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classic early recordings of Chicago Jazz (1st Cover)

Jazz Archives #100(12”) 

RLP-117 118 A
RLP-117 118 front
RLP-117 118 back.jpg
RLP-117 118 A.jpg
RLP-117 118 B.jpg

Charles Pierce and His Orchestra (Side 1, #1 and 2): Francis “Muggsy” Spanier (cnt) Dick Deigie, (cnt) Frank Teschemacher (cl) Charlies Pierce (sax) Ralph Rudder (sax) Dan Liscomb (p) Stuart Branch (g) Johnny Mueller (b) Paul Kettler (drs)        Chicago; October, 1927

Jungle Kings (Side 1, #3 and 4); Spanier (cnt) TEschemacher (cl) Mezz Mezzrow (ts) Joe Sullivan (p) Eddie Condon (bj) Jim Lannigan (tu) George Wettling (drs9 Red McKenzie (vcl)  Chicago; November, 1927

Stomp Six (Side 1, #5 and 6) : Spanier (cnt) Guy Carey (tb) Volly Defaut (cl) Mel Stitzel (p) Marvin Saxbe (bj) Joe Gish (tu)        Chicago; probably November, 1924

Bucktown Five (al of Side 2): Stomp Six personnel, omitting tuba,  Richmond, Indiana; February 25, 1924


Charles Pierce

  1. 1. China Boy (2:24) (Winfree – Boutelie)

  2. 2. Bull Frog Blues (2:57) (Billy Pierce)

Jungle Kings

  1. 3. Friars PointShuffle (2:56) (Kahn – Jones)

  2. 4. Darktown Strutters Ball (2:32) (Shelton Brooks)

Stomp Six

  1. 5. Why Couldn’t It Be Poor Little Me (2:35) (Kahn – Jones)

  2. 6. Everybody Loves My Baby (2:52) (Palmer – Williams)


Bucktown Five

  1. 1. Buddy’s Habits (2:19)(Straight – Nelson)

  2. 2. Chicago Blues (2:30) (Biese – Altiere – Williams)

  3. 3. Mobile Blues (2:16) (Short – Rosen)

  4. 4. Steady Roll Blues (2:38) (Bates – Stitzel)

  5. 5. Really a Pain (2:41) (Kassell – Sturr – Spanier)

  6. 6. Hot Mittens (2:50) (Saxbe – DeFaut – Stitzel)

   MUGGSY SPANIER has been playing since 1921, which makes him a charter member of the Chicago school of jazz - as well as one of the warmest and most exciting trumpet men in that or any other style.

Muggsy has always displayed far more awareness that most of his colleagues of the beat and the distinctive sound of early Negro jazz. There has always been more than a suggestion of Louis Armstrong's brilliant horn in Spanier's work. This doesn't mean that he is to be classified as an Armstrong 'imitator'; rather, as Louis once aptly and concisely put it: "He's one of us, and nobody's going to change him." And, since the time of the records reissued here, nobody has changed Muggsy much. He was only 17 when the earliest of these selections were made, barely 21 on the latest; and in the years that followed he has certainly played a lot of jazz a (excepting only a bread-and-butter detour into the Ted Lewis band during the lean years of the 1930s). But then and now he stands as the closet any Chicago jazzman has ever come to fully grasping the concepts and the sound of Louis and of King Oliver.

   The first four selections of this album were actually the last recorded, but they mark the beginning of what came to be known as Chicago jazz and eventually gave birth to the present-day 'Dixieland' of Eddie Condon and his gang. China Boy and Bull Frog are perhaps the very first recorded examples of the Chicago style. The band is that of Charles Pierce, who happened to make his money by being a butcher, but also happened to love jazz, played fair saxophone, and spent his money on what might be called subsidizing bands in which a good many of the young Chicagoans worked. The presence of both Spanier and Frank Teschemacher helps make these musically rewarding items, in addition to their status as historic rarities.

