Monday, June 27, 2016

Milt Herth Trio & Quartet 1937-38

Milt Herth (1902-1969)
Milton "Milt" Herth (1902-1969) is considered a pioneer of the electric Hammond organ, he was in fact one of the first to play and record this novelty instrument shortly after it was introduced to the public in 1935. Herth's professional career started in 1935 when he was hired to play the Hammond organ at a radio station. In 1936, he signed a recording contract with Decca and made several records as a soloist that year showcasting the Hammond organ as a suitable instrument for performance of swing jazz.

Milt Herth - Stompin' At The Savoy (1936)
From the first issued Decca session recorded June 11, 1936, Milt Herth performed his solo version of Stompin' At The Savoy, also released at the Brunswick disc shown above

This version of Stompin' At The Savoy is famous for being the first ever recording of the electric Hammond organ issued on a 78 rpm disc.

Willie 'The Lion' Smith
In 1937, Herth began to work with jazz pianist Willie "The Lion" Smith in Chicago, when Smith also signed to Decca Records. Herth, Smith, and drummer O'Neil Spencer formed the Milt Herth Trio. The trio became a quartet with the addition of Teddy Bunn on guitar in April 1938.
O'Neil Spencer
From November 1937 to November 1938, Milt Herth recorded 26 sides for Decca featuring his Trio or Quartet. The first session with the trio was recorded November 11, 1937, two sides were cut and the first tune was Larry Clinton's The Dipsy Doodle with vocal by O'neil Spencer

January 7, 1938 Milt Herth Trio recorded the next session for Decca. Two sides were cut, an instrumental titled The Big Dipper and a version of Bei Mir Bist Du Shoen with vocal by O'Neil Spencer

September 13, 1938 the Milt Herth Trio recorded a great version of Duke Ellington's famous 1930 tune, Rockin' In Rhythm. In this session Frank Froeba replaces Willie 'The Lion' Smith on piano

Teddy Bunn
In April 1938, guitarist Teddy Bunn was added to the trio and he is featured in sessions with the Milt Herth Quartet from April 28 to November 30 that year contributing his unmistakeable and delicate guitar playing in tunes such as The Flat Foot Floogie, Shoot The Likker To Me, John Boy, Egyptian Ella, The Spider And The Fly and Jump Jump's Here 

The above inserted few examples of recordings featuring the Milt Herth Trio and Quartet from 1937-8 are reissued on CD together with the remaining sessions from this period in the Cronogical Classics series devoted to Willie 'The Lion' Smith 1937-38, (CD 677)
Cronogial Classics, CD 677 - Willie 'The Lion' Smith (1937-1938)
Besides his recording career, Milt Herth also took part in several short films, a.o. Love and Onions (1935), Swing Styles (1939), and Jingle Belles, (1941) as well as the longer 1942 film, Juke Box Jenny, a movie noted for being a series of musical performances. - To end this small presentation of some of Milt Herth's best recordings from the late 1930s, I'll insert the YouTube version of the short film Jingle Belles. Go to 4:00 and enjoy a sequence featuring  Milt Herth in performance at the Hammond organ


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