Search Manic Mark's Blog

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Trombone Panorama - Kai Winding


Trombone Panorama

Trombone Panorama
The Kai Winding Septet
Columbia Records CL 999

From the back cover: INTRODUCTION by Charles Edward Smith

Kai Winding is one of the most versatile, entertaining, and musically fitted jazzmen of this generation. He orchestrates for four trombones and rhythm – the Kai Winding Septet – and suggest the fullness of big-band ensemble without being an imitation of it. He plays superbly articulate trombone, with almost faultless intonation and phrasing, yet it comes out according to mood, robust, refined, or in choruses lovely of definition, casually cool of delivery. Here, in "Trombone Panorama" is, to borrow one of Kai's titles, a potpourri of devices and divertissements that range from the trombone now-how and historic interest on the title piece, a saga in sonorities, to Kia's contemporary narration of sonorities, to Kai's contemporary narration of Frank and Johnny, the most exciting and amusing treatment of this old stand-by since it was done with jazz background– when jazz was not yet recognized in America, except by the backroom boys – in Provincetown Playhouse premiere of e. e. cummings' him.

At about that time (the late Twenties) Kai was playing accordion in Aarhus (pronounced Oar-hoose according to Metronome), Denmark. He came to America in 1934, at the age of 12, and took up trombone in 1937, while attending Stuyvesant High School. After a summer of burlesque-house blowing he began to work in dance bands, except for the war years, when he was with the Coast Guard band and on sea duty. There followed periods with Goodman and Kenton, to season his tones and take the kinks out of his style. Barry Ulanov wrote (Metronome, July, 1954): "With Stan in 1946 and 1947, Kai arrived, the first fresh sound since Bill Harris and J. J. Johnson, and little challenged since then for consistency of performance and ideas."

As explained by Kai, the idea behind the Septet was to create a band, ensemble-wise, based on four trombones, that could create mellow moods or give the impression of a full band shouting. Says Kai: "Solo-wise, from within, it is always stimulating and challenging. There is no room for complacency. Yet – with an average work night of between five and six hours – we can get plenty of opportunity to play our horns and express ourselves."

"As usual comment," Kai remarked, "is that we sound like a 'big band' when we start 'cooking' in the ensemble choruses." In this connection the title piece, which abounds in succulent swing, includes a little bit of everything from home cooking to what I have elsewhere called the cool cuisine. It bight be described as a musical pastiche, or series of pastiches, brought into focus by Kai's compositional arrangements of backgrounds and his concept of the piece in its entirety. As one might expert, some of the "conveyances" (see Kai's Note) are bright off more successfully than others; most of them, however, more than meet the demands that Kai put to himself and  the group. The text (which he wrote) is informal and, one the whole, informative, though one might hesitate to identify Teagarden with Dixieland, as Kai does (perhaps reflecting the common confusion of Dixieland and New Orleans style.)

If you're familiar with the band styles that the various remnants represent – and you're sure to known some of them – the deftness of Kai's recapitulations (in the arranging) will give you a boot. The staccato angularity of Dixieland emerges in Muskrat. There are incisive vignettes of Lunceford and Woody Herman in, respectively, Margie and Bijou. Collaboration, very Kentonish in feeling, recalls Kai's two seasons with Stan (the music-man) Kenton. And the exuberant fullness of It's All Right is a swinging saluted to the Jay and Kai partnership that made jazz history. All told, the impact of arranging, narration and performance is first-class jazz entertainment. And when Kai puts the band through its paces on Potpourri (written wheel traveling east on Pennsylvania Turnpike) the lid blows off and you get a taste of what's been cooking. Kai's chorus is boldly conceived, beautifully played, and the musicianship of the groups on intricate brass work is solid and swinging.

Kai and the Septet continually experiment and expand, both in variety of arrangements and in approach to performance. "We have," he said, "learned a lot with respect to the most workable writing techniques." He fully appreciates the value of a relaxed feeling in the band. "Woody Herman once put it very plainly," he said "Was on the date when Woody scored Four Others. The first takes found the four trombones struggling, trying hard to 'make good': in solos. Woody firmly stopped the band and said, 'Look, fellow, relax. You guy are trying to win the war in eight bars.'"

As important to Kai as a clarity and flexibility of style is directness of expression. Though far from a novice in the area of complex musical thought, he prefers not to be abstruse. "I believe in simplicity," is the way he puts it, and, getting down to cases, continues, "This album is not meant to be earth-shattering of test tube experimental material. It doesn't take a set of blueprints or a classically-trained ear to get our message."

There is both simplicity and good taste in The Party's Over, a June Styne tune ("Bells Are Ringing") arranged by Dick Lieb. Wayne Andre plays the quasi-horn introduction nbd there is some ballad-blowing by Kai and Carl Fontana, in that order. Toward the close Dick Leib signs his arrangement, in deep-throated sonorities.

The minstrel mood suggested by Lassus Trombone bursts into rhythmic exuberance on Horse Silver's The Preacher, arranged by Wayne Andre. The interweaving of rhythm instruments, a the buoyancy of mood, the freshness with which the instruments are played, make this a happy listening experience, or a bright beat for dancing. There are solos by Kai, Carl, and Roy Frazee (piano). The shouting horns with their jovian jolts, as on Potpourri, admirably illustrate Kai's remark that "The tenor or the four trombones becomes electrifying with handled properly."

Dave Heft did the unusual arrangement of Come Rain Or Come Shine in which bucket mutes are used to simulate French horns. It is an interpretation of pungent harmonies and mellow moods. There are four-bar passages by Kai and Dick. Red, Red Robin, the pop song inspired by a doughty harbinger of spring and heat waves, in an arrangement by Dick Lieb, is a tender little tune that swings lightly. Solo passages by Kai, Carl, Wayne and Dick. On I Can't Give You Anything But Love, ballad - burgeoning in an imaginative arrangement by O. B. Masingill, the order of solos is: Carl, Wayne, Dick, Roy and Kai.

Wayne Andre has a warm tone, heard in smooth-texture passages on, for example, Red Robin, parts of Panorama and I Can't Give you Anything But Love. Fontana (e.g. Red Robin) has a forceful style and plays like a man confident that he has bower in reserve. And all through the set, Lieb's bass trombone brings body and warmth of tine, through and continuity of phrasing to the ensemble effort.  The rhythm adds immensely to both the swing and sense of fullness, with a good balance and disposition of rhythmic chores, the chords that build and the beat that, properly handed, give thrust and drive. Bass and piano are apposite, which in this instance means copacetic. The high-calorie drums on Potpourri are handled by Tom Montgomery.

Frankie And Johnny is a saga if sin, the song-story of a good man who didn't do right by his ever-lovin' mama. It's a honky-tonk ballad, a distant cousin to those musical brothers-under-the-skin, The Streets Of Laredo and St. James Infirmary. It's a song sung to whanging guitar or (as in the Provincetown presentation) to a wailing clarinet. Kai Winding catches the spirit. His narration, paced to the rhythm of sting-sung percussion, drums on a controlled Donnybrook and shouting trombones (that stalk the them like foxhounds on the scent), is thoroughly enjoyable. On first listening, the spoken lyrics or what Kai calls "the contemporary version" are of such absorbing interest – his use of jazz slang is deftly satirical, quietly amusing and in good taste – that one is aware of the music without paying particular attention to it. On second listening, music and lyrics merge, building to a crescendo that reaches its shattering climax on Kai's delivery of the Thurberlike twist with which he brine s this most solid a sagas to a close.

"All in all," Kai remarked, "speaking of his 1957 itinerary of clubs, college concerts, and dances, "it is a very happy environment for us. Always stimulating; never dull. we try to keep it swinging – and swinging is contagious."

A Note by Kai Winding

The various excerpts which comprise Trombone Panorama are not intended to be imitations in the sense of note for note "carbon copies." They should be accepted as our concept and conveyance of the individual styles and stylists represented. It is further intended that this is to neb a tribute to the artistry of this select group of tomboy stylists, those influences remain for posterity. There are, we realize, omission of numerous, perhaps equally illustrious, contributors. However, allowing for technical limitations, we have compiled what we conserved a workable cross-section of the field.

In essence, our sincere admiration goes out to the pioneers of trombone playing and we feel they have proved the theory that: Jazz is a living thing – comparable to t a tree; it grows with each individual who contributes to it. We look to the future with indigence that the inevitable new branches will be healthy and strong– as the doors have been firmly planted.

Other selections included are from our ever increasing repertoire. They are numbers we have been playing in our various public appearance thought the country in jazz clubs, concerts, colleges and dances. (Incidentally, people are starting to dance to jazz again.)

We enjoyed recording this album. We hope it will afford you some pleasant listening. – Kai Winging

From Billboard - June 24, 1958: LP illustrates how much can be done with a group featuring four tomboys and rhythm. Thru good writing and soloing, group runs a variety of moods, getting both a big and small band sound, and swinging with great stringy. Most importantly covers a lot of ground: Instruction – brief history of the trombone in jazz with narration and musical examples – novelty, and has sufficient jazz and pop values to keep clientele in both areas interested.

Trombone Panorama"
   Lassus Trombone
   Muskrat Ramble
   I Gotta
   Right To Sing The Blues
   Sidewalks Of New York
   I'm Gettin' Sentimental Over You
   Kaye's Melody
   Moonlight Serenade
   It's All Right With Me
The Party's Over
The Preacher
Come Rain Or Come Shine
When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob Bobbin' Along
I Can't Give You Anything But Love
Frankie And Johnny

No comments:

Post a Comment

Howdy! Thanks for leaving your thoughts!