Paul Marcorelles had previously published two books with transcriptions of Fats Waller piano solos, to be found here and here.
“(...) If you don’t know the music represented here, these ads might seem charmingly archaic but no more meaningful than drawings of old-time detergent boxes or tubes of toothpaste.
But if you do know what it must have meant to buy the new Art Hodes session on Signature, these ads are tender artifacts of a time when “a record” was a two-sided 78 rpm disk, highly breakable, costing anywhere from thirty-five cents to a dollar, and it was something to treasure. We who collect jazz now and are able to buy every record Fats Waller made (for example) on twenty-four compact discs, should stop a minute and recall such pleasures, even if they had vanished before we were born (...)”.
For his (and I hope others') delight, here’s a new batch of record ads, extracted from Jazz Session magazine and published from May 1945 to July 1946. All single 10" or 12" 78 rpm discs and albums with three 78 rpm discs are represented here, labels being Asch, Blue Note, Disc, Jazz Information, Session, Keynote, Capitol and H.R.S.
Joe Showler wanted to bring the collection to Vernon and turn it into a museum, but his death thwarted that plan. Mark Finn has reactivated it, and the Showler collection will find its way to Vernon upon the completion of a $175,000 fund-raising campaign. A tenth of that sum will cover the transplanting of the archive from Toronto to the Texas Plains. A historic-property earmark has provided the real estate, and a $50,000 matching-funds promise from Vernon’s tourism agency has lent momentum.
Joe Showler tenía intención de llevar la colección a Vernon y convertirla en un museo, pero su muerte frustró ese plan. Mark Finn ha reactivado el proyecto, y la colección Showler irá a Vernon si se consigue completar una campaña de recogida de fondos por 175.000 dólares, de los que una décima parte serán necesarios para cubrir el transporte del archivo desde Toronto hasta Texas.
Para hacer donaciones, se puede contactar con Mark Finn por e-mail (MarkFinn@texas.net) o por teléfono (940-839-7873)
Más detalles en Fort Worth Business Press.
Things started off with an opening ensemble statement of “Margie”, followed by three solo choruses by a young Russian trumpeter by the name of “Eugeni” who sat in for Pepe Núñez, who had gall bladder surgery recently (when, at the end of the first set I asked Jim who he was, I just got a “Oh, he’s Eugeni, a Russian trumpet player”). At the beginning of the concert, Eugeni was a bit rhythmically stiff, and it was clear there was a certain lack of rapport with the other musicians (a couple of times he started an additional solo chorus when it was not expected and received Kashishian’s surprised glance) but he got progressively better, much better, and showed a nice tone in the mid and high register (no excursions to the super-high register were needed), a clearly Armstrong-influence phrasing and good ideas and choice of notes. He played the lead in all the ensemble passages, except for the second strain of “Black And Blue”, when trombone played the melody and trumpet played countermelody.
“It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie”, starting with an intro by pianist/keyboardist Fernando Sobrino, was the second number, with Kashishian’s kind of staccato vocals and a plunger-muted trombone solo, followed by “Christopher Columbus”, that included a scat vocal chorus and a good solo by bassist Antonio Domínguez, and “Black And Blue”, introduced with vibrancy by Sobrino and containing a beautiful trombone solo with long sustained notes. The Fats Waller ride went on with “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, enriched by nice obbligati trumpet figures behind Kashishian’s vocals, and Strayhon’s “Take The A Train” preluded an uptempo rendition of Larry Shields’ and Nick La Rocca’s “Fidgety Feet”, which happened to be the last piece of the first set.
And this first set was the last set for me, as next day I had to wake up at six thirty in the morning, as usual. After a brief talk with Jim Kashishian while buying the two Canal Street CDs that I didn’t previously own, I was off to take a taxi and made my way home. In fact, a fifty-five minutes interlude of good live jazz was enough to lift my spirit for a while.
Mi breve receso del trabajo diario y de las obligaciones familiares tenía un objetivo claro. Ya había estado en varios conciertos de “la Canal” y sabía lo que iba a recibir: una descarga de auténtico hot jazz. Apuesto a que no más de cinco personas en la audiencia fueron capaces de reconocer “Margie”, “Black And Blue” or “Fidgety Feet”, pero estoy completamente seguro de que todo el mundo disfrutó de la música y, a su manera, supo apreciarla.
El concierto empezó con todo el grupo tocando el tema de “Margie”, seguido por un solo de tres chorus del joven trompetista ruso “Eugeni”, que sustituyó al habitual Pepe Núñez, al que han operado de la vesícula recientemente (cuando al final del primer pase le pregunté a Jim Kashishian por el nombre del trompetista, sólo me supo decir “Oh, es Eugeni, un trompetista ruso”). Al principio del concierto, se notaba a Eugeni un poco anquilosado rítmicamente y quedaba patente que no había mucha compenetración con los demás músicos (en sus solos, un par de veces empezó un nuevo chorus que no esperaba el resto del grupo y recibió la mirada sorprendida de Kashishian), pero mejoró progresivamente, y mucho. Tiene un timbre muy agradable en el registro medio y alto de la trompeta (nada de viajes estratosféricos al planeta de los sobreagudos), una clara influencia de Armstrong en el fraseo y buenas ideas y elección de notas. Tocó la melodía principal en casi todos los temas, salvo en el segundo chorus de “Black And Blue”, en el que el trombón tocó la melodía y la trompeta la contramelodía.
El segundo tema fue “It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie”, que empezó con una introducción a los teclados de Fernando Sobrino y continuó con Kashishian cantando con su peculiar staccato y haciendo un solo de trombón con sordina plunger. A continuación, “Christopher Columbus”, con un chorus de scat y un buen solo de contrabajo de Antonio Domínguez, y “Black And Blue”, con una vibrante introducción de piano y un magnífico solo de trombón con notas largas y sostenidas. El festival de Fats Waller siguió con “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, sazonado con bellas figuras en obbligato de la trompeta tras el vocalista y, para finalizar el primer pase, “Take The A Train” de Strayhorn y una versión a tiempo rápido de “Fidgety Feet” de Larry Shields y Nick La Rocca.
Y este primer pase fue también el último para mí, puesto que al día siguiente tenía que levantarme a las seis y media como de costumbre. Tras una breve charla con Jim Kashishian en la que aproveché para comprar los dos únicos discos de la Canal Street que no tenía, me fui a coger un taxi. Cincuenta y cinco minutos de buen jazz en directo fueron suficientes para subirme el ánimo.
"(...) There was a place in Harlem called Robinson’s Restaurant on 131 Street. There, during a long period, every morning between 5 and 6 o’clock I had the damnedest piano contests that I ever cared to have with anyone, with none other than Duke Ellington. The number I used to wash him away with sometimes was his own composition “Jig Walk”. Count Basie and I are the greatest of friends but one trouble I find with him is that every time we meet he wants to have a piano contest to prove he can always cut me. But by the time we have finished searching for a piano in every bar in town (where there are absolutely no pianos) we’ve come to the conclusion that this contest for which we’ve waited for the last 20-odd years will never come about unless someone closes down all the bars and lets us reach a piano!
Roger Ram Ramirez has the same fault in his playing as I have, that is, not being able to record well, but if you hear him in person you must consider him one of the very greatest piano players of our time. I’d like to mention that he is also the composer of “Lover Man”, Billie Holiday’s greatest hit.
Herman Chittison has practically as fast a right hand as Tatum but not with the benefit of Tatum’s inspiration. A very good pianist and I recommend him highly.
Speaking about the years 1935-37, there was one of the most talented youngsters who ever sat down at a piano: Garnet Clark. He had -among many other things- a terrific arrangement of “Tiger Rag” and it is one of jazz music’s great losses that he died so soon (1928, in Paris, at the age of 20 or 21). His recordings of “Rosetta”, “Object Of My Affection” and “I Got Rhythm” (French HMV) show him in fine form.
