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Saturday, July 3, 2021

Sidney Bechet Jazz Classics - Volume 1



Sidney Bechet Jazz Classics
With Bunk Johnson & Sidney De Paris
Blue Note BST 81201

From the back cover: It is possible that there is in the world a more famous saxophonist than Sidney Bechet, though I am inclined to doubt it. It is beyond dispute that no other musician has come within wailing distance of him on the particular saxophone of his choice, the soprano, an instrument he has virtually monopolized through most of his life.

Bechet has, of course, a second ax to grind in the clarinet, which he began to play not long after the turn of the century. Born May 14, 1987 in New Orleans, he was six years old when he borrowed his brother Leonard's instrument, and eight when he became a protege of Georgie Baquet, clarinetist with the John Robichaux orchestra. Bechet's career has been so fabulously colorful that it is possible in this brief space to touch only on a few of the highlights.

Bunk Johnson, one of the musicians heard with him on these sides, helped Sidney to get a job around 1912 with the famous Eagle Band of New Orleans. By that time he had gained some teen-aged experience with the local bands of Freddie Keppard, Mutt Carey and Buddy Petit. Before and during World War I he was on tour in Texas and all over the south with Clarence Williams and Louis Wade. After working in New Orleans with King Oliver and in Chicago with Tony Jackson, he migrated to New York in 1919 and joined Will Marion Cook's Southern Styncopators.

This affiliation was one of deep significance for Bechet, since it led to his first European tour, as a featured soloist with Cook's concert unit. There were many more European trips during the 1920s and '30s, once with a Negro revue that got as far East as Russia, and later with the Noble Sissle band, in which Bechet was featured off and on for a decade.

Then, in 1938, came temporary retirement. The music business seemed to offer no substantial future; Sidney settled down with a small tailoring business in New York.

Blue Note Records played a significant role in his slow but sure climb up the ladder from inactivity to newly found global fame. It was after a major record company had refused him permission to record a certain popular song that Sidney cam to Alfred Lion of Blue Note and arranged to cut the tune for this new, independent label.

The tune was recorded in June 1939. Bechet and Blue Note thrived mutually on the success of what was to earn lasting fame as one of the great Bechet performances of all time. The number, of course, was Summertime, now made available again on BLP 1201

The 1940s saw the gradual return of Sidney Bechet to the limelight. There were frequent concerts at Town Hall, in Greenwich Village. Not long after the end or World War II Bechet heard Europe beckoning again. In recent years he has spent most of his time in France and has visited the U.S. only occasionally.

The music to be heard on Blue Note's first pair of 12 inch Bechet LPs covers a wide range of sessions, featuring Bechet's artistry on both soprano sax and clarinet in a variety of settings. Though the personnels vary, the results have one important element in common: they are in the New Orleans groove, with the stamp of the Crescent City in every one of the ensemble improvisations and in the individual styles of the soloists surrounding Sidney.

From Billboard - May 24, 1956 (BLP 1201): This package is great jazz inventory and should be stocked by all dealers with this type of clientele. Converted from 10-inch wax, the disk contains great mood-evoking sides, including "Muskrat Ramble," "Summertime," "Dear Old Southland," etc. In addition to the clarinet and soprano sax of Bechet, there are outstanding trumpet solos by the late Bunk Johnson and Sidney De Paris, piano by Meade Lux Lewis and performances by other noted instrumentalists of the New Orleans school. The sides were gleaned from six sessions and will fascinate any collector.

Muskrat Blues
Blue Horizon
Weary Blues
Blame It On The Blues
Milenberg Joys
Days Beyond Recall
Salty Dog
Dear Old Southland
Weary Way Blues

Java - Music Of Mystical Enchantment


Side Two

Music Of Mystical Enchantment
Cover Photo and Record Notes: Doreen Powers
Back Cover Photos: Anita Lynn Miller
Album Design: Beau Gardner
Special Thanks to Marcia Eldelman
Lyrichord Stereo LLST 7301

Doreen Powers is an ethnomusicologist, who made these recordings while doing field work in Java in 1974.

Side One

1. Untitled Composition
Recorded in the town of Yogyakarta, this short excerpt from a very lengthy composition, serves to illustrate the typical sound of a small, but traditional Javanese gamelan. This piece, like many other compositions, is sung in an old Javanese poetic language. Although these pieces are generally understood to be about famous epics, myths, and love stories, the average Javanese audience is usually not able to discern the exact meaning of the words being sung. This composition is performed in the slendro scale, patet sanga.

2. Gending Kututmanggung
Also recorded in Yogyakarta, this composition begins with an introduction that includes a male singer and gamelan. The major part of the ending or composition illustrates typical female vocal style, which is highly decorative and nasal. This composition, performed in the slendro scale, patet mayura, is entitled Gending Kututmanggung, meaning "Turtle Dove Sings".

