Sunday, November 22, 2009

The 3 Stooges-Hula -La-La (1951)

The Stooges go native in this delightful 1951 short , one of their very best with Shemp as third stooge. The plot has the boys as dance teachers at a movie studio sent to a South Sea island to teach the natives how to dance , the studio is planning a big polynesian epic and find out their natives can't dance! Along the way the boys run afoul of beautiful island girls, headhunters, an evil witch doctor and a pesky idol with four arms!

This breezy short was directed by Hugh McCollum , primarily a producer at the Columbia Shorts Dept. His style was more laid-back and jovial than the violent Jules White, however we have the usual wild slapstick gags by the boys. The story was by Ed Bernds , himself one of the Stooges' best directors. His screenplay has loads of witty dialog and bad puns. Another plus is the little untitled island song that gets played thruout the short, it gives not only the proper flavor but a nice change of pace. (Columbia, always thrifty reused it as backround music at a waterfront cafe in the 1955 sci-fi classic , It Came from Beneath the Sea).

The supporting cast is an exellent one including Stooge regular Emil Sitka as Mr. Baines the studio chief.(he will be the subject of a future post) His part is small but he makes the most of it even getting in a nifty pratfall. Emil plays his own age here, he was very adept at old codgers and goofy professors.
Jean Willes plays the native girl Luana, she joined the Columbia shorts in the mid 40s as Jean Donahue and was a busy player with the Stooges and other comics thru the mid 50s. Jean was a tall, leggy brunette and like Christine McIntyre(the Stooges' first lady) she had a good flair for comedy. She worked in many features of the 40s and 50s, popped up in the feature version of McHale's Navy and was in the classic Twilight Zone episode , Will the Real Martian please Stand Up?
Another favorite Stooge foil Kenneth McDonald plays Varanu the Witch Doctor. Kenneth was a great slimy villain with his pencil mustace and theatrical voice , many Perry Mason fans remember him as one of the regular judges on the show. A Hawaiian named Lei Aloha (sounds like a stage name!) plays the idol and longtime bit player Heinie Conklin gets to mug a little as the king.

The comic highlights are many , but here are some of my favorites:
The opening scenes with the Stooges as dance instructors are a hoot. Moe telling Shemp that the "girls have their rondelets mixed up with their pirouettes and their fortissimos tangled with their allegrettos." Shemps's response- "Yeh, but what's wrong with their dancin'?" Shemp proceeds to give the girls a wild display of his dance style only to find he's dancing to a Trombone part! ( The boys were all great eccentric hoofers , but Shemp took the cake).

Varanu showing the boys his collection of shruken heads has a great Columbia editing gaffe as Moe's scream gets dubbed in before he can react. Shemp's visit to Luana's hut has him hiding under the bed when Varanu enters and Shemp dealing with a visit from a baby and momma crocodile while still under the bed. Great Stuff! We even get the old "You can say that again" bit when Luana tells the boys that the witch doctor is a bad man. (she says it again, of course).

Moe and Larry's encounter with the Idol (Old Four Arms) is a classic with both getting heaps of punishment from the multiple arms before Moe gets her with a great eye-poke. (the Idol uses all 4 hands to cover her eyes). The Idol is guarding a box of hand grenades that the Stooges use in the finale. Shemp also gets in some good jungle dialog calling Luana's boyfriend,Kuala the Coca-Cola guy and instructing a native to Ungow! and get him some food.

Just when it looks like the boys are to be victims of Varanu's axe on the chopping block , Moe asks him for a sample of his work on the grenade box. When arrogant Varanu obliges he gets blown sky high with only his smoking sandals left! (a perennial Stooge gag). Finally the boys get to give the islanders their dance lesson. Moe, Larry, Shemp and the cast start skipping, shuffling and trying to hula accompanied by the little island song. Shemp again takes top honors with his wild contortions.

Hula-La-La is oneof the best of the many classic Shemp outings by the Stooges. It is available on Vol.6 of the Sony/Stooges collection. (which should be wrapping up in 2010).

