Saturday, May 29, 2010

Descubriendo a Bix... ¡a estas alturas!

Pues sí, acabo -ayer por la tarde, como quien dice- de descubrir a Bix Beiderbecke, la impresionante corneta que "suena como cuando una chica te dice que sí". Y lo mejor de todo es que no me avergüenza lo más mínimo reconocerlo, más bien todo lo contrario: los felices 20 son la leche, en cuestiones musicales, y de hecho, recomendaría los discos de esa época también por sus indudables cualidades terapéuticas, porque es una música que, directamente, y para empezar, te hace feliz. Lo curioso es que, después de más de veinte años disfrutando a los Hot Five de Louis y a los Guindillas de Jelly Roll Morton, tanto como a Django y a Basie, a Monk y a Bill Evans, a Coltrane y a Sonny Rollins; después de casi tres décadas saboreando las joyas sonoras de Bessie (¡ah, esos LPs dobles maravillosos de los 70!), de Blind Blake, de Lonnie Johnson y todo el blues clásico habido y por haber... resulta que ¡había ignorado por completo al primer santo del jazz, al legendario Bix Beiderbecke!
¿Por qué? Pues no lo sé. Quizás por aquello de que lo de las "leyendas" en la música me ha olido siempre a titular de prensa amarillenta-rockera, y me fío más en principio de un músico que haya llevado una vida larga y más o menos fructífera, con tropecientas grabaciones a ser posible, y haya dejado este mundo de forma más o menos apacible -sin jubilarse nunca, por supuesto-, como Muddy Waters o Louis Armstrong, sin ir más lejos. Quizás por llevar la contraria a los críticos de jazz, que ya aburren con sus loas a "Kind of Blue" y demás. O tal vez, sencillamente, porque Beiderbecke era, a fin de cuentas, "un poco blanco" (el aficionado al jazz y al blues que diga que no es racista, miente como un bellaco y lo sabe). Craso error, mea culpa, y todo eso.
Pero, bueno, el caso es que en los últimos dos o tres años me ha dado la fiebre de redescubrir a los maestros de los 1920's, con ayuda del piano, la guitarra, la armónica (bueno, cualquier día me compro también una corneta en Si bemol a ver qué pasa), y sí, quizás, no escucha uno de igual manera a los Hot Five con veintitántos años que con cuarenta y tantos. Pero, en fin, el caso es que volver a escuchar casi a diario a Louis y a Bessie me ha llevado, entre otras cosas, a descubrir ahora a un puñado de magistrales trompeteros añejos como Jabbo Smith y Henry Red Allen (y otros posteriores también, como Ruby Braff o Bobby Hackett) y, por ende, al malogrado lider de los Wolverines. Es muy cierto que no pocas de las grabaciones de Bix, con las orquestas de Godlkette o Whiteman, suponen la desdicha acústica de soportar la intervenciones vocales de algún que otro indocumentado blanquito (no necesariamente Bing Crosby, por cierto) que casi rompe el hechizo de la manera más burda. Pero aún así, (y ahora comprendo perfectamente a la legión de aficionados que se han visto obligados durante décadas a superar ese inconveniente de los cantantes ridículos, siempre por una buena causa), cuando entra esa corneta dorada... ¡amigo, el arcángel Gabriel en persona tocando hot jazz!.

-Jay Bee Rodríguez

I'm Coming Virginia
(Donald Heywood)
OKeh 40843 . May 13, 1927. New York City, NY
FRANK TRUMBAUER AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Bix Beiderbecke (cnt); Bill Rank (tb); Frank Trumbauer (Cms); Doc Ryker (as); Don Murray (cl, bar); Irving Riskin (p); Eddie Lang (g, bj); Chauncey Morehouse (d)).

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Great Blues Guitarists: String Dazzlers (1924-1940)

Ten excellent blues guitarists are heard on 20 selections dating from 1924-40 on this enjoyable CD reissue from the Columbia/ Legacy series. Included are Sylvester Weaver (the first blues guitarist to record an unaccompanied solo), the team of Lonnie Johnson & Eddie Lang (who are heard on a pair of duets and with singer Texas Alexander), the influential Big Bill Broonzy (superb on "How You Want It Done?"), the always passionate Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Casey Bill Weldon, Blind Lemon Jefferson ("Black Snake Moan"), Joshua White and Tampa Red. Three previously unheard selections are included on this fine overview but completists will probably prefer to skip over the set in favor of the more comprehensive Document CD's. ~ Scott Yanow


01. Hot Fingers - Lonnie Johnson & Eddie Lang
02. A Handful of Riffs -
Lonnie Johnson & Eddie Lang
03. Work Ox Blues - Texas Alexander with Lonnie Johnson
04. I'm Busy and You Can't Come In - Sylvester Weaver
05. Georgia Rag - Blind Willie McTell
06. Warm It up to Me - Blind Willie McTell
07. When the War Was On - Blind Willie Johnson
08. Nobody's Fault But Mine - Blind Willie Johnson
09. How You Want It Done? - Big Bill Broonzy
10. Getting Older Every Day - Big Bill Broonzy
11. Guitar Swing - Casey Bill Weldon
12. Bull Frog Moan - Lonnie Johnson, Eddie Lang
13. Black Snake Moan - Blind Lemon Jefferson
14. Little Brother Blues - Josh White
15. Prodigal Son - Josh White
16. Denver Blues - Tampa Red
17. Away Down in the Alley Blues - Lonnie Johnson
18. I Love You, Mary Lou - Lonnie Johnson


hot jazz and cool blues

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Barrelhouse Boogie: Jimmy Yancey, Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis, Pete Johnson (1936-41)

Antologías más o menos interesantes de boogie-woogie hay por ahí unas cuantas. Ésta tiene varias particularidades que la convierten en indispensable: sonido inmaculado (estamos en los años 30); presentación gráfica y documental impecables también, como corresponde a toda la serie de blues de RCA-Bluebird de los 90, y una selección de temas que resulta muy acertada y representativa del estilo, además de incluir dos joyas, dos: las únicas intervenciones vocales de la carrera discográfica del maestro Jimmy Yancey. El padre fundador del Boogie con mayúsculas fue también, a juzgar por ellas (Crying In My Sleep, Death Letter Blues), un magnífico cantante de la onda tranqui y sombría, y sólo podemos lamentar que, debido a las siempre tendenciosas ocurrencias de los productores de turno, a nadie se le ocurriera grabar su voz en otras ocasiones. No es el único Yancey que quiero en mi colección, pero puede muy bien ser la introducción perfecta.
-Jay Bee Rodríguez



The four most important boogie-woogie pianists are all represented on this enjoyable CD. Meade Lux Lewis performs a 1936 remake of his classic "Honky Tonk Train Blues" and accompanies himself on "Whistlin' Blues"; the subtle Jimmy Yancey plays ten solos from 1939-40; and Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons (with drummer James Hoskins) jam on nine duets from 1940-41. Although there are more complete reissues of the pianists' work available from European labels, this Bluebird set gives listeners a strong sampling of boogie-woogie during its prime years. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

All aboard!
01. Honky Tonk Train Blues -- Meade "Lux" Lewis
02. Whistlin' Blues -- Meade "Lux" Lewis
03. Yancey Stomp -- Jimmy Yancey
04. State Street Special -- Jimmy Yancey
05. Tell 'em About Me -- Jimmy Yancey
06. Five O'Clock Blues -- Jimmy Yancey
07. Slow And Easy Blues -- Jimmy Yancey
08. The Mellow Blues -- Jimmy Yancey
09. Crying In My Sleep -- Jimmy Yancey *
10. Death Letter Blues -- Jimmy Yancey *
11. Yancey's Bugle Call -- Jimmy Yancey
12. 35th And Dearborn -- Jimmy Yancey
13. Boogie Woogie Man -- Albert Ammons - Pete Johnson
14. Boogie Woogie Jump -- Albert Ammons - Pete Johnson
15. Barrelhouse Boogie -- Albert Ammons - Pete Johnson
16. Cuttin' The Boogie -- Albert Ammons - Pete Johnson
17. Foot Pedal Boogie -- Albert Ammons - Pete Johnson
18. Walkin' The Boogie -- Albert Ammons - Pete Johnson
19. Sixth Avenue Express -- Albert Ammons - Pete Johnson
20. Pine Creek -- Albert Ammons - Pete Johnson
21. Movin' The Boogie -- Albert Ammons - Pete Johnso

Jimmy Yancey, 1946El maestro Yancey en 1946.

Personnel: Jimmy Yancey (piano, vocals in *), Meade Lux Lewis, Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons (pianos). Additional personnel: James F. Hoskins (drums on Pete Johnson & Albert Ammons tracks).
Recorded in Chicago, Illinois and New York between 1936 and 1941. Includes liner notes by Art Hodes and a discography.
All songs written by their respective performers.

hot jazz and cool blues

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Louis Armstrong's Potato Head Blues


Potato Head Blues (1927)

"Louis Armstrong and his Potato Head Blues... one of the reasons why life deserves to be lived." (Woody Allen in 'Manhattan')

Here's a transcription of this wonderful Louis' tune I did recently both in standard notation and tab for guitar. And here are my versions of some more great Satchmo's tunes played on diatonic amplified harmonica! -Jay Bee



Recording's details:

Louis Armstrong (trumpet), Johnny Dodds (clarinet), Lil Hardin (piano), Johnny St. Cyr (banjo), Babby Dodds (drums), John Thomas (trombone), Pete Briggs (tuba). Composed by Louis Armstrong. Recorded: Chicago, May 10, 1927.
"Hello Dolly" and "What A Wonderful World" may get the airplay. "West End Blues" might receive more praise in the jazz history books. But, frankly, "Potato Head Blues" encapsulates Louis Armstrong's artistry as well as any recording he made during his half-century long career. The authority of his phrasing and the grandeur of his tone dominate the soundspace, and his stop-time chorus stands out as the most impressive solo of its time. I dare say no other horn player in the Spring of 1927 could have matched this achievement, and one merely need compare Armstrong's performance here with Oliver, Keppard and his other predecessors to see how far he pushed the art form ahead at this critical juncture. This set a new bar for the trumpet but also—and more profoundly—changed the essence of jazz ensemble playing. The collective sound of early New Orleans jazz was now replaced by an emphasis on the individual soloist. Tone and textures no longer signified as much as virtuosity and daring. Only a towering talent could have spurred this transition, one which still shapes jazz music so many decades later. Potato head? What an inadequate name for such a world-changing work, more deserving of commemoration in granite or marble. (jazz.com)

More on this great Louis' classic here real soon!

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Jay Bee Rodríguez's Some Hot Blues Harp
"Potato Head Blues" on YouTube.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Alberta Hunter and others: Better Boot That Thing - Great Women Blues Singers of the 1920's

Alberta Hunter - Bessie Tucker - Victoria Spivey - Ida Mae Mack

There's remarkable variety among these four singers from the classic era of blues, when women dominated and urban and rural styles were a world apart. The most varied and versatile is urbanite Alberta Hunter, with her lilting voice, sweet vibrato and early-jazz rhythm. A vaudeville veteran, Hunter offers a delightfully actresslike delivery and a cheerful, warming personality; she writes interesting songs, too, and she negotiates difficult lines with ease. Ida May Mack proves quite Bessie Smith-inspired, though with a smaller voice and nothing even faintly like Smith`s rhythmic sophistication. Bessie Tucker is penetrating and primitive, with a stark alto voice and stark pentatonic lines casting a spell of dark desperation; note especially the long, low moan with which she opens ``Penitentiary.`` Urban blueswoman Victoria Spivey, despite lingering vaudeville in her setting and delivery, is in some ways the most rewarding, hard-core blueswoman here. Powerful vignettes like "Blood Hound Blues" and "Dirty Tee Bee Blues"` are near-masterpieces of blues documentary-few other blues composers have revealed such an original, tough-minded yet compassionate point of view. -John Litweiler (Chicago Tribune)


Alberta Hunter
01. I'll Forgive You 'Cause I Love You 2:53
02. I'm Gonna Lose Myself Way Down In Louisville 3:07
03. My Daddy's Got A Brand New Way To Love 2:53
04. Sugar 3:18 (Organ - Fats Waller)
05. Beale Street Blues 3:15 (Organ - Fats Waller)
Bessie Tucker
06. Fort Worth And Denver Blues 3:21
07. Penitentiary 3:31
08. Better Boot That Thing 2:38
09. Bogey Man Blues 2:47
10. Whistling Woman Blues 3:11
Victoria Spivey
11. Blood Hound Blues 2:36
12. Dirty Tee Bee Blues 3:06
13. Moaning The Blues 3:00
14. Telephoning The Blues 3:08
15. Showered With Blues 2:54
Ida May Mack
16. Wrong Doin' Daddy 3:16
17. Elm Street Blues 3:17
18. When You Lose Your Daddy 3:09
19. Mr. Forty Nine Blues 3:04
20. Good-Bye Rider 3:12


Vocals:
Alberta Hunter (tracks: 1 to 5)
Bessie Tucker (tracks: 6 to 10)
Victoria Spivey (tracks: 11 to 15)
Ida Mae Mack (tracks: 16 to 20)

Saxophone [Soprano] - Charlie Holmes (tracks: 11 to 14)
Saxophone [Tenor] - Teddy Hill (tracks: 11 to 14)
Trombone - J.C. Higginbotham (tracks: 11 to 14)
Trumpet - Henry Allen* (tracks: 11 to 14)
Bass - G. Foster (tracks: 11 to 14)
Organ - Fats Waller (tracks: 4 to 5)
Guitar - Jesse Thomas* (tracks: 8 to 10) , W.K. Johnson (tracks: 11 to 15)
Piano - K.D. Johnson (tracks: 6 to 10, 11 to 15) , Lewis Russell* (tracks: 11 to 15)
Mike Jackson (4) (tracks: 1 to 3)

Recorded from 1927 to 1930.
Transferred to digital tape from metal parts at BMG Recordings Studios, May 1992. Digitally remastered at BMG Recordings Studios, New York City, June 1992.

hot jazz and cool blues

Jelly Roll Morton - Birth Of The Hot (1926-27)

When in 1995 RCA reissued 19 titles and four alternate takes from the first nine months of Jelly Roll Morton's adventure as a Victor recording artist, the producers elected to christen the album "Birth of the Hot". This title, which is a takeoff on that of Miles Davis' 1949 Birth of the Cool album (later echoed in modified phraseology by the Gil Evans Impulse LPs Out of the Cool and Into the Hot) accurately pegs these exciting 1926-1927 recordings as archetypal manifestations of the classic New Orleans "hot" jazz style that Morton pioneered first as a pianist, then with a series of groups that paved the way for the successes of his supremely adept and well-rehearsed Red Hot Peppers band. This excellent sampler ought to whet the appetite for a larger selection of Morton's works as reissued by numerous labels including Classics, Proper, JSP, and of course RCA Victor. If all you need is a straight shot of Jelly, this is the genuine article. ~ arwulf arwulf

01 Black Bottom Stomp
02 Smoke House Blues
03 The Chant
04 Sidewalk Blues [Take 3]
05 Dead Man Blues [Take 1]
06 Steamboat Stomp
07 Someday Sweetheart
08 Grandpa's Spells [Take 3]
09 Original Jelly-Roll Blues
10 Doctor Jazz
11 Cannon Ball Blues [Take 2]
12 Hyena Stomp
13 Billy Goat Stomp
14 Wild Man Blues
15 Jungle Blues
16 Beale Street Blues
17 The Pearls
18 Wolverine Blues
19 Mr. Jelly Lord
20 Sidewalk Blues [Take 2]
21 Dead Man Blues [Take 2]
22 Grandpa's Spells [Take 2]
23 Cannon Ball Blues [Take 1]

Digitally remastered by Dennis Ferrante.

Red Hot Pepper Sessions

Recorded at the Webster Hotel and Victor Talking Machine Recording Laboratory, Chicago, Illinois between September 15, 1926 and June 10, 1927. Includes liner notes by Lawrence Gushee and Orrin Keepnews.

Personnel: Jelly Roll Morton (vocals, piano); Johnny St. Cyr (guitar, banjo); Bud Scott (guitar); Clarence Black, J. Wright Smith (violin); Omer Simeon (clarinet, bass clarinet); Darnell Howard, Johnny Dodds, Barney Bigard (clarinet); Stump Evans (alto saxophone); George Mitchell (cornet); Gerald Reeves, Kid Ory (trombone); Quinn Wilson (tuba); Andrew Hilaire, Baby Dodds (drums).



Jelly Roll Morton was at a creative peak in Chicago in 1926 and '27, surrounded by first-rate fellow New Orleans musicians and with plenty of opportunities to record. Many of the musicians who contributed to Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings appear here--trombonist Kid Ory, banjoist Johnny St. Cyr, clarinetist Johnny Dodds, and his drummer brother Baby Dodds--while George Mitchell contributes sterling cornet leads. Each track is a compressed masterpiece, a jigsaw puzzle of written composition, improvised ensembles, solos and duets, often with sound effects and bantering comic patter thrown in. "Black Bottom Stomp" and "The Chant" are brilliant examples of Morton's energized fusion of contrasting elements, while the piquant "Someday Sweetheart," with its combination of violins, guitar, and Omer Simeon's bass clarinet, demonstrates Morton's inventiveness as an orchestrator. From low humor to high mimicry, Morton was an artist of ebullient spirit who brought the whole of his experience to the recording studio: the car horn of "Sidewalk Blues," the forced laughter of "Hyena Stomp," and the barnyard vocals of "Billy Goat Stomp." By contrast, the final Chicago session includes compact trio performances of "Wolverine Blues" and "Mr. Jelly Lord" by Morton and the Dodds brothers that are refined intersections of ragtime and jazz improvisation. --Stuart Broomer

More reviews:

While there are many Jelly Roll Morton recordings on the market today, none are as superbly digitally remastered or include such a fine selection of tunes from Morton. Jelly Roll indeed was his hottest between 1926-27. These songs are IT -- the essence of New Orleans jazz. "Black Bottomed Stomp," "Sidewalk Blues," "Dr. Jazz," "The Chant" -- they're all here. Quite frankly, I have over 100 jazz CD's and this one ranks in my top ten. I could write a paragraph about each song on the album -- from the sizzling clarinet solo in "Black Bottomed Stomp," to the shouting and car horn included in "Side Walk Blues," to the sad melodic wailing in "Dead Man Blues." In recent years, many jazz artists, such as Dick Hyman, have tried re-create these old recordings themselves. But the truth is no one can quite capture that frenetic yet completely coherent excitement that is distinctly Morton.


hot jazz and cool blues

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"Jelly Roll Morton is one of the great figures of jazz music . . . He is also one of the best pianists I have ever heard . . . The music on every side is almost uniformly magnificent ... I must also mention the trio records . . . It is through them that he gave us a very large part of his touching music . . . long before Benny Goodman s trip, which was presented to the public as an innovation and which always remained far below the Morton Trio's per­formances. . . " -H. Panassie, Jazz Information, 1941.

"Doctor Jazz reveals most of the qualities of classic jazz in their fullest development. It is difficult to exhaust its variety: wide contrast of timbres; African polyrhythms; breaks; chain-breaks and solos; head' ar­rangement; free polyphony and Afro-American variation shown by the constant mutations of rhythmic pattern, tone, instrumentation, and melody." -R. Blesch, Shining Trumpets, 1945.

"If you never heard Jelly Roll at his best, you ain't never heard jazz piano. . " -Bud Scott

MISTER JELLY ROLL

The Fortunes Of Jelly Roll Morton, New Orleans Creole and Inventor Of Jazz by Alan Lomax with Drawings by David Stone Martin Also with some sheet music and lyrics samples - Complete Online Book here.



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Lonnie Johnson - Playing with the Strings (1925-32)

Lonnie Johnson, prácticamente el inventor de los bendings en la guitarra, una influencia decisiva sobre maestros como T-Bone Walker, Django Reinhart o B.B. King, por citar sólo tres nombres indispensables. En otra ocasión daremos un repaso más detenido a la formidable carrera de este cantante de blues (y violinista, y más cosas) pero sobre todo magistral guitarrista. De momento, y para abrir boca, valga esta antología, remasterizada por John RT Davies, junto a algunos de los más ilustres grupos y músicos de los años 20 y 30.
Verdaderamente, están casi todos: King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Clarence Williams, Eddie Lang, Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Dodds, Duke Ellington...
-Jay Bee Rodríguez


From the 1920s to the 1960s, guitarist Lonnie Johnson broke new ground for jazz and blues guitar, performing stunning displays of
six-string virtuosity on recordings with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Kid Ory, and on numerous solo efforts. But, perhaps because he was so versatile--jumping between hundreds of Delta blues and hot-jazz studio sessions--he's never received his due accolades for being one of the great guitar pioneers. Playing with the Strings captures Johnson's earliest output, from the 1925 recordings with Charlton Creath's Jazz-O-Maniacs to the stunning 1932 solo 78 he recorded featuring "I'm Nuts About That Gal" and "Racketeers Blues." JSP's compilation shows how, in just seven years, Johnson went from playing in Louis Armstrong's Hot Five to working with Duke Ellington to performing in one of the first interracial studio sessions with Eddie Lang, King Oliver, and Hoagy Carmichael (all performing as Blind Willie Dunn's Gin Bottle Four). Throughout, Johnson is in top form on guitar, picking single-note lines in a fashion that would anticipate future jazz guitar sounds. We can hear Johnson playing other instruments, too--kazoo, violin, and banjo--but his guitar mastery steals the show. JSP's transfers of these old 78s are at times spotty, but it's still a great collection of classic tunes. ~ Jason Verlinde

Digitally remastered by John R.T. Davies.

Recording information: Chicago, IL (01/20/1926-02/07/1941); Memphis, TN (01/20/1926-02/07/1941); New York, NY (01/20/1926-02/07/1941); St. Louis, MO (01/20/1926-02/07/1941).

Personnel includes: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Eddie Lang, King Oliver, Clarence Williams, Johnny Hodges, Kid Ory.



1. Won't Don't Blues (St.Louis, MO, Nov. 2, 1925) - 3:07
Charlton Creath's Jazz-O-Maniacs
Banjo - Pete Petterson
Clarinet, Saxophone [Alto] - Horace Eubanks
Piano - Cranston Hamilton
Saxophone [Alto] - Sam Long
Saxophone [Tenor] - William Rollins
Trumpet - Leonard Davis
Violin - Lonnie Johnson
02. Mr. Johnson's Blues (St.Louis, MO, November 4, 1925) - 2:42
Piano - John Arnold Vocals - Lonnie Johnson
03. Falling Rain Blues (St.Louis, MO, November 4, 1925) - 3:05
Piano - John Arnold Violin, Vocals - Lonnie Johnson
04. Now Good Blues (New York, January 20, 1926) - 2:37
05. Newport Blues (New York, January 20, 1926) - 2:38
James 'Steady Roll' Johnson
Banjo - Lonnie Johnson
Piano - De Louise Soarcy
Vocals, Violin - James Johnson
06. Nile Of Genago (New York, January 20, 1926) - 2:46
Guitar - James 'Steady Roll' Johnson (older brother of Lonnie Johnson)
07. To Do This You Gotta Know How (New York, Jan 20, 1926) - 3:10
Guitar - Lonnie Johnson
08. Four Hands Are Better Than Two (New York, Jan 20, 1926) - 3:27
Guitar - Lazy Harris
Piano - John Erby


09. I'm Not Rough (Chicago, December 10, 1927) - 3:04
10. Hotter Than That (Chicago, December 13, 1927) - 3:04
11. Savoy Blues (Chicago, December 13, 1927) - 3:31
Louis Armstrong And His Hot Five
Guitar - Lonnie Johnson
Banjo - Johnny St. Cyr
Piano - Lil Armstrong
Trombone - Kid Ory
Vocals, Trumpet - Louis Armstrong
12. Playing With The Strings (Memphis, Tenn, 21.02.1928) - 2:59
13. Stompin' 'Em Along Slow (Memphis, Tenn, 21.02.1928) - 2:55
Guitar - Lonnie Johnson
14. The Moochie (New York, October 1, 1928) - 3:20
15. Move Over (New York, October 1, 1928) - 3:10
16. Hot And Bothered (New York, October 1, 1928) - 3:23
Duke Ellington And His Orchestra
Guitar - Lonnie Johnson
Banjo - Fred Guy
Clarinet, Saxophone [Alto] - Johnny Hodges
Clarinet, Saxophone [Alto], Saxophone [Bariton] - Harry Carney
Clarinet, Saxophone [Tenor] - Barney Bigard
Drums - Sonny Greer
Piano, Leader - Duke Ellington
Saxophone [Bariton] - Wellman Braud
Trombone - Joe Nanton
Trumpet - Arthur Whetsol , Bubber Miley
Violin - Baby Cox , The Palmer Brother
17. Paducah (New York, October 13, 1928) - 3:00
18. Star Dust (New York, October 13, 1928) - 3:01
The Chocolate Dandies
Guitar - Lonnie Johnson
Banjo - Dave Wilborn
Bass - Escudero
Clarinet - Don Redman , George Thomas , Milton Senior , Prince Robinson
Drums - Cuba Austin
Leader - Don Redman
Piano - Todd Rhodes
Saxophone [Alto] - Don Redman , Milton Senior
Saxophone [Tenor] - George Thomas , Prince Robinson
Trombone - Claude Jones
Trumpet - John Nesbit , Langston Curl
Vocals - Dave Wilborn , Don Redman , George Thomas