I’d like to mention the name of a pianist who, in my estimation, knew more chords on the piano than even our genius Tatum: Clarence Profit. Unfortunately this exceptional artist had that fault known to many musicians, not being able to record well. He, too, died young.
Next we have Cliff Jackson, whose reputation as N.Y.’s greatest band pianist was unquestioned. It was not until I heard his record on the Black and White label in Johnny Simmen’s home, however, that I discovered that he was also a terrific soloist in shout style, the music we know best. Whenever I hear of Earl Hines I remember that he impressed me so much with his playing in such masterpieces as “Deep Forest” and “West End Blues”. I consider him an ideal of all ages. Inasmuch as his style was so different from our Harlem stride manner, the fact that he played (and even still does, to this day) in his own inimitable way makes him an honorary member of jazz in big bright lights!
Now we are coming to a jazz mystery. This mystery is Thelonious Monk. It has been said he created bop. I jammed with him for years and I have the records .Any resemblance between Monk’s playing and bop is to me purely a coincidence. He lays a very interesting piano that impresses any musician including the Tate (Art Tatum), but his style is so mysterious that I must admit I have no name for it. But it’s wonderful.
That day in 1930 I recorded with Louis Armstrong (Coconut Grove Orch.), Buck Washington was on the session. He played “Dear Old Southland” with Louis, but aside from that fact Buck would come to Harlem from his engagements downtown with Bubbles, his dancing partner and give all of us more trouble than we had the desire for. In other words, Buck Washington is a terrific pianist.
The first time in my life I heard a piano played completely beautifully was when I heard Ellis Larkins. I tried many times to imitate Ellis on sweet tunes and then I realized it is a special art.
When I was in the army I met a pianist of whom I had heard before but had never met. His name is Kenneth Kersey, one of the most unassuming persons you could ever meet and who plays a really dynamic swing piano. What surprised me as much about him was his equally terrific playing of the trumpet. When you hear “Little Jazz” Eldridge you have heard Kenneth Kersey on the trumpet and vice-versa! As for Kenny’s piano work, his “Sweet Lorraine” on Mercury gives you a good idea of his great talent.
Although I have had Marlowe Morris tell me to my face that I have never taught him anything, I can prove by musicians such as Art Tatum, Ram Ramirez, Chittison, etc. that I taught Marlowe Morris for three years how to use his left hand. He always had a terrific right, but his left hand is Joe Turner.
Of Nat Jaffe, who died prematurely, I can’t truthfully say that I can remember anyone who could interpret Art Tatum better. Furthermore, he was a true friend of mine and we would hang out together nightly, as well as another friend of his -also a very fine pianist-, Johnny Guarnieri. You only needed to mention the name of a good jazz pianist and Johnny would imitate him!
Now, I would like to make mention of something that happened to me in Utica,N.Y.: I walked into an all-night club and saw and heard at the piano an old and great friend of mine who is also one of the really important pianists: Gene Rodgers (who had played in England before the war), but this is not half the story. It ended with one of the darnest piano contests I ever had because Gene played his head off and I did my darnest but a third man, who happened to be none other than Erroll Garner, wrapped it up! There is no joke about it: Erroll Garner is just about as great as they come!"
When I left Toledo I took his name and address with intentions of bringing him to New York, to team with me, especially since we were having troubles with Francis Carter. But when we returned to New York the troubles switched over to me and left the act, although they wanted to get rid of Francis. Since he was the only one left who knew the act, they kept him. Being honest with everyone, I gave Adelaide Hall Art Tatum’s address and that’s how he came to New York. Many people believed until now that I played together with Art -unfortunately I did not. Although I was supposed to have done, because of so much explaining, I decided not to deny anyone's belief that I had (that’s something putting all the discographies upside-down!) So I declare: Francis Carter made “I’m In The Mood For Love” with me, not Art Tatum, and Francis Carter played in my place with Art Tatum.
