Eddie South was one of the earliest jazz violinistshe recorded in 1923 (Joe Venuti, often thought of as the earliest, didn't record until 1924) and one of the first African/American jazz musicians to play extensively in Europe. South was also a highly-trained violinist, having studied at the Chicago College of Music and the Paris Conservatory; if South had been white, he may well have never played jazz, but become a concert violinist.
At the end of 1932, South brought his International Orchestra out to Los Angeles for an engagement at the Ballyhoo and while there, in the first three months of 1933, recorded a number of fifteen-minute radio shows sponsored by Cheloni, a cosmetic cream. The musicsans commercials but with announcementsfrom the sixteen extant sixteen-inch transcription discs make up this album's three CDs. The orchestra consists of South and J. Wright Smith (ensembles only) on violin; Clifford King (clarinet), Antonio Spaulding (piano and celesta), Everett Barksdale (guitar), Milt Hinton (bass) and Jimmy Bertrand (drums).
The repertoire isn't particularly jazzy, more a snapshot of a commercially successful band of the times. South's band seems to have specialized in tangos and rumbas too, with almost every one of the sixteen programs featuring at least one. The majority of the other selections were recent popular songs, including a few waltzes. South's playing is technically impressive throughout, romantically rhapsodic on the slow tunes; no wonder Paul Whiteman called him "the dark angel of the violin."
On the few up-tempo numbers, South proves he could play "hot as well as the best of jazz's early stars. The vocals, and there are quite a few, are nothing to write home about, more pop of the times than jazz. But South himself wasn't bad; he's at his vocal best on the seldom-heard Carmichael/Mercer "Thanksgivin'." And included is a historical curiosity: the first recorded Hinton vocal, on "Throw A Little Salt on the Bluebird's Tail," demonstrating a definite Louis Armstrong influence, right down to the scat phrases.
CD1: Ay! Mama Ines; What a Perfect Combination; A Sleepy Little Village; Dark Eyes; Star Dust; When It
Clifford King: clarinet, vocal; Eddie South: violin, vocal; J. Wright Smith: ensemble violin; Antonio Spaulding: piano, celesta; Everett Barksdale: guitar, vocal; Milt Hinton: string bass, vocal; Jimmy Bertrand: drums, percussion.
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