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Woopee Makers’ Jazz: CARL HALEN’S Gin Bottle Seven

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Carl Halen (cnt) Bob Butters (tb) Martin Kollstedt (cl) Jim Campbell (bass sax) Matt Fuchs (p) Jan Carroll (bj, vcl) Tom Hyer (drs)      

Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio; August 26, 1957


1. Once in a While (3:46) (William Butler)

2. You’re Next (3:49) (Lil Armstrong)

3. King Porter Stomp (2:05) (Jelly Roll Morton)

4. ‘Deed I Do (3:15) (Hirsch –Rose)

5. Ugly Child (vcl) (4:15) (C. Williams – Brunis)

6. Snake Rag (3:16) (Joe Oliver)


1. Somebody Stole My Gal (3:39) (Leo Wood)

2. Beale Street Blues (vcl) (3:33) (W. C. Handy)

3. Mabel’s Dream (3:04) (Ike Smith)

4. Original Jelly Roll Blues (P3) (2:58) (Jelly Roll Morton)

5. Copenhagen (3:22) (Melrose – Davis)

6. Emperor Norton’s Hunch (2:31) (Lu Watters)

   It should never be forgotten – but sometimes is – that jazz is very much a good time music. That is not, of course, the whole story, but it is a fundamental part. And as long as there are high-spirited young groups like the one heard on this LP, there is actually very little danger this particular basic fact being forgotten.

CARL HALEN is much too young a man to have any first-hand recollections of the period known as The Roaring ‘20s. Yet the happy and rollicking jazz played by his Gin Bottle Seven is unquestionably a direct descendant of the music of the era of snappy slogans and bathtub gin. There are quite a few youthful jazz groups in operation today who draw upon traditional jazz sources for their inspiration, but there are none who go about it quite like this energetic gang of Cincinatians. For one this, they refuse to limit themselves to any one or two early sources; for another, they refuse to allow even a hint of grim dedication or heavy-handed imitation of the past to creep into their approach to their music.

   The members of the Gin Bottle Seven are thoroughly familiar with what has gone before in the vast and quite varied body of earlier jazz that can loosely be lumped under the heading of “Dixieland.” They know the classic recordings of Louis and Jelly Roll, of Bix, of the white pioneers of “Chicago style” and the Negro creators of free-wheeling “South Side Chicago” jazz, of Lu Watters’ influential group of Californians who inaugurated the “revival” of New Orleans-style jazz. They know all this, but they do not choose to make any of it into a shrine. It is, on the contrary, their belief that all of traditional jazz is capable of being kept alive and light-hearted. They consider just about all of it, and more, as proper source material for their use; and they insist upon keeping in mind that much of it originally came into existence as happy, buoyant music.

   Their repertoire here proves the point. Included among the dozen selections are two classic Jelly Roll Morton pieces (King Porter and Original Jelly Roll Blues); two items first recorded by King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band (Mabel’s Dream and Oliver’s celebrated Snake Rag); Handy’s Beale Street Blues; and two tunes that belonged to Armstrong’s Hot Five (Once in a While and You’re Next). But there are also two pop tunes of the ‘20s (‘Deed I Do and Somebody Stole My Gal); Copenhagen is largely associated with the Condon-Chicago mob; Ugly Child has long been a specialty of Dixielander George Brunis; and Emperor Norton is a Lu Watters creation.

   All of this might seem a rather motley collection, but it is unified by the overall spirit with which the Gin Bottle Seven takes on all dozen; a rousing, good-time spirit that justifies that album title of “Whoopee Makers” is an honored term in jazz recording, having been variously used for sides by groups as different as the early Duke Ellington band and a late-‘20s recording unit including Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden and Jimmy McPartland. Both because it has such an eclectic history and because it has been used by some pretty able performers, the name is not at all out of place.

   The Gin Bottle Seven has been in continuous existence since 1953 - a long time as jazz groups go nowadays. Carl Halen first gained attention as key member of Gene Mayl’s Dixieland Rhythm Kings, a youthful band that emerged from Ohio in the early 1950s to make quite a national name for itself. The Army took Carl away from that band, and after leaving service he proceeded to form the Gin Bottle unit, which has remained active and developed a considerable reputation in and around its home base of Cincinnati. Of the current lineup, five members were in the original group. In addition to Halen, they were; bajoist-vocalist Jan Carroll; Tom Hyer on drums; trombonist Bob Butters, who in ’53 was only a part-time member; and Jim Campbell, who was on clarinet in the ’53 band, and whose presence now as a bass saxophone player – instead of the tuba usually found in similar groups – is indicative of their lighter and more swinging concept and sound.

   This much cohesiveness in the personnel should suggest a rare ‘togetherness’ that adds one more plus factor to the considerable qualifications of this unique outfit.

   This LP marks the Gin Bottle Seven’s second Riverside appearance. An earlier recording, by similar personnel, is –

Gin Bottle Jazz (RLP 12-231)

   Several other outstanding 12-inch Riverside LPs offer music in the Dixieland and traditional-jazz idioms, including –

At the HI-FI Jazz Band Ball: Gene Mayl’s DIXIELAND RHYTHM KINGS (RLP 12-259)

Dixieland in HI-FI: Gene Mayl’s DIXIELAND RHYTHM KINGS (RLP 12-210)

Dance Off Both Your Shoes in HI-FI: The RED ONION JAZZ BAND (RLP 12-260)

GEORGE LEWIS: Jazz at Vespers (RLP 12-230)

GEORGE LEWS Quartet and Band (RLP 12-207)

JOE SULLIVAN: New Solos by an Old Master (RLP 12-202)

Ragtime: TONY PARENTI (RLP 12-205)


RALPH SUTTON piano solos (RLP 12-212)

San Francisco Style: LU WATTERS and BOB HELM; with Turk Murphy, Bob Scobey, Wally Rose, Everett Farey (RLP 12-213)

CONRAD JANIS: Dixieland Jam Session; with Bob Wilber, Ralph Sutton (RLP 12-215)


New Orleans Contrasts: PAUL BARBARINE and SHARKEY BONANO (RLP 12-217)

A HIGH FIDELITY Recording (Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve)


Cover by PAUL WELLER (photography) and PAUL BACON (design)

Engineer: DAVE JONES.

Issued by arrangement with Empirical Recording


235 West 46th Street New York 36, N.Y.

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