Till next time-Keep Stooging!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Good News- Teresa Brewer and the World's Greatest Jazz Band

This delightful session from 1974 has been quite forgotten over the years, We hope this post will bring it some well deserved recognition.

The album was originally recorded for Bob Thiele's Flying Dutchman label. (he was Teresa Brewer's husband). While Miss Brewer is an acquired taste, her work here shows a maturity as a performer with a nice feel for jazz. (No doubt Mr. Thiele. a top jazz record producer helped). As for the World's Greatest Jazz Band , alias W.G.J.B. they have one of their best blowing sessions. The band has plenty of solo room, on some tunes Teresa sings just a single chorus! The addition of Bobby Hackett's cornet and Bucky Pizzarelli's guitar is also a strong plus.

The theme of the album is a salute to the wonderful songs of the team of DeSylva, Brown and Henderson. This threesome wrote some of the most popular show and movie tunes of the 20s and 30s. Quite a few of the songs came from the Good News show along with some other goodies by the team. (the show was enjoying a revival at the time).

The band's lineup is a strong one. Regular members included Yank Lawson (trumpet), Bob Wilber (clarinet & soprano) , Vic Dickenson (trombone) , Bud Freeman (tenor) , Ralph Sutton (piano) , Bob Haggart (bass) and Gus Johnson (drums). Trombonist Benny Morton had recently joined the band. (he and Vic had both worked with Hackett's tasty quintet). Benny didn't get a lot to do on the session , but was an old pro.Veteran arranger Glenn Osser devised some simple charts , but the structure is pretty loose and free-blowing.

Miss Brewer was always a cute and vivacious performer with a big voice and sometimes heavy vibrato. However she rises to the occasion in this stellar company. She especially connects with Hackett (what singer didn't, he was a master at vocal backup). The previous year Teresa had guested on Bobby's What a Wonderful World album. (another Flying Dutchman production).
While we miss Billy Butterfield's trumpet (he had recently left the band) , Bobby is a most welcome replacement. Bucky Pizzarelli's solid rhythm guitar adds to the already rock solid rhythm section. Now, on with the show!

Good News (1927) the opener is the title tune of the broadway show. Gus'hihat brings in the band wailing with Bud's twisting, percussive tenor on the bridge. The band modulates to Teresa's vocal backed by Bobby's tasty cornet , after another modulation Bob Wilber's soprano is on with a playful Hackett bridge. More Bud , a wry Dickenson trombone bridge and the band goes home with a driving tag by Gus. We're off to a great start!

I Want to be Bad from a 1930 show and film called Follow Thru. Bobby and Vic introduce the melody in duet leading to a cute vocal by Teresa.(right up her alley) A modulation brings on Yank and the band with a striding bridge by Sutton. The band takes things home with some nice noodling by Wilber over the last chord.

The old favorite Button up your Overcoat (also from Follow Thru) makes a perfect vehicle for Teresa. After a band intro Teresa is on with nice Wiber backup. The band wails one with Bud on the bridge folowed by a nice series of trading between Yank and Bobby folowed by Vic and Benny. The band moulates back to Teresa with more cute vocalizing (backed by Wilber) and the band riding her home. This rendition moves along nicely.

Sunnyside Up comes from a 1929 film of the same name and was also featured in the 1956 bio. of DeSylva, Brown & Henderson , The Best Things in Life are Free. Yank opens with his Harmon mute, a greattrademark sound of his , pushed by Bucky's great guitar. Wiber brings on Teresa for 2 great choruses getting hotter on the second backed by Ralph's striding. We modulate to more swinging Freeman tenor folowed by more trombone trading. Yank takes out the last half on Harmon with Wilber noodling underneath. A Great version!

Lucky in Love , also from Good News opens with Haggart's familiar whistling before Teresa enters backed nicely by Hackett. The band modulates with Bud on the bridge. A lovely round toned Wilber chorus with Hackett's bridge then bring on the band who set up Teresa's final chorus (with more pretty Hackett noodling) with atasty unison figure and rideout. Glenn Osser's contributions are felt thruout the date, but the band gets plenty of wailing room.

