Monday, February 19, 2018

Announcement of Importance for Researchers/Collectors of Hit of The Week/Flexible Records Material

Hans Koert, who passed away in September 2014, was a passionated jazz collector and the author of the Hit of the Week and Durium Discography.

This entry is to inform you that Hans Koert's collection and archives of the HoW/Flexible Records now have been handed over to the files of the Doctor Jazz Foundation in The Netherlands.

For interested researchers/collectors it is possible to contact the Doctor Jazz Foundation for further information using the following link

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Spanish Swat - Morton's Music Revitalized In A Duo Setting

Jelly Roll Morton
Jelly Roll Morton emphazised the importance of the 'Spanish tinge' as an inevitable ingredient in jazz referring to the influence of the habanera and tango in the rhythm pattern of compositions worthy of the term jazz. Morton's solo piano renditions of compositions of his own like i.e. 'New Orleans Joys', 'Mamanita', 'The Pearls' and not least the perhaps best know example: 'The Crave' are all elaborated pieces of music which demonstrate his conception of the Spanish tinge. The legendary 1938 Library of Congress recordings contain more examples which Morton did not record commercially, among them i.e. 'Creepy Feeling' and 'Spanish Swat', the latter one in focus here to announce a great contemporary project initiated by pianist Andrew Oliver and reed player David Horniblow. The duo has started a project to play all of Morton's compositions in a duo setting and record the performance in a video format to be uploaded at You Tube; here's the duo's rendition of Morton's 'Spanish Swat' - from the latest update of the project uploaded earlier today

As mentioned, the duo intends to play and record all of Morton's compositions in this setting - the project estimates to have two new compositions uploaded every week this year. You can read more about the project at Andrew Oliver's website, and subscribe to the videos at the You Tube channel devoted to the project, here. Up till now 12 videos have already been uploaded - and what a thrill to have free access to these contemporary renditions of Morton's music, revitalized by two great musicians. Do not hesitate to subscribe to the video channel and learn more about the duo at Andrew Oliver's website

I'll insert another example of the duo's fine video performance to end this, here's Andrew Oliver and David Horniblow's rendition of Morton's 'Mamanita'


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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Debut CD of Les Guitares Magiques

CD front: Les Guitares Magiques (SABAM, LGM 17-1) (2017)
A couple of years ago, while preparing an article on Les Loups and the duo's recording of the tango Guitarra que llora, I had the good fortune to discover a contemporary version of the tune uploaded at YouTube, which convincingly recreated the original 1928 recording by Gastón Bueno Lobo and Oscar Alemán. The recorded performance of this re-take of Guitarra que llora was made by a Belgian trio named Les Guitares Magiques and I still count this performance as a magical exsample of music played by very skilled musicians who know and respect their roots. The video performance is certainly good enough to have a reprise here

The video was published February 2015 and the trio consisted of Raf Timmermans playing conventional guitar, René Stock on double bass and Gijs Hollebosch playing lap steel guitar. The trio had uploaded a couple more videos featuring Hawaiian inspired music, which confirmed my impression of a talented ensemble. I subscribed to the video channel of LGM and recently discovered another re-take of a Les Loups recording by  Raf Timmermans and Gijs Hollebosch inserted below

