Some jazz groups “have history”: that is, the intuitive understanding that comes from playing often, even if not night after night, together. (In the dating world, it’s called “chemistry.”) Other collaborations — by whatever circumstance — emerge when people who don’t ordinarily work together are asked to play for the public. I don’t know whether the producer of the Grande Parade du Jazz, colloquially called the “Nice Jazz Festival,” decided it would be interesting to mix it up, or whether Milt Jackson said, “Here are the people I’d like to play with.” I suspect the former.
But, for almost an hour, we have a set of music from Milt, vibraphone; Jimmie Rowles, piano; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Slam Stewart, string bass; Duffy Jackson, drums. I would guess that Milt and Jimmie might have encountered each other as far back as the mid-Forties in California; Bucky and Slam worked as a duo and in many rhythm sections at this time; Duffy, the youngest of the group, had experience as Basie’s drummer. Being a Rowles-devotee, my overpowering first reaction was, “Goodness! Nearly on hour of Jimmie in a different context, on video!”
Preparing this post, I looked in Tom Lord’s discography for any evidence that this quintet — or a near-relation — had recorded, and found none. But Milt, Jimmie, and Ray Brown (and perhaps others) had performed a year earlier in Sao Paulo as part of the Montreux Jazz Festival tour, and here’s photographic evidence. I certainly would like to hear this:
Milt, someone with great awareness, treats the repertoire as he would if presiding over a jam session, and calls songs that no one could get lost in — THE MAN I LOVE / STARDUST / BLUES / DISORDER AT THE BORDER / SOMETIMES I’M HAPPY / BAGS’ GROOVE //. I don’t know, if when the set was over, the players said to each other, “Well, we got through that. Did you see all those television cameras? Damn, people are going to be watching this? I need to lie down,” or if the general reaction was, “What a triumph!”
2020 criticism of 1979 joys will be discouraged. I think this is a priceless hour, and am thrilled it exists. I hope you feel the same way. And I am able to share this with you through the generous kindness of A Good Friend.
No, JAZZ LIVES is not going away. Nor is there some crisis. Nor am I asking for money. However, I would like my viewers to devote themselves to what follows, which will take perhaps ten minutes.
That man is pianist Junior Mance, born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1928. Before he was twenty, he had begun recording with the stars we revere: Gene Ammons, Howard McGhee, Lester Young, Sonny Stitt, Dinah Washington, Clark Terry, Paul Gonsalves, Clifford Brown, Maynard Ferguson, Israel Crosby, Chubby Jackson, Art Blakey, Johnny Griffin, Cannonball Adderley, Sam Jones, Nat Adderley, Jimmy Cobb, Carmen McRae, Wilbur Ware, Bob Cranshaw, James Moody, Jimmy Cleveland, Bill Crow, Art Taylor, Dizzy Gillespie (he’s on the duet with Louis of UMBRELLA MAN), Leo Wright, Harry Lookofsky, Lockjaw Davis, Johnny Coles, Ray Crawford, Paul Chambers, Bennie Green, George Coleman, Eddie Jefferson, Louis Jordan, Irene Kral, Joe Williams, Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Ben Webster, Kenny Burrell, Mannie Klein, Shelley Manne, Etta Jones, Benny Carter, Jim Hall, Joe Newman, Milt Hinton, Richard Davis, Frank Wess, Wilbur Little, Jimmy Scott, Marion Williams, Les McCann, Dexter Gordon, George Duvivier, Carrie Smith, Ken Peplowski, Howard Alden, Milt Jackson, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Al Grey, Houston Person, Joe Temperley, Benny Golson, Jay Leonhart, Jackie Williams, Andrew Hadro . . . and I know I’ve left two dozen people out.
Next, in the world of jazz, one would expect a tribute. Or an obituary. Or both.
But not a love story, which is what follows.
A few days ago, I was contacted by Sarit Work, co-producer of SUNSET AND THE MOCKINGBIRD, a not-yet-finished documentary about Junior and his wife, Gloria Clayborne Mance. They have created a Kickstarter to help them finish the documentary. The headline is “The love story of jazz legend Junior Mance and Gloria Clayborne Mance. As he loses his identity to dementia she reckons with her own.”
Being a man (although this may not be typical of my gender) I have less ability to cope with illness than women I know. It’s terribly irrational, but I cringe at visiting people in hospitals, visiting the ailing, the dying . . . and so on. There must be a name for this — call it “testosterone terror”? — which makes people like me hide under the couch, if possible. Or in the car. And dementia is especially frightening, because I am closer to being a senior citizen than ever before. But Sarit was very politely persuasive, so I watched the trailer.
And it hit me right in the heart.
Junior has a hard time remembering, and he knows this. But he knows he loves Gloria. And Gloria, for her part, is a lighthouse beacon of steady strong love. It is not a film about forgetting who you are so much as it is a film about the power of devotion.
So I urge you — and “urge” is not a word I use often — to watch the trailer, and if you are moved, to help the project along. It will be a powerful film, and I think that helping this project is very serious good karma. Maybe it will protect us a few percent?
Hereis the link. Yes, the filmmakers need a substantial amount of money. But anything is possible. And, yes, I’ve already contributed. And from this day (or night) the filmmakers have only EIGHT days to raise the sum they need. So please help — in the name of jazz, in the name of love, or both. In my dictionary, the two are synonyms.
Dan Morgenstern is a remarkable person, lively and kind, and would be so if he had been a veterinarian with only a passing interest in music. But even better for us: he hung out with [and wrote about] some of the greatest artists we know and still revere. I continue to feel immensely fortunate that I could visit him, and that he so generously shared some candid loving stories of people who many of us know only as a photograph or a sound emerging from a speaker.
For those of you who have been otherwise occupied, and I understand, I have posted videos where Dan speaks of Tommy Benford, Frank Newton, Al Hall, Mary Lou Williams and her friends, Donald Lambert, Eubie Blake, Willie “the Lion” Smith, Nat Lorber, Buddy Tate, Gene Ramey, Lester Young (twice for Pres).
But before you leap in, a small caveat. Dan is soft-spoken, and my few comments from behind the camera are louder. Friends have pointed this out, and I have been penitent, citing inexperience rather than ego and I will balance the audio better on our future encounters. The first five videos are here.
More friends and heroes. Eddie Condon (and I had to say a few things, given my reverence for Eddie):
Buster Bailey, Stanley Dance, Coleman Hawkins, cameos by Milt Jackson, Roy Eldridge, Joe Thomas, John S. Wilson, Billy Kyle, Louis, and Dan’s thoughts on writing about artists:
More about Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Ben Webster, with comments about Sir Charles Thompson, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker as well:
Notice in the second interview that Dan took an unpaid gig because “it will be good for the musicians.” And I am touched by Coleman Hawkins’ generosities (acceptance in to the tribe) to Dan — which Dan has repaid us ten thousandfold. More to come.
The news from Yoshio Toyama (from Mike Fitzgerald’s online jazz research group):
“Sir Charles Thompson left us on June 16th in Japan.
He was a very unique pianist with style in between swing and bebop, also very close to great Count Basie’s piano style. He was married to Japanese wife Makiko Thompson in 1990s, lived in Japan in 1990s and 2002 to this day. Funeral will be held in Tokyo, Japan, Higashi Kurume, by his wife Makiko Thompson and family and friends on June 21st.
He was born March 21, 1918, and he just turned 98 last March. He started as professional when he was very young, played with and admired people like Lester Young, Buck Clayton, Coleman Hawkins . . . .
He was very active in Bebop era also, and his style has lots of Bebop flavor mixed with mellow swing. He was very good golf player too.
He left so many great jazz records including “Vic Dickenson Showcase”. In Japan, he made recording with Yoshio and Keiko Toyama in late 1990s. Had appeared in many concerts held by Toyama’s Wonderful World Jazz Foundation. Sir Charles and Toyama stayed very close friends.
