in ensembles and offering shining, individualistic solos that sound like no one else. Barney Bigard is sometimes off-mike but his work is splendidly energized, his tone full and luscious. Velma Middleton fit this band beautifully — emotional and exuberant, clearly inspiring both audiences and the All-Stars. And readers of JAZZ LIVES should know how I revere Sidney Catlett, at one of his many peaks that night in Symphony Hall. Much has been made of the ideal partnerships in jazz — Bird and Dizzy, Duke and Blanton, Pres and Basie . . . but Louis and Sidney deserve to be in that number, with Sid not only supporting but lifting every member of the band throughout the evening. The little percussive flourishes with which Sid accents the end of a performance are worthy of deep study. But this band is more than a group of soloists — they work together with affection and enthusiasm.
Louis himself is sublimely in charge. Consider the variety of tempos — almost a lost art today — and the pacing of a two-hour show, not only so that he wouldn’t tire himself out (there is much more playing here, even on the “features” for other musicians, than one would expect) but so that the audience would be charged with the same emotional energy for two hours. And his playing! There are a few happy imperfections, reminding us that he was human and that trumpet playing at this level is not for amateurs. But overall I feel his mastery, subtly expressed. I hear a leisurely power. Yes, there were piles of handkerchiefs inside the piano (playing the trumpet is physically arduous) but one senses in Louis the dramatized image of a jungle cat who knows he has only to stretch out a huge paw to accomplish what he wants.
Inside this package are the original notes (Armstrongians of a certain vintage can quote sections of Ernie Anderson’s text at will) and a new appreciation by our man Ricky Riccardi. Beautiful photographs, too — several of them including the only shot known of the band at Symphony Hall for this concert — new to me.
Some discussions of this set, weighing the merits of its purchase, have focused on the question of “How much more is there that we haven’t heard?” surely a valid question — although it came to sound as if music could be weighed like apples or peanuts. Briefly, there are a good number of “new” spoken introductions by Louis and others, short versions of SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH and I’VE GOT A RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES, complete versions of previously edited performances — BLACK AND BLUE, ROYAL GARDEN BLUES, TEA FOR TWO, and performances wholly “new”: a seven-minute VELMA’S BLUES with plenty of Louis and Sidney, a somber ST. JAMES INFIRMARY, a mock-serious BACK O’TOWN BLUES, and a vigorous JACK-ARMSTRONG BLUES. For some readers, that will not be enough to warrant a purchase, which I couldn’t argue with. However, this is a limited edition of 3000 copies . . . so those who wait might find themselves regretting their delay.
For me, it’s a “Good deal,” to quote both Louis and Sidney — we can’t go back to November 30, 1947, but this set is the closest thing possible to spending an evening in the company of the immortals. Thanks and blessings are due to Ricky Riccardi, the late Gosta Hagglof, and Harry Weingar . . . each making this wonderful set possible.)
And if you can’t afford the purchase, make sure to look up at the stars whenever you can.
The new, complete two-disc edition of SATCHMO AT SYMPHONY HALL: 65th ANNIVERSARY — THE COMPLETE PERFORMANCE is a limited edition of 3000 copies.
I didn’t know about the “limited edition” part of that sentence until a day ago, so I am encouraging JAZZ LIVES readers to act promptly rather than to lament that the edition is all sold out. You can purchase it here — if you live in the New York area, you can visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens, which has its very own stash.
What does “the complete performance” mean? THIRTY MINUTES OF NEW MATERIAL . . . .
I’ll let Ricky Riccardi, Louis scholar and the Archivist for the LAHM, explain:
The original 1951 2-LP Decca set had the majority of the music, but there were some edits, including four complete performances, all the themes, Louis’s announcements and some solos (Dick Cary’s on “Royal Garden Blues” and some extra noodling by Barney Bigard at the end of “Tea for Two”). When Orrin Keepnews finally put it on on CD in the 90s, he made the choice to strike three tunes (“I Cried for You,” “That’s My Desire” and “How High the Moon”) AND he completely shuffled the original order of performances. I’m the Archivist for the Louis Armstrong House Museum and last year, we learned that the Swedish Armstrong collector Gosta Hagglof donated every scrap of his Armstrong collection to the Museum. It arrived last summer.
The first thing I looked for was “Symphony Hall” because Gosta told me in 2007 he was working on a complete edition. And sure enough, I found a disc…and another…and another…and another. All in all, I found about 30 individual CDs with Gosta’s Symphony Hall work. He somehow had access to the original acetates and made multiple CD copies of those and then he made extra copies with pitch correction, skips edited out, noise reduction, etc.
Last October I contacted Harry Weinger at Universal and he came out to our Archives to listen to it. He flipped and we’ve been off and running since. It’s a 2-CD set on the Hip-O Select label, with the original liner notes by Ernie Anderson and new liner notes by yours truly. The concert will be sequenced in the original order, starting with the band tuning up. All of the announcements will be heard for the first time, in addition to the themes. And there will be complete versions of “Back O’Town Blues,” “St. James Infirmary,” “Velma’s Blues” and “Jack Armstrong Blues.”
They’re all fantastic. I can only assume “Back O’Town,” “St. James” and “Jack Armstrong” were not on the original LP because Victor had just released versions. And even “Velma’s Blues” is a knockout, as it’s almost 7 minutes long with a long interlude where Velma danced and the All Stars just played the blues (Sid Catlett catches her every move).
I’m a biased Armstrong nut who has always loved this concert, of course, but trust me, hearing it complete, in the original order, with the announcements, the new tunes, everything, is a really, really special experience.
For some listeners, this won’t in itself be enough. I understand that in the linguistic battle between “fixed income” and “limited edition,” the first phrase wins.
But I urge you to consider purchasing this set if you can for a few reasons. One is the precious experience of going back in time . . . settling into a chair in your living room and being able to sink into a plush velvet seat at Symphony Hall in 1947 while Louis Armstrong and what I think of as the best small band he ever had play for you. That, in its own way, is far more important than simply being able to hear a new Dick Cary solo.
I first heard this concert (in its edited form) more than forty years ago and I can attest that it is life-changing music.
Secondly, there is the matter of the responsive audience as a motivating force. In blunt words, why do companies like Universal issue Louis Armstrong discs and packages? Some of it is the spiritual love that people like Harry Weinger have for the music: something I do not doubt. But if record companies see that their products sell, they create more . . . so that buying SASH is your way — the only effective way — of saying, “Please, sir, we want some more!”
Don’t wait until they’re gone and you’re reduced to desperate means . . .
But make sure you leave enough in the Jazz Piggy Bank for a copy of the Grand Street Stompers’ CHRISTMAS STOMP. I’ve heard that and it is wonderful. More to say about that one soon . . .
One of JAZZ LIVES’ attentive readers pointed me to this fascinating piece of paper. I assume that the people who wrote down the details for the poster were doing it by telephone (hence the spelling errors) but “The Greatest Jazz Stars in the World” seems just about right. The contemporary auction house that has this artifact up for bids has listed it in their “Rock & Roll/Music” category . . . no comment here. Bidding will conclude on May 12, 2012 here.
Mister Five by Five, absolutely assured, in his prime, at his ease — in front of the Benny Goodman band without the King of Swing, May 1958:
What I notice here is a kind of easy conviction: Rushing is not singing at the blues, nor is he working his formulaic way through his “greatest hits”; he IS what he is singing, the mark of great art. And his phrasing is the equal of the great instrumental soloists in the celestial Basie band, his voice both glossy and rough.
The Goodman band for that tour was Billy Hodges, Taft Jordan, John Frosk, E.V. Perry, trumpet; Vernon Brown, Willie Dennis, Rex Peer, trombone; Al Block, Ernie Mauro, Zoot Sims, Seldon Powel, Gene Allen, reeds; Roland Hanna, piano; Billy Bauer, guitar; Arvell Shaw, bass; Roy Burnes, drums.
For more televised / filmed swing from Benny and friends, visit 1964Mbrooks: this YouTube channel is full of musical delights.
My goodness, there’s more! That’s the closing performances of the Nov. 16, 1948 Eddie Condon Floor Show — audio only — with Wild Bill Davison, Brad Gowans, Pee Wee Russell, Mary Lou Williams, Dick Cary, Eddie, Jack Lesberg, George Wettling, Johnny Mercer, with commentary by Lord Buckley.
On DOWN AMONG THE SHELTERING PALMS, what might have seemed a novelty number suddenly opens up because of Mercer’s absolutely relaxed singing (with a touch of the giggles at one point) and lovely work from Brad, Pee Wee, and the rhythm section.
The SLOW BLUES keeps Johnny at the mike (with Wild Bill muttering behind him) — some witty lyrics which lead to that marvel, a Pee Wee stop-time blues performance (the video here is from the 197 THE SOUND OF JAZZ, by the way); a beautiful Wettling drum break takes it up and out we go, with Lord Buckley telling us all about the show next week, with Louis, Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard, Earl Hines, Arvell Shaw, Sidney Catlett, and Velma Middleton.
As an aside, if you follow Charles Ellsworth Russell’s fortunes and career, wasn’t he apparently disintegrating in 1948, and with a great enmity towards Eddie Condon? The music wouldn’t prove either of those contentions: he sounds positively elevated and not at all unhappy with the surroundings. Perhaps history after the fact isn’t as substantial as the evidence. And here’s another mystery: the cornetist who’s playing as the program is fading out is clearly Davison. But the first horn soloist after Wettling’s break doesn’t sound like Bill, or Henry “Red” Allen for that matter. I wonder, I wonder — will the experts in the audience listen in and tell me that I am wrong for thinking it to be my hero, the Atlas of the trumpet, HOT LIPS PAGE? It wouldn’t be the first or last time Lips showed up at the Floor Show.
I don’t know if Channel 11 — WPIX-TV in New York City — even exists, but I’d guess that their programming in 2012 is not quite as surprising as this. Thanks once again to the energetic Franz Hoffmann for opening the cornucopia . . . with more to come!
This one’s for Maggie, Romy, and Phyllis and Liza as well.