Friday, October 10, 2014

Ray Bauduc's Bob Cats-Capitol (1947)

I'm working my way thru Mosaic's Massive Capitol Jazz Sessions Box Set. It's a wonderful collection of dixieland, swing and big band jazz.
There are some great Dixieland sessions here,many involving  the various Bob Crosby alumni working on the West Coast in those post-war years. The core of regulars are Eddie Miller, Matty Matlock, Nappy Lamare and Ray Bauduc. They all took turns leading sessions and this one was under Ray Bauduc's aegis.
I used to have the old 78 of Susie/Honky Tonk Town, so it's a pleasure to hear the entire session and in excellent sound.

Ray rounded up a stellar band including fellow Bob Cats, Miller,Matlock and Lamare along with the multi-instrumentalist Brad Gowans on valve trombone, Stan Wrightsman on piano who would be a frequent member of the "West Coast" dixielanders, top studio man Morty Corb on bass and the very underated trumpeter, Nate Kazebier. Nate worked with several big bands and recorded many solid solos for Benny Goodman and Jimmy Dorsey. Unfortunately, he only plays lead here-but a solid one it is.(we will definitely give him a future post).

The ensemble work is very tight and well arranged. I suspect Gowans as arranger on all titles, Matty Matlock's charts all have that "Crosby" feel. Brad himself was an excellent arranger,he did a lot of Bobby Hackett's book for his short-lived Big Band of 1939.
Susie from the Bix/Wolverine book has a lot of the feel of the original. The band takes the verse with Eddie on the melody, with some nice stop time for Ray's drumming. Eddie,Matty and Brad all solo in between the ensembles. The band swings on the nicely arranged rideout, but not in a loud way-very much like the old Bud Freeman combo-also arranged by Brad!
Down in Honky Tonk Town is another tasty swinger with verse and chorus nicely arranged.  Eddie,Matty and Brad split nice solos with a tricky rideout involving two retards before the coda.

When my Sugar Walks down the Street. Another oldie that gets a new treatment via Brad's nice writing.
There are tasty spots for the aforementioned soloists and some great piano by Stan,another underated studio pro(he has shades of Jess Stacy in his solo work).The closing band riff uses a descending line and has a bit of the "Ira Ironstrings" dixie sound(Warner Bros. studio pros headed up by Alvino Rey). Nice Stuff!
Lil' Liza Jane- An old folk song popular in New Orleans. There are fun call and response vocals by the band. The lead vocalist suggests Lamare, but I think it may be Ray,I can hear a New Orleans accent.
There are also nice spots for Eddie and Brad before the drum break and  rideout with Nate riding high on lead.

All in All, a very tasty session. One of many that Capitol produced in the mid and late 40s.
I'll be stopping by with more as we work our way thru the collection.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash (1970)-Blue Yodel No. 9

Thanks to Youtube,this wonderful performance has become very popular. For years only a few musicians and  critics  spoke of it and how beautifully Louis played on one of his last TV spots playing trumpet.
Louis had been seriously ill since mid 1968, but sang and played in Oct. 1969 for the James Bond film,On her Majesty's Secret Service.(his first performing since that time).
In early 1970 he started making TV appearances, mostly singing. By fall of 1970 he had recovered enough to start working with his All-Stars again.

This appearance on the Cash show was to promote Louis' new Country and Western lp. I remember catching the show and recording the sound on my Wollensack Reel to Reel Recorder.(No VHS or DVD,then). Louis performed a medley of Ramblin'Rose and Crystal Chandeliers from the lp wearing a big 10 Gallon hat and was in great,bubbly spirits.
But the surprise of the night was when Cash brought Louis over to a small set and there was his Trumpet!

Johnny mentioned how Louis backed up the Country music great Jimmie Rodgers in 1930 on Blue Yodel No. 9 and they proceded to recreate the recording 40 years later! The original recording had ex-wife Lil on piano with Louis filling in Rodgers' strange meter with beautiful phrases ala his many blues accompaniments of the 20s.
Things don't change much in 1970. Backed by Cash's Music Director, Bill Walker on piano, Louis fills the performance with lovely middle register obbligatos and takes a strong blues chorus of his own.
Thankfully the meter is straight ahead.

This is not the powerhouse Louis of the 50s and early 60s. His health issues had made it neccesary to limit his trumpet work to certain tunes and on some nights he might have played more or less than the previous.
But it was still Pops with his lovely,burnished tone and those choice,musical ideas flowing out.
Louis cracks Cash up several times at the Yodel refrain by "harmonizing" with him.
As my fellow Louis advocate and friend Ricky Riccardi summated:"Louis turns back into the Louis of 1925 backing Bessie Smith and others."

