Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ragtime Guitar Revitalized - New CD by HAMADA Takasi

Hamada Takasi (photo by Goro Noda, 2005)
A couple of years ago I introduced the amazing Japanese fingerstyle guitarist HAMADA Takasi who has specialized in ragtime guitar both as an interpreter of classic ragtime originally written for piano and further as an excellent contributor to the genre through his own compositions. Mr. HAMADA Takasi has released several CDs featuring his arrangements of both classic ragtime by Scott Joplin, James Scott, Joseph F. Lamb, David Thomas Roberts a.o. besides more than 30 pieces of his own which have extended the ragtime guitar repertoire with great new material. This summer a new CD by HAMADA Takasi was recorded and has now been released internationally at the Otarunay label with the title Ragtime Children (OTR-039), shown below
CD front: Ragtime Children by HAMADA Takasi (OTR-39)
The new CD has fourteen tracks, seven of them are devoted to ragtime compositions by other artists and seven are original compositions by HAMADA Takasi, among them the title piece of the CD, Ragtime Children. All pieces at the CD are solo guitar recitals using the special Otarunay Tuning (Eb-Ab-C-F-C-Eb), and all arrangements are made by the guitarist. Among the tunes by other artists ragtime guitar connoisseurs will recognize titles like St Louis Tickle (by Barney & Seymore, 1904, popular at the St. Louis World Fair the same year and later adapted as a ragtime guitar piece by folk/blues artist Dave van Ronk), Magnetic Rag (by Scott Joplin, 1914 - his last published rag) and Ragtime Nightingale (by Joseph F. Lamb, 1915 - a challenging piece re-arranged for solo guitar by David Laibman, who recorded his version in 1980). Here is HAMADA Takasi's version of Magnetic Rag in a live performance earlier this year


Among the pieces by other artists Trombone Rag (by Turk Murphy, 1942) stands out as a composition not written for piano, but for the trombone by the well known dixieland revival trombone player Turk Murphy, here in a sparkling arrangement for solo guitar by HAMADA Takasi. A 'folk ragtime' composition by David Thomas Roberts, Poplarville (1979) is an example of the new ragtime piano school, here in an arrangement by HAMADA Takasi made in 2015. Among the seven pieces at the disc composed by the guitarist, the inspiration from both classic ragtime as well as the new directions represented by David Thomas Roberts a.o. shines through. I am especially fond of a tune titled Hayashi Rice, which reminds me of some of the legendary pianist Blind Boone's contributions to the ragtime genre. Here is a live performance of Hayashi Rice by HAMADA Takasi


The Ragtime Children CD is an excellent contribution to a contemporary ragtime guitar collection, a must have for all serious followers of the fabulous Japanese fingerstyle guitarist HAMADA Takasi. The CD is available for purchase here 

To end this, here is another live performance by HAMADA Takasi playing the rag of rags,  Scott Joplins Maple Leaf Rag (- not on the new CD)


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Jo
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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Solid Gassuh! New CD By The Fat Babies Revitalizes Jazz of The 1920s Era

The day after
After a hectic Black Friday you may need more than a lot of coffee to get things back to normal, because you are in an acute confusional state known as suffering from delirium


A monster syringe of good medicine
If you spent your last five pennies yesterday and this extravagance did not help consolidate your normally good taste, you have better see a doctor


Well, I assume Doctor Russell's medicine may have boosted your sanity, now you need just a small infusion of Henderson's exquisite vintage before you're a feeling good


CD front: The Fat Babies - Solid Gassuh (Delmark, cd 257)
Instead of going to the shopping mall last night, I spent a pleasant time in the good company of The Fat Babies listening to the latest CD by this great band which has specialized in revitalizing vintage jazz of the 1920s era. The Fat Babies is a Chicago based jazz ensemble founded in 2010 by string bass player Beau Sample. Remaining members of the septet performing at the shown CD are Andy Schumm (co,as), John Otto (reeds), Dave Bock (tb), Paul Asaro (p, voc), Jake Sanders (bj,g) and Alex Hall (dm). The title of the CD quotes a late 19th century slang term describing something especially pleasing or successful. It's not just  a case of fraudulent advertising being put at the front cover of the CD, the music and the performance in the fifteen tracks contained at the disc definitely support my impression of a very pleasing  and successful album. - The repertoire of the album comprises music originally recorded by a.o. Luis Russell and his orchestra (Doctor Blues), Fletcher Henderson (Feelin' Good, Alabamy Bound), McKinney's Cotton Pickers (I Miss A Little Miss), Johnny Dodds (Pencil Papa), Benny Goodman (After Awhile), Red Nichols (Delirium), Jean Goldkette's Orchestra featuing Bix Beiderbecke (Slow River). There are also seldom performed tunes like Original Charleston Strut (originally recorded by Thomas Morris' Past Jazz Masters), Parkway Stomp ( originally by Albert Wynn a.h. Gut Bucket Five feat. Alex Hill), Alex Hill and King Oliver's You Were Only Passing Time With Me, the Bing Crosby hit Did You Ever See a Dream Walking? (- also by Gene Kardos a.o.), Egyptian Ella (Ted Lewis a.h. Orchestra feat. Fats Waller a.o.) and Sing Song Girl (by Ben Pollack a.h. Orchestra feat. Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden, a.o.). Finally, the disc ends with a hot orchesta version of Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag. - The arrangements and performance by The Fat Babies are great, it's a sheer pleasure to listen to updated versions of vintage jazz when performed by musicians who know their roots and contribute their skills with due respect to both the past masters and a contemporary audience. I highly recommend the CD as an example of vintage jazz in exquisite performance by the fabulous Fat Babies, available for purchase here
The Fat Babies in performance
To end this small review of Solid Gassuh, I'll insert a couple of uploaded videos featuring The Fat Babies in live performance recorded last year of some of the tunes contained at the CD - Here's first the band's version of Delirium

From the same performance, here's The Fat Babies performing Feelin' Good


Finally, to end this, here is the band's version of Maple Leaf Rag from another live performance in November last year


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Jo
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Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Hot Time In The Class Room of Fingerstyle Guitar - New DVD Lessons by Ton Van Bergeijk

Ton Van Bergeijk (You Tube still photo)
Some months ago I wrote a small review of the new great solo CD by the amazing Dutch guitarist Ton Van Bergeijk devoted to fourteen pieces of blues influenced music composed and/or arranged for solo fingerstyle guitar by the guitarist. You still have the opportunity to read this review with additional info in inserted links how to obtain a copy of the CD entitled Pickin Again! Just Blues (and a wee bit o'Jazz), here

Pickin' Again CD (Ice 'n Slice Records 89065-2)
In the liner notes with the Pickin' Again CD, Ton Van Bergeijk pointed to a planned release of some video lessons as a follow-up to the CD to give other guitarists an opportunity to study the music further. Now these video lessons are scheduled to be released as a DVD coming week offering 90 minutes in depth covering of patterns, licks and variations of eight tunes from the Pickin' Again CD. A promotional video of the forthcoming DVD course has been made and uploaded at YouTube, inserted here


In the video, Ton explains the goal of these DVD lessons further, quote:
”It has always been my belief that the gems from musical history can be used in many different ways. I've gathered licks, patterns, New Orleans piano based grooves, and other influences from country blues, swing, rhythm & blues, and even the funky 70's. I've adapted them for fingerstyle guitar and projected them on a blues and boogie environment. Fiddling and juggling all of these elements is what this course is all about. The old supporting the new, and the new enriching the old.”
Ton Van Bergeijk in the inserted video (You Tube still)
More info about the contents of the DVD course and how to buy a copy of it is accessible here 
- Newcomers wanting to learn more about Ton Van Bergeijk can visit his official vewsite, here and may also find further info here
DVD, Truefire 2016
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Jo
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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Irving Mills And His Hotsy Totsy Gang Featuring Hoagy Carmichael

Irving Mills (1894-1985)
Irving Mills was a music publisher and owner of Mills Music with his brother Jack. He also was a singer, songwriter, A&R man and manager of several bands that included Cab Calloway, Benny Carter, Fletcher Henderson, Mills Blue Rhythm Band and the Duke Ellington Orchestra, which he managed from 1926 to 1939. (-) The Hotsy-Totsy Gang records made under Irving Mills name between 1928 and 1930 assembled some of the greatest White Jazz musicians of the era and often produced spectacular results. Sometimes Mills sang on the records, other times he just arranged the record dates and selected the musicians. (info excerpted from the Red Hot Jazz website, here)

Here I like to focus on three sessions by the Hotsy Totsy Gang which featured Hoagy Carmichael and produced excellent recordings of some of his music.
A young Hoagy Carmichael posing at the piano
Hoagy Carmichael had arrived in New York during the summer of 1929 and was soon hired by Irving Mills to set up recording dates. Carmichael took the opportunity to pick some of the well known and respected white musicians in town and arranged three sessions for Brunswick September and November 1929 and January 1930 under the name of Irving Mills And His Hotsy Totsy Gang. The three sessions feature music composed and arranged by Carmichael and he also participates both as a piano player and vocalist. - The first session by the Hotsy Totsy Gang was scheduled on September 20 and produced four sides (see dicographical details below)

Excerpt of Tom Lord's Jazz Discography, vers. 9.0 (click to enlarge)
The first recorded tune was Harvey, a song about a young fellow with two faces. The tune was recorded both with and without vocal by Carmichael, only the vocal version was issued.
Brunswick, BR 4559 - Harvey
The arrangement of Harvey produced a hot tune in medium tempo with great contributions by the selected 10-piece ensemble


Brunswick, BR 4559 - March of The Hoodlums
The next tune recorded was Carmichael's March of The Hoodlums - one of his early hits also recorded by Ed(die) Lang and His Orchestra a.o.. Again, the arrangement for this Brunswick session by the Hotsy Totsy Gang produced a hot version


Star Dust, original sheet music by Mills Music
Carmichael had recorded the first version of Star Dust in October 1927 for Gennett with his own orchestra (- the audio of this is available here) and now he took the opportunity to record it again with the Hotsy Totsy Gang, which produced another great instrumental recording from the September 20 1929 Brunswick session (-lyrics by Mitchell Parish had not been added yet and the tempo is kept at medium-fast; it was Isham Jones and his version from May 16, 1930 which produced the first recorded issue of the tune as a sentimental ballad in medium-slow tempo)


Bunswick had a promotional feature of the label's artists and records (- known as Brunswick Brevities) produced by the National Radio Advertising Company Inc. from August 1929 to approximately March 1930 designated for broadcast only. One of these Breveties presented Irving Mills and his Hotsy Totsy Gang in two tunes, Nobody's Sweetheart and Harvey, besides the announcer Irving Mills is also heard presenting the recordings. The making of this radio promotion advert was recorded October 1929 according to Lord's discographical data (- see above), but another source mentions early 1930. More info including the audio of the mentioned Brunswick Breveties record here 

Brunswick, BR 4641 - Manhattan Rag
On November 7, 1929 the next session featuring the Hotsy Totsy Gang and Carmichael for Brunswick was recorded and produced three sides, one of them was the shown Manhattan Rag, another instumental tune by Carmichael which also was recorded by Frankie Trumbauer and his Orchestra


The two remaining sides had an instumental version of Carmichael's What Kind of Man Is You? (- the vocal version by Mildred Bailey with Eddie Lang's Orchestra probably is the best known version of the tune) and the less known My Little Honey And Me (- not a Carmichael composition)


Two months later, Carmichael and the Hotsy Totsy Gang recorded a third session for Brunswick on January 6, 1930. The session produced four sides and participating musicians have a couple of replacements compared to the November 6, 1929 session (see discographical info below)

Info from Tom Lord's Jazz Discography, vers. 9.0 (click to enlarge)
Both a vocal and instrumental version of Carmichael's High And Dry was recorded, here's the recording featuring Carmichael's vocal in another red hot tune


