Jazz continues to be international. What I present here was issued only on an Italian bootleg recording devoted to a trumpeter, born in Paris, Kentucky, who spent much of his life in the other Paris, and the music was broadcast by the British Broadcasting Company, and it is posted for your enjoyment by a born New Yorker.
Alix Combelle was what the music magazines of the time might have called a “booting” tenor saxophonist and lyrical clarinetist. You would know him from his recordings with Django Reinhardt, from his part in the 1937 Benny Carter-Coleman Hawkins date, from later recordings with Lionel Hampton and Buck Clayton: a fertile recording career from 1933 to the late Fifties, with one last recorded performance in 1978.
Someone, presumably in England, recorded this broadcast of what would then have been called “modern dance music,” owing a great deal to the alliance of Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Edgar Sampson, and Chick Webb. I don’t know the provenance, but this is audibly a professional recording cut at 33 rpm, if my ears are accurate. That it survived for us to enjoy is delightful.
It’s not simply a showcase for Combelle: for me, the star is the luminous trumpeter (able to leap tall buildings in a single bound) and singer Bill Coleman. And because it was the start of 1938 in Paris, I am sure that the European news encouraged him to scat-sing and ignore the phrase, “that you want to go to war” in Berlin’s ALEXANDER’S. Django Reinhardt did not make the broadcast, but his presence is evident in DAPHNE, his composition and (we are told) his arrangement. From recording sessions, I gather that Django was in London on January 12, although he did return to Paris by March 4.
BBC broadcast of January 12, 1938 from Paris with the possible personnel: Bill Coleman, trumpet, vocal on ALEXANDER’S; Pierre Allier, Alex Rewail, trumpet; unidentified trombone; Alix Combelle, tenor saxophone; Christian Wagner, clarinet, alto saxophone; Frank “Big Boy” Goudie, tenor saxophone, clarinet; unidentified piano; Oscar Aleman, guitar; unidentified string bass; Tommy Benford, drums. Issued only on the Italian label Two Flats Disc TFD5010.
DAPHNE / MY MELANCHOLY BABY / ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND (vocal Bill Coleman) / DON’T BE THAT WAY:
A wonderful swinging interlude: it reminds us of what music came out of people’s radios in 1938, before and after.
May your happiness increase!