   On the two Jungle Kings sides, there is wealth of notable young talent: Condon, Joe Sullivan, George Wettling, Mezz Mezzrow. This was one of several outstanding early recordings dates arranged for by the late Red McKenzie, primarily known for his tissue-paper-and-comb "blue blowing." Again the key performances are by Teschmacher and Spanier. ("Tesch," the legendary clarinetist who influenced Benny Goodman, among others, was part of the Austin High School group - other members were Jimmy McPartland and Bud Freeman - that shares credit with the men to be heard here as the originators of this basic white-jazz form.) These four selections caught this style when it was very young and at possibly its highest peak. The sound that comes through here, with its on-the-beat rhythms and sharply defined note, indicates how attentively these men had been listening to the music over on the South Side of town, but it has a new "swing" and hard-boiled aggresiveness that is all its own.

   The remaining eight numbers, recorded three years earlier, are rather closer to the original New Orleans Negro idiom, and in a vein somewhat closer to Muggsy's heart. They point one result of the fact that Francis Joseph Spanier slightly pre-dates most other Chicagoans. Born in November of 1906, he began his professional career at the age of fifteen, which was a bit before the white New Orleans Rhythm Kings began to exert their tremendous influence on young Chicago musicians. Thus Muggsy, much more than the others, was free to turn for his primary inspiration directly to the source music of groups like King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band.

   In effect, that would seem to be the difference between the Bucktown Five and Stomp Six selections and the 1927 work of the more celebrated Chicagoans. Muggsy's earlier groups was directly influenced by the transplanted giants happened in the first place to the Louisiana-born members of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings when they were boys back home. This seems a better idea than taking your music one step further removed from the parent source, which is what the Chicago crowd's initial basic dependence on the N.O.R.K. amounted to. The Bucktown group did not boast any horde of stars-of-the-future comparable to the Jungle Kings. But it did include one really outstanding performer, in addition to Spanier: clarinetist Volly (short for "Voltaire") Defaut, who is still active in Chicago. It's worth noting that so exacting a musician as Jelly Roll Morton cut a duet side with Volly at about this time. (it is included on the ten-inch Riverside RLP-1027: Jelly Roll Morton’s Kings of Jazz). Considering that the only other duets Morton ever made were two with King Oliver, the implied compliment to DeFaut is surely a considerable one.

   The tide of jazz history has of course been strongly in favor of the Jungle Kings and Pierce brand of Chicago music, making those selections jazz documents and the other eight merely oddities - virtually the only recorded examples of a short-lived, cross-bred style. But both types are given lasting distinction and interest by the factor they have in common: the horn of Muggsy Spanier. All are driven by some of the finest cornet playing of its kind ever produced by a non-Negro; together they offer an accurate picture of the remarkable early work of a major jazz figure.

   A discographical note on the original recordings. The Charles Pierce and Jungle Kings selections first appeared on Paramount, with the following label and (in parentheses) master numbers: China Boy (master number 20400) and Bull Frog Blues (20399) were coupled on Paramount 12619; Friars Point Shuffle (29653) and Darktown Strutters Ball (20654) were Para 12654. Everybody Loves My Baby (148)/...Poor Little Me (149), by the Stomp Six, were Autogtaph 626. The Bucktown Five numbers were recorded for Gennett: Buddy's Habits (GE11771) / Chicago Blues (GE11769) made up Gennett 5418; Mobil Blues (GE11767) was on Ge5405, coupled with Someday Sweetheart, which is not included here. Steady Roll Blues (GE11766) / Really a Pain (GE11768) were coupled on Ge5419; and Hot Mittens (GE11770) was on Ge5518.

   The slight surface noise audible on this LP is due to the limitations of early recording processes; it has not been entirely removed in order of preserve highest fidelity possible and to give more faithful reproduction of original tone qualities. First four selections reissued by special arrangement with Paramount Records and John Steiner.

   Other twelve-inch Riverside albums also feature classic recordings by notable early jazzmen, including:

Young Louis Armstrong (RLP12-101)

“N.O.R.K.” – New Orleans Rhythm Kings with Jelly Roll Morton (RLP12-102)

Fats Waller: Rediscovered Early Solos (RLP12-103)

Johnny Dodds: New Orleans Clarinet (RLP12-104)

Giants of Boogie Woogie; Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis, Pete Johnson (RLP12-106)

Ma Raney: classic blues performances (RLP12-108)

Jazz of the ROARING TWENTIES, with Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Red Nichols (RLP 12-801)


LP produced by Bill Grauer

Notes by Orrin Keepnews

Cover by Paul Weeler (photography) and Paul Bacon (design)


418 West 49th Street New York 19, N.Y.

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