The two remaining sides recorded in the session featured another hot instrumental by Carmichael titled Barbaric and the unissued South Breeze; here is Barbaric by the Hotsy Totsy Gang inserted below


The music from the three sessions for Brunswick featuring Hoagy Carmichael with Irving Mills and His Hotsy Totsy Gang presented above has been reissued both on LP and CD, i.e. at volume two of the two CDs compilation of Irving Mills recordings 1928 - 1932 released by the Canadian Sensation label
CD front, Sensation, CD 769-748025-2
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Jo
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Monday, October 24, 2016

String Swing From Sweden

Emil Iwring
One of Sweden's remarkable jazz ensembles of the late 1930s and early 1940s was the string swing quintet named Svenska Hotkvintetten. The quintet was formed 1939, initially modeled after The Quintet of Hot Club of France (QHCF) that had visited Sweden and performed in Stockholm during February that year. The two concerts by QHCF were attended by an enthusiastic audience, among the crowd also some young Swedish musicians, who were thrilled by the string wizardry of Django & co.. Shortly after this event violinist Emil Iwring (1912-1999) took the initative in founding Svenska Hotkvintetten, the members carefully handpicked from several orchestras. Emil Iwring was born in Stockholm and started playing when he was eight years old. He intended to become a concert violinist but became instead a dance, jazz and entertainment musician, and he played his first job in 1926. He was soon considered a supreme jazz violinist, i.e. Svend Asmussen took a ride on his bike from Copenhagen to Stockholm in 1936 just to hear Iwring play a live performance.
Svenska Hotkvintetten (c. 1940)
Besides Emil Iwring on violin Svenska Hotkvintetten consisted of Sven Stiberg on lead guitar, Folke Eriksberg and Kalle Löhr on rhythm guitar and Roland Bengsson on double bass. As the members already were engaged in other jobs, the quintet mainly became a studio recording ensemble during its shortlived time from 1939-41 and frequently had changing members in the rhythm section. The quintet recorded about 40 sides for Columbia during this period, here's an example of the ensemble's version of string swing from 1940


Some years ago the Swedish label Dragon Records released a CD (DRCD 223) featuring 27 sides recorded by Svenska Hotkvintetten 1939-41; the audio has since been uploaded at YouTube, here  
Emil Iwring and his orchestra (1940s)
After Svenska Hotkvintetten had disbanded in the fall of 1941, violinist Emil Iwring formed his own orchestra which toured Sweden and made records for Columbia, the repertoire was both popular music and jazz - a discographical overview of the orchestra's recordings in the 40's is available here
 Below is inserted a couple of examples of the orchestra's jazz recordings - first the tune Friday The 13th from March 1942


In February 1943, the orchestra recorded Hot Love, a tune composed by Emil Iwring, who contributes both hot violin and vocals


