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:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rediscovering 'My Silent Love'

I've been hearing this song for half my life, but I never really listened to it until today.

One of my musical heroes is the late US/honorary Australian multi-instrumentalist Tom Baker. He recorded 'My Silent Love' on one of his albums years ago, and while I've treasured the album, that particular track has held comparatively little of my time.

So I was astounded when listening to the Washboard Rhythm Kings playing 'My Silent Love' - the muted trumpet sounded just like Tom! This focused my attention on what a gorgeous melody it is. No wonder Tom chose to revive it.

Dig this dance band version - pretty straight, but a good melody doesn't need much improvement:

Albert Wynn's Gut Bucket Five in 1928

Here are two hot records by Chicago trombonist Albert Wynn's Gut Bucket Five in 1928, featuring the great New Orleans trumpeter Punch Miller.

Reedman Lester Boone is on clarinet and alto sax - he belongs to a group of largely forgotten hot sax players who played in a rough and ready but honest style. Listen to the Washboard Rhythm Kings or some of Louis Armstrong's early big band records for more of this infectious style of playing. It had a big impact on Australian reedmen like Ade Monsbourgh and Neville Stribling.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The composer himself

Now we are joined by George Gershwin himself at the piano for his own composition 'Someone to Watch Over Me':

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dicky Wells in Paris

While I have no strong desire to play the trombone myself, I'm a great fan of the best trombonists of the 1920s and 30s. J.C. Higginbotham, Miff Mole, Jack Teagarden, Jimmy Harrison are particular favourites. They share a rare combination of agility and creativity, unusual then and now.

Dicky Wells is another such trombonist. One of a handful of notable American musicians to visit Europe prior to World War II, Wells kept good musical company. In fact, the presence of Django Reinhardt on some of Wells' sessions has given them a high profile, due to the continued reverence of Django by successive generations of guitarists. The recording of 'I Found A New Baby' below is rarer, thanks to Django being replaced by Roger Chaput, an excellent if less impressive substitute:

Dig Bill Coleman and Django on this one: