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American Music label

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New Orleans Jazz - A Family Album by Al Rose/Edmond Souchon

For those enjoying this music, as well as earlier stuff from the '20s and brass bands and even '60s and '70s stuff, this book is warmly recommended, a view with which I'm Jeff would concur.

If you can find it!

Amazingly, Amazon has two paperback copies listed for $270! However, it also lists a number for $35.

The book was first published in 1967, with revised editions published in 1978 and 1984.

Collectability issues aside, you'll definitely need the '84 version as it appears there was a hefty amount of corrections and additions made post-1967.

It being many, many years since I'd even glanced at it, I pulled it out yesterday and got lost in it for hours.

The authors - both well-known NO jazz hands - make clear from the outset where they're coming from:

Jazz music "must (a) be improvised, (b) played in 2/4 or 4/4 time, and © retain a clearly definable melodic line".

And in deciding where to draw the line, who to include, who to leave out:

"... the authors feel that such phenomena as rock-and-roll and what is called, in the commercial record field, rhythm and blues, while they have descended from jazz sources, at least in apart, are so degenerate as to to be of no interest to enthusiasts of legitimate jazz as an art form".

Degenerate? Blimey!

This is bloody silly, hilarious and - to my mind - a comprehensive, willful misunderstanding and misinterpretation of how music works in New Orleans.

None of which decreases the sheer magic of the book itself.

It is literally set up like a photo album with brief biographical snapshots along the way.

The bulk of the book is devoted to individuals but there are also chapters on groups, brass bands, venues, riverboats, graves and so on.

Head-turning treasures:

A 1929 photo of a band aboard the SS Island Queen with Louis Nelson ... and Ransom Knowling, a bass player I've always associated with Chicago blues.

A 1920 photo of Johnny DeTroit's Jazz Band with Tony Parenti as a promo for a gig at Kolb's restaurant, in which I dined many times and which is itself now gone and part of history.

Many incredible shots of players mentioned in this thread in pre-fame, pre-recording, pre-1920 groups and brass bands.

It's an incredible book!

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New Orleans Jazz - A Family Album by Al Rose/Edmond Souchon

For those enjoying this music, as well as earlier stuff from the '20s and brass bands and even '60s and '70s stuff, this book is warmly recommended, a view with which I'm Jeff would concur.

I refer to it frequently, and do recommend it, warts and all. Just double-check any information you find there!

Of all the wonderful pictures, I think my favorite is the 1920 shot of Buddy Petit's Jazz Band on page 169. Petit never recorded, but was considered to be one of the greatest of all New Orleans trumpeters by those who heard him. The short guy bowing the bass on the right is Chester Zardis - I heard him in Preservation Hall 70 (!) years later, three months before he died. His big, fat sound and swing were very impressive.

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sorry to be such a negative guy today, but Al Rose is another one we have to be careful of - turns out that, in his story writing about New Orleans, he made up a good deal, to the point that no one knows, any more, what happened and what didn't. He was a very dishonest guy; I ran into his son in Maine, about 10 years ago, and he had even worse things to say about his old man.

Jeff - liistening to those Hornsbys - wow. What a find. Thanks -in terms of the voicings (at the beginning) I even hear a little Tatum.

Edited by AllenLowe

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Yes, the Hornsby recordings are a real treat! Thanks, Jeff, for bringing them to our attention and offering the opportunity to listen to them. Wonderful stuff.

And thanks for the excellent writeup introducing them.

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sorry to be such a negative guy today, but Al Rose is another one we have to be careful of - turns out that, in his story writing about New Orleans, he made up a good deal, to the point that no one knows, any more, what happened and what didn't. He was a very dishonest guy; I ran into his son in Maine, about 10 years ago, and he had even worse things to say about his old man.

Jeff - liistening to those Hornsbys - wow. What a find. Thanks -in terms of the voicings (at the beginning) I even hear a little Tatum.

Yes, the Hornsby recordings are a real treat! Thanks, Jeff, for bringing them to our attention and offering the opportunity to listen to them. Wonderful stuff.

And thanks for the excellent writeup introducing them.

Yeah, to put it bluntly, both Rose and Souchon are full of crap a lot of the time in the Family Album, hence my warning to double-check any info you find there. But it's still a beautiful, evocative book - just not always an accurate one.

And glad you guys are enjoying the Hornsby sides. It kind of pissed me off that they were so summarily dismissed in Mike Hazeldine's otherwise excellent book on the American Music label, and that there are no plans to ever reissue them.

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Just posted a blog entry (with links to mp3's) about the only unreissued American Music artist, gospel pianist George Hornsby - click here.

Thanks! really enjoyed these.

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Yes, the book's about the photos. Whacko agendas noted in my earlier post!

