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 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Black Bottom Stomp

Jelly Roll Morton
On September 15, 1926 Jelly Roll Morton recorded his first session for Victor in Chicago featuring his Red Hot Peppers. Morton had signed a 4-year contract with Victor that would produce a series of recordings belonging to some of his best known output and have since become an important part of the jazz legacy of the 1920s. The first session produced four sides, Morton had assembled a group of musicians who could play in the New Orleans style and called them the Red Hot Peppers.

l-r: Omer Simeon (cl); Andrew Hilaire (d); John Lindsay (sb);
Johnny St. Cyr (bj-g); Kid Ory (tb) and George Mitchell (c)
Jelly Roll Morton (p,ldr,arr)
The first title recorded was an original composition by Morton titled Black Bottom Stomp, personnel are Jelly Roll Morton (p,dir,arr), George Mitchell (c), Omer Simeon (cl), Kid Ory (tb), Johnny St. Cyr (bj-g), John Lindsay (sb) and Andrew Hilaire (d), and the recording was released on Victor, Vi 20221

Victor 20221-A - Black Bottom Stomp
The music has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below

Black Bottom Stomp composed by Morton in 1925 and originally entitled Queen Of Spades is a key example of the New Orleans jazz style and demonstrates Morton's genius as an arranger of classic jazz. An analysis of the tune is available here

Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hot Peppers 1926
At the same session on September 15, 1926 was recorded Smoke House Blues, inserted below from YouTube

The last tune to end this famous session by Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers was The Chant, originally composed by Mel Stitzel and here arranged by Morton. The tune was recorded twice during the September 15, 1926 session, audio from YouTube is inserted below.

The recordings featuring Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers were among the first jazz records I collected more than 45 years ago. They still belong to the core of my jazz collection and I am thrilled every time I'm listening to these jazz classics. Thus, I could not resist pointing to the start of this famous series of recordings, made ninety years ago today.

Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Song Of The Islands

Hans Koert (1951-2014)
On this day it has been two years since my good friend and orginator of the Keepswinging website and associated blogs, Hans Koert (1951-2014), passed away all too soon. Hans left us a precious legacy of knowledge, enthusiasm and wit regarding the music he loved and generously documented and shared with the readers of his many articles still accessible. Before it was too late, I promised him to continue his work the best I can, a task I felt and still feel honored to fulfil. Hans and I shared many interests in music, thus, today I'll focus on a subject I know would have pleased him. In remembrance of a dear friend and a great friendship, this entry concerns the music of the popular English bandleader Felix Mendelssohn and his Hawaiian Serenaders.

Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn (1911-1952)
Felix Mendelssohn was a huge pioneer in helping make Hawaiian music popular in Europe throughout the 1930's and 40's. Born in London in 1911, he originally wanted to become a stockbroker but fate took him on a different journey as his love for Hawaiian music grew. Felix started out as a manager for various clubs and soon became the promotional manager for several band leaders. Felix formed his own dance orchestra that played on Radio Luxembourg and BBC as well as recorded for DECCA. It was in these performances that he would occasionally play a Hawaiian song. In 1938 Felix took over a band led by Canadian steel guitarist, Roland Peachy and renamed it "Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders". The band was successful in several recordings, but in 1940, Peachy left the band. Felix arranged for a stage tour and a two year contract with Columbia records in 1941. In 1942 the Serenaders made their first appearance in a variety show called the Yankee Clipper and at this time the Serenaders were becoming increasingly popular. The band made 50 short films and their music was reissued and famous all over the world. Felix built up an entire troupe of Hula Dancers from around the world  which he called his "South Sea Lovelies" in which Felix would make up a story about each dancer and would involve audience members in the show as well. In 1946 financial problems overcame the band which continued until 1950 when Felix appeared in bankruptcy court. After promising to repay his debts, he arranged another tour but it was a financial disaster and he had to arrange a free show for the Army so he could get back home. In the fall of 1950, Felix became ill with a stomach ailment and although he continued to work, his health became worse and on February 4, 1952 after entering the hospital, he died of Hodgkins' Disease at the age of 40. (Kanahele, George. Hawaiian Music and Musicians. Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii, 1979. Qoted from this source)

Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders ( photo courtesy this source)
I first heard the music of Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders on a LP reissue of some of the band's recordings associated with the popular swing jazz repertoire of the 1930s and early 1940s and was instantly caught by the high quality of the performance by this English ensemble - ever since I have been a fan of these recordings made 1940-41.
LP front, World Records, SH 394
Fortunately, a lot of material featuring Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders has since been reissued on CD, a discographical overview is available here

As mentioned in the quoted paragraph above, Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders made a considerable number of short films during the band's career. The British Pathé archive has saved a selection of these shorts which also have been uploaded on YouTube. Below I'll insert some examples here to share some memorable musical moments with Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders. - Here is first a performance of Song Of The Islands from 1939

As mentioned, the repertoire of the orchestra also included popular swing tunes of the time, here is a great performance of In The Mood from 1941

The steel guitar player of the Hawaiian Serenaders until 1941 was Roland Peachey -  Enjoy his excellent contribution to this performance of String Harmony from 1940

From 1944, here's a performance of Sophisticated Hula by the Hawaiian Serenaders which by this time had extended its members and replaced Roland Peachey with another steel guitar player (Harry Brooker?)

To end this small presentation of some of the music saved on screen by Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders, here is the ensemble's version of Aloha Oe featuring a hula dancing maid, paper moon and shady cardboard palm trees in the background - enjoy


Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Monday, August 29, 2016

Knockin' On Wood

The xylophone is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by mallets. Here the term xylophone refers specifically to a chromatic instrument of somewhat higher pitch range and drier timbre than the marimba. Both the xylophone and the marimba, however, have wooden bars in common, while the vibraphone has metallic bars.

Red Norvo
Red Norvo was one of jazz's early vibraphonists, who helped establish the xylophone, marimba and later the vibraphone as a viable jazz instruments. Norvo began his career 1925 in Chicago where he played in a band named The Collegians and at the same time joined many other bands, even an all-marimba band. At one point he was engaged by Paul Whiteman and later recorded with Frankie Trumbauer (1932) and Victor Young's orchestra (1933). In 1929, Norvo had recorded two sides under his own name for Brunswick, but they were unissued. His first issued session under his own name was recorded on April 8, 1933 in New York for Brunswick. Two self penned tunes were recorded, Knockin' On Wood and Hole In The Wall, issued on BR 6562

Discographical info from Tom Lord Discography Vers. 9.0 (click to enlarge)

Knockin' On Wood,  BR 6562
Norvo is accompanied by Jimmy Dorsey (cl), Fulton McGrath (p), Dick McDonough (g) and Artie Bernstein in both tunes, inserted below from YouTube audio-videos - First Knockin' On Wood

The flip side of BR 6562 had the recording of Hole In The Wall

This session pleased Brunswick's recording director Jack Kapp and Norvo was booked for another session. This time, Kapp was out of town and Norvo went ahead and recorded two of the earliest, most modern pieces of chamber jazz yet recorded: Bix Beiderbecke's In a Mist and Norvo's own Dance of the Octopus. Playing marimba instead of xylophone in this session, Norvo was accompanied by Benny Goodman in a rare performance playing a bass clarinet, Dick McDonough on guitar and Artie Bernstein on double bass. Kapp was outraged when he heard the recordings and tore up Norvo's contract and threw him out. Nevertheless, this modern record remained in print all through the 1930s. - The recording of In A Mist and Dance Of The Octopus was made on November 21, 1933 in New York

Discography info, Tom Lord, Vers. 9.0 (click to enlarge)

In A Mist, BR 8236
Both tunes have been uploaded at YouTube and are inserted below, first In A Mist

And here is the remarkable Dance of the Octopus

Both tunes are semi-classical pieces and early examples of chamber jazz. The music is further a guide to Norvo's later career which spanned both swing, be bop and cool jazz - the experience from these early recordings opened the opportunity of experiement and supported Norvo's talent for adapting his chosen instrument the changing vogue in jazz. - A modern performance of Dance of the Octopus is inserted below to remind us that even experimental music can be fun when taken serious


Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Monday, August 22, 2016

Toots Thielemans (1922 - 2016)

Toots Thielemans
Today the media have spread the sad news that the well known Belgian jazz musician Toots Thielemans passed away this morning at age 94. A career profile is available here , and the official website including bio and discography here.

The keep(it)swinging blogspot likes to commemorate Toots Thielemans through his world famous composition from 1962, Bluesette - Here the original recording from the album The Whistler & His Guitar featuring Arnold Fishkind (b), Sol Gubin or Don Lamond (d), Toots Thielemans (gtr & whistling), Dick Hyman (org)

Toots Thielemans was considered the world's foremost performer of the jazz harmonica, here he is in a concert performance in The Netherlands 2009 playing Bluesette on the mouth organ

Toots Thielemans (29 April 1922 – 22 August 2016) RIP 


Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Charlie Christian Centennial

Charlie Christian
Last month the jazz world commemorated the Centennial of pioneer of the modern jazz guitar Charlie Christian (July 29, 1916 – March 2, 1942). Christian was an important early performer on the electric guitar and is considered a key figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz. Many critics believe that he alone is the link between swing and modern jazz.
Charlie Christian exposing his Gibson ES-150

Charlie Christian was born in Bonham, Texas, but grew up in Oklahoma City. His father was a blind guitarist and singer, his two elder brothers, Edward and Clarence, were musicians, and at the age of twelve Charlie was playing on a guitar that he had made from a cigar box. He was actually first trained on the trumpet which later was a huge contribution to his fluid single-note guitar style. Then, his father and brothers formed a quartet and Charlie got a real guitar. When he grew up, he became a much-admired local musician in Oklahoma, playing an amplified acoustic guitar as early as 1937.
Friends of Christian wishing good luck at his departure for Los Angeles, August 1939
Word of Charlie's skill as a guitar player reached record producer John Hammond, who arranged for Christian to travel to Los Angeles in August 1939 for an audition with Benny Goodman.
Charlie Christian and Benny Goodman
At first Goodman was negative and against engaging Christian but changed his mind after having challenged the young guitarist in a version of the jazz standard Rose Room that went on and on. Goodman was deeply impressed by Christian's playing, engaged him and soon featured him on weekly radio broadcasts and in recordings.
Benny Goodman sextet featuring Charlie Christian
Charlie was mainly featured with Benny Goodman's sextet and before the year was over he was a nationally prominent jazz soloist. Unfortunately his success was as brief as it was immediate. Charlie contracted tuberculosis in mid-1941 and died a few months later.
Charlie Christian playing his ES-150
Christian was among the first jazz guitarists to amplify his instrument in order to match the volume of wind instruments, and he was clearly the most brilliant soloist of his time on electric guitar. He was emulated by many swing-style players, and his posthumous impact on younger be bop guitarists was enormous. He was a regular participant in the Harlem jam sesseions at Minton's at which some of the bop pioneers gathered - in this setting Charlie further developed his playing style.
Charlie Christian playing his ES-250
Charlie Christian remains among the most creative soloists of the swing period, and his co-operate work with Goodman created compositions and memorable recordings that since have become standards in jazz. Below I'll insert some examples of Christian's recordings in order to commemorate his genius as a guitar player.
Charlie Christian was engaged by Goodman in August 1939 and the first studio recording in which he participated was made in New York October 2 for Columbia. Four sides were recorded featuring the BG sextet, two takes of Flying Home,  Rose Room and Stardust. Personnel are: Benny Goodman (cl), Lionel Hampton (vib), Fletcher Henderson (p), Charlie Christian (el g), Artie Bernstein (b) and Nick Fatool (dm). Already at this first recording date with BG Christian puts his personal imprint on the session displaying his mastery of both single string and chord solo technique as well as great improvisational skills.

One of the tunes that always will be associated with Charlie Christian and his collaboration with Benny Goodman and the sextet is Seven Come Eleven, first time studie recorded for Columbia November 29, 1939 by the same constellation as above.