19. Jet Black Blues (New York 30.04.1929) - 3:05
20. Blue Blood Blues (New York 30.04.1929) - 3:02
The Blind Willi Dunn's Gin Bottle Four
Cornet - Joe "King" Oliver
Drums - Hoagy Carmichael
Guitar - Lonnie Johnson, Eddie Lang
Piano - J.C. Johnson
Vocals [Scat] - Hoagy Carmichael
21. Sitting On The Top Of The World (New York, Sep 9, 1930) - 3:06
22. Kansas City Man Blues (New York, September 9, 1930) - 2:58
Clarence Williams' Jug Band
Guitar - Lonnie Johnson
Clarinet - Charlie
Cornet - Ed Allen
Jug - Clarence Williams
Piano - Charlie
Saxophone [Tenor] - Charlie
Trombone - Charlie
23. I'm Nuts About That Gal (New York, Aug 12, 1932) - 3:14
24. Racketeers Blues (New York, August 12, 1932) - 3:12
Guitar, Vocals - Lonnie Johnson

Hot Jazz and cool Blues

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The Art of Bix Beiderbecke (1924-30)

In 2006 Primo brought out a 40-track collection entitled The Art of Bix Beiderbecke. Loosely covering a time span extending from June 20, 1924 to May 21, 1930, this pleasantly jumbled portrait touches briefly upon Bix's early work with the Wolverine Orchestra and the Sioux City Six; revisits his collaborations with C melody saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer, and stirs in examples of Beiderbecke leading his Rhythm Jugglers, his Gang and his Orchestra. Also included is evidence of Bix's adventures as a member of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and two titles -- "Rockin' Chair" and "Barnacle Bill the Sailor" -- recorded at what turned out to be the second to last session Bix would ever participate in. Already ill and seated in a chair, he blew his cornet alongside trumpeter Bubber Miley, another brilliant musician whose life and career would soon be snuffed out by alcoholism. This group, led by vocalist Hoagy Carmichael, also included trombonist Tommy Dorsey, clarinetist Benny Goodman, tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman, violinist Joe Venuti, guitarist Eddie Lang, drummer Gene Krupa and featured vocals (on "Barnacle Bill") by a gruff-voiced character named Carson Robison. Stepping back and admiring Primo's The Art of Bix Beiderbecke as a dizzy blend of classic jazz recordings cut over a transitional six year period, it seems like an excellent way to listen to highlights from the Beiderbecke legacy. The other way to do it is to consult tidier, better organized, chronologically stacked "Bixologies." The more casual method, in this case, works nicely even if it gives the listener no sense whatsoever of a temporal stylistic progression. That is clearly not what the folks at Primo had in mind. -All Music Guide

Disc 1:

01. Singin' the Blues (3:02)
02. Trumbology (3:02)
03. Clarinet Marmalade (3:15)
04. Riverboat Shuffle (3:16)
05. I'm Coming Virginia (3:15)
06. Way Down Yonder in New Orleans (2:56)
07. Fidgety Feet (2:28)
08. Jazz Me Blues (2:49)
09. Copenhagen (2:32)
10. Sensation (2:42)
11. I'm Glad (3:14)
12. Toddlin' Blues (2:47)
13. Davenport Blues (2:52)
14. In a Mist (2:46)
15. For No Reason at All in C (3:07)
16. Wringin' and Twistin' (3:01)
17. Three Blind Mice (3:08)
18. Humpty Dumpty (3:07)
19. Krazy Kat (3:06)
20. Baltimore (3:04)

Disc 2:

1. At the Jazz Band Ball (3:00)
2. Royal Garden Blues (3:10)
3. Jazz Me Blues (3:12)
4. Goose Pimples (3:23)
5. Sorry (3:00)
6. Clementine (From New Orleans) (3:04)
7. Changes (2:52)
8. There Ain't No Sweet Man That's Worth the Salf of My Tears (3:36)
9. Lonely Melody (2:59)
10. You Took Advantage of Me (2:58)
11. Rockin' Chair (3:29)
12. Barnacle Bill the Sailor (2:51)
13. Mississippi Mud (3:15)
14. Japanese Sandman (3:26)
15. Cryin' All Day (3:10)
16. Good Man Is Hard to Find (3:08)
17. Since My Best Gal Turned Me Down (3:11)
18. Somebody Stole My Gal (3:02)
19. Rhythm King (3:27)
20. Ol' Man River (3:07)

Hot Jazz and Cool Blues

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Bix Beiderbecke

Leon Bismark "Bix" Beiderbecke (March 10, 1903 – August 6, 1931) was an American jazz cornetist, pianist, and composer. With Louis Armstrong, Beiderbecke was one of the two most influential jazz soloists of the 1920s. His turns on "Singin' the Blues" (1927) and "I'm Coming, Virginia" (1927), in particular, demonstrated an unusual purity of tone and a gift for improvisation. They helped to invent the jazz ballad style and hinted at what, in the 1950s, would become cool jazz. "In a Mist" (1927), one of a handful of his piano compositions but the only one he recorded, mixed classical influences with jazz syncopation; its complex harmonic structure served as a preview of the bebop revolution. Beiderbecke has also been credited for his influence, directly, on Bing Crosby and, indirectly, on Lester Young.

A native of Davenport, Iowa, Beiderbecke taught himself to play cornet largely by ear, leading him to adopt a non-standard fingering that some critics have connected to his original sound. He first recorded with the Midwestern jazz ensemble the Wolverines in 1924, after which he played briefly for the Detroit-based Jean Goldkette Orchestra before joining Frankie "Tram" Trumbauer for an extended gig at the Arcadia Ballroom in St. Louis, Missouri. Beiderbecke and Trumbauer both joined Goldkette in 1926. The band toured widely and famously played a set opposite Fletcher Henderson at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City in October 1926. The following year, Trumbauer and Beiderbecke left Detroit to join the best-known and most prestigious dance orchestra in the country: the New York–based Paul Whiteman Orchestra.

Beiderbecke's most influential recordings date from his time with Goldkette and Whiteman, although they were generally recorded under his own name or Trumbauer's. The Whiteman period also marked a precipitous decline in Beiderbecke's health, brought on by the demand of the bandleader's relentless touring and recording schedule and Beiderbecke's persistent alcoholism. Multiple stints in rehabilitation centers, as well as the support of Whiteman and the Beiderbecke family in Davenport, did not check Beiderbecke's fall. He left the Whiteman band in 1930 and the following summer died in his Queens apartment at the age of twenty-eight.

His death, in turn, gave rise to one of the original legends of jazz. In magazine articles, musicians' memoirs, novels, and Hollywood films, Bix Beiderbecke has been reincarnated as a Romantic hero, the "Young Man with a Horn". His life has been portrayed as a battle against such bourgeois obstacles to art as family, commerce, even hygiene, while his death has been seen as a kind of martyrdom. The musician-critic Benny Green has sarcastically called Beiderbecke "jazz's Number One Saint," while Ralph Berton has more earnestly compared him to Jesus. The historical Beiderbecke, meanwhile, has often been the subject of scholarly controversy regarding his true name, his sexual orientation, the cause of his death, and the importance of his contributions to jazz in relation to those of African American players of the same period.

Style and influence

Bix Beiderbecke and his friend Louis Armstrong were among jazz's first soloists. In New Orleans, jazz had been ensemble playing, with the various instruments weaving their parts into a single and coherent aural tapestry. There had been soloists, to be sure, with the clarinetist Sidney Bechet the best known among them, but these players "lacked the technical resources and, even more, the creative depth to make the solo the compelling centerpiece of jazz music." That changed in 1924 when Beiderbecke and Armstrong began to make their most important records. According to the critic Terry Teachout, they are "the two most influential figures in the early history of jazz" and "the twin lines of descent from which most of today's jazz can be traced."

Beiderbecke's cornet style is often described by contrasting it with Armstrong's markedly different approach. Armstrong was a virtuoso on his instrument, and his solos often took advantage of that fact. Beiderbecke was largely, although not completely, self-taught, and the constraints imposed by that fact were evident in his music. While Armstrong often soared into the upper register, Beiderbecke stayed in the middle range, more interested in exploring the melody and harmonies than in dazzling the audience. Armstrong often emphasized the performance aspect of his playing, while Beiderbecke tended to stare at his feet while playing, uninterested in personally engaging his listeners. Armstrong was deeply influenced by the blues, while Beiderbecke was influenced as much by modernist composers such as Debussy and Ravel as by his fellow jazzmen.

