“X” VAULT ORIGINAL ALBUM LIST

 

LVA-3021
WASHBOARD RHYTHM KINGS, VOLUME 1 

WASHBOARD JAZZ AT ITS WILDEST

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WASHBOARD RHYTHM KINGS

Dave Page (tp)  Ben Smith (as)  Carl Wade (ts)  Eddie Miles (p, vcl)  Steve Washington (bj, g)  unknown (drs, wbs)  Jimmy Spencer (wbs, vcl-2) 

Eddie Miles (vcl-1)           Camden, N.J.; September 23, 1931

(preceded by the letters “BVE)

70532-1 Shoot ‘Em (2)                                                       Vic 22814  “X” LVA-3021 (A-4)

WASHBOARD RHYTHM KINGS

Dave Riddick (tp)  Jimmy Shine as, vcl-1)  Carl Wade (ts)  Eddie Miles (p, vcl-2)  Steve Washington (bj)  Jimmy Spencer (wbs, vcl)                            Camden, N. J.; March 1, 1932

(preceded by the letters “BVE)

70596-1 Pepper Steak (1)                                                  Vic 22598 “X” LVA-3021 (B-4)

WASHBOARD RHYTHM KINGS

Taft Jordan (tp)  Ben Smith (cl, as)  Carl Wade (ts)  Eddie Miles (p, vcl-1)  Steve Washington (bj, vcl-2)  Ghost Howell (b, vcl-3)  H. Smith (wbd) 

Camden, N.J.; July 6, 1932

(all preceded by the letters “BVE)

72693-1 My Silent Love (1)                                              Vic 23348 “X” LVA-3021 (A-3)

72694-1 Tiger Rag (3+chorus)                                          Vic 24059              -              (A-1)

72695-1 Hummin’ to Myself (2)                                       Vic 24065              -              (A-2)

WASHBOARD RHYTHM KINGS

Taft Jordan (tp)  Ben Smith (cl, as)  Carl Wade (ts)  Eddie Miles (p, vcl-1)  Steve Washington (bj, vcl-2)   Ghost Howell (b, vcl-3)  H. Smith (wbd)

Bella Benson (vcl-4)          N.J.; October 18, 1932

(all preceded by the letters “BS)

59030-1 If You Were Only Mine (2+chorus)                   Vic 23367

59031-1 Ash Man Crawl (4)                                             Vic 23367  “X” LVA-3021   (B-3)

59033-1 I’m Gonna Play down by the Ohio (2+chorus)        23364           -                 (B-1)

WASHBOARD RHYTHM KINGS

Dave Page (tp, vcl-1)  Ben Smith (cl, as)  Jimmy Shine (as)  Carl Wade (ts)  Eddie Miles (p)  Wilbur Daniels (bj, vcl-2)  Leo Watson (b, vcl-3) 

unknown (wbs)  Frank Benton (dir, vc-4)        Camden, N.J.; November 2, 1932

(preceded by the letters “BS)

71790-2 Underneath the Harlem Moon (2, 3)                Vic 23373  “X” LVA-3021 (B-2)

NOTE:   “X” LVA3021 “Washboard Rhythm Kings, Volume 1” reissued and notes written by Bill Jr., & Orrin Keepnews.  Cover: no information.

   The washboard is, of course, not a musical instrument at all, if you're going to be technical about it.  But if you'll accept the evidence offered here rather than conventional musical definition, this once-familiar metal household object, complete with wooded frame (perhaps with a cowbell or two attached) and played by a man whose fingers are firmly fitted with ordinary thimbles, is a superb rhythm instrument.

   This is demonstrated conclusively by the wild and breathless version of Tiger Rag  that gets things started here.  It is proved over and over again throughout the record as the washboard drives this band through several other rocking, swinging performances, and also indicates its extreme versatility by sustaining a much more relaxed beat through Ash Man Crawl, which is strictly blues, and My Silent Love, which is strictly ballad style.

   The washboard turns up fairly often in jazz, but almost always as part of the earlier forms of the music: in the comparatively crude "skiffle" bands that combined it with such other unconventional or improvised instruments as jug and kazoos, or as part of the small- band 1920's style of Chicago's South Side.  The use of a washboard in a group such as this would seems to be unique and rather unexpected.  Here is otherwise standard instrumentation for its day - usually a trumpet, a three-man sax section, and four rhythm pieces, playing what could be classed as normal pre-Swing jazz of the early '30s, but transformed into a spirited, all-out, thoroughly different outfit by the addition of this exciting substitute for the drums.

   Just whose idea it might have been to build this sort of band around a washboard appears to be an insoluble mystery, and the same degree of uncertainty applies to most of the data one would like to know about this group.  Discographies have never been able to offer more than partial and tentative personnel listings, based partly on conjecture and mostly on the fact that it has long been traditional to give vocalists name credit on record labels.  But prior to the late'30s it was not customary for labels, or even record company files, to list by name the musicians on a date.  Thus there's apparently no way of knowing with any certainty what non-singing jazzmen might have been on hand - for that matter, no way of finding out very much of anything about the Washboard Rhythm Kings.

   The situation can at least be offered as a prime example of the frustration that jazz writers can encounter in the search for information about early or relatively obscure groups. To begin with, not one of several New York musicians whose memories of Harlem in the '20s and '30s have often proved valuable reservoirs of obscure information had ever heard of the group.  One tangible clue was the presence of Steve Washington (who, fortunately, took vocals from time to time) on several of the half-dozen record dates from which this collection has been taken.  Steve, who was one of the writers of an arrangement of Marie  that was apparently the direct ancestor of the one that helped make Tommy Dorsey's band famous, and played in Pittsburgh in about 1930, and had fronted the Sunset Royal Orchestra, which played in the Washington, D.C., area shortly thereafter.  That placed one man, but he had died of pneumonia in 1936.  Secondly, the name of Sam Fried turned up so frequently as composer of tunes apparently recorded only by this band that he seemed a likely lead, but aside from providing the fact that Fried had been a pseudonym, neither the publishers of the songs nor A.S.C.A.P. knew anything current about him.  There was even, unexpectedly, a picture of a few members of the band that jazz critic Frederic Ramsey, Jr. had come across someplace, but no available musicians could make any positive identifications or claim that their memories were in any way jogged by the faded old photo.

   The listing of one Frank Denton as "director" for most of the Rhythm Kings' session is helpful (even though no one knows who he was).  Along with the repeated cropping-up of the names of Washington and Eddie Shine, it does seem to establish that, despite shifting instrumentation and vocalists, this was basically a continuing band.  Aural evidence supports the belief that it was just about the same group, with just about the same free-swinging approach, that made some fifty sides between 1931 and 1933.  They may well have been an outfit from Pennsylvania or thereabouts - the presence of Washington and the fact that they were invariably recorded in Camden, N.J., the site of the nearest recording studios to Philadelphia, perhaps indicates that.  But that's about all the "Factual" evidence.

   Fortunately, all this mystery can in no way impair the pleasure of listening to this driving jazz.  It sounds like an amazingly volatile gang - master numbers show that the hell-bent-for-leather Tiger Rag was made just before the easygoing Hummin' To Myself and just after the straightforward and truly beautiful Silent Love.  Let's let it go at this: whoever they were, they had hold of something special; they had a wonderfully happy and uninhibited time pounding it out; and it's some of the most completely enjoyable jazz anyone ever turned out.  That's surely enough to be able to say about any band.

 

   Other recent releases in this “X” Vault Originals reissue series include: Harlem in the Twenties (vol.1): The Missourians; Jean Goldkette and his Orchestra; King Oliver’s Uptown Jazz; Wingy Manone (Vol.1); Fletcher Henderson and his Connie’s Inn Orchestra; Mezz Mezzrow’s Swing Session.

 

 
LVA-3023
EARL HINES PIANO SOLOS

SIDE 1

  1. Glad Rag Doll No. 1 (Yellen – Daugherty – Ager)

  2. Glad Rag Doll No. 2 (Yellen – Daugherty – Ager)

  3. Child of a Disordered Brain (Earl Hines)

  4. Body and Soul (Johnny Green)

SIDE 2

   1.Rosetta (H. Woods – Earl Hines)

   2.My Melancholy Baby (Norton – Burnett – Watson)

   3.On the Sunny Side of the Street No. 1

  (Dorothy Fields – Jimmy McHugh)

   4.On the Sunny Side of the Street No. 2 (Dorothy Fields – Jimmy McHugh)

 

This reissue produced and note written by Bill Grauer., and Orrin Keepnews

 

EARL HINES, piano: both versions of Glad Rag Doll recorded in Chicago, February 25, 1929.  All others recorded in New York: Rrosetta on October 21, 1939; Child of a Disordered Brain and Body and Soul on February 26, 1940; My Melancholy Baby and both versions of On the Sunny side of the Street on April 3, 1941.

 

   It's probably something of an exaggeration to say, as one jazz critic of modern bent once did, that before Earl Hines "nothing especially important musically happened to jazz on the piano."  But if you turn that comment around a bit, you can extract a considerable amount of truth from it.  Simply put it that a great deal has happened in the way of jazz piano since the late 1920s, and that very little of it fails to show the extremely strong influence of Earl Hines' style and musical concepts.

   With the possible exception of "Fats" Waller, no pianist has had so basic and so noticeable an impact (and of course quite a few musicians have had the good taste to begin by leaning on both Earl and "Fats").  Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Jess Stacy, Mell Powell and, to a lesser extent, Mary Lou Williams and Erroll Garner - the list is of course only partial, but it covers many years and indicates a wide variety of end-products, all part of the Hines tradition.  Sometimes even musicians in whose work you'd have a hard time hearing much indication of Hines (a Chicago Dixieland piano man like Joe Sullivan, for example) will insist on making clear that they did some serious early listening to Earl.

   But even a man who'd seem very much to deserve his nickname of "Father" must begin by being influenced and shaped himself.  Uniquely, that most notable impact on Hines did not come from another piano player.  While it might be a bit too pat to attribute his celebrated "trumpet style" entirely to his association with Louis Armstrong in the late 1920s in Chicago, it would not be too far off the mark.  As a boy in Pittsburgh, Hines apparently wavered between the instruments played by his parents.  At first he wanted to be a trumpeter like his father, but the decision finally went to his mother and piano lesson.  In 1925, when he was nineteen, Earl left his hometown for Chicago - by then the center of the jazz world.  Two years later he was with Armstrong in the famous Sunset Cafe.  At the Sunset, at the Savoy Ballroom, and most importantly on some thirty small-band sides recorded in 1928, the two worked together closely.  It may well not have been done deliberately on Earl's part, but it seems clear that it was Louis horn that led him to solidify a piano style that represented a fortunate and creative compromise between his earlier conflicting choices of instrument.

   In Hines' musical training there had been elements of both classical music and ragtime, and both are also present in his style.  Although the latter played a quickly diminishing role, it helps make the first solos here among the most fascinating and illustrative he ever recorded.  Glad Rag Doll is credited to three pop songwriters, but in these versions it seems to bear a strong resemblance to Jelly Roll Moten's Frog-I-More Rag, a resemblance which of course may have been accentuated (or possibly even introduced) here by Hines.  At any rate, there are revealing glimpses here of Earl’s past, present and future: a suggestion of ragtime, the pulsating trumpet-like effects, and the full splashing chords and runs that were to become increasingly a fundamental of his style.

   This selection actually waited more than ten years for its initial release - until Earl finally made another solo side for the same label ( it was Rosetta) to provide it with coupling.  In all, Hines has recorded a fairly limited number of solos.  This isn't too surprising when you note that he has spent much of his time as a band leader, so that a good deal of his solo work turns up in his choruses on full-band recordings (several of which will be included in forthcoming "X" Vault Originals reissued).  He formed his first orchestra in 1928, supposedly just to play the opening bill at a new Chicago club, the Grand Terrace.  But the job turned into a new-permanent one for a dozen years, with the band often going out on tour but inevitably returning there.

   As leader and star of a big, swinging band, Hines further developed his brilliant technique and flair for complex improvisation.  The 1939-41 solos show how his unique qualities as a pianist had become ever more pronounced: among them, the lyricism and lilt of his approach and the characteristic device of suspending the swinging beat.  His genuine inventiveness is stressed by the several alternate "takes" that exist.  At first, the fact that only six titles were available for this album appeared likely to pose a problem, but the substantial differences between takes make the "double" numbers used here seem - even though the general framework is much the same in each pair - a good deal like sets of six-minute improvisations.

   Hines can readily be called something like "the father of modern jazz piano."  But this collection points up certain facets of his style that his followers haven't always been able to retain.  Perhaps because of his background in Chicago and with Armstrong, perhaps because of his fundamental jazz skill and taste, Hines never minimized the importance of firm beat, and in none of these numbers is he in danger of confusing complexity with mere aimless floridity and pointless frills.  For such reasons, "Father" Hines' records will undoubtedly remain valuable and exciting jazz performances long after many of his imitators and "successors" have been forgotten.

 

   Other recent “X” Vault Originals reissues include: Sidney Bechet, Vol.1 (LVA 3024); Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Jazz, vol.2 (LVA 3025); Tommy Ladnier (LVA 3027); Harlem in the Twenties – vol.1: The Missourians (LVA 3020) and Vol.2: Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Band (LVA 3026)

 

A Discographical Note for collectors.

The original master numbers of these recordings are, in order: on Side 1 – BE 50528-1, BE 50528-2, BS 047701-2, BS 047700-1; on Side 2 (all preceded by the letters “BS”) – 040480-3, 063333-1, My Melanhcoly Baby, the first version of On the Sunny Side of the Street, and the second of Glad Rag Doll are all previously unissued “takes.”

 

GRUVE GARD … Notice on this long play record a new raised edge which is an exclusive RCA Victor improvement to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasure from your RCA Victor records. 

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LVA-3024
SIDNEY BECHET and

his New Orleans Feetwarmers, Volume 1
featuring Sidney de Paris and Sid Catlett

SIDE 1

  1. One O’Clock Jump (Count Basie)

  2. Preachin’ Blues (Sidney Bechet)

  3. Sidney’s Blues (Sidney Bechet)

  4.  Indian Summer (Al Dubin – Victor Herbert)

SIDE 2

   1.Old Man Blues (Duke Ellington)

   2.Wild Man Blues (Jelly Roll Morton – Louis Armstrong)

   3.Nobody Knows the Way I Feel This Mornin’

  (Tom and Pearl Delaney)

   4.Shake It and Break It (Signor Frisco – H. Qualli Clark)

 

SIDNEY BECHET and his New Orleans Feetwarmers

(On Side 1): Sidney Bechet, clarinet and soprano sax; Sonny White, piano; Charles Howard, guitar; Wilson Meyers, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums. Vocal on Sidney’s Blues by Bechet; on Preachin’ Blues by Meyers. (Recorded in New York; February 5, 1940)

(On Side 2): Sidney de Paris, trumpet; Sandy Williams, trombone; Sidney Bechet, clarinet and soprano sax; Cliff Jackson, piano; Bernard Addison, guitar; Wellman Braud, bass; Sid Catlett, drums. (New York; June 4, 1940)

 

This reissue produced and notes written by Bill Grauer, Jr., and Orrin Keepnews

   Sidney Bechet has not actually been playing jazz since time began, and it's undoubtedly not true that he'll go on playing forever.  It just seems that way.  But Bechet has been an outstanding figure in jazz since the early New Orleans days; among other things, he has probably done more over the years than any other man to make Europe conscious of this American music, and he is still going strong.  His rich, full tone has shimmered and rolled through almost the full length of the story of jazz, making it easy enough to understand why he seems such a permanent part of the music, why he - like no other jazzman except Louis Armstrong - has come to be considered as a "immortal" while still very much alive.

