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Saturday, November 13, 2021

Boogie Woogie - Freddie Slack

Pig Foot Pete

Boogie Woogie On The 88
Freddie Slack
With Orchestral Accompaniment
EmArcy Jazz MG 36094
EmArcy A Product Of Mercury Records Corporation

From the back cover: Born in La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1910, Freddie first came to prominence in the mid-1930s as a member of the Ben Pollack band, which at that time included Harry James in its personnel. As early as 1935, after hearing some Pinetop Smith records, he became fascinated by boogie woogie. After leaving Pollack he joined Jimmy Dorsey's orchestra in 1936, and it was during his stay with Jimmy that he began to toy with the idea of elaborating and orchestrating the boogie woogie forms.

The years of his principal devotion to boogie-woogie were these he spent as pianist with the memorable Will Bradley-Ray McKinley orchrestra, Freddie made a national reputation that enabled him to branch out with a big orchestra of his own. He continued to tour intermittently with a band through the 1940s. Since 1950 he has free-lanced, mostly around Los Angeles, where he has made his home for more than 20 years.

The performances on this EmArcy Long Play were recorded at three different sessions. Cow Cow Boogie, Between 18th and 19th on Chestnut Street and Rhumboogie feature Slack at the head of an eight-piece combo. Shorty Sherlock, a former band leader himself and, like Freddie, as ex-Jimmy Dorsey sideman, plays trumpet. Herbie Harper, a Kansas-born trombonist, is an alumnus of Goodman, Krupa, Barnet and many other name bands. The front line is completed by Justin Gordon and Bob Poland, on tenor and baritone saxophones respectively. Supporting Freddie's piano is a sterling rhythm section that includes guitarist Al Hendrickson, bassist Morty Cobb and drummer Jack Sperling, all of whom have worked for some time on the Bob Crosby air show. The arrangements for Chestnut Street and Rhumboogie were written by Benny Carter. A brilliant and versatile musician best known for his alto sax work. Benny has made a profitable sideline out of toying with boogie woogie; it is a little known fact that he was one of the composers of Cow Cow Boogie. Freddie Slack wrote a new arrangement of Cow Cow for inclusion in this album.

On Humoresquire, Down The Road A Piece, After Sours, Pig Foot Pete and Beat Me Daddy Eight To The Bar Freddy is accompanied simply by the above-named rhythm section. On Rockin' The Boogie, "Bolero, Raindrop, Beating With Chopsticks he again has the support of an all-star rhythm section, this time with Alvin Stoller replacing Jack Sperling.

It may come as a surprise to some of his fans that Freddie is also responsible for the vocals on several of these numbers. He sings in a pleasantly informal style that suits the lyrics of these pieces, all of which date back to the Bradley-McKinley era and were originally recorded by Freddie when he was with that band. Thelma Gracen, a petite blonde shares the vocal responsibilities with Freddie.

Rockin' The Boogie
Cow Cow Boogie
Down The Road A Piece
After Sours
Between 18th And 19th On Chestnut Street
Rhum Boogie
Pig Foot Pete
Rain Drops
Beat Me Daddy Eight To The Bar
Beating With Chopsticks 

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