Beiderbecke's most famous solo was on "Singin' the Blues," recorded February 4, 1927. It has been hailed as an important example of the "jazz ballad style"—"a slow or medium-tempo piece played gently and sweetly, but not cloyingly, with no loss of muscle." The tune's laid-back emotions hinted at what would become, in the 1950s, the cool jazz style, personified by Chet Baker and Bill Evans. More than that, though, "Singin' the Blues" has been noted for the way its improvisations feel less improvised than composed, with each phrase building on the last in a logical fashion. Benny Green describes the solo's effect on practiced ears:

When a musician hears Bix's solo on 'Singing the Blues', he becomes aware after two bars that the soloist knows exactly what he is doing and that he has an exquisite sense of discord and resolution. He knows also that this player is endowed with the rarest jazz gift of all, a sense of form which lends to an improvised performance a coherence which no amount of teaching can produce. The listening musician, whatever his generation or his style, recognizes Bix as a modern, modernism being not a style but an attitude.

Like Green, who made particular mention of Beiderbecke's "amount of teaching," the jazz historian Ted Gioia also has emphasized Beiderbecke's lack of formal instruction, suggesting that it caused him to adopt "an unusual, dry embouchure" and "unconventional fingerings," which he retained for the rest of his life. Gioia points to "a characteristic streak of obstinacy" in Beiderbecke that provokes "this chronic disregard of the tried-and-true." He argues that this stubbornness was behind Beiderbecke's decision not to switch from cornet to trumpet when many other musicians, including Armstrong, did so.

In addition, Gioia highlights Beiderbecke's precise timing, relaxed delivery, and pure tone, which contrasted with "the dirty, rough-edged sound" of King Oliver and his protégé Armstrong, whose playing was often more energetic and whose style held more sway early in the 1920s than Beiderbecke's. Gioia further wonders whether the many hyperbolic and quasi-poetic descriptions of Beiderbecke’s style—most notably Condon's "like a girl saying yes" —may indicate that Beiderbecke's sound was muddled on recordings.

Eddie Condon, Hoagy Carmichael, and Mezz Mezzrow, all of whom hyperbolically raved about his playing, also saw Beiderbecke play live or performed alongside him. Condon, for instance, wrote of being amazed by Beiderbecke's piano playing: "All my life I had been listening to music … But I had never heard anything remotely like what Beiderbecke played. For the first time I realized music isn't all the same, it had become an entirely new set of sounds …"

"I tried to explain Bix to the gang," Carmichael wrote. "… It was no good, like the telling of a vivid, personal dream … the emotion couldn't be transmitted."

Mezzrow described Beiderbecke's tone as being "pickled in alcohol … I have never heard a tone like he got before or since. He played mostly open horn, every note full, big, rich and round, standing out like a pearl, loud but never irritating or jangling, with a powerful drive that few white musicians had in those days."

Some critics have highlighted "Jazz Me Blues," recorded with the Wolverines on February 18, 1924, as being particularly important to understanding Beiderbecke's style. Although it was one of his earliest recordings, the hallmarks of his playing were evident. "The overall impression we get from this solo, as in all of Bix at his best," writes the trumpeter Randy Sandke, "is that every note is spontaneous yet inevitable." Richard Hadlock describes Beiderbecke's contribution to "Jazz Me Blues" as "an ordered solo that seems more inspired by clarinetists Larry Shields of the ODJB and Leon Roppolo of the NORK than by other trumpet players." He goes on to suggest that clarinetists, by virtue of their not being tied to the melody as much as cornetists and trumpet players, could explore harmonies.

"Jazz Me Blues" was also important because it introduced what has been called the "correlated chorus," a method of improvising that Beiderbecke's Davenport friend Esten Spurrier attributed to both Beiderbecke and Armstrong. "Louis departed greatly from all cornet players in his ability to compose a close-knit individual 32 measures with all phrases compatible with each other …," Spurrier told the biographers Sudhalter and Evans, "so Bix and I always credited Louis as being the father of the correlated chorus: play two measures, then two related, making four measures, on which you played another four measures related to the first four, and so on ad infinitum to the end of the chorus. So the secret was simple—a series of related phrases."

Beiderbecke's piano playing, meanwhile, can be considered on his recordings "Big Boy" (October 8, 1924), "For No Reason at All in C" (May 13, 1927), "Wringin' and Twistin'" (September 17, 1927)—all with ensembles—and his only solo recorded work, "In a Mist" (September 8, 1927). Critic Frank Murphy argues that many of the same characteristics that mark Beiderbecke on the cornet mark him on the keyboard: the uncharacteristic fingering, the emphasis on inventive harmonies, and the correlated choruses. Those inventive harmonies, on both cornet and piano, eventually helped point the way to bebop, which abandoned melody almost entirely.

(Wikipedia)

Singin' The Blues (1927)

Frankie Trumbauer & His Orchestra (with Bix Beiderbecke)

Bix Beiderbecke (cornet), Frankie Trumbauer (C-melody saxophone), Jimmy Dorsey (clarinet, alto sax), Bill Rank (trombone), Eddie Lang (guitar), Doc Ryker (alto sax), Paul Mertz (piano), Chauncey Morehouse (drums).

Recorded: New York, February 4, 1927.



Hot Fives and Sevens Vol. 4 (1929-30)

Liner notes:

As we reach the fourth volume in this collection of quintessential Louis Armstrong recordings, it is a special privilege to announce the inclusion of two exceedingly rare items. Rare for two reasons; firstly because in the overall Louis Armstrong discography alternative 'takes' of any title were the exception rather than the rule. Secondly, one of these alternative 'takes' has seldom appeared on Armstrong reissues, whilst it is believed the other has not appeared – officially at least – in any other form, being hitherto unissued. More of which later, but thanks are due to Messrs. John R. T. Davies and John Stedman, of JSP records for making them available to us.

The third volume in this set concluded with Knockin' A Jug. With the marvellous music he had created with Jack Teagarden echoing around the Okeh studio on that date, 5th March 1929, Louis Armstrong stayed on for the session which opens this compilation.

Eddie Condon, who largely had been responsible for organising the first session that day – and, rather modestly, had demurred from participating on it – also stayed around to supplement the rhythm section as banjoist on the second.

The rest of the personnel was drawn chiefly from the Louis Russell band, then resident at the Saratoga Club, New York, and soon to make its reputation on record for a swinging, relaxed yet distinctively fiery brand of New Orleans-derived jazz. For this date the Russell band's regular trumpet soloist, Louis Metcalf, and its guitarist Will Johnson dropped out.

In Will Johnson's place came his distinguished namesake Lonnie, (presumably no relation) the influential jazz/blues guitarist. A busy OKeh session musician, Lonnie Johnson already had recorded with Louis Armstrong, supplementing the Hot Five on its final recording date in December 1927, besides working in the studio with the Duke Ellington orchestra, supplying accompaniments to sundry blues singers and making a series of guitar recordings, some as soloist, others in duet with the equally influential Eddie Lang.

I Can't Give You Anything But Love, the hit song from the revue, Blackbirds of 1928 (it is claimed Fats Waller wrote the melody, then in one of his many periods of financial desperation, sold it to Jimmy McHugh for a trifling sum, then Dorothy Fields added a lyric) already had been recorded by several artists, including Louis Armstrong himself, accompanying Lillie Delk Christian in December 1928. This one opens with Louis' muted trumpet delicately reducing the melody to its bare essentials. Then, after J.C. Higginbotham's lyrical solo, the same economical spirit determines the declamatory sometimes dramatic, Armstrong vocal that closely adheres to the written lyric, with just the occasional foray into scat. The ensuing scintillating open horn solo, with some acutely timed breaks, culminates in a thrilling cadenza. Enter the first of our alternative 'takes' which because of its extreme rarity has a somewhat 'low-fi' quality. Yet we may hear enough to realise that such was Armstrong's surety of his ideas, his definitive restyling of a theme, rendered further enhancement or modification unnecessary. The real difference in Armstrong's performance here lies not so much in fresh ideas, but the same ones being given a slightly different emphasis, in phrasing, note values and projection. In other words, "the sound of surprise" as the writer Whitney Balliett once defined the basic essential that determines a worthwhile jazz performance. The cadenza, incidentally, remains identical, although there would be little reason for Louis to alter such a splendid, showcase finale to an altogether remarkable performance.

The strong New Orleans contingent amongst the personnel at the session – Charlie Holmes, Teddy Hill and Eddie Condon were the only non Crescent City musicians, the Panamanian born pianist Louis Russell having settled there in his early 'teens after winning a lottery – perhaps determined the choice of Mahogany Hall Stomp as the second number. In the heyday of Storyville Mahogany Hall had been a luxurious brothel situated on Basin Street – long since demolished then replaced, I believe, by a department store – and managed by Lulu White, the aunt of the number's composer, Spencer Williams. Whatever, the interpretation gives the band greater opportunity to shine than the rather stiff stock arrangement on the previous side, besides highlighting one of Louis Armstrong's most compelling performances. Against the solid foundation of the band, with Pops Foster's four square, slapped bass lines predominant, having announced the piece with crisp phrases, Louis, in commanding form, proceeds to build chorus upon chorus, both open and muted, from some very basic motifs. Variegating them through subtle changes of timing, key and tonal colouring Louis creates a masterpiece of sustained invention. Charlie Holmes, Higgy and Lonnie Johnson each add their distinctive solo voices to heighten the atmosphere.

Louis returned to New York, which had taken over Chicago's role as the centre of jazz development, just three months later. His 'timing, as ever, was superb. Fronting the Carroll Dickerson band for some engagements at the famous Harlem night spot Connie's Inn, Louis also became involved in the revue Hot Chocolates. Originally presented at Connie's Inn by the owner, Connie Innermann, the revue transferred to the Hudson Theatre on Broadway, with Louis joining the cast a few weeks after opening night. Accompanied by Leroy Smith's orchestra, his interpretation of Ain't Misbehavin' created a sensation.

The 1928 Savoy Ballroom five recording of Save It, Pretty Mama was a significant departure from his previous recordings, highlighting Louis' mellow, tender treatment of the lyric as much as his trumpet solo, indicating the direction his career would take. Thus the record introduced the concept of Louis as the singing/trumpet playing/entertainer, communicating the strength of his musical personality through a popular song. I Can't Give You Anything But Love reinforced this change of emphasis in Armstrong's role, while Ain't Misbehavin', confirmed it. The spare, sensitive, muted trumpet reworking of the theme in the opening chorus is followed (after Dickerson's gut churning violin passage) by Louis' warmly personal treatment of the lyric, interlarded with easy natural scatting and rhythmic accentuation. The assertive, open horn solo became the definitive trumpet statement of the theme, to which those who performed it ever after would refer – right down to the a capella quote from Rhapsody in Blue including Louis himself. "I believe that great song and the chance I got to play it did a lot to make me better known all over the country," Louis once observed of the number that gave him his first major hit record, besides establishing the song as a standard.

Three days later Louis was back in the studio with the Dickerson band to record a further selection of Andy Razaf/Fats Waller numbers from Hot Chocolates. Black and Blue represented a new departure for both Louis Armstrong and popular song. Hitherto, when, in the rare instances, Tin Pan Alley songs referred to Black Americans, it was as the slow-witted, lazy, contented, eye-rolling, banjo-strumming blackface minstrel caricature. (The blues, largely concerned with the universal human condition, only occasionally alluded to racial prejudice.) Therefore, in trying to convey firsthand experience of the humiliation suffered by Black Americans on grounds of skin colour as an everyday reality, lyricist Andy Razaf broke new ground. (Ironically, Edith Wilson, who introduced the number in the show is best remembered for her role in the Amos 'N' Andy programmes, mercifully long gone.) Gene Anderson's celeste sets the scene, then Louis captures the mood of Fats Waller's plaintive melody in a starkly beautiful solo. The dignified vocal, enhanced by Homer Hobson's discreet obbligato, relates the lyric exactly as written in a spirit of sorrow rather than anger, made even more poignant by the matter-of-fact delivery. Louis' only foray into wordless singing occurs in the modulation between the bridge and the final eight bars: a melancholy cantorial-like lament. Black and Blue is revived today for historic reasons only, apart from the occasional version to be heard performed by some local trad band, when the (Caucasian) trumpet player renders himself ridiculous in both his singing of the lyric and the dreadfully inaccurate Louis impersonation with which he invariably chooses to do so.

In direct contrast, there is a joyful urgency about Louis' interpretation of the up-temp, That Rhythm Man, as he shakes this piece of confection into something more substantial with his innate rhythmic sense. To gauge the timelessness of the Armstrong solo and vocal passages compare them with the accompaniment on Sweet Savannah Sue, which, though within the danceband conventions of the time seem antediluvian.

Louis' oft-proclaimed enthusiasm for the music of Guy Lombardo has puzzled jazz lovers, for most of whom slow death by drowning in treacle would be preferable to hearing the lugubrious saxophones of the strict tempo dance music associated with him. The ultimate compliment came with Louis' version of Guy Lombardo's Sweethearts On Parade, in which his solo made a glorious conception from an otherwise forgettable tune. That was some fifteen months into the future after the Lombardo influence had first become apparent on the session featuring next items. However, the warbling saxophone section and the strict tempo of When You're Smiling are dispelled by Louis' entry. Over a tight rhythmic cushion, featuring Zutty's deft brushwork, at double the established tempo Louis improvises on the first sixteen bars, creating a superior, more economical melody on the chord sequence. In many respects this anticipates Lester Young's reconstruction of the melody in his solo work on both 'takes' of Billie Holiday's 1937 version of the number. Then, after good solos from Robinson and strong, plus a pedestrian one from Anderson, Louis returns to play the melody straight, but imbuing it with such expressive warmth, and hitherto unsuspected, beauty, it becomes his own creation. The second version contains a personable Armstrong vocal, nicely supported by Hobson, then another equally sublime trumpet solo on the written melody, suggesting it was a set routine. Shelton Brooks' Some Of These Days already firmly associated with Sophie Tucker even then, receives Louis' totally personal treatment. The slighter slower vocal take finds Robinson's trombone solo substituted by Armstrong's jivey evocation of the lyric. The basic pattern of the trumpet solo work is unchanged.

When the show Hot Chocolate finished its Broadway run Louis and the Dickerson hand went their separate ways. Armstrong became featured guest star with the Louis Russell band at the Saratoga Club besides the occasional out-of-town engagement. Fortunately their brief association was documented in the recording studio, the next items on this selection.
Louis Metcalf had left the Russell band since its previous studio date with Louis. In his place was the New Orleans born trumpeter Henry 'Red Allen', who had forged a fiery, defiantly independent style from Louis' influence. It is said on live appearances the Russell Band played its customary book, with Louis taking over Red Allen usual solo spots. This would appear to have been the case on these recordings and it is a tribute to Red Allen's professionalism that he agreed to stay in the trumpet section with lead man Otis Johnson, without trying either to outblow or upstage Louis when the occasional opportunity arose. (Luckily, the prolific Russell band recorded output of the period finds Red Allen giving a wonderful account of his superb style.) Likewise, Louis' total confidence in his playing precluded his relentlessly parading his prowess in Allen's presence. The tenor saxophonist on these sides, incidentally Teddy Hill was eager to make his real contribution to jazz as a bandleader who employed Dizzy Gillespie than as manager of Minton's.

The four sessions combined jazz standards with newer material. From the opening notes of the now seldom played verse to I Ain't Got Nobody, highlighting Foster's bass, there is a poised, exciting sense of swing. After Louis' lovely vocal, Red Allen is glimpsed only briefly in tandem with Armstrong, until the maestro breaks away on a high note, then adds a delightful vocal tag. It is not possible to do justice to either Dallas Blues or St. Louis Blues in the allotted space. The excitement generated on the former by the accord of the band responses to Louis' majestically fervent building of a simple motif is spine tingling. After Higg's lustily elegant treatment of the middle eight of St. Louis Blues, we hear Red Allen's exuberant obbligato to Louis' vocal, a rhythmic reduction of the melody which inspires the rising intensity of the accompanying riff. Higgy returns in a fittingly urgent solo, then picking up on the riff pattern of his singing, Louis creates an electrifying improvisation. This arrangement by the way, was still in the Armstrong book for his 1934 recording of the theme in Paris.
The stock arrangement of Rockin' Chair sounds a little stiff, though Louis' dynamic interjections enliven it. Hoagy Carmichael, the number's composer, seems a bit forced at his attempts at comedy as the sedantry geriatric, but Louis adds charm and substance to what would become one of his set pieces (the definitive version behind the duet with Jack Teagarden at the famous New York Town Hall concert). The band loosens up behind the Armstrong solo, with Charlie Holmes' alto saxophone weaving through the sound like a shimmering thread. The other rarity of this set is the 'A' take of this number and probably previously unissued. Despite the slightly poor technical quality, the Russell band's reading of the arrangement is more fulsome; Hoagy sounds more at ease, though still far removed from his customary cool. Again the differences in Louis' playing are in the shifts of emphasis. The familiar '(' take version is perhaps superior but it is nice to be able to have them both for comparison.
The Russell band's valet is responsible for the tasteful brushwork on Song Of The Islands, leaving Paul Barbarin to set the tranquil mood on vibraphone. Louis swings over the rhythm in a reflective, muted solo. The gentle thrust of Louis' scatting, over the other stodgy vocal tones of other band members pretending to be Hawaiians curiously is moving. The open horn solo taps a new vein meditative beauty in Armstrong's playing on an otherwise merely pleasant tune.