We all miss him. Yoshio and Keiko”
Readers will know that I have worked very hard to keep this blog focused on the living thread of the music I and others love. Were it to become a necrology (and the temptation is powerful) it would slide into being JAZZ DIES. But I make exceptions for musicians whose emotional connection with me is powerful. I never met Sir Charles, but he was an integral part of recordings I loved and knew by heart forty-five years ago. Here he is in 1955 with Walter Page, Freddie Green, and Jo Jones. You could make a case that anyone would swing with those three people, but Sir Charles was consistently his own subtle swing engine: he could light up the sonic universe all by himself.
Hearing that, you can understand why Lester Young knighted him.
And — from that same period — another glorious Vanguard session featuring Vic Dickenson (the second volume, since I presume the first was a success, both musically and for its wonderful clarity of sound) on EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY, where Vic and Sir Charles are joined by Shad Collins, trumpet; Ruby Braff, cornet; Ed Hall, clarinet; Steve Jordan, guitar; Walter Page, string bass; Jo Jones, drums:
That’s been one of my favorite recordings since my teens, and it continues to cheer and uplift. But listen to Sir Charles — not only in solo, but as a wonderfully subtle ensemble player. With a less splendid pianist (I won’t name names) these soloists would have been less able to float so gracefully.
If you measure a musician’s worth by the company (s)he keeps, Sir Charles was indeed remarkable: the pianist of choice for the Buck Clayton Jam Sessions; work with Coleman Hawkins early and late, with Charlie Parker both in the studio and on the air in Boston, with Lionel Hampton, Lester Young, Illinois Jacquet, Dexter Gordon, Buck Clayton, Danny Barker, Lucky Millinder, Shadow Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Stitt, Leo Parker, Pete Brown, J.J. Johnson, Milt Jackson, Jimmy Rushing, Earl Bostic, Ike Quebec, Buddy Tate, Paul Gonsalves, Paul Quinichette, Joe Williams, Harry Edison, Ben Webster, Eddie Condon, Jimmy Witherspoon, Bobby Hackett, Don Byas, Humphrey Lyttelton, Herbie Steward . . . and on and on.
If you want to hear more of Sir Charles, YouTube is full of musical evidence, from the 1945 sides with Bird and with Hawkins, all the way up to 2012 with Yoshio’s band (playing, among other things, RUSSIAN LULLABY) and as a speaking member of a panel — with Allan Eager and Hank Jones — talking about Charlie Parker.
But I will remember Sir Charles as the man who — in his own way and with his own sound — played a good deal like Basie, but understanding that impulse from within rather than copying him, adding in Fats, Wilson, and more advanced harmonies. His sound, his touch, and his swing are unmistakable, and although he lived a very long life and had a long performance career, his death leaves a void in the swing universe.
I’ll let the poetic pianist Ray Skjelbred have the last word: “He was a perfect player who knew the force of silence around his notes. An inspiration to me.”
There is a silence where Sir Charles Thompson used to be.
In 1936, these four men were the Modern Jazz Quartet. No, not John Lewis, Milt Jackson, Percy Heath, Connie Kay — but Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa. Forget for a moment all the ideological disdain to which Goodman has been subjected — as a successful Caucasian musician who made jazz a popular art form, as an idiosyncratic individual whose foibles have baffled and entertained many for years.
Rather, think of the enthralling effect of these records and performances had in 1936 (following logically on the Goodman Trio). How many houses were introduced to free-spirited small-group improvisation because of those Victor records? How many people, young and old, took up musical instruments or re-applied them to ones already known, because of the Quartet?
And — since we are always in danger of forgetting this — what prejudices and hatreds were gradually weakened by the knowledge that two of the admired musicians in the Quartet were “colored.” Could the race that produced Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton really be inferior?
For those who view jazz through the telescope of modernity, thus making the Quartet dusty and “harmonically and rhythmically limited,” Charlie Parker didn’t think so, and the home acetates of Bird improvising over the Goodman Trio and Quartet records of CHINA BOY and AVALON are evidence enough. It doesn’t require a great imaginative leap to hear echoes of the Goodman small groups in the “bebop revolution” less than a decade later: unison playing on variations on the theme, with fleet work by a reed soloist and a good deal of attention given to percussive counterpoint.