This performance by Les Guitares Magiques of the waltz Ramona excellently recreates the 1928 version of the tune by Les Loups and made me wish for more. Fortunately, there is more music by Les Guitares Magiques available. In the notes with the Ramona video published October last year it is stated that the debut CD by the ensemble has been issued. I found it available at the website of Les Guitares Magiques, and here is the tracklist of featured music at the disc
CD track list
At the CD Les Guitares Magiques feature Raf Timmermans playing National steel, acoustic guitar, mandolin, slack key and ukulele, Gijs Hollebosch playing Hawaiian steel guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, ukulele and tiple and further Mathias Moors playing double bass.
(l-r): Raf Timmermans, Mathias Moors, Gijs Hollebosch (photo by Walter-PETROSA-Cuyvers)
Les Guitares Magiques invited some guests to perform and record together at the CD, they are: Jan De Smet featuring vocal and ukulele on track 3, Maarten Flamand (acoustic guitar) on track 4 and 10, Frederik Goossens (ukulele) on track 5, 6 and 9, Johnny Joris (vocal, banjo) on track 8, Esther Lybeert (vocal) on track 13 and Guido Belcanto (vocal) on track 15. The repertoire is a mixed bag of tunes and songs, many of them associated with the Hawaiian hype that swept the world in the first decades of the previous century such as the arrangements of Singing The Blues (track 5) and Wringin' and Twistin' (track 10) (in the Sol Hoopii style), Ghost Dance (a strange lap steel exercise originally recorded by the Truett & George Hawaiian duo), the Kohala march medley (track 6), three tunes from the Les Loups repertoire (besides Ramona in track 7, you have La Porteña es una Papa in track 11 and Criollita in track 12), Kostas Bézos' The False Kisses of Women in track 4, two songs associated with Gino Bordin: the French chanson J'écoute la Guitare (with vocal by Esther Lybeert in track 13) and Serenade Bleu (track 16). Singing is also featured in Het Bibbelebomse Eiland in track 3 (- a kind of On The Beach at Waikiki sung in Dutch by Jan de Smet), Ramona with vocal by Guido Belcanto and Dutch lyrics in track 15, and Caroline with English lyrics sung by Johnny Joris in track 8. Further there are two examples of slack key guitar playing in track 9 and 14. The arrangements of the featured music at the CD are great, all involved in the project have provided excellent performance and the CD certainly invites to repeated listening. Recommended, definitely! - The CD is available for purchase at the website of Les Guitares Magiques, more info with examples in streaming audio here,  and it is also available from Grass Skirt Records, more info here.

To end this small review, I'll insert another video of a live performance by Les Guitares Magiques, here playing Singing The Blues 


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Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Happy New Year 2018 - The Song Is Ended

I wish readers of the keep(it)swinging blog a Happy New Year 2018 and thank you for your interest and support in 2017. The blog and related blogs under the keepitswinging.domain will be discontinued in 2018 due to personal matters. However, a fixed date according this step has not yet been scheduled, I'll announce more precisely later. Till then, keep coming back to keep updated. Thank you for your understanding.

Original sheet music, 1927
Irving Berlin composed The Song Is Ended in 1927. In 1938, Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers recorded my favorite version, inserted below from YouTube to end this


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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Ferret Brothers - Guitarists In Django's Shadow (3)

Georg Lankester
Georg Lankester tells the story of the Ferret brothers – contemporary Gypsy guitarists of Django Reinhardt. The story is in three parts, below follows part three.  The first part is available herethe second part is published here

Jean “Matelo” Ferret  
Jean “Matelo” Ferret  (1918 – 1989)
After his elder brothers - in 1938 - had left home, Matelo stayed a bit upset behind, but not for long. The next year he also left his parents and went to Paris in order to play for living. His first engagement was in the little orchestra of the ‘father of the Musette’ Emile Vacher. Not long afterwards he played with accordionist Guérino (like his brothers and Django many years before). Guérino was quite succesful with his group called La  Boîte à MatelotsA year later, Matelo switched from banjo to guitar and -  as we know from many recordings – he became an exceptional guitarist in the Gypsy- and Musette style. 

In Paris he often could be seen with Django playing in various combinations and in 1935 he joined Michel Warlop, the great violinist who died  so early; Matelo also recorded with jazz accordionist Louis Richardet. Remarkable is that Matelo also acompanied Edith Piaf in her very first recordings back in 1936. So the guitarist was now a popular musician. 

But also the Jazz was gradually quite important in the Parisian entertainment scene. Thanks to the activities of the Hot Club de France leaders, great American jazz musicians were invited to France such as the saxophonists Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter, as well as violinist Eddie South. They gave concerts and recorded also with French musicians. Matelo was often asked, just like clarinettist Hubert Rostaing and, of course, Django Reinhardt. And Matelo…he stayed in the same hotels as Django and also joined the popular gypsy orchestra Casanova.

At the beginning of the war Matelo formed part of Ekyan’s Swingtette which, in 1941, made some interesting records.Two years after that he formed his own sextet which included two guitars, clarinet, vibes, bass and drums. His music was inspired by Benny GoodmanLater, in 1944, recordings of this original line-up followed, but all the same Matelo was  more known becuase of the Swingtette and his gypsy waltzes in which he was outstanding. Again he performed - somewhat later - with Richardet, Viseur and Murena,  the best swing accordion players of those years. Moreover he played the best waltzes of Gusti Malha and Matteo Carcassi.

After the war – in 1947 – Matelo joined Django’s Hot Club Quintet as can be heard in the records R-Vingt-Six, How high the moon, Lover man, Blue Lou and  Blues. Then there is some silence, but in the Fifties he recorded a few times for the EMI label. However, by then the Jazz had changed and so had the taste of the audience.  Because Matelo preferred gypsy music and in order to higlight the early compositions of Django, he decided in 1959  to go to the studio with a trio and record the four titles Montagne-ste.Geneviève, Gagoug, Chez Jacquet and Choti, all real gems of gypsy waltzes.

The next year he joined the orchestra of Jo Privat who produced the album Manouche Partie as an homage to Django – these recordings were also filmed.
Jo Privat feat. Matelot Ferret_Manouche Partie (1960)
It is very interesting to see Matelo playing and enjoying the music. The album was later handed to Naguine (Django’s widow) and is certainly one of the favourites in my collection.

Matelo’s intrest in Jazz gradually faded and he retired a bit in favour of his two sons, Helios and Boulou (the latter considered a prodigy)..Especially Boulou played with lots of famous musicians alll over the world. The two brothers often had duet sessions, sometimes joined by their father.
Matelot Ferret (center) performing with his two sons
Matelo appeared – not long before his death – at the Django Festival of Samois. He died in Paris in 1989 as the last of the three legendary Ferret brothers. He can be considered the best interpreter of Gypsy Waltzes the world has ever known.

Fringe figures
Finally a few words on musicians around the Ferrets who also performed with them. Fist of all guitarist Challain Ferret (their cousin)  who is less known. He was present in the beginning within the Trio Ferret of 1938/39, as well as in a few recordings with Gus Viseur.

Then guitarist Jacques Montagne (member of the Malha family) should be mentioned since he sometimes played with Sarane and much later was present in the Manouche Partie sessions of Jo Privat where he accompanied Matelo.

Finally we have guitarist  Maurice Ferré from Rouen. He used to play duets with Joseph Bouville (who also was a guitarist) at the end of last century.

Hot Club Records issue of Matelo Ferret
Hot Club’ Records (of Norway) issued cd’s dedicated to “Baro” and “Matelo” in the eighties of last century. 
Fremeaux box-set feat. the Ferret Brothers
And the French company Frémeaux offers a cd-box which includes 3 cds on the Ferret brothers and an info-booklet. 

Georg Lankester

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Monday, November 27, 2017

The Ferret Brothers - Guitarists In Django’s Shadow (2)

Georg Lankester
Georg Lankester tells the story of the Ferret brothers – contemporary Gypsy guitarists of Django Reinhardt. The story is in three parts, below follows part two.  The first part is available herethe third part is published later.

Etienne “Sarane”Ferret (1912 – 1970)
The second son of the Ferret family became the one who made far more jazz recordings than both his brothers, in total over 50 tracks. This is rather astonishing since he was hardly considered an established guitarist.
Etienne 'Sarane' Ferret
Jazz attracted Sarane right from the start and, once in Paris, he rather soon played with violinist Michel Warlop as well as with the accordionists Gus Viseur and Tony Murena, all great improvisers. So like his elder brother – Sarane was active in the Musette scene and recorded with accordionists thereby playing in the Django style. But he could also often be seen in Russian cabarets which were popular among the many Russians who had come to  the French capital. This kind of gypsy music also attracted West-European tourists. Great musicians in those places then were cymbalum player Nitra Codolban and violinist Jean Gulesco. From these artists the young Sarane learned a lot. Because he also met Django, he became even  more interested in jazz where the banjo was replced by the guitar. Sarane was quite familiar with this instrument and he performed with jazz accordionists such as Charley Bazin, Louis Richardet, Viseur and Murena ! In 1939 his quality as a soloist was confirmed when – during a tour in England – he replaced Django in the London “Kilburn” theatre.

However, of even more importance is that, in the early Forties, Sarane formed the Swing Quintette de Paris which gave us many of his own compositions. More or less like Django’s new quintet, Sarane’s formation included two clarinet players viz. André Lluis and Sylvio Siobud.  In the first recordings of this quintet (1941) Matelo is present in the rhythm group; shortly afterwards also Baro joined the quintet. 

Odeon 281.494_Tiger Rag
Somewhat later Sarane replaced the two clarinettists by the violinist Robert Bermosa.   A remarkable recording of this formation is Sarane’s performance of the Tiger Rag with very quick runs in his solos (like Django did in the Thirties). Also the violin player shows a great ‘drive’ on this record.

Georges Effroses
One year later this ensemble is back in the studio but now with violinist Georges Effroses. Also Sarane’s brothers are present in the rhythm group. Recordings show us a solo guitarist with sometimes a lyrical way of improvising. The same can be said of the Israelian violin player, who – in 1943 disappeared. Later it was revealed that the artist had died in a concentration camp.

Towards the end of the war a few records of Sarane and a string quartet were issued and the formation now included guitarist Jacques Montagne (member of the Malha family).Then follows a rather long gap, but in the spring of 1947 Sarane finally made recordings again with his own group now called Le Quintette de Paris featuring  accordionist Gus Viseur. And again several years passed.
Sarane Ferret in 1950s
It was only in the late Fifties that a number of tracks of Sarane and his orchestra came out again; the band inluded several musicians who played with Django shortly before his death in 1953.Some names: Benny Vasseur, Roger Guérin and Maurice Vander. For me personally, the recordings are not so interesting. These were about his last sessions and from then his activities declined.

Sarane Ferret finally died in 1970 (58 years old) as the first of the three brothers.

Georg Lankester 

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Ferret Brothers - Guitarists In Django’s Shadow (1)

Georg Lankester
Georg Lankester tells the story of the Ferret brothers – contemporary Gypsy guitarists of Django Reinhardt. The story is in three parts, below follows the first part, part two and three are published later.

The Ferret Brothers
The name  Ferret or Ferré does remind us of a great musical family that later produced a prodigy called BoulouFor many decades these gypsies (no Manouches) were living in the French town of Rouen and not in a caravan like eg. the Reinhardt / Weiss family. Father Gousti  and mother Douderou had two daughters and three sons.This article deals with those three sons, called Pierre Joseph (“Baro”), Etienne (“Sarane”) and Pierre Jean (“Matelo”). Further their cousin Renë (“Challain” Ferret) should also be mentioned, since he was more or less considered as a ‘fourth brother’.

The Ferrets lived for many decades in France although they were of Andalusian origin. We can really speak of a musical family: Douderou was very fond of Operette and the girls became singers. The three boys were soon familiar with string instruments since their uncles, who used to play these, learned them the technique. In those years the banduria (a Spanish kind of mandolin) and  the banjo were popular instruments;  much later the guitar would become important.

In the Thirties Baro and Sarane left home and went to Paris; rather soon they formed part of the world of entertainment while playing in Russian cabarets and at balls where they accompanied accordionists. The French Musette which started around 1900, had become very popular and the top accordionists preferred to be backed up by gypsies because of their rhythm and control of string instruments .

The role of the banjo
This instrument on which the young Django Reinhardt was a star player, gradually became less popular for the following reason: In 1928 Django – who was involved in a fire accident -  became seriously injured. However, during his recovery period  he learned to play guitar and developed an amazing technique and great virtuosity despite a crippled left hand. He came back in the Parisian world of music, at first to accompany singers, later playing with jazz musicians (e.g. saxophonist André Ekyan). From late1934 he became one of the star players in the Hot Club quintet next to violinist Stéphane Grappelli.

Django’s  unparallelled guitar playing made great impression on his fellow gypsies and consequently many changed from banjo to guitar. So the former Musette changed into Swing Musette whereby accordionsts were backed by guitarists, one of which was Matelo, a master in this kind of music. 

The career of the three Ferret brothers

Pierre 'Baro' Ferret (1937)
Pierre “Baro” Ferret (1908 – 1976)
His official  name was Joseph, however, he was usually called Baro and later Mr. Camembert since he liked cheese. He started to play the Spanish banduria, but then switched to banjo, very popular in the Musette. And in the Thirties he really would become an exceptional guitarist. Already in 1931 he and Sarane left home in order to settle in the French capital and he found work in the Musette scene and soon made recordings with the well-known accordion player Guérino – (NOTE Django recorded with this artist on banjo in 1928.).
Sarane (g, left) and Baro (g, right) with accordionist Guérino’s orchestra 
Baro was such a talent that his solo playing later almost equalled that of Django.The two guitarists respected each other and often played together, then experimenting for fun. The musicians had, however, totally different characters: Django was in fact a good man, Baro was not a very easy person and often he came in touch with bad guys, sometimes even swindlers. Due to his friendship with Django, serious problems fortunately could be avoided.
Starting from 1935 Baro became a member of the Hot Club quintet and we can listen to his fine rhythm in recordings from those days, e.g. as released by the French company “Frémeaux”. On top of that I refer to his recordings of beautiful waltzes issued in 1939 by the Trio Ferret with solos of Baro accompanied by his brother Matelo and Maurice Speilleux on bass. Some titles: “Ma Théo”, “Gin-Gin” (also known as “Chez Jacquet”) and the most famous gypsy waltz composed by Gusti Malha “La valse des Niglots”. 

And even before, Baro recorded “Wind & Strings” with Albert Ferrari (tenor sax), the “Swing Valse” and “Swing Cocktail” joined by Gus Viseur on accordion.
Baro Ferret (left) with accordionist Gus Viseur (late 1930s)
Here's an example from the recordings with Gus Viseur, Swing Cocktail 1938

In the summer of 1940 the guitarist played with Viseur’s orchestra and provided some beautiful solos – I can recommend those records.
Jo Privat
After the war he joined accordionist Jo Privat, who since many years was the owner of the well-known “Balajo” club. This formation produced hits from those years as well as Reinhardt compositions. Sometimes, when people listened they thought that it was Django himself who played the solos !
The Baro Ferret Ensemble (late 1940s)
In 1949 Baro formed his own group The Baro Ferret Ensemble and recorded several titles for the Odeon label. Those performances include Jo Privat, guitarist Jacques Montagne and Jéremie Grand’son double bass. The recordings show elements of the new American jazz form Bebop which inspired Baro to even create Bop-Waltzes. His compositions show a great musicality and a new approach e.g. an  6/8 jazz rhythm.

During the Fifties he recorded again with his ensemble and a piano player; these are more modern themes which remind us of Django’s last recording sessions.  At that time Baro owned a bar where gypsies dropped by to play and where he often joined them. However, slowly the interest declined and eventually he sold the bar.
Pierre 'Baro' Ferret (1908-1976)
The guitarist died at the age of 68 years, more or less in silence. During his career he was in fact never in the spotlights.

Georg Lankester

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