   The recordings reissued here, although a decade-and-a-half old, belong to a comparatively late stage of his career.  For Bechet began playing with the Eagle Band in his native ably less than 17 then, which was entirely in keeping with the standard early-jazz tradition of starting as a professional as soon as you were out of knee pants (or sooner, if possible).  Bunk Johnson, who brought him into the band, has told of promising his mother to "bring Sidney home after he is through playing each and every job."  Bechet's early years abound with the legendary names of the Storyville days: the Eagle Band had been formed by veterans of Buddy Bolden's Band; Bechet has noted that his first formal musical instruction came from "Big Eye" Louis Nelson.  Back in 1915 he was playing with Kid Ory and King Oliver at Pete Lala's Cafe; and when he left New Orleans for a while to tour Texas, it was in the company of Clarence Williams.  In Chicago, he played with Freddie Keppard and Tony Jackson - and all this before 1919, which was when he first traveled to Europe with Will Marion Cook's concert orchestra.  He was back in New York in time to record with Williams and Armstrong on several occasions between 1923 and '25.  He moved frequently between Europe and the United States for the next decade (once getting as far as Russia, with a band that included Tommy Ladnier).  Then he settled down for a period that included these and several other New Orleans Feetwarmers dates, and most recently has become just about the most celebrated jazz figure in France.

   Bechet began as a clarinetist, not even considering the soprano sax until he first heard it during his initial visit to Europe.  He belonged to a tradition that has given jazz many outstanding clarinet players of French names and Creole background, brought up in a musically -inclined family that often took all seven children to the opera.  The clean, firm line of his playing, the deft handling of many swift-tumbling notes, the wide vibrato - all this is very much in the great New Orleans clarinet idiom.

   But, above all, Sidney was destined to become known as a virtuoso.  Just about all jazz has moved from the early ensemble style – with each instrument filling a clearly defined role - into a primary emphasis on soloists.  And it has long been Bechet's special strength and attraction to those who admire his work (and, it must be admitted, his weakness to those who do not) that he has always been a man to stand out from and piece through the sound of a band.  Particularly on soprano sax - which he plays for the most part on these numbers, and has played almost exclusively in recent years - he uses the strength and fullness of his instrument to dominate the proceedings.  But quite clearly he has the verve and drive and control to enable him to make this seem quite fitting, which perhaps no one else could do.

   The four selections on Side 1, on which he is the only horn, find him in a buoyant mood, sweeping through two blues (one of which also features his singing, which can't quite be called exceptional); the famous Swing Era standard, One O'Clock Jump; and Indian Summer, a pop tune of considerable warmth (derived from something by - of all people - Victor Herbert).  Here is "pure" Bechet: swinging and swooping brilliantly in characteristic and unique fashion.

   On the four band sides, he shares honors with some outstanding musicians.  Sidney de Paris demonstrates how movingly he can play the blues, most notably on the slower numbers, with muted growling on Nobody Knows and open horn on his own version of the Louis Armstrong choruses on Wild Man.  Sandy Williams, a Harlem-style trombonist who has never had too much chance to display his merits on records, gets in a few deep-down touches; and the rhythm section features the rock-solid. robust work of veterans like Sid Catlett and Wellman Braud.  But here, too, the spotlight can't help but fall on the remarkable sound and richness of the - quite fortunately - irrepressible Mr. Bechet.

 

   Other recent “X” Vault Originals reissued include:  Earl Hines Piano Solos (LVA 3023); Tommy Ladnier (LVA 3027); Harlem in the Twenties – Vol.1: The Missourians (LVA 3020) and Vol.2: Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Band (LVA 3026); Washboard Rhythm Kings, Vol.1 (LVA 3021); Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Jazz, Vol.1 (LX 3004) and Vol.2 (LVA 3025)

 

A Discographical Note for Collectors.

The original master numbers of these recordings (all preceded by the letter “BS”) are, in order: on Side 1 – 046833-1, 046834-1, 046835-1, 046843-1; Side 2 – 051223-1, 051224-1, 05225-1, 05222-1.  Sidney’s Blues is a previously unissued “take.”

 

GRUVE GARD … Notice on this long play record a new raised edge which is an exclusive RCA Victor improvement to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasure from your RCA Victor records. 

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LVA-3025
BENNIE MOTEN'S KANSAS CITY JAZZ, VOLUME 2

 
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BENNIE MORTEN’S KANSAS CITY ORCHESTRA

Ed Lewis, Paul Webster (cnt)  Thomas Hayes (tb, vcl)  Harlan Leonard (cl, ss, as)  Jack Washington (cl, as, brs)  Woody Walder (cl, ts) 

LaForest Dent (as, ts, vcl)  Bennie Morten (p, ldr)  Leroy Berry (bj)  Vernon Page (tu)  Willie McWashington (drs)              Chicago; June 11, 1927

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

38667-3 Sugar                                                                   Vic 20855 “X” LVA-3025 (A-2)

38671-2 Twelfth Street Rag                                                                   “X” LVA-3025 (A-1)

BENNIE MOTEN’S KANSAS CITY ORCHESTRA

Ed Lewis, Booker Washington (cnt)  Thomas Hayes (tb, vcl)  Harlan Leonard (cl, ss, as)  Jack Washington (cl, as, brs)  Woody Walder (cl, ts) 

Bennie Moten (p, ldr)  Leroy Berry (bj)  Vernon Page (tu)  Willie McWashington (drs)  James Taylor (vcl)                          

Camden, N.J.; September 6, 1928

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

42924-2 Just Rite                                                                “X” LX-3025 (B-1)

42926-3 Slow Motion                                                         Vic 38012 “X” LX-3025  (A-3)

42927-1 Tough Breaks                                                        Vic 38037            -            (A-4)

 

add Moten and Lewis (1) speak     Camden, N.J.; September 7,1928

42929-1 Kansas City Breakdown                                     Vic 21963  “X” LVA-3025 (B-4)

42930-1 Trouble in Mind                                                  Vic 21739               -             (B-2)

42933-1 Get Low-Down Blues (1)                                   Vic 21693  “X” LVA-3025 (B-3)

NOTE:   “X” LVA-3025 ““Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Jazz (Vol. 2)” reproduced and notes by Bill Grauer Jr., and Orrin Keepnews. Cover: no information.

 

   This is the second collection of "X" Vault Original reissued to feature early recordings by the hard-driving band led by Bennie Moten - a band that is, in itself, just about the best definition of the term "Kansas City jazz".

   There were other sturdy jazz groups in that city in the early 1920s, and the Moten band itself left town at times (these recordings, for example, were made in Chicago and in the East).  But for the most part, if you were in the Kansas City area then and interested in doing some pretty rough-and-ready dancing, you turned to the blues and stomps and the pounding beat laid down by these musicians.

   For it is important to note that Moten's was, above all, a dance band.  This is of course not to be taken as any indication that there was anything the slightest bit mild or polite about his music - as the numbers in this album will quickly testify.  The time of these recordings, however, was actually an early stage in a long period of transition that was to alter the band's sound most substantially, taking it from a rough, New Orleans-derived style on to the smoother - but still driving - heavily rhythmic "riffs" that characterize what is known as Kansas City style.  Eventually, when Count Basie took over leadership after Moten's death in the '30s, the band was to go on to play an important role in the Swing Era and in the "modern" jazz period that followed.

   The change would seem to have begun early in 1927, when Moten replaced his entire rhythm section with the men who appear on these numbers (including, significantly enough, Walter Page, who was soon to switch from tuba to string bass and who served for quite a few years as a key figure in the Basie rhythm section.)  This first contrast is shown in Bennie Moten's Kansas City Jazz, Volume 1 (LX3004), which includes four selections with a distinctly "traditional" sound and four made only six months later - in June, 1927 - with the new rhythm men.  Two additional tunes from that June session – Twelfth Street Rag - open this album and, in comparison with that later numbers here, supply further evidence of continuing, gradual change in style.

   It was quite natural for this group of mid-western musicians to have begun with a sound reminiscent of New Orleans, for Kansas City had long been one of the important stops on the route of the "riverboats," the excursion steamers that regularly traveled up-river and featured bands including such major exponents of the Louisiana ensemble-jazz style as Louis Armstrong, Baby Dodds, Pops Foster and Roy Palmer.  But there were other influences, too: the barrelhouse piano style known as "boogie woogie" that was to be heard in the dives of Kansas City in those years; and the musical requirements of the audiences - both Negro and white - that supported several big dance halls which were the principal sources of employment for local jazzmen.

   The Moten outfit actually did much of its playing for which dancers, a fact that may run counter to what one might have assumed about them.  A newspaperman and music critic who grew up in Kansas City in the '20s (Paul V.Beckley of the New York Herald Tribune) recalls doing a good deal of dancing to Moten's music, particularly at the El Torreon Ballroom, where the band would play "for months at a time."  El Torreon was, he remembers, "the sort of place where the country club and college crowd would go for their Sunday afternoon dancing," which is obviously a pretty far cry from what is customarily though of as the habitat of early jazz.

   But even these were dancers who wanted their music hot - wanted to stomp rather than glide - and their effect on the band could not have been too different from that of the Negro patrons for whom they played elsewhere.  That effect is largely noticeable on these on these recordings in terms of the firm rhythmic pulse to be heard here, whether they are delivering a rich, slow blues or tearing loose on something like Just Rite.  There is a fifteen-month gap between the session that produced the first two numbers in this collection and the two days' work from which the remaining six have been selected.  Yet the personnel changes are quite negligible, and unusual example of band solidarity that provides a clue to another basic ingredient of this music.  This was most definitely a unit: the members were playing together, developing together, thoroughly familiar with their repertoire (which included a good many numbers credited to Moten and other band members).  The combination of an initial inclination towards New Orleans ensemble jazz, an integration born of long experience together, an integration born of long experience together, a firm beat and a considerable feeling for the blues - such a mixture is ver likely to lead to highly assured and exciting musical results.  Which is exactly what this foremost of Kansas City bands does turn out here.

 

   Other recent “X” Vault Originals reissued include: Earl Hines Piano Solos (LVA 3023); Sidney Bechet, Vol.1 (LVA 3024); Harlem in the Twenties – Vol.1: The Missourians (LVA 3020) and Vol.2; Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Band (LVA 3026); Washboard Rhythm Kings, Vol.1 (LVA 3021); and Tommy Ladnier (LVA 3027)

 
LVA-3026
HARLEM IN THE TWENTIES, VOLUME 2

CHARLIE JACKSON' PARADISE BAND
          FEATURING BENNY CARTER, SIDNEY DE PARIS, JABBO SMITH, JIMMY HARRISON

 
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CHARLES JOHNSON’S ORIGIANL PARADISE TEN

Sidney de Paris, Leonard Davis, Tom Morris (cnt)  Charlie Irvis (tb)  Benny Carter (cl, as, ss)  Ben Whittet (cl, as)  Elmer Harrell (cl,, ts) 

Charlie Johnson (p)  Bobby Johnson (bj)  Cyrus St. Clair (tu)  George Stafford (drs)  Monette Moore (vcl)                   

New York; February 25, 1927

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

38116-2 Birmingham Black Bottom                               “X” LVA-3026   (A-1)

38117-3 Don’t You Leave Me Here                                                -          (A-2)

               

CHARLES JOHNSON’S ORIGIANL PARADISE TEN

Sidney de Paris, Leonard Davis (cnt)  Charlie Irvis (tb)  Benny Carter (cl, as, ss, arr-1)  Edgar Sampson (cl, as)  Elmer Harrell (cl,, ts)  Charlie Johnson (p)  Bobby Johnson (bj)  Cyrus St. Clair (tu)  George Stafford (drs)   Monette Moore (vcl-2)                                             

New York; January 24, 1928

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

41640-2 Charleston Is the Best Dance After All (1)     “X” LVA-3026   (A-4)

41641-1 Hot-Tempered Blues                                                           -      (A-3)

 

CHARLES JOHNSON’S ORIGIANL PARADISE BAND

Sidney de Paris, Leonard Davis (tp)  Jimmy Harrison (tb)  Ben Whittet (cl, as)  Edgar Sampson (cl, as, vln)  Benny Waters (cl, ts, arr-1) 

Charlie Johnson (p)  Bobby Johnson (bj)  Cyrus St. Clair (tu)  George Stafford (drs)                                                   

New York; September 19, 1928

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

47531-1 The Boy in the Boat (The Rock) (1)                “X” LVA-3026   (B-4)

47532-1 Walk That Thing (1)                                                           -        (B-1)

 

CHARLES JOHNSON’S ORIGIANL PARADISE BAND

Sidney de Paris, Leonard Davis (tp)  George Stevenson (tb)  Ben Whittet, Edgar Sampson (cl, as)  Benny Waters (cl, ts)  Charlie Johnson (p) 

Bobby Johnson (bj)  Billy Taylor (tu)  George Stafford (drs)                                                                                     

New York; May 8, 1929

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

51298-1 Harlem Drag                                                         “X” LVA-3026 (B -2)

51299-2 Hot Bones and Rice                                                            -          (B-3)

 

NOTE:   “X” LVA-3026 “Harlem in the Twenties, Volume 2: CHARLIE JOHNSON’S PARADISE BAND” reproduced by Bill Grauer Jr., and 

               Orrin Keepnews. Notes written by Orrin Keepnews. cover by Paul Bacon.

   Not very long ago, sitting in his cramped bedroom in a side-street Harlem rooming house, Charlie Johnson quietly and sadly insisted that only chance had done him out of continuing fame and success.  If they had put that late-night radio network wire into Small's Paradise rather than the Cotton Club back in the late 1920s; if therefore, it had been the music of Johnson's band and not Duke Ellington's that had gone out across the country...

   But obviously much more than chance was involved in Ellington's unparalleled success.  It must certainly be granted that Johnson did not have the creative talents of the Duke, and that his band lacked the unique, tight-knit musical discipline of the Ellington forces.  Nevertheless, listening to the savage drive of the group, that kept things jumping and pounding at Small's in the '20s, it becomes clear that at least there is nothing at all ridiculous in the comparison.  In its day, the talented and experienced crew that Johnson had put together could more than hold its own with any of the bands that made the Harlem night spots an important, exciting center of jazz activity.

   The nucleus of the Paradise band had come from one of the key recording groups of the earlier years of the decade.  Charlie Irvis, Benny Waters, Ben Whittet and the sturdy tuba artist, Cy St. Clair, had all worked regularly with Clarence Williams.  Irvis had also been in the earliest Ellington bands, and Jabbo Smith had made one record date with the Duke in 1927.  These backgrounds, plus the overall Harlem jazz atmosphere of the period, provide the setting for this music - the fairly complex and sophisticated arrangements, the use of unison sax-section effects, the searing "jungle" sound.  The latter, although Ellington was its most famous practitioner, was scarcely stolen from him.  It was, rather, an inevitable result of the emphasis of the Harlem clubs on a pseudo-savage motif in their floor shows and music.  This was apparently effective in its aim of drawing white audiences, but bands like Johnson's adapting the required sound to their own legitimate jazz purposes, also used it to create a good deal of compelling, rhythmic music.

   This may also have been part of the reason for the Paradise band's heavy emphasis on growling brass solos.  Or perhaps it was just that Johnson had on hand some extremely talented trumpet and trombone men.  Irvis, on the first side of this album, and Jimmy Harrison, on Walk That Thing and The Boy in the Boat, demonstrate the gutteral, yet swinging, trombone deliveries that gave both their ranking among the foremost of Harlem big-band sidemen.  (It was, incidentally, at about this time that Harrison and Jack Teagarden began a friendship that quickly resulted in a good deal of mutual influencing of styles.)   Jobbo Smith, Sidney de Paris and Leonard Davis were all capable of handling the driving, blues-tinged specialties in the Johnson book.  While it's a bit difficult to be precise in all cases about the division of solo work between them, it's presumably the lighter tone of Jobbo's fluid and graceful horn that stands out in all four numbers on Side 1, and the "evil" muted trumpet of de Paris on The Boy in the Boat that leads someone to shout that he sounds "crazy" – undoubtedly the first recorded use of that word at a term of praise.  (This last tune, incidentally, bears no resemblance to the Harlem rent-party standard of the same name and actually is listed on the original recording sheets under the more appropriate title of The Rock.)