Another great solo by Christian with the sextet is featured in Shivers, first time studio recorded for Columbia December 20, 1939, same personnel as previous sessions except Johnny Guarnieri (p) replaces Henderson

In the spring of 1940, Goodman reorganized his sextet, from now on a septet featuring Johnny Guarnieri  as regular pianist, but at some occasions replaced by Count Basie. Other new members were Georgie Auld (ts), Cootie Willims (tp) and Dave Tough (dm). One of the often heard and popular recordings by the septet featuring Charlie Christian is Air Mail Special

As mentioned above, towards the end of his all too short life Charlie Christian took part in jam sessions at Minton's, a Harlem club considered the birthplace of be bop and modern jazz. From these sessions recorded May 1941 by Jerry Newman, I'll insert a couple of examples to end this small presentation of Charlie Christian. Here is first a take of the swing standard Stompin' At The Savoy excelling Christian's marvellous improvisational skills

Honeysuckle Rose is a vehicle for more improvisational work by Christian, here re-named Up On Teddy's Hill

Charlie Christian's Centennial was celebrated in the Netherlands on June 3rd in a concert titled Remembering Charlie Christian in The Hague. Musicians featured were Adrian Ingram (guitar), Axel Hagen (guitar), Noah Nicoll (bass), Dick Verbeeck (drums). Compilation of the tunes played at the concert has been uploaded at YouTube in two parts, part 1, here, part 2, here

Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Joe Venuti - Live Shots

Joe Venuti (1903 - 1978)
One of my all-time favorite jazz musicians is Joe Venuti, the father of jazz violin. Venuti's collaboration with Eddie Lang as a duo or together in various band combinations is thoroughly documented on records that remain indispensable examples of high quality jazz performance and should be available in the collection of any serious jazz connoisseur. Here is the Venuti-Lang duo in a precious sequence from the 1930 film King of Jazz performing Wild Cat

Following Eddie Lang's untimely death in March 1933, Venuti conducted a tour of Europe and the UK.  Upon returning to the US in 1935, he formed a big band and worked as its leader. Unfortunately, Venuti was less successful as a big band leader than as a soloist, and the band folded in 1943. After this period, Venuti transitioned from being in a position of relative prominence to one of ignominy. He moved to California in 1944 to become a studio musician with MGM, in addition to playing with other film and radio studios. He also appeared regularly on Bing Crosby's radio show during this time. Later, he returned to a small group format and continued to play and record in and around Los Angeles, while touring frequently. Throughout much of the 1950s Venuti made records and played at clubs. This was the beginning of about a 15-year lull in his career. In the early 1960s he was mostly inactive due to his development of alcoholism. The late 1960s, however, marked a revival in his career. During the 1970s, at the end of his life, Venuti toured extensively in Europe with a small ensemble. During this time he made his final recordings with names such as Earl Hines, George Barnes, Ross Tompkins, Dave McKenna, Marian McPartland, Scott Hamilton, Leon Redbone, and most notably Zoot Sims. Venuti continued to tour and play until his death in 1978 (excerpted info from Wikipedia, here)

Joe Venuti doin' things at the violin (photo by Roberto Polillo)
Below I'll insert some examples of Joe Venuti live performance from his late career that have been saved and uploaded at YouTube. Here are first two examples from a live concert in Copenhagen 1969. Venuti is accompanied by the Newport All Stars: George Wein (p) Barney Kessel (g) Larry Ridley (b) Don Lamond (d)

As mentioned above, during the 1970s Venuti toured extensively in Europe and from one of his frequent visits to Italy, here is a saved TV performance featuring Joe Venuti with Pino Calvi's Orchestra in a Gershwin medley

From a 1975 club date with Marian McPartland (p),  Major Holley (b) and Cliff Leeman (d) Joe Venuti performs China Boy

Venuti was also featured in a Dick Cavett show and here showcasted yet another example of his vitality and great musical chops late in life

In 1973, filmmaker Larry Stair made a short film titled Thank You, Joe Venuti which brings you into Joe Venuti's home, where you watch him fix himself a cup of instant coffee, sit down in his living room and then pick up his violin for some wonderful solo improvisations. He then drops in on the New Deal Rhythm Band for some swinging hot fiddle numbers. The film has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below in remembrance of a great artist - enjoy!


Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions