Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Harry Flem(m)ing - Recordings Made In Milan 1933 & 1938

Hans Koert earlier published a definitive and well researched article about Oscar Alemán's engagement with entrepeneur and band leader Harry Flem(m)ing during the period when Les Loups were a part of Flem(m)ing's revue in Europe 1930-31 - the article is to be found here. In his article Hans Koert refers to the sources of his research and a.o points to an article written by the German researcher and writer on jazz and related topics, Rainer Lotz, who in collaboration with Horst Bergmeier has written a very detailed account on the adventures of Harry Flem(m)ing's career in Europe. The article is from 2007 and has the title Harry Fleming - „Der Dandy aus Harlem”, written in the German language (Dietramszell, Fox auf 78, 24, Sommer 2007, pp.32-39). I have a copy of this article as a Word-document, which I recently read again and took notice of some info that I should like to share here. It's about the period after Oscar Alemán's break with Harry Flem(m)ing in 1931 and the focus here is especially on the recordings made by Harry Flem(m)ing in 1933 and 1938, as I was astonished to learn that there in fact exists recorded audio credited to this almost mythical figure. I got curious and looked up the info shown below in Tom Lord's discography

Extract of Tom Lord's discography (Version 9.0), click to enlarge
Both 1932 and 1933 Harry Flem(m)ing had long engagements in Italy with performance all over the country featuring a troupe of musicians, dancers and entertainers in a new constellation of his revue show. According to the info in the mentioned Lotz/Bergmeier article the accompanying orchestra in 1933 had an international crew featuring seven or eight Italians, four Americans, three Englishmen, two Spaniards and a German, however, none of the names mentioned in the article seem to have participated in the recordings made for Columbia in the fall of 1933, if you compare with the info stated in Tom Lord's discographical listing (see above). Lotz/Bergmeier further state that 10 sides were recorded for Columbia in Milan 1933 while Lord only lists 8 sides, and the article also adds more precise info regarding the dates. The recordings were done in two sessions, the first one took place on 21. October and the second on November 1st. Lotz/Bergmeier futher mention that the two titles on Co CQ. 1328 were recorded on the 21st of October, but have no detailed info regarding the remaining titles. The Co CQ. 1328 also seems to be the most interesting disc, as it features Harry Flem(m)ing on one side as a singer and tap dancer in 'Dixie'. - The audio of this recording has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted here

Tom Lord's listing of personnel participating in the 1933 Columbia session(s) probably is incorrect, for instance it is not possible that Albert Wynn (tb) took part in the recordings, as he had left Flem(m)ing's troupe in 1932 and went back to the US where he for some time was a member of Sidney Bechet's N.O. Feetwarmers and also recorded with Bechet that year. However, Lord's info on personnel of the 1933 recordings is stated as 'probably', but it is misleading regarding the two sessions that were recorded by „Harry Flemming e la sua Orchestra“ in 1938. According to Lotz/Bergmeier, Flem(m)ing's orchestra again recorded two sessions for Columbia in Milan 1938 during another tour of Italy. 

The first session was recorded on the 2nd March and issued on two 78 rpm discs, Co DQ.2617 and DQ. 2618 as listed by Tom Lord. The second session was recorded a month later on the 2nd April and the two titles from this session were issued on Co DQ.2637. Tom Lord's info on personnel participating in the two 1938 sessions is misleading, as it lists the personnel as 'probably similar' to the 1933 sessions, but with the additon of a featured vocal by Nada Villefleur on some of the 1938 recordings. Lotz/Bergmeier have a detailed listing that comprises Italian musicians only. They are as follows for the March 2nd session: Pippo Renna, Loreto Ficorilli (tp), Giacomo Polverino (tb); Piero Rizza (as, cl), Francesco Paolo Ricci (cl, as, bar s), Alberto Spallazzi (ts); -- Parisi (p); Cosimo di Ceglie (g); unknown (b), Lello Mauceri (dm) - on the April 2nd session Nello Digeronimo (tb) replaces Giacomo Polverino and Nada Villefleur is added as vocalist. According to Tom Lord's info Nada Villefleur is added vocalist on 'Stompin' At The Savoy', but the audio of the recording does not feature a vocal. The audio of this recording of Stompin' At The Savoy (NB mislabeled as 'Stampin' At The Savoy' on the issued 78 rpm disc) has also been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below to end this


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  1. Here is the listing of personnel for the 1933 recording session:
    „Harry Flemming e la sua Orchestra“ (1933):

    Angelo „Presidente“ Celli, Harry Phillips, Gaetano Gimelli (tp); Beppe Mojetta, Eddie Norman (tb); Louis „Lou“ Rothé, José Casademunde Jr. (as,cl); Fred Culley (ts); -- Rosso (as, cl, bar s, vln); Americo del Ventura, Cesare Galli (vln); ... Parisi (p); Bob Wolley (p, arr); Tabor Direkey or Cosimo di Ceglie (g); Ralph Phillips (sb); José Casademunde Sr. (tuba); Rudi Pätz (dm, acc); -- Crivel (voc) - Harry Flemming (ldr, voc, tap dance)