Unearthed: The 1963 St-Onge La Duets and Narration; Bluesiana; At Manchesterís Free Trade Hall, England 1971; JATP Lausanne 1953
Stuff Smith/Rex Stewart
Kansas City Frank Melrose
The World's Greatest Jazz Band
Oscar Peterson/Ella Fitzgerald
These unearthed archival recordings range from sessions made for 78s in 1940 but never released to live concert tapes to a private tape made in extremely informal circumstances.
That private tape, the Rex Stewart-Stuff Smith material, is the most dubious as a commercial release, a home tape full of overlapping and hard-to-decipher conversations, snippets of music and very few actual musical performances. It's akin to eavesdropping on two swing era icons at a party. But some of the stories the two tell are fascinating and the few actual duets are extraordinary, intimate musical dialogues between Ellingtonian Stewart's muted cornet and Smith's violin.
Bluesiana offers a rare glimpse at second tier Chicago style jazz from the later swing era, proof of the vitality of the genre at that time. For although none of the musicians on these 1940 sessions are as remotely well known as such Chicago style practitioners as the Condon Gang or the musicians on the World's Greatest Jazz Band album, they acquit themselves ably. Kansas City Frank Melrose, the pianist-leader, was 32 at the time these sides were made in Chicago and had already recorded for "race record labels over the last decade, virtually the only white musician to do so regularly. He played a stride style with influences of his friend Jelly Roll Morton, but these sessions are largely small ensemble recordings in the rough-and-tumble Chicago style derived from New Orleans-esque collective polyphony. Cornetist Pete Daily leads a horn section that includes clarinet, trombone and saxophone.
A more refined version of the Chicago style can be heard from the World's Greatest Jazz Band (WGJB), formed in 1968 and co-led by former Bob Crosby Bobcat Yank Lawson (trumpet) and Bob Haggart (bass-arranger). The Bobcats had taken the free- wheeling Chicago style and presented it in big band arrangements. Haggart and Lawson split the difference between Chicago freestyle and big band formality with the nine-piece WGJB, setting off solo and polyphonic sections with heads and riffs. At Manchester's Free Trade Hall captures one of the best editions of the WGJB at a creative peak. The repertoire of mostly familiar chestnuts from the trad jazz book of the '20s and '30s is energized by the band's arrangements and dueling routines, which regularly pitted soloists in pairs: trumpeters Lawson and Billy Butterfield, trombonists Ed Hubble and Vic Dickenson and clarinetist/soprano saxophonist Bob Wilber with tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman. The JATP Lausanne 1953 CD captures Ella Fitzgerald in a relaxed, swinging mood with Oscar Peterson's trio (bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Barney Kessel) plus drummer J.C. Heard. Ella is particularly playful on "Why Don't You Do Right and "A Tisket, A Tasket and ravishingly romantic on "You Belong to Me . The climactic highlight of her set is a "Lester Leaps In with guest soloist Lester Young himself on tenor sax. The CD ends with five buoyant tracks by the Peterson Trio.
Tracks and Personnel
The 1963 St-Onge La Duets and Narration
Personnel: Rex Stewart: cornet; Stuff Smith: violin.
Tracks: How Come You Do Me Like You Do; Sugarfoot Strut; I Got Rhythm; The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise (trio version); Corrine Romp; Bluesiana; Original Stomp; New Orleans Blues; Body And Soul; You Took Advantage Of Me; The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise (band version); Have You Ever Felt That Way; Lady Be Good; Bud's Blues; Boy In The Boat; Little Sound On Schiller Street; If You're A Viper; and Rosetta.
Personnel: Frank Melrose, piano; Pete Daily, cornet; Bill Helgart, trombone; Leroy Smith, E-flat clarinet; Boyce Brown, saxophone; Jack Dailey, guitar, banjo; Willie Sherman, bass; Harold "Sleepy Kaplan, drums; June Davis, vocals on three tracks.
At Manchester's Free Trade Hall, England 1971
Tracks: Panama; Dogtown Blues,Ain't Misbehavin'; Black and Blue; Alligator Crawl; I Got Rhythm; Big Noise From Winnetka; What's New?; South Rampart Street Parade; Bourbon Street Parade; The Girl On the Beach; Just One of Those Things; Summertime; Viper's Drag; At Sundown; In a Sentimental Mood; Muskrat Ramble; Up Up and Away; My Inspiration.
Personnel: Yank Lawson: trumpet; Billy Butterfield: trumpet & fluegelhorn; Ed Hubble: trombone; Vic Dickenson: trombone; Bob Wilber: clarinet & soprano saxophone; Bud Freeman: tenor saxophone; Ralph Sutton: piano; Bob Haggart: bass; Gus Johnson; Jr.: drums.
JATP Lausanne 1953
Personnel: Oscar Peterson: piano; Ella Fitzgerald: vocals; Ray Brown: bass; J.C. Heard: drums; Lester Young: tenor sax; Charlie Shavers: trumpet.