Now to mention some more pianists who really gave me solid kicks in my life:
Lucky (sic) Roberts, Fats Waller, who was the best friend I ever had, Willie The Lion Smith -the most unpredictable pianist of all time because if Tatum played, if Fats played, if James P. played, if anyone in Harlem played, we could pretty well guess what their feature number would be- but, when The Lion roared you never knew what was coming. By the way, The Lion and I are always in correspondence, reminiscing about the old times and discussing events in the present day jazz world. We are still having fun together, in spite of The Lion roaring in New York while I’m beating it out all over Switzerland.
There is one other pianist whose genius I would like to have heard beside that of Art Tatum: Seminole (Abalabba). He was the greatest trick pianist I have ever heard. I have jammed together with him many times and I know quite well that he was one of the wonders of our time. It would have been wonderful to have heard two geniuses in a contest, but Tatum came to New York after Seminole had already died.
Many times I heard Jelly Roll Morton brag about the things he’d done for jazz and much to my amazement he would always prove every statement. This leaves us to the one fact about Jelly Roll. This is that the mere mention of the history of jazz without his name in capitals, is bunk. Teddy Wilson came to New York and played with Benny Carter’s orchestra at Connie’s Inn. He gave me no peace until I had taught him some of those smashing minor thirds that I had learned from James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. There is no doubt that Teddy Wilson is one of the cleanest technicians of our time.
Another name I cannot leave out is that of Donald Lambert who came often to New York from New Jersey, always looking for cutting contests. Believe me, when he finished throwing that left hand very few people had even a desire to walk past the piano, let alone play it!
Another old friend of mine who would stutter in his speech but never in his playing, and whose left hand is comparable to that of the Lion, James P., The Beetle and Kirby Walker, is Willie Gant. Willie would always get Kirby Walker and hunt for me because it seems that my left had worried him a bit so he decided between him and Kirby Walker they could give me all the troubles I needed because they both had (and have) dynamite lefts (...)."
This is the first installment of the complete text, which will come in three parts.
"I was born November 3, 1907 in Baltimore, Maryland. At the age of five my mother taught me piano (ear training) and then, after awhile, I improved alone. When I was twelve I took music lessons for six months. My very first teacher, a women, was a "clock-watcher" which I didn`t like. I paid her 75 cents an hour. The week after, I took lessons from a new teacher, a Mrs. Alma J. Thomas, wife of A. Jack Thomas, a well-known musical director in Baltimore. What I liked about Mrs. Thomas is that she was not a "clock-watcher," but really interested in my playing, even cracking my fingers with a ruler when I made mistakes. So, not too long after that I used to stand by the piano and say to my Aunt Katie, "I sure wish I could play like that," and then I started playing "shout piano," copying her, but without the benefit of the left hand. Gradually I made such progress in that style that people started considering me a good pianist. I entered into a piano contest one night (my first one, in fact; my latest one having taken place last August when the marvelous Ralph Sutton and I were taking turns at the piano in one unforgettable session.)
While we were waiting at the theatre to be called on stage, a tall, smooth-talking fellow by the name of Frank Johnson came up to me and said, “Kid, I want you and the rest of the fellows to do your best tonight because I’ll win the contest anyway. I know I can win, not even playing my best". I stomped with my "shout piano" through "Oh Baby, Don’t Say No, Say Maybe" and came in second. Frank Johnson won, as he had said, and I became very interested in him and asked him to teach me a few piano tricks. He agreed on the condition that I’d buy the music to the latest tunes and teach them to him because he couldn’t read. His style of playing was so similar to a good piano roll that you could not tell the difference. Frank was the first one, too, who mentioned the name of James P. Johnson to me, making clear that James P. was known, in fact, as the greatest jazz pianist in the world. That was in 1923.
I learned so rapidly from Frank’s teaching that the entire city of Baltimore was comparing me to him. That’s when he decided not to teach me any further because he did not wish to have that much competition. I take off my hat to him for being honest and plain spoken.
My interest in my left hand began when I heard Eddie Gibson of Baltimore, who had one of the greatest left hands I ever heard in my life. I would frequently visit his home and he’d play for hours with his left hand along and he was always complaining that his left hand must be brushed up!! This became boring to me at that time but I found out later that it was necessary to have a powerful left hand to play piano properly.
