GIANTS OF SMALL-BAND SWING (VOLUME 2)
Jazz Archives #100(12”)
Dicky Well’s Big Seven (Side 1, #1): George Treadwell (tp) Dicky Well s(tb) Bud Johnson (ts) Cedil Scott (brs) Jimmy Jones (p) Al McKibbon (b) Jimmy Crawford (drs) New York; March 21, 1946
Sandy Williams’ Big Eight (Side 1, #2): Pee-Wee Irwin (tp) Sandy Williams (tb) Tab Smith (as) Cecil Scott (ts, brs) Jimmy Jones (p, celeste) Brick Fleagle (g) Sid Weiss (b) Denzil Best (drs) New York; June 3, 1946
Joe Thomas’ Big Six (Side 1, #5 and 6): Joe Thomas (tp) Lem Davis (as) Ted Nash (ts) Jimmy Jones (p) Billy Tayor (b) Denzil Best (drs) New York; February 15, 1946
Sandy Williams’ Big Eight, featuring Johnny Hodges (Side 1, # 3 and 4; Side 2, #1 and 2): Joe Thomas (tp) Sandy Williams (tb) Johnny Hodges (as) Harry Carney (brs) Jimmy Jones (p) Brick Fleagle (g) Sid Wess (b Shelley Manne (drs) New York; November 5, 1945
J. C. Higginbotham’s Big Eight (Side 2, #3 and 4): Sidney De Paris (tp) J. C. Higginbotham (tb) Tab Smith (as) Cecil Scott (ts) Jimmy Jones (p) Brick Fleagle (g) Billy Taylor (b) Dave Tough (drs) New York; December 21, 1945
1.Bed Rock (Buck Clayton) (2:48)
2.Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You (3:09) (Razal – Redman)
3.Mountain Air (2:26) (Smith – Anderson)
4.Chili Con Carney (2:57) (Harry Carney)
5.Riff Street (3:01) (Thomas – Jones)
6.A Touch of Blue (2:40) (Jimmy Jones)
1.After Hours on Dream Street (3:13) (Brick Fleagle)
2.Sumpin’ Jumpin’ Around Here (2:53) (Brick Fleagle)
J. C. Higginbotham
3.Dutch Treat (2:45) (Rex Stewart)
4.A Penny for Your Blues (3:06) (Cecil Scott)
6.Sunny Side Up (2:39) (Jimmy Jones)mmy Jones)
6.Sunny Side Up (2:39) (Jimmy Jones)
With the passage of the years, it has become much easier to look back on the small-band jazz of the late 1930s and early ‘40-s with a proper perspective. In the past, this particular segment of the Swing Era was downgraded with equal fervor by both extreme partisans of traditional jazz (who called it a betrayal of the values of early jazz) and rabid modernists (who found it a stagnant banality against which the founders of modern jazz were forced to revolt).
There is of course considerable distinction to be made between this small-group music and the considerably more publicized and flamboyantly popular efforts of the big orchestras of the Swing Era. Specifically, recordings such as those that make up this reissue album (and a preceding volume of similar material – RLP 143) were rarely the work of organized units. They were almost always casual pick-up dates involving men who had (usually) mutually compatible approaches to jazz, a good deal of experience playing together in jam sessions, on other such record dates, or even in the big bands where so many of them were regularly employed.
With very few exceptions, there were no consistently functioning small bands; this was an era in which the large orchestra was the rule.
Thus for many of these men the small-band pick-up date was an important release, providing comparative freedom and soloing room, a contrast to the tight discipline of organized ‘section’ work. At the same time, however, it was true that long big-band experience had definitely left its musical mark on many of them. For example, Johnny Hodges and Harry Carney were (and still are) long-time mainstays of the Ellington band; Dicky Wells was long associated with Basie, Bud Johnson with Earl Hines, Jimmy Crawford with Jimmy Lunceford, and so on. Not surprisingly, then, there is generally an aura of section-work in the ensembles, and those opening choruses are definitely arranged (even though it may have been just a matter of “heads” worked up in the recording studio). It is a superimposing of a certain amount of such discipline upon a two-ply looseness (both the inevitable looseness of the pick-up record date and the relaxation of big-bandsmen operating in smaller settings).
It should also be noted that these selections were recorded in the immediate post-wra period; and while few of the participants could have been too aware of it, these were among the very last products of the Swing Era. It would be a mistake, however, to put much emphasis on the fact that these rhythm sections include a few names that by now would look more at home in modern-jazz listings. The rhythm here is strictly Swing: the melange of names – some of the more important names of the period, others who never achieved more than passing, secondary attention, some who today are modernists and others who now play Dixieland – is strictly a typical mixture of the period. In these various combinations these varied musicians produce an almost improbably (under the circumstances) cohesive, “mainstream,” swinging jazz that is both thoroughly unpretentious and lastingly pleasurable listening.
All of these selections were originally issued on the H.R.S. label. As additions to the Riverside “Jazz Archives” series, they form part of a panorama of the history and development of recorded jazz that begins with the earliest efforts of artists like Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, Fats Waller and many others available on Riverside re-issue albums, thus continuing this jazz story through the Swing Era.
Other LPs derived from the H.R.S. catalogue include –
JACK TEAGARDEN / PEE WEE RUSSELL (RLP 141)
The Classic Swing of BUCK CLAYTON (RLP 142)
REX STWART and the Ellingtonians (RLP 144)
GIANTS of Small-Band SWING; Volume 1 (RLP 143)
Notes by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Back-liner photos by ROBERT PARENT
Re-mastered, 1960, by JACK MATTHEWS (Components Corp.) on a HYDROFEED lathe
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