Tag Archives: Sepia Series

NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY (1936)

I was originally going to title this post HIDE THE CHILDREN but then it occurred to me that my caution was excessive.  No actual obscenities are uttered on these sides and the children of 2015 often know and use casually what 1936 listeners would have called “bad words.”

But these records were startling discoveries to me, and they swung — with a cast of characters not renowned in jazz lore.  The records also weren’t under-the-counter “party records,” but issued in 1936 on a major label (Decca’s race series, but note the absence of “Sepia Series” on the label).

DON’T COME OVER:

and the reverse, more familiar, praise of the humble tuber on the commodities market:

HOT NUTS SWING:

Happily, I found the personnel as reported in Storyville 144, courtesy of the National Jazz Archive (UK) here —

STELLA JOHNSON Vocal, acc, by Dorothy Scott’s Rhythm Boys: Randolph Scott or Jimmy Strange, t; Bob Fagin, as; Dorothy Scott or Henry Gordon, p; Bob Tinsley, g, *Bassie* sb; Pete Peterson, d.  Chicago, Thursday, 10 Sept.1936:

90868-A Don’€™t Come Over De 7217

90869-A Hot Nuts Swing De 7217.

I offer no moral here, except to point out how good the band sounds, how adept the unheralded Bob Fagin is in the pre-Bird style, how effective the overall swing sounds.

On DON’T COME OVER, the device of creating a rhyme where the second rhyming word, unspoken, is clearly vulgar, must go back several centuries in vernacular folk music.  It is particularly intriguing because it requires listeners to reach into their personal word-hoards and come up, perhaps involuntarily, with the naughty word, the obscene punchline to the joke.  We become participants in the naughty playlet.  Consider that.

May your happiness increase!

GLENN CRYTZER and his SYNCOPATORS COME EAST (November 14, 2011)

I had admired HARLEM MAD, the new CD of Glenn Crytzer’s compositions — with a swinging ensemble that included Ray Skjelbred, Solomon Douglas, Meschiya Lake, Dave Brown, and other hot luminaries.  (If you’ve never heard the band, here’s my review:  https://jazzlives.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/harlem-mad-glenn-crytzer-and-his-syncopators/.

A small version of the Syncopators: Kevin Woods, trumpet; Pete Petersen, reeds; Solomon Douglas, piano; Glenn, guitar, vocal, original compositions; Mike Weatherly, string bass; Mark Ribera, drums — played several sets two nights ago at SALOON on the Upper East Side of New York City.  I was impressed: the group has a charging energy.  They’re a jump band, somewhere between the 1939 Goodman Sextet (Glenn likes that Charlie Christian fellow) and a Louis Jordan unit.  Frankly, although all the members of the band appear to be fair-skinned, they could pass easily for one of the small bands in the Decca studios in the late Thirties, making records for Decca’s “Sepia Series.”  Or a powerful version of the little band Lee and Lester Young led.  Hear for yourself.

Here are three selections from the first set (I would have liked to stay, but work beckoned with its bony finger):

An original by Glenn, its title not explained — but we don’t mind a little mystery — SKINNY MINNIE.  That’s Mr. Woods on the hot mouthpiece:

Here’s an undisguised homage to the 1939 Goodman Sextet, the Christian – Hampton blues, SOFT WINDS:

And the best for last — Glenn’s deadpan paean to elevation, THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER:

If you find fault with the lyrics or the concept, just remember it’s in praise of stilts, step-stools, elevator shoes, platform heels.

The Syncopators live up to their name.  And you can’t see the happy dancers — including the very hip Dawn Hampton and Lynn Redmile, but even the Beloved got out there and cut a very stylish rug on that floated wood floor.  Good job all ’round!