VARIOUS: COLLECTOR'S ITEMS (VOLUME 1)
Jazz Archives #1000(10”)
8 Rare and Outstanding Examples of Early Jazz
Richard M. Jones jazz Wizards
1. Hot And Ready (2:59) (Richard M. Jones)
2. It's A Low Down Thing (2:57) (Jones)
Parham-Pickett Apollo Syncopators
3. Mojo Strutt (2:48) (H. S. Parham)
4. Alexander, Where's That Band (2:55) (Parham)
Tiny Parham and His Forty-Five
5. A Little Bit Closer (2:38) (Parham)
6. Jim Jackson’s Kansas City Blues (3:00) (Jim Jackson)
Clarence Williams and His orchestra
7. Jingles (2:47) (James P. Johnson)
8. Shake 'Em Up (2:52) (Clarence Williams)
A record can become a rarity in many different ways. Basically, though, a rare record is either "born" or "made." "Born," if comparatively few copies were manufactured and sold to begin with (if the record company was a small on or the artists not well-known). "Made," if - even though a fairly large number were sold - no one felt the need to guard them against breakage, wear, or other normal ills that records are susceptible to.
Riverside Records' "Jazz Archives Series" seeks to provide today's listeners with some of the finest of rare early jazz, with emphasis on both the neglected works of noted performers and the musically and historically important recordings of relatively obscure jazz artists. But many bands got together for only a single recording session, or failed to record often enough to make it possible to devote a full LP to their work. The answer to this problem seems to lie in a series of "Collector's Item" groupings - of which this is the first. In this way there can be made available very good and very scarce jazz selections that have never been heard (perhaps never even heard of) by most listeners, and that could otherwise never get to be heard.
The dedicated collector of exceptionally rare early jazz records is - as he would probably be the first to admit - an unusual type of person. Like the individual pictured on the cover of this LP, he treats his treasured items with great care and deference. This is natural enough, since he has in most cases unearthed them only after long search and patient deduction, and has often come upon them in a dusty corner of some junk shop or cluttered attic. But it should be noted that he is very often far more than just a single-minded junk-shopper. Collectors have made some of the most important contributions to our knowledge of this American music, not only by unearthing significant and virtually-unknown material, but by going on (as so many of them have) to become outstanding jazz historians, critics, and discographers. In a sense, the "Collector's Items" LPs are dedicated in gratitude, to these men; and they can also serve to show the non-collector the value of the sort of music these devoted searchers purpose.
These right selections have several points in common. All first appeared on the Paramount label in the late 1920s; they were probably recorded in Chicago; original copies are exceedingly rare, and information as to personnel is uncertain and incomplete: and they represent, outstandingly well, various important Negro jazz styles of the period.
RICHARD M. JONES JAZZ WIZARDS: Elisha Herbert (tp) Honore Dutray (tb) unknown (cl) Richard M. Jones (p) Baby Dodds (drs) (Paramount 12705) ; 1928
The great influence of Louis Armstrong's Hot Five recordings on the entire jazz world seems to be expressed in these two numbers, particularly in the relaxed mood, the stop-time rhythm and the melodic trumpet work on Hot And Ready. The series of solos is, of course, a major departure from the original New Orleans ensemble tradition, introduced into the Chicago Negro style by just such small groups as this. The riff that follows the solos on the first number, and the playing of the trombone against the rest of the ensemble on It's a Low Down Thing, are particularly notable as fresh, vigorous early uses of devices that eventually degenerated into state trite slicks. The clarinetist here (he also plays alto briefly on Hot and Ready) has sometimes been listed as Johnny Dodds. To our ears, this appears unlikely, and is probably only an example of the discographers habit of apparently, saying "When in doubt, call it Dodds." Darnell Howard, or the lesser-known Artie Starks (who played with other recording groups led by the very prolific Mr. Jones), seem more plausible prospects.
PARHAM-PICKETT APOLLO SYNCOPATORS: possibly Punch Miller (tp) Tiny Parham (p) Leroy Pickett, (leader) others unknown. (Para 12441); 1926
Negro vaudeville was an important entertainment medium on Chicago's South Side in the '20s; many leading jazzmen played regularly in theater pit orchestras, often doubling into night club jobs after the last show. "Tiny" Parham (full name: H. Strathdene Parham; and, naturally enough, a huge man) led and appeared in several such groups; as these tunes indicate, they put a good deal more spirit into their work than any similarly-employed band would think of doing these days. Almost nothing is known about this group; the hot fiddler whose breaks open the march-like Mojo Strut must remain unknown, along with the creator of the richly 'smeared' trombone solos and just about everyone else who joins in the swift, exciting last ensemble on Mojo and provides the breaks that stab through the romping unison work on Alexander, Where's That Band. It is possible that the sharp trumpet tones belong to Punch Miller; less likely, but not to be ruled out, is the possibility that it is the almost legendary Jabbo Smith.
TINY PARHAM AND HIS FORTY-FIVE: Tiny Parham (p) others unknown. (Para 12586); 1927.
Parham again, with a very different band, but again an unidentified one - even the meaning of their strange name is unknown. Possibly this is a few members of a Parham pit band on a sort of holiday, for certainly there is more "sophistication" here (perhaps more experience in reading a score) than is usual in small South Side groups. This is apparent even on A Little Bit Closer, which is primarily a highly effective string of solos by alto, banjo, trumpet and clarinet. And several elements in the beautiful, intricate version of Jim Jackson's Kansas City Blues (which was the most celebrated number in the repertoire of a theater headliner) strongly careful arrangement.
CLARENCE WILLIAMS AND HIS ORCHESTRA: possibly Jabbo Smith (tp) Clarence Williams (p) others unknown. (Para 12587); 1927.
There is coincidence, but undoubtedly no significance in the in-sequence label numbers on these and the preceding two tunes. These were very possibly made in New York, where Clarence Williams was, at the time, a major jazz-recording, song-writing and publishing figure. Perhaps the rarest of this whole group of collector's items, there were in all probability not made by any of the 'standard' Williams recording outfits. But they have the remarkable, characteristic combination of great relaxation and an almost 'big-band' sound (primarily the result of the unusual instrumentation that finds a full sax section, playing in unison, added to one trumpet and one trombone). It seems unlikely that it is Jabbo Smith, as has been suggested, taking the opening solo on the James P. Johnson tune, Jingles. Jabbo had a surer command of his horn than that; but it might easily be he who is heard, brilliantly, throughout Shake 'Em Up.
This material is reissued by special arrangement with Paramount Records and John Steiner. The slight surface noise audible on this LP 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 tone qualities.
Produced by Bill Grauer
Notes by Orrin Keepnews
Cover by Robert J. Lee
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS
125 LaSalle Street, New York 27, New York