Blue Turning Grey Over You, another Fats Waller/Andy Razaf evergreen, is, apart from a leisurely Higgy solo, Louis all the way. This muted work and singing both wistfully enhance the reflective mood. An early forward looking example of intimate jazz balladry.

To close we hear pianist Buck Washington, after a little 'coaxing' from Louis set the scene for Dear Old Southland, a seldom heard number number from Henry Creamer and Turner Layton, the composers of After You've Gone among many other standards. Mindful perhaps of the number's origins in the spiritual Deep river, Louis mood is one of rhapsodic splendour, then as the tempo slightly increases to a stately tango the lower notes resonate with a solemn reverence that is neither pompous nor funereal. The sudden change of pace lightens Louis' mood for a deftly swinging chorus before the majestic cadenza. A wonderful example of Armstrong's virtuosity and emotional range.

This compilation represents just over one hour in Louis Armstrong's eventful, lengthy career, in which he creates music of beauty, depth, richness, power, imagination and profound conviction.

- Sally-Ann Worsfold.

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Tracks:

Louis Armstrong and his Savoy Ballroom Five
01 I Can't Give You Anything But Love 3:26
02 Mahogany Hall Stomp 3:18
Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra
03 Ain't Misbehavin' 3:16
04 (What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue? 3:03
05 That Rhythm Man 3:05
06 Sweet Savannah Sue 3:09
07 Some of These Days [Instrumental] 2:55
08 Some of These Days 3:07
09 When You're Smiling [Instrumental] 2:53
10 When You're Smiling 3:25
11 After You're Gone 3:17
12 I Ain't Got Nobody 2:41
13 Dallas Blues 3:11
14 St. Louis Blues 2:58
15 Rockin' Chair (with Hoagy Carmichael) 3:17
16 Song of the Islands 3:32
17 Bessie Couldn't Help It 3:24
18 Blue, Turning Grey Over You 3:31
19 Dear Old Southland 3:21
20 Rockin' Chair 3:16
Louis Armstrong and his Savoy Ballroom Five
21 I Can't Give You Anything But Love 3:27

Recorded from March 1929 to April 1930


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Hot Fives and Sevens Vol. 3 (1928)

Otra horripilante portadaLiner notes:

Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines first met as members of Erskine Tate's Little Symphony orchestra at the Vendome Theatre, Chicago. The following year, while working for the band leader Carroll Dickerson, both musicians also were to be heard at the Windy City's Sunset Cafe, where, at the insistence of the owner, Joe Glaser (later to become Armstrong's manager) the trumpeter was fronting a band - drawn from Dickerson's personnel - known as Louis Armstrong and his Stompers, of which Hines was pianist and musical director.

At the time of the opening tracks on this compilation, Armstrong, Singleton and Hines were to be heard at Chicago's Savoy Ballroom with Dickerson; the pianist also doubled in a small group led by the New Orleans born clarinet virtuoso, Jimmie Noone, both at the Apex Club and on record.

The Armstrong/Hines studio partnership began in April 1927 on a Vocation date under Johnny Dodds' leadership unlike the trumpeter, the clarinettist was not contracted to Okeh. The following month Louis took his Sunset Cafe Stompers into the Okeh Studio, while just one day prior to the June 1928 titles that open this set, Armstrong and Hines joined forces with banjoist Mancey Carr, from Carroll Dickerson's orchestra and the clarinettist, Jimmie Noone to add the musical substance to the gloriously mediocre singing of a lady named Lillie Delk Christian.

Armstrong and Hines, then, were versed thoroughly in each other's styles. The inclusion of trombonist Fred Robinson, reed man Jimmy Strong, Mancey Carr and Zutty Singleton, colleagues from the Dickerson orchestra, indicate that this small group was a feature of live performances. Indeed the polished, evidently well-rehearsed routines and the ensemble voicings, with use of dynamics etc., would appear to confirm it.

The plays-on-words invited by the up tempo opener, Fireworks apply up to a point: there are no flashy pyrotechnics merely intended to dazzle, but there is an effervescent lightness throughout and brilliance in the solos of the main protagonists. The sympathetic interplay between the frontline horns, supported by the tight, unobtrusive rhythm is characteristic of the outfit's cohesive sound. Both Robinson and Strong, here and throughout, adaptable, supportive ensemble players, also contribute commendable solos, without attempting to upstage the stars. Earl Hines' solo, is a good illustration of his innovatory style, and rhythmic flexibility. In his trumpet solo – he had switched from cornet since the final Hot Five date of December 1927 – Louis exudes authorative swing, his beautifully integrated phrases dance over the stop chords with effortless grace. He caps this infectious performance with a thoughtful cadenza. Incidentally, special pressings, retitled Skyrocket were to be heard as intermission music in several cinemas and theatres by their lucky patrons. Earl Hines already had recorded his own number, My Monday Date (with Rosetta his contribution to the standard jazz repertoire) in a different, though equally memorable, version with Jimmie Noone. The highspots are Hines' break, then his supportive accompaniment to Armstrong's insouiant, rhythmic reading of the slight lyric besides the sheer zest of his debonair muted trumpet chorus.

It is evident Earl Hines was one of the few jazz soloists of any style or period equipped to meet Louis on equal terms without sounding either combative or threatened. (In both Louis' earlier and later studio encounters with Sidney Bechet, plus his recordings with the Empress of The Blues, Bessie Smith, there is a keen, needlematch edge) Skip The Gutter features an eloquent illustration of the affinity between Armstrong and Hines in a duologue where each inspires the other to new heights of lyrical invention. Earl Hines claimed his famed "trumpet style", that is phrasing in octaves as a trumpeter would do, was inspired by Joe Smith, the cornettist, whose melodic tones graced many Fletcher Henderson and Bessie Smith recordings. Hines added, "Now, of course, you couldn't be around Louis as much as I was without catching some of his spirit and drive." Yet it was Hines' harmonic inventiveness and acute rhythmic sense too that made his playing so compatible with Armstrong's. His solo on Knees Drop exemplifies the way in which Hines's work, along with that of such stride pianists as James P. Johnson and Fats Waller, was enriching and expanding the jazz piano vocabulary away from ragtime/blues patterns.

The earlier Hot Five and Seven recordings had charted Louis Armstrong's development of jazz as a soloist's medium, by virtue of the astonishing fluency of his ideas, besides the total technical command that enhanced it. The Hot Five and Seven repertoire may have been restricted to fundamental sequences, usually stomps, vaudeville songs and blues, yet Louis' musical experiences outside the studio between 1925/27 had served to broaden his horizons, thus enriching both the form and the content of his recorded solos. With Erskine Tate's Little Symphony orchestra for instance, Louis was featured on such diversities as Noel Coward's
Poor Little Rich Girl and Cavalleria Rusticana – thereafter the latter would remain as his "warm up" piece before a performance.

Louis' cornetThus having opened the floodgates to the possibilities of improvisation for the soloist, these sides found Louis consolidating his past achievements, while further exploring his capabilities. One of his many assets was Louis' refusal to dominate ensemble work with fussy brash demonstrations of technique. His mentor, King Joe Oliver once told him: "If a cat can swing a lead and play a melody, that's what counts." Louis never ignored the advice, although as Leonard Feather once commented what might constitute a straight lead from Armstrong would sound alike an exquisite jazz solo by the standards of others."

A supreme confidence and an awareness of his gifts precluded Louis' either needing or wanting to cram all his prowess into every bar of each solo. Such assurance allowed him to succinctly select, with a masterful sense of timing, the exact ideas to add spontaneity, those which also contributed to the construction of a lucid solo, without a superfluous note. The sprightly
Knees Drop and Sugar Foot Strut, (both with Singleton's spry cymbal work) Don't Jive Me, taken at medium tempo plus the languid Two Deuces, each contain stunningly original Armstrong creations of melodic invention, expressive power, tonal finesse and rhythmic subtlety. The last named, with its swift exhilarating tempo switch, also contains Carr's delicately melodic banjo solo, a description not readily associated with that instrument.


