Monday, June 15, 2015

BIX- MCMLIX: Dick Cathcart

This Warner Bros. Lp has always been a Personal Favorite.
The album showcases the mellow and fluent trumpet of Dick Cathcart playing a program of Bix Beiderbecke-associated tunes. Warren Barker did the arranging and the instrumentation ranges from string and brass section backup to rhythm section.
Dick was the subject of an earlier post. His trumpet is best known for the various Pete Kelly's Blues
shows and movie and his 6 years on the Lawrence Welk show. He also did much studio work and graced the Bands of Ben Pollack,Ray McKinley and Bob Crosby.

The nice thing about the album is that it doesn't try to do note-for-note Bix recreations,although several Bix phrases are heard thruout the program by Dick and/or the orchestra.
Dick had a bit of Hackett,Butterfield and Bix to his playing but it was mostly Cathcart. He had great command of the horn but never showed off too much and his tone was pretty pure and mellow.
Here's a look at the tunes played:

Jazz Me Blues- The album gets off to a Brassy start with this classic introduced by Bix and the Wolverines in 1924,then reprieved by Bix and his Gang in '27.
Dick's horn is backed by a full brass section and there are some arranged Bix phrases by the brass.
Dick uses Bix's rolling break from '27 but it's mostly his pretty, darting horn in solo and playing off the brass.
Paul Smith also gets in a nice piano solo.

Ida- Not recorded by Bix but associated with Bix's colleague Red Nichols.
We open with a tasty intro with Dick dropping octaves followed by his flowing statement of the melody, complete with a few boppish touches.
After a Smith piano solo, Dick has a brief foray into the low register followed by some impressive chromatic runs before returning to the opening phrase as a coda.
A Beautiful piece of Trumpet work.

Mississipi Mud -Recorded by Bix in 1928 with Paul Whiteman and Frank Trumbauer.
The strings make their first appearance and the tempo is slow and pensive,not like the usual rollicking renditions.
Dick opens backed by Bobby Gibbon's guitar and then caresses the melody in a very Pete Kelly mood. There's a nice modulation to the final chorus with Dick's flowing lines leading to a coda with Dick quoting Bix's I'm Comin' Virginia coda.

In a Mist- Bix recorded his impressionistic piano piece in 1927 and Warren Barker combines the Brass, Dick's trumpet and the piano of Paul Smith in an excellent arrangement.
Dick weaves in and out of the ensemble ably playing parts written for piano. The Brass ensemble also coveres some of Bix's strains and Paul plays Bix's original coda.

Louisiana-Back to the rhythm section for a standard recorded by Bix in 1928 with Whiteman and his Gang.
Dick takes a solo intro backed by Gibbon's guitar before settling into a pleasant medium tempo.
Dick's horn is Bix-like but has nice fresh touches of his own. Smith and Gibbons have tasty spots before Dick does some pretty noodling home with a nice modulation on the coda.
Tasty Stuff.

Riverboat Shuffle-Hoagy Carmichael's classic was introduced by Bix and the Wolverines in 1924 and Bix reprieved it with Trumbauer in '27.
The brass take the verse intro followed by the trombones on the chorus. Dick playfully swings thru the theme and the bones take over.
A bopppish solo by Smith ,another great player who did much studio work.
Dick trades phrases with the brass and takes a winding coda ending on a half valve .

At the Jazz Band Ball-Recorded by Bix and his Gang in '27. Back to the rhythm section with Paul's intro and Dick on the verse and chorus with witty almost boppish lines.
Smith solos,folowed by Gibbons' tasty guitar-he was a very underated studio man. Dick's back on the verse with some neat tongueing and a tasty unison riff with piano and guitar.
The last chorus has a busy,flowing Cathcart trading with the rhythm. All in 2'21!

Singin' the Blues- This Jazz Classic was recorded by Bix with Trubauer in '27. The strings are back.
Dick gives a pretty melody reading with a bit of Bix's chorus. There's a nice Pete Kelly like coda over sustained chords.

Sweet Sue-Recorded by Bix with Whiteman in '28.Rhythm Section. Slow trumpet opening backed by celesta moving into a medium swing tempo. Paul plays a unison solo on piano and celesta.
Dick winds along from low to middle register and there's a nice trade with celesta before  the coda.

Way Down Yonder in New Orleans-. Another Bix-Tram classic from '27. The Strings open with a transcribed soli of Bix's chorus. Dick picks up the last few bars into his pretty chorus in a bit of a Harry James mood.

Ja-Da- Not recorded by Bix,but another Red Nichols favorite. Dick has another slow intro with celesta then brass pick up to swing tempo. Dick has a nice Bix-like firry. Guest pianist Ernie Hughes has a chorus then the Brass return with Dick blowing some tasty,slightly modern lines with a nifty unaccompanied break on the end.
There's a pretty original coda by Dick.

I'm Comin' Virginia- From the Bix-Tram classics of '27. Lovely theme chorus by Dick a la Pete Kelly.
The strings again play Bix's chorus answered by Dick, before his closing statement over chords with Bix's coda.

Also recorded at the session was Bix's piano composition,Candlelights. The celesta takes the intro with Dick playing the tricky melody. Like In a Mist, Paul Smith is featured. The 2nd strain is very jazzy with nice Cathcart horn backed by Gibbon's guitar. Bix's piano coda is used and Dick gets in his own pretty coda.
This track popped up on a Warner Bros. sampler called Jazz Festival-Near Far and Far Out.

Both albums have been out of print for years and never reissued on CD. You can find the LPs on ebay.
Let's hope some company out there will put out a CD of the material.
Not only is it a Fresh,Sincere tribute to Bix,but a great showcase of the marvelous Cathcart horn.