Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Corky Corcoran And His Orchestra (1945)

Corky Corcoran
Corky Corcoran (1924 - 1979) was a notable but today almost forgotten tenor saxophone player, who started his career during the big band era of the 1940s. He was discovered by Jimmie Lunceford when he was only 16 years old while playing at a jam session in his hometown of Tacoma, WA. In the early 1940s he was already working in big bands. He first played professionally in 1940 with Sonny Dunham, then joined Harry James' orchestra from 1941 to 1947.
Harry James
Corcoran left James for a short time in 1948 playing with his own ensemble and working briefly in Tommy Dorsey's band before rejoining James in 1949. He continued to work with James on and off almost up till his death of a throat cancer in October 1979.
Record producer Harry Lim
Corcoran was featured with Harry James on stage, in radio live broadcasts and movie appearances and further participated in a considerable number of recordings with James' orchestra. However, he also made some recordings under his own name during his career, here I'll focus on a 1945 session made for Keynote records produced by Harry Lim

Info from Tom Lord's Jazz Discography (version 9.0) (click to enlarge)
The session for Keynote took place in Los Angeles on May 15, 1945 and had Corcoran on tenor sax recorded in a septet setting featuring Emmett Berry (tp), Willie Smith (as), Dodo Marmarosa (p), Allan Reuss (g), Ed Mihelich (b) and Nick Fatool (d). Four titles were chosen and first tune recorded was the ensemble's version of Cole Porter's What Is This Thing Called Love?

Emmett Berry
Emmett Berry is the featured trumpeter in the session and has a short solo statement in What Is This Thing Called Love?, a great ballad to showcase Corcoran's mature and warm tenor sax. Next title recorded was Minor Blues which has great solo spots by both Willie Smith's alto sax, Berry's trumpet besides Corcoran's relaxed tenor solo. Allan Reuss' guitar introduces and ends this arrangement of Minor Blues 

Willie Smith, alto sax

Allan Reuss
Two takes of You Know It, a Corcoran original, were recorded and have great solo work by both the horns and Allan Reuss' guitar. Only the second take (HL 96-5) issued on Keynote K-654 and Mercury 1097 is available here

Dodo Marmarosa
The session ends with a recording of Lullaby of the Leaves, another ballad leaving Corcoran space to play a relaxed and warm Hawkins-like tenor solo, Dodo Marmarosa and Berry also have short solo statements and again Allan Reuss' guitar plays the intro

This session by Corky Corcoran for Harry Lim's Keynote has been reissued a few  years ago at the 11 CD box-set of the collected Keynote jazz recordings 1941 - 1947 (disc 6) (Fresh Sound Records).  However, the box-set does not include alternate takes of recorded tunes. Thus, if the alternate take of You Know It from the Corky Corcoran May 15, 1945 session is needed, you have to look for the two cd-set of Keynote reissues shown below
The Essential Keynote Collection, Vol. 4

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