Jazz photograph - Art in itself

Gjon Mili's art on jazz photograph: drummer Gene Krupa, unidentified bass player and pianist Eddie Heywood.

(c) Gjon Mili / Time Life

(c) Gjon Mili / Time Life

(c) Gjon Mili / Time Life


Fletcher Henderson - New Albert Theatre ad (May 3, 1930)

This concert ad was published in The Afro American (May 3, 1930). Fletcher Henderson's orchestra was going to play at the New Albert Theatre, Baltimore, and it strikes me that, among this amazing constellation of stars (Rex Stewart, Jimmy Harrison or Coleman Hawkins, to name a few), this advertisement underlines drummer Kaiser Marshall, "the world's greatest drummer".


Satchmo, the boop boop a doop man

Songstress and comedienne Helen Kane caused quite a sensation in the late 20's and early 30's with her remarkably unique style, full of charm and talent. His signature scat phrase was "boop boop a doop" and actually she was a bit overshadowed by Betty Boop, the character allegedly ripped-off from her persona.

Have you ever heard Louis Armstrong called "boop boop a doop man" in reference to his scat singing? No? Well, it's about time you read this brief notice published in The Afro American (May 3, 1930).

Meet Hot Lips Page, the jive exponent

This odd piece was published in The Afro American, October 6, 1945. Oran's perennial smile is well captured in the main picture, but the biographical small ones are funny, at most.


Fats Waller interview (NYTimes, July 25, 1943)

Murray Schumach interviewed Fats Waller after one of the “Early To Bed” performances at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York, and the results were published in the NYTimes (July 25, 1943), just a few months before his passing (December 15). I haven’t found any reference to this interview in the thoroughly researched and high regarded Fats Waller bible, Laurie Wright’s Fats In Fact (Storyville Publications, 1992), but it is mentioned and partially reproduced in Maurice Waller’s biography of his father (co-authored with Anthony Calabrese), called simply Fats Waller (Schirmer Books, 1977).

There are several highlights, one of them being Schumach’s description of Fats Waller’s performance of “Tea For Two” as arranged by Art Tatum. It has such a photographic quality that you can easily imagine the black and white picture:

“There was an unreal quality to the music, like something in an opium den. It was soft, liquid and lingering, the rhythm slow and subtle. Intricate runs fluttered around the melody. Fats was hunched slightly, cigarette almost touching his chin and the smoke drifting lazily past half-closed eyes. He seemed to have forgotten the handful of listeners”.

Fats Waller doesn’t fail to point out two of his strong pronouncements: his reverent respect and admiration for Art Tatum and his disdain for boogie-woogie:

“That Tatum, he was just too good (…). He had too much technique. When that man turns on the powerhouse don’t no one play him down. He sounds like a brass band.”

“That’s music
[referring to Tatum’s arrangement of “Tea For Two”]. Subdued and blatant. None of this boogie-woogie stuff that’s just monotonous. Boogie-woogie is all right if you want to beat your brains out for five minutes. But for more than that you got to have melody. Jimmy Johnson taught me that. You got to hang onto the melody and never let it get boresome.”

More on Tatum's and Waller's mutual admiration soon!



Murray Schumach entrevistó a Fats Waller después de una de las representaciones de “Early To Bed” en el teatro Broadhurst de Nueva York. El resultado se publicó en el New York Times de 25 de julio de 1943, unos pocos meses antes de su muerte, el 15 de diciembre. No he encontrado ninguna referencia a esta entrevista en la “biblia” de Fats Waller, Fats In Fact de Laurie Wright (Storyville Publications, 1992), pero sí se menciona y se transcribe parcialmente en la biografía de Maurice Waller (hijo de Fats) y Anthony Calíbrese, llamada sencillamente Fats Waller y publicada por Schirmer Books en 1977.

Hay algunos momentos notables. Uno de ellos es la descripción que hace Schumach de la interpretación de “Tea For Two” por Fats Waller, según el arreglo de Art Tatum. Hay una cualidad casi fotográfica en esa descripción; te puedes imaginar fácilmente la fotografía en blanco y negro:

“La música tenía una cualidad casi irreal, como si estuvieras en un fumadero de opio. Era suave, clara y persistente, con un ritmo lento y sutil. Complejas frases revoloteaban alrededor de la melodía. Fats estaba ligeramente encogido, con el cigarrillo casi tocándole la barbilla y el humo flotando con pereza alrededor de los ojos medio cerrados. Parecía haberse olvidado del puñado de oyentes.”

Fats Waller no deja de señalar dos de sus más marcadas opiniones: su admiración y respeto casi reverente por Art Tatum y su desprecio por el boogie-woogie:

“Ese Tatum es demasiado bueno. Tiene demasiada técnica. Cuando ese tío se pone a máxima potencia, nadie puede batirle. Suena como una banda al completo."

“Eso sí que es música
[refiriéndose al arreglo que hizo Tatum de “Tea For Two”]. Contenida y a la vez descarada. Nada de ese boogie-woogie, que es sencillamente monótono. El boogie-woogie está bien si quieres machacarte el cerebro durante cinco minutos. Pero a partir de ahí, necesitas tener una melodía. Eso me lo enseñó Jimmy Johnson. Tienes que aferrarte a la melodía y no dejar nunca que se vuelva aburrida.”

¡Pronto habrá más sobre la mutua admiración entre Tatum y Waller!

Louis Armstrong in Baltimore (April 28, 1930)

Oh boy, the King Of Them All is coming to town! Put on your best tuxedo, uncork your best bottle of French champagne and prepare yourself for a wild ride!

The Afro American (April 26, 1930)

I got the best Jelly Roll - Black Swan/OKeh ads

While doing some research through the Afro American archives (Baltimore edition), I came across these three ads from the OKeh (1930) and Black Swan Labels (1921). Small rounded treasures for 75 or 85 cents apiece!

The Afro American (June 14, 1930)

The Afro American (July 22, 1921)

The Afro American (September 30, 1921)