Consider all this as a prelude to a wonderful set of music performed at the 2014 San Diego Jazz Party by four players — international stars — honoring the Quartet. They are Antti Sarpila, clarinet; Rossano Sportiello, piano; John Cocuzzi, vibraphone; Ed Metz, drums. The repertoire was “standard” when the Quartet improvised on it, but it still has energy and freshness in 2014.
STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY:
THE MAN I LOVE:
TIME ON MY HANDS:
THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR THE SUNRISE:
All the virtues of the original Quartet are on display: its melodic inventiveness, its delightful witty interplay, its swinging rhythms, its indefatigable drive — but these four players honor rather than imitate, which is what the original Quartet did whenever they performed.
Between 2005 and 2008, the Dutch photographer and jazz scholar Jaap van de Klomp began a series of soulful pilgrimages in honor of the men and women who had created the music he so loves.
The result is the lovely and often sad book of photographs, JAZZ LIVES, which takes its subtitle, TILL WE SHALL MEET AND NEVER PART, from the words chiseled into Lester Young’s gravestone.
Every jazz lover knows the familiar photographs of our heroes and heroines: Billie Holiday with her dog; Louis Armstrong snappily dressed in London; Charlie Parker on the bandstand. But where are our idols now?
The two hundred and more pages of JAZZ LIVES document where their mortal remains lie: with elaborate gravestones, unmarked plots of overgrown land, monuments proud and forlorn. Jaap took his camera across the United States and Europe to capture these landscapes, resulting in a heartfelt pilgrimage to shrines of the dead. Each photograph is accompanied by a concise biography by Scott Yanow, and the book is organized by instruments once played.
The gravestones sometimes speak of posthumous reputation and fame: huge blocks of costly stone or unmarked areas of grass. A monument for Ellington and empty space for Bud Powell. An essay by Dan Morgenstern opens the book; one by the jazz musician and writer Bill Crow closes it. A simply written but evocative essay by the photographer himself explains something about his travels.
But the graves say so much — by presence and absence, reality and implication — about Scott Joplin, King Oliver, Serge Chaloff, Vic Dickenson, Andrew Hill, Sarah Vaughan, Illinois Jacquet, Django Reinhardt, Jack Teagarden, Britt Woodman, Al Grey, Johnny Dodds, Sidney Bechet, John Carter, Russell Procope, Pee Wee Russell, Jimmy Dorsey, Eric Dolphy, Willie the Lion Smith, Gigi Gryce, Roland Kirk, Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Wardell Gray, Stuff Smith, Red Norvo, Milt Jackson, Lionel Hampton, Hank Mobley, Jelly Roll Morton, Art Tatum, Lil Hardin Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Teddy Wilson, Herbie Nichols, Eddie Lang, Charlie Christian, Grant Green, Charles Mingus, Scott LaFaro, Milt Hinton, Jimmie Blanton, George Duvivier, Jo Jones, Zutty Singleton, Denzil Best, Billy Higgins, Sidney Catlett, Gene Krupa, Chick Webb, Ivie Anderson, Bessie Smith, Jimmy Rushing, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Johnny Hartman, Mary Lou Williams, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Billy Strayhorn, Sun Ra, Bennie Moten, W. C. Handy, Tadd Dameron, Benny Carter, Thad Jones, Oliver Nelson, and others.
To give some sense of the breadth of his searching, the gravestones of trumpet players included in this book are: Buddy Bolden, Bunk Johnson, Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Bix Beiderbecke, Hot Lips Page, Henry Red Allen, Cootie Williams, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Kenny Dorham, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Clifford Brown, Booker Little, Lee Morgan, Lester Bowie.
Jaap, born in 1940, has been involved with the music and the musicians for more than half a century, including Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Donald Byrd, Kenny Drew, and Kenny Clarke among others.