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Jazz music "must (a) be improvised, (b) played in 2/4 or 4/4 time, and © retain a clearly definable melodic line".

I wonder where this 2/4 time claim came from. The 1920s pre-swing-era styles were in 2/2 and 4/4, not 2/4. Even the Johnny Warrington etc. stocks we played in high school, ca. 1950s, were in 2/2.

There's a weird recording of "Snake Rag" by Wynton Marsalis in 2/4. He must have read somewhere that early New Orleans jazz was played in 2/4.

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On a heavy Punch Miller revival, "Delegates of Pleasure" (AMCD 57) from Aug-Sep '62 gets ****** six stars, with Gorman (clt), Warner (tbn), Guesnon (bj), Tillman (bs), ALEX Bigard (dr). Worth it for a goddamn crazed "Gate's Blues" alone.

http://www.amazon.com/Delegates-Pleasure-Punch-Miller/dp/B00004T1YT

Just unwrapped this one and am spinning it now. Haven't gotten to "Gate's Blues" yet, but so far Miller particularly, and Gorman as well -- but the whole band, really -- are in powerful form. It doesn't sound like anyone is along for the ride. They all have their foot to the pedal, even on the more mid-tempo stuff. And quite well-recorded, too (it was 1962, after all). Very nice.

Edited by papsrus

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51uvEI3A8tL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

I'm listening to an interesting AM blue-label issue right now: Papa Laine's Children. Papa Jack Laine was the patriarch of the white New Orleans scene in the early days of the 20th century - the ODJB and NORK guys cut their teeth in Laine's bands. The meat of this CD is a 1951 session featuring some of my favorite white New Orleans trad jazz guys - Johnny Wiggs, Tom Brown and Harry Shields. But it also has a 1959 track that is the only released recording of Papa Laine; he plays marching-style bass drum and cymbal with Wiggs, Raymond Burke, and a six-piece jazz band. It won't change anyone's life, but it's great to hear one of the most important figures in the early history of jazz.

Coincidentally, on my trip to New Orleans last fall, I stumbled upon Papa Laine's house in the Bywater neighborhood, just by accident:

Laine%2Bhouse.jpg

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Thanks for the pics, Jeffcrom.

Question: was there ever only one volume of Jelly Roll Morton LOC recordings on Solo Art, with R.T. Davies pitch correction, Jack Towers mastering?

Recommendation: Barnes Bocage Big 5.

Liner notes by artist James McGarrell below, from deeply hidden 'frame' here http://www.jazzology.com/jazzbeat.php?id=82 though in typical charming fashion the website sells the family of labels short. Here's the cover--

http://www.amazon.com/Big-Five-Barnes-Bocage/dp/B000001YIW

I'm almost-- ALMOST-- tempted to say it's safe to be a blue label American completist.

Question: Is that too optimistic for a few of the more obscure/repetitive live recordings?

***

BARNES-BOCAGE BIG FIVE

By Jim McGarrell

In 1950 I went as a penurious art student to New Orleans for a few days. I was following an interst in the music of that city that had begun when I was a teenaged collector of 78 rpm shellac records from the 1920s.

From the writings and recordings made by Bill Russell on his American Music label in the 1940s I learned that there were still musical contemporaries of Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, and Jelly Roll Morton plying their craft in the Crescent City and I wanted to meet and hear them while they were still alive. Most were around the age I am now as this is written, in their mid-sixties, which seemed to me quite ancient; I was afraid they might expire any day.

I had no way of knowing when I landed in the city that, just as the genuine jazz sound was unlikely to be heard on used records found in white neighborhoods in Indianapolis, the best musicians usually played the best New Orleans jazz in street bands, bars and dance halls away from Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, where I naively went to look for it. I was lucky, however, because the great early George Lewis Band had just gotten a gig at the El Morocco there and most of his sidemen were known to me from Russell's recordings.

I listened through every set, bought them the occasional beer, visited their homes, and began a friendship which lasted several years.

When I returned for the whole summer in 1951, I noticed two other young white guys lingering on the sidewalk outside the club between sets through which they, too, attempted to nurse a single drink. These kids were Alden Ashforth and David Wyckoff, who were acolytes to Bill Russell and who had stopped off in Chicago to meet him after running away from their freshman year at Harvard on a jazz pilgrimage to New Orleans. When we had exchanged mutual enthusiasms, they told me excitedly of the street and dance band music they had found in just a couple of weeks there, and especially of the clarinetist Emile Barnes who had not been heard by any of the few jazz preservationists from the North of the previous decade, not even Russell. They took me to hear him on his weekend job at a nondescript little back street place with trumpeter Lawrence Toca and two rhythm players.

As soon as I heard a few bars of his warm Albert clarinet vibrato I knew I was in the presence of the same earthly sound that had thrilled me under the hiss and crackle of the shellac records of Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds and Jimmie Noone, the sound that had won me to New Orleans music as a teenager.