I copied numbers from James P. Johnson’s piano rolls such as "Harlem Strut" and the "Carolina Shout" and copied them so well that I was considered a sort of child wonder. After being encouraged to go to New York I considered it, and went. I arrived in New York City with only one dollar and twenty-five cents in my pocket, and a suitcase made of a carton. (I had told my Mother I had a job in NY, which explained my reason for not taking more money but in reality I had no job; I was just trying to make my luck in the big city). I asked the first person I met where I could find the colored section. I was told to take the E1 train to 130th Street in Harlem. There I asked where the musicians were hanging out. They told me that it was a placed called "The Comedy Club". Going there I had a drink, set my bag down and noticed that anyone who wished could play the piano. Realizing that none of the pianists who had performed before me had done anything special I walked over and started in. After a warm-up number I went into the "Harlem Strut" and then I went to the climax with “Carolina Shout”. When I had finished people swarmed around me and wanted to know where I came from. After I’d told them, someone in the crowd told me that the composer of the last two numbers I had just played was in the room: James P. Johnson! Of course, you can imagine how I felt! I must have impressed him however, since he left his table, came up to the piano and played the same two numbers as nobody in the world could! After it was over someone asked me if I wanted a job and of course I said “Yes” then asked “When do I start?”, at which point he replied “Right away, just come with me”.
I went with him to Baron (sic) Wilkins’ Club (most famous piano club in Harlem, all the best pianists having played there one time or another) where I met, for the first time, and played with, Hilton Jefferson, the great alto man. When the boss told me he could only pay thirty dollars a week I almost fainted because I had never made more than twelve dollars. I worked there for a few months then joined the red hot band of trumpeter June Clark, who was a carbon copy of Louis Armstrong. June and Jimmy Harrison were known as the greatest brass team of that wonderful period. Jazz Carson, a fine drummer, completed our quartet.
During these first few months in NY I visited Clarence Williams’ office where I met one who I considered a truly great pianist, Eddie Blind Steele. This was also the time when we had the world’s most exciting piano contests night after night with the following pianists regularly present: James P., Willie The Lion Smith, Fats Waller and Joe Turner. Very rarely did other pianists dare to play. Of course, there were times when Stephen The Beetle Henderson was getting into the contest and he was demanding the greatest respect for his perfect left hand. Two others who would try their luck occasionally were Corky Williams and Willie Gant (...)."
When Turner returned home, he joined Sy Oliver's service band at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey, then playing as a soloist in New York (1939-1943) or as part of Rex Stewart's orchestra.
By 1948, he came back to Europe for good, variously headquartered in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, London and Paris, where he was featured regularly from 1962 on at "La Calvados", a bar off the Champs Elysées. Here's where, according to Siegfried H. Mohr, on March 3, 1990, Ralph Sutton, François Rilhac and Louis Mazetier joined him in a truly memorable kind of Stride Piano Summit.
Here you have a few Dailymotion Joe Turner gems, from a rare French TV program from the Sixties, Jazz Session. The other featured musician on this program was Champion Jack Dupree.
The above mentioned consistency stayed up until he was in his 80s, and what follows is a very personal selection of six discs from his last twenty years, with the only common links of being easily available on CD and having relatively unknown or, at least, not star-like rhythm sections and colleague hornmen (one exception to both characteristics is the Bucky Pizzarelli disc). Oh, yes, I know Alex Welsh was an outstanding trumpetist and a well respected institution in the British trad jazz scene, and Howard Alden is a must everywhere there’s a mainstream jazz session, but you know what I mean.
By listening to these discs you’ll discover that his commitment to his own style is present even in his 70s. He developed it in the early-to-mid 30s, as an alternative approach on the tenor to the harder-toned style of Coleman Hawkins and we cannot forget he was a strong influence in Lester Young, though Freeman’s tone has more of an edge than Young’s and though rhythmically there are similarities with the earlier style of Coleman Hawkins. His instantly recognizable convoluted phrasing, his old frantic drive and his trademark licks in the uptempo numbers are still present on these discs, as is his highly personal way of treating ballads, tender but with no sentimentality, and his moderate and intelligent use of vibrato.
