Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jack Teagarden and his All Stars-1958

Jack Teagarden (1905-64) was one of those consumate jazzmen who never sounded bad. His ealry groundbreaking trombone work of the 20s and early 30s speaks for itself.
He continued to play and sing brilliantly thru the big band years and postwar years.
After his hitch with Louis Armstrong's All Stars from 1947-51, Jack decided to form his own  "All-Star" combo, which he fronted for the rest of his life.

This delightful recording finds Jack and his band playing a live date at the Modern Jazz Room in Cleveland,Ohio in 1958. Along with Jack are Don Ewell,a wonderful trad pianist with deep roots in Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton. Dick Oakley,cornet is a clean,swinging player who worked with many Midwest jazz groups. Jerry Fuller on clarinet is a wonderful Goodman-style player with brilliant technique. He later had a long stint with the Dukes of Dixieland. Stan Puls,bass and Ronnie Greb,drums were solid rhythm men who put in many years with Jack. The program features a mixture of Jack's specialties, Traditional favorites and features for the sidemen.

A short version of Jack's theme I've Got a Right to Sing the Blues opens the proceedings. Right away the relaxed but brilliant Teagarden touch is present. Next is the perennial Fidgety Feet which gives everyone a chance to solo. A Good Opener.
Jack had some nice arangements in his library. This one of Someday You'll be Sorry came from one of his Capitol lps. It has the wonderful Teagarden horn and voice with nice horn parts behind him.
Jack closes with one of those patented but always lovely trombone codas.
Next up is a feature for Don Ewell, his composition Wallerrising which contains his personal stride style in tribute to Fats.This is also a tasty Band arrangement.
Jack sings one of his quaint,down home ballads Old Pigeon Toed Joe. He had a great Jazz Voice and like Louis, his Voice was an extension of his horn work. There is a little trombone here,but oh so nice with another pretty coda.

The old jazz classic High Society is next,everyone gets solo space but Jerry Fuller is the star with some swinging choruses on the old Picou clarinet routine. Jack is back for St. James Infirmary, one of his perennials. Besides his wonderful drawling vocal,Jack gives us his "water glass"routine where he plays the Slide portion of the bone into a Glass giving him a Very, Haunting Kazoo-like sound. This was one of Jack's few tricks, but a very musical one.

Next up is a Hoagy Carmichael medley of Rockin' Chair and Georgia on my Mind. Jack sings solo on Rockin' Chair (his later trumpeter Don Goldie did a great "Louis" routine with Jack) and Jerry gets to stretch out on Georgia. Jack pays tribute to Kid Ory,the composer of Muskrat Ramble next. This is a nice everybody blow version. Oakley gets off 2 nice choruses and surprises with some high ones. In tribute to Ory,Jack closes with Kid's trombone tag. A short version of After You've Gone follows with Jack's horn and vocal featured. This also has a nice arrangement with a tricky ascending band riff to close.

Like many "All Star"jazz groups , Jack closes with "The Saints". Everyone solos with Ronnie Greb stretching out on drums. Ronnie studied at the Gene Krupa/Cozy Cole Drum Studio in New York. He builds a nice solo without a lot of the usual "Cymbal Bashing Theatrics." This version also has a neat riff and modulation closing figure. Jack used this routine on most of his live dates.

This session is far from the greatest Jack Teagarden in his recorded career, but shows the brilliance and pure musicality of this Jazz Star. It's a nice example of the kind of music Jack played nightly in clubs and concerts thruout the 50s and early 60s.
The CD is available from Jazzology Records in New Orleans.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Trumpet of John "Bugs" Hamilton

In our earlier post on Fats Waller and his Rhythm, we mentioned the excellent but rather obscure trumpeter, John "Bugs" Hamilton (1911-47).
John was a regular with Fats and the Rhythm from 1939-42 and his clean,big-toned but always tasty blowing is a highlight of the later sessions. Most Fats fans appreciate the work of Herman Autrey who was on Fats' first session in 1934 and continued with the band into '39. Herman was a Louis-influenced hornman who also excelled in muted blowing. He had many inspired solos on the bands many '34-'39 sides.