Side Two

1. Gending Anglirmendung
The Gending Anglirmendung is traditional music used to accompany the slow, stylized movements of the classical Serimpi court dance. This highly revered ceremony was at one time only performed in Javanese courts and palaces. More recently, it is being performed for public audiences. The composition, played in pelog scale, patet barang, employs ancient poetical Javanese texts, usually about historical battle scenes. The texts are sung by a mixed male and female choir, known as sinden. The hypnotic effect created by the rhythmic pattern that is repeated throughout the sending, produces a style that is quite different from other Javanese gamelan music.

2. Manggala Gita
This excerpt is part of a lengthy bawa or vocal introduction to the gamelan composition. The song of this partially improvised haha is entitled Manggala Gita. It is a fine illustration of a decorative male voice line performed in traditional, classical style.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Overheard In Cocktail Lounge - The Murray Arnold Quartet


Morning Dew

Overheard In A Cocktail Lounge
With The Murray Arnold Quartet
MGM E3457


Murray Arnold - Piano
Ramez Idriss - Guitar
Arthur Netzer - Bass
Barney Kessel - Guitar (Side 1 - #6 & Side 2 - #2, 4, 6)

From the back cover: Few artists would be equally well suited to that task, that of making one's self be "Overheard In A Cocktail Lounge" as is Murray Arnold for he's been doing just that for almost two years now as the star of the Hotel Ambassador's world-famous Casino Room in Hollywood.

Arnold gained fame as the brilliant young pianist and star of maestro Freddy Martin's band some years ago. It was Martin who suggested that Arnold set out on his own, and rightly so, since Arnold's amazing keyboard wizardry had already won him a sizable following. An accomplished arranger-conductor, Arnold's through music education has stood him in good stead, and earned him the applause and accolades of not only his fans, but that of other musicians as well.

One Morning In May
Star Dust
La Tempesta
The Table Hopper
Morning Dew
If I Forget
Hurray, Murray
The Candlelight Waltz
Overheard In A Cocktail Lounge

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Crime In The Streets - Franz Waxman


The Crime

Crime In The Streets
Music by Franz Waxman... From "Crime In The Streets"
Based on themes originally recorded for the Sound Track of the Allied Artist Film
And Music For Jazz Orchestra
Three Sketches and Theme, Variations and Fugato
Recorded In Hollywood
Decca Records DL 8376

From the back cover: Franz Waxman, one of the most gifted contemporary composers and conductors was born in Germany and studied music in Dresden and Berlin. He came to the United States in 1934 and has made his home in Los Angeles. In 1947 he founded the Los Angeles Music Festival Concerts which, besides the well known classical repertoire, have each year presented first performances of outstanding contemporary works by international composers. In addition, Mr. Waxman has guest-conducted in Europe and Israel. His activities as composer also include the musical scores for some of the most important motion picture productions. He was twice honored with the Academy Award: "Sunset Boulevard" in 1950 and "A Place In The Sun" in 1951. His "Carmen Fantaise," which he wrote for Jascha Heifetz, has become a standard work in the violinists' repertoire, and his Symphonietta for String Orchestra and Timpani has been recorded for DECCA.

For "Crime In The Streets," Mr. Waxman composed one of the screen's most distinctive scores. Unique in its brevity, but powerfully effective, it is a musical masterpiece in miniature. Written in the idiom of modern, organized, exciting jazz, it reflects with shocking vividness every nuance of feeling in the story's strong emotional line.

First presented on Television by the Elgin Playhouse in 1955, "Crime In The Streets" is the story of Frankie Dane, juvenile gang leader. It is a tense dramatic story which runs the gamut of human emotion.

The music of Franz Waxman brilliantly underscores the shifting moods as they are shown in their varying degrees throughout the picture. As a motion picture score, or purely as a listening piece, "Crime In The Streets" is a power house.

Music from the Allied Artist Film Crime In The Street (A Lindbrook Production)
Part 1 - The Plot
Part 2 - The Crime
Part 3 - The Celebration

Music For Jazz Orchestra - Three Sketches
1. Nostalgia
2. Song
3. Blues
4. Theme, Variations and Fugato

Theme: Jack Dumont - Alto
Variation: Joe Mandragon - Bass
Variation: Charles Gentry - Tenor Bariton
Variation: Ray Turner - Piano
Variation: Pete Condoli - Trumpet

Soul Searchin' - Claus Ogerman


House Of The Rising Sun

Soul Searchin'
Claus Ogerman and His Orchestra
Arranged by Claus Ogerman
Produced by Andy Wiswell
Recorded in RCA Victor's Studio A, New York City
Recording Engineer: Mickey Crofford
RCA Victor LPM-3366