   It's rather starling to note just how many of the musicians heard here fit into the same category - most highly regarded by all who played with them and by the more deep-digging record collectors, but virtually unknown to the present-day jazz public, rating only passing mention in most books and articles on jazz - their comparatively few records quite obscure.  Harrison, Irvis, Davis, Jabbo Smith, and the two men largely responsible for the firm underlying beat - St. Clair and drummer George Stafford - all have suffered the same fate.  Only Benny Carter and Sidney de Paris went on to any real fame.  But these samples of their work surely indicate that these jazzmen and this band deserve no such obscurity.  Their music has lost none of its bite and impact over the years, and at the very least helps to prove that big-band Harlem jazz of this era was among the hottest jazz ever created.

 

   Other recent “X” Vault Originals reissues include:  Harlem in the Twenties, Vol.1: The Missourians (LVA 3020); Sidney Bechet, Vol.1 (LVA 3024); Bennie Moten’s Kasnsas City Jazz, vol.1 (LX 3004) and Vol.2 (LVA 3025).  Jimmy Harrison can also be heard with Flethcer Henderson and his Connie’s Inn Orchestra (LVA 3013), and Leonard Davis and George Stafford on Eddie Condon’s Hot Shots (LX 3005).

 
LVA-3027
TOMMY LADNIER

with Mezz Mezzrow, Sidney de Paris, James P. Johnson,Pops foster, Zutty Singleton​

 

SIDE 1

  1. Comin’ On with the Come On, Part 1 (Mezz Mezzrow)

  2. Comin’ On with the Come On, Part 2 (Mezz Mezzrow)

  3. Revolutionary Blues (Mezz Mezzrow)

  4. Getting’ Together (Mezz Mezzrow)

SIDE 2

   1.Everybody Loves My Baby

  (Spencer Williams – Jack Palmer)

   2.I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jelly Roll

  (Spencer and Clarence Williams)

   3.If You See Me Comin’ (Teddy Bunn – Mezz Mezzrow)

   4.Royal Garden Blues (Spencer and Clarence Williams)

 

This reissue produced and notes written by Bill Grauer, Jr., and Orrin Keepnews

 

MEZZ MEZZROW and his Orchestra (on Side 1, #1-3):

Tommy Ladnier, Sidney de Paris, trumpets; MeZz Mezzrow, clarinet; James P. Johnson, piano; Teddy Bunn, guitar; Elmer James, bass; Zutty Singleton, drums.  (Recorded in New York; November 21, 19138.)

 

MEZZ MEZZROW – LADNIER QUINTET (On Side 1, #4; and all of Side 2): 

Ladnier, trumpet; Mezzrow, clarinet: Bunn, guitar; Pops Foster, bass; Manzie Johnson, drums. (New York; December 19, 1938.)

 

   Despite the fact that the name of Mezz Mezzrow was featured in the leader's spot on the labels when these recordings were originally released, Mezz would undoubtedly be quick to agree that there is absolutely no distortion involved in making Tommy Ladnier the headliner on this reissue album.  For the primary purpose of these sessions, instigated by French jazz critic Hughes Panassie and largely organized by Mezzrow, was to enable Ladnier to be "rediscovered" by the jazz public.

   Ladnier occupies a rather unique, and unfortunate, role in the annals of jazz.  Most enthusiasts would place his name high on any list of the greatest horn men of traditional jazz; but the actual sound of his horn is well-known to comparatively few, and his life story was marked by what could almost be called the habit of just missing out on opportunities to achieve major and lasting fame.  It was distressingly in keeping that, within a few months after these record dates, when Ladnier seemed perhaps on the verge of a solid comeback, he suddenly died.

   These records can be considered the first examples of the "revival" that was to reach its peak in the '40s when such New Orleans veterans as Bunk Johnson and Kid Ory were retrieved from obscurity, to give audiences a taste of what jazz sounded like in the old days. Ladnier's case was, of course, not exactly the same.  He too was from New Orleans, but he was not of the oldest generation.  He was, in fact, born just over a month before Louis Armstrong - on May 28, 1900 - and had first attracted attention in Chicago in the early '20s.  He reached that town in about 1921, a couple of years before Louis did, and spent about four years playing there, most notably in important accompanying roles on records made by such outstanding blues singers of the period as Ma Rainey and Ida Cox.

   But he had left Chicago in 1925 - just before Armstrong and the many other jazz greats who remained there really began to reap the rewards of fame, musical satisfactions, and good pay that made the late '20s a truly golden era for jazz in that town.  He spent some time with Fletcher Henderson's band in New York - his work can be heard on two numbers in the "X" Vault Originals album, Fletcher Henderson and his Connie's Inn Orchestra (LVA 3013).  But this stint, sandwiched in between two European tours, was too brief to give him much share in the long-standing fame and success of that band.  He returned from his second trip to Europe with singularly bad timing, just as the Depression engulfed (among other things) the music business.  Some jazzmen managed to weather the '30s by playing in England and on the continent - but Tommy had missed his chance to stay there.  Some got by in big dance bands with varying amounts of jazz content - but there was no real place in such groups for this driving, rather rough, New Orleans - trained trumpet man.

   He made a few records with Sidney Bechet and with a Noble Sissle band, but after 1932 he dropped completely out of sight.  The most recurrent rumor was that he was reduced to shining shoes, for a living, but according to Mezzrow it wasn't quite that bad.  Mezz was moved to track Ladnier down when Hughes Panassie came to this country in 1938, eager to arrange for some record dates and full of vivid memories of how impressed he'd been when he had heard Ladnier in France.  They found Tommy playing in a joint near Buffalo, where he had retreated (Mezz has recalled) to get away from the "corny commercial music" that prevailed in New York.  On these two occasions they rounded up for him a group that included men with a notable understanding of traditional jazz - Jimmy Johnson, Pops Foster, Zutty Singleton.  Mezzrow, the only white musician on hand, has of course always associated himself most closely with Negro jazz styles.  (A third session, which co-featured Sidney Bechet, will be included in a forthcoming reissue album.)

   The first date might best be described as a re-exploration of the blues, fast and slow.  It was somewhat less successful as an attempt to make use of the two-trumpet teamwork once made famous by Ladnier's more celebrated contemporary, Louis Armstrong, and King Oliver (from whom both Louis and Tommy had learned so much).  Sidney de Paris' growled riffs seem at times to infect too much of a then-"modern" Swing Era note to quite fit with Ladnier.  In the lager session it was Ladnier on his own, with the emphasis still very much on the blues and driving stomps he loved and played so well.  There is rich beauty in his delicate backing of Teddy Bunn's vocal on If You See Me Comin' and in the firm solo choruses that follow; and the forceful horn on the swifter Jelly Roll and Royal Garden displays the amazing amount of power packed into Tommy's lean body.

   Although there's much that is reminiscent of Oliver in Ladnier's playing here, there is also a swinging lilt and warmth that are entirely his own.  They suggest just how much jazz lost when a sudden heart attack ended his life just after his thirty-ninth birthday.  But they also emphasize how fortunate it was that he at least had these last rare chances to show what he could do.

 

   Other recent “X” Vault Originals reissues include:

Sidney Bechet, Vol.1 (LVA 3024); Earl Hines Piano Solos (:VA 3023); Washboard Rhythm Kings (LVA 3021).  Mezzrwo is also featured on Mezz Mezzzrow’s Swing Session (LVA 3015) and Eddie Condon’s Hot Shots (LX 3005)

 

A Discographical Note for Collectors.

The original master numbers of these recordings (all preceded by the letters “BS”) are, in order: Side 1 – 028989-1, 028990-1, 028988-1, 030454-1; on Side 2 – 030451-2, 030452-2, 030453-2, 030450-2.  The last five are previously unissued “takes” of these masters. 

 

GRUVE GARD … Notice on this long play record a new raised edge which is an exclusive RCA Victor improvement to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasure from your RCA Victor records.

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LVA-3028
JELLY ROLL MORTON'S

RED HOT PEPPERS VOLUME 2

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JELLY ROLL MORTON and His Red Hot Peppers

George Mitchell (cnt)  Kid Ory (tb)  Omer Simeon (cl)  Jelly Roll Morton (p, vcl01)  John St. Cyr (g)  John Lindsay (b)   Andrew Hilaire (drs) 

Darnell Howard (vcl) and unknown (second vln)                             

Chicago; December 16, 1926

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

37254-3 Someday Sweetheart                                          Vic 20405  “X” LVA-3028  (A-2)

37255-2 Grandpa’s Spells                                                 BB B10254                -              (A-1)

37258-1 Cannon Ball Blues                                                        -                        -              (A-4)

 

JELLY ROLL MORTON and His Red Hot Peppers

George Mitchell (cnt)  George Bryant (tb)  Johnny Dodds (cl)  Stomp Evans (as)  Jelly Roll Morton (p)  John St. Cyr (g)  

Quinn Wilson (tu)  Baby Dodds (drs)                                                                               

Chicago; June 10, 1927

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

38661-2 Beal Street Blues                                                                     “X” LVA-3028   (B-1)

38662-2 The Pearls                                                                                            -              (B-4)

Johnny Dodds (cl)  Jelly Roll Morton (p)  Baby Dodds (drs)             same date

38663-1 Wolverine Blues #1                                               Vic 21064 “X” LA-3028  (B-2)

38663-2 Wolverine Blues #2                                                                                -           (B-3)

38664-1 Mr. Jelly Lord                                                                    -                   -           (A-3)

 

NOTE:   “X” LVA-3028 “Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers (Vol. 2)” reproduced and notes written by Bill Grauer Jr., and Orrin Keepnews.

               Cover by Paul Bacon.

   This is the second "X" Vault Originals reissue album devoted to the music of Ferdinand (Jelly Roll) Morton and the various groups of highly skilled jazz artists he gathered together, under the "Red Hot Peppers" named, to create a long series of memorable recordings.

   Morton was pianist, arranger, composer and band-leader of awe-inspiring talents.  His achievements and his influence on the course of jazz were vast and deep.  But he was perhaps as famous for his brash, flamboyant personality, his unconfined ego, and his sweeping statements of self-praise.  In the last years of his life, there was a tendency to regard him less as an important musician than as a colorful character, a talkative braggart who had, in his most lush days, reputedly worn a diamond as a filling for a tooth.  Now, more than a decade after his death, the man can be seen in calmer perspective.  It has become easier to evaluate his music entirely on its own merits - which are considerable.  If his personality must enter into it, you can note a good many broad, flaring effects that could only have been created by such a lending support to at least the spirit, if not the letter, of Morton's sweeping claims to have "invented" jazz.

   He left behind a fortunately sizable body of recorded jazz to serve as his permanent legacy.  Probably its most significant portion is the group of more than fifty Red Hot Peppers numbers made in Chicago and New York between 1926 and 1930.  JELLY ROLL MORTON'S RED HOT PEPPERS, Volume 1  (LX3008) began the task of documenting and again making available these brilliant examples of traditional jazz virtually all of which have long been unobtainable.

   The first collection offered the product of the first Red Hot Peppers sessions, which were in effect Morton's first opportunities to demonstrate his unique ability to shape a band into a unified voice expressing his musical ideas.  For although Jelly Roll was certainly neither young nor inexperienced in 1926 - he was 41, and had played in a great many places all that way from his home town of New Orleans to California - he had preciously been primarily a solo pianist.  The two September, 1926, record dates had a great impact on the jazz world, and on Morton's career as well.  The first concrete result was that he was able to take the same personnel back to the studios in Chicago's Webster Hotel, three months later, for a session whose output included Grandpa's Spells, Cannon Ball Blues and Someday Sweetheart (a preciously unissued "take" of this last number is used here).

   This was a formidable group of jazzmen.  Among them were Edward "Kid" Ory possibly the greatest of the many tailgate trombonists to come out of New Orleans; Omer Simeon, a notable exponent of the liquid-tone New Orleans clarinet style; and George Mitchell, whose talents are at least hinted at by the fact that the cornet on one group of Mitchell records was long believed to be Louis Armstrong.  Here, as before, however, the clearly-defined Morton concepts seems even more important than the men who brought them to life.

   Jelly Roll's music seems to combine the many facets of jazz to which he had been exposed: the rags and stomps and blues of earliest jazz; the several touches of French and Spanish influence and the tight-knit ensemble style he absorbed in New Orleans; plus the somewhat more free use of solo work that had become the rule in Chicago.  All this is bound together by the unique magic that is best called (in his own words) "Jelly Roll style."

   This magic is also very much in evidence in the selections recorded six months later with a somewhat different personnel, in which the outstanding change was the presence of the greatest of traditional-style clarinetists, Johnny Dodds.  (He can also be heard on JOHNNY DODDS WASHBOARD BAND - LX-3006.)

   This later session is probably most notable for Morton's personal interpretation of the W. C. Handy standard, Beale Street Blues, including a booming beat in almost marching-band style.  There were also two trio sides made that day, giving Jelly a chance to display his swinging, ragtime-derived solo technique, backed by the Dodds brothers: Baby with a firm beat, Johnny with tasteful, melodic figures largely in a quiet, lower-register vein.  The differences between the two "takes" of Wolberine Blues (#2 is previously unissued) indicate that Morton at least allowed himself considerable freedom to improvise within the overall framework of number.  Comparison between these almost-solo tunes and the full-band selections seems to support one theory about Morton's musical single-mindedness.  For there is no real difference in approach indicated: the piano is a band in miniature; a full ensemble is merely an extension to seven or eight instruments of his individual approach to a composition.

 

   Other recent “X” Vault Originals reissues include: 

Tommy Ladnier (LVA 3027); New Orleans Styles – Jones and Collins Astoria Hot Eight; New Orleans Rhythm Kings; John Hyman’s Bayou Stimpers (LVA 3029); Sidney Bechet, Vol. 1 (LVA 3024)

 

Notice on this long play record a new raised center and outer edge which is an RXA improvement designed t help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratched, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasure from your records.   

 

 

LVA-3029

NEW ORLEANS STYLES

 JONES AND COLLINS ASTORIA HOT EIGHT NEW OTLRSND RHYTHM KINGS

 JOHN HYMAN'S BAYOU STOMPERS

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 JONES AND COLLINS ASTORIA HOT EIGHT

NEW OTLRSND RHYTHM KINGS

 JOHN HYMAN'S BAYOU STOMPERS

JOHN HYMAN'S BAYOU STOMPERS

 Johnny Wiggs (“Johnny Wiggs”) (cnt)  Charles Hartman (tb)  Elry Maser (cl)  Avin Gautheraux (hca)  Horace Diaz (p)  Nappy Lamare (g) 

Monk Hazel (drs)                                                          

New Orleans; March 19, 1927

(all precede by the letter “BVE”                

37993-1 Ain’t Love Grand                                                “X” LVA-3029  (B-3)

37994-3 Alligator Blues                                                                     -         (B-4)

 

NEW ORLEANS RHYTHM KINGS

Paul Mares (b)  Santo Pecora (tb)  Charles Cordella (cl)  Glynn (Red) Long (p)  Bill Eastwood (bj)  Chink Kartin (tu)  Leo Adde (drs)

 New Orleans; March 26, 1925

(all preceded by the letter “B”)

32125-1 She’s Cryin’ for Me                                            Vic 19645  “X” LVA-3029 (B-1)

32126-1 Everybody Loves Somebody                                       -                  -              (B-2)

 

JONES AND COLLINS ASTORIA HOT EIGHT

Lee Collins (tp)  Sidney Arodin (cl)  Theodore Purnell (as)  Dave Jones (ts)  Joseph Robichaux (p)  Rene Hall (bj)   Al Morgan (b, vcl-1) 

Albert Martin (drs)                                                      

New Orleans; November 15, 1929

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

56534-1 Astoria Strut                                                         Vic B38576    “X” LVA-3029 (A-1)

56535-1 Duet Stomp (1)                                                             -                           -          (A-2)                

56536-1 Damp Weather                                                     Vic B10952                  -          (A-3)

56537-1 Tip Easy Blues                                                     Vic B10952                  -          (A-4)

 

NOTE:   “X” LVA-3029 “New Orleans Styles” reproduced and notes written by Bill Grauer Jr., and Orrin Keepnews.  Cover by Paul Bacon.

