COLLECTOR’S ITEMS (VOLUME 3)
Another collection of early jazz rarities
Jazz Archives #1000(10”)
Preston Jackson and His Uptown Band
Yearning for Mandalay (2:58)
Trombone Man (2:46)
It’s Tight, Jim (3:03)
Harmony Blues (2:43)
Stomp Your Stuff (3:15)
Triangle Harmony Boys
Chicken Supper Strut (2:38)
Jelly James and His Fewsicians
Georgia Bobo (3:18)
Make Me Know It (3:05)
This is the third in a group of Riverside reissue LPs bearing the collective title of “Collectors Items.” As in the previous volumes, the term indicates that the early recordings to be found here are of the sort that are, in their original form, sufficiently rare to justify something like the extreme care and pride-of-possession of the collector pictured on the album cover.
The chances are that this collection, like its predecessors, will be most eagerly sought out by avid collectors somewhat resembling (in attitude, not necessarily in appearance) that fictitious fellow on the cover. After all, such deep-digging followers of early recorded jazz are the ones most likely to have heard such items as these, at least to have heard about them, perhaps to have even owned a fairly battered copy of one or more.
However, these albums are not intended solely for the eras of the dedicated few. It is hoped that through presentation in LP form, in rather improved listening condition (by virtue of modern reprocessing and filtering techniques), many others can have an opportunity to hear and appreciate these examples of exactly the sort of early jazz that would otherwise remain undeservedly overlooked and forgotten.
Collector’s items achieve their statues, basically, either because comparatively few copies were made in the first place (the record company being a small one, or the artist not particularly well-known), or because such normal by-products of the passage of time as wear, breakage and the like have reduced even a larger supply of copies to a precious few. These descriptions, of course, fit the source material for a considerable proportion of the albums in Riverside’s Jazz Archives Series. However, with those early jazz artists who achieved major fame and-or recorded fairly extensively in their day, the problem becomes fairly simple. One or more full LPs can easily be devoted to making available again the pioneering work of such figures as Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, King Oliver, Johnny Dodds, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Ma Rainey, Tommy Ladnier and others.
But what about bands that got together for perhaps just one record session, or quite interesting single records that may have been made by groups whose line-ups are shrouded in mystery (discographical confusion frequently being a standard element in the collector’s item picture). The idea of the Colllector’s Items LPs has been developed to solve the problem presented by such material too valuable musically or historically, to be ignored; but unable to be fitted neatly into any single-artist or single-category album. These collections have, to date, included rarities by the following groups:
PRESTON JACKSON AND HIS UPTOWN BAND:
Shirley Clay (tp) Preston Jackson (tb) Artie Starks (cl, as) George Reynolds (p) Frank Brazil (bj) unknown (drs)
(Paramount 12411 and 12400 – master numbers 2648; 2650; 2647; 2649)
Among the rarer of the several varieties of jazz that belong to Chicago’s South Side and to the ‘20s is the form represented here. It is a more ‘educated’ and somewhat less loose-jointed music than the more familiar kind of South Side jazz associated with men like Jimmy Blythe groups on #5 of this LP. The Jackson band, playing (for example) what is at least a ‘head’ arrangement on Harmony Blues, is somewhat in the same vein as Tiny Parham, with whom Preston apparently played for a while, and Richard M. Jones. Theirs was a form of jazz prevalent in Chicago clubs and theaters in its days, but generally bypassed by recording companies. (One reason advanced in explanation of this situation is the extreme importance to the Chicago jazz labels of mail-order sales to the South: hence a primary emphasis on blues singers and pianists.) This particular band, however, also shows strong traces of perhaps the most prevalent late-‘20s influence; the Hot five – with Shirley Clay’s solos indicating that he, like just about every other horn man in town, was listening to Louis Armstrong. And there is also a good deal of the smear and stomp of New Orleans trombone style to be noted in Preston Jackson’s work. He contributes what are clearly the stand-out performances on these four numbers, demonstrating that he is a sorely under-rated and unduly neglected jazzman.
CHICAGO STOMPERS: probably –
Jimmy Blythe (p) Albert Bell (kazoo) Jimmy Bertrand (wbd) with unknown banjo and scat-singing
(Champion 16297 – master number GE 17629)
Richmond, Indiana; March 13, 1931
The vagueness about personnel here isn’t even dispelled when the Gennett recording ledgers show this to belong to the same session that produced the Blythe-Roy Palmer “State Street Ramblers” sides (several of which are reissued on Riverside RLP 1020). For the line-up on those numbers is largely in doubt. (To make things worse, Aletha Robinson, wife of Blythe’s old song-writing partner, has recently suggested that it might not even be Blythe on any of these.) Nevertheless, the tune stands on its own as a rousing example of South Side ‘skiffle’ jazz, a relaxed and rhythmic art-form in which Blythe and his comp0anions were always particularly adept.
TRIANGLE HARMONY BOYS:
Unknown personnel ((Gennett 6275 – master number GEX 838)
Birmingham, Alabama; August, 1927
One thing is certain here: the identity of this group will forever remain a mystery. The Gennett books reveal that this was one of several groups recorded during an on-location recording stint in deep South. This must, therefore, be a local outfit, and it’s highly interesting to note that they surely must be playing in a style picked up by listening to discs made in Northern studios. This is the sort of cultural doubling-back that fascinates musical anthropologists (and probably drives them wild) when, say, current popular-music influences turn up in present-day African music; its appearance in jazz of any period is an extreme rarity.
JELLY JAMES AND HIS FEWSICIANS: probable personnel –
George Temple (tp) David “Jelly” James (tb) unknown (cl) (as) Henry Duncan (p) Ollie Blackwell (bj) Ralph Bedell (drs) (Gennett 6045 – master numbers GEX 482 and GEX 481).
New York; January 31, 1927
Here you have probably known personnel (admittedly, they’re known to us because the English “Jazz Directory” lists them this way), but the names themselves aren’t too much help. These are the only sides made under James’ leadership; he is known also to have played for some time with Fess Williams’ Royal Flush Orchestra (he’s featured on that band’s Slide, Mr. Jelly Slide) and elsewhere around New York in the ‘20s and ‘30s. Aside from that it can only be stated that his Fewsicians(!) play these two numbers, particularly the Fats Waller tune, Georgia Bobo, with warmth and spirit, and that James’ own trombone style is a remarkable combination of gutting and gracefulness. And this has sufficed to make this an item highly regarded by collectors for many years.
Some of this material reissued by special arrangement with Paramount Records and John Steiner. 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 to preserve highest fidelity possible and to give more faithful reproduction of original tone qualities.
COLLECTOR’S ITEMS, volume 1 (RLP 1017) –
Richard M. Jones’ Jazz Wizards; Tiny Parham and His Forty Five; Clarence Williams’ Orchestra; the Parham-Picket Apollo Syncopators
COLLECTOR’S ITEMS, volume 2 (RLP 1040) –
John Williams Synco Jazzers; Windy Rhythm Kings; King Mutt and His Tennessee Thumpers; Clarence Jones Sock four
The series continues in this volume with recordings by four more of the now-obscure jazz groups of the 1920s.
Tape-editing by J. Robert Mantler
Notes by Orrin Keepnews
Cover art by Robert J. Lee; typographical design by Gene Gogerty
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS
418 West 49th Street New York 19, N.Y.