Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Jimmie Noone film footage

Long ago I wrote of the elusive film footage of Jimmie Noone. My search came to naught, but thanks to hoffmanjazz, is is available on YouTube:

It ain't much, but something's better than nothing!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chu Berry - 'Maelstrom'

I remember playing this Chu Berry tune with Tom Baker, on my final day with him. I struggled with the unusual bridge!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

'Moon Love' - Mildred Bailey

Captivating melody, singing and arrangement:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Early Benny Carter

Musicians who live a long time often resent the attention paid to their earliest recordings, favouring their more recent output. It's understandable, of course - artists want to feel like they are improving. If Benny Carter was still alive today, I'm fairly certain he wouldn't approve of my preference for his earlier recordings - to me, his 1920s/30s/40s recordings are (together with Johnny Hodges and the like) the peak of swinging alto sax. After that, I find his sound less pleasing and his ideas not so unique. Have a listen to the sparkling articulation and tone he demonstrates with the Little Chocolate Dandies in 1929 on these two:

'That's the Way I Feel Today':

 'Six or Seven Times':

These two, by the similar Chocolate Dandies a year later, also show a big, woody clarinet sound that reminds me of Bechet in its authority:

 'Bugle Call Rag'

'Dee Blues'

Musicians may prefer to see their evolution as constant improvement, but listeners will always find the music that appeals most to them.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Lionel Hampton - not just a great vibraphone player

Long time, no post - I've been short on time, but thankfully not great music! There used to be a category in 'best jazz musician' polls for miscellaneous instruments (violinists, flautists, I'm looking at you!). It's easy to overlook these often great musicians just because they don't fit neatly into our established categories. I'm occasionally guilty of overlooking Lionel Hampton in just this way, but lately I've been digging the atmosphere of his small-group sessions particularly. Let's leave aside his own performances on vibraphone, drums, piano and vocals - they are celebrated elsewhere. I'm more fascinated by the atmosphere on his sessions, a casual yet focused feel that brings to mind the Teddy Wilson/Billie Holiday sessions and the best of Fats Waller's bands.

Here are a few of my current favourites, uploaded to YouTube in gloriously rich sound by SwingMan1937 (Thank you!).

 One of Johnny Hodges' ballad features:


 This one really swings:


 What a band - Red Allen, Sid Catlett, Charlie Christian, J.C. Higginbotham and more:


 Finally, dig this beautiful tune by saxophonist Toots Mondello:


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Climate change scepticism in jazz?

Three very different treatments of a lovely 1920s melody - 'It Was Only a Sun Shower'. If only Bix and Tram had recorded this - I can almost hear their version, in a similar vein to their classic recordings of 'Louise' and 'Three Blind Mice'.

Annette Hanshaw and her Sizzlin' Syncopators (Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti):

Ted Weems and his Orchestra (vocal from Dusty Roades):

The Rangers (vocal from Harold 'Scrappy' Lambert):

Friday, December 9, 2011

Three favourite moments from the Halfway House Orchestra

I've been extremely busy for the past few months, and at such times the majority of my listening occurs while driving. This week the sounds of Abbie Brunies' Halfway House Orchestra have been reverberating around my car (and my brain).

I could go on at great length about the wonders these twenty two recordings contain, but I'll keep such self-indulgence to a minimum and limit myself to just three of my favourite moments.

1. Leon Rappolo and Charlie Cordella's duet on 'Pussy Cat Rag':

This record steams along with remarkable rhythmic energy and aesthetic integrity, but the highlight for me is hearing the tragic genius Leon Rappolo (alto sax) and his protege Charlie Cordella (tenor sax) collaborate on a sax duet that is a true masterpiece of collaborative improvisation.

2. Sidney Arodin's clarinet solo on 'Just Pretending':

The later sessions by the Halfway House Orchestra feature a 'sweeter' sound at times, which makes for a delightful contrast between sugar-coated melodies and sunnily optimistic hot solos. The elusive Sidney Arodin reaches a pinnacle of creativity in his solo here. I marvel at his warm, open tone and relaxed phrasing.

3. Chink Martin and Joe Loyacano on 'Wylie Avenue Blues':

Slap bass and hot alto sax make a dynamic combination, one that occurs frequently throughout recorded music from the late 1920s. Chink Martin (bass) and Joe Loyacano (alto sax) collaborate here with infectious enthusiasm.

I highly recommend Jazz Oracle's CD release of the complete recordings of the Halfway House Orchestra!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Another great territory band

Here's some more territory band goodness from Lloyd Hunter's Serenaders, playing 'Sensational Mood', which was later 'acquired' and recorded by the Earl Hines band.

Interesting to see the record label lists the group as being 'under the direction of Victoria Spivey'. Full-time band vocalists were an oddity in the early twenties, but within a decade they were running the show!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Washboard Rhythm Kings Paradox

How can a band that recorded so prolifically be so shrouded in mystery? That's the paradox of the Washboard Rhythm Kings, a hot aggregation that at times featured trumpeter Taft Jordan and guitarist Teddy Bunn, along with a bizarre assortment of other musicians of mixed ability. Many of the musicians' identities are uncertain, some entirely unknown, yet there are dozens of recordings by the group under various pseudonyms.

What's most pleasing about the Washboard Rhythm Kings is their dual nature - they are wholly entertainers, singing bawdy lyrics and clowning audibly on their records, yet there is no doubt they are playing undiluted hot jazz. If only more musicians, past AND present, could find this balance!

Exhibit A - 'Hummin' to Myself':

Exhibit B - 'Tiger Rag'. To listen to the alto sax breaks and the tenor sax solo is to hear one of the chief inspirations of Australian sax stylist Ade Monsbourgh:

Exhibit C - 'Blue Drag':

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rhapsodic saxophonics

While Coleman Hawkins and Sidney Bechet differ in so many ways, one trait these saxophonists share is their masterful skill at playing a melody. They don't just state the melody though, they declare it. This rhapsodic approach is highly emotive and rhythmically flexible, perhaps showing some of the strengths inherent in the saxophone at its best.

Here's Hawkins' operatic rendition of 'How Deep is the Ocean' from 1943:

And the spine-tingling 'Bechet Creole Blues' from Sidney with Claude Luter's band in 1949: