Not a well-known session, but a beautiful one.
I had the original red vinyl record — with its spacious sound — although it has either vanished or is in an inaccessible stack of lps. I’m thrilled that the stereo version is available on YouTube, and I wanted to share it with you.
Yellow Dog Blues : Don Ewell Quartet : Nappy Trottier, trumpet; Don Ewell, piano; Marty Grosz. guitar; Earl Murphy, string bass. Recorded in Chicago, August 21, 1959: ATLANTA BLUES / MICHIGAN WATER BLUES / TISHOMINGO BLUES / GEORGIA BO BO (Trottier out) / NEW ORLEANS HOP SCOP BLUES / BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME (Trottier out) / OLE MISS / YELLOW DOG BLUES (Trottier out).
The relaxation these four masters create is quite wonderful: Ewell keeps a fine swinging momentum at any tempo — he seems to float easily, never rushing; Trottier’s sound is huge and sweet; Murphy places the right notes in the right places. And the survivor of this session, Marty Grosz, makes everything glide and rock. Marty’s guitar sound is not what we who follow him might be used to: I asked Jim Gicking, Marty’s friend and fellow guitarist, who got the information straight from the source: “Marty was playing plectrum guitar, C-G-D-A, inspired by Condon who he heard met in mid-40s. ‘59 was his transition to 6 string in his unique tuning.” And something else I hadn’t known: “Earl Murphy started on tenor banjo in 20’s, with Art Hodes at a dancing school.”
The sound that Ewing D. Nunn (1900-77) got from his custom-made microphones was remarkably spacious, and his recordings sound like no one else’s. To descend into that rabbit-hole of his recording wizardry, click here.
Fully informed, let us savor these irreplaceable sounds: the kind of music that jazz artists create for the right audience or when there’s no audience — for their own delight, now ours.
MICHIGAN WATER BLUES:
GEORGIA BO BO:
NEW ORLEANS HOP SCOP BLUES:
BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME:
YELLOW DOG BLUES:
For first-hand reminiscences of Nappy Trottier, “who could really play,” by our hero Kim Cusack, recorded in 2018, please click here.
May your happiness increase!