2013-04-11

Mule Walk by James P. Johnson (1)


Our favourite four-year-old mule is now walking again and we can’t think of any better way to celebrate than a modest tribute to the song that gives title to this blog.



By the spring of 1913, James P. Johnson was playing at the Jungles Casino, a cellar on 62nd Street, in the neighbourhood called The Jungles, the Negro section of Hell’s Kitchen and one of the toughest places in NY. The Jungles Casino was officially a dancing school called “Drake’s Dancing Class”, since it was very hard for coloured people to get a dance-hall license. 

He described the venue as “a cellar, without fixings. The furnace, coal, and ashes were still there behind a partition. The coal bin was handy for guests to stash their liquor in case the cops dropped in. There were dancing classes alright, but there were no teachers. The “pupils” danced sets, two-steps, waltzes, schottisches, and “The Metropolitan Glide”, a new step”.

JPJ played for those dances but, instead of playing straight, he broke into a rag in certain places and the younger dancers – mostly from Charleston, South Carolina, and other places in the South – screamed when he “got good to them with a bit of rag in the dance music now and then”, “hollering and screaming until they were cooked”.


That’s how Mule Walk was composed, as breakdown music for such wild and comical dance sets, the more solid and groovy the better. JPJ assimilated those old-country dance tunes and translated them into his own pianistic language, which would result in the foundation of stride piano. In this sense, Mule Walk, Gut Stomp and Carolina Shout, all of them composed in the same period, must be considered a prototype of the stride piano style. However, it is safe to assume that he must have played Mule Walk differently then and in his three recordings from the late 30s and early 40s.

Copyrighted on February 1940 by Bregman, Vocco & Conn, Mule Walk is a three-section composition in B flat with an infectious rhythm that perfectly suits JPJ’s energetic piano playing. Some ragtime player stated a few years ago that Mule Walk is “one of the most prominent examples of stride writing using minimal melodic elements and lots of rhythm”. But a seasoned listener will come to the conclusion that this is not a “primitive” composition, neither are any of JPJ’s performances of the tune. His playing is always enhanced by a fine sense of dynamics and a crystal-clear touch that always draw a melodic quality from the piano, and yet his extraordinary technique and conception in no way inhibit feeling. 

Every stride piano player may have a different composition considered as “the most difficult one” but, unquestionably, Mule Walk is one of the toughest. But, in Mike Lipskin’s words, “the big challenge is probably not so much a particular piece, but how to work within the style, keeping it fresh, inventive and how to maintain a left hand smoothness and relaxation”. A stellar example would be JPJ's Blue Note recording of Mule Walk.

Regarding improvisation on Mule Walk and other stride chestnuts, Grant Simpson comments that “the vehicles I use to solo on are usually standards. When it comes to Carolina Shout or Mule Walk, I find it incredibly difficult to take that tune as only a "frame work" to work within. I can do it as an exercise, but would never want to perform it that way. It's not that I can't, but for some reason it doesn't "feel right" or "sound right" to me. Probably because, when improvising, we are left with two basic choices: harmonic or melodic. I think JPJ dealt with this if you listen to his versions of said Carolina Shout and then listen to If Dreams Come True. I believe the difference is that Carolina Shout, Mule Walk or Keep Off The Gras are primarily harmonically structured. Their ingredients are primarily chordal in structure - even the melodies. When you try to truly improvise on those, you are somewhat restricted to staying within that structure or the piece no longer stays in true stride tradition. When I began to bare down on stride as the fundamental foundation of my playing, I had to change the way I improvised on some tunes. Not standards in which I still keep stride components happening, but the right hand solos are basically clarinet type of lines.”

2013-04-08

Tracking down the Lamb (3)


Baltimore Afro-American - November 9, 1946


"It was a triple celebration that brought so many friends to the home of the James Robinsons, 531 Bergen St., Newark, on Sunday. Among the guests were: Miss Carrie Smith, soloist; Donald Lambert, pianist and Wilfred Fletcher, saxophonist, who entertained (...)".

2013-03-30

Tracking down The Lamb (2)

 
After having played at Kelly's Stable on 52nd Street, Lambert ventured into New York again in 1946 to play at Jock's Music Room on 7th Avenue at 138th Street, Maxine Sullivan being the headliner.
 
 
New York Sun - June 20, 1946
 
 
"Maxine Sullivan, a songstress with a way all her own, goes to Jock's Place in Harlem, joining a show that features Jimmie Daniels, who was a favourite in Paris before the war; the Al Casey Trio and Donald Lambert, who is billed as the hot genius of the ivories".
 
 
New York Evening Post - June 28, 1946
 


New York Evening Post - July 21, 1946


 

2013-03-22

Tracking down The Lamb (1)


Born on February 12, 1904, in Princeton, New Jersey, Donald Lambert started his professional career at age ten in his home state, where he worked as a duo with Paul Seminole, half-Indian pianist who also played banjo and xylophone. 


In the early 30s, The Lamb moved to New York City and played in Harlem clubs but, after his wife died, he returned to New Jersey, where he decided to settle down, inexplicably, to play on out of tune pianos in small clubs and taverns until the end of his life (the Star Bar on Halsey Street in Newark, the Town House Restaurant in Montclair and Wallace’s Bar on Washington Street in West Orange, New Jersey).

From time to time he showed up in New York unexpectedly to challenge other ticklers in cutting contests. These piano battles are part of the stride piano legend and the source of a large stream of anecdotes, and will be the subject of a future series on this blog.

For the time being, let’s get back to the facts, the few notices, reviews and advertisements mentioning him on the papers during the timeframe starting in the early 20s – when he was barely twenty years old – and ending  in the 50s – before his appearance at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival alongside Eubie Blake and Willie The Lion Smith –. 

Tracking down Donald Lambert comes out like an impossible task, due to his self-imposed obscurity. This  is part of the scarce results of a quite exhaustive research through the digital archives of both local and national newspapers.


New York Age - November 4, 1922


"Trenton, N.J. - (...) On October 25 there was a surprise party given by Miss Helen Dillon in honor of Miss Mary Dillon's 18th birthday at 71 West End avenue (...). Music was furnished by Donald Lambert".


New York Age - July 21, 1923


"Princeton, N.J. - Master Donald Lambert is filling a position as pianist in Asbury Park".


New York Age - May 31, 1930


"Newark, N.J. - One of the New Jersey's finest social and artistic feats was presented last Wednesday night by the Beaux Arts Club in their second anual presentation at the Y.M. and Y.W. Hebrew Hall, High and West Kenney streets. The auditorium was crowded with a capacity gathering from all parts of the State (...). During the intermission and for the dance music was played by Donald Lambert's Orchestra".

2013-03-08

The California Ramblers - some 1921 concerts

On November 17, 1921, a nine-piece group was assembled in the Vocalion recording studio to wax two titles, The Sheik of Araby and Georgia Rose, which were issued as "Played by The California Ramblers".




The band was managed by Ed Kirkeby, former record promoter for Columbia and extremely well-connected in the New York music scene. He arranged several hundred recording sessions for them (as the California Ramblers or as the Golden Gate Orchestra) and their smaller units The Little Ramblers, The Goofus Five, The Five Birmingham Babies, The Vagabonds and the Varsity Eight.

During the first months of their existence, the Ramblers were led by banjoist Ray Kitchingham and their personnel changed constantly. By April 1922, it already included some outstanding musicians, above all, multiinstrumentalist Adrian Rollini, who was the core and nucleus of the band for several years.

The Ramblers were mostly a studio outfit and for almost ten years they recorded for practically every company, but Ed Kirkeby also booked them for long residencies, first at the Post Lodge in Westchester and later at the Pelham Inn, The Bronx, renamed the Ramblers' Inn because of the band's reputation.

By the time of their first recording, Ed Kirkeby got them a job as accompanists for Eva Shirley, a popular vaudeville artist in the 1910s and 1920s. 

Recently, Bix Beiderbecke specialist Albert Haim discovered an ad in the Jan 8, 1922 edition of the New York Times for their performance in the New Amsterdam Theatre and published it on  Facebook.



As a result of my research in the digital archives of old newspapers, several unearthed advertisements and reviews show that there were several gigs before that date:


December 2, 1921 – Variety (New Acts column)


“Eva Shirley, assisted by Al Roth and the California Ramblers, consisting of 10 pieces”


December 9, 1921 – Brooklyn Standard Union



December 16, 1921 – Variety


“(…) Now she presents the California Ramblers, and even in this jazz-jaded day the organization of nine is a sweet scent of superior syncopation. A banjo player, one of the few who uses a pick and gets true banjo music, was a revelation, though never permitted to do any individual work such as Paul Whiteman wisely slips to every member of his astutely managed outfit who can do anything more than vamp till ready. This banjoist is a find, and the whole band is solidly there. No effort is made by it to freak or get attention with anything but music, the more wonder (…)”


December 17, 1921 – Billboard


“It was Al Roth and The California Ramblers who were the outstanding hit of the Eva Shirley act, and rightfully so. Young Roth is an exceptional talented eccentric stepper, and the California Ramblers as fine a musical combination as one would want to listen to”


December 17, 1921 – New York Dramatic Mirror


“Eva Shirley and the California Ramblers with Al Roth followed intermission. The Ramblers are a nine-piece jazz orchestra that scored a hit”


December 2X, 1921 – Dobbs Ferry Register



“(…) The California Ramblers too have been unusually popular (…)”


December 24, 27 & 30, 1921 – Yorkers Statesman & News




December 29, 1921 – Yorkers Statesman News


“(…) The California Ramblers, too, have appeared everywhere in vaudeville (…)”


December 31, 1921 – New York Sun


“RIVERSIDE. Ella Retford, Eva Shirley and the California Ramblers and Leo Beers will be the collar on the draft here”

2013-02-28

Benny Carter and the QHCF in Barcelona (29jan36, 31jan36 & 2feb36) - new info

The book Django Reinhardt. Un Gitano En París (Editorial Milenio, 2012) by Juan P. Jiménez and Emilie Durand provides additional information on the concerts by Benny Carter and the QHCF in January 1936 in Barcelona, and authoritatively clarifies some obscure points. Apart from Charles Delaunay's biography of Django Reinhardt (published by Ashley Marks Publishing Company, 1988) and contemporary periodicals (La Vanguardia, La Publicidad, L'Instant, Jazz Magazine Hot Club de Barcelona), their source is Hot Club of Barcelona senior member Alfredo Papo. He double-checked the facts and contributed with first-hand documents, such as the original contract intermediated by Audiffred & Maronani agency and signed on January 14 by Pierre Nourry, secretary of the Hot Club of France and QHCF agent, and Mr. Suris, treasurer of the Hot Club of Barcelona.



Now it is confirmed that there were three concerts, all of them in Barcelona: the first two were arranged by the Hot Club of Barcelona (January 29 at the Cinema Coliseum and January 31 at the Palau de la Música Catalana) whereas the additional extra concert at the Olympia theater on February 2 was promoted by an outsider of dubious reputation -and that's the reason why Grappelli refused to play and Jaume Vila had to sit in-.

As we have previously documented (see posts from 16Apr09, 18Apr09 and 16Feb10), except for the ultraconservative and nearly racist comments from La Veu de Catalunya, the first two concerts were a resounding success, even though pianist Garnet Clark, billed as guest star -and misspelled on advertisements as "Garney Clark"-, didn't show up in Barcelona. 

On the other hand, the Olympia theater concert was a box-office flop and, according to Jiménez & Durand, it was at this concert where the promoter ran away with the money, and not at the first two (Coliseum and Palau), as stated in previous biographies of Django Reinhardt, including Dregni's. The contract between Nourry of the Hot Club of France and Suris of the Hot Club of Barcelona stipulated that the QHCF would receive 3,000 francs before leaving Paris and the remaining 4,000 after the gigs. According to Papo, the musicians were paid and hence the paragraph "but now the balance of 4,000 francs plus their travel expenses were gone. Django, Carter, and the bandmates pooled the money in their pockets to afford train tickets home, with one lone Catalonian sausage to slice up between them to quell their stomachs on the long journey to Paris", which has been perpetuated through subsequent "copy-and-paste" biographies, is half legend, half whopper.

Thank God the plain truth has been revealed!


2011-11-23

3rd Annual Arbors Records Invitational Jazz Party - final piano jam

Do you want to try eight-handed piano? That's easy, having Dick Hyman as the master of ceremonies, and Rossano Sportiello, Bernd Lhotzky, Stephanie Trick, Paolo Alderighi, Mike Lipskin et al joining in!



The Sheik Of Araby never sounded so crowded.

2011-11-03

Dust the mouldy pics off! [6] - June Clark & Perry Bradford's orch.


June Clark with Perry Bradford's Recording Orchestra, 1925

From left to right: Gene Kennedy (alto and soprano saxes); Will Escoffery (banjo); Charlie Smith (piano); Perry Bradford; Jimmy Harrison (trombone) and June Clark (cornet)

2011-08-06

Mike Lipskin - Stride Piano Styles

Stride piano master Mike Lipskin's new CD, "Stride Piano Styles" (Buskirk Productions) is now available directly from Mike's website or from CD Baby.

Here's the track list (piano solos unless otherwise indicated):

1. Yesterday (John Lennon – Paul McCartney) 4:15
2. Where Are You? (Harold Adamson – Jimmy McHugh) 5:00
3. Sweetie Dear (Joe Jordan) 4:20
4. Snowy Morning Blues (James P. Johnson) 5:14
5. When Sunny Gets Blue (Jack Segal – Marvin Fisher) 4:46
6. Blue Room (Richard Rodgers – Lorenz Hart ) 3:37
7. It Takes a Little More to Score (Mike Lipskin) 2:29.
8. Lover (Richard Rodgers – Lorenz Hart) 3:36
9. Isn't It a Lovely Day (Irving Berlin) 3:37
10. Keep Smoking That Cigar (Mike Lipskin) 3:20
11. Willow Weep for Me (Ann Ronell) 3:07

with Ruby Braff, cornet; George Barnes, Wayne Wright, guitars:

12. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (Ted Koehler – Billy Moll) 2:50
13. If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight (Johnson – Creamer) 4:17
14. S’Wonderful (George and Ira Gershwin ) 3:39

2011-06-16

James P. Johnson - WWI and WWII Draft Registration Cards

As part of my project to publish as much documentation on the early stride piano masters as possible -and therefore to make it available for future research-, these are James P. Johnson's Registration Cards for both the First and the Second World Wars, dated June 5, 1917 and April 27, 1942, when James P. was 23 and 48 years old.











2011-06-12

The Lion at Hampton, 1968

Willie The Lion Smith's 20-minute performance at the Hampton Jazz Festival (Hampton, VA) on Jun 27, 1968, is now available at Wolfgang's Vault. Signing up and logging in -which costs nothing- is required to listen to The Lion roaring, though payment is necessary for a download.

From the concert summary at Wolfgang's Vault:

"After chatting for a while, Smith opens this Hampton Jazz Festival performance with his infectious theme song, "Relaxin'". Next up is the autobiographical vocal number "Music on My Mind", which also happens to be the title of his memoirs published in 1964. The Lion then leaps into the tongue-twisting swing-era vocal number, "Nagasaki", and closes out his set with a medley of instrumentals, beginning with James P. Johnson's "Charleston" and continuing with Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'", Luckey Roberts' "Moonlight Cocktail", Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll" and "Sophisticated Lady", and culminating with his own show-stopping number, "Finger Buster"."

2011-06-11

James P. Johnson's grave



James Price Johnson

Feb. 1, 1894 - Nov. 17 1955

Beloved Husband, Father and Grandfather

Master American Pianist and Composer

The Dean of Jazz Pianists



As reported in my posts from September 17, 2009 and October 7, 2009 posts, the James P. Johnson Foundation, the Johnson family and Smalls Club organized an all day “rent party” to raise money to buy a monument to commemorate this great musician who so far rested in peace in an unmarked grave in Maspeth, Queens, Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

The event met with success and this is the proof (thanks to Maspeth on www.findagrave.com):


2010-09-15

The Mule's 10 random CD picks (3)

* Henry Red Allen - 1929-1933 (Classics 540)
* Spike Hughes And His Negro Orchestra – 1933: The Complete Set (Retrieval RTR79005)
* Allan Vaché & Antti Sarpila – Swing Is Here (Nagel-Heyer CD-026)
* Dick Hyman - Plays Duke Ellington (Reference Recordings RR-50CD)
* Scott Robinson - Plays C-Melody Saxophone: Melody From The Sky (Arbors ARCD 19212)
* Olivier Lancelot - Lancelot Et Ses Chevaliers (DJAZ DJ 715-2)
* Jon-Erik Kellso - Blue Roof: A Love Letter To New Orleans (Arbors ARCD 19346)
* Stephanie Trick - Hear That Rhythm! (self-produced)
* Wild Bill Davison - Lady Of The Evening (Jazzology JCD-143)
* The Gene Harris/Scott Hamilton Quintet – At Last (Concord CCD-4434)

2010-08-29

Cotton Club programs on ebay (2)

One would expect that, when offering a significant piece of jazz history with a steep starting bid such as USD 250,00, the seller would do some research to give basical background on it or, at least, provide the most essential data right. Well, not always!

This Cotton Club program is offered as from "circa 1929-1933" and, obviously, it is not from that timeframe, but from 1938, as the title of the revue (Cotton Club Parade, Fourth Edition) would lead you if consulting a few volumes of the vast Duke Ellington bibligraphy. Taking a simple look at John Edward Hasse's Ellington biography, Beyond Category. The Life And Genius Of Duke Ellington (Da Capo Press, 1993), on page 213, would be enough.

Although usually listed as having started on March 10, the program actually opened at midnight, March 9, and it ran probably through June 9 (according to Billboard, June 11, 1938, the show "closed last Thursday"). Two additional points: on one hand, for the first time since Blackberries of 1930, Ellington wrote the score; on the other, this would be his final appearance at the Cotton Club, which would close in June 1940.








2010-08-25

The Mule's 10 random CD picks (2)

* Coleman Hawkins - 1943-1944 (Classics 807)
* Duke Ellington - The Great Chicago Concerts (Music Masters 65110-2)
* Cat Anderson - The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions: Cat Speaks (Black & Blue BB 971.2)
* Luckey Roberts & Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith - Luckey & The Lion: Harlem Piano Solos (Good Time Jazz 10035)
* Rossano Sportiello - Rossano. In The Dark (Blue Swing 002 / Sackville SKCD 2-2070)
* Bennie Wallace - Disorder At The Border. The Music Of Coleman Hawkins (Enja ENJ-9506 2)
* Sarah Vaughan - 1951-1952 (Classics 1296)
* Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt - God Bless Jug And Sonny (Prestige PRCD-11019-2)
* Wild Bill Davison - Pretty Wild and With Strings Attached (Arbors ARCD 19175)
* Various Artists - The Jazz Piano (Mosaic Singles MCD-1012)

2010-08-17

The Mule's 10 random CD picks (1)