I learned from my two friends and from Barnes that he handcrafted mattresses as a day job because he could not support his family from music alone; that he had been the clarinetist in the legendary Chris Kelly Band and the Camellia Band of Wooden Joe in the nineteen-teens and twenties, and that he would like to find the bigger audience that his music deserved. Alden, David, and I were convinced he was too important a musician in the development of New Orleans jazz never to have been recorded.

Meanwhile the families of Alden and David found them by employing a private detective, and Alden's father descended upon us to try to persuade them to return to college. I was the beneficiary of a few wonderful dinners (one at Galatoire's that we never could have afforded otherwise) as part of his gentle and generous persuasion. They struck a bargain that if he would provide an Ampex tape recorder and funds to record the Eureka Brass Band and a couple of studio sessions with dance band musicians—especially Barnes—they would return to college the following autumn. He agreed, and that, of course, is how they made the first recording of an existing, practicing jazz marching band. They decided that Barnes, however, should be showcased in a couple of all star ensembles with the best other they also wanted to record. That Kid Thomas would be one of these became obvious when, following a tip, we went across the river to the town of Algiers and heard his astonishing trumpet playing. Here was another brilliant musician unrecorded and previously unheard by aficionados from outside the city.

Bill Russell came down from Chicago to help Alden and David with technical aspects of all of these sessions. I acted as a gofer and bought beer for the musicians out of my wages as a short order cook in a hamburger joint above Canal Street.

After that halcyon summer of 1951 I went back to being an art student, first at Indiana University-- where I arranged and promoted a concert of the George Lewis Band in 1953—and later as a graduate student at UCLA—where I found myself becoming the chauffeur for the Lewis band when they played a gig in Beverly Hills in 1954.

By this time two of the Ashforth/Wyckoff American Music sessions featuring Barnes had been added to the American Music list, and I kept thinking that, as wonderful as much of the music was, there were only flashes of the brilliance we constantly heard when Barnes was playing on jobs with musicians, maybe lesser ones, but ones of his own choosing, in his own pickup bands. When I learned from friends in New Orleans in the spring of 1954 that he had begun playing regularly with the venerable trumpeter Peter Bocage in a five-piece ensemble, I determined to do a session of my own with that combination. Never mind that they used an electric guitar rather than a banjo, that they blew pop tunes rather than jazz standards, or that they played for the pleasure of neighborhood dancers rather than jazz-conscious listeners. I didn't want to embalm some re-creation of a music from the past; I wanted to capture a live music of that present time.

I was able to put the whole thing together over the summer of 1954 with a couple of auto trips from Los Angeles, some phone calls, and the help of friends like David Wyckoff, Billy Huntington and Dick Allen. I rented the legendary San Jacinto Hall where Russell had recorded Bunk and George Lewis in the 1940's. but where recent visits by Fats Domino had obliterated these occasions in the mind of the proprietor. I paid Union scale wages out of savings from my teaching assistantship, and a Hollywood record entrepreneur, who later lost interest, did lend me his ancient Cadillac for the final trek to do the recording on September 8, 1954.

After forty years the memory of the evening itself seems an anxiety-ridden though exhilaratingly blurred phantasm compared to the events leading up to it. We had, I think, only one rehearsal but since the band had played together on jobs, I didn't think more were needed. We opened the doors to the hall, not only because it was a hot night but because we thought that people coming from the neighborhood to hear the music and dance a bit would relax the musicians and add human warmth to the sound. They did, and it did, in my view. At one point a tap dancer started performing—he can clearly be heard on one take of Sheik of Araby- but as the evening wore on there were more and other dancers of all ages and styles.

Fortunately the recoded sound gives what memory can't. For me this will always be primarily the throbbing intensity of Emile Barnes' playing. Whether in quiet obbligato behind the lead of another instrumentalist or erupting glissando out of his own, he constantly surprises me with new musical inventions of heady delight. How does an under-educated mattress maker wring inexplicably complicated figures of this degree of sophistication from sometimes silly and banal pop tunes?

An older, more educated and "legitimate" musician, Peter Bocage, seems the perfect foil for Barnes. To say that he lays down a solid melody line is not to say that it is without inventiveness. Like Bunk, he can seem to be playing "book" melodies note for note, but his stylish phrasing makes them swing.

The rhythm section was anchored by drummer Albert Jiles, whose work I had previously had previously admired on some of the American Music sessions of the mid-40's. Bassist Eddie Dawson at seventy was the oldest musician on the date, and Homer Eugene on guitar at forty the youngest.