Soul Searchin'
What'd I Say
House Of The Rising Sun
Comin' Home Baby
The End Of The Line
Tell It As It Is
Green Onions
The Sidewinder
Watermelon Man

United Notions - Toshiko


United Notions

United Notions
With Toshiko And Her International Jazz Sextet
Recorded in New York City, June 13, 1958 at Beltone Studios
Supervision: Leonard Feather
Metrojazz High Fidelity E 100
A product of MGM Records


Nat Adderley - Cornet on Jane, Strike Up The Band, United Notions
Doc Severinsen - Trumpet on other titles
Rolf Kuhn - Clarinet and Alto Sax
Bobby Jasper (Courtesy of Riverside Records) - Flute, Tenor and Bariton Saxes
Toshiko - Piano
Rene Thomas - Guitar
John Drew - Bass
Bert Dahlander - Drums

From the back cover: Toshiko, who heads this multilingual group, was born Toshiko Akiyoshi in 1929 in Dairen, Manchuria, the youngest of four daughters of a Japanese textile merchant. She studied piano for nine years. After the occupation of her native country by the Chinese, the Akiyoshi family became part of a shipload of refugees, carrying only the bare essentials of their valuables and allowed to the out of the country a sum equal to about $3 per person. Regaining Japan, the family settled in a country home owned by Toshiko's father. At this point, supposed to enter medical school, she went without telling her family to the Yamada Officer's Club and took a job as a pianist in the club's orchestra.

After working with various Japanese jazz units she headed several small combos from 1951, playing at leading coffee houses. During those years in Japan she played regularly with the 289th U. S. Army Band, and was twice heard as a guest artist with the Tokyo Symphony. Then in November 1953 she was heard with Oscar Peterson, who was in Japan with the Jazz at the Philharmonic troupe. The result of Peterson's discovery of this improbably located talent was Toshiko's recording debut in Tokyo session for Norman Granz.

In January 1956 Toshiko arrived in Boston to study on a scholarship at the Berklee School of Music. She has been there ever since, but during vacations from school has worked in several American night clubs, usually leading her own trio at Storyville in Boston or the Hickory House in New York. My statement in The Encyclopedia Yearbook of Jazz (1956), that since her arrival here she has shown "a superb technique and an every-greater mastery of the Bud Powell style, of which she has become one of the outstanding disciples", still holds good. In fact, I believe today she has outstripped the idol she once tried to emulate and is one of the half-dozen most dynamically pianists in all of jazz.

Each of the instruments surrounding Toshiko in her International Jazz Sextext is played by an artist who reached the United States from a different foreign country, with the sole exception of the trumpet, which remained in America hands throughout.

Bobby Jasper was born in 1926 in Liege, Belgium. After working with various combos, mostly in Paris, throughout the early 1950s, he won first place in the Jazz Hot poll both as tenor saxophonist and combo leader, and emigrated to the U.S. in April 1956. He worked with the combos if J. J. Johnson and Miles Davis; recently he returned temporarily to Paris, taking with him his own all-star American quintet. He is married to the American singer Blossom Dearie.

Rolf Kuhn, born in Cologne, Germany, in 1929, took up clarinet at 12, escaped from East Germany in 1952 to join a jazz group, and was strongly influenced by the clarinet of Buddy De Franco. After broadcasting with his own quartet one an American station in Berlin and winning several European jazz polls, he came to the U.S. in May 1956, and spent several months with the Benny Goodman band and with the posthumous Tommy Dorsey orchestra.

Nat Adderley, born in Tampa, Fla. in 1931, is the younger brother of the alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, with whose quintet he was heard until 1957; since then he has worked chiefly with the J. J. Johnson Quintet. Carl "Doc" Severinsen, who replaces him on some tracks, is a greatly underrated musician whose talent has been hidden for several years by obscurity of an NBC house job, though he emerged in the spring of 1958 as a regular member of the band on the NBC-TV educational series The Subject Is Jazz. This is his first jazz combo recording date.

Rene Thomas, though he participates in this album as an emissary from Canada (he has lived in Montreal in recent years) actually is an old friend and colleague of Bobby Jasper, whose home town is also Rene's. Born in 1927, he studied guitar at the age of 11 and is entirely self-taught. Though still a resident of Canada, where he has done TV and club work, he came to the U.S. in 1957 and worked briefly with Sonny Rollins, who (along with Zoot Sims, Chet Baker and countless other American musicians who have played with him) considers him the greatest "undiscovered" guitarist on the scene.

