While looking for something else, I stumbled onto the YouTube channel of “blindleroygarnett,” which features a good many rare 78s from the Twenties and Thirties — the focus here is on rollicking blues piano.
The site is full of wonders, but the treasure for today is TRANSATLANTIC STOMP, by E.C. Cobb and his Corn Eaters, recorded for Victor on December 10, 1928.
I will assume that the title has something to do with the nation’s delight at Lindbergh’s accomplishment the previous year, but will leave speculation beyond that to the cultural historians.
The Red Hot Jazz site lists the personnel as Junie Cobb, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Jimmy Bertrand, drums and xylophone, Frank Melrose, piano, and possibly Punch Miller or Jimmy Cobb, cornets.
For me the great attraction of this record is its ebullience, its unflagging bounce — much of it due to Melrose’s sparkling piano in the ensembles. Melrose, who died young in mysterious circumstances, has been a legendary figure in jazz for some time, but a few years ago two CDs were issued (one on Delmark, one on Solo Art) that do as much as anything could to illuminate the life and music of this joyous improviser.*
That’s Frank Melrose, hat tipped at the proper angle, in the tinted portrait.
The recording of TRANSATLANTIC STOMP has a place in medical triage: the patient who doesn’t respond it needs emergency room care immediately.
The Melrose CDs are JELLY ROLL STOMP (Black Swan BSCD-35, available through www.jazzology.com). It’s produced by the drummer and jazz scholar Hal Smith — with liner notes by Hal and by Frank’s daughter Ida — both of whom read this blog!
The second half of the Melrose bonanza is contained on a CD called BLUESIANA (Delmark DE 245), available through www.delmark.com. And there’s more of Frank to be heard on other sessions with a variety of hot Chicagoans — but these two CDs are a good start, including solo, duo, trio recordings, most of the Bud Jacobson Jungle Kings rarities, and the previously unissued recordings with cornetist Pete Dailey from 1940.