Monday, October 24, 2016

String Swing From Sweden

Emil Iwring
One of Sweden's remarkable jazz ensembles of the late 1930s and early 1940s was the string swing quintet named Svenska Hotkvintetten. The quintet was formed 1939, initially modeled after The Quintet of Hot Club of France (QHCF) that had visited Sweden and performed in Stockholm during February that year. The two concerts by QHCF were attended by an enthusiastic audience, among the crowd also some young Swedish musicians, who were thrilled by the string wizardry of Django & co.. Shortly after this event violinist Emil Iwring (1912-1999) took the initative in founding Svenska Hotkvintetten, the members carefully handpicked from several orchestras. Emil Iwring was born in Stockholm and started playing when he was eight years old. He intended to become a concert violinist but became instead a dance, jazz and entertainment musician, and he played his first job in 1926. He was soon considered a supreme jazz violinist, i.e. Svend Asmussen took a ride on his bike from Copenhagen to Stockholm in 1936 just to hear Iwring play a live performance.
Svenska Hotkvintetten (c. 1940)
Besides Emil Iwring on violin Svenska Hotkvintetten consisted of Sven Stiberg on lead guitar, Folke Eriksberg and Kalle Löhr on rhythm guitar and Roland Bengsson on double bass. As the members already were engaged in other jobs, the quintet mainly became a studio recording ensemble during its shortlived time from 1939-41 and frequently had changing members in the rhythm section. The quintet recorded about 40 sides for Columbia during this period, here's an example of the ensemble's version of string swing from 1940

Some years ago the Swedish label Dragon Records released a CD (DRCD 223) featuring 27 sides recorded by Svenska Hotkvintetten 1939-41; the audio has since been uploaded at YouTube, here  
Emil Iwring and his orchestra (1940s)
After Svenska Hotkvintetten had disbanded in the fall of 1941, violinist Emil Iwring formed his own orchestra which toured Sweden and made records for Columbia, the repertoire was both popular music and jazz - a discographical overview of the orchestra's recordings in the 40's is available here
 Below is inserted a couple of examples of the orchestra's jazz recordings - first the tune Friday The 13th from March 1942

In February 1943, the orchestra recorded Hot Love, a tune composed by Emil Iwring, who contributes both hot violin and vocals

Emil Iwring continued playing with his own ensemble in the 1950s and 1960s and also had radio work for several years besides touring Sweden and also performed on board cruise liners between Sweden and USA. He had a come-back as a regular jazz violinist in 1980 with the release of a LP titled Still Going String and he recorded two more LPs in the 1980s. One of them was re-issued by Four Leaf Clover Records as a mp3 download-only CD titled Nya Svenska Hotkvintetten in 2013, shown below
Emil Iwring, Nya Svenska Hotkvintetten FLCCD 198
Emil Iwring leads the quintet, contributing great violin playing throughout the eleven tracks in a repertoire of both hot and sweet tunes from the standard jazz book and a couple of examples of popular contemporary music including his own Så skimmanda var aldrig havet. Iwring is accompanied by very competent musicians: Rune Gustafson and Lennart Nylén are sharing solo lead guitar, Carl-Erik Holmquist on rhythm guitar and Sture Åkerberg on double bass. Download of the music in mp3 format may be purchased here and here
Emil Iwring, TV 1988 (YouTube still photo)
In 1988, Swedish television produced a live interview with and performance by Emil Iwring, a tribute to his importance as a jazz violinist in Sweden. The TV performance has been uploaded in two parts at You Tube and is accessible here and here
Sveriges Hot Six, Hot Love (LP, 1980)
The importance of the string swing tradition initiated by Emil Iwring and Svenska Hotkvintetten has been acknowleged by other musicians in Sweden. The above shown LP featuring a pick-up ensemble named Sveriges Hot Six was recorded 1979 for the Gazell label, a division of Sonet Grammofon. The title Hot Love traces back to Emil Iwring's tune with the same title and there are ten more tunes at the LP which originally were recorded by other significant Swedish jazz musicians of the swing era here arranged for a string swing sextet consisting of Anders Dahl (v), Lennart Nylén and John Kongshaug sharing lead solo guitar, Staffan Broms (rhythm guitar), Sture Nordin (b) and Jan Nyman (d). Last year the LP was reissued as a CD by Hot Club Records of Norway as volume two in the label's reissue series of recordings featuring John Kongshaug 
John Kongshaug, Sweden's Hot Six (2015) (HCR-442)
The shown CD was produced with permission and assistance by John Kongshaug's son, John-Ola Kongshaug, and it may be purchased as download here and here - Hot Club Records has uploaded the full audio of the album at YouTube including great still footage from John Kongshaug's career, accessible here

To end this, here's a video uploaded by John-Ola Kongshaug featuring his father John Kongshaug with Sweden's Hot Six playing the tunes Hot Love by Emil Iwring and Pan Pipe Riff by Swedish tenor sax pioneer Carl-Henrik Norin


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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Carl Kress & Dick McDonough Guitar Duets Revisited

The Carl Kress - Dick McDonough duo (c.1936)
The classic guitar duet recordings   featuring Carl Kress and Dick McDonough have for a long time belonged to my favorite jazz guitar recordings from the 1930s. The duo recorded four sides for Brunswick 1934 and 1937 issued on Br 6917 and Br 7885. The audio has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below to have these masterpieces collected here.
Brunswick 6917, Danzon
The shown label of Danzon was the first recorded tune by the duo January 31, 1934, and the audio of this semi-classical piece of music is inserted below

The flip side of Br 6917 was a composition by Dick McDonough entitled Stage Fright, also recorded January 31, 1934
Brunswick 6917, Stage Fright

Original sheet music
In 1936 the Kress - McDonough duo recorded a short version of I've Got A Feeling You're Fooling for an Oldsmobile ad which is seldom heard. The audio of this has also been uploaded at YouTube

On February 16, 1937 the duo recorded two more sides for Brunswick in New York, the first featured was Chicken A la Swing, a co-work composition by the duo 
Brunswick 7885, Chicken A-La-Swing

Original poster ad
The flip side of Br 7885 featured the duo's version of Irving Berlin's Heat Wave
Brunswick 7885, Heat Wave

The four sides recorded for Brunswick were the only commercially released sides by the duo, however, Kress and McDonough also recorded some radio transcriptions in an all stars orchestra setting 1937 since re-issued commercially at the shown LP below
The Guitar Genius Of Dick McDonough & Carl Kress In The Thirties, JA-32
Finally, there are four live recordings featuring Kress and McDonough in the saved audio from the famous Saturday Night Swing Club session June 12, 1937 - they are: Chicken a la Swing, I know that you know, Three little words and Blues in Eb

The whole show is available in original audio here and the two-cd set is available as a download from Storyville Records, here