John Derek Drew, born in 1927 in Sheffield and raised in Liverpool, England, worked with many British name bands before emigrating to the U.S. in 1954. He has been seen here with the Heal Hefts band, the Gene Kruppa quartet, the Barbara Carroll trio, as well as with a symphony orchestra in Miami; currently he is free-lancing busily around New York.

Bert Dahlander (his full named is Nils-Bertil Dahlander) was born in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1928. After working locally with a Swedish radio band and with his own quartet, he soon rose to acceptance as Sweden's number on drummer. First coming to the U.S. in 1954, he worked with a house group at the Bee Hive in Chicago, backing Wardell Gray, Sonny Rollins and Sonny Stott, then spent a year on the road with Terry Gibbs. After touring in Europe with Chet Baker he returned to the U.S. in 1957, rejoined Gibbs for a few months and for the past year has been a member of the Teddy Wilson Trio.

From Billboard - November 3, 1958: A new subsidiary label of MGM, Metrojazz, has a good set for the jazz buffs with this new release. It features Japanese pianist TOshiko (who by now is an adopted daughter of the United States, jazz-wise) and her international sextet, with N. Adderly, B. Jasper, D. Severinsen, R. Kuhn, R. Thomas, J. Drew, and B. Dahlander. It contains some first rate piano stylings by Toshiko on a group of original tunes, plus excellent support by the combo. On this release the pert pianist turns in some of her best work to date.

Swingin' Till The Girls Come Home
United Notions
Civilized Folk
Strike Up The Band

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Arthur Murray Dance Party - Ray Anthony


Don't Cry For Me Argentina

Arthur Murray
Dance Party
Ray Anthony Orchestra
Produced by Ray Anthony
Engineered by Van Webster
Cover Design: Rick Freers
Aero Space Records STEREO ALBUM #RA 1009

New York, New York
The Coffee Song
Riviera Rumba
Don't Cry For Me Argentina
Last Cheater's Waltz
Tango Anyone?
Shuffle My Boogie
Bunny Hop Cha Cha

Shades Of Blues


Drive Me Daddy

Shades Of Blues
AL-FI C 4080

On The Sunny Side Of The Street - Ivy Anderson
Unlucky Woman - Linda Keene
It's A Rainy Day - Lena Horne
I Don't Know His Name - Helen Humes
I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good - Ivy Anderson
Glad To Be Home - Lean Horne
Tall, Dark And Handsome - Ivy Anderson
Drive Me Daddy - Helem Humes
Empty Bed Blues - Ivy Anderson

The Fabulous Peggy Lee


Autumn In Rome

The Fabulous Peggy Lee
Decca Records DL 74461

From the back cover: There once was a little girl from Jamestown, North Dakota named Norma Dolores Egstrom who wanted to sing. So she sang in various little clubs in the Midwest and on the Coast and in 1941 was discovered by Benny Goodman. A year later, Miss Egstrom, now Peggy Lee, recorded a Lil Green blues with Benny called Why Don't You Do Right? and she was on her way.

From Billboard - May 23, 1964: This is Decca's vocalist month and this is bound to be one of its most attractive reissues, not because of the songs - there are few hits here - but because Peggy can hardly do less than love a lyric. The backings, like the ages of these tracks, range from Dave Barbour through Sy Oliver to Victor  Young or vice versa.

You Let My Love Get Cold
Love You Didn't Do Right By Me
Oh! No! (Please Don't Go)
The Tavern
Wrong Wrong Wrong
The Gypsy With Fire In His Shoes
Do I Love You
Wrong Joe
Johnny Guitar
I Belong To You
Autumn In Rome

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Spinning Wheel - Howard Roberts


Crystal Illusions

Howard Roberts
Spinning Wheel
Produced by David Axelrod
Capitol Records ST-336

From the back cover: As for Howard Robert, well, you know him: electric guitar, for jazz solos and the like; acoustic guitar, played with fingers instead of pick, on the hillbilly-flavored Country Scuffle; rock type solid body guitar, and Benson amplifier complete with switch to add distortion, on Gasoline Alley.

Five musicians with a keenly honed sense of time, of space (listen to the use of spacing on Cantaloupe Island), of meter (notice the moment in Jobim's tune Captain Bacardi where four beats are superimposed over the space or three – or if you can't figure it out, forget it and enjoy the music). Also a sense of humor, very strong in the approach to Spinning Wheel. Unless, of course, you prefer to swallow it straight.

Producer David Axelrod shares Howard's enthusiasm over the diversity and sense of fulfillment represented by this new step forward in the Roberts career. "They enjoyed the freedom," he says. "We had no limitation on time, style, source of material, anything.

Spinning Wheel
Country Scuffle
Gasoline Alley
Bros. Of Serendipity
More Today Than Yesterday
Cantaloupe Island
Captain Bacardi
Crystal Illusions