It was probably, but not exclusively, the swing-oriented amplifications of the latter which made these sides unacceptable to commercial "Dixieland" record labels in the 1950s and 60s. A selection was finally issued in England by6 the New Orleans Jazz Society (NOJS) in the 1970's and later by NOLA Records there, and I have heard that it became something of a cult item in the UK.

I am happy that it may now finally find a wider audience in this country and the world.

Edited by MomsMobley

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Question: was there ever only one volume of Jelly Roll Morton LOC recordings on Solo Art, with R.T. Davies pitch correction, Jack Towers mastering?

Recommendation: Barnes Bocage Big 5.

Yes to your Jelly Roll question - after the first volume came out, Jazzology/Solo Art either lost the rights to the LOC material or found out that they never had them - I don't know the exact story.

And I second your recommentation of the Barnes/Bocage Big 5. That's one of my favorite New Orleans sessions of the 50's - what a glorious mess it is. By that I mean that it's all over the place stylistically - Emile Barnes is playing a rough, early-20th-century style, Peter Bocage is also somewhat old-fashioned, but much more sophisticated, and Homer Eugene is basically playing bebop guitar. And nobody's worried that it might not work - they're just playing music.

I love New Orleans - they still don't care about "styles" down there.

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I'm almost-- ALMOST-- tempted to say it's safe to be a blue label American completist.

Question: Is that too optimistic for a few of the more obscure/repetitive live recordings?

Well, I'm an AM yellow-label completist, but there are several of the blue label issues I don't have. I even got rid of one - I thought the featured artist just wasn't in good shape, compared to his other records. I definitely think there are some weaker sessions there, but I haven't heard them all.

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just an aside, check this out - turns out William Russell was a fascinating composer, admired by John Cage:

http://www.amazon.co...l/dp/B000000NYO

This Amazon reviewer gives me pause to perplex:

Is this intellectual music? No way, there's a strong influence from jazz and pop music in it. If you like rhythm being poured in your ears, buy this CD - and even if you are in a percussion instruments bashing-mood buy it: don't miss a chance to get your ear trained with world-class percussion ensemble music!

Whoever this person is, I think I'd feel safer wearing bullet-proof earmuffs in their presence!

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it's fascinating music - and apparently it debuted at the same concert as Varese's Ionization.

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I've no doubt that it is, but I don't think I'd like rhythm being poured in my ears in the service of training them.

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just an aside, check this out - turns out William Russell was a fascinating composer, admired by John Cage:

http://www.amazon.com/Made-America-Complete-William-Russell/dp/B000000NYO

Being fascinated by all things concerning William Russell, I've had this CD for years. I've also got an old Mainstream classical LP with earlier recordings of some of the same pieces, along with compositions by Cage, Cowell, and Lou Harrison. Young Warren Smith is one of the performers.

mainstream5011.jpg

I like Russell's compositions - they're engaging and unpretentious. He gave up composing as he got more into jazz, saying that jazz musicians could come up with better music on the spot that he could ever compose.

Late in his life, Russell was also the violinist in the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, an excellent ensemble which recorded for several labels.

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mainstream5011.jpg

I like Russell's compositions - they're engaging and unpretentious.

Ah yes, the unexpected Bill Russell / Bob Shad connection! :unsure:

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Any chance that that Mainstream LP was first released on Time?

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Yes. Never saw the Mainstream.

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Any chance that that Mainstream LP was first released on Time?

Could be. Composer Earle Brown produced "new music" recordings for both labels.

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I've been listening to the Mode Records CD which is recorded later. I like this stuff a lot - one of the things I find interesting is that, as opposed to most other "serious" composers who attempted to adapt African American and jazz rhythms and rhythms of "the Americas", Russell actually knew how to do it in an engaging way. Most of that crew - from Cowell to Copland, etc - always sounds like they're slumming when they try to add "jazz" elements.

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The Bunk is great! I just ordered "1944 (Second Masters)", myself! Guess you'll also need "1944-1945" ;)

Just got around to 1944-45 (AMCD-12), with the same band as the 1944 recordings. Dodds is brilliant. Just gotta smile at what he does sometimes, rolling through the rhythms. Was he as entertaining physically as these recordings suggest? I almost imagine the guy doing somersaults and flips around the kit as he plays.

The '45 recordings were done at "George's house," ... Lewis, I'm supposing. Liners are a bit sketchy there. And these have a clear, intimate quality, sans the slight echo on the recordings made in Jacinto Hall.

Well put together, this one.

41SWBJC8E2L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Edited by papsrus

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The '45 recordings were done at "George's house," ... Lewis, I'm supposing. Liners are a bit sketchy there. And these have a clear, intimate quality, sans the slight echo on the recordings made in Jacinto Hall.

Yep, made at George Lewis's little house on St. Philip Street in the French Quarter - I make sure to walk by and pay homage every time I'm in New Orleans. The first New Orleans brass band records were made in the back yard.

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