CARL HALEN with Gene Mayl’s Dixieland Rhythm Kings and The Washboard Five
Dixieland Rhythm Kings: Carl Halen (tp) Charlie Sonnanstine (tb) Jim Campbell (bj) Gene Mayl (tu) Tom Hyer (drs)
Dayton, Ohio; December 1950
The Washboard Five: Carl Halen (tp) Bob Greene (p) Bob Sann (bj) Charlie Paris (g) Bob Thompson (wbrd) Paul Bacon (vcl) on #6 & #7 New York; 1951
DIXIELAND RHYTHM KINGS
1. Tiger Rag (2'23") (original Dixieland Jazz Band)
2. Ace in the Hole (2'33") (Dempsey-Mitchell)
3. Oh, By Jingo (2'30") (Brown-Van Tilzer)
4. Don't Go Way Nobody (chorus) (2'32") (Buddy Bolden)
THE WASHBOARD FIVE
5. Cake Walkin' Babies from Home (3'03") (Williams-smith-Troy)
6. Doctor Jazz (vcl-P.B.) (3'43") (Joe Oliver)
7. Heebie Jeebies (vcl-P.B.) (2'15") (Boyd-Atkins)
8. Willie the Weeper (2'00") (Traditional)
One of the most convincing proofs of the continuing vitality of traditional jazz is undoubtedly to be found in its appeal to younger jazzmen. It's true that many have turned to the "newer" forms. But it's equally true that there is no shortage of talented young bands and individuals who insist on playing in vein that stems directly from the New Orleans style.
CARL HALEN, who is now only in his mid-twenties and one of the outstanding examples of such youthful traditionalism. His fierce, spirited horn is a fine and joyful thing to hear. IF you choose merely to listen - without bothering too much about where these tunes come from or the significance of groups like these in the revival and continuation of early jazz styles - surely no one can blame you. But this music is also notable as an indication of just how far removed Halen and his colleagues are from any trace of the rigidity or mustiness that an overly sober word like "traditional" can wrongly imply.
It would probably be a very good idea to dispense with that word (even though it is well-beloved by jazz writers), since it can't begin to conjure up the warmth and spirit and general good-time atmosphere that this sort of music has always had and that it retains fully in these performances. The next best thing is to keep a record like this LP handy for reference whenever the term comes up. For example, the numbers played here were, for the most part, serving jazzmen before most of these young musicians were even born. Tiger Rag belongs to the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Don't Go Way Nobody, attributed to the legendary Storyville cornetist, Buddy Bolden, stretches back even further. Cake Walkin' Babies and Heebie Jeebies were first associated with Louis Armstrong, in the 1920s; King Oliver's Doctor Jazz was first recorded by Jelly Roll Morton. But none of these are played here in anything like direct, unimaginative imitation of the way they were originally done - these musicians are fully aware of the fact the to attempt such a thing would, in itself, be a violation of the free, improvisatory spirit of early jazz.
But since men like Halen, trombonist Charlie Sonnanstine, tuba player Gene Mayl and the others love and respect traditional jazz and have studied the records made by the early masters, those versions are recognizably the base from which they proceed to create their own music. Actually, the tunes they use, though old, are far from hackneyed. For one of the main desires of groups like these is to shake loose from the narrow confines of the restricted repertories that many current dixieland outfits insist on playing to death; with few exceptions, the numbers here have been recorded rarely or not at all for a good many years. Also, old popular songs like Oh, By Jingo (1919) and Ace In The Hole (1909) represent deliberate departures from what is customarily considered 'proper' jazz material, although both are "traditional" American umbers in another sense. They demonstrate that good jazzmen can turn almost any structurally sound tune into good jazz.
CARL HALEN, Ohio-born, has studied music and played jazz for about as long as he can remember. He started on cornet, but switched to trumpet before making his professional debut with the Dixieland Rhythm Kings in 1947. He achieved considerable fame in jazz circles with the D.R.K. in the Midwest and in New York, left them of necessity for a hitch with the U.S. Army, and has most recently been leading his own band in the Cincinnati area. The inevitable question of which horn men have influenced him is not too easily answered: you could say he has listened well to King Oliver and early Armstrong; there's a hint of Muggsy Spanier at times. But most of all he is his own man; a young jazzman who has listened and learned and absorbed, and has added much of his personal strength and jazz understanding to the mixture.
The DIXIELAND RHYTHM KINGS were first formed way back in 1944 in Dayton, Ohio, which is the hometown of most of this group. The personnel on these records is close to the original line-up, although many changes took place after 1950. (For example, only Mayl appears on the 1953 D.R.K. recordings that make up Riverside RLP 2504; but Sonnanstine has subsequently rejoined the band.) But at all times they have sounded pretty much like this, which is the way Mayl has always wanted a band to sound: rocking, strutting, a happy combination of their own youthful vigor and a solidly traditional (that word again!) jazz base.
The WASHBOARD FIVE exited formally only for this one record date. It's actually an extension of a great many free-wheeling skiffle sessions held in various New York apartments. Although all the instrumentalists have been professional musicians, jazz isn't the major occupations of most. Bob Greene is a radio and TV writer (he has also played and recorded with Conrad Janis, Sidney de Paris and others); Bob Thompson, who has been an important member of the D.R.K. and the Red Onion Jazz Band, is a psychology teacher; vocalist Paul Bacon is usually an artist, and has created album covers for this and many other Riverside LPs.
(All eight of these numbers originally had limited distribution, in 78 rpm form, on the Knickerbocker label.)
This LP produced by Bill Grauer
Notes by Orrin Keepnews
Cover by Paul Bacon
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS
418 West 49th Street New York 19, N.Y.