John was born in St. Louis, a great city for trumpeters-Clark Terry, Charlie Creath, Shorty Baker and Miles Davis to name a few. His earliest pro band was that of trombonist Billy Kato in 1930-1, followed by a short stint with  Chick Webb, Kaiser Marshall in 1935 and finally Fats. He started as an alternate member of the Rhythm,filling in for Autrey.
John first shows up on the Waller big band session of April 12, 1938. Fats put together touring bands occaisonally ,consisting of the Rhythm plus extra horns. Although Herman Autrey can be heard backing up Fats I believe John takes the tasty muted solo on Sheik of Araby and it sounds likes it's him on Hold my Hand playing   Louis-like glisses over the band's out chorus.

John always played with great taste whether muted or open. Here are a few highlights from the Fats series.The formats were pretty standard with Fat's piano-vocal and horn solos. John always did a workmanlike job,but these selections stand out.
His first session with the Rhythm was for the Muzak Transcriptions. John has standout lead work and solos on The Sheik and After You've Gone and his muted work on B Flat Blues is very tasty.
John's first Bluebird date on 8/10/39 produced a tasty version of Fat's Squeeze Me with nice muted work by Bugs. You're Lettin' the Grass Grow (11/3/39) features good cup mute and lead.From the same date comes a rollicking Darktown Strutter's Ball with a hot open solo by JH and a high flying rideout with John popping off some high ones. Oh,Frenchy!(1/12/40) has strong open and lead work. From the same date, the 2 part instrumental Moon is Low has an outstanding 2 chorus solo by John with some Eldridge like runs. Part 2 features Fat's organ with Band riffs.

You run Your Mouth(4/11/40) has a tasty open solo with some half valving. Stop Pretending(7/16/40) has a band backround vocal ala Marie with a nice muted Hamilton solo and rideout. I always loved Fat's E flat Blues since I had the old RCA lp.John gets in a nice wa-wa mute solo and there's a stop-time band section ala Shoe Shiner's Drag.
Everybody Loves my Baby(11/6/40) is one of the classic Rhythm cuts. Bugs stars on the catchy riff,trades off with Gene Sedric and leads a hot rideout chorus. As the late Ray Smith would say"-Pure Joy-Pure Jazz."

Scram ! (same date) is a riff tune by Leonard Feather and has some nice muted horn by John, who could sound a bit like Charlie Shavers on cup mute. Buckin' the Dice (1/2/41) has some high flying lead work by JH. He had no trouble in the upper register and sounds a bit like Roy Eldridge, here.
You're Gonna be Sorry (3/20/41) is another high flying swinger with a fleet muted solo by JH and a wild out chorus before Fat's vocal coda.

It was back to the Waller Big Band on 7/1/41 and even though Rhythm veteran Herman Autrey is in the trumpet section, JH stars on the solos. On Chant of the Groove, John is in a swinging Eldridge mood. Ain't nothin' to It has JH's solid muted work. I believe the solo on Rump Steak Serenade is by Autrey.
Back to the Rhythm, on 10/1/41 Clarinet Marmalade was cut. Sedric gets some nice spots,but JH is the star with two scorching choruses and a red hot rideout. Fats plays organ on this side.
Back to the Big Band on 3/16/42 for You Must be Losing your Mind with a short growl spot for JH and the instrumental, Really Fine has an excellent muted solo.
The Rhythm's last session on 7/13/42 didn't have any JH solos, but featured a great Fats composition, Up Jumped you with Love with a nice riff by John and Gene and more of John's patented backup.

John also recorded a Bluebird session with pianist/vocalist Una Mae Carlisle(1915-56) on 8/2/40,along with Al Casey,guitar-Cedric Wallace,bass and Slick Jones,drums. So the band had a very Fats and his Rhythm feel.
Una Mae,a beautiful young lady was a protege of Fats,played nice stride piano and had a lovely,jazz vocal style. The tunes recorded that day were Papa's in Bed with his Britches On,a fun novelty with a short muted solo by John. Now I Lay me Down to Sleep was a popular hit for Una and John provides pretty backup and a lovely melody solo ala Shavers. If I Had You and You Made me Love You follow similar formats with John getting short muted solos.
Una Mae is another neglected performer and will get her own post here,soon.