I finally transferred the reel copy to cassette and now have it on DVD,but it was a very exciting and triumphant night for Louis and his fans to see him playing again with such grace and beauty.
There are more such moments for Pops leading up to his last gig in March 1971.
This one is very special. Check it out on Youtube and you'll see.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Buck Clayton and Tommy Gwaltney-Goin' toKansas City (1960)

I recently ran into this Delightful session as part of the Real Gone Buck Clayton set. Real Gone specializes in releasing 6-8 lps on a 4CD set. They have a great catalog of Jazz and Pop artists.
This Riverside lp of 1960 was actually conceived by Tommy Gwaltney and billed as his Kansas City 9.
Basie alums Clayton and Dickie Wells are guest artists and Buck gets plenty of solo space.

The interesting personnel also includes Bob Zotolla (famous mouthpiece maker and father of Glenn) on lead trumpet and alto horn. Gwaltney on alto,clarinet,vibes and xylophone (he was quite a talent and part of Bobby Hackett's great Henry Hudson band). Tommy Newsom of Tonight Show fame on tenor and clarinet. The Rhythm section consists of Benny Goodman stalwart John Bunch on piano, the great Charlie Byrd on guitar, West Coast Bass star Whitey Mitchell and Big Band veteran Buddy Schutz(Goodman, Savitt,Jimmy Dorsey) on drums. The arrangements were by Newsom and Gwaltney and make the band sound bigger via their voicings.
The tunes are an interesting mix of vintage material and originals. Now on with the program.

Hello Babe- A Dickie Wells original. A Swinging band chorus opens the proceedings with Dave Pell-like writing.(you can hear the alto horn in the ensemble). Buck delivers a crisp,swinging solo, some boppish but still swingy tenor from Tommy (a fine player) and Dickie with one of his patented "talking" solos. He was a brilliant trombonist,but tended to fall back on these tricks in later years. Thankfully,he's fairly straight on this album. A Basie-like shout chorus takes us home. 

An Old Manuscript-Composed by Don Redman and Andy Razaf and recorded by several swing bands..
An easy swinging ensemble takes us to Gwaltney's sweet alto,some alto horn, Buck playing plunger under sax riffs, a Basie rhythm bridge and some tasty Byrd guitar (he lays nice rhythm down too). Wells gets in a good solo before the band rides it home.

Kansas City Ballad-Comp. by Newsom. One of the highlights of the session. Buck's trumpet featured in a pretty, introspective mood (the tune reminds one of Pete Kelly's Blues- pardon the plug!).John Bunch has a lovely bridge passage, he has many fine solos on the date.

Jumpin' Blues- Comp. Jay McShann and Charlie Parker. A jazz standard from the Jay McShann band.
John gives us a Basie chorus up front and the saxes take the riff backed by plunger brass. Byrd's guitar follows with Gwaltney's vibes, Whitey's bass and a shout chorus taking us to Wells' bone. The following ensemble is very tight and sounds like a full band. The saxes return us to the melody.

Walter Page-Comp. tribute to the great Kansas City Bassman. Gwaltney intros with his xylophone(shades of Red Norvo) followed by Byrd's guitar and the band playing the bluesy theme.Gwaltney's alto leads to Mitchell's bass backed by the band. More xylophone, Tommy's tenor and Buck on Harmon mute over riffs before a short shout chorus.

Midnight Mama-A rather obscure Jelly Roll Morton composition.(he recorded a piano roll and band version.) The theme is a bit reminicent of Nobody Knows the Way I Feel this Mornin'. Saxes and one trumpet up front with Buck blowing 2 beautiful blues choruses(he was a great blues player), after a band interlude he's back for more. There's more of Tommy's fine tenor,piano and a shout chorus back to the theme.

John's Idea by Count Basie. This Basie classic is given a transcription treatment and sounds a lot like the original-despite the smaller band setup. Bunch does a great job playing Count's original solos-he really gets the Basie feel. The saxes trade phrases and the band chorus leads to Tommy's tenor. The shout chorus has Dickie reprising his trombone shouts before an all too quick fadeout.

Steppin' Pretty by Mary Lou Williams. This was a staple of the great Andy Kirk band. The muted brass state the theme followed by tenor and Gwaltney's low register clarinet (sounding a bit like Woody Herman). We get Buck wailing with some high ones, Byrd and a boppish spot by Zottolla. The brass reprise the catchy riff out.

The New Tulsa Blues by Bennie Moten, A 1927 recording. We get some boogie piano by Bunch for 2 choruses. The theme is stated by the saxes with piano responses.  Buck wails for 2 choruses sounding very Louis-ish backed by boogie riffs. Following Whitey's bass there is a modulation to more low register clarinet.
Byrd's guitar leads to another modulation with reeds answered by plunger brass with Gwaltney's clarinet wailing over the band ala Woody. Bunch reprises the boogie theme leading to the band coda. 

As you can see, a lot happens here and the stellar cast of musicians all get plenty of blowing room.
Gwaltney and Newsom's arrangements range from traditional to innovative,but always in the swing tadition.
It's also a kick to hear Charlie Byrd playing rhythm guitar ala Freddie Greene.

The rest of the Real Gone set has the excellent Buck/Frankie Laine session, 2 Jam Session lps, Buck's Vanguard session with Ruby Braff and 2 collaborations with Buddy Tate.
All Good Stuff,but you're really Dig this Kansas City 9 session!