Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wingy Manone- Dinner for the Duchess (1940)

Joseph "Wingy" Manone (1900-82) was one of the great characters of traditional jazz. Wingy, a New Orleans native played a rough and ready style of trumpeting and vocalising highly influenced by Louis Armstrong.

Like fellow New Orleans trumpeter Louis Prima, he included humor and entertainment as part of his jazz presentations. Wingy lost his right arm in an accident while still a youngster. He learned to play trumpet with a prothesis arm that didn't detract from his proficiency. Wingy learned his trade with many territiry bands of the 20s and 30s. By 1934, he had started a long and succesful series of small band recordings that were in the style and feel of those of Red Allen, Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton .where rotating jazz greats supported Wingy's horn and vocals on jazz standards and pop tunes of the day.

The early Manone sessions were issued on various labels such as Banner, Vocalion and Columbia. By 1936, Wingy's sessions were recorded for the Bluebird label. The session of August 6, 1940 recorded in Hollywood has an interesting mixture of tunes and personnel.
Wingy was working on the film Rhythm on the River with Bing Crosby. (he was a frequent guest on Bing's radio shows).He had a good role as musician/sidekick to Bing. His band in the film also featured Bing's old Rhythm Boys partner, Harry Barris. Two of the tunes from the movie were recorded at this session which had Wingy backed up by some fine Hollywood studio men.

The band featured Bill Covey on clarinet, he had worked with Gus Arnheim and Spud Murphy.
Babe Bowman on trombone was primarily a studio man(he was on Artie Shaw's Frenesi session).
Pianist Stan Wrightsman would become a much indemand player for trad and swing dates around Los Angeles. He had already recorded with Santo Pecora, Spike Jones, Shaw (the Frenesi session) and was with Seger Ellis' band for a time. The other men, Bill Jones (bass), Dick Cornell (drums) and Russell Soule (guitar) were all studio players.

Rhythm on the River and Ain't it a Shame about Mame were from the film written by Johnnie Burke and Jim Monaco. In the film River gets a great treatment by Bing backed by Wingy's band. In the scene, Bing is bailing out the Manone band's instruments at a hock shop. Bing shows off some fancy work with drumsticks. (he started his musical career as a drummer).
Wingy's version starts with a Loui-ish intro over sustained chords into the ensemble with a crisp lead by Wingy. Cornell gets off nice rim shots and cymbal splashes thruout. Stan leads into Wingy's happy vocal. Covey gets a nice tangy clarinet spot followed by an arranged riff chorus and the descending riff used in the movie as a coda.

Mame, sung in the film by Mary Martin with the Manone band is an interesting major to minor pop tune with a rhumba passage as a bridge. The opening ensemble is again crisp, Wingy always played solid, swinging leads. Stan brings in Wingy's vocal. He does a nice job navigating the tricky melody. Covey gives us more solid clarinet followed by a band reprieve of the rhumba. The rideout has solid Wingy with a Louis-ish coda followed by a vocal coda with nice guitar chording.
A lovely side!

Dinner for the Duchess(Dale-Kaye) is the highlight of the session. The opening and closing has Wingy playing a catchy horn riff. He tells one of the boys that" he's blowin' for the Duchess."
The band plays a neat arranged blues riff leading into Wingy's vocal full of referances to food and jazz that please the "Duchess". The solos have Wingy's great comments (like Fats Waller, he a master at this). Covey has another reedy, driving solo. (this man played fine clarinet). Bowman gets off a nice percussive solo with some Jack Jenney touches. Stan's piano is very Bob Zurke-ish and gets a choice mention from Wingy. The swinging out chorus features some of Wingy's Up the Country licks( a favorite blues) and back to the trumpet coda. A minor classic!

When I Get You Alone (McCarthy-Goodwin-Fisher) is a simple but pleasant pop. It has a folk or cowboy feel to it. (not unlike some of vocalist Dick Robertson's Decca sides). After a band chorus Wingy gives us a fun vocal assisted by bassist Jones. (we assume so because the bass is silent during the comments). Covey and Bowman split a chorus (nice lip trills on trombone) and Stan has a nice stride solo a la Zurke. Wingy leads the band home with a nice repeated riff (shades of Dippermouth Blues).

This session is just one of many great Manone small band treats of 1934-41. Wingy continued recording thruout the 40s and 50s. He made albums for Decca, Roulette and Imperial and worked frequently in LasVegas. He made an appearance at the Newport Fest of 1966 (recorded by RCA) and toured Europe with Papa Bue's fine Danish band in the 60s. One of his last filmed appearances shows him with Toronto's Climax Jazz Band in 1976. (this has been on YouTube). Wingy is still full of fun and bows some nice horn passages. He left us in 1982.

The August 1940 session is available on Classics 1091 (Wingy 1940-44).
Till next time, keep Swinging and Winging!