Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Jazz Guitar Of Mary Osborne

Mary Osborne
Mary Osborne (1921-1992) was an American jazz guitarist, who is almost forgotten today but should be ranked among the crop of the cream of the 1940s pioneers of the electric jazz guitar. - Osborne was born in Minot, North Dakota. She learned violin as a child and could also play guitar and bass by age 15. She heard Charlie Christian play in Al Trent's band at a stop in Bismarck, North Dakota; Christian became one of her most prominent influences. She went on to tour with Buddy Rogers, Dick Stabile, Terry Shand, Joe Venuti, and Russ Morgan, and recorded with Mary Lou Williams, Beryl Booker, Coleman Hawkins, Mercer Ellington, Ethel Waters, Wynonie Harris a.o.. - Below I'll insert some examples of Mary Osborne's excellent playing which have been uploaded at You Tube.

Signature 15087-A, Blues In Mary's Flat
Mary Osborne had recorded her own Blues In Mary's Flat together with Stuff Smith in 1944, two years later she recorded it again with her own trio for the Signature label. The trio has Sanford Gold on piano, Mary Osborne on electric guitar and Frenchy Couette double bass.

Signature 15087-B, Oops My Lady
The flip side of the Signature 15087 disc had another tune by the trio composed by Mary Osborne, Oops My Lady  

Mary Lou Williams
Mary Osborne was featured with pianist Mary Lou Williams' Girl Stars in a session for Continental recorded February 1946 in New York. The quintet include Mary Lou Williams (p), Mary Osborne (el g), Bea Taylor (b), Marjorie Hyams (d) and Bridget O'Flynn (vib). The session was produced by Leonard Feather, here is the quintet's version of Feather's tune titled D.D.T. 

At the same session was recorded a version of the well known He's Funny That Way, where Mary Osborne also gets a chance to add her pleasant vocal to the music

Coleman Hawkins
The day after the Mary Lou Williams recording session, Mary Osborne was featured with Coleman Hawkins And His 52Nd Street All Stars in four sides recorded for Victor in New York. The All Stars ensemble is an octet and include Charlie Shavers (tp), Pete Brown (as), Coleman Hawkins, Allen Eager (ts), Jimmy Jones (p), Mary Osborne (el g), Al McKibbon (b) and Shelly Manne (d). One of the recorded tunes titled Spotlite has Mary Osborne in the spotlight contributing great solo playing

To end this small portratit of a great jazz guitarist, here's a saved live recording on TV from 1958 - audio and video quality is not the best, however, the music is excellent. The tune played is I Surrender Dear 


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Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Ruby Braff - George Barnes Quartet - Live in Berlin, 1975

L-r: Wayne Wright (rh g), Michael Moore (b), Ruby Braff (co), George Barnes (lead g)
In the spring of 1973 Ruby Braff and George Barnes had started a new group. They rehearsed once a week and it became a very special little quartet. They increased their number of weekly rehearsals to get ready for a concert at Carnegie Hall for the opening night of the New York Newport Jazz Festival. They became the highpoint of that festival. The group stayed together until some time in 1975 when Braff had a fall out with George Barnes.
Ruby Braff
George Barnes and Ruby Braff recorded five albums under their own name and a Rodgers & Hart tribute with Tony Bennett. The quartet toured the U.S. and Europe, collecting fans and receiving accolades from the press. But an increasing acrimony between the co-leaders took its toll on George’s health, and the quartet split up after their 1975 European tour.
George Barnes
From the 1975 European tour video recordings of the quartet's live concert in Berlin have been saved and uploaded at YouTube. Below I'll insert some examples from this concert in remembrance of a truly magnificent mainstream jazz quartet. - Here is first the quartet's version of the well known standard Sugar

Next, here is the quartet's version of Gershwin's Liza 

Another Gershwin tune, Summertime, also had a reading at the concert

Wayne Wright
It's George Barnes who plays the guitar solo parts, while his instrument colleague, Wayne Wright, takes care of a solid rhythm accompaniment togeter with double bass player Michael Moore, here the quartet plays the tune But not for me 

Michael Moore
Ruby Braff on cornet and double bass player Michael Moore have great interplay in the interpretation of Ellington's In my Solitude 

The last video recording from the 1975 Berlin concert featuring the Ruby Braff - George Barnes quartet to be inserted here has the quartet's version of Gershwin's They can't take that away from me


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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Les Loups - Ramona (1928)

Hans & Jo (2008)
This week it has been three years since the founder of the Keep(it)swinging weblog and associated website and blogs, Hans Koert (June 1st, 1951 - September 4, 2014), passed away all too soon. Before it was too late I promised Hans to continue  his blogs, our friendship was too valuable to ignore our mutual engagement in the music we both shared our passion for. Thus, I have tried to follow in the footsteps of Hans in fields of the music we both liked. Our first and mutual project was to collect all available info on the legacy of Oscar Alemán. Hans succeeded in finishing the online Oscar Alemán Discography in time for the Oscar Alemán Centennial in February 2009. I assisted in collecting info and further published entries at the Oscar Alemán weblog documenting our research. In remembrance of this co-work and a great friendship, I'll post the latest entry from the Oscar Alemán weblog below to expose some info here at the keep(it)swinging blog as well on a famous 1920s tune recorded by Les Loups - Alemán's first musical partnership - in 1928: Ramona

Original sheet music (1928)
Ramona is a 1928 song, with lyrics written by L. Wolfe Gilbert and music by Mabel Wayne. It was created as the title song for the 1928 adventure film-romance Ramona (based on the novel Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson).
Original film poster(1928)
Ramona was recorded in 1928 for promotional appearances with Dolores del Río (star of the film) but not featured in the film itself. The film Ramona was the first United Artists film with a synchronized score, but was not a talking picture. Dolores del Río was a Mexican actress, who was the first major female Latin American crossover star in Hollywood, with a career in American films in the 1920s and 1930s. - Here is Ramona by Dolores del Rio (1928)

On record Ramona was a popular hit, usually performed as a romantic ballad, sometimes with a Latin inflection by "Whispering" Jack Smith and, in an idiosyncratic arrangement recorded on January 4th 1928, by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. The Paul Whiteman version, Victor 21214-A, featuring Bix Beiderbecke on cornet and vocal by Austin Young and Jack Fulton, was no. 1 for 3 weeks on the Billboard charts in 1928.

Other popular artists of the time such as Gene Austin and Ruth Etting a.o. also recorded Ramona and had hits with their versions, and outside the USA the song became popular thanks to the film. 

Les Loups, promo (courtesy by Erik Host)
Les Loups recorded their instrumental version of Ramona in Buenos Aires on August 30 1928 (- some sources have September 3rd or 24) for Victor, released at Victor 80950 (mx BAVE-44280-1) inserted below

Unfortunately, audio quality in the inserted video is rather noisy, but the music by Les Loups is as always delicate and well performed using the well known formula with Gastón on the hawaiian steel guitar and Oscar providing rhythm support on the conventional guitar.
The Blue Diamonds
Ramona remained popular with the public for a long time, a young generation of pop musicians in the 1960s revitalized the orignal waltz version of the song' in an upbeat version similar to rock'n'roll. The shown duo named The Blue Diamonds (a Dutch-Indonesian duo) became famous in 1960 with their version of the song, which reached the American Billboard Hot 100 at number 72 in 1960. It sold over 250,000 copies in the Netherlands (the first record to ever do so) and over one million copies in Germany by 1961.

Perhaps as a consequence of the success of Ramona in an upbeat arrangement, Oscar Alemán also featured the song this way in his live appearances with Los Cinco Caballeros during the 1960s. An example of a live performance of Ramona by Alemán and the Cinco Caballeros from a radio appearance at Radio el Mundo in 1965 has been saved and is inserted below to end this


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