At this time we have no info on how John got his nickname of "Bugs" but will be back with an Addendum when we find out.
John played with violinist Eddie South in 1943,then dissapears from the music scene, due to poor health and bout with tuberculosis which took him in August of 1947 at the too young age of 36. He died in his home of St.Louis.
John was one of many hard working jazz musicians who didn't get the praise they deserved. Thankfully all his Waller recordings are available on RCA Bluebird and Classics. The Una Mae Carlisle session is on her series on Classics. The '39 Transcriptions (along with Fats' '35 sessions) is on a Viper's Nest CD.
If you're a Fats Waller fan or love good jazz trumpet,you'll become a fan of John "Bugs" Hamilton.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Swing Times Five - Raincheck

This recent CD release has become a favorite of mine for listening at home and in the car.
It features the ever tasty trumpet and flugelhorn of Jeff Hughes and the lovely,swinging voice of Debby Larkin
backed up by a top flight New England rhythm section. Jeff is also a wonderful cornetist, but chose to play a 1946 Benge trumpet for the session.
Jeff,a personal friend and colleague is well known around New England for his work with the Wolverine Jazz Band and his own combos. His horn has shades of Bix,Hackett,Berigan and Warren Vache-but is all Hughes.
Debby has been on the New England scene now for a couple of Decades and has graced the groups of Craig Ball,The Swing Legacy and her own group with husband Jeff Stout (another great trumpeter). She sings in a no-nonsense style with pure voice and jazz phrasing but never feels the urge to scat or over indulge.

Also featured is pianist Ross Petot, a busy performer known for his work with the Wolverine Jazz Band and Blue Horizon Jazz Band and a master of stride piano.
Guitarist Dan Weiner is a solid player with roots in the Herb Ellis/Barney Kessell style of jazz guitar.
Bassist Peter Tillotson is a new face but has impressive credentials and is a  solid rhythm man and soloist.
Drummer Dave Didrickson, a former Chicagoan also a Wolverine and a solid timekeeper in the Dave Tough tradition. The group ranges from trad to mainstream easily and Jeff and Ross' versatility gives the group that range. The band has played frequently at the Sherborn (Mass.) Inn .And now on to the musical highlights.

Raincheck-The title tune is a nicely swinging rendition of the Billy Strayhorn classic. Jeff's harmon muted trumpet and Ross duet the melody front and back with some of Ross' stride piano a highlight.

Love Letters- The beautiful Victor Young standard gets loving teatment from Jeff's fluegel,Ross'
piano musings and Dan's pensive guitar.

It Had to be You- Isham Jones' classic introduces Debbie with a clear,no nonsense rendering backed by Jeff's pretty muted horn. Deb always sings in perfect taste and swing.

I'm Checking out Goombye- This rather obscure but fun swinger from Duke dates from 1937,with Ivie Anderson's vocal..
Rosie Clooney recorded it with Duke in the 50s and in the 80s on Concord. Following Ross' delightful striding,Deb gets a lot of Rosie's pretty tone that still swings and Jeff contributes some Cootie-ish growl horn.

S'Wonderful- The Gershwin standard gets a lovely bossa nova treatment similar to Diana Krall's recent recording. Highlights are Deb's mellow vocal,Jeff's flugel (a bit Herb Alpert-ish) and Dan's guitar with shades of Wes Montgomery.

Cottontail- More Ellingtonia. Jeff opens with Harmon followed by Ross' Dukish comping and a spot for Peter's solid bass.

Get out of Town- This Cole Porter classic gets a mini-concert arrangement starting with Ross' rent part stride,then slowing down to a nice medium groove for Deb's tender vocalizing and Jeff's pretty trumpet  statements.

Speak Low- The Kurt Weill standard gets a moody latin treatment with Jeff's horn channeling Warren Vache and Herb Alpert. Ross and Dan also have tasty solo spots.

The Lady's in Love with You.- A great Burton Lane standby is given a swinging treatment by Swing times 5. Debbie's vocal is pure and swinging as are the solos by Jeff and Ross. A nice way to end a lovely but all-too short session of swing and the Great American songbook.

To purchase this delightful CD go to the group's website www. swingxfive.com. or do a search under their name. You won't be dissapointed.