Emil Iwring continued playing with his own ensemble in the 1950s and 1960s and also had radio work for several years besides touring Sweden and also performed on board cruise liners between Sweden and USA. He had a come-back as a regular jazz violinist in 1980 with the release of a LP titled Still Going String and he recorded two more LPs in the 1980s. One of them was re-issued by Four Leaf Clover Records as a mp3 download-only CD titled Nya Svenska Hotkvintetten in 2013, shown below
Emil Iwring, Nya Svenska Hotkvintetten FLCCD 198
Emil Iwring leads the quintet, contributing great violin playing throughout the eleven tracks in a repertoire of both hot and sweet tunes from the standard jazz book and a couple of examples of popular contemporary music including his own Så skimmanda var aldrig havet. Iwring is accompanied by very competent musicians: Rune Gustafson and Lennart Nylén are sharing solo lead guitar, Carl-Erik Holmquist on rhythm guitar and Sture Åkerberg on double bass. Download of the music in mp3 format may be purchased here and here
Emil Iwring, TV 1988 (YouTube still photo)
In 1988, Swedish television produced a live interview with and performance by Emil Iwring, a tribute to his importance as a jazz violinist in Sweden. The TV performance has been uploaded in two parts at You Tube and is accessible here and here
Sveriges Hot Six, Hot Love (LP, 1980)
The importance of the string swing tradition initiated by Emil Iwring and Svenska Hotkvintetten has been acknowleged by other musicians in Sweden. The above shown LP featuring a pick-up ensemble named Sveriges Hot Six was recorded 1979 for the Gazell label, a division of Sonet Grammofon. The title Hot Love traces back to Emil Iwring's tune with the same title and there are ten more tunes at the LP which originally were recorded by other significant Swedish jazz musicians of the swing era here arranged for a string swing sextet consisting of Anders Dahl (v), Lennart Nylén and John Kongshaug sharing lead solo guitar, Staffan Broms (rhythm guitar), Sture Nordin (b) and Jan Nyman (d). Last year the LP was reissued as a CD by Hot Club Records of Norway as volume two in the label's reissue series of recordings featuring John Kongshaug 
John Kongshaug, Sweden's Hot Six (2015) (HCR-442)
The shown CD was produced with permission and assistance by John Kongshaug's son, John-Ola Kongshaug, and it may be purchased as download here and here - Hot Club Records has uploaded the full audio of the album at YouTube including great still footage from John Kongshaug's career, accessible here

To end this, here's a video uploaded by John-Ola Kongshaug featuring his father John Kongshaug with Sweden's Hot Six playing the tunes Hot Love by Emil Iwring and Pan Pipe Riff by Swedish tenor sax pioneer Carl-Henrik Norin


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Jo
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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Carl Kress & Dick McDonough Guitar Duets Revisited

The Carl Kress - Dick McDonough duo (c.1936)
The classic guitar duet recordings   featuring Carl Kress and Dick McDonough have for a long time belonged to my favorite jazz guitar recordings from the 1930s. The duo recorded four sides for Brunswick 1934 and 1937 issued on Br 6917 and Br 7885. The audio has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below to have these masterpieces collected here.
Brunswick 6917, Danzon
The shown label of Danzon was the first recorded tune by the duo January 31, 1934, and the audio of this semi-classical piece of music is inserted below


The flip side of Br 6917 was a composition by Dick McDonough entitled Stage Fright, also recorded January 31, 1934
Brunswick 6917, Stage Fright


Original sheet music
In 1936 the Kress - McDonough duo recorded a short version of I've Got A Feeling You're Fooling for an Oldsmobile ad which is seldom heard. The audio of this has also been uploaded at YouTube


On February 16, 1937 the duo recorded two more sides for Brunswick in New York, the first featured was Chicken A la Swing, a co-work composition by the duo (-two takes exist, the best known has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below)
Brunswick 7885, Chicken A-La-Swing


Original poster ad
The flip side of Br 7885 featured the duo's version of Irving Berlin's Heat Wave
Brunswick 7885, Heat Wave


The four sides recorded for Brunswick were the only commercially released sides by the duo, however, Kress and McDonough also recorded some radio transcriptions in an all stars orchestra setting 1937 since re-issued commercially at the shown LP below
The Guitar Genius Of Dick McDonough & Carl Kress In The Thirties, JA-32
The tradition of the classic guitar duo work by Kress & McDonough has been continued by Marty Grosz and Bucky Pizzarelli a.o., and I was thrilled to find a contemporary, young Japanese duo at YouTube, who has uploaded a magnificent version of Chicken A La Swing, inserted here to end this small presentation of classic jazz guitar duet music.