Varsity Drag (Good News)- This is a real swinging track.A raggy piano intro by Ralph brings in Teresa for two great choruses, a bit Charleston-like on the first and swinging on the second. The band goes aboard with a nice chorded bridge by Bucky. Vic's up next with a strutting, slurring chorus with Wiber on the bridge and a modulation to Teresa's last chorus that swings along with nice vocal variations. (I like her line do the varsity drag-in drag). Vic closes the festivities with one of his dirty pedal notes. This rendition is no drag at all!

Just Imagine (Good News)- One of the highlights of the session. Teresa sings the lovely verse backed by Ralph. Bobby enters with his lovely sound and stays behind Teresa's plaintive vocal. Her maturity and jazz feel make this an outstanding vocal. Bud takes over playing pretty with an equally lovely bridge by Wilber. Teresa picks up the last half with Bobby stil behind her winding down to a long ending with Bobby weaving over the final chords into one of his classic codas. Bobby gives us some of his last great solos here (he passed on in 1976). Teresa and Bobby get MVP honors here.

Together- Another lovely ballad done with a light swing. This tune was featured in the 1956 bio.
Ralph gives us a striding intro into Teresa's vocal (backed by Wilber). A modulation brings on a weaving, twisting Hackett for a half chorus picked up by Bud. Wilber brings back Teresa for the last half and a nice closing vocal tag backed by Wilber, who shines here. Teresa's singing is very expressive on this track. Bud and Bob take the cake on this one.

You're the Cream in my Coffee-from a 1929 film, The Cock-Eyed World. Bob's soprano introduces the theme. (he was a master on the instrument). A nice interlude using some of the bridge's melody brings on Teresa for a strutting chorus. (more Bobby on the bridge).A swinging band chorus follows with Bobby in for the bridge. Bud and Vic split a chorus with Vic's laughing plunger on the bridge and the band takes us home with another bombastic tag by Gus. Plenty of good blowing by the band here.

We wrap up the party with The Best Things in Life are Free.(Good News). Bobby 's graceful cornet opens over bchords into Teresa's cheery vocal (with nice backup by Bobby and Bud) followed by more of Yank's driving Harmon with Wilber on the bridge. A break by Vic gives us more of his wry sound with Bobby darting in for the bridge. Bobby takes a pretty break that sets up Teresa's last chorus (more Bud and Wilber backup) and nice vocal turnaround (The cry in Teresa's voice is very effective) as the band swings us home with Vic's pedal note saying Goodbye!

Yank Lawson and Bob Haggart never were comfortable with the rather presumptous title of World's Greatest Jazz Band. (their sponsor Barker Hickox came up with it). They preferred the Lawson-Haggart Jazz Band which they used before and after the W.G.J.B. days. However, with lineups like this and the Bob Crosby feel of the band (Haggart did a lot of the aranging) it was indeed a very great jazz band. This session certainly reinforces that claim and gives Miss Brewer one of her best vocal outings. At this writing , only Bob Wilber and Bucky Pizzarelli survive (they're both still very active musically) , Miss Brewer passed on in 2007. This wonderful session , last available on Sony/Signature CD is a great testament to them all.

Here's hoping that all your news is Good News!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Louis Armstrong and the Decca House Band (1936/8)

The recent release of Louis Armstrong's Decca recordings of 1935-46 on Mosaic records has given new prominence to this wonderful but neglected chapter in Satchmo's recording career. Louis made many of his Decca sides with his own band, the exellent Luis Russell Orchestra. He also was backed up by some very fine studio groups and the bands of Jimmy Dorsey, Casa Loma and Bob Haggart.

These two delightful sessions find Louis backed by a group of studio pros casually known as the "Decca House Band". This group usually comprised of 7 to 10 players backed many Decca artists, especially Dick Robertson. (see our earlier post).

