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Monday, April 18, 2022

Jazz From the San Francisco Waterfront - Burt Bales & Marty Marsala


Baby Won't You Please Come Home

Jazz From The San Francisco Waterfront
Burt Bales At The Piano
Featuring The Marty Marsala's Band
Supervised by Ralph Gleason
Cover Photo by Bob Crozier
Cover Photography by Allen Fontaine
ABC-Paramount ABC-181

From the back cover: It was that kind of night at the Sunset Auditorium in Carmel, California, nestled among the pines and cottages of the Monterey Peninsula within hearing of the waves lapping the sandy Pacific shore. It was a November night and Burt Bales had brought his friends and fellow dixiecats from the San Francisco Embarcadero down for a concert. Jimmy Lyons, West Coast disc jockey, presented the affair and, although it was by no means a commercial success, it was an artistic one. The audience – and this was the first presentation of dixieland in that hall, I believe – was completely gassed. They responded with a contagious enthusiasm to everything the band did. And the band reacted directly by playing as I had never heard them play before – not only in their solos, but by improvising backgrounds and fill-ins while the other were soloing.

For me this was the most enjoyable dixieland concert I had ever attended in California and one of the most enjoyable I have ever attended in my life. And believe me, I have long since traded in my old copies of Chimes Blues and my Red Top Needle Sharpener.

Of course what made it so enjoyable was the enthusiasm of both the audience and the performers. It seemed that everything clicked just right. And when it was over gray-haired women and tweed-jacketed retired Army officers went away from the hall muttering about what a good time they had had. And so did the band.

Burt Bales, the pianist and leader of the group on this date, picked the men well. In San Francisco for some years now the Embarcadero (the dockside road that runs along the Bay waterfront wharfs) has been a sort of North Rampart Street with dixieland jazz floating out over the waters of the Bay every night from the Tin Angle and Pier 23, that converted dock wallopers  lunchroom where Burt plays. For the past year the band in the Tin Angel has been led by Marty Marsala, a veteran of the early days of Chicago jazz. Burt and Marty have worked together before on numerous occasions and there is a natural musical meeting of the minds.

Marty's debt to Louis Armstrong is obvious and it is something he shares with every trumpet man of his generation who ever had a chance to hear Louis, and who didn't?  At the Tin Angel, Marty's band has featured trombonist Skipp More, a refugee from the big bands of Lou Breeze and Henry Busse (11 year veteran at Chez Paris in Chicago!) who has been a San Francisco resident for almost a decade now. These three, plus Vince Cattolica, a blind San Franciscan making his third appearance on records here. Charles Odiin, a sturdy bass player who has been with numerous Bay Area groups, and Cus Cousineau on drums, make up the band.

Burt, whose vocals and piano playing at the sawdust floored Pier 23, which is opposite the Tin Angel on the Embarcadero, have long been a feature of San Francisco jazz, was determined to make this a swinging affair. He was a bit bashful about his own singing – he'd just gotten a new set of teeth and they were working out their gremlins! – but everyone else was enthusiastic. – Ralph J. Gleason, Editor, Jam Session (G. P. Putnam's Sons) Berkeley, California, 1958

From Billboard - March 31, 1958: Recorded "live" in Sunset Auditorium in Carmel, Calif., this Dixie concert, spotting notable "Bay Area" practitioners, has fire and flow and "fun" quality that is relatively rare these days. Trumpeter M. Marsala plays an Armstrong-type trumpet with much of the drive associated with the Chicago traditional wing; trombonist Skipp Morro and pianist Burt  Bales are excellent in solo, and the rhythm section, spearheaded by drummer Cus Cousineau, lends solidity to this venture. Repertoire is standard for Dixieland, i.e., "Tin Roof Blues," "Hindustand," etc.

Tin Roof Blues
Muskrat Ramble
Baby Won't You Please Come Home
Safe It Pretty Mama
King Porter Stomp

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