* James P. Johnson - 1942-1945: Piano Solos (Smithsonian Folkways SF CD 40812)
* Willie The Lion Smith - 1938-1940 (Classics 692)
* Marian McPartland - The Single Petal Of A Rose (Concord CCD-4895-2)
* Kenny Davern & Dick Wellstood - Never In A Million Years (Challenge CHR 70019)
* Ben Webster - At The Renaissance (Contemporary/OJC 00025218639026)
* Earl Hines - Four Jazz Giants (Solo Art SACD 111/112)
* Coleman Hawkins - Wrapped Tight (GRP/Impulse! GRD-109)
* Bobby Henderson - Handful Of Keys (Vanguard VMD-8511)
* Lionel Hampton And His Orchestra And Quintet - Jazz Flamenco (RCA 74321364002)
* Various Artists - Prestige First Sessions, Vol. 1 (Prestige PCD-24114-2)

2010-06-17

The Lion on BBC's "Jazz 625" (1966) - 30 min. show

BBC's Jazz 625, hosted by the late Humphrey Lyttelton, featured Willie The Lion Smith in a program from 1966, accompanied by Brian Brocklehurst (bass) and Lennie Hastings (drums) in some selections.

Youtube offers us the opportunity to watch the complete show, which included "Carolina Shout", "Morning Air", "St. Louis Blues", "Dardanella", "Nagasaki" and "Relaxin'".

The Lion obviously enjoys being in the spotlight, facing the audience, smoking his cigar, mopping his brow, talking, joking, vocalizing and improvising over these classical jazz piano chesnuts.

















2010-06-15

Dust the mouldy pics off! [5] - revisited

Regarding my previous post, that included a photograph of the Sugar Johnnie's New Orleans Creole Orchestra, fellow blogger Chris Albertson provides a better quality picture, without any damage preventing us from seeing Lil Hardin's face. Chris reports that the photograph was directly taken from Lil's own wall. If you want to read Lil Hardin's recollections from an unpublished copyrighted manuscript and take a look at many interesting pictures and documents, don't miss Stomp Off in C's archives from August and September 2009.




As always, thanks a lot, Mr. Albertson!

2010-06-09

Dust the mouldy pics off! [5] - De Luxe Cafe Band


De Luxe Cafe Band a.k.a. Sugar Johnnie's New Orleans Creole Orchestra (c. 1917)

From left to right: Wellman Braud (bass), Lil Hardin (piano) (not recognizable due to damaged photo), Lawrence Duhé (clarinet), Sugar Johnnie Smith (cornet), Roy Palmer (trombone) and Minor Hall (drums)

2010-06-01

Dust the mouldy pics off! [4] - Buddy Petit's Jazz Band




Buddy Petit's Jazz Band. Covington, Louisiana. 1920

From left to right: unknown, Eddie "Face-O" Woods (drums), George Washington (trombone), Buddy Petit (cornet), Buddy Manaday (banjo), Edmond Hall (clarinet) and Chester Zardis (bass).

Anyone cares to identify the man on the left? Could it be Pill Coycault, Sadie Goodson or "Chinee" Foster, all of whom were part of Petit's band in those years?

Dust the mouldy pics off! [3] - Arthur Gibbs' orchestra



Arthur Gibbs' Orchestra: Savoy Ballroom, NY (June 1927 to January 1928) and Arcadia Ballroom, NY (February 1928 to June 1928)

From left to right, back row: Sam Hodges (drums), George Washington (trombone), Leonard Davis (trumpet), Billy Taylor (tuba). Front row: Edgar Sampson (alto sax), Happy Caldwell (tenor sax), Gene Michael (alto sax), Arthur Gibbs (piano) and Paul Bernet (banjo).

2010-05-21

Hank Jones - In memoriam


Jack Teagarden, Dixie Bailey, Mary Lou Williams, Tadd Dameron, Hank Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, and Milt Orent at Mary Lou Williams' apartment, New York, ca. Aug. 1947. Copyright by William P. Gottlieb.