The session of February 4, 1936 found Louis waxing two popular tunes backed up by an exellent band including Louis disciple Bunny Berigan who was one of Louis' favorite trumpeters. Besides being a great jazzman, Bunny was a wonderful lead player and his huge, open horn is a highlight of the band's sound.(Bunny was doing a lot of studio work at the time).Also present were Bob Mayhew( trumpet), who worked with Bix in the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. Al Philburn was on trombone, he played on most of the Robertson sessions.

The saxes consisted of leadman Phil Waltzer(alto), Sid Trucker(alto/clarinet), a busy studio man formerly with Russ Morgan and Paul Ricci (tenor), a veteran of the bands of Joe Haymes, Richard Himber and Bunny.

The rhythm section had Fulton McGrath on piano, he had worked with the Dorseys, Red Nichols and would have a brief spell in Bunny's big band. (he wrote the lovely ballad Mandy is Two). Dave Barbour on guitar(with Red Norvo at the time) would soon find fame with Benny Goodman and Peggy Lee.(also as Peggy's husband). Bassist Pete Peterson was also with Norvo and drummer Stan King was an old pro from the 20s. He was on many sessions with Red Nichols, the Dorseys and Miff Mole, his great time and swing are a plus on the session.

First up is Irving Berlin's I'm Putting all my Eggs in One Basket, a delightful tune with a tricky bridge. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers introduced it in the film Follow the Fleet. Louis opens with a classic operatic cadenza then takes us into tempo for a lovely exposition of the melody with subtle variations. (Ricci handles the bridge nicely on tenor). Sid Trucker's clarinet leads into a cheery vocal by Pops with his usual superb time and phrasing . (Trucker's clarinet chips in with some backup). Bunny's strong lead brings on the band backed by King's great backbeat and Louis picks up the rest of the theme going operatic again for an equally impresive coda.

Yes Yes! My My! is a novelty by Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin. (the composers of Shoe Shine Boy, a Louis classic from this period).The band brings Louis in for a spoken Yes Yes, My My then right into the vocal. Pops' vocal is full of fun and McGrath has some nice piano fills. Bunny leads us into a tasty Philburn solo with Bunny contributing a few flares leading into a key change for Pops. His chorus is full of great note placement, blue notes and his gorgeous tone. By this point of his career Louis had pared his style to amazing simplicity mixed with his technical gifts. He finishes up high with a neat 4 note burst.
A Lovely session.

The session of June 24, 1938 saw a new "house" band, two new pop tunes and Louis revisiting two of his classic favorites. The band was an 8 piece unit ( the size of the Dick Robertson group).
On trumpets were Bob Cusumano , an exellent lead man formerly with Paul Whiteman, Larry Clinton and Tommy Dorsey and Johnny McGee who was on most of the Robertson sides and had been working with Richard Himber. Al Philburn was back on trombone. Sid Stoneburn was on clarinet, he had much big band experience including T. Dorsey, Bob Zurke, Joe Haymes and Larry Clinton, he gets in some nice jazz licks on these sides. Dave Barbour was back on guitar and Decca house man Haig Stephens played bass. Sammy Weiss, a top drummer with Goodman, T.Dorsey and Artie Shaw lays down some great rhythm.(he was also part of the Jack Benny show for years). Pianist Nat Jaffe only lived to be 27 , but shows a mature Jess Stacy-ish style. He worked with Charlie Barnet, Joe Marsala and Jack Teagarden. He contributes some nice solos and fills on the session.

First up is a rather obscure pop tune by Harry Barris, Naturally. The tune is pleasant with an unusual minor-sounding bridge. After a band intro Louis sings a mellow vocal with polite backup. The band comes in for an interlude with a nice Stoneburn spot. Louis enters backed by tasty Weiss rimshots and hihat. Pops gives us some tasty figures over the stoptime bridge and goes up high for the coda over the band ending.

I've got a Pocketful of Dreams(comp.Johnny Burke-Jim Monaco)was a new tune from the Bing Crosby film, Sing, You Sinners. After a band intro, Pops enters with the vocal. The tune is a bit rangy, so Louis plays around with a few notes, but with his usual swing and time. (Billie Holiday picked up this trick from Louis). The band gives us an interlude with spots by Sid and Jaffe and Philburn. The band modulates to Louis' chorus, his phrasing is tangy and close to the melody. Jaffe gets the bridge and has a nice spot with Pops closing out on a neat solo break backed by Weiss.

I can't give you Anything but Love was already one of Louis' standbys. This version , at a faster tempo from the original has some neat touches that make it unique. The Mosaic issue gives us some banter before the performance, Louis is kidding about "remembering the words". After a band intro, Pops' vocal is patented but has a few nice asides. The band modulates with nice Stoneburn fills and Pops picks up the rest (Weiss' hihat is very effective behind him). His time and accents are superb, giving us a more mellower but still exciting solo. Louis closes with another grand coda backed by Weiss' hihat. The renowned French critic Andre Hodeir singled this solo out in his exellent book, Jazz: It's Evolution and Essence.

Another Armstrong perennial , Fats Waller's Ain't Misbehavin' gets a redo. Following the band intro, Louis' vocal follows his original with some subtle changes. The band modulates with a nice horn figure and Philburn spot with Jaffe handling the bridge. Pops gives us subtle variations on his classic solo with a new bridge and a soaring outchorus going up high, backed by Weiss' tomtoms. Louis would continue to delight us with new versions of these old classics thru the years.

The arrangements on these sides were probably stocks with some doctoring done at the studio. (many studio jazz dates were done this way). Perhaps Barbour, Jaffe or McGrath had a hand in the changes or a house arranger may have been used. The two sessions are part of Mosaic's exellent set of the Armstrong Deccas 1935-46, highly recommended for any Pops fan. The entire collection shows the amazing quality of Louis' work during this period. These little "house band" sessions offer a fascinating part of this huge body of work.

Till next time, keep enjoying the Wonderful World of Pops.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bela Lugosi meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)

This film is one of those So Bad that it's Great offerings. Besides the presence of horror master Lugosi and other familiar B players we have the unique comedy team of Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo doing their Martin & Lewis impersonation. (Petrillo's Jerry is so dead-on that it's scary!). In the 40s, the team of Wally Brown and Alan Carney did a similar take on Abbott and Costello.

The plot (what there is of it) involves entertainers Duke and Sammy stranded on a jungle island encountering friendly natives (the lovely Nona takes a shine to Duke and her hefty sister Saloma goes after Sammy) and the evil Dr. Zarnoff (Bela) who is conducting strange experiments and turns Duke into a gorilla when he sees Nona (his lab assistant!) getting too chummy with Duke. It's all good silliness in the tradition of the 3 Stooges, Abbott & Costello and the Bowery Boys.

The film was released by the Realart studio and produced by Jack Broder. The director, William Beaudine was known as "one-shot" for his ability to make a film in record time, quality notwithstanding. He made many low budget affairs for Monogram and American-International.
The screenplay was by veteran actor Tim Ryan who acted in and wrote many Monogram classics.(he and wife Irene-"Granny" of the Beverly Hillbillies had an act similar to Burns and Allen). Also contributing dialog was Leo "Ukie" Sherrin, an actor and writer for many Monogram cheapies. Duke Mitchell got to sing two songs (a la Deano) , the favorite Deed I Do and Too Soon( based on La Paloma).

A bit about the All-Star cast: Bela Lugosi at age 70 was at a low point of his career, beset by years of B movies and drug addiction. He pretty much sleepwalks thru the film, but occasionally raises an eyebrow or does a "take" to show he's getting a kick out of the comics.

Duke Mitchell(1926-81) and Sammy Petrillo (1934-2009) were nightclub entertainers who took advantage of the popularity of Martin and Lewis.(Duke had a bit part in Martin & Lewis' Sailor Beware (1951 ). They worked in and out of the business for years, Petrillo ran a comedy club in Pittsburg called the Nut House. Jerry Lewis threatened the team with a lawsuit and they dropped out of sight. Despite the obvious impersonation, they had good chemistry and Petrillo showed good comic timing.

Charlita (Regis) as the lovely native girl, Nona (complete with college education!) made a career of exotic and jungle type roles. (similar to B favorites Acquanetta and Lita Baron).
Mickey Simpson as Bela's hulking servant, Chula was a former boxer who specialized in tough guys and body guards with the likes of Abbott and Costello, Tarzan, Jungle Jim and the 3 Stooges. (Stooge fans will remember him as strongman Rocky Duggan in Gents in a Jam (1952).
Muriel Landers as Saloma, was a former dance partner of Ray Bolger and played many comic suporting roles in the 50s. She played "Tiny" in Sweet and Hot (1958), one of the worst 3 Stooges shorts.
We can't forget Ramona the Chimp, who Zabor plans to turn into a gorilla. When Duke gets hot with Nona, he turns him into the gorilla instead.

Petrillo's antics get to be a little too much ( of course so were those of the the real Lewis) and Mitchell's singing has a strange mix of Frankie Laine, Billy Daniels and Elvis! They do have good chemistry, it's too bad the Martin and Lewis take-off was so obvious, they could have developed into a good B comedy team ala the Bowery Boys. Likewise, the Mitchell/Charlita romance has a nice, genuine chemistry to it.

Things get sillier and sillier with the Duke gorilla, Romana and Nona all running around the jungle with Zabor after them. We seem to be getting melodramatic when Zabor shoots at Duke and buddy Sammy takes the bullets for him. But it turns out Sammy was dreaming all of this in his niteclub dressing room! To boot, all the lead players turn out to be employed at the club (with Bela as headwaiter!). The boys put on their tuxes and go into their act with Duke singing and Sammy mugging. (here they look just like the real Martin and Lewis club act). On this upbeat note we end this wild, little film.

Although a real cheapie 50s jungle comedy, this film has it's moments and is always amazing watching the Martin & Lewis takeoff of Duke and Sammy. My DVD copy came from a label called Digiview. I was pleasantly surprised at the exellent quality of the print, it was a pleasure to watch.
Until next time, Keep on Laughing.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bob Crosby's Bob Cats-Feb. 1940

One of the most unique and musical orchestras of the Big Band era was that of vocalist Bob Crosby (1913-93), younger brother of Bing.

Many bands had gimmicks and styles that made them special, the Crosby band used traditional jazz or dixieland as the basis of it's style. The band brought many jazz classics back into the Big Band repertoire and featured a fantastic array of soloists. The Crosby band also spotlighted an 8-piece "band-within-a band" called the Bobcats. This post will celebrate 5 classic sides recorded for Decca in February of 1940.

The Crosby band grew out of a group of musicians who left the Ben Pollack band (known as the Pollack Orphans)in search of their own identity and dedication to Big Band dixieland. Bob Crosby was chosen as leader on the strength of his personality and talents as a frontman and singer. (He had a lot of Bing's vocal timbre and good humored comedic timing). The band had a great crew of jazzmen including Yank Lawson,trumpet, Matty Matlock,clarinet, Warren Smith,trombone, Bob Haggart,bass, Joe Sullivan,piano and New Orleansians Eddie Miller,tenor, Nappy Lamare,guitar and drummer Ray Bauduc.
Arrangements were spit between Matlock,Haggart and veteran Deane Kincaide(also a band saxophonist). Saxophonist Gil Rodin actually ran the band for Crosby but it was always a co-operative unit in spirit and financial gains.

By 1940 the band had undergone some personell changes, but sounded better than ever. That is where we pick up this session. First a few words about the Bob Cat members heard here:

Billy Butterfield, trumpet(1917-88)- Billy had joined the band in Sept. 1937.(from the Austin Wylie Orch.) When Yank Lawson was hired away by Tommy Dorsey, Billy took over the jazz chair with the Bob Cats. One of the most versatile trumpeters, he could play hot, sweet or lead and his beautiful pure tone was always a joy to hear.

Warren Smith, trombone (1908-75)-"Smitty" joined up in early 1937.(He had been with Abe Lyman) Some of the band members were impressed by his blowing at a jam session. He never quite lived up to that hype, but blew a solid, tailgate and later worked with many west coast dixieland groups.

Irving Fazola, clarinet(1912-49). When Matty Matlock's services were needed more as an arranger,"Faz" came into the band in March 1938. One of the great New Orleans clarinetists with a beautiful,round tone, he shines on this session.

Eddie Miller, tenor sax(1911-91) A charter member of the band and another New Orleans boy.
Eddie played one of the prettiest and swingingiest tenors(and a fine clarinet,too). He would go on to be one of the top tenor men of all time.

Jess Stacy, piano(1904-95). The Crosby band featured some great pianists starting with Joe Sullivan, Bob Zurke and Jess in Sept. 1939. Jess was one of the top piano stylists with a great backround in Chicago jazz. He came over from Benny Goodman's band and must have enjoyed the cozy surroundings of the Crosby Crew. (He had his "moments" working with Benny).

Nappy Lamare, guitar (1907-88). Another charter member and New Orleans native. Nappy played a solid rhythm guitar and contributed fun vocals. He and Ray Bauduc led bands in the postwar years.

Bob Haggart, bass (1914-98). Also Class of 1935 and ace arranger of the band. Bob was a top notch bassist and he and Yank Lawson led many fine bands in the post war years.

Ray Bauduc, drums (1906-88). Another original member and New Orleans born. One of the finest traditional drummers of all time. He took part in many Bob Cat reunions along with his work with Nappy.

And now, on to the music: The session of February 6, 1940 produced 4 classic Bob Cats sides. First up was Isham Jones' Spain, a beautiful but little recorded gem. Faz's gorgeous clarinet sound takes over the first chorus with the horns giving him light backup. Next is a sparkling Stacy solo with Miller's mellow tenor on the bridge, backed by an appropriate tango beat. Bily and the band ride out in grand style with Faz repeating his intro. A wonderful record.

Irving Berlin's All by Myself has a lovely vocal by the band's girl singer, Marian Mann. She phrased well and had a nice feel for jazz. She was highly respected by band members. Billy's pure toned lead, Eddie and Faz splitting a chorus lead to a percussive spot by Warren Smith. He wasn't a subtle player, but could swing in a hard hitting style. The outchorus has the reeds harmonized with Billy (a common Bob Cats device) and makes for a tasty outchorus.

The Tom Delaney favorite Jazz Me Blues is next. Bix Beiderbecke made this a jazz standard and the Bob Cats' rebdition is a winner! Billy leads the band thru the traditional ensemble and breaks and Faz has 2 solid choruses. (One can see where Pete Fountain came from).The riff on the outchorus has become a part of the tune. (like the "dogfight on That's a Plenty). Billy's blowing on the outchorus is as fierce as Yank's -he was so versatile.

A forgotten pop tune, Do you ever think of Me? has become a Bob Cat classic. The neat opening has Eddie playing lead with the other horns below him. (sort of a "hip" Hotel Band sound). Nappy takes a fun vocal followed by more of Faz's great horn and an inventive Stacy solo with neat reharms. Billy and the boys ride out with a nice unison break by clarinet and tenor. (a common Crosby device).

The February 28 session was mainly a feature for Marian Mann, however we have a classic version of Armand Piron's Mama's Gone , Goodbye. I'm sure the New Orleans contingent enjoyed this one. Faz opens the proceedings and Marian gives us a nice chorus backed by Billy's pungent plunger horn.(her vocal has shades of Mildred Bailey) Eddie and Smith split a chorus and the outchorus is tightly voiced, backed by Ray's choke cymbal. Although Butterfield gets no solos on these tunes, his lead, obligattos and drive show what would make him one of the top trumpeters of the century.

There are many Crosby Orchestra and Bob Cats reissues on CD. I recommend a crosscheck at Amazon or World's Records. Also insispensable is John Chilton's Stomp Off, Let's Go (Jazz Book Service-1983). This wonderful bio/discography is long out of print , but worth looking for. There will be many more Bob Cats posts, in the future.

Till then' This is the old Dave Cat saying"Happy Listening".