Detractors say he had been playing the very same solo since he recorded “The Eel” with Eddie Condon and his Orchestra in 1933. So much the worse for them!
Esta consistencia se mantuvo hasta incluso después de cumplidos los ochenta. Aquí se presenta una selección muy personal de seis discos grabados en los veinte últimos años de su carrera, con los únicos vínculos comunes de estar disponibles en CD y de contar con el acompañamiento de músicos no demasiado conocidos (con la excepción, en ambos casos, del disco con Bucky Pizzarelli). Todo ello con el máximo respeto a Alex Welsh, destacado trompetista y toda una institución altamente respetada en la escena del jazz tradicional británico y a Howard Alden, un fichaje obligado en cualquier sesión de jazz mainstream.
Al escuchar estos discos se hace patente que el compromiso de Bud Freeman con su propia forma de tocar el saxo tenor persiste en su vejez. Freeman desarrolló su estilo definitivo en los primeros años 30, como una alternativa al de Coleman Hawkins (de tono más poderoso) y fue una clara influencia en el de Lester Young, aunque el tono de Freeman tiene más aristas y rítmicamente existen ciertas similitudes con el estilo temprano de Hawkins. Su fraseo enrevesado y reconocible al instante, su frenético empuje y sus licks marca de la casa en los tiempos rápidos siguen presentes en estas grabaciones, al igual que su manera muy personal de afrontar las baladas, delicada pero sin caer en sentimentalismos, y su uso moderado e inteligente del vibrato.
Sus detractores le achacan que estuvo tocando el mismo solo desde que grabó “The Eel” con la orquesta de Eddie Condon en 1933. ¡Peor para ellos!
Recorded at Manchester Sports Guild, June 19, 1966
Bud Freeman (ts); Alex Welsh (t, voc); Roy Williams (tb); John Barnes (cl, bs); Jim Douglas (g); Fred Hunt (p); Ron Matthewson (b); Lennie Hastings (d)
Recorded in London, August 13, 1974
Bud Freeman (ts); Keith Ingham (p); Pete Chapman (b); Johnny Armitage (d)
Recorded in New York, 1976
Bud Freeman (ts); Bucky Pizzarelli (g); Hank Jones (p); Bob Haggart (b); Ron Traxler (d)
Recorded in Dublin, 1976.
Bud Freeman (ts); Noel Kelehan (p); Jimmy McKay (b); Jack Daly or John Wadham (d)
Recorded in London, May 1980
Bud Freeman (ts); Brian Lemon (p); Len Skeat (b); John Richardson (d)
Recorded at the Skytrails Restaurant, Van Nuys, California, January 9, 1982
Bud Freeman (ts); Dick Cathcart (t); Betty O’Hara (tb); Bob Reitmeier (cl); Ray Sherman (p); Howard Alden (g); Phil Stephens (b); Nick Fatool (d)
A bit of Jazz Trivia and a taste of Bud Freeman’s sense of humour:
After trombonist Betty O’Hara soaring solo on “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue” (from California Session), Bud Freeman kissed her on the cheek. Then you can hear him say, “Oh, that’s the first time I’ve ever kissed a trombone player.”
The first phonograph recording was cut on February 28, 1923 for Columbia, alongside “Papa Blues”, “Railroad Blues” and “Glory Shout”. Neither of them was ever issued.
To my knowledge, the piano roll versions of “Caprice Rag” have not been issued on CD yet, unlike many other James P. rolls from these early years. Both the Metro-Art and the Perfection rolls are included in “James P. Johnson 1917, volume 2” (Biograph BLP 1009Q). The 1943 Blue Note version can be found in "The Complete Blue Note Sessions Of Edmond Hall/James P. Johnson/Sidney De Paris & Vic Dickenson" (Mosaic MD4-109).
For instant pleasure and visual enjoyment, check Dick Wellstood playing “Caprice Rag” on December 3, 1978 at Manassas, Virginia.