Baltimore AfroAmerican, September 20, 1947



Milwaukee Sentinel, October 10, 1952



Norwalk Hour, November 1, 1957

2010-05-17

Vocalists on Ellington's March 30, 1926 Gennett session

In the latest issue of VJM's Jazz & Blues Mart magazine (#157 - Summer 2010), Steven Lasker contributes with an article on Duke Ellington's March 30, 1926 session for Gennett and, specifically, on who's the vocalist on "(You've Got Those) 'Wanna Go Back Home Again' Blues" and "If You Can't Hold The Man You Love" (Gennett 3291).

Here's how Ellington's specialist Eddie Lambert describes this session in his wonderful book Duke Ellington: A Listener's Guide (Scarecrow Press, 1999): "This session was the first of two for the Gennett label, each of which produced two titles. With Miley absent again, the band was that of the preceeding session, augmented by trombonist Jimmy Harrison, and by Prince Robinson and George Thomas, both doubling clarinet and tenor sax. Thus say the discographers, but aurally the band sounds smaller, and it seems probable that Harrison and Thomas were used solely as vocalists. "'Wanna Go Back Again' Blues" (with a vocal by Thomas) includes the first instance on record of imaginative scoring by Ellington, albeit briefly and in a novelty mold. After the band introduction, Hardwick's playing of the theme on baritone is skillfuly offset by two clarinets and the trumpets. This is a considerable contrast to the conventional saxes-against-brass scoring in the eight-bar verse and in the bridge of Irvis's chorus. "If You Can't Hold The Man You Love" (vocal by Jimmy Harrison) has a passage for plunger-muted trumpets which is a distant precursor of what Ellington called his "pep section" in later years. The style, however, looks back to the King Oliver manner and is reminiscent of Oliver's two-cornet breaks with Louis Armstrong on the Creole Jazz Band recordings of three years earlier. Irvis has a terse eight bars but otherwise the performance is dull, despite an attempt to ginger up the last chorus by having Robinson play a piping clarinet improvisation against a written ensemble. This foreshadows a device used regularly and successfully in later years, but in this instance it fails to counteract the prevailing medriocrity".





Since Delaunay's 1938 Hot Discography, almost every published discography (including Rust and Jepsen) has shown George Thomas on the first one and Jimmy Harrison on the second one. As an exception, Bruyninckx lists Jimmy Harrison on both tracks.

On the other hand, Mark Tucker's Ellington: The Early Years (University of Illinois Press, 1991), which contains three pages on this session, lists Sonny Greer on "(You've Got Those) 'Wanna Go Back Home Again' Blues" and Jimmy Harrison on "If You Can't Hold The Man You Love".

Based on Sonny Greer's recollection as recalled by Brooks Kerr, the historical circunstances, and aural evidence, Lasker concludes that neither Thomas nor Harrison take the vocals on those numbers, and that it would have been natural for Ellington to use Sonny Greer as vocalist (as he was the band's regular singer) rather that hiring an outsider such as Thomas or Harrison.



It should be noted that Lasker's recent statement agrees with Luciano Massagli's and Giovanni M. Volonté's The New Desor (Milano, 1999) (thanks to David Palmquist and Ken Steiner for pointing this out to me) and with the current on-line edition of Tom Lord's discography.

Jimmie Noone bio-discography - long overdue!

Jimmie Noone - Jazz Clarinet Pioneer, the new bio-discography of the great clarinetist by James K. Williams, is available from the author at tubawhip@comcast.net for $20 US per copy plus packaging and postage ($4 US in US, $4.50 US to Canada and $8 US to overseas destinations).




This book has 120 pages and includes extensive photographs from the Frank Driggs and Duncan Schiedt collections, Chicago Defender advert art and several historic Noone documents. A long overdue tribute!

2010-05-11

Dust the mouldy pics off! [2] - Elmer Snowden's Nest Club Orch.

Elmer Snowden's Nest Club Orchestra in 1925




Left to right: Te Roy Williams (trombone), Elmer Snowden (leader and banjo), Joe Garland (alto and baritone saxophones), Walter Johnson (drums), Freddy Johnson (piano), Bob Ysaguirre (tuba), Prince Robinson (tenor sax and clarinet) and Rex Stewart (cornet).