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Jo

Thursday, September 29, 2016

In The Mood - A Perennial Classic

Bluebird B-10416-A, In The Mood
Glenn Miller and his orchestra recorded In The Mood for the RCA Bluebird label in New York August 1, 1939, issued as Bluebird B-10416 (mx BS-038170-1). The audio of the disc has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below


Original film poster
In 1941, Glenn Miller and his orchestra was featured in the musical film Sun Valley Serenade  and performed In The Mood on screen


Joe Garland
On the Bluebird label above Joe Garland is credited as the composer of In The Mood. Joe Garland (1903-1977) was a saxophonist, composer, and arranger, who had started his career by playing classical music but switched to jazz in 1924. He had a long run of associations as a sideman on saxophone and clarinet during the 1920s, joining a.o. Elmer Snowden and Jelly Roll Morton. In the 1930s, Garland performed with and arranged for Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1932-36), played with Edgar Hayes (1937), Don Redman (1938) and Louis Armstrong (1939-42) and made the arrangement of In The Mood based on a tune originally recorded by Wingy Manone in 1930, Tar Paper Stomp 



Wingy Manone
Wingy Manone recorded Tar Paper Stomp on August 28, 1930 as by Barbecue Joe and his Hot Dogs for the Champion label, re-released 1935 as by Wingy Manone's Orchestra
Champion 40005 A - Tar Paper Stomp

Horace Henderson
Horace Henderson used the  'boogie woogie'-like riff from Tar Paper Stomp in Hot and Anxious, recorded by Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra on March 19, 1931 for Columbia


Don Redman
Don Redman and his orchestra recorded Hot and Anxious in 1932 for Brunswick in an arrangement at a faster tempo, the audio of this is available here
Edgar Hayes
The first recording of Joe Garland's version of In the Mood was made by Edgar Hayes and his Orchestra in 1938, with Garland participating, for Decca Records. In this recording there was a baritone sax duet rather than a tenor sax battle as in the version recorded later by Glenn Miller


The riff transferred from Tar Paper Stomp had also appeared in a 1935 recording by Mills Blue Rhythm Band entitled There's Rhythm In Harlem released on Columbia Records which had been composed and arranged by Garland (- audio version available here ). Before offering it to Glenn Miller, Garland sold In The Mood to Artie Shaw in 1938, who chose not to record it because the original arrangement was too long. The Hayes recording was over three minutes in length to fit on one side of a 78 record.
Bluebird, B-10289-B, Jumpy Nerves
Under copyright laws, a tune that had not been written down and registered with the copyright office could be appropriated by any musician with a good ear. Wingy Manone had brought up the issue of the similarity between Tar Paper Stomp and In the Mood to Joe Garland and to the publishing company of the tune. However, Tar Paper Stomp was not copyrighted until November 1941 - thus Manone had no legal claims against Garland's version of In The Mood. Wingy Manone then recorded a new tune entitled Jumpy Nerves for Bluebird on April 26, 1939 that incorporated the riff from Tar Paper Stomp - released three months prior to the Glenn Miller version of In The Mood from August 1 credited to Joe Garland 


Original sheet music front illustration (1939)
The tune had lyrics added by Andy Razaf and was finally sold in 1939 to Glenn Miller, who played around with its arrangement for a while. Although the arrangers of most of the Miller tunes are known, things are a bit uncertain for In the Mood. It has been assumed that Eddie Durham (who contributed other arrangements on the recording date of In the Mood, August 1, 1939), Chummy MacGregor (the pianist, composer, and arranger in the Glenn Miller Orchestra) and Miller himself contributed most to the final version. - The personnel on the landmark August 1, 1939 session at RCA studios in New York were: Glenn Miller, Al Mastren, and Paul Tanner, trombones; Clyde Hurley, Lee Knowles, and Dale McMickle, trumpets; Wilbur Schwartz, clarinet; Hal McIntyre, alto sax; Tex Beneke, Al Klink, and Harold Tennyson, tenor saxes; Chummy MacGregor, piano; Richard Fisher, guitar; Rowland Bundock, string bass; and Moe Purtill, drums.
Glenn Miller & his orchestra 1939
In The Mood is forever associated with Glenn Miller and his orchestra's version of the tune and in 1983 the 1939 recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The Glenn Miller Orchestra still exists with new members and performs around the World. Here's a live recording of the Glenn Miller Orchestra from December 2014 in Firenze performing In The Mood to end this story of a perennial classic


The above info is mainly excerpted from Wikipedia, here and further owes inspiration from published research in an article by Dennis M. Spragg: In The Mood (September 2013), available here 
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Jo