The Carroll Dickerson Savoyagers' items not only add insight to Louis' regular musical environment outside the studio but are comparative rarities too. Exclusively made for the Argentinian Odeon label and not issued in the United States in 78 form, these items made their microgroove debut some fifty years later on an Armstrong compilation issued in Britain. The up tempo Stomp Convariagones – which has been translated loosely as Symphonic Raps, although Tiger Rag would seem nearer – is lifted out of the routine dance music category by dint of the scoring, with plenty of dissonance and textured contrasts. The articulate Hines' solo, with some dramatic orchestral interjections, previews later recordings with his own outfit, suggesting that the pianist also was responsible for the arrangement. Louis' magnificent solo, mainly over stop chords, bristles with a vitality that definitely inspires the spirited ensemble finale. Poor Jimmy Strong has the unenviable task of following the breathtaking Armstrong tour-de-force opening chorus on Blues Convariagones (or Savoyager's Stomp, aka Muskrat Ramble). Small wonder Strong sounds a trifle overwhelmed in his rather halting tenor solo. The elegant, pensive Hines feature is built around shifting rhythm emphasis and suspended time. Armstrong's thrilling lead predominates in the final chorus, after which the gentle, period tag sounds quaint.

The serene swing of
Squeeze Me, with Earl Hines' lyrical introduction has the Armstrong performance as its centre piece. The delicate celeste playing from Hines, with the subdued harmonies of Robinson and Strong set the scene for two unimpeachable Armstrong trumpet features on Basin Street. The first an understated example of his expressive blues playing, then after his wordless vocal (it would be a further three years before Jack Teagarden and Glenn Miller appended a verse and a lyric to Spenser Williams melody) a virtuoso Armstrong showcase. By contrast, Louis' solo on the atmospheric No Papa No is a copybook example of simple, forthright blues playing.

There had been several previous recordings of West End Blues - including a charmingly introspective one from its composer King Oliver – but this version justifiably has eclipsed them all. The superlatives lavished upon this extraordinary testimony to Louis Armstrong's technical resources, musical artistry and communicative powers, have long been exhausted over the past sixty three years. Yet no description really could capture the aura, from the resplendent fanfare introduction, which – when transcribed has flummoxed even the most technically accomplished, to Zutty's final cymbal tap. Along the way we hear Robinson's doleful trombone preface to Louis' wordless, bittersweet lullaby lament, so fittingly underlined by Strong's clarinet. Hines reflective solo is the perfect interlude before the trumpet spectacular.

Earl Hines has related that he and Louis would love to interchange ideas during the course of a performance. This reached its peak in their duet version ofWeather Bird, a number Louis had recorded as Weatherbird Rag with King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band in 1923. Indeed, the King Oliver/Jelly Roll Morton versions of King Porter Stomp and Tom Cat Blues made for the obscure Autograph label in 1924 might have inspired this trumpet/piano duologue. The electricity between Armstrong and Hines is established at the start; the tension mounts with each chorus as ideas flow back and forth with astonishing rhythmical elasticity. The solo order of Muggles indicates Armstrong's increasing awareness of his pivotol role on these sides, besides his showman's sense of presentation. Hines opens with a sensuously slow, blues tinged chorus. Robinson, then Strong perform pleasant solos, but thus far Louis has not been heard. His unassuming entry, a capella, in double time, lifts the tempo and the mood. Captured in the "holy roller" vein of King Oliver, Louis "signifies" on his horn as never before or since. Dramatically reverting to a slower pace, the trumpeter holds us in thrall: a mesmeric, preaching blues singer in a soul stirring, heartfelt solo.

The addition of Don Redman to the Savoy Ballroom Five not only meant the inclusion of his stylish alto sound but also one of the most influential arranging talents in big band jazz. In fact, when both men were members of Fletcher Henderson's orchestra in 1924/25, it was Louis Armstrong's unfettered, rhythmically charged trumpet outings that began to inspire Redman's scores. Redman's arrangements here for his own numbers, No-One Else But You and Heah Me Talking' lend a fulsome depth, creating the impression of a larger unit. Louis' solo work here seems like a barometer of his progress and its influence upon the subsequent nature of jazz, since his previous association with Redman in the Henderson period. Beau Koo Jack is a welcome reminder of its composer and arranger Alex Hill, a short-lived, versatile pianist/songwriter/orchestrator, largely neglected today, despite his co-authorship of I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby, with Fats Waller. His ambitious score, showcases an inspired Hines solo and a Louis feature which, at points, anticipates his work on the 1938 recording of Wolverine Blues, on which sequence the number is based.

Save It Pretty Mama, another Redman composition, contains a glimpse of Dan's pithy, pert alto playing and a sensitive Hines solo. Louis' performance here, though, in terms of material and interpretation, sets the precedent for the next phase of his career. His tender, unsentimental singing reveals a new melodic sensibility in his handling of a lyric, unlike his impressionistic scat singing and far removed from his rather strident harshness on the Hot Five's You Made Me Love You two years earlier. In his muted solo too there is an intimate sensitivity as he adheres to the pretty melody.

Despite the hokum patter that prefaces and concludes Tight Like This – a nod to the enormous popularity of Georgia Tom's It's Tight Like That – there is a gorgeous Hines solo, while against an hypnotic rift Louis' sublime playing attains new heights of majesty.

A fitting note of splendour with which to conclude the Hines/Armstrong studio partnership, a fruitful association that would be resumed twenty years later in the All Stars. Of these historic dates Earl Hines recalled, " ... we were getting kicks without thinking about making our reputation by records. But I think the public realised we were playing from the heart."

In early March 1929, Louis had travelled to New York to rejoin his former boss, Fletcher Henderson in the orchestra for the show, Great Day. The reunion did not work out and Louis left during rehearsal. Discovering the trumpeter was in town, the guitarist Eddie Condon, without whose enterprising initiative a lot of early jazz might well have gone unrecorded, hastily organised a recording session and selected the musicians for the final item,
Knockin' A Jug.

The drummer, Kaiser Marshall recalled, "We took a gallon jug of whisky with us." The refreshment inspired the title, for when asked for the name of the twelve bar blues Louis remarked, "We sure knocked that jug. You can call it
Knockin A Jug."

The balance here is not up to Okeh's usually high standard, in fact at times Marshall's drumming sounds as though he is knitting with amplified needles. (Whether the effects of the whisky or the poor sound quality caused the first item recorded, I'm Gonna Stomp Mr. Henry Lee to be rejected will never be known). No matter, the date marked the first studio meeting of the greatest jazz trombonist, Jack Teagarden with his mentor Louis Armstrong, the realisation of an ambition for both since their first chance encounter in New Orleans seven years earlier. Eddie Lang's lilting guitar presages two superb Teagarden choruses demonstrating both his musical and emotional range in a solo imbued with blues notes and gospel-like fervour. In common with Earl Hines, Teagarden could hold his own in Armstrong's presence without resorting to competitive displays, as his relaxed, quietly assured articulation of his own ideas here proves. (Unfortunately, it would be another fifteen years before Jack had another opportunity to record with Armstrong). After Lang's winsome solo – Happy Caldwell's endearingly inept tenor solo need not detain us – Joe Sullivan's persuasive blues playing is all but lost under the overwheening weight of Marshall's over-recorded drumming. The centrepiece Armstrong solo is a virtual gauntlet in the face of his legion disciples and imitators to challenge his supremacy.

This recording marked a watershed for Louis: the closing chapter on the period of phenomenal achievement that began with the first Hot Five date of 1925, whilst heralding the next significant phase of his remarkable career.

-Sally-Ann Worsfold.

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Tracks:

Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five

01 Fireworks 3:09
02 Skip the Gutter 3:10
03 A Monday Date 3:15
04 Don't Jive Me 2:50
05 West End Blues 3:21
06 Sugar Foot Strut 3:23
07 Two Deuces 2:58
08 Squeeze Me 3:26
09 Knee Drops 3:28
Carroll Dickerson's Savoyagers
10 Symphonic Raps 3:15
11 Savoyagers' Stomp 3:13
Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra
12 No (No, Papa, No) 2:54
13 Basin Street Blues 3:16
Louis Armstrong and his Savoy Ballroom Five
14 No-One Else But You 3:24
15 Beau Koo Jack 3:01
16 Save It, Pretty Mama 3:19
17 Weather Bird 2:42
Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra
18 Muggles 2:52
Louis Armstrong and his Savoy Ballroom Five
19 Heah Me Talkin' to Ya? 3:17
20 St. James Infirmary 3:14
21 Tight Like This 3:12
Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra
22 Knockin' a Jug 3:15


hotjazzandcoolblues

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