   The usual assumption is that New Orleans served jazz a sort of incubator.  A new music sprang up there, was nurtured for a while, and then departed for Chicago with dramatic suddenness when the celebrated red-light district of Storyville was closed down.  But this, like most synopses, is drastically over-simplified.  Jazz was not abruptly "born," but evolved gradually out of a multitude of sources.  It spread out from New Orleans early and often, and to many parts of the country, but even after the major exodus (which was post-1927 and did lead up to Chicago) jazz never completely left New Orleans.  Some have always continued to play it there, and others later returned home.

   This album is devoted to recordings by such men.  Originally made between 1925 and 1929, they represent a middle period in New Orleans jazz in which a variety of other influences were fused with the earlier traditions.

The great recordings in the classic New Orleans style were of course made in the northern centers of the record business.  But the four numbers by the Jones and Collins group (which are probably the best known to jazz fans of all made-in-New Orleans recordings) are not too far removed from the basic blues and stomps of the earliest jazz. 

   In addition, they provide virtually the only examples of the direction taken by Negro jazz in that city by the late '20s.

   Lee Collins was a native returned from early success in Chicago (where he had recorded with Jelly Roll Morton as early as 1923), and perhaps it was he who had brought back the principal Chicago touch evident here the emphasis on virtuoso solos rather than ensemble work.  His horn is melodic, yet best described as somewhat "sour" in tone; distinctive, despite its suggestions of Louis Armstrong and King Oliver; and is brilliantly in evidence at all times.  There's also the clean, swift clarinet of Sidney Arodin (one of those who stayed in the home city for the most part) and the tenor sax of Davey Jones, a veteran of the riverboats - he had played mellophone in Fate Marable's near-legendary band in 1918, when it also included Armstrong and Baby Dodds.  Backed by a firmly traditional rhythm section, these men produced a group of recordings that have remarkable drive and unity and that also prove (on Duet Stomp) how much freshness there once could be in that now-tired device known as the "riff".  The "Astoria" name, incidentally, refers to a hotel in the heart of the barrel house section of town (on South Rampart Street, with such other famous thoroughfares as Perdido, Canal and Gracier nearby).  Although its bar now boasts nothing more than a juke box, and the old dance hall above has since been converted into a pool room, this group - or possibly a smaller one augmented to eight for the recording session - once played regularly there.

   The New Orleans Rhythm Kings heard here include only one member of the band that originally made that name famous but that seems quite enough to justify its use.  For Paul Mares is in fine form (and is ably assisted by Santo Pecora's authentically tailgate trombone.)  Mare had been a bit overshadowed in Chicago by his more colorful colleagues in the "real" N.O.R.K., George Brunies and Leon Rappolo.  After that group broke up and he returned home, Mares was to do little playing and recording (except for one 1935 date, these are his last sides).  So these numbers are notable for giving him a rare chance to stand out on his own, to display his impressively firm, forceful tone - despite the imitations of the early "accoustical" recording process.  Frankly influenced by Oliver and other New Orleans Negro greats, his horn offers a striking example of the links between Negro and white jazz traditions.

   The most starling fact about the Bayou Stompers records – although this may never have been a secret to New Orleans jazz fans - is that Johnny Hyman, whose middle name is Wigginton, is better known today as Johnny Wiggs, first president of the New Orleans Jazz Club and currently a very active trumpet man.  (Hyman is now professor of mechanical drawing at a large local high school.  The change of name, which is fairly recent and for public jazz appearances only, is apparently ot distinguish between his two quite separate careers.)

   These numbers, which are among the rarest of collector's items, present a most interesting early example of a completed jazz cycle.  For Hyman plays strictly (and quite successfully) in a Bix Beiderbecke vein.  And Bix had first been influenced by New Orleans horns like Mares and, particularly, Nick La Rocca of the Original Dixieland Jazz

Band.  The rest of the Hyman band achieves a sound much like Bix's Wolverines - except for a high-pitched harmonica that seems almost to be playing in a New Orleans "alley fiddle" style.

 

   Other “X” Vault Originals reissues by New Orleans jazz figures include:

Otiginal Dixieland Jass Band, Vol.1 (LX 3007); Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers, Vol.1 (LX 3008) and Vol.2 (LVA 3028); Johnny Dodds’ Washboard Band (LX 3006); Tommy Ladnier (LVA 3027); Sidney Bechet, vol.1 (LVA 3024)

 

Notice on this long play record a new raised center and outer edge which is an RCA improvement designed to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasure from your records.

 


LVA-3030
THE SWING ERA
(VOL.1) 
TEDDY HILL AND HIS ORCHESTRA
WITH DIZZY GILLESPIE, FRANKIE NEWTON, RUSSELL PROCOPE, CECIL SCOTT

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TEDDY HILL AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Bill Dillard(tp, vcl-1), Shad Collins, Frankie Newton (tp)  Dickey Wells (tb)  Teddy Hill (sax, vcl-2)  Russell Procope, Howard Johnson, Cecil Scott (saxes)  Sam Allen (p)  John Smith (g)  Richard Fullbright (b)  Bill Benson (drs)                               

New York; March 26, 1937

(all preceded by the letter “BS”)

06464-1 Big Boy Blue (1, 2)                                             BB B6908    “X” LVA-3030 (A-3)

06465-1 Where Is the Sun? (1)                                          BB B6898

06466-1 The Harlem Twister (The New Sensation)          BB B6908                     -       (B-1)

06467-1 My Marie                                                             BB B6898                     -       (A-4)

same person              New York; April 23, 1937

(all preceded by the letter “BS”)

07928-1 A Study in Brown                                                BB B6943    “X” LVA-3030 (B-4)

07929-1 Twilight in Turkey                                                         -                          -        (B-3)

07930-1 China Boy                                                            BB B6941                    -         (B-2)

 

TEDDY HILL AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Dillard(tp, vcl-1), Shad Collins, Dickey Wells (tb)  Teddy Hill, Russell Procope, Howard Johnson, Robert Carroll (saxes) 

Sam Allen (p)  John Smith (g)  Richard Fullbright (b)  Bill Benson (drs)                             

New York; May 17, 1937

(all preceded by the letter “BS”)

010210-1 King Porter Stomp with You                             BB B6988    “X” LVA-3030 (A-1)

010211-1 Blue Rhythm Fantasy                                        BB B6989                   -         (A-2)

 

NOTE: “X” LVA-3030 “The Swing Era (Vol. 1): Teddy Hill and His Orchestra” reissued and notes written by Bill Grauer Jr., and Orrin Keepnews.

               Cover: no information.

 

  The Swing Era - which was well under way by the mid-1930s and disintegrated, with the coming of the war, in the very early '40s - produced and supported a great many bands of widely varying jazz abilities and importance.  It captured the attention of more dancers than any other form of jazz ever had.  It made household words of names like Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller and, to a somewhat lesser extent, of Negro band-leaders like Count Basie and Jimmie Lunceford.  But - as there seem to be in any period - there were also some very talented bands that never quite hit the top brackets and are by now almost totally forgotten.  The Teddy Hill group represented in this album is an outstanding example of this category.

   A quick glance at the personnel will show that there were some very solid musicians in the band, although with the one notable exception of Dizzy Gillespie they are the sort who never made large jazz headlines.  And the records reissued here show that in its fairly brief life-span this outfit mastered, just about as well as any of its more famous contemporaries, the leaping rhythms and lusty fall-band sound that went under the overall name of Swing.

   This form of jazz represented the ultimate coming-of-age of arranged music and of smoothly unified three-and four-man section work, which men like Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington had been developing since the middle of the '20s (arrangement and section are undoubtedly the key words to use in distinguishing this form earlier, "traditional" jazz).  There is a pretty clear link between the particular facet of Swing produced by a band like Teddy Hill's – which has been called an "uptown" sound, the reference being to New York's Harlem - and various kinds of Harlem jazz that preceded it.  Note the backgrounds of these musicians.  You can begin with Cecil Scott and Frankie Newton, both of whom for the most art stayed close to the looser small-band jazz, playing along with Dicky Wells in Scott's "Bright Boys" in the late '20s.  Teddy Hill was with Luis Russell's star-studded big band at the turn of the '30s (when it was sometimes fronted by King Oliver on records, and often Louis Armstrong).  Possibly even more important are such things as Russell Procope's three-year stay - 1931-34 - with Fletcher Henderson, that Wells was also with Fletcher in 1933, and that Wells, Bill Dillard, Shad Collins and Howard Johnson all made a batch of records with Benny Carter in that year.

   The total picture is of a group who had developed in much the same general direction, all steeped in the hot, driving, arranged Harlem jazz of the early '30s, with overtones of the more "sophisticated" sound typified by musicians like Carter (and underlined by the fact that, in the Summer of 1937, several of Hill's sidemen turned up in France where they recorded with Django Rheinhardt.)  To fill out the background, note also that such major Swing figures as Roy Eldridge and Chu Berry had been with the band shortly before this, and that the group scored its greatest successes at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom, where they alternated for a while with the Chick Webb and Willie Bryant bands.

   Their worst failing might have been an occasional of originality, which is possibly indicated here by the use of the standard arrangement of Larry Clinton's Study in Brown and an all-too-typical jivey vocal on Big Boy Blue.  But the former is redeemed by the taste and smooth, uncluttered ensemble drive, and the latter by a forceful Newton solo.  And the balance is much more than evened by such highlights as their swinging Marie (with no vocal chorus and hardly a trace of the Tommy Dorsey handling of the number); the inventive, non-standard version of King Porter (a refreshing change from the Henderson arrangement that everyone was doing to death in those days); and the joyous romp on The Harlem Twister, which on the original recording sheet, was titled The New Sensation, tipping off the fact that it is basically a highly up-tempo reshaping of the aged Sensation Rag.

   There's also something of a foretaste here of things to come in Dizzy Gillespie's work on King Porter,  even though his piercing horn is in a thoroughly swinging vein.  And Hill himself was to be one of the key personalities in the coming transition to bop, though not as an active musician.  Teddy left the band business in the late '30s and turned up as manager of Minton's Playhouse in Harlem, where he presided over and encouraged the musical experimentation by Gillespie and others that was eventually to emerge as a new jazz form - substantially different, but in some ways the successor to the brand of Swing that can be heard in this album.

 

   Examples of Swing and its predecessors include:

Jimmy Lanceford (LX 3002); Fletcher Henderson (LVA 3013); Mezz Mezzrow’s Swing Session (LVA 3015); Harlem in the Twenties – Vol.2: Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Band (LVA 3026) and two albums by what was to become the Count Basie band, Benniw Moten’s Kansas City Jazz, Vol.1 (LX 3004) and Vol.2 (LVA 3025).

 

Notice on this long play record a new raised center and outer edge which is an RCA improvement designed to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasure from your records.

 
 

 
LVA-3031
McKINNEY'S COTTON PICKERS (VOLLUME 1)

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McKINNEY’S COTTON PICKERS

Langston Curl, John Nesbitt (tp)  Claude Jones (tb)  Prince Robinson (cl,ts)  Don Redman (saxes, vcl)  Milton Senior (as)  George Thomas (ts, vcl) 

Todd Rhodes (p)  Dave Wilborn (bj, vcl)  Bob Escudero (tu)  Cuba Austin (drs)             

Chicago; July 11, 1928

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

46094-2 Put It There (Shag Nastly)                                     Vic V38025    “X” LVA-3031 (A-2)

46096-3 Milenberg Joys                                                      “X” LVA-3031 (A-3)

Jean Napier (vcl-1) added           Chicago; July 12, 1927

46099-1 Stop Kidding                                                         “X” LVA-3031 (A-1)

46400-2 Nobody’s Sweetheart                                             Vic V38000    “X” LVA-3031 (A-4)

46401-2 Somebody Sweet Day                                            Vic 21730,                     -         (B-1)

46402-3 Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble                                           Vic 21611                       -         (B-2)

 

MCKINNEY’S COTTON PICKERS

Langston Curl, John Nesbitt (tp)  Claude Jones (tb)  Jimmy Dudley (cl, as)  Prince Robinson (cl,ts)  Don Redman (saxes, vcl)  George Thomas (ts, vcl-1)  Todd Rhodes (p)  Dave Wilborn (bj, vc-2)  Bob Escudero (tu)  Cuba Austin (drs)              

Chicago; November 23, 1928

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

48619-2 It’s Tight Like That (1, 2)                                      Vic V38013    “X” LVA-3031 (B-3)

48620-3 There’s A Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder (2)                -                            -          (B-4)

 

NOTE:“X” LVA-3031 “McKinney’s Cotton Pickers (Vol. 1)” reproduced and notes written by Bill Grauer Jr., and Orrin Keepnews.

              Cover: no information.

            Don Redman became a member of McKinney's Cotton Pickers during 1927 (just about a year before these recordings - the band's first - were made); John Nesbitt had joined the group a few months earlier; and shortly before that, Bill McKinney had met Jean Goldkette.

   These names and these facts are undoubtedly the key to be the success and the musical achievements of one of the most accomplished of the early big bands of jazz.  It was Redman, primarily, who took a routine, happy-go-lucky dance band (the sort that went in for paper hats, whistles and similar "novelty effects") and drilled it into a polished and distinctive organization.  Nesbitt had begun providing the band with non-standard arrangements even before Redman came along, and he also provided some outstanding trumpet work during the years in which the Cotton Pickers' reputation was first established.   As for Gladkette, whose highly successful band then boasted such stars as Bix Beiderbecke and Frank Trumbauer, he was also a most enterprising from his Detroit offices and owned a few ballrooms.  In 1927, he had recalled, he was anxious to "experiment" with a Negro band.  He met McKinney, whose group was then working in a Detroit dance hall, apparently decided that this was his man, and arranged a deal that established the Cotton Pickers in his Graystone Ballroom while its regular inhabitants, the Goldkette band, were out on tour.  With this backing and security, the building-up process got under way.

   Although it had met with no notable success, the nucleus of the Cotton Pickers had remained rather stable since McKinney had first organized his "Synco Septette" in the Springfield, Ohio, area in about 1921.  (McKinney himself had played drums until 1924, when he decided to devote himself entirely to business matters and brought in young

Cuba Austin - who was to be the band's drummer until it broke up in 1934.)

   Now Nesitt took the first crack at turning them into a group capable of playing a unique brand of arranged jazz, but it was slow going until McKinney induced Don Redman - talented, energetic, and bursting with untried musical ideas - to come out to Detroit to be his "musical director."  By now, George Thomas, whose vocals were to become a Cotton Pickers' trademark, had been added, and Redman introduced Prince Robinson, an able reed man.  Redman, a veteran of the well-schooled Fletcher Henderson band, also introduced what from all accounts was some of the toughest basic drilling any group of professionals has ever been put through.

   He literally started from the ground up.  As Cuba Austin remembers it, Don actually "had a blackboard and started right in teaching us fundamentals.  He would put notes on the board and say: "How many beats …?"  At first he didn't get many satisfactory answers, but eventually such instruction and steady diet of regular rehearsals had its starting results.  Obviously the raw material had unusually high potentials, and before long Redman's leadership and the swift, fresh Redman and Nesbitt arrangements had transformed the one-time casual "stunt band" into a smooth dance-and-jazz outfit that was in the forefront of the movement into the "new jazz of the late 1920s and early '30s.

   The Cotton Pickers' first recording dates came just as they were starting to try their luck on the road.  All the polish may not yet have been applied. but there is ample evidence of the relaxed drive and high spirits that made them one of the first bands that really could swing.  Robinson and Claude Jones take some solo honors, but the individual stand-out is  clearly John Nesbitt.  Throughout the album, particularly in such solos as those on Nobody's Sweetheart and There's a Raibow 'Round My Soulder, his crisp horn ably supports the stories of his close friendship with Beiderbecke.  The two hid their bottles behind the same loose bricks in the wall back of the Graysone and played sandlot baseball together, and Nesbitt quite plainly absorbed more than a little of Bix's tone and phrasing and put them to good use.

   There was close rapport between the two bands, even including some swapping of arrangements.  In more than one case they have baffled the jazz experts considerably.  The most famous instance was Goldkette's My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now.   It sounds most McKinney-ish, and those who claimed it as a mis-labeled Cotton Pikers item, cited the master number - BVE48617 - which, it can be noted, is quite close to the numbers on the November McKinney session.  But musicians have recalled this as a case of the Goldkette band using a "borrowed" arrangement, and the original recording sheets show conclusively that, while both bands were in the studio on the same day, this was not a Cotton Pickers" master.  (This tune is among those in the "X" Vault Originals reissue of JEAN GOLDKETTE and His Orchestra - LVA-3017.)

 

   Other recent “X” reissues include:

Sidney Bechet, vol.1 (LVA 3024);  Tommy Ladnier (LVA 3027);  Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers, vol.2 (LVA 3028); The Swing Era, Vol.1: Teddy Hill and His Orchestra (LVA 3030).

 

Notice on this long play record a new raised center and outer edge which is an RCA improvement designed to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasure from your records.  

 
LVA-3032
KINGS OF THE BLUES /
BACKGROUND OF JAZZ, VOL.3

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FRANK STOKES

Frank Stokes (g, vcl)  unknown (g) added     Memphis, Tenn.; February 1, 1928

(preceded by the letter “BVE”)

41822-1 Downtown Blues                                                 Vic 21272     “X” LVA-3032 (B-1)

 

FRANK STOKES

Frank Stokes (g, cl) acc by Dan Sane (g)        Memphis, Tenn.; August 10, 1928

(preceded by the letter “BVE”)

45453-1 ‘Tain’t Nobody’s Business                                “X” LVA-3032 (B-2)

 

 

JIM JACKSON 

Jim Jackson (g, vcl)         Memphis, Tenn.; August 27, 1928

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)  

45416-2 I’m Wild about My Lovin’                                Viv V38525    “X” LVA-3032 (A-1)

45417-1 This Mornin’ She Was Gone                             Vic V38003                    -         (A-2)

 

FURRY LEWIS

Furry Lewis (g, vcl)        Memphis, Tenn.; August 28, 1928

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)  

45425-1 I Will Turn Your Money Green                        “X” LVA-3032 (A-3)

45429-1 Dry Land Blues                                                 Vic 23345     “X” LVA-3032 (A-4)

 

ISHMAN BRACEY

Ishman Bracey (g, vcl) acc by Charlie McCoy (g-1, comments-2)     

Memphis, Tenn.; August 31, 1928   (all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

45458-1 2 Leavin’ Town Blues (1)                                  Vic 38560     “X” LVA-3032 (B-3)

45459-1,2 Brown Mama Blues (1)                                  Vic 21691                 -             (B-4)

 

NOTE:“X” LVA-3032 “Backgrounds of Jazz, Volume 3” reproduced and notes written by Bill Grauer Jr., and Orrin Keepnnews.

               Cover by Paul Bacon.

   The impact and influence of the blues upon the entire course of jazz (and, for that matter, on virtually all of American popular music) has been deep and lasting.  There is something of a mystery in this.  For on the surface the blues is merely an uncomplicated melodic structure and a standardized pattern of three-line stanzas.  Yet it has had vast meaning for far more people than just the immediate Negro audience that listened to singers like those in this album and that shared the specific joys, sorrows and ironies of which they told.  The intangible qualities that have made it capable of almost endless variety and adaptability may perhaps lie in the honesty and virility of the blues, in its unique combination of wry bitterness and earthy humor.  And it may be that only the music itself can make them fully clear.  But words can at least set the stage for listening, can provide a context for the blues.

   To most followers of jazz, the blues is primarily associated with the great instrumental recordings of the music of New Orleans and Chicago, and the major blues singers of the 1920s: women like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey.  But behind this lies a great body of folk-material upon which such singers and musicians were able to draw.  The records in this collection, although made as late as 1928, serve to illustrate that source material.   For they are quite close, in style and in spirit, to the earliest folk-blues.  The men heard here lived and sang much as those unknown singers must have done who first developed the blues out of work songs, spirituals and other musical elements of Negro life in the middle and late 19th century.  (This point is discussed in the notes to Back-grounds of jazz, vol.2: URBAND AND COUNTRY BLUES - LVA-3016, which presents the blues of two "primitive" female singers, Bessie Tucker and Ida May Mack.) 

   Virtually nothing is known except the mere names of these men (which is very much in keeping with the tradition of the near-anonymous wandering folk-singer in many centuries and many lands).  But from what has been documented about those few folk-blues singers who achieved some fairly wide fame - men like Huddie Ledbetter and Blind Lemon Jefferson - it can be gathered that they sang in the dives and on the streets of Southern towns, wherever their travels took them, and that they gleaned a sketchy living from it.   Certainly the bitterness of their blues - Furry Lewis singing "I've been down so long, it seems like up to me" - came hard and direct from personal experience.

   At times they came into the big cities to work or to make "race" records like these (that being the euphemism of the time for recordings aimed solely at the Negro market).  In that connection, it's interesting to note that all but one of the numbers here, and all eight in Volume 2, were part of the same huge week-long session, for which a great many singers apparently gathered in Memphis in August, 1928.

   These men inevitably provided their own accompaniment using a guitar, which met their requirements by being a portable non-wind instrument (according to one logical theory, the banjo was shunned because of its black-face, minstrel-show associations).  Originally, they belonged to the "country blues" tradition (which is contrasted with the slightly-less-rough early "urban" style in the Volume 2 notes).  This involves using the voice primarily as an instrument moaning, sliding, humming; employing vibrato and falsetto effects; often filling in what might be thought of as "instrumental breaks" in much the same places and ways as horns were used when jazz bands began to make full use of the blues.  There's no clear demarcation between voice and instrument (note, for example, how similarly both are handled on Frank Stokes' Down Town Blues), and all this seems to indicate the paths by which this vocal music was so readily absorbed into instrumental jazz.

   This was, of course, a very personal and shifting body of material, which could hardly be expected to fall neatly into consistent patterns.  Thus there are differences in emphasis and contrasts to be noted here.  Ishman Bracey is entirely in the breathy, blurred, folk-blues style that observes no rules of enunciation.  Furry Lewis sings in a similarly nasal, casual vein, but with touches of the folk-poetry of the blues that demands attention to the lyrics ("Woman I hate, I see her everyday,/ But the woman I love she's so far away," and the bravado of "If you follow me babe, I'll turn your money green;-I'll show you more money'n Rockefeller ever seen.")  Jim Jackson, however - and perhaps Frank Stokes, on the evidence of "Tain't Nobody's Business - seem a long stride closer to urban sophistication.  A purist might want to point out that, strictly speaking, these songs are not really in the "proper" blues form.  A few such singers may have worked regularly in big cities or even on the Negro vaudeville circuits, which would help explain the professionalism with which Jackson projects his voice, and also how his best-known number, Kansas City Blues, came to be fairly frequently recorded and copied in its day (including one version in which Ma Rainey gave him credit by singing "I'm going to Kansas City to bring Jim Jackson home."  Fundamentally, though, this collection can be summed up as the sound of the rugged, un-prettied early blues, a continuation of the folk-music from which so much of jazz has sprung.

 

   Among the many blues-tinged reissues in the “X” Vault Originals series are:

Johnny Dodds’ Washboard Band (LX 3006); Jelly roll Mortons’s Red Hot Peppers, Vol.1 (LX 3008) and VOL.2 (LVA 3028); Tommy Ladnier (LVA 3027).  Another Backgrounds of Jazz album is Vol.1: The Jug Bands (LX 3009).

 

Notice on this long play record a new raised center and outer edge which is an RCA improvement designed to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasure from your records.

 

 

LVA-3033

RIDIN' WITH RED ALLEN

 FEATURING J.C.HIGGINBOTHAM, ALBERT NICHOLAS

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HENRY ALLEN AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Henry “Red” Allen (tp, vcl)  J.C.Higginbotham (tb)  Albert Nicholas (cl)  Charlie Holmes (ss, cl, as)   Teddy Hill (ts, cl)  Luis Russell (p) 

Will Johnson (g, bj, vcl)  Pops Foster (b)  Paul Barbarin (drs, vib)               

New York; July 16, 1929

(All precede by the letter “BVE”)

53929-2 Feeling Drowsy                                                   “X” LVA-3033   (A-2)

53930-1 Swing Out                                                                             -         (A-1)

Teddy Hill out                                                                                  

New York; July 17, 1929

55133-2 It Should Be You                                                 “X” LVA-3033   (A-4)

55134-1 Biffly Blues                                                                          -         (A-3)

HENRY ALLEN AND HIS NEW YORKERS

Henry (Red) Allen (tp)  J. C. Higginbotham (tb)  Albert Nicholas (cl)  Charlie Holmes (as)  Luis Russell (p)  Will Johnson (g)  George (Pops) Foster (b)  Paul Barbarin (drs)  Victoria Spivey (vcl-1)  The Wanderers (vcl-2)           

New York; September 24, 1929   (All precede by the letter “BVE”)

55852-1 Make A Country Bird Fly Wild (2)                    Cam (Arg) CAL3054     “X” LVA-3033 (B-4)

55853-1 Funny Feathers Blues (1)                                   RCA(F) 86358                              -          (B-3)

55854-1 How Do They Do It That Way (1)                     “X” LVA-3033 (B-2)

55855-1 Pleasin’ Paul                                                      RCA(F) 86358                               -          (B-1)

 

NOTE:“X” LVA-3033 “Ridin’ with Red Allen” reproduced and notes written by Bill Grauer Jr., and Orrin Keepnews. 

               Cover by Paul Bacon.

            The horn that comes riding through on these eight numbers is surely one of the most dynamic and forceful to be heard anywhere in jazz.  These are among the first recordings made by a man who has by now become well established as a staple item on the jazz scene.  When these sessions took place, Red Allen was merely a twenty-one-year-old kid fresh out of New Orleans by way of a hitch on the Mississippi riverboats, and few people in New York had even heard of him.  But they learned about him quickly enough: for with these sides – most notably, perhaps, Swing Out and Feeling Drowsy - Allen immediately set what many regard as the high-water mark of his entire career and produced some solos that can still stand up in comparison with the best efforts of just about any trumpeter you care to name.

   The name Henry Allen did mean a lot in traditional jazz long before this - a fact that's underlined by the way the original recording sheets for these dates list the leader as "Henry Allen Jr."  For Allen, Sr., had led one of the early New Orleans brass bands, and Red has recalled a long roster of great jazz names associated with the older Allen: Bunk Johnson, Mutt Carey, Louis Armstrong, Papa Celestin, Sidney Bechet ("Sidney even played trumpet in my father's band").  It's hardly surprising that Red's father began teaching him to play trumpet at a very early age and that he was not much more than eight when he first became part of the band.

   By the 1920s, New Orleans was no longer the major jazz center, but - contrary to popular belief - it had hardly been deserted.  Young Allen, still in his 'teens, played there with bands and men whose names are now only vague legends.  ("Excelsior, Eureka, all the brass bands; Sidney Desvignes, the late great Chris Kelly, and Henry Kid Rena.  Rena used to use two trumpets; that's where I got my start playing in the smaller groups.")  By about 1927 he was on the riverboats, first with Fate Marable's band and then with Walter Pichon.  Apparently he had also come briefly to New York during this period, spending perhaps a month with King Oliver, although making no recordings.  This may have led to his later, more lasting entry into the big town, for it seems that it may have been Oliver who tipped off a major record company's scout to Allen's rapidly maturing talents, resulting in his being brought to New York.

   Thus Red had a background and breadth of musical experience that make his extreme youthfulness rather deceptive, and make it easier to understand the command of his instrument and the richness of tone which are every bit as impressive as the power and vigor on display here.  Allen, like virtually every trumpet player of the day, was plainly impressed by Louis Armstrong and by his rise to fame as a solo virtuoso.  (The staccato phrases of the solo that follows the vocal on Funny Feathers Blues, for example, are effective enough, but come perilously close to sounding like an imitation of Louis.) 

   Nevertheless, there is a great deal to be heard here that belongs entirely to Red Allen.  Most noticeably there is unequalled power and impact.  But, although he has become known primarily as a "ride" or "shout" trumpeter, and although this collection includes all the fiercely riding choruses you could ask for, there's even more than that.  There is also tremendous depth, warmth and beauty to be found in his work on numbers like Biffly Blues and, most especially, the unsurpassed Feeling Drowsy.  Through the years since these early recordings, Allen's jazz concepts and taste have been much less than fully consistent.  But it's hard to criticize him for not having always lived up to the very severe standards that he set in these and other performances of this period, particularly when you stop to consider that there are many highly-regarded jazz horns who could never hope to approach the peaks that Red at least touched here.  The band that plays with Allen here is of course recognizable as actually being Luis Russell's which made quite a habit of being fronted by trumpet stars.  Oliver had worked them in the same way earlier in 1929 (some of those numbers are reissued in the "X" Vault Originals album, King Oliver's Uptown Jazz - LVA-3018), and Armstrong later used them for both recording and personal-appearance purposes (with Allen, then a regular member of the band, in his trumpet section).  The group was decidedly equal to the task.  To begin with, it had one of the most powerful rhythm sections ever on record, a robust, wonderfully integrated quartet that included skilled New Orleans veterans like Pops Foster and Paul Barbarine.  Russell's arrangements were simple, largely designed to feature series of solos - following the ever-increasing trend towards emphasis on individual soloists and away from the traditional, close-knit ensemble style.  And Russell had the personnel to make this set-up highly successful: men like J. C. Higginbotham, Albert Nicholas, Charlie Holmes.  All have turns in the spotlight on these tunes.  "Higgy" in particular, with his big, brassy tone, bursts forth with almost incredible drive and violence, and the solo on Swing Out is probably his top performance.  (As for the vocals, they are brief and suitably rhythmic, although Victoria Spivey is on other recordings, a more effective blues singer than she is here.)

 

   Other “X” Vault Originals reissues featuring outstanding trumpets are, in addition to the  King Oliver album noted above (LVA 3018); Tommy Ladnier (LVA 3027); New Orleans Styles – with Lee Collins and Paul Mores (LVA 3029) and Swing Session: 1935 – with Bunny Berigan and Wingy Manone (LVA 3034)

 

Notice on this long play record a new raised center and outer edge which is an RCA improvement designed to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasant from you records.

 

 
LVA-3034
SWING SESSION : 1935

WITH BUNNY BERIGAN AND WINGY MANONE

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GENE GIFFORD AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Bunny Berigan (tp)  Morey Samuel (tb)  Matty Matlock (cl)  Bud Freeman (ts)  Claude Thornhill (p)  Dick McDonough (g)  Pete Peterson (b) 

Ray Bauduc (drs)  Gene Gifford (arr)  Wingy Manone (vcl-1)             

New York; May 13, 1935

(all preceded by the letter “BS”)

89794-1 Nothing but the Blues (1)                                     Vic 25041    “X” LVA-3034 (A-2)

89795-1 New Orleans Twist                                                        -                       -            (A-1)

89796-1 Squareface (1)                                                      Vic 25065                 -            (A-3)

89797-1 Dizzy Glide (1)                                                              -                       -            (A-4)

 

ADRIAN AND HIS TAP ROOM GANG  

Wingy Manone (tp, vcl-1)  Joe Marsala (cl, as)  Adrian Rollini (bass sax, vib, xyl)  Putney Dandridge (p, vcl-2)  Caren Astern (g)  Sid Weiss (b) 

Sam Weiss (drs)  Jeanne Burns (vcl-3)                                                 

New York; June 14, 1935    (all preceded by the letter “BS”)

92263-1 Bouncin’ in Rhythm                                            Vic 25208     “X” LVA-3034 (B-1)

92266-1 Nagasaki (2)                                                        Vic 25085                 -             (B-4)

92267-1 Honeysuckle Rose                                               Vic 25208                 -             (B-2)

82268-1 Jazz ‘O Jazz (3)                                                   Vic 25085                 -             (B-3)

 

NOTE:“X” LVA-3034 “Swing Session: 1935” reissued and notes written by Bill Grauer Jr., and Orrin Keepnews. Cover by Paul Bacon.

          "Swing" is certainly one of the most loosely employed words in all of jazz.  It can and does have a great variety of meanings, although it's probably most often used to describe the music of the big, highly-polished orchestras of the late 1930s.  It is used rather differently here, but in what is surely one of the most legitimate applications of the term.  For the specific reference here is to an almost forgotten by-product of the Swing Era: a relaxed, unpretentious, but frequently brilliant kind of jazz created by small groups who might gather together for a single record date, or play as a unit for perhaps just one night club job of moderate duration, and then go their separate ways. 

   These are actually some of the earliest examples of this sort of music.  To set them in context, note that it wasn't until the Fall of 1935 that Benny Goodman's band made the cross-country tour that ended with a literally howling success at Los Angeles' Palladium ballroom and launched the age of Swing.  So that these sessions were in a sense "pre-views" - both of a musical style just taking shape and of the casually organized one-shot job or recording-date alignments that were to be quite common in the late '30s and thereafter.  In many cases, this casualness was to be a trap in which conflicting personal styles or unfamiliarity with each other's musical ideas led even very competent musicians to produce very little cohesion and a general air of much-ado-about-nothing (only intermittently pierced by flashes of exciting jazz).  But the material reissued here would seem to offer some first-rate object lessons in how to avoid this particular evil.

   The Gene Gilfford date was apparently organized largely to spotlight some arrangements by the leader, who had been responsible for much of the "book" of the highly successful pre-Swing Casa Loma Orchestra during the very early '30s.  It does represent the sort of fusion of styles that characterized such pick-up dates.  The big-band arranger had chosen a group that included Bud Freeman, best known as a Chicago-style jazzman; Ray Bauduc and Matty Matlock, two mainstays of the Bob Crosby combination of big-band dixieland and swing that was then just getting under way; and Claude Thornhill, later the leader of an outstanding sweet-swing band.

   That all this meshed into an effective unity is probably due in part to the discipline imposed by what sound like reasonably tight-knit arrangements, and also to the all-round professional skill of the personnel.  And a good deal of credit should also be assigned to the presence of Bunny Berigan on what seems to have been one of his very many good days in a recording studio.  The short-lived trumpet star - he was only thirty-three when he died of pneumonia in 1942 - was then in the midst of a two-year span of most prolific radio and disc activity during which he worked with Goodman, Glenn Miller, Mildred Bailey, and virtually every other rising star of the day.  Berigan was notable for a richness of tone and a unique ability to explore the trumpet's lower register.  But above all, as these selections show, he was a truly swinging musician, in the fullest sense of that word.

   Wingy Manone, who was on hand for one vocal with the Gilfford group and whose trumpet is a major feature of the Tap Room Gang numbers, plays a very different sort of horn, but one that can just as accurately be said to swing.  Born in New Orleans and a veteran of the Chicago school, Wingy's main influence has always quite clearly come from Louis Armstrong.  The Manone specialty is a highly personal brand of jive that just about typifies the small-band jazz style of the late '30s.  ( you'll find it, for example, in the "X" Vault Originals album entitled Wingy Manone, Volume 1 -LVA-3014.)  The present collection, however, offers an interesting glimpse of an infrequent facet of his playing.  He is almost subdued in a rocking, melodic vein that may surprise many by its relaxation (and he leaves the jivey vocals entirely to the somewhat over-exuberant, "Fats" Waller-ish voice of Putney Dandridge).

   There actually was a Tap Room in New York's Hotel President, and a band led by Adrian Rollini (a key figure in New York jazz since the 1920s' heyday of the California Ramblers) was working there at about this time.  That group did feature Wingy, but it's doubtful that this was exactly its personnel.  For example, Manone recalls that Joe Marsala had only just come East from Chicago at Wingy's urging when Wingy was about ready to leave Rollini.  So it would seem fair to attribute the easy-going cohesion here to the very close musical ties between Manone and the men who were to be closely identified with him during much of his upcoming 52nd Street period: Marsala, Carmen Mastren, Sid Weiss.  This was his first work on records with them, and obviously they fitted together smoothly from the start - really swung together in a way that's still very much worth listening to.

 

   Other recent releases in the “X” Vault Originals reissue series include: 

The Swing Era, Vl.1 Teddy Hill and his Orchestra (LVA 3030); KcKinney’s Cotton Pickers, Vol.1 (LVA 3031); Riding’ with Red Allen (LVA 3033)

 

Notice on this long play record a new raised center and outer edge which is an RCA improvement designed to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasant from you records.

 
LVA-3035
Young “Fats” Waller: Early Piano solos 

 

SIDE 1

 1.Numb Fumblin’(Thomas Waller)

   (New York, March 1, 1929)

 2.Love Me or Leave Me (Cahn – Donaldson)

   (Camden, New Jersey, August 2, 1929)

 3.Sweet Savannah Sue (Razaf – Waller – Brooks)

   (Camden, New Jersey, August 2, 1929)

 4.Valentine Stomp (Thomas Waller)

   (Camden, New Jersey, August 2, 1929)

SIDE 2

 1.Smashing Thirds (Thomas Waller) (New York; September 24, 1929)

 2.Baby, Oh Where Can You Be (Frank Margine)(Camden, August 29, 1929)

 3.My Feelin’s Are Hurt (Thomas Waller) (New York; September 11, 1929)

 4.Turn on the Heat (De Sylva – Brown – Henderson) (New York; December 4, 1929)

 

This reissue produced and notes written by Bill Grauer, Jr., and Orrin Keepnews

 

   Skill is something that can be acquired; true talent is not.  In jazz, as elsewhere, the real artist is (or at any rate should be) very quickly recognizable.  Certainly when seen in retrospect, those special qualities that are uniquely his seem to have been there right from the start, as if they had been born fully matured and self-confident.  And that's exactly how it is with this collection of some of "Fats" Waller's earliest recordings.  For all the drive and sparkle, the ability to transmute even the most ordinary musical material into an extraordinary delight, can clearly be heard here - just as clearly as in anything he was to do during the fourteen years of ever-growing success that followed.

   These are not the very first examples of Waller's music.  They had been preceded by a fair number of player-piano rolls, a few band sides, and about a dozen organ solos, but by only two other recorded piano solos.  Thus they belong quite close to the start of the amazingly voluminous total of more than 400 recordings that "Fats" piled up before his death in December , 1943.  (Much more of this vast and almost-consistently wonderful repertoire will appear in subsequent "X"Vault Originals' collections.)  In 1929, Waller had already written some of his lastingly famous songs, most notably Honeysuckle Rose, and this was the year of Ain't Misbehaving.  But he was still five years away from being a full-fledged recording star, was just beginning to be billed as "Fats", and was still very much a part of the world of Harlem theaters, small clubs, and rent parties in which he made his start.    Although the basic qualities of his greatness were not things that could be leaned, the technique that buttressed his talent and enabled it to be expressed so effectively was in large part a product of his drastically varied early training.  Thomas Waller, born in 1904, was the son of a Harlem minister.  The boy's piano and organ lessons were under sound classical tutors, and he played at prayer meetings and Sunday services.  But in "Fats" formative years, ragtime was at its peak of popularity, and somewhere along the line this new music crept in and took over.  When he was about fifteen, he launched himself by winning a theater's piano contest against much older competition.

   The number he played, according to one story, was James P. Johnson's Carolina Shout.  The story is at least symbolically accurate, for it was at about this time that "Fats" met James P., a pianist whose approach to music was quite serious, if quite different from that of Waller's first teachers.  They became close friends, and the influence of the older man 'there was a thirteen-year difference in age) was of great importance.  Johnson's stomping variation of ragtime, with liberal added dashes of both Broadway and the blues, was the Harlem piano style of the day; and Waller's noted left-hand "stride" - alternating chord clusters and single notes - stemmed from Johnson.  (Sweet Savanna Sue is striking example of just how much of James P. there was in his pupil's early playing.)  The established star must also have eased Waller's way into the professional in-group: recommending him to a piano-roll company, or providing the nod that enabled a beginner to take a turn in a no-holds-barred piano "cutting contest" at some all-night rent party in a Harlem apartment.  Such a foothold, obviously, was absolutely all that "Fats" needed.  Thereafter, he needed nothing but what he had in his fingers and in his brilliant, sardonic imagination.

   One thing that's missing from the present album is the sound of "Fats" inimitable voice, which was to rip a whole generation of second-rate songs to shreds with first-rate results.  He had not yet developed the role of clown-satirist that was eventually his trademark, but this apparent lack actually serves a very useful purpose here.  It focuses attention on something that the voice and the jive later tended to obscure just a bit: the fact that this was a very superior jazz pianist.

   His strong yet spritely left hand and quick powers of intricate improvisation are fully out in the open on these numbers - beginning, impressively, with Numb Fummblin', a tune apparently whipped up on the spot to help fill out a record date that, as Eddie Condon tells the story, came on the heels of a three-day drinking bout.  The rest of the mixture, also largely Waller originals, ranges from the tender, almost brooding My Feelin's Are Hurt to several leaping stomps.  As indicated below, there are some previously unissued "takes" (even including one tune - Baby, Oh Where Can You Be - that somehow got lost in the shuffle and turns up here for the first time).  This version of Love Me Or Leave Me was apparently by-passed because of a hesitant ending, but the heart of the number, quite different from the originally released take, makes it a valuable addition to this sampling of the remarkable early flowering of a very remarkable talent.

 

   Other piano-solo albums reissued in the “X” Vault Originals series include :

Earl Hines (LVA 3023) and Jimmy Yancey (LX 3000), while James P> Johnson is importantly featured on Tommy Ladnier (LVA 3027).

 

A Discographical Note for Collectors.

The original master numbers of these recordings (all preceded by the letter “BE”) are: on Side 1 – 49762-2, 49495-1, 49493-2, 49497-1; on Side 2 -56710-2, 55376-2, 56126-1, 57191-1.  Love Me or Leave Me and Valentine Stomp are previously unissued “takes”.  Baby, Oh Where Can You Be is an entirely unissued recording. 

 

Notice on this long play record a new raised center and edge which is an RCA improvement to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasure from your records.

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LVA-3036
JOE VENUTI AND EDDIE LANG

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JOE VENUTI AND EDDIE LANG

Joe Venuti (vln)  Frank Sinnorelli (p)  Eddie Lang (g)       

New York; June 21, 1928

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

45812-1 Doin’ Things                                                             “X” LVA-3036 (A-3)

45813-2 Wild Cat                                                                                     -       (A-4)

 

NAPOLEON’S EMPERORS

Phil Naporeon (tp)  Tommy Dorsey (tb)  Jimmy Dorsey (cl, as)  Joe Venuti (vln)  Frank Signorelli (p)  Eddie Lang (g) 

Joe Turto (b)  Stan King (drs)                                           New York; May 14, 1929

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

53615-3 Mean to Me                                                               Vic V38057    “X” LVA-3036 (B-3)

53616-2 My Kinda Love                                                                         -                   -           (B-4)

 

JOE VENUTI AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Phil Naporeon (tp)  Tommy Dorsey (tb)  Jimmy Dorsey (cl, as)  Joe Venuti (vln)  Frank Signorelli (p)  Eddie Lang (g)   Ted Napoleon (drs) 

New York; May 23, 1929

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

53506-2 Gettin’ Hot                                                                 Vic 23039    “X” LVA-3036 (A-2)

53508-2 You Can’t Cheat A Cheater                                                                           -          (A-1)

 

VENUTI’S BLUE FOUR

Joe Venuti (vln)  Frank Sinnorelli (p)  Eddie Lang (g)  Pete Pumiglio (cl, ts, brs)  Henry Burbig (speech-1) 

New York; October 7, 1930

63700-1 The Wild Dog                                                           Vic 23021    “X” LVA-3036 (B-1)

63701-1 Really Blue                                                                       -                         -           (B-2)  

 

NOTE:“X” LVA-3036 “Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang” reproduced and notes written by Bill Grauer Jr., and Orrin Keepnews. Cover by Paul Bacon.

   Venuti-and Lang is just about an automatic coupling - it's actually hard to think of one without the other.  Jazz really has had no other comparable two-man teams (making it something of an exception among the popular performing arts, other areas of which have been able to offer the public everything from, say, Wever and Fields to Lunt and Fontanne).  But jazz has, of course, always been almost inevitably a matter of unified bands, large or small, or of individual stars.  In some few instances, through playing together a great deal or even sharing billing (as with Red Nicholas and Miff Mole during much of the '20s, and perhaps even Bix Beiderbecke and Frank Trumbauer).  But only Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang ever managed to form a full fledged and meaningful duo.

   Not all their appearances on record are in each other's company, of course.  Eddie recorded with the Mound City Blue Blowers, among others, and was in on as many Bix-Tram sessions without Venuti as with him.  Joe, who is still moderately active on the West Coast, made a fair amount of big band sides in the period following Lang's death in 1933.  Nevertheless, their main impact on the jazz world was as a deftly blended team.

   Both were playing instruments relatively strange to jazz. although there's something of an "alley fiddle" tradition in some areas of early jazz, few men other than Venuti have been able to free the violin from its customary association with lush, pseudo-jazz, "symphonic" effects, or with corn.  And while the guitar is completely standard today, in Lang's time it was in large part limited to Negro blues singers.  Banjo was the band instrument.  Actually, you could make a pretty good case for its having been Lang as much as or more than anyone else who was responsible for banjo being superseded by guitar by the turn of the 1930s - through the impact of his style and his personal success.  (Considering this, it's odd to note the possibly quite casual way in which Lang made his own switch.  One story has it that Eddie met Red McKenzie in Atlantic City in 1924, when Lang was just picking up jobs here and there and Red's Blue Blowers were riding the crest of their first hit record.  McKenzie invited Lang to join them; since they already had Jack Bland on banjo, they simply talked the new addition into playing guitar.)

   Both Venuti and Lang were born in Philadelphia, both were of Italian descent, and Lang had even begun as a violinist.  But beyond that, they really seemed to belong together, as musicians and as friends.  They first worked together in their home town, then with the young Dorsey Brothers' Scranton Sirens, later with the star-studded bands of Jean Goldkette and Paul Whiteman.  They became major figures in the very active New York scene of the '20s.  They recorded often.  Sometimes it was within pick-up outfits formed from among that large, interlocking group that hung out together at such celebrated local speakeasies as Plunkett's (as on the four Napoleon's Emperors selections reissued here); sometimes on numbers designed as showcases for them, such as the other four.

   In one sense they can be considered as belonging to the New York - Dixieland school of the '20s.  But above all Venuti and Lang were something unto themselves, working their special spell, as this album indicates - in alternating - chorus patterns, as on My Kinda Love ; interweaving as they do towards the close of Gettin' Hot; or baking each other's solos as they do throughout the trio and quartet numbers.  Their individual sounds are quite dissimilar.  Lang's guitar is rich-voiced: forceful, yet often deeply, hauntingly sad; and he was remarkably skillful in supporting and enhancing solo horns.  (It would be hard to improve on the backing he provides for Napoleon, Jimmy Dorsey, and a surprisingly gutty-sounding Tommy Dorsey on You Can't Cheat a Cheater.)   Venuti's strongest point was probably his incredibly agile swooping, of the sort he sustains throughout Wild Cat, but he was also often capable of highly melodic effects, as on Doing Things.  Venuti had a large vogue and is still far from forgotten by many, although it must be admitted that his music is not to everyone's taste.  Yet it would be hard to deny that the skillfully balanced whole that these two created together was a music of unique swing and beauty.

 

   Lang, Venuti; and the Dorseys can also be heard in the album: 

Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra (LVA 3017).  Other recent “X” Vault Originals reissues include Swing Session: 1935 (LVA 3034), with Bunny Berrigan and Wingy Manone; and Young “Fats” Waller (LVA 3035).

 

Notice on this long play record a new raised center and outer edge which is an RCA improvement designed to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasant from you records.

 

 
LVA-3037
DUKE ELLINGTON VOL.1

DUKE ELLINGTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA

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DUKE ELLINGTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Louis Metcalf, Bubber Miley (tp)  Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton (tb)  Otto Hardwick (cl, as)  Rudy Jackson (cl, ts)  Harry Carney (cl, as brs)

Otto Hardwick (cl, as, brs)  Duke Ellington (p)  Fred Guy (bj)  Wellman Braud (b)  Sonny Greer (drs)    

New York; October 6, 1927

(preceded by the letter “BVE”)

40156-2 Washington Wobble                                           “X” LVA-3037 (A-2)

Adelaide Hall (vcl-1) added            Camden, New Jersey; October 26, 1927

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

39370-1 Creole Love Call(1)                                            “X” LVA-3037 (A-1)

39371-2 The Blues I Love to Sing (1)                                              -         (A-3)

DUKE ELLINGTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Louis Metcalf, Bubber Miley (tp)  Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton (tb)  Otto Hardwick (brs-1)  Rudy Jackson (cl, ts)  Harry Carney (ss-2)  Duke Ellington (p)  Fred Guy (bj)  Wellman Braud (b)  Sonny Greer (drs)               

New York; December 19, 1927

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

41244-3 Harlem River Quiver                                                             “X” LVA-3037 (A-4)

41245-2 East St. Louis Toodle-oo                                     Vic 21703                  -         (B-1)

 

DUKE ELLINGTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Bubber Miley Arthur Whetsol (tp)  Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton (tb)  Otto Hardwick (brs-1)  Barney Bigard (cl, ts)  Otto Harwick (ss)  Harry Carney (as)  Duke Ellington (p)  Fred Guy (bj)  Wellman Braud (b)  Sonny Greer (drs) 

New York; December 19, 1927

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

43502-2 Black Beauty                                                        Vic 21580    “X” LVA-3037 (B-2)

43503-2 Jubilee Stomp                                                       Vic 21580                 -           (B-4)

43504-2 Got Everything but You                                       Vic 21703                 -            (B-3)

NOTE:“X” LVA-3037 “Duke Ellington (Vol. 1)” reproduced and notes written by Bill Grauer Jr., and Orrin Keepnews. Cover by Paul Bacon.

 

   This collection of 1927-28 recordings presents the beginnings of one of the most important and richly creative facets of the entire story of jazz: the full and fruitful career of Duke Ellington and his Orchestra.

   While these are not the very first Ellington records, the earliest of this group come after only about two dozen of a total that by now has probably passed seven hundred sides and shows no signs of stopping.  And they fall within the first year after the Duke had been able to settle on what was for quite a while to be his basic personnel.  Most importantly, these selections cover exactly the time at which Ellington and his men began what turned out to be the job - the one that brought their pivotal success.

   For it was in December of 1927 that the band first opened at the Cotton Club.  They had already attracted some attention elsewhere (at Barron's, in Harlem, which was their first New York engagement, and then downtown at the Kentucky Club).  But the Cotton Club, where white audiences flocked to hear the "jungle music" of Harlem, was the place that could really launch a young band.  And the Duke's orchestra was to prove its all-time prize package.  Symbolically enough, they got the job as last-minute replacement for a King Oliver band...

   Success had hardly come overnight for Edward Kennedy Ellington.  He Had first turned fully to music in 1917, at the age of eighteen, foregoing an art school scholarship to become first a ragtime pianist, then leader of a small group in his home town of Washington, D. C., working with Otto Hardwick, Arthur Whetsel, and later Sonny Greer.   In 1923, after coming to New York for a job that failed to materialize, they managed to catch on at Barron's.  Then it was a process of building their material and their reputation, and slowly adding some key personnel.  Bubber Miley joined the band late in 1924, "Tricky

Sam" Namton and Harry Carney in 1926, Barney Bigard during the first Cotton Club months.  Finally, as these records indicate, they were ready for the main chance when it came along. 

   It is notable that such characteristic Ellington numbers as East St.Louis Toodle-oo and Creole Love Call made their appearance this early.  These and such other Ellington high-spots as Jubilee Stomp and they lovely Black Beauty point up just how quickly Duke had hit his stride as composer - both alone and in collaboration with band members – of material to fit their special needs.  (Also of interest is that this version of Washington Wabble is their first work for this label, the previously-issue take having been one re-recorded at the October 26th session.)

   In this early band, the emphasis was on brass solos: specifically, on the growl tones of Miley and Nanton and the "sah-wah" mutes they both used so skillfully.  James "Bubber" Miley , who reached an early peak and died young (in 1932, when he was only 29), was the outstanding figure in the group.  On most of these numbers it is his horn that sets the mood, with a rough-edged power that didn't prevent it from becoming highly melodic or deeply blue.  And his backing, as much as that of the sax section, is of great assistance to those strange and memorable Adelaide Hall vocals.  As for Nor Nanton, while there's more than one version of how he came by his nickname, it could easily have referred to his effective throaty outbursts, which remained an important part of the Ellington pattern until his death in 1946.   The Duke takes a long and haunting solo on Black Beauty, and Whetsel, who had few solo opportunities, does a particularly notable job behind the Harry Carney chorus on Got Everything But You.   Carney seems much the most impressive of the reed soloists, demonstrating that his baritone sax has been amazingly buoyant and expressive right from start, while Bigard gets in a couple of clear forecasts of things to come.

   The overall "jungle sound", which many have come to think of as strictly an Ellington device, was actually fairly standard in the Harlem club of this period, which were selling their customers so-called "savage" music.  As treated by the Duke, this simply meant fierce and forceful brass, set off by ensemble sax work that even then was more sophisticated than pseudo-primitive.  Ellington was not the only leader to make valid jazz out of this rather dubiously acquired "jungle" quality, but no one else was able to assimilate it nearly so well, to retain it yet mold it completely to his own purposes.  It's interesting to compare this album with a group of records made at roughly the same time by Charlie Johnson's Paradise Band (LVA-3026).   Johnson employed the same sound, had talented musicians to handle it, and doesn't come off too badly in the comparison.  But the point is that this was Johnson's peak, and his career soon stopped short.  Ellington's was just getting under way.

 

   Someother important kate-20s bands are included on such “X” Vault Originals reissues as Fletcher Henderson (LVA 3013) and McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, Vol.1 (LVA 3031.  A later Ellignton-unit sound can be heard on Rex Stewart (LX 3001).

 

Notice on this long play record a new raised center and outer edge which is an RCA improvement designed to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasant from you records.

 


LVA-3038
BENNIE MOTEN'S KANSAS CITY JAZZ (VOL.3)

BENNIE MOTEN AND HIS KANSAS CITY ORCHESTRA

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LVA-3038 back.jpg
LVA-3038 A.jpg
LVA-3038 B.jpg

BENNIE MORTEN’S KANSAS CITY ORCHESTRA

Ed Lewis, Paul Webster (cnt)  Thomas Hayes (tb, vcl)  Harlan Leonard (cl, ss, as)  Jack Washington (cl, as, brs)  Woody Walder (cl, ts) 

LaForest Dent (as, ts, vcl)  Bennie Morten (p, ldr)  Leroy Berry (bj)  Vernon Page (tu)  Willie McWashington (drs)  Ira ‘Buster’ Moten (p, acc)

added Bob Clemmons (vcl)                                Chicago; July 16, 1929

(All precede by the letter “BVE”)

55420-1 Terrific Stomp                                                      Vic V38081    “X” LVA-3038 (B-2)

55421-3 let’s Get It                                                             Vic V38072,                 -          (B-3)

55422-2 Kansas City Squabble                                          Vic V38091,                  -          (B-4)

same person                                                        Chicago; July 17, 1929

(All precede by the letter “BVE”)

55423-1 Rite Tite                                                               Vic V38104    “X” LVA-3038 (A-4)

55426-1 That Certain Motion                                            Vic V38081                   -         (A-3)

55427-3 It Won’t Be Long                                                 Vic V38123                   -         (B-1)

 

BENNIE MORTEN’S KANSAS CITY ORCHESTRA

Ira and Bennie Moten (p, duet-1)  Ed Lewis, Paul Webster (cnt)  Thomas Hayes (tb, vcl)  Harlan Leonard (cl, ss, as)  Jack Washington (cl, as, brs) 

Woody Walder (cl, ts -2)  LaForest Dent (as, ts, vcl)  Bennie Morten (p, ldr)   Leroy Berry (bj)  Vernon Page (tu)  Willie McWashington (drs -2)

                                                                             Chicago; July 18, 1929

 (All precede by the letter “BVE”)

42932-4 When Life Seems So Blue                                  Vic V38132    “X” LVA-3038 (A-2)

55429-1 Just Say It’s Me                                                   Vic V38132,                 -          (A-1)

 

NOTE:“X” LVA-3038 ““Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Jazz (Vol. 3)” reproduced and notes by Bill Grauer Jr., and Orrin Keepnews Cover by Paul Bacon.

   During the late 1920s, when the centers of jazz activity were firmly located in New York and Chicago, Bennie Moten and his band remained equally firm in their own territory.  Away from the main currents - and also, therefore, away from the pulls and stresses that tore so many bands apart, and diluted and diverted their styles - Moten continued to build his own jazz empire in Kansas City.

   Except for concentrated recording trips like the one from which this group of reissues is taken, the band rarely left home.  But it's readily apparent in their music that, unlike many other "local" bands, they were not merely building their reputation on a by-path because they weren't good enough to make the big time.  On the contrary, many people who never heard them in person were made deeply aware of their kind of jazz by their records, and by the music of other Missouri jazzmen who were strongly influenced by them and who did leave home.  (As one example of this, there's the group that went on to form the nucleus of the highly successful Cab Calloway band, and who can be heard on the 

"X" Vault Originals reissued titled Harlem in the Twenties, Volume 1: The Messourians.)  And for that matter, the late 1928 Moten recording of South was, at last notice, still turning up on a good many juke boxes.

   One very definite result of being comparatively isolated, however, was a stability of personnel little short of amazing, considering the normal fluidity of band line-ups.  At the time of these record sessions, there had been no more than two changes in over two years.  The unity and integration that can come only from long experience together gave their music a continuity and consistency that few other groups have ever matched.

   Another great asset lay in the fact that this was primarily a dance bad.  Now, to some jazz extremists, "dance band" is an unpleasant term, implying musicians thwarted by the need to play pat and pretty melodies for polite ballroom doings.  But his was hardly the case for Moten's men.  Bennie apparently had a firm first call on jobs in the Kansas City area (one good reason for having no real desire to travel), and from all accounts the local audiences, both Negro and white, were more than satisfied with the band's decidedly vigorous music.  Their firm, heavily surging beat may well have stemmed from the requirements of dancers (who obviously, then, were not the sort who wanted to glide sweetly), and that beat certainly wasn't the least bit inconsistent with free-flowing, exciting, creative jazz.

   One fascinating aspect of this band's full span is the wide range of styles it eventually covered.  As the notes of the two previous Moten Vault Origingals collection (LX-3004 and LVA-3025) have pointed out, one important initial influence came from the traditional jazz of New Orleans, as carried into the Midwest by the bands that played the riverboats.  And the subsequent end-product was to reach into Swing and the "modern" jazz that lay beyond that.  For after Moten's death in 1934, the band was taken over by Count Basie.

   The preceding volumes have traced the group's early development and gradually changing nature.  Here, certain trends seem to break out into the open; prominent among them the increasing and effective use of some talented solo horns, most notably the trumpet of Ed Lewis and the baritone sax of Jack Washington (both of whom were to stay on for many years of the Basie period).  A number like Let's Get It indicates that they maintained a strong blues feeling; and even Mote's own solo piano style seems to retain suggestions of the ragtime with which he had begun.  But the overall mood is a rocking, relaxed one, with excursions into an almost staccato up-tempo (as in When Life Seems So Blue and at the start of Kansas City Squabble).   There still remains more than a trace of their early closeness to the New Orleans pattern, but more and more a newer spirits is bubbling to the top.  There are those who argue that there's actually no such thing as a definable "Kansas City style," that it's no more than geographical accident that this was one of several places where good jazz was played during the 1920s.  But this group (which was the key band of the area) seems to supply strong evidence to the contrary - through what they had been and were to be, and decidedly by what they were at the time of these 1929 recordings.  There is a flow and beat here, a sound still very much alive and fresh, that no others have ever duplicated.  And of what else is a unique and separate "style" compounded?

   (These reissues, incidentally, have served to correct a long-standing discographical misconception.  It had been generally assumed that Moten's tuba player was Walter Page, and the later importance of his string bass to the Baise beat made this a neat, almost symbolic tie-in.   But an alert collector, led by these reissues to talk to Page about the band, now reports that Page himself says he never played tuba at all and was still leading his own "Blue Devils" band at this time, and that the unrelated tuba man was one Vernon  Page.)

 

   Other recent “X” Vault Originals reissues include:

Ridin’ with Red Allen (LVA 3033); Young “Fats” Waller (LVA 3035); and Duke Ellington, Vol.1 (LVA 3037).

 

Notice on this long play record a new raised center and outer edge which is an RCA improvement designed to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasant from you records.

 

 
LVA-3039
TINY PARHAM'S SOUTH SIDE JAZZ

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LVA-3039 back.jpg
LVA-3039 A.jpg
LVA-3039 B.jpg

TINY PARHAM AND HIS MUSICIANS

Punch Miller (tp)  PROB. Charles Lawson (tb)  Charles Johnson (cl, as)  Tiny Parham (p)  Charlie Jackson (bj)  Quinn Wilson (tu) 

Ernie Marrero (drs, wbd)                                                           Chicago; July 2, 1928

(all preceded by the letter “BVE”)

46037-1 The Head Hunter’s Dream                                                  “X” LVA-3039 (A-2)

46038-2 Stuttering Blues                                                                                   -        (A-4)

46039-1 Clarice                                                                Vic 21659                 -        (A-3)

46046-2 Snake Eyes                                                                                           -        (A-1)

46041-2 Cuckoo Blues                                                      Vic 2155                  -        (B-2)

46042-2 Jogo Rhythm                                                                                        -        (B-1)

 

TINY PARHAM AND HIS MUSICIANS

Punch Miller (tp)  PROB. Ray Hobson (cnt)  Charles Lawson (tb)  Charles Johnson (cl, as)  Elliot Washington (vln)  Tiny Parham (p cel)  Mike KcKendrick (bj)  Quinn Wilson (tu)  Ernie Marrero (drs, wbd)                    Chicago; February 1, 1929

(all preceded by the letters “BVE)

48845-1 Skag-a-Lag                                                                         “X” LVA-3039 (B-4)

48846-1 Stompin’ on Down                                                                              -        (B-3)

 

NOTE:“X” LVA-3039 “Tiny Parham’s South Side Jazz” reproduced and notes written by Bill Grauer Jr., and Orrin Keepnews Cover by Paul Bacon.

   The late 1920s music reissued in this collection is a spirited, rhythmic, soundly-constructed - and just about totally unremembered - form of jazz.  Tiny Parham, who led this group and wrote the material they played, is similarly recalled only by a few musicians of his day and some of the more deep-digging followers of jazz.  But the evidence of these recordings would seem to make it clear that, strictly on merit, neither the man nor his music is at all deserving of such neglect.

   Parham, in his day, was a well-known and highly-regarded figure on the South Side of Chicago, and a part of as intensive and sustained a burst of jazz, in much the position New Orleans held earlier and New York later.  It was a magnet that drew musicians from some very outlying districts; particularly for Negro jazzmen, it was the place to work.  It housed a variety of jazz styles, including some that would seem to have originated within Chicago's sprawling Negro district, were largely limited to that area and, in the decades that followed, were completely lost in the shuffle.  Fairly recently, some attention has been refocused on one of these "lost" forms: the improvised small-band music that has come to be termed "South Side jazz" - some excellent examples of which can be heard on the "X" Vault Originals reissues, Johnny Dodd's Washboard Band (LX-3006).  But still left out of the picture is yet another South Side product: the style that is represented here.

   Tiny Parham's jazz belonged, more specifically, to night clubs and sometimes theaters.  It was, as this album indicates, a more "educated" music than most other Chicago forms, comparatively smoother and more formalized.  It was among the earliest basically arranged small-band jazz.  Parham and other leaders like him, while still drawing on the blues and stomps that were the fundamental materials of jazz, were playing primarily a show-spot and dancehall music.  And most of them had forma; musical training that led them to emphasize that ironing-out-of-the rough-spots that such settings seemed to call for.

   Hartzell Strathdene Parham had picked up his nickname for the usual reason: he weighed over 300 pounds.  He was born on Christmas Day, 1900, probably in Kansas City.  Most details on him here have been filled in by two people who knew him well: Charles Elger, once a noted Chicago orchestra leader and now a musician's union official there; and Aletha Robinson, a recording director for Paramount, one of the now long-defunct jazz labels of the '20s.  From Mrs. Robinson comes such data as his weight and that he conformed to type-casting for his size (being usually "jovial and likeable").  She notes also that he was a well-schooled musician and arranger who worked at a variety of Chicago clubs, including that Dreamland Cafe (where just about all the celebrated New Orleans names played), and supplied arrangements for bands at the Grand Terrace.  From Elger comes information on Parham's later years: during the lean '30s he worked as organ soloist at theaters and hotels, and on April 4, 1943, he died suddenly, in his dressing room, during a Milwaukee engagement.

   Although a good deal of music of his type was being played around town in the late '20s, it's apparent that record companies, large and small, were primarily interested in other things: either the work of the major New Orleans-style names, or the blues (for which there was a heavy additional market down South).  Thus little of Parham's sort of jazz found its way onto records, and that little made no particular splash.

   One standard discography fails even to list this band, but even if it had, there would have been little to say.  The original recording sheets show only date and instrumentation; beyond that there's only vagueness and guesswork.  Aletha Robinson believes these sessions to have been made by a group from the larger band Parham had at Dreamland around this time, (She recalls that they rehearsed at her father's house, but this promising clue turns out to be no more than a near miss - rehearsals were in the daytime, when she was away at work!)

   There has long been an assumption that Punch Miller, who did play with Parham at one time, was on trumpet and jazz writer George Hoefer has a letter in which Punch states definitely that he was on Head Hunter's Dream.  But aural evidence hardly supports this: the horn is unlike any other recordings of Miller's usually Louis Armstrong-like attack.  The somewhat sour-toned drive here is very much in the George Mitchell or Lee Collins vein (although they probably  can't plausibly be offered as candidates.)  Elgar suggests that it "must" be Ray Hobson, a name previously unknown to discographers, presumably on the sound basis that he was Tiny's regular trumpet man then.  Elgar also specifically rejects the fairly usual guess that the trombone could have been Preston Jackson.

   In any case, these unknown musicians - particularly whoever is on trumpet and clarinet - and Parham himself, possessed a considerable verve, swing and feeling for the blues.   It adds up to a slice of jazz that (although admittedly not of major importance) seems much too able and too enjoyable to warrant oblivion, and is certainly well worth resurrecting here.

 

   Other recent “X” Vault Originals reissued include:

Young “Fats” Waller (LVA 3035); Dukle Ellington, Vol.1 (LVA 3037); and Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Jazz, Vol.3 (LVA 3038).

 

Notice on this long play record a new raised center and outer edge which is an RCA improvement designed to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasant from you records.

 

 
LVA-3040
PAUL WHITEMAN'S ORCHESTRA

FEATURING BIX BEIDERBECKE 

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LVA-3040 A.jpg
LVA-3040 B.jpg

PAUL WHITEMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Leon (Bix” Beiderbecke (cnt)  Henry Busse, Charlie Margulis (tp)  Tommy Dorsey, Wilbur Hall (tb)  Bill Rank (tb)  Frank Trumbauer (c-mel)  Charles Strickfaden (as, brs)  Nye Mayfew (cl, ts)  Kurt Dieterle, Mischa Russell,  Charles Gaylord, Mario Perry (vln)  Harry Perella (p)  Mike Pingitore (bj)  

Mike Trafficante (tu)  Steve Brown (b)  Harold McDonald (drs)  Austin “Skin” Young, Charles Gaylord, Bing Crosby, Al Rinker, Harry Barris 

(vcl= The Rhythm Boys)  Bill Charles (arr)                               

Chicago; November 23, 1927  (preceded by the letter “BVE”)

40937-2 Changes                                                                 Vic 25370     “X” LVA-3040 (A-4)

PAUL WHITEMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Leon (Bix” Beiderbecke (cnt)  Henry Busse, Bob Mayhew, Charlie Margulis (tp)  Tommy Dorsey, Boyce Cullen (tb)  Wilbur Hall (tb, g)  Jack Fulton (tb, vcl)  Jimmy Dorsey, Charles Hazlett, Hal McLean (cl, as)  Frank Trumbauer (c-mel)  Charles Strickfaden (as, brs)  Nye Mayfew (as, ts)  Kurt Dieterle, Mischa Russell, John Bowman, Charles Gaylord, Mario Perry (vln)  Matt Malneck (viola, vcl)  Harry Perella (p)  Mike Trafficante (tu)  Steve Brown (b)  Harold McDonald (drs)  Bing Crosby (vcl)                               

Chicago; November 25, 1927  (preceded by the letter “BVE”)

40945-4 Mary                                                                      Vic 26415     “X” LVA-3040 (A-3)  

PAUL WHITEMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Exact personnel for this large band cannot be determined with full accuracy, but the twenty-odd man lineup prominently included. Leon (Bix” Beiderbecke (cnt)  Henry Busse, Charlie Margulis (tp)  Bill Rank (tb)  Frank Trumbauer (c-mel)  Charles Strickfaden (as, brs)  Nye Mayfew (cl, ts)  Kurt Dieterle, Mischa Russell, Charles Gaylord, Mario Perry (vln)  Harry Perella (p)  Mike Pingitore (bj)  Mike Trafficante (tu)  Steve Brown (b)  Harold McDonald (drs) 

Austin “Skin” Young, Charles Gaylord,  Bing Crosby, Al Rinker, Harry Barris (vcl= The Rhythm Boys)  Bill Charles (arr) 

Chicago; January 4, 1928   (preceded by the letter “BVE”)

41295-3 Lonely Melody                                                    Vic 25366     “X” LVA-3040 (A-1)

PAUL WHITEMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Leon (Bix” Beiderbecke (cnt)  Charlie Margulis (tp)  Jimmy Dorsey (tp. cl, as)  Bill Rank (tb)  Frank Trumbauer (c-mel)  Min Leibrook (basssax) 

Mat Melneck (vln, viola)  Carl Kress (b)  Harold McDonald (drs)  Bill Charles (arr)

New York; January 12, 1928    (preceded by the letter “BVE”)

30172-6 San                                                                         Vic 24078     “X” LVA-3040 (A-2)

 

PAUL WHITEMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Leon (Bix” Beiderbecke (cnt)  Henry Busse, Charlie Margulis (tp)  Bill Rank (tb)  two unknown (tb)  Chester Hazlett (cl, b-cl,as)  Hal McLean (cl, as, fl)  Frank Trumbauer (c-mel)  Rube Crozier (ts)  Charles Strickfaden (as, brs)  Matt Malneck (vln) other 4 (vln)  Tom Satterfield (p, arr)  Mike Trafficante (tu) 

Steve Brown (b)  Harold McDonald (drs)  Bing Crosby (vcl)  Bill Challis (arr)

Camden, New Jersey January 28, 1928    (preceded by the letter “BVE)

41471-4 Back in Your Own Back Yard                             Vic 27689     “X” LVA-3040 (B-2)

PAUL WHITEMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Leon (Bix” Beiderbecke (cnt)  Henry Busse, Charlie Margulis (tp)  Bill Rank (tb)  two unknown (tb)  Chester Hazlett (cl, b-cl,as)  Hal McLean (cl, as, fl)  Frank Trumbauer (c-mel)  Rube Crozier (ts)  Charles Strickfaden (as, brs)  Matt Malneck (vln) other 4 (vln) 

Roy Bargy (p)  Mike Trafficante (tu) 

Steve Brown (b)  Harold McDonald (drs)  Bing Crosby, Al Rinker, Harry Barris, Jack Fulton, Charles Gaylord,

Austin “Skin” Young (vcl)  3 (vln) added                                                                                                           

New York; February 9, 1928    (preceded by the letter “BVE”)

41683-2  Dardanella                                                           Vic 25238     “X” LVA-3040 (B-1)

Same person   New York; February 10, 1928

41684-2 Love Nest                                                              Vic 24105     “X” LVA-3040 (B-3)

PAUL WHITEMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Leon (Bix” Beiderbecke (cnt)  Charlie Margulis (tp)  Bill Rank (tb)  Izzy Friedman (cl)  Chester Hazlett,  Charles Strickfaden (as)  Nye Mayhew (ts) 

Mike Pingitore (bj, g)  Steve Brown (b)  Harold MacDonald (drs)  Irene Taylor (vcl)  added Tom Satterfield (p, arr)

New York; February 18, 1928    (preceded by the letter “BVE”)

41696-3 Mississippi Mud                                                   Vic 21174     “X” LVA-3040 (B-4)

NOTE:“X” LVA-3040 “Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra featuring Bix Beiderbecke” reproduced and notes written by Bill Grauer Jr., and Orrin Keepnews.                       Cover by Paul Bacon.

   The orchestra was Paul Whiteman's, but the music has lived on only because of the vivid flashes of Bix Beiderbecke's cornet.  Bix is the number-one jazz legend; it would be difficult (and rather pointless) to begin without nothing that.  For the fact that Bix was one to inspire legends is a most important clue in any consideration of the man and his music.

   An Iowa boy who left school to play jazz, first with a small group called the Wolverines and later with the biggest dance bands of the 20s, who had a tremendous impact on all who knew or heard him, and who died at 28, in 1931 - start with these fundamentals and you must end with the legend called "Bix".

   Significantly, this isn't because the facts were little known or far removed from us.  On the contrary, you could talk today with jazzmen, who knew him well.  And chances are that they'd tell the familiar large-than-life stories, or maybe add a new one, and tell them with a warmly reminiscent smile.  For it's clear that such men rally loved Bix, found him brother and awesome genius and irresponsible son all in one.  They have built the legend (as much or more than any romantic-minded outsiders); they want to remember him as someone special and touched with myth.

   Take the tales of Bix as a heavy drinker, a practical joker, sensationally absent-minded, perhaps even the fictionalized it about his striving after a note that couldn't be reached "on any horn."  Then listen to the cornet flashing through the heavy stirrings of the Whiteman band.  Finally, a definable pattern seems to emerge.  Possibly over-simplified (possibly even over-Freudianized), it's a picture of a vastly complex man somewhere between an F. Scott Fitzgerald hero and the Greek god Pan (or maybe Peter Pan); driven by a great love for beauty and for music; perhaps trying to conceal that he was more then a bit bewildered and frightened by the things that make up everyday life.  And immense talent, and a man to whom everyone's heart went out, but basically unreachable and self-doomed - an artist at war with himself and with the world he had to live in.

   Most jazz fans have little linking for this Whiteman band, considering it a lush swamp in which Bix struggled, occasionally braking clear, but largely frustrated by banality.  To a substantial degree, of course, they're right.  This was a very commercial band at best, and its music dates pretty badly.  But Whiteman did hire a great many first-rate musicians; he stuck with Bix patiently (some of those tales suggest a pretty trying employee), paid him extremely well, and had full knowledge of his talents.  There's nothing accidental about the uses to which the Beiderbecke horn was put.  While the amount to be heard here varies (sometimes it's only the briefest of breaks, as on Love Nest), Bix is in something like a featured spot on most numbers.  And while these eight are selected from a much larger total, the fact that you can find this much Bix in only three-months'-worth of Whiteman speaks for itself.  One of Whiteman's busiest arrangers, Bill Challis, knew Bix well and long, and had been with him in the Jean Goldkette band.  Challis' scorings like Back Yard, Lonely Melody provide understanding backgrounds.  While no one is going to argue that this orchestra was anything like a perfect setting for Beiderbecke, this all adds up to something better than peonage.  And it did produce some memorable moments of jazz.

   These were recorded in the very first months Bix was with the band.  Whiteman represented the professional big-time; there's a story that Bix wrote his mother of his doubts that he could make it, but for almost two years he did (with help over the section tough-spots from admiring and technically-secure section-mates like Henry Busse).  The rest of the band doesn't do much here, in jazz terms, although there is Frank Trumbauer's sax, and a fine Izzy Friedman clarinet chorus on Mississippi Mud.  And the easy grace that Bing Crosby possessed even then lifts a few numbers, both alone and with his fellow Rhythm Boys.

   Twice the heavy sections are stripped down: to only three brass and a single violin (possibly Joe Venuti) on San, and no violin at all on Mississippi Mud, and then things swing a lot more.  But essentially this is Bix' album.  If you pull a stop watch, you won't find too much quantity from him.  But they'd always say that just a fragment of Bix was worth waiting around for through most of a Whiteman number.  And it's true: the instant those round, pure notes come tumbling forth - the driving lead on San, for example or the incredible beauty of Lonely Melody - there's a literally magic transformation.  And that magic is what the Bix legend is all about.   

 

(A special note on Mississippi Mud: This is an edited-down version, which the middle section and tag-end have been deleted because of a vocal including a few words now quite properly considered objectionable.  But nothing of Bix' contribution to the original recording has been omitted.)

 

Beiderbecke is also featured on Jean Gldketta and His Orchestra (LVA 3017).  Other recent “X” Vault Originals reissues include: Joe Benuti and Eddie Lang (LVA 3036); Duke Ellington, Vol.1 (LVA 3037).

 

Notice on this long play record a new raised center and outer edge which is an RCA improvement designed to help protect the playing surface of the record from abrasion, scratches, and any contact with other records.  This important new feature will give you many hours of additional pleasant from you records.