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

No comments:

Post a Comment