But he is not only a person of great feeling and a fine photographer. Jaap is one of those rare souls who wants to share what he has done. He wrote this to me, “The book which is sold out in the Netherlands by now will not be reprinted and has been proven to be physically too heavy for worldwide distribution. In this form I still hope to reach more jazz enthusiasts with a book which was a great pleasure to make.and which is still a very dear project to me.”
He has offered to make his book available as a digital download — for free — to anyone who emails him at email@example.com with JazzLives in the subject line. The whole book is about 150 MB and it might take a few minutes to download.
This is generosity without hidden motive, and it is a beautiful work of art and devotion.
Bassist, cellist, and composer Oscar Pettiford is in the odd position of being both legendary and forgotten (as Whitney Balliett wrote of Pee Wee Russell). If you ask any aficionado of jazz string bass playing to name a dozen favorites — living and dead — it’s likely that the names will come easily. But Pettiford’s is often not among them.
Yes, he died young, but not before performing and recording every famous musician (with some notable exceptions) in a short career. An incomplete list would include Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Tatum, Django Reinhardt, Les Paul, Charlie Christian, Gil Evans, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Woody Herman, Coleman Hawkins, Ray Charles, Stan Getz, Lucky Thompson, Charles Mingus, Zoot Sims, John Coltrane, Sonny Stitt, Julius Watkins, Ben Webster, Sammy Price, Ruby Braff, Mel Powell, Ellis Larkins, Max Roach, Shelly Manne, Billie Holiday, Red Norvo, Clifford Brown, Buddy De Franco, Phineas Newborn, Kai Winding, Roy Eldridge, Ray Brown, Lionel Hampton, Don Byas, Clyde Hart, Earl Hines, Budd Johnson, Joe Thomas, Pee Wee Russell, Jimmy Giuffre, Martial Solal, Attlia Zoller, Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Billy Eckstine, Cozy Cole, Shadow Wilson, Charlie Shavers, Johnny Hodges, Rex Stewart, Cootie Williams, Ed Hall, Lawrence Brown, Sonny Greer, Maxine Sullivan, Dick Hyman, Eddie Bert, Joe Derise, Ike Quebec, Jonah Jones, Buck Clayton, Helen Humes, Benny Harris, Boyd Raeburn, Serge Chaloff, Howard McGhee, Sir Charles Thompson, Wynonie Harris, Vic Dickenson, Red Rodney, Tal Farlow, Denzil Best, Jo Jones, Leo Parker, Al Haig, Al Hibbler, Nat Pierce, Bill Harris, Howard McGhee, J.J. Johnson, Art Taylor, Wynton Kelly, Lockjaw Davis, Jackie McLean, Kenny Clarke, Dave McKenna, Milt Jackson, John Lewis, Chris Connor, Hank Jones, Earl Coleman, Thad Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Donald Byrd, Billy Taylor, Chuck Wayne, Roy Haynes, Art Farmer, Gigi Gryce, Al Cohn, Frank Wess, Jimmy Cleveland, Barry Galbraith, Joe Morello, Joe Wilder, Harry Lookofsky, Jimmy Jones, Urbie Green, Ernie Royal, Herbie Mann, George Barnes, Clark Terry, Dave Schildkraut, Helen Merrill, Jimmy Raney, Horace Silver, Doug Mettome, Quincy Jones, Duke Jordan, Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham, Cecil Payne, Toots Thielmans, Red Garland.
This suggests that Oscar’s peers respected him and called him for gigs and recordings. It’s not as if he was obscure: his career was longer than, say, Blanton’s or Steve Brown’s. But, oddly for jazz, which loves to mythologize the musicians who die young and abruptly (and Pettiford died as the result of a 1960 automobile accident) he hasn’t received the benefit of the weird reverence fans and writers have for the young dead.
Of course, it could be that bass players don’t get the respect they and their instruments deserve, but it is and was hard to ignore Pettiford on a session. He offered a rhythmic foundation that was powerful rather than obtrusive, but when he soloed, his lines have the solid eloquence that any horn player would aspire to — while seeming light rather than ponderous. And as the list of players above suggests, his musical range was exceedingly broad: he wasn’t captured on record in free jazz or ragtime, but he elevated every other variety of jazz and jazz vocal performance he was part of. Had he lived longer, he might have enjoyed the visibility of a Milt Hinton or a Ray Brown, but we have only brief moments of him on film (the 1945 THE CRIMSON CANARY) and a few seconds of his speaking voice.
Surely he should be better known.
Enough words and keystrokes for the moment: listen to his 1960 feature on WILLOW WEEP FOR ME:
and here he is, playing his own BLUES IN THE CLOSET — from a little-known 1953 television broadcast — on cello (which he took to for a time after breaking an arm in a baseball game):
And his stirring solo on STARDUST:
Now, two pieces of good news that might go some distance in making Oscar’s name and music known to a larger audience. One is that there is a YouTube channel, PettifordJazz, with sixty videos of Pettiford solos, ensembles, and compositions. That means that no one has to start collecting Oscar’s music — it is being made available to all for free.
Oscar (or “O.P.”, as his colleagues called him) also spent the last two years of his life in Europe (mostly in Scandinavia and Germany), and recorded often there. Sessions with guitarist Attila Zoller have been issued and reissued on a variety of labels (in the vinyl era, they appeared on Black Lion) and a famous 1960 concert in Essen with Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke, and Coleman Hawkins was available forty years ago. Recordings made in 1958-59 for the German radio network have now been issued for the first time on compact disc, in beautiful sound, as OSCAR PETTIFORD: LOST TAPES — GERMANY 1958 / 1959, on SWR Music.
American expatriates Lucky Thompson (on soprano sax for a gorgeous, melancholy SOPHISTICATED LADY) and Kenny Clarke (drums on the final five performances of the disc) are the “stars,” but Zoller stands out as a beautifully measured guitarist.
And although some US critics of the time might have been condescending to European players, this disc shows their equal mastery. Trumpeter Dusko Goykovich duets with Oscar on the opening BUT NOT FOR ME. Other notable players here are clarinetist Rolf Kuhn; light-toned tenorist Hans Koller; baritone saxophonists Helmut Brandt, Helmut Reinhardt, Johnny Feigl; altoist Rudi Feigl; guitarist Hans Hammerschmid; drummers Jimmy Pratt and Hartwig Bartz. The songs are a mix of standards and originals: BUT NOT FOR ME / SOPHISTICATED LADY / A SMOOTH ONE / O.P. (Hans Koller) / MINOR PLUS A MAJOR (Kuhn) / POOR BUTTERFLY / ANUSIA (Hans Koller) / MY LITTLE CELLO (Pettiford) / THE NEARNESS OF YOU / YESTERDAYS / ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE / BLUES IN THE CLOSET (Pettiford) / BIG HASSLE (Hammerschmidt) / ATLANTIC (Helmut Brandt) / ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE / BLUES IN THE CLOSET — the last two are live performances.
And just because it’s accessible and stirring, here is that film clip — from an otherwise undistinguished 1945 murder mystery, THE CRIMSON CANARY, which features Hawk, Pettiford, Howard McGhee, trumpet; Sir Charles Thompson, piano; Denzil Best, on a fast SWEET GEORGIA BROWN line by Hawkins called HOLLYWOOD STAMPEDE:
Ultimately, I think if you’d asked Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington, or any number of jazz luminaries, “What about this O.P. fellow? Should I listen to him?” the answer would have been a very strong affirmative. So let us do just that. These tapes were lost, but have been found: spread the word about Oscar. Remind those who have forgotten; introduce those who never knew. “Learn it to the younguns!” as the youthful protagonist of Ellison’s INVISIBLE MAN hears at the start of that novel.
No, my title isn’t a reference to Robert Louis Stevenson, or the 1935 pop song recorded by Louis and Wingy Manone. It’s how I think of the back quadrant of the antiques-and-collectables shop called CAROUSEL on Warren Street in Hudson, New York. In a previous post, I happily showed off the Jelly Roll Morton HMV 78 I had uncovered . . . but I hadn’t bothered to look down. What I found was two boxes of 10″ and 12″ 78s and a few 10″ lps — many of them suggesting that their previous owner had far-ranging and excellent jazz taste. Here are my latest acquisitions, arranged in rough chronological order for the purists out there . . .
Let’s begin with some classic acoustic blues: two Columbias by a famous pair:
This one was fairly dull, but I didn’t expect roaring improvisation.
Well, we live in hope. SUSAN has some faux-hot playing in its final chorus, where potential buyers might not be scared away, but nothing memorable.
I recall this tune from Mildred Bailey’s little-girl version, but don’t know the vocalist.
This 78 is cracked, but this side’s a real prize. With the song taken at a slower tempo than usual, there’s a good deal of growling from Bubber Miley in the last minute of the record, out in the open and as part of the ensemble. A find!
What first caught my eye was the lovely UK label . . . then when I saw this and the next ones were mint Bings from 1933, I couldn’t resist. And Eddie Lang is added to the Royal Canadians. Legend has it that the British pressings are quiet and well-behaved. Is this true?
Not a memorable song, but I can hear Bing becoming pastoral as I type these words.
And my favorite of the four sides — a jaunty naughty song about love-addiction, and perhaps other things, too. I always knew that “I must have you every day / As regularly as coffee or tea,” didn’t entirely refer to Twining’s Earl Grey.
Now you’re talking my language! We jump forward into the Forties (I left aside a number of familiar Commodores and Keynotes, because of the economy) — with a record I’d only heard on an Onyx lp compilation. Here’s the original 12″ vinyl pressing, with “Theodocius,” as Mildred called him on a 1935 record, who was under contract to Musicraft at the time. A wonderful quintet!
And a tune that only one other jazz group (Benny Morton-Red Allen, 1933) ever recorded.
For whatever reason, 10″ jazz lps are even more scarce than 78s, so this one was a real surprise — even without its cover.
Just as good!
The other side of the ideological divide, but equally thrilling.
Did Mingus overdub his bass lines on this issue, I wonder?
Take it on faith that side 2 is exactly the same except for the altered digit. Now, to conclude — a pair of oddities!
I can see myself listening to this two-sided piece of history once, if that — but the near-mint record and the original sleeve made it an essential purchase. I’ll also send this photo to my friend, poet Amy King, who isn’t abdicating her throne any time soon.
Finally, a real gamble and entirely irresistible for that reason. The logical half of the brain says that what looks like “Hawk” will turn out to be “Hank,” singing about his girl Nona, accompanying himself on the musical saw. The hopeful side of the brain says “Coleman Hawkins, of course . . . ” Stay tuned! My next purchase, obviously, has to be a three-speed turntable.
And two antique-store stories, both cheering. In Carousel, the gentleman behind the counter saw me come puffing up with my armload of precious 78s. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the store does a brisk business in 78s, so he was happy to see me. “I have twelve,” I said, with that hopeful expectant canine look on my face that says, silently, “Can you give me a break on the price, especially if I don’t haggle with you?” His intuition was splendid. He grinned at me and said, “Looks like ten to me.” I was pleasantly flustered and said, conspiratorially, “You knew I was hoping for some sort of discount, didn’t you?” and his smile got bigger. “No,” he said, “I just count better than you do.” Very sweet indeed!
And a few days before this, the Beloved and I had spent some time in a store in an odd location — where, I don’t exactly remember. Its owner was even more amiable, even when we couldn’t find a thing to buy in his place, including gardening books and a small stash of vinyl records. But we had an exceedingly amusing and thoughtful conversation with him about the changing nature of the area, and how it affected local businesses. We exchanged friendly good wishes at the end, and went outside to get in the car. A few beats later, we saw him emerge from the store. “Did I tell you my clown joke?” he said, and we said no, he hadn’t — hoping for the best but expecting something positively weird or terrifying. (One never knows, do one?) “Two cannibals are eating a clown, and one of them looks at the other and says, suspiciously, ‘Does this taste funny to you?” It caught me by surprise and, after a moment for cogitation, we